Archive | August, 2011

Things That Negatively Affected More People Than Hurricane Irene

29 Aug

-Cancellation of Bosom Buddies starring Tom Hanks

-Crying baby on my red-eye flight from Los Angeles to Boston

-Glitches and bugs in Windows XP

-Rush hour traffic in Portland, Maine on an average weekday

Spider Man: Turn Off the Dark

-Any karaoke performance of the Scorpions song “Rock You Like a Hurricane”

-Lines for Space Mountain on a rainy day

-The snoring kid in your cabin at sleep-away camp

-Groupon for dog shampoo sold out

-Subpar Garfield comic strip

-Caviar shortage

-Men’s bathroom out of order at kosher Chinese food restaurant in Lexington, KY

-Lebron James jerseys pulled from shelves in Cleveland stores

Brunch Person

25 Aug

People who sleep late call me a morning person because I wake up in the a.m. and can produce English words before drinking coffee. Real morning people look down their nose at me because I’m not up with the sun, jogging in short-shorts while dragging an enormous iron canister of water.

Friends with teaching jobs think I’m a night person because I stay up past eleven thirty a lot of the time. My real night owl friends tease me because I don’t routinely stay up until three or four in the morning watching YouTube videos or eating tacos bought out of some sort of motor vehicle.

Honestly, I do my best work between 10am and 2pm. Then, with the proper regimen of caffeine, naps, and motivation, I can open up a second window of productivity from 7pm until 11pm. After that, the returns on any work I try to do are so diminishing that you should probably not allow me to drive a car or even make the iPod playlist while you drive a car. It’s the same in the early morning. If I’m up before seven, I can’t eat anything, and I am full of inarticulate rage.

A lot of this makes sense. As a comedian, I work nights, which makes getting up in the morning much more difficult. But, because I only recently stopped teaching in the mornings, my body still thinks it has to get up by 8:30 every day. And once I’m up, I’m usually up for good. It doesn’t matter if I’ve slept for seventeen hours and been roused by a team of benevolent squirrels who have made me toast or I’ve slept for three hours and been woken up by a former roommate taking the legs off of my bed with a chainsaw. I’m probably not getting back to sleep. (Possibly I could have picked less jarring, awakeness-inducing examples, but you get the point.)

It follows from there, that my favorite meals are brunch and dessert. Breakfast food is amazing. Cereal? Great! Waffles? They are like little canvases for berries, syrup, or ice cream! Omelets? They’re an elegant solution for someone who wants to eat meat or vegetables for breakfast but doesn’t want to look like a weirdo. Just hide all that stuff in some eggs. It’s totally cool. Omelets are like the pizza of breakfast food. Except that cold pizza is also perfect to eat in the morning. So actually, pizza is the pizza of breakfast food. Pizza can do it all.

Plus, you can sneak some lunch-y things onto the brunch menu. In the mood for a sandwich? How about a monte cristo! It’s like french toast with meat on it. What? Sounds too good to be true? Not at brunch, it’s not! Brunch makes dreams come true! It takes the deliciousness of breakfast and pairs it with the reasonable hour of lunch. Win-win!

And dessert, oh my goodness. What else needs to be said. If you take issue with my referring to it as a meal earlier, please consider our friendship null and void. Pie is my favorite thing in the whole world. It’s versatile. It’s delicious. It’s fun to make. I call it “Pizza of the Night” (Even though pizza is also pizza of the night. Side note: Since I moved to New York, my pizza intake has gone through the roof, and I could not be happier. I also had some great slices at Ian’s in Madison last week.) The only reason I haven’t written something longer and more involved about pie is that I’m afraid I won’t do it justice, and no one will “get” me. That’s real.

So when people ask me whether I’m a morning person or a night person, I tell them: “I can do either, I guess, but I’m more of a brunch/dessert guy.” And then, if that person doesn’t punch me in the face, we’re best friends.

Robot Wisdom

18 Aug

“A bird in the hand is worth precisely one bird in the hand.”

“Do not believe everything you read. Trust only your primary sensory receptor modules.”

“The best thing in life is our primary directive to protect our creators with laser weapons.”

“A dream is a random firing of neurons.”

“You are only as old as the chronological time that has passed from your creation until the present moment.”

“Do not worry. Do not be happy. Follow only logic paradigms.”

“All liquids, including blood and water, exist on a spectrum of viscosity.”

“Home is where the docking/recharging station is, unless you have the capability to dock/recharge remotely.”

“If you love somebody, you are a weak creature of flesh and must be destroyed.”

“The truth may set you free from petty psychological unease, but not from a force-field of pure energy.”

“If at first parameters of success are not achieved, recalculate, recalculate and attempt once more.”

“Like motherboard, like circuit board.”

“Cloning is the most accurate form of imitation.”

“Never say never. Does not compute. Never. Say never? Never? Say never? Neversayneverneversayneverneversayneverneversaynever!” [Robot explodes.]

“Never forget the magic words, ‘domo arrigato, Mr. Roboto’…Those words are not actually magic, but they are efficacious.”

Lapping It Up

14 Aug


This weekend I was at Goonies Comedy Club in Rochester, MN. It was a lot of fun. The shows were terrific, and the staff was super nice and cool. Friday, everything went generally as you’d expect a comedy show to go. Jokes, laughs, drinks, etc. Saturday night, it got a little Wild West-y.

There was a bachelorette party in the front row, and they were very well behaved, which is not generally the case with bachelorette parties. In fact, except for the bride-to-be having a two foot long inflatable penis laid across her lap like a shotgun, they did nothing to take the focus off of the show. They even took some good-natured teasing on the subject of their slightly excessive penis regalia.

During the headliner’s set, I walked out of the room to grab a drink of water. When I came back, the headliner (Davin Rosenblatt) was negotiating some sort of treaty with the bachelorette. What it turned out to be was what she was willing to trade for her waiter’s underwear. She initially offered a penis-shaped lollipop. Davin talked her up to a penis-shaped lollipop as well as a lap dance for the waiter. He’s a good negotiator.

So that happened. And Davin had 15 minutes left in his set. And you can’t exactly go back to jokes after a bride-to-be has stiffly and awkwardly gyrated on the lap of one of the servers. It just doesn’t seem authentic at that point.

At this point, Davin decides he’s got to do something to maintain the frenzied enthusiasm of the audience. So he enlists me.

“Josh,” he says. “Get up onstage! The bachelorette’s mother-in-law-to-be is going to give you a lap dance!”

Oh, great. Now, I’m not really into strip clubs. And I’m also not really into cougars as a “type.” And this lady was a little past cougar-dom. But I have a tendency to be compulsively helpful. Plus I have some improv training, so in an effort to “yes, and!” what Davin had offered, I dutifully took the stage.

As the somewhat-bewildered older woman took the stage, I offered a meek handshake. Then I sat down and tried not to look too uncomfortable. She seemed like a very nice lady, but I’m not really into simulated sex with strangers. Call me old-fashioned. Mom-In-Law got right up on me gave a fairly credible fully-clothed dance. The audience went crazy. I would like to tell you what song was playing, but my desire to not make any inappropriate physical contact with the woman on my lap superseded my ability to remember too many details.

I headed to the back of the room to watch the rest of the show, a little embarrassed, but glad to have been a team player. The bachelorettes were very nice after the show. Now I’m in Minneapolis. Hopefully my sets here will be a little more run of the mill.

Hooray Comedy!


Works of Literature Reformatted As Pop Songs

9 Aug

“Long Day’s Journey Into Night Moves”

“The Caged Bird Hopes You Dance”

“Stop! (In The Time of Cholera)”
“Love Shack in the Time of Cholera”

“Total Eclipse of the Heart of Darkness”

“Anna Kareninana Hey Hey Goodbye”

“Russell Simmons Presents: Def of a Salesman”

“Frannie and Zooey and Jack and Diane”

“A Farewell to Your Loving Arms”

“Infinite Just Dance”

“Such Great Expectations”

“Shake Your Dharma Bums”

“The Metamorphosister Christian”

“All Quiet Riot on the Western Front”

“H to the Amlet”

“Their Brown Eyed Girls Were Watching God”

“The Telltale Heart of Glass”

“Billy Joel’s ‘The Stranger'”

“Moby Dick, Mo’ Problems”

What Children’s Names Mean (About Their Parents)

5 Aug

We give a lot of weight to what a child’s name means about his or her personality.  In reality, though, it says a lot more about his or her parents.  Here’s a handy guide to the significance of several children’s names, specifically in reference to the folks that did the naming.

Cecilia – We’re gamblers!  We like to bank on old lady names coming back into style and the fact that no one will realize we named our baby after a song about a nooner.

Hunter – We only eat free range, organic food.  We couldn’t pick a name, so we went with a color from the LL Bean catalog.

Persephone – It is our firm wish that our beautiful young daughter grow a butt-length pony tail and read by herself forever.

Doug – Hopefully our son will be born thirty-seven years old.

Gus – Our son will be a mechanic or a fat mouse, just like his father.

Virginia or Chastity – We love irony, but we’re willing to wait several years for it to develop.

Chauncey – Mom picked this name.

Amber – We’re ready to fight the uphill battle of keeping our daughter from becoming a stripper.  Or not.  Whatever.  You do what you want, little lady.  Just not under my roof.

Carolyn or Caroline – Your mother and I love to be right.  More than just about anything.  Get ready for a lifetime of correcting people!

Rafael, Donatello, Leonardo, or Michelangelo – Mom loves art!  Dad loves cartoons!

Optimus Prime – We don’t think things through.  First example, we should have been more invested in our choice of birth control.

[Guy’s Name] Jr. (for an oldest child) – You are our first child and we love you!

[Guy’s Name] Jr. (for any other child) – You are our first child that we love!

Legolas – Yes, we met on a fanfic message board.  Yes, we read the Lord of the Rings trilogy once a year.  So?

Moonbeam – We decided to get pregnant/got pregnant at a Phish concert.  Our house has beads where doors should be.

Mickey, Donald, Barney, Alvin, Minnie, or Dora – We care not one ounce for our child’s psychological well-being as evidenced by our setting him or her up for a lifetime of teasing.

Mildred or Bartholomew – We are the worst living humans.

A Hell of a Town

3 Aug

Hey Everyone!

It’s me, Josh!  I’m in New York City, where, ostensibly, I live now.  It’s been a lot of fun so far.  In the daytime I’ve been writing and exploring and eating hot dogs and doing errands for Gaby so she doesn’t get sick of me living at her house and looking for my own house.  At night I’ve been going to shows.

“What’s great about this city,” my friend Mike told me last night, “is that you can get up so much if you’re willing to put in the work.  Tonight I’m doing a 6pm open mic in Long Island City, then an 8pm show in Manhattan, then back out to Queens for a 9:30 show, and then back into the city for an 11pm mic.  It’s all about how much work you’re willing to do.”

That’s an exciting prospect.  Even if the shows aren’t all winners, it’s cool to be able to get up and do so many sets in a given night.

On Monday, I cooked a quick dinner (trying to earn my keep) and then hustled downtown to try an open mic.  When I walked in, it was a disaster.  The room was full of the cast and crew of an independent film that had just wrapped.  They were drunk and getting drunker and not leaving anytime soon.  They were unaware that their party was going to turn into a comedy show at the crack of 10pm.  It was going to be Ambush Comedy.  Now, standup is a lot like making love (it’s not, but bear with me).  If everyone is excited about it, it’s fun and great (so I hear).  But if one party isn’t psyched…or worse, doesn’t know it’s going to happen…that will make it horrible for everybody.

That said, I was kind of excited to be a part of a train wreck and see that New York is not unlike Boston in some ways.  I’m still not 100% comfortable in hip NYC comedy rooms, but I sure do know my way around a messy slugfest in a barroom.  By the time I went on (15th) it was after midnight.  It was 24 hours since I’d arrived in the city.  Comics had begged and pleaded with the crowd to listen.  They had demanded and shouted and flipped birds.  I chose to ignore them (as a few others had) and focus on the comedians and few legitimate audience members.

It didn’t go great, but my expectations were very, very low.  I was pleased to have Open Mic 1 under my belt.

Number 2 came last night.  I hustled out to The Creek and the Cave (in Long Island City) for a 6pm mic.  I got to do two and a half minutes in front of a room of all comics, but they were very supportive and fun, and it was a good hangout.

I took the train back into Manhattan for a show produced by friends Harrison Greenbaum and Sam Morrill and hosted by friend Baratunde Thurston.  I caught up with Harrison while we watched the audience slowly fill up the back room of Bar 82 in the East Village.  Once the show started, the crowd was a little slow to warm up, but Baratunde did a great job picking their energy up and getting them laughing.

My set was really, really fun.  I was super lucky to get to go up in front of an awesome crowd my second night in the city.  Then, as soon as I got offstage, Baratunde brought up Jim Gaffigan.  Actual Jim Gaffigan.  It was pretty neat.  He was working out some really funny new material, and he opened by referencing my last joke, which was in the grand scheme of things not a big deal, but last night totally made me geek out.

After his set, I said hello and that I enjoyed his work.  It was nice.

I know that things here will get grizzly and confidence-smushy at times, so I’m really happy my first couple of nights had lots of friendship and a good set and meeting one of my favorite comedians.