The Imagination and Procrastination of Jared Stern, Amiable Zany
Monday, February 01, 2016
Susan Sarandon's Eyes Are Up Here
Let’s all calm down about Susan Sarandon’s boobs. The woman helped define feminism in the '90s by driving her car off a cliff and she won an Oscar for playing a nun. She's almost 70 and the fact that her boobs are still worth showing off deserves a special Lifetime A-cleave-ment Award. She’s Hollywood royalty and just because she wore a bra with no shirt at the SAG Awards, the Internet is reacting like the Empress had no clothes. Piers Morgan, auditioning for a judge's seat on Britain's Got No Business Commenting, felt the need to weigh in, tweeting that she was "very tacky."
Just because you wouldn't be caught dead in that outfit doesn't make it wrong for her. If she showed up to each individual funeral wearing that, I might agree with you, but this is the SAG Awards. Much like the Golden Globes, this is an excuse for the beautiful people to get drunk and tell each other how brave they are. Leonardo DiCaprio was vaping like he was preparing for his next role as the Caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland. The mood wasn’t exactly somber. It’s a celebration of lives of the recently passed and a contest to see which of them gets the most applause. Think of it as if her shirt was lowered to half-staff. The people who are giving her a hard time are also probably the same people who are miffed that Uggie the Dog wasn’t included in the tribute.
For some perspective, let's look at the only metric that counts, the Dow Jones Below Average, the Worst Dressed List. Entertainment Tonight doesn't have her on their 7 Worst Dressed, USA Today couldn't find a spot for her on their 9 Worst Dressed, and Entertainment Weekly didn't put her among their 5 Worst Dressed. I think the biggest take-away is that our attention spans can't make it through a list of ten anymore, but give us two to look at and we examine them with laser focus. None of the so-called fashion experts think she offended the style gods, so why has this turned into a tempest in a D-cup?
Instead of picking Susan Sarandon apart, we should turn our attention to the real issue, Lori Petty. Yikes. More like Pink is the New Blech, am I right?
If you're reading this, I'm guessing you were able to hunker down in your fort made of bread and toilet paper and weather the Blizzard of 2016. I think it's a little early in the year to be handing out titles like that, but it is accurate. It is, so far, the one blizzard of 2016. I'm finally dug out from the wall of crusty brown blech that my car was plowed behind. It's a good thing too because I have places to be. I got a call out of the blue from my friends at the Arlington Drafthouse and I'll be featuring for one of my comedy heroes this weekend, Emo Philips. His sing-songy absurdism spoke to me in the formative years of my sense of humor. His voice, harmonized with the monotone of Steven Wright, made beautiful comedy music. I'm really looking forward to sharing a stage with him. And you can experience it live and in person, simply by clicking the link on your right. Speaking of convenient link clickage, please to click on the big pink button and cast a vote for me (@FunnyJared) as DC's Best Twitter Personality. Validate my ego's parking.
You may think this blog is just an exercise in self-importance, and you pretty much hit the nail on the head. Good job. Here's a cookie. However, I am not nearly as self-important as the guy I encountered yesterday, while walking down Connecticut Ave. I had my earbuds in, so I could pretend to be listening to music, while actually listening in on out-of-context snippets of the conversations of passers-by. You should try it sometime...
"I'm just not warming up to Lisa like I thought I would."
"Have you thought of getting it lanced?"
"We need to motivate the team. Go buy chocolate."
It's just a wonderful tableau of the extra ordinary (note the space). So, I'm getting some juicy non-sequiturs, when suddenly, I hear a piano playing behind me. It was on a street corner, so it could've been an enterprising busker. I turned to see a guy, maybe in his twenties, with a JBL speaker around his neck, pumping out the stirring classical jams. It wasn't music that anyone could rightly complain about but it was loud enough to cause people to take notice. He figured a charge of disturbing the peace wouldn't stick because the disturbance was so darn peaceful. It was simultaneously inspirational and obnoxious, motivational and rude, tasteful tastelessness. This guy was forcefully providing the soundtrack to my stroll. Listen, buddy, I've got the chorus of voices in my head for that sort of thing. Take your joyous jangle elsewhere.
And if I am self-important, at least I'm not self-proclaimed. I was talking to a buddy of mine who deals with booking guests on a radio show. He was telling me that one upcoming guest was billed as a "self-proclaimed sexpert". He said, "She gives blowjob classes." To which I replied, "Is there a recital?"
Think of the power of self-proclamation, though. Just because she says she is, she's now a sexpert, whatever that is. She was probably sexhausted of sexplaining herself without sexaggerating, so she made a sexecutive decision to sexceed everyone's sexpectations. Steve Miller says that some people call him a space cowboy and no one really believes him, but if he was a Self-Proclaimed Space Cowboy, then get this guy some spurs and a space helmet. On my taxes I'm going to list myself as a self-proclaimed religious institution. Let me make one thing clear. Any claims made about me should be made by someone else on an amateur level.
Hunker down, people. Brace yourselves. Batten down the hatches. Gird your loins. Katy, bar the door. May the bread, milk, and toilet paper be with you, because a storm is coming. Not just any storm, mind you. A historic storm. That's right, it's going to be histormic (I'll let myself out). Death awaits ye, one tiny flake at a time. The truly historic storm will be the massive flood of crappy "Winter is Coming" and photoshopped AT-ATs on the highway memes that will sock in social media. Personally, I think all of this hysteria was cooked up by the Sliced Bread Lobby. Best thing, my ass.
The official name for this two day swath of doom dandruff is Winter Storm Jonas, which would be a great name for an albino pro wrestler. The agreed upon hip name for it is Snowzilla. That's the best the hive mind could come up with? Here are some alternatives:
Before I go any further, I'd like to call your attention to the giant pink button on your right. You're going to want to click on that button and cast a vote for me (@FunnyJared) as Best Twitter Personality in the Washington City Paper's Best of DC 2016 Reader's Poll. I don't care if you don't read it. I don't care if you live in DC. I want to make Twitter great again. So please to vote for me and validate my narcissism. I came in second last year and I'd like to claw my way to the summit of the mountain of your support. You are the wind beneath my wings.
Also, I wanted to give a shout out to my buddy Chris White over at the DC Improv. He's a giant history nerd and he's embarking on an ambitious project to find the funniest POTUS ever, called Headliner of State. I'm the silky voiced announcer for this project, so please listen as we begin our search. New episode every Monday.
Speaking of... speaking, I recently got hired to be a part of another cool project that you can consume. I'm going to voice an audiobook, a suspense thriller called "The Watershed". I've finished recording the first chapter and I'm very excited to read out loud to you. If I can get paid for reading out loud, maybe I can get some cash for chewing with my mouth open. This is a big step for me, not only because it's professional voice work, but I normally fall asleep when I read. Thank goodness I'm standing up in the recording studio. The big challenge is trying to affect a woman's voice without sounding like a Monty Python sketch.
Happy Belated New Year, or bloated New Year, if the post-holiday
weigh-in at my gym is to be believed. My trainer gave me a body mass
index test and it told me that I'm 30% body fat. That's like and entire
leg made of fat. That's a problem. What's an even bigger problem is that
an entire leg made of fat sounds delicious to me right now. It's a
never-ending cycle. My fitness goals will be even harder to hit thanks
to my recent introduction to another scrumptious obstacle: Strawberry Pretzel Salad.
Stop making that face and let me explain. It's a Pittsburgh delicacy
made using strawberries, Jell-O, Cool Whip, and cream cheese, with
crumbled pretzels as the outer crust. So far, it's my favorite stretch
to the the definition of "salad".
The new year is about
new beginnings, and what better way to clean the slate for 2016 than to
win the Gross Domestic Product of Burundi. The Powerball lottery
jackpot is a staggering $1.4 billion at the time of this writing. Your
odds of winning are slightly less staggering, but only in the way
getting hit by a piano from ten floors up is less staggering than
getting hit with a piano from twenty floors. I do not care. My disregard
for the odds is Han Solo-like. All I know is that somebody has to win,
and why can't it be me?
When the lottery gets to
Scrooge McDuck swimming pool levels, people who focus on the
astronomical odds will take the sour grapes mindset, "I wouldn't want to
win anyway, because that kind of money would ruin me." Well, to those
people I say that kind of money could ruin a person, but it could also
turn them into Batman. Listen, I get that money doesn't buy happiness,
but with that kind of money you can afford to make everyone else around
you miserable, making you seem happier by comparison. It's all about
perspective. I saw a piece on the news at a local liquor store filled
with hopeful people. One woman was asked what she would do with the
money. She said, "I would buy a new car and pay off some debt." SOME
debt? How many payments do you have left on your space station, lady?
worry that whoever does win the jackpot won't have the imagination to
properly enjoy it. Obviously, some of it goes in the bank, so you can
live the life that Hans Gruber was denied at the end of Die Hard.
He just wanted to be, "sitting on a beach, earning 20%." The cash payout for
this jackpot is going to be roughly $800 million after taxes. Even if
you put half of that away, you still have $400 million to play with. So,
for the imagination impaired, I have some suggestions for what to do
with the money...
Tila Tequila thinks the Earth is flat because she can't see the
curve, so you can use part of your winnings to shoot her into space,
thereby solving two problems.
Hire a mobile orchestra to follow you around and perform your theme song that you contracted John Williams to compose for you.
Playboy Mansion is for sale for $200 million. The only problem is that
Hef conveys and he gets to live there until his Faustian contract is up.
Interstate zip lines.
a couple ideas I've had floating around. I would be remiss if I didn't
mention the passing of rock icon, David Bowie. I will admit to not being
familiar with a lot of his music, but he had a hand in shaping my
childhood as I'm sure he did with many of you as Jareth, the Goblin King
in Labyrinth, the modern (in 1986) muppetational take on The Wizard of Oz.
The soundtrack to that movie was one of the first albums I ever owned,
and I have a special place in my heart for movie characters that have my
name (Jareth was close enough when I was 11). I think I speak for
everyone when I say, "Fuck Cancer." Maybe whoever wins the jackpot can
funnel a couple hundred million into eradicating it, but they'll
probably just buy a car. Ziggy, we hardly knew ye...
Hey gang... As time continues its inevitable march toward the new year, I wanted to give you something to distract you from the holiday doldrums. I'm writing from my mother-in-law's apartment in sunny Florida. Although, that isn't much of a brag considering that most of the eastern seaboard currently resembles L.A. without most of the self-delusion. Why do I bother spending the holidays in Florida if I can't shove it in the numb shivering faces of friends and family back home? Oh well. Enjoy frolicking in shorts and sun dresses in December. Mother Nature will balance the scales with a blizzard in March that will sock everyone in for a week and a half. The toilet paper aisle at Harris Teeter will make Black Friday at Best Buy look like Arbor Day at Radio Shack. It doesn't make sense now, but trust me, the metaphor holds up.
I'm always amazed at the interesting lives led by other people. As the selfie-obsessed ego-maniacs our society has evolved into, we all think that our lives are in the top percentile of interesting. If you take the time to listen to other people and what they've done, you realize maybe that fifth picture of the linguini you had last night wasn't the culinary game changer you thought it was. I attended the Christmas party in my mother-in-law's building last night and met a couple people who might be the most interesting I've met all year, possibly in the last five years. The first guy worked for the Air Force. His job? Packing parachutes into pilot ejector seats. What was my first question upon hearing this? "So, how accurate was the ejector seat scene from Die Hard 2?"
His answer, unfortunately, was that it's total bullshit. That type of plane had no canopy, and when pilots need to evacuate, they jump out of the side door. I then proved I knew what a canopy was by referencing Goose from Top Gun. Thank goodness movies provide us with a universal language for describing real life. I felt like I was in that episode of Star Trek:TNG telling him about Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra. I love talking to people about stuff that I will never do. He has also flown a jet and worn a G-suit. Here's something I never knew, the G-suit squeezes your body, so that your blood doesn't all plummet to your feet while you are pulling multiple G's. Anyway, I found it all fascinating. The second guy I talked to was in a motorized wheelchair. He wore a Harley Davidson t-shirt, a Harley Davidson necklace, and had Harley Davidson tattoos on both arms. The guy was brand loyal. As I got to talking to him, he told me that he rode a 1000 miles a day on his motorcycle, and his goal was to ride 1,000,000 miles. It was cut short at about 600,000 when he fell asleep at the wheel while riding in Alaska, paralyzing him from the chest down. He still rides, though. He's having a trike built so he can pick up where he left off. He owns 14 motorcycles, including a Harley from 1912. He's also a member of the oldest motorcycle club in Brazil. Think Sons of Anarchy, but with more plantains. He also told me about breaking one of his legs and not realizing it until someone pointed out that the bone was poking through. Two things about me: 1) I've never ridden a motorcycle. 2) I've never broken a bone. I was enthralled by his zest for life and was made very aware of the distinct lack of zest in my risk-averse life. When I asked him his name, he told me it was "Tomorrow". It's actually Tomauro, but he got tired of explaining the pronunciation to people. Anyway, I could've talked to him all night.
I should also share my thoughts on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, since that is now the dominant focus of popular culture. It's mildly ironic that, until recently, Star Wars was just the culture of unpopular people. Well, I saw it, thoroughly enjoyed it, then thought about it, and realized it was pretty much just a retelling of the first movie. Oh, sorry, SPOILER ALERT. I'm legally obligated to put that in front of anything that might give you a hint of what might happen in the movie. It's been out for a week, people. Don't get me wrong, it was everything it needed to be. It felt like a Star Wars movie, it had heart, the new characters were engaging, the old characters weren't just there for nostalgia's sake, everything fit together nicely. But, it's another droid with an important message for the rebellion dropped off on a desert planet, discovered by an unlikely hero who doesn't realize they're a part of something much bigger, being pursued by a draconian military force with a giant frickin' laser that can destroy a planet. I liken it to the 2006 reintroduction of Superman to movie audiences. A beloved franchise that newer audiences might not be as familiar with because the last installment, which stunk, came out almost 20 years ago. Superman Returns was pretty much an exact retelling of the first Superman: The Movie from 1978. The folks at Disney wanted to ease the new audience that was raised by parents that grew up on this stuff into the basic story of the franchise. That's being generous. It could also just be lazy storytelling on the part of J.J. Abrams, who wasn't above milking original Star Trek nostalgia to make his reboot seem more palatable. Either way, I liked it, I plan on seeing it again to try and catch stuff my teary fanboy eyes might've missed the first time.
One last thing. I'm getting back on the comedy horse and I've been booked to play a show on New Year's Eve. So, if you happen to be in the Harrisburg, PA area, I'll be at the Harrisburg Comedy Zone on Dec. 31st and Jan. 2nd with none other than Dustin Diamond, Screech from Saved by the Bell. See you there.
Have a very merry and a holly jolly. I'll see about getting one last installment up before year's end.
Hello neglected readers. Again, the perfect storm of procrastination, distraction, and general malaise has lead to blog atrophy. Since I'm no longer encumbered by a day job, I figure there's no time like the present to put off the job search and give you something to wrap your eyeballs around.
The big day is on the horizon. The newest installment of Star Wars will be forcing itself on the movie-going public in a matter of days, shattering box office records and re-branding just about every consumer product in the known universe. Before it gets here and sets the new standard by which all seventh movies in a franchise will be judged, I thought we should take a moment and figure out which movie series is the current holder of the title: Best Seventh Movie. Obviously we're not going to use any objective metric like box office gross or award nominations. In many cases, except for a couple of the ones on this list, any franchise that has gone that long is at the point of self-parody by plucky number seven. Let me point out that I haven't actually seen all of these, but don't let that dampen my expert-sounding tone.
7. Diamonds Are Forever (James Bond) - I've never been a James Bond guy. Sure, Sean Connery is the definition of cool, but when I was a kid I was more drawn to his turns in Highlander and Time Bandits. Awesome as being a super spy was, I wanted to be immortal and time travel with a group of British midgets. So, this belongs in the category of "haven't seen," but since this is the first major franchise to have a seventh movie (besides the Bob Hope and Bing Crosby "Road to..." movies), I figured it deserved a mention.
6. Wes Craven's New Nightmare (Nightmare on Elm St.) - While I wasn't much of a James Bond guy, I am a die hard Freddy Kruger guy. I've seen all of them. The recent reboot, like most recent reboots, is sacrilege. With franchises that run this long there is a general rule of thumb as far as quality. With the Nightmare on Elm St. movies, it's the odd numbered ones that stand out. This first is a classic, Dream Warriors is fantastic (with a cast that includes Lawrence Fishburne and Patricia Arquette), and Dream Child is one of the campiest entries, with Freddy at his catch-phrasiest. Which brings us to the New Nightmare. This was Wes Craven's attempt to make Freddy relevant again by rooting him in the "real lives" of the people who made the original film. Freddy has now transcended the screen. He's pissed that the series is over and the only way to stop him is for Wes Craven and Heather Langenkamp (Nancy) to make another movie. They try to up the creep factor by making Heather's son, who looks like he just came home from the Overlook Hotel, the conduit for Freddy's reemergence.
It mostly pays homage to the original movie and tries to recreate some of the iconic deaths. Even if it's not close to as scary, this was the precursor to Wes Craven's Scream series about a "real life" horror killer that you have to follow a set of cinematic tropes to take down.
5. Star Trek: Generations - Like I mentioned earlier, there's a general rule of thumb when it comes to any long-running franchise. With Star Trek, it's the even numbers. Wrath of Khan, Voyage Home, and Undiscovered Country are all varying degrees of awesome. The only redeeming quality of Search for Spock was Christopher Lloyd as the lead Klingon... funny that they ended up time traveling in his ship for the next movie. Anyway, Generations had a tough legacy to overcome. Not only that, this movie was to be the bridge between the decaying original cast and the new class of Federation heroes that would carry the torch. Obviously, in order to do that, time needed to be rendered irrelevant. So, we're introduced to the Nexus, an extradimensional realm which allows those who enter to experience
their pasts over again, whenever and however they choose, to ultimate
and unending ecstasy. Kirk is stuck there and Picard must convince him to leave so they can team up to stop Soran, Malcolm MacDowell, from chewing the scenery into oblivion. It's a fun romp and we get to see Kirk get one last hurrah before taking up the mantle of Priceline Negotiator.
4. Furious 7 - This goes into the category of ones I haven't seen. I take that back. I have seen the first Fast & Furious, so I've technically seen them all. Cars, guns, bad-assery, and combinations of all three jumping out of planes, crashing through skyscraper windows, and ignoring any basic laws of physics. Not a complaint, mind you. Movies like this are about spectacle and this one bugs the viewer's eyes out like the love struck wolf in a Tex Avery cartoon...
Plus, now that I'm looking at the cast, you've got Tony Jaa as a henchman. Holy shit. If you don't know who Tony Jaa is, allow me to enlighten you...
Long story short, do not fuck with this man's elephant. Furious 7 also features the emotional goodbye to Paul Walker, who died doing pretty much trying to rehearse for the movie. Again, haven't seen it, but I plan on giving it a looksee.
3. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 1 - The first half of the last in the Harry Potter series finds Harry and his pals on a quest to destroy Voldemort's horcruxes. I think that's the plural of horcrux. The plural of vortex is vortices, so maybe it's horcuces. I'm not going to try to parse the grammar of made up words. I'm just glad it's not a damn emoji or something. This movie marks the first time in the series where it wasn't super creepy to look at Hermoine in the way that most creeps were doing since The Sorcerer's Stone. This was also the first movie in the series that broke from the formula that was established in the first one: Professor of Defense Against the Dark Arts turns out to be a tool of Voldemort, Harry figures this out, wins a Quidditch match, uses whatever object happens to be in the title to beat back Voldemort, rinse, repeat.
2. X-Men: Days of Future Past - The X-Men franchise has been spotty. It's got two real quality entries, X2 and X-Men: First Class, and two that are widely regarded as two of the worst comic book movies ever made, those being X-Men: The Last Stand and X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Days of Future Past, much like Star Trek: Generations, serves as a bridge between the original cast (again with Patrick Stewart) and the prequels that have rejuvenated the franchise. Wolverine, who is basically just walking sinew at this point, is sent back in time to prevent the cataclysmic future that the X-Men are currently facing: Sentinels that can adapt to their mutations to take them out. This movie hinges on two great set pieces. The first is the prison break of Magneto with the mutant Quicksilver. Since Marvel and 20th Century Fox both technically have rights to the character, both decided to include him in their respective sweeping super storylines. This is the superior handling of the two.
The second awesome set piece is Magneto picking up RFK Stadium and dropping it on the White House lawn. The action in the movie is great and Michael Fassbender does a great job lending gravitas to a role that was previously inhabited by one of the best actors of a generation.
1. Creed (Rocky) - If you haven't seen Creed, GO. SEE. CREED. When I mentioned that many franchises that go this long become a parody of themselves, this was where the Rocky franchise had gone. People forget that Rocky won the Oscar for Best Picture. Rocky II was a good movie. Rocky's III and IV are 80s cult classics, but they're cartoonish as hell. I need to go back and watch the boxing sequences in the first two movies, because watching the matches in Rocky III and IV, it's a wonder how any of those fights went longer than 30 seconds. They just pummel each other in the head with no thought of defending. The fifth and sixth in the series are hot garbage. Creed brings the respectability back to Sylvester Stallone that makes you all but forget Stop or My Mom Will Shoot! Google it. It follows the story of Apollo Creed's illegitimate son, Adonis, who seeks out Rocky Balboa to train him. I mentioned the boxing from III and IV, well they actually make the boxing look and feel real this time. The only thing that was missing was a dream sequence that could've brought Carl Weathers into it somehow. Sort of like in Happy Gilmore. Or maybe as a ghost Jedi.
Thanks for reading. I hope I can make a regular go at this again, but I'm easily distracted...
Hey gang... Again, I've neglected you. Just when I thought I was in a good bloggy rhythm, I went on vacation, got distracted, then just plain got lazy. Before you know it, I'm a week away from going 0 for April. So, in the hopes of getting back on track, here I am for your mild amusement. A quick update before I get started.
Thank you to everyone who voted for me in the Washington City Paper Best of DC 2014 Reader's Poll. If you look to your right, you'll see the fancy new widget declaring my runner-uppery. I'm winded from running up. My nipples are chafed. It was a long race. So, the pressure is off this year, since I'm only "one of" the best comedians in DC for 2014. Congrats to my buddy, Jimmy Meritt for taking the top spot. Next year will be the tie breaker.
Onward to my pithy musings...
I saw on Good Morning America that people are getting plastic surgery so they can look better in selfies. These people apparently have low selfie-esteem. Plastic surgery isn't going to fix the problem because they're flawed on a deeper level. Since they'll be under anesthetic already, why not take a melon baller to the part of their brain that gives a goddamn about selfies? I don't understand the obsession with selfies, probably because I'm old. Maybe they think because artists paint self-portraits that their duck-faced vanity is a form of expression. I think these people would be much happier with themselves if they had friends to take pictures of them.
Another thing I saw on GMA was a segment with chef Emeril Lagasse. They had viewers tweet him the leftovers in their fridge so he could find creative ways to "kick it up a notch". The stuff people were sending in didn't take a master chef to figure out what to whip up. The one I saw was basically, "Brace yourself Emeril. I've got eggs, bell peppers, mushrooms, swiss cheese, and flour tortillas. I can't wait to see what you do with that! I'm uncreative and I'm starving." I want to see what he does with the contents of the average American refrigerator, "I've got day old bologna, half a tuna fish sandwich, a six pack of Miller Lite, a box of baking soda, and I heard a voice say 'Zuul'." If he can come up with something besides the number for Poison Control, then color me impressed.
For the love of all things holy, please peel the stickers off of your baseball caps. I don't care what race you are, you look like a moron. You might as well leave the price tags on your clothes and make a boutonniere out of the receipt. Congratulations on your purchasing power. As I was washing my hands (I know, "Stop bragging."), I noticed that the soft soap had directions on the back of the bottle. They read, "Use to wash hands as you would use any liquid hand soap". Listen, if you're going to assume that someone is dumb enough to need directions to use your soap, then don't assume they've used any other soap. Your apparent target audience is a feral wolf-boy who has only recently entered civilized society. You can't use the word you're trying to define in the definition. It's lazy and if it was genuinely meant to instruct someone to use soap, then give them a three step method or something. Shampoo does "Wash, Rinse, Repeat". Don't you guys have the same writers? Thanks for indulging me. To be continued...
Hey gang. I'll pretend you both noticed and cared that this entry is late and apologize accordingly. I just got back from a fun show at the Bucks County Playhouse in quaint New Hope, PA. I had the pleasure of working with my good buddy and frequent comedy co-star, Kelly Terranova, the funniest comedian in his price range. A good time was had by most.
Everybody dreams about having a dump truck full of cash emptied in front of their house. Sure, earning money is fine, but we're a nation of dreamers, and dreaming takes no effort. Over the past couple weeks, I've missed out on a possible $1,400,001,500. Let me break that figure down for you. Many of you may have heard that Warren Buffett has offered up $1 billion for anyone who can fill-out a perfect bracket. Through the first four days of the tournament, only one bracket is still eligible for the prize. Some guy named Biff Tannen. That guy has a bright future.
I filled out a bracket, hoping to take my 1 in 9.5 quintillion shot at the contents of Scrooge McDuck's couch cushions. My chances disintegrated after the first game, when Ohio State lost by one point to Dayton. $1 billion out the window.
I'm horrible at picking these games. I had a couple 12 over 5 upsets, but those are easy to pick when 3 of the 4 5-seeds crap in their hat and get bounced. The tournament is great theater. The plucky underdog vs. the national powerhouse, over and over again. Once my brackets got busted for gambling purposes, I just started rooting for chaos. If I can't be right, let's see if I can be the least wrong. And sometimes it's great to be wrong. I had Duke getting out of the first round and I've never been happier to watch my incorrectitude. The sun shined just a little bit brighter after the Duke, the Cobra Kai of college basketball, took a crane-kick to the mush and got ousted by a 14-seed. Yeah, so what if UMD didn't even make the NIT? Shut up!
One digit down from the billion, the $400,000,000 was the size of the recent MegaMillions jackpot. I'm starting to think the numbers you get from fortune cookies don't mean anything at all. And it turns out the numbers of my anniversary and my birthday aren't that special after all. It's hard to maintain a sense of self-importance when the universe seems so oblivious to your demands.
A couple zeroes down the line was my most realistic missed opportunity to cash in. I meant to bring this up in the previous entry. A couple weekends ago, I got a call from a comedian buddy of mine. Someone had cancelled last-minute for a show at a synagogue and he thought I might be a good fit. Unfortunately, I was already booked that night, so I told him I couldn't do it. His reply, "That's too bad, because they're paying $1500 for 30 minutes."
"Give me the number," I said. "I'll find a way to make it work."
I gave the lady organizing the event a call and, unfortunately, they had just filled the spot before I got to her. I was still in disbelief, so I asked her, "How much were you offering again?"
"We have a $1500 budget. Why, how much do you charge?"
"Significantly less," I said. I told her to keep me in mind for anything they have going on in the future. Congrats to the lucky bastard who snagged it. It's just crazy how much people outside of comedy think our services are worth is in stark contrast to the money we get at actual comedy venues. Just sayin' is all.
For those of you who enjoy pro-wrestling, do me a favor and mark June 19th on your comedy calendar. I'll be opening for the hardcore legend, Mick Foley when he comes to the DC Improv. The stage will be surrounded in barbed wire. Have a nice day.
Hey gang. I had the day off from work today after helping to manage two massive events for the trivia company I work for, District Trivia. I don't know if I've mentioned that before in the blog, but I write trivia questions for a living. We've been holding a four month long city-wide trivia tournament which culminated on Tuesday and Wednesday, giving away cash prizes totaling $6500. Not bad for answering the ridiculous questions that germinate in my noggin.
Bar trivia tends to attract an odd cross-section of humanity. People who aren't typically social go to a bar and compete with Asperger's level intensity over the tangential minutiae that infests the brains of most thirty-somethings like if Hoarder's did a cross-over episode with I Love the 80's. So basically I facilitate the social lives of nerds. That's not fair to classify all of our players like that, it's just one end of the spectrum, but the one's that made it to the Tournament Finals might as well have been anthropomorphic cerebral cortexes. Anyway, they're smart the way LeBron James can dribble a basketball and when their intellect is challenged, they like to argue. One of the bonus questions was, "Who is the only Muppet to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated?" I had more than a few people try to argue that Big Bird, which is the correct answer, is not a Muppet. I counter-argued that these people are soulless monsters.
A good time was had by all, but it was a stressful undertaking by the entire staff and I'm glad it's in our rear view mirror. If you're interested in trivia, you should check out one of our 25+ in the DMV area. Follow the link above for all the info.
I'm not sure what else I wanted to cover in this installment. I'm slowly but surely getting back into regular comedic activities. I had a fun time headlining the show over at Benny's Bar & Grill on the mean streets of Potomac, MD. I've got a show tomorrow night at a country club in Avondale, PA on Friday. I've been trying to pepper in some new material at these gigs, but my brain is so hard wired with my current routine that when I try to shake things up, the needle skips a groove.
I'll leave you with this very cool conversation between Rainn Wilson and the late Harold Ramis. It's ten minutes well spent. Enjoy...
Hey gang. Welcome to March. I'm usually good about celebrating arbitrary milestones, so I'm happy to tell you that this past weekend marked roughly 12 years as a stand-up comic. *throws handful of confetti in the air* I've slowed down in these last six months, but I've got some shows coming up this month and I can promise I'll return to the slow grind of showbiz soon. Following through, is another story, but the promise is the first step on the road to sincerity.
Hey, have the Oscars ended yet? What a steaming pile of dreck that was. I normally like Ellen DeGeneres, but the best thing she delivered all night was the stupid pizza. The writing was lazy, costume changes took the place of clever segues, and it felt like she just decided to wing it at some point. The "this person needs no introduction" gag was cute but tired the first time, but why would you need to use it again? Maybe the rest of America gives a damn about how you're pals with these superstars, but the patter was awkward and forced. Sure, the star power of the selfie that broke Twitter was huge, but we're there to celebrate these people in moving pictures. And why did they not give the winners the musical hook? The self-important yammering was endless. It's fun when these guys talk over the music to thank their kids, but you can't let these egos go unchecked altogether. What I'm trying to say is it was mildly ironic that a night dominated by Gravity was so heavy and tedious. Ellen will not be winning the Emmy for the Oscars, but whoever worked on Goldie Hawn deserves one for special effects.
Luckily, I didn't watch this celebrity tribute to the Bataan Death March in real time. My wife and I had tickets to see Book of Mormon at the hungry hungry Hippodrome in Baltimore that night. I had plenty of lead time on the DVR to fast forward past the dumb technical awards. This Oscars had no pop. Say what you will about Seth MacFarlane, but at least it felt like he put some effort into it. Also, if you're tasked with handing out one of these awards, could you learn to read a a goddamn teleprompter or *GASP* memorize the three lines of cliches before you take the stage? Your purpose on this planet is to make us believe that you're not a stammering idiot when cameras are rolling. The theme of the night was also half-assed. Heroes. Three stupid montages is all they could muster up. Tell you what, Oscar producers, if you want to celebrate movies and make things fun to watch, play this next year...
And don't get me started on the In Memoriam segment. Harold Ramis deserved his own tribute for his contributions to movie comedy and kudos to Bill Murray for giving him the extra shout out while he was presenting.
I mentioned that I've got some shows coming up. The first of those is this Saturday, the 8th at Benny's Bar & Grill in Potomac. They made a fancy poster and everything...
Also, if you're a fan of pro wrestling, I'm filling in for my buddy Justin Schlegel on The Rough House Podcast. That should be available for your consumption on Thursday afternoon.
So, enjoy those avenues that the Mild Amusement Express will be traveling on. See you next time.