Category Archives: Comedy

Get Your Learn On: PR and Comedy Writing Classes

I’m teaching a handful of classes in February through Dabble.co. My last classes in January were so successful that I’ve added a MEDIA RELATIONS class and  a JOKE WRITING LAB. These classes have received amazing feedback from students, plus they are only $20. You can’t go wrong with that. Tell your friends or sign up yourself.

press releasePR 101: Press Release Writing Basics teaches students how to format, write and distribute a press release.

PR 201: Media Relations Basics teaches students how to follow up with a press release, prepare to be interviewed and, in general, interact with the media.

Smiley Face
Comedy Writing 101: The Basics of Joke Writing teaches students the nuts and bolts of putting together a zinger. You’ll receive a comprehensive overview of comedic genres as well as an in-depth list of tools and tips to help you craft your own jokes.

Comedy Writing 201: The Joke Writing Lab provides students with a workshop environment to test and refine material in a supportive. This highly interactive class focuses on instructor-facilitated peer critique.

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Guinness Book of World’s Most Racist Records

Sometimes when it’s late at night and I’m left alone, I get stuck in a YouTube hole and start finding the weirdest shit. Last night was certainly no exception. I ended up somehow coming across the YouTube channel for the Guinness Book of World’s Records and found these doozies.

Exhibit A:

Exhibit B:

 

How to Become Famous in 10 Easy Steps

My father always said that no matter what job you have–whether it’s being the CEO of a company or bathing said CEO’s cat–do the best job you can. Your outstanding work ethic will be recognized and you will be tapped for success. Now that I’m an adult, I can honestly say my dad was feeding me heaping spoonfuls of bullshit. Giant dense wads of BULL…SHIT.

Bull

My ears are burning!

In this day and age, your hard work amounts to a hill of beans. And by that, I mean if traded on the open market, a hill of beans would equate to your annual salary. The vast majority of companies have zero loyalty when it comes to their employees. They answer to their investors not you, person who faxes lunch orders to Quiznos. In fact, they loathe you because they have not found a way to automate your job with robots. You are nothing more than a stapler with feelings. A fucking human resource.  Sorry if I’m getting a little Fiona up in here.

Fiona

This world is bullshhh...Oh? We covered that already? Okay.

That’s right, you precious little snowflake. Your talents can easily be replicated by someone ten years your junior and for half the cost. Your dumbass little brother who exposed his butt to pee until he was 12? He is now a viable up-and-comer. Also, the older you get, the more you break down. Older employees are prone to malfunctions like the flu, chronic pain and pregnancy. And let me tell you, if there’s one thing your company hates, it’s a pregnant employee.

Pregnant

Sir, here is the Peterson file you asked for. Pregnant? Oh, no sir. Where did you get that crazy idea? Please don't fire me!

And let’s say you do work hard and move your way up the corporate ladder. Let’s say you play the game and you play it well. What then? What’s next? You just move a fucking notch up, get a more grandiose yet meaningless title, a slightly higher salary and exponential more responsibility. You will be expected to be the first one in and the last one to leave. If your underlings don’t meet their quotas, that’s your fault. If you don’t meet your quotas, that’s your fault. Your ass is on the line, son. But this is what you wanted, right? A white collar shirt, a pair of khakis and an office with a view of another fucking office!

suicide

Severance package (employees must provide their own bullets)

So you want out of the rat race, right? You want to live the easy life in a mansion on the hill overlooking the ocean? No problem! I got just the thing. Fame! Fame is the easiest path to never having to collate or hole punch anything ever again. So I give you…

How to become famous in 10 easy steps

1. Buy a digital camcorder 

2. Hide said digital camcorder in a discreet location, such as the inside of a teddy bear’s stomach. If you are not prone to collecting teddy bear’s and you think this would arouse suspicion, start collecting teddy bears. When your friends ask you, “Hey, bro. What’s with the teddy bears?” Just say, “Fuck off! You will be dead to me when I am famous.”

3. Position the camera so that it provides a clear view of your bed. 

4Invite a celebrity over to your apartment for sex. (This is the easy part.)

5. Have sex with the celebrity. Make sure to try to mug for the camera. It’s important that your face gets full attention. After all, it is what people will recognize first when they come to one of your book signings. Also, try to engage in the most depraved sex act imaginable. Having trouble thinking of ideas? Just open the dictionary to a random page and point. Then put that thing in a hole and, voila, depravity!

6. Add title cards to your sex tape. It is important to give credit where credit is due. Don’t forget to mention that no animals were harmed in the filming of the tape unless animals were harmed, which if you are doing this right, they were. 

7. Send the tape to one of the countless trashy websites on the Internet. If you don’t know of any, then God bless you. 

8. Hold out for the highest bidder when you do your first interview. Unfortunately, Oprah is off the air, which really struck a blow to the wages of shameless sluts everywhere. 

9. Develop a reality show. Now that you have had a celebrity inside you, everyone wants to know what you eat for breakfast. 

10. Sign a book deal. Don’t worry, you won’t have to write it. I will. 

And that’s it! You are super famous, and now you can just ride this roller coaster until you die in a pool of your own vomit. Just make sure to remember the little guys who helped you along the way. That way you can describe them to your sniper guards should they decide to trespass on your property. 

Personal Branding: An Egotistical Necessity

I hope you all know and love the late comedian Bill Hicks as much as I do. If you don’t, then maybe you shouldn’t read this blog. I’m just joking. You should ALWAYS read this blog. But, one thing Mr. Hicks railed against frequently on stage was commercialism and its eroding effect on artistic integrity. In fact, the outlaw of comedy went so far as to say (and I’m paraphrasing here) that if you are a successful artist and you are still doing commercials or shilling for a company, then everything out of your mouth should be taken with a heavy dose of skepticism.

jason alexander

Jason Alexander co-starring with a box of fried chicken

What Bill Hicks failed to realize, or perhaps just didn’t have the foresight to predict, is that the artist himself has evolved to become a walking talking consumer good. That’s right. Just as Coca-Cola is sold as a feel-good American syrupy carbonated soft drink, Bill Hicks is sold as a legendary and abrasive comedy icon who challenged social norms.

Bill Hicks

Have you had your Bill Hicks today?

We live in a time where in order to make your self-expression financially viable, you need to market yourself to the powers that be–those gatekeepers that serve as the liaisons between content creators and content consumers. And to market yourself, you need to brand yourself. But what the fuck does “branding” mean?

branding

Smells like commercial viability with a strong bent toward the sweet spot demographic

Branding is basically marketing speak for developing an identity for which you want others to know you by. An example of branding as applied to consumer goods, for example, would be that we associate McDonald’s with fun, affordable and fast food. This brand identity shapes everything McDonald’s does, from the design of their restaurant interiors to their commercials. This same concept can be applied to people in what is often referred to as a “personal brand.”

More and more, this concept of a “personal brand” is leaking into mainstream discussion. I recently was watching an episode of Extra or Access Hollywood or something that is on when it is 2 a.m. and you are drunk or stoned and you have run out of back episodes of Louie to watch on Hulu. The host mentioned something about Kim Kardashian not changing her name post marriage and speculated that she made this decision in order to “preserve her brand.”

kardashian

Consumer associations with the Kardashian brand include big butts, uselessness and alliteration.

But the unfortunate truth is that an artist kind of has to develop a personal brand these days. And to do this, you kind of have to take a look in the mirror, swallow your pride and start deconstructing who you are and rebuilding yourself into who you want people to think you are. So say you are a fat inconsiderate, hypocritical slob, but you want people to see you as a beacon of reason and hope. Easy! Just position yourself as a true patriot who is helping the struggling class of white heterosexual underdogs.

Rush

Racist troglodyte + branding = patriotic freedom fighter

The good news is that you don’t have to trade your soul for a personal brand. If you take the time to understand who you are and the assets you bring to the table, you can stay true to yourself and retain your artistic integrity. The goal is really just capitalizing on and emphasizing certain assets you already have in order to help shape your public identity. There is also a need to develop a consistency in your work. For instance, someone who has branded himself as the world’s most prolific horror novelist is going to have a pretty hard time selling a feel-good prison story.

shawshank

I stand corrected.

In general, though, there are very few Stephen Kings out there. So it’s best to find your niche and run with it. And this should bleed into everything you do, from the way you market yourself via social media to the way you present yourself in public as a writer. Yeah, it feels a little contrived. And yeah, you feel a bit like a hack doing it. But like I said, be yourself, be true to yourself and just capitalize on attributes that you already possess and you’ll be just fine. The trouble starts when you try to sell yourself as something you’re not.

Glitter

Mariah Carey as an actress? What could possibly go wrong?

How Funny Is Rape? A: Not at All

It may come as a surprise, but I’m not a woman. However, I have no hangups about reading a woman-oriented website like Jezebel, which recently published a really interesting story and accompanying video titled Is This Comedy Monologue a Rape Confession?

jezebel

For her eyes only...and the occasional his eyes

The monologue cited in the story and captured in the video was delivered as part of an improv show in New York. The show occurred during one of the biggest annual improv events in the country, the Del Close Marathon, which memorializes a crazy drug-abusing theatrical genius whose death propelled him just a hair above unknown.

del close

Del Close: Forever less famous than Snookie

The gentleman who delivers the monologue is a former Chicago resident, Second City employee and improviser. I will preface my summary of his public display of confession by stating I do not know him, and I have never met the guy.

If you are too lazy or uncomfortable to watch the footage, here’s a quick rundown of the terribleness that ensues. In short, he tells the tale of how one time when he was a cook at Second City, he got a girl’s phone number and hotel room through dishonest means. That’s already a pretty shitty start to a story. But so far, no harm done, right?

He then actually fucking goes to her hotel room and surprises her by not being the guy she thought he was. We’ve escalated to creepy, but we still haven’t transgressed to rapey. When he refuses to leave after she tells him to go, he walks into the hotel room and closes the door behind him. Yeah. Now we’re getting “rapey.”

jaw drop

My expression exactly, Roger.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t end here. He continues with his story, recounting how he continued to stay put after the young woman pleaded for him to leave multiple times. He then went in for a kiss, which eventually led to full on sex. Although we do not know whether the sex was completely non-consensual, I feel personally that it is safe to say based on his facts she was strongly coerced. And really, is there a difference between non-consensual and coerced?

Suffice to say, Second City has allegedly reported the employee to the proper authorities. Improv Las Vegas, which represents the improv community where the alleged attacker resides, has publicly banned the young man from taking classes or performing within the city limits. I’d say all this effectively ruined the guy’s improv career, but who’s kidding who. For 99.9999% of improvisers out there, there is no such thing as an improv career.

whose line

Making shit up has never been so lucrative. No really. It hasn't.

This monologue issue raises some interesting questions that directly relate to the art of storytelling, which I kind of know a thing or two about. Particularly, the fact that this young man finds his story of coercing a girl into having sex compelling and funny is both revolting and a sad commentary on what some consider a good comedic essay. Just because you act like a fucking turd does not mean a piece is interesting or that you displayed vulnerability. You have to express some degree of self-awareness that you acted like a fucking turd for a piece like this to work. You have to walk away a changed man, with some new knowledge about how to or not to live life. If you haven’t learned anything from your personal experience or changed because of it, then why the fuck do I care?

I think every story, no matter how horrendous, has a right to be told. We are all capable of doing terrible things. But you cannot tell the story until you have learned from the experience. I hope the next time this guy tells this story, he focuses on the part in which he tells it in front of an entire auditorium of people. Then the climax would not be the point in which he has sex with the girl but rather the point in which the audience starts booing. This is the critical point in which it (God willing) dawns on him that what he did was wrong and that retelling the story in front of an audience was a misguided and foolish thing to do. That is revealing. That is vulnerable. It doesn’t make me like the guy more. But it provides a context for which I can somewhat enjoy this story on a level that conveys people can acquire a new perspective on their mistakes, no matter how senseless those mistakes may be.

Monkey Hate Write

It has been a busy week of writing. From juggling client projects to pitching new pieces to working on new essays, my brain is drained. So I’m going to just post a funny video and call it a day. Enjoy!

http://www.livevideo.com/video/E29BFB76390C4DD793BF50D15F2B2B12/the-bathroom-monkey.aspx

Tea Party Shenanigans

I snapped this picture the other day. It is rich in deliciously layered tiers of irony. The bumper sticker is an acrostic that reads: One Big Ass Mistake America

And feel free to share amongst your friends. Let’s make this thing go viral, shall we?