So not too long ago I lost (hopefully temporarily) my room and comedy home, Take 5 Gourmet in Robbinsville, NJ. Not long after that, I found out that I got rejected from a comedy festival I registered for. I was pissed because it was something I really wanted. I was bummed out, but I did what I always do when I experience adversity: I made a joke out of it. And yes, I will be debuting it and posting the video shortly and yes, dammit it’s funny.
Now I say all that to say this: Yes, I absolutely thought about quitting comedy and just accepting my life as a desk pilot in Corporate America…for exactly three seconds until I remembered that I am my father’s child and a stubborn, obstinate bitch and I swear I heard his voice calling to me from the Ether and telling me that if I give up he’s going to jam his foot up my ass. And yes, anyone who knew my father would tell you that is absolutely something he would say.
I remembered that a dear comedy friend had contacted me about doing a show in South Jersey the weekend the festival was supposed to be and I let him know that I couldn’t commit to it. I messaged him and let him know that if he still needed someone I’d be glad to come out. It was a shot in the dark but I took it anyway because you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. I needed to prove to myself that I could stand back up after getting knocked on my ass. I was fortunate enough to hear back from him and that he had a spot for me.
So my comedy life handed me a couple comedy lemons and I turned them into comedy lemonade. Now all I need is to find some comedy vodka.
I got some sad news the other day. The place where I fell in love with comedy is closed for the time being. I’m not sure if this is forever, but I am sure that I’m pretty bummed out. The owners are the nicest people and they gave us a home. I met a lot of my comedy friends there and they have been absolutely amazing. I posted about it in Facebook and their support has been overwhelming and I am truly humbled. I may not have a platform, but what I do have is an amazing family of choice. My actual family has also been supportive. I’m not sure what the future holds, but I can honestly say that I’ve chosen my tribe wisely and I’m thankful to all of you. Rest assured, you haven’t heard the last from this sarcastic little ray of sunshine. To all my haters, stay tuned. There’s more to come. Lumos!
Every comedian I know does jokes about their family. However not very many do jokes about their family in front of their family. Kurt, Mr. Miyagi himself does jokes about his wife and daughter with them in the crowd and I’ve been present for many a joke from Dawn or Katelyn at Kurt’s expense.
I have had the pleasure of making jokes about my mom in front of her. She was amused, but not nearly as amused as my aunt was. Last week, I did a joke about my phone conversations with my sister since she had the kids and they’re very different. She said that the act out I did sounded like a transcript of an actual conversation, that is when my niece doesn’t jack the phone because she wants to talk to Aunt Lynne.
Some comics think “Oh crap my family’s here. There goes half my act.” I’ve come to the conclusion that I am not one of them. They’ve seen me in states much worse than standing on a stage with a mic so I’m pretty sure they can hang. Besides it’s a lot more fun to do the jokes they inspire when they’re there to appreciate them.
So a friend of mine who’s also a comic got trolled recently. Apparently someone dedicated the time and energy into making a Facebook page dedicated to their hatred of him. My first thought was, why? I mean all the pressing issues life has to offer and you choose to go after a stand-up comedian that you’ve probably saw exactly once in your life? Seriously?
My second thought was raucous laughter because see the thing about stand-up comics is a) that they make jokes for a living and b) that they also hang out with other stand-up comics who also make jokes for a living. Given that tidbit of knowledge why would anyone ever think that trolling a stand-up comedian would end in anything other than their complete humiliation? I mean, duh! Right?
Now that’s not to say we comics are mean-spirited folk, far from it. We are however a community. That means we have no problem coming to the aid of one of our own when the situation calls for it. That’s why it’s not really a good idea for trolls to come for one of us. You know, so maybe follow Wil Wheaton’s rule and don’t be a dick.
If like me, you were deeply disappointed by the prequels to the point where you threw up your hands and gave up on Star Wars, now is not the time to allow that to make you bitter. Do yourself a favor and watch Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, then re-watch the originals and by that I mean the non-remastered originals. You know the films as they were meant to be; before Stephen Spielberg screwed with them.
Rogue One bridges the gap between the travesty that was Revenge of the Sith and the holy trilogy. You might just fall back in love with the franchise. If that doesn’t work, remember who you were the first time you saw the films. If you were like me, you were a sweet summer child uncorrupted by adulthood. You still believed in miracles and Donald Trump wasn’t yet elected so you still believed in the power of good triumphing over evil. Remember that child. Now watch The Force Awakens.
Are you caught up? Good. Now GO SEE THE LAST JEDI. RUN, DON’T WALK. This film has everything. It has our space mom Carrie Fisher and yes for the record I cried. I can’t begin to describe how much I miss that woman. She was smart and honest and fierce and beautiful. It’s got Mark Hammill and it’s got jokes. It’s got BB-8 being a total badass. It’s got Captain Phasma, Finn, Supreme Leader Snoke, and the ginger general, General Huks. Kylo Ren finally takes off that ridiculous helmet and Rey starts coming into her own.
And I haven’t even gone into the creatures!!! There are racing creatures on a casino planet called Fathiers. I mean come on, look at this thing. Don’t you just want to pet it? I totally do. I want to give it treats of…um…whatever the hell they would eat as a treat.
Then there are the crystal foxes. They look incredibly cool and I can’t imagine how many hours went into creating them. I would pet it, but I’d want some type of protective gloves because it just looks…prickly.
Chewbacca came back again and I’m happy to report that nothing happened to him. If God forbid something did, you’d already know it because you’d already have seen me on the news taking to the streets and rioting. I LOVE that Wookie. If I had been born and raised in the Rebellion, Chewy would’ve been my favorite babysitter. If you’re still not sold on the new films, picture little me putting ribbons in Chewy’s fur and the look on Han’s face when he witnessed my handiwork. I mean come on, guys. Give it chance. It has porgs. PORGS!!!! They’re so cute Chewy couldn’t bring himself to eat them and come on Chewy eats pretty much everything. How stinkin’ cute are they? I defy you to look at the picture above and not at least quietly to yourself say awwww.
In all seriousness if you really want to have a good time at the movies, go see The Last Jedi. I highly recommend a theater with recliner seats. They’ve basically ruined all other movie theaters for me.
This time last week, I was enjoying my first full day in Florida visiting one of my favorite hecklers: my mother. I flew home yesterday and woke up to howling wind and it reminded me of the Stark house words: Winter is Coming. It’s an interesting juxtaposition with my mother’s adopted words which are Screw the Cold and the Snow!
The journey there was about as good as any air travel adventure could be. I’m starting to think that we as a species are way overthinking the process of getting onto and off of a plane. It is my firm belief that the absolute worst time to have to pee is when the plane is in its final descent and you’re not allowed to leave your seat.
Once we successfully de-planed and I relieved myself, we made our way to the curb where my mother was going to pick us up or so I thought. She parked and met us inside the airport. We napped, went to Saturday church service and met some of her church ladies and had some church chat then hit Rib City which is a bangin’ BBQ joint.
Our adventures included a trip to Target, the shooting range, Bass Pro Shop, Ron Jon Surf Shop, a visit to the Naples Zoo and Tin City, walks to the beach, skim boarding, a dolphin boat tour, and a Friday night showing of Justice League.
My mom found my love of Target entertaining. I found the groupings on her shooting range target unsettling. She talked about getting the license to carry concealed until I reminded her that she lived in Naples, not Compton. She eyed up Sig Sauers at the Bass Pro Shop. I suppose I should cool it on the nursing home jokes.
Our visit to the zoo was educational. There were some penguins visiting. I know the last thing one expects to see in sunny southwest Florida is penguins, but there they were. There are also two black bears who were rescued from a private owner who wasn’t equipped to properly care for them. They regularly test bear-proof trash cans and one manufacturer discovered the hard way that they needed to upgrade their plastic when one of the bears sat on their prototype and broke it.
There’s also a Florida Panther who was shot in the face with a shotgun and lost one of its eyes and is blind in the other. Uno was found on the side of the road emaciated after his injuries left him unable to hunt and living on roadkill for weeks. Veterinarians treated him and the zoo rehabilitated him and gave him a permanent home since he’s not able to return to the wild. My mom is now even more astounded that I survived to adulthood when I approached the coyote enclosure and exclaimed, “Puppy!”
We visited Tin City and the Naples Winery because wine. We got up early the next day and went out on a boat tour to see if we could see some dolphins. We weren’t disappointed. In fact, there was a full on dolphin playdate going on in the water and we were invited. Sadly I could not jump into the water with them because of some “They’re wild animals with cone-shaped teeth and a rostrum made of solid bone,” nonsense. Still, it was really awesome to see a thriving marine habitat despite the Republican party’s best efforts.
My mom had to go and pick up her Pastor from the airport so we needed something to do Friday evening so we decided to go see Justice League. Recliner theaters are awesome but in Florida they’re pretty funny because you’ll undoubtedly hear at least one senior citizen snoring. The movie was actually pretty good. I enjoyed it. I’m still a Marvel fan fo’ life but well played, DC. Well played.
I might’ve taken a vacation, but my comedy didn’t. I wrote some new material and yes my mom is just thrilled.
You meet some incredible people doing stand-up. For better or worse, when you do stand-up you become part of a community. Like any good community, we all come together to help each other. I met my comedy mentor when I joined Eastern Star (if you want to know more about Eastern Star and Masonic organizations, read My Life: Built by Masonry here.). Through him, I met my comedy cohorts and the family that runs hamiltonradio.net. I’ve met published authors, talented musicians, and a lot of damn nice people.
As much as I enjoy meeting other comics, I enjoy connecting with the crowd. We have a group of regulars that come to the shows at Take 5 and I always enjoy talking to them before, during, and after the show. When I meet people who tell me they’ve been thinking of trying stand-up for ages, I always tell them the same thing: do it! I say that not just because of the experiences I’ve had or the places I’ve been on this stand-up journey. My biggest reason for telling people who want to try comedy to do it, is the people I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and the community I’m blessed to be a part of.
I don’t really include a lot of jokes about my dad in my act. He died on December 12, 2012. Yes, that’s correct 12/12/12 in case I ever wanted to try to forget the worst day of my life. Regardless of the date I assure you that every second of it would be firmly burned into my mind like a brand from a hot iron. When I started doing stand up at the end of 2015, almost three years to the day later, I initially shied away from writing material about him, not because I don’t have positive things to say about him but more because I felt disrespectful poking fun at him. However, I’ve learned that in comedy nothing is sacred and limiting yourself in terms of material is a mistake, so I started slowly but surely adding jokes about my dad into my act. After all comedy is in part telling my story and the man isn’t just 50% of my DNA he’s also a massive character in my story.
Liking animals better than people?
I get it.
Before he became my father, he was first a son who tried to smuggle a puppy into his parents’ house. His friend at school had a bulldog and she had puppies and her parents wouldn’t let her keep them all, so he took a young male who has brown in color and named him Rusty. The game was up when my grandfather heard Rusty crying in the basement, but he couldn’t bring himself to make my dad give the dog back. In exchange for this, the dog was solely my dad’s responsibility and one that he shouldered well. My dad was a sucker for animals and I clearly inherited this trait from him. Fast forward a few decades and long car trips involved many stops for our husky Trina but my sister and I had to hold it, “We’re not getting a damn cat,” turned into “Who’s Daddy’s kitty?,” and there are more pictures of Bob the Pug in the house than there are of his children or stepchildren. Just saying.
After successfully smuggling a dog into his parents’ house, he went on to high school then enlisted in the United States Army. He was a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne. That means he jumped out of a fully operational aircraft consensually. He didn’t fall. Nobody pushed him. All the respect in the world to our service people, but HOLY CRAP ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?! God bless y’all because there’s no way in hell I’d do that. He also crawled under barbed wire while being shot at by machine guns with every third round being a tracer round. Nothing says keep your butt down like watching a tracer round go whizzing by less than an inch above it. I think about that every time I do push-ups. The first joke I wrote about him had to do with this very topic because if I jumped out of a plane you’d have to shove me out and do it far from the ears of the enemy because my screaming would surely give away our position.
After his Honorable Discharge, he went to college and became a teacher. As it turns out, my dad liked kids as much as he liked animals and he helped lots of them and ended up having two of his own.
My father was a stubborn man and at some point in his life, my grandfather told him that he hoped he had a kid who was just like him. He thought he dodged that bullet with my sister. Four years later, ta-daaaaaaaaaa! My paternal grandfather died before my sister and I were born, but on July 6, 1982 somewhere in Heaven he was laughing his ass off and he laughed even harder when I became a teenager. There were many times in my childhood when I’m sure my grandfather’s words came back to haunt him. I remember more than once seeing him look at me and just knowing that he wanted so badly to be mad but he couldn’t be because he saw so much of himself in me. That may very well be the only reason I survived to adulthood. I’m actually terrified of having children because my father said the very same thing to me and I’m like the Highlander. In the end there can be only one.
On his honeymoon with my mom, Dad had a few too many Mai Tais at a Don Ho concert and proceeded to heckle him. Were my father still around to watch me perform, I absolutely believe that he would heckle the crap out of me, no Mai Tais required. Why do I say this? Because every B I brought home should’ve been an A and would’ve been if I had just put my mind to it and studied harder. If I got a C I failed the class. It may have taught me to be hard on myself and hold myself to a high standard and reach for perfection that I know damn right well is not attainable in everything I do, but it also gave me more drive, ambition, and a strong work ethic.
As a high school softball pitcher I heard “Throw strikes!!!,” being shouted from the stands. The second joke I wrote about him had to do with his efforts to teach me how to play golf. I maintain that there are certain things that no father should ever attempt to teach his daughter and golf is most definitely on that list. If it’s not item #1, it’s definitely in the top 5. His sage advice included gems like “Hit the ball straight.” Thank God he pointed that out to me BECAUSE I HAD NO IDEA!!!! It truly is a small miracle that neither of us came home with golf club-shaped bruises.
My first words to him when he was in the hospital were “I’m sorry, Dad. I should’ve been a better kid.” Yes, the Girl Scout, the honor student, the choir girl, the quintessential high school nerd that every teacher loved stood there and wished she’d been a better kid. My sister also pointed out how ridiculous that sounds. Sure, we drove each other crazy. Every kid drives their parents a bit crazy. Every parent drives their kids a bit crazy. My dad pushed my buttons so well because he installed half of them. He also made me driven, stubborn, hard-working, and funny.
There seems to be a lot of controversy around transgender people and their use of public bathrooms. There are some (read: bigots) who seem to think that if transgender people are allowed to use the bathroom assigned to the gender they feel comfortable in rather than the one they were assigned at birth, perverts the world over will get the idea that if they throw on a wig and some make up, they’ll be free to hang out in ladies rooms and molest women of all ages. This logic makes no sense to me because the very same people who think this way put a pervert who wears a wig and make up and openly brags about sexually assaulting women in the White House.
Let me go ahead and break this down for you piece by piece and using small words so that your tiny pea-sized brains will understand: TRANSGENDER PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE TOO! That means like all people they go potty. It also means that they should have the same basic rights you and I do.
But what about our daughters? Don’t they have the right to potty in relative safety? What if some pervert pretends to be transgender and tries to molest them?
Fact: More Republican lawmakers have been arrested for sexual misconduct in public restrooms than transgender people. It’s true. Google it. I’ll wait. But more importantly, if you’re so concerned for your daughters’ safety why exactly are you not escorting them into the public restroom?
She’s a teenager. What if she’s out with her friends?
Seriously? Have you ever seen a teenage girl out with her friends go into a bathroom alone? That’s what I thought.
But what if she’s on a date with her boyfriend?
Then the boyfriend is the one you should be worried about because I promise you he’s the one who’s trying the hardest to get at your daughter’s bits below the belt. But if you’re really that concerned about her using a public restroom by herself, teach her how to defend herself. Hint: the answer is almost always kick the groin.
Well I still think there ought to be a law requiring people to use the bathroom assigned to the gender they were born with.
Of course you do, but let me ask you this: How exactly would we go about enforcing such a law? I don’t know about you, but if someone walked up to me in a public restroom and asked me to show my genitals, I’d punch that person in the throat. You complain about how high taxes are now. Imagine how high they’ll be when we have to allocate public funds to enforce a ridiculous law on who uses which bathroom.
Why don’t we talk about the real issue here, that being your obvious transphobia, hmm? I get it. People fear that which they do not understand. You’ve always felt comfortable in your gender and don’t understand how anyone possibly couldn’t feel the same way. Okay think about why people dye their hair. Let’s say you were born with blonde hair, but as you age, you start to feel like your hair color just doesn’t fit you. You try everything. You try styling it differently, different cuts, etc and you still just don’t feel comfortable in your own skin as a blonde and you think you’d rather have brown hair, so you dye it. No big deal right? Sure some people may hate on you, but you’re happy and that’s what matters. At its very core, this gender issue is basically the same. Admittedly comparing changing gender to dying one’s hair is perhaps oversimplifying it and doesn’t entirely do it justice. After all, it’s not very likely that your parents will disown you for dying your hair. However for the purposes of explaining something big and complicated to people whose minds are small and closed, oversimplification can be a useful tool.
But what if my kid turns out to be one of those freaks?
Come on. Really? Transgender people are people just like you and me. They’re not freaks. We talked about this. A chance meeting with a transgender person in a public restroom is not going to turn your non-trans child trans. It doesn’t work that way. Frankly the fact that you think it does makes you a very special kind of stupid. If your child is going to be trans, it’s going to happen and there’s nothing you can do about it at this point because you see, your child has already been born and oh my God I can’t believe I have to say this in 2017.
When you were expecting your child before you knew what his/her gender was going to be, you didn’t care right? When people asked you said you just wanted a healthy, happy baby. So um…what exactly has changed? Why would you feel any differently now? Do you not love your child? Seriously what the hell is wrong with you? If you disown your transgender child, there’s a very special place in hell for you. I’m also going to need you to take that Jesus fish off the back of your car because anyone with your lack of compassion and tolerance has no right to call themselves a Christian.
Fine but they should have to use a separate bathroom from the rest of us.
Oh sure and while we’re at it, maybe we should make them use separate water fountains, make them sit in the back of city busses, and go to “separate but equal” schools. See, that’s how legal precedent works. First it’s a separate bathroom and then down the slippery slope we go until we bring back segregation. But here’s another fun fact about legal precedent: When the Supreme Court rules something unconstitutional, it’s pretty much game over for that law. Newsflash! In case you missed it, Brown v. Board of Education ruled state-sponsored segregation illegal in 1954.
I have a novel idea for you! JUST PEE OR POO AND MIND YOUR OWN DAMN BUSINESS! If the person in the restroom looks like a female from the waist up, assume she’s female. If the person looks like a male from the waist up, assume he’s a male. What goes on in the stall is between you and your deity of choice, so why should it be any different for them? What’s below your waist is none of their business so why is what’s below their waists any of yours? Seriously how old are we? Grow up! Just do your business and mind your own.
Here it comes another one of my classic rants, folks! Consider yourselves warned!
I can’t believe I have to say this to grown men in 2017, but here it goes: There’s a right way and a wrong way to talk to women. It’s true! You really can speak to women in a way that doesn’t frustrate, annoy, offend, or otherwise aggravate them.
The first step is understanding that YOU ARE THE PROBLEM! We’re not over-sensitive. We’re not triggered snowflakes. You’re just an asshole. Don’t feed me a load of crap about how women are by nature irrational and prone to emotional reactions. That simply isn’t true and for God’s sake it’s 2017. Don’t bother bringing up our menstrual cycles either. We have years of experience dealing with our own hormones or as I call it riding the dragon. Call me Khaleesi. We’re not frail, emotional, reactionary creatures. Political correctness isn’t out of control. Stop making excuses.
Now that we have that out of the way, the next step is very simple. It’s called SHOWING WOMEN SOME FREAKIN’ RESPECT! That means not taking a condescending tone, not interrupting us, and not mansplaining when we ask you a question. Mansplaining is defined by the fine folks at Merriam-Webster as “when a man talks condescendingly to someone (especially a woman) about something he has incomplete knowledge of with the mistaken assumption that he knows more about it than the person he’s talking to does.” You don’t need to patronize us or translate your college level words into Trump speak for women to understand you.
Speak to us the same way that you would speak to someone you respect and admire. If you wouldn’t call someone you respect and admire honey, sweetie, puddin’, etc., then don’t do that to women. The only time it’s acceptable to use a term of endearment when speaking to a woman is if she is your significant other, child, or younger female relative (e.g. your niece). If she’s none of the above, don’t do it. It’s not nice or cute. It’s annoying and it makes you sound like a condescending jackass.
Now let’s talk about joking with women. Some men seem to think one of two things: Either women can’t take a joke because we’re “too sensitive” or “too easily offended,” or they think that their jokes are funny when in reality they’re just offensive as all fuck.
When making a joke, you have to think carefully about your topic. A joke about your girlfriend’s flatulence could be funny. A joke about gang-raping the only female comic at a comedy show? Not funny. Got it? Good. Violence against women is not funny. Violence against anyone who is not an obviously fictional cartoon character is not funny.
Now let’s talk about content. If the joke about your girlfriend’s flatulence ends with you recording an album of songs made from the various sounds her flatulence makes and releasing it next month, that’s funny. After all, who doesn’t like a good fart joke? The only way a joke about violence against women could ever be funny is if it ends with us getting to watch you get your ass beat by the woman you tried to assault or if it ends with you getting arrested, going to prison, and getting the same treatment from your cell mate and his buddies that you tried to give to that female comic earlier. That’s called poetic justice and sometimes it’s funny as hell.
Now let’s talk about a little thing I like to call discernment. As an adult, you should already understand the importance of thinking before you speak and having a filter. However if you don’t that’s okay. I’ll break it down for you.
The Child Filter:
If you’re about to say something to a woman, stop and imagine how you would feel if another man said the same thing to your daughter. If you’d knock him out, don’t say it. If you’re about to say something to a woman, stop and imagine what you would do if your son said the same thing to a girl. If you’d punish him, don’t say it.
Think of the example you’re setting for your children and act like they’re watching because trust me, they are.
The Husband Filter:
If you’re about to say something to a woman, stop and imagine how you would feel if another man said the same thing to your wife. If you’d knock him out, don’t say it. If you’re about to say something to a woman, stop and ask yourself, “Would my wife cuss me out and make me sleep on the couch if I said this to her?” If she’d cuss you out, don’t say it.
You want your wife to brag about you to her friends, right? Good! Act like it.
The Boyfriend Filter:
If you’re about to say something to a woman, stop and imagine how you would feel if another man said the same thing to your girlfriend. If you’d knock him out, don’t say it. If you’re about to say something to a woman, stop and ask yourself, “Would my girlfriend be pissed if I said this to her?” If she’d be pissed, don’t say it.
If you want your girlfriend to stick around, show her that you respect her and all women. Respect for women is hot.
If all else fails, think of any woman in your life that you love, respect, and admire and if you wouldn’t want another man to speak to them the way you’re thinking of speaking to the woman in front of you, change your damn tune! Treat others the way you want to be treated. You want to be treated with respect don’t you? Yes? Good! SO DO WOMEN!!! I’m so glad we had this talk.