Election year observations

BOY PEOPLE ARE KINDA MEAN TO EACH OTHER, strangely, every four years more than normal.

Hitler will be referenced more in the six months leading up to an election than in a History Channel week of World War II shows.

People really do believe sexual assault accusers…for the person they don’t want to vote for.

Holy hell, the conventions are overrated. I think they should cancel 90% of the speeches and let some NPR type voice read the actual platforms/agendas so people actually heard what the party leadership believes in.

I think debates should be Lincoln/Douglas style debates – long form and cover five topics a debate in depth versus five minutes back and forths where they just insult each other for 2/3 the time allotted. OK, maybe not in 2020, but every election afterwards.

The Democrats nomination process this past year. “OK, we hate Trump with every fiber of our soul. He’s a walking gaffe machine, an old white guy who represents the status quo with questionable statements in his past. Now, let’s go out an nominate the closest person to him that exists in our party.”

The RNC will feature Trump speaking every night because he’s more camera friendly than Mitch McConnell. I do hope the My Pillow guy speaks though, because I bet his story about hitting rock bottom on crack is something I would watch on Netflix.

I would vote for anyone that outlaws mosquitoes. Can we target mosquitoes with nukes? I mean, they’re just sitting around doing nothing right now. Maybe I shouldn’t be president, sure, but think outside the box, people.

Lastly, I hate to tell people, you’re not changing many minds at this point other than getting people to vote or not vote. Unless Biden or Trump is flinging their own poop at people while they are pushing buttons in the booth, most people aren’t changing. A lot, however, are going to stay home with the pandemic.

The worst part of comedy, part 1

Since comedy is done, possibly for a long time like forever, I am turning this into an expose. Like a political opportunist, this is my big book deal now that I’m out of the game forever or another week or whenever.

Here’s the secret, a lot of things suck doing entertainment, stand-up in particular. I will focus on one that I was reminded of recently. When you do stand-up, you are typically being paid a fee for the length of your set and your level – aka emcee, feature or headliner. It’s usually not an insane amount of money, so you learn early that a way to supplement your income is to sell merchandise. It’s my least favorite part of comedy. “Hey, was I funny? Hope so, cause now I’m awkwardly starting at you by the exit as you walk out!”

Not only is it already humiliating, the interactions range from uncomfortable eye contact followed by a head nod, straight up being ignored or people that treat you like a yard sale and want to haggle over the 1-3 items you sell. One of my last shows before the great unfunnying known as COVID-19, a couple approached me. “How much is your book?” “$15.” They drew back like vampires exposed to a cross. “How much are the coozies?” “$5.” Again, this time with garlic and sunlight. The lady in the group asked to see my book. Keep in mind, I had just done 45 minutes of stand-up. “Tell ya what, I’ll do both for $15.” She stepped back, whispered with her male companion for about 20 seconds, then melted away into the background without a word.

Let’s break this down. I wrote the book over the course of six or seven years, it’s well over 100 pages and I just did a 45 minute interview for you. Should I have sold it for $2? Made an audio version? I’m already offering it a such a small profit, it is barely worth lugging up the stairs, but apparently not good enough. Do you own any other books that the author did an in depth tap dance for you beforehand or do you just steal them from the library?

As annoying as that was, the more serious offender after a show is the person who doesn’t buy, yet wants to talk after the show while you’re trying to sell. It’s also never good conversation. I headlined a loaded room and this drunk idiot made a beeline for me. Shirt? Book? Coozie? No, just a 27 minute “conversation” where he told me he loved the Trailer Park Boys. How many times he had seen them, where, when…nothing at all other than that. I dropped body language tips for naught, even at one point stepping around him and moving my table. He didn’t stop. I sold almost nothing to a room of 200 people because somebody decided since I did stand-up, I needed to hear about some other group or comic was better than me. I’m sure if I had said to go pound sand, social media posts calling me rude would have been all over the place or he would’ve told the venue, but me losing $50-$100? Meh, no worries.

The apex was a run of shows I did in Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota. It was a five day run and a ton of windshield time. I woke up on a Thursday in Illinois and realized I was sick. Full blown sore throat, losing voice, sweating and so exhausted I had trouble sitting up. I loaded up on gas station over the counter pills and meds and drove five hours to the next show. I slept until 30 minutes before the show and crashed after in what was the smallest hotel room I have ever seen in real life. I spent the next two days on the road and then performing in a comedy club, sweating out disease and hiding in a downtown hotel where I had to pay $20 to park. Finally, after three days of barely being able to perform (I had throat drops in my mouth while I did a 30 minute set), I felt normal for the last show. The room was sold out and the crowd was hot. I could finally sell some merch and hopefully get the parking fee back and some gas money. A couple approached as soon as the crowds let out. “Can you take a picture?” Grrr. Fine. At least they enjoyed my set and want a picture with me. I stepped towards them. “No, we meant take a picture. Of us.” You mean you walked all the way over here, in front of 200 people, staring at me standing at a table full of terrible shirts and coozies and a forced smile and you thought I was the only person in the whole club to take your picture? While blocking the exit? I took a terrible picture on purpose and by the time all this was done, over 60% of the crowd had left. Literally like $12, gone forever from my life. To not rock the boat, I didn’t say anything, but knowing how my comedy “career” has gone since and realizing I will literally never perform there again in my life, I wish I had lit them on fire and then snapped the picture.

Getting into shape when you are old

Since I have no comedy in the age of the pandemic, I have decided to turn this into a fitness blog. Please don’t look at any recent pictures of me before reading. I have been doing early morning group workouts when children and my body permit and trying to watch what I eat. Here’s what I have learned.

Any time I hear someone in their 20’s opine about how hard it is to get into shape, I want to set them on fire.

I have been neglecting my abs as much as my liver, which is saying something.

I feel pretty good after I workout. The next morning, however, my hamstrings and groin feel like I did a medieval confession on a rack.

My weight loss has slowed down, so I just assume that means I’ve been adding pure muscle. SHUT UP SCALE, IT’S MUSCLE.

My biggest obstacles to getting into better shape are my complete lack of willpower around baked goods, my children’s sleeping habits that are somewhere between a college student and a rooster, and my old, shitty body.

My biggest advantages to getting back into shape are that I’m not technically dead yet, I actually do enjoy running and lifting and I have a phone app that guilt shames me.

Stay tuned for my new series of workout videos; the first one is my ankles and joints popping and cracking for the first ten minutes I walk around in the morning.

Why don’t you have more video clips of your comedy?

I have been asked this a few times, so here goes with a few reasons.

  1. When I first started, I put about 45 minutes of the lowest quality combination in history of jokes and videos. I used to record on a standard camera that had no businesses recording anything with zero ability to change sound or lighting or video quality. Then I would set the camera on a bar table and hope for the best. I then used the unedited clips with the free software to upload to MySpace. I went back in 2011, mortified, and deleted every single one.
  2. I tried to record a DVD for over a year on a real camera. Once, a wait staff member bumped my camera and I lost the whole thing. Another time the tripod wasn’t tight and the camera fell backwards and recorded the ceiling. Yet another time, everything was perfect except I bombed horribly. I finally got the set right but I watched it recently and I hate it more than if the camera recorded the ceiling, so I don’t promote it.
  3. I was planning on doing a new DVD this year and the pandemic hit, so who knows when I will get to.
  4. When I used to put free stuff out there, I got zero money for it and a dozen, “When’s the next clip coming online?” That got old real fast.
  5. Rooftop Comedy recorded and posted my winning sets from Go Bananas in Cincinnati. Then Amazon bought the site and took down all my clips and I never backed them up. I am an idiot.
  6. The only other video evidence is from when I was on Fox TV’s comedy show that came on after SNL on local Columbus TV. I was not exactly clean, so they spliced three sets into one. I’m wearing different clothes and it comes off very odd, plus my set stinks.
  7. You can only imagine how fun it is to prepare for a 30 minute set, lug a camera and willing person to record, hope the lighting is good, count on the crowd being large enough to give a good laugh background but not be too rowdy and lastly, actually tell good jokes. There’s a lot of “screw it, maybe next time” in that process.

In other words, I am usually funny, please take my word for it.

A couple questions for anti-maskers

Not sure if anti-maskers is a real word, but you get it. Here goes.

Are you mad baseball, hockey and basketball are gone? Me too. Want to lose football also? I don’t.

Sure, the infection rate is really low where you live. That’s what they said in my county too before we went to the next highest health level. Anyone in your county, neighborhood, office/warehouse or family travel outside that area? Anyone they run into on a daily basis travel? Not sure? One way to help with that.

Think the media is over-reporting or over-hyping COVID for ratings? I do too. Think the numbers may not be 100% accurate because of human error? Me too, I don’t think anything is 100% accurate. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t protect yourself and others. Remember how dumb people that latch onto one little inconsistency sounded like nut jobs by yelling at Sandy Hook parents or that 9/11 was an inside job even though there was virtually zero disprovable evidence? Want to follow that thinking?

Think you’re tough? Not quite as tough as the 16 year old girl standing over a grill for eight hours that wears a mask for minimum wage? Not quite as badass as the nurse who works a double to cover two shifts and wears a mask for 16 hours before going home to sleep for four hours? You can do it. If someone can stand under a hot lamp and cut tumors off a brain for 12 hours, you can cover your face for 12 minutes before you jump back into your air conditioned car.

Think masks are uncomfortable? I do. Think they’re hot? Me too. Like wearing one? Nope, me either. I hate them. Think businesses should have had more a chance to mitigate or stay open if they could have proved a sustainable transaction path? Yep. I do also. I feel terrible for them. I think another shut down will kill off even more businesses. That’s why I will suck it up when I buy milk for my kids for 20 minutes.

Like your grandparents? Think your older parents should see Christmas? Me as well. Wear a mask. The death rate in people over 60 is high, over 70 is astronomical.

Still not convinced? OK, then stay the fuck home. Online shop. Order pizza. Rent movies via streaming apps. I hate masks, don’t trust the media’s intentions, don’t like the government or politicians, think businesses were treated very unfairly and want this shutdown crap over with. I’ve lost thousands of dollars in lost comedy shows and sales commissions for my job. I like having more money. The bookstore I took my daughter to for story time is closed. I liked taking my daughter to hear a story and get a cupcake. Some of our favorite restaurants are gone. I feel bad for the people that worked there and selfishly miss some of the food. I am sick and tired of people talking about the virus, telling me what to do and shoving politics into every aspect of this from both sides. That’s why I’m wearing a mask.

If I can help end this shutdown, keep my family safe, get college football back on TV and generally get people to shut the hell up about this virus, I’ll slap two on. You can wear one and not have be a “sheep” or a “pussy”. Using your brain and sucking it up for a month will end this faster than screaming freedom and pissing into the wind. So please put a mask on or get ready to pay shipping and delivery fees on everything you use.

Why I still celebrate Independence Day

One observation I made this past weekend is how many people tweeted, posted or shared the sentiment that July 4th should not be celebrated. This is fairly common to see at least one or two people crap all over a holiday, but not in as many numbers I saw Saturday. There’s always a person I see ready to dump on Christianity on Easter or Christmas, for example, but it’s usually a one off from someone who had a bad experience with the church or just wants to be the guy screaming anchovies when a group tries to order a pizza (we get it, you’re sooooo cool…good job). I saw it so frequently, I felt I should write about it.

First off, one of the great things in America, is you are free to stick your lip out and not celebrate as much as you want to. You can go online and outside of death threats and the judgement of the people reading, you can trash any and every politician at any level – from the President down to your dogcatcher – and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it. You can even be wrong, but you can do it. You can protest, write, yell, or boycott just about any authority figure there is. That’s in the 1st Amendent. The very first one in the Bill of Rights.

Secondly, do you still give gifts on Christmas knowing poor children aren’t getting any? Do you still eat on Thanksgiving knowing there are homeless people? Of course you do, but a funny thing happens on these days, people tend to give more, reach out to others when they haven’t previously and are reminded to step back and be grateful for what they have. It’s very sad, but we have the highest economic standard of living on Earth and we still complain. I know I do, so I’m calling myself out also. People who go out drinking four nights a week whip out their $900 phones and trash how unfair life or the “system” is. I have seen people have Go Fund Me for their bills but go on vacation or buy a new video game system. My dad went on a mission trip to Guatemala a few years back and said he helped a family that picked fruit build a house. The father had accidentally drank fertilizer in the middle of the night instead of from the water bucket and went almost immediately to invalid status. An entire family lived off a few bucks a day in a one room house he described as “big enough to pull a car into, but you wouldn’t have been able to open the doors.” He said they were so appreciative, he had to reexamine how he looked at things. We can celebrate our national holiday without blind allegiance to our past or the government, yet step back and realize all humanity is flawed.

Lastly, I see a lot of people profiteering, either in money or status, off pushing agendas. Sadly, on both sides of issues. The news leads with stories that get ratings and the ones that do are the ones that make us angry. Reason is giving way to partisan politics, heightened by an election years, two incredibly flawed parties and a pandemic. Yet for me, whatever the climate of rage is around us, I can stop and realize that this country was the first to articulate equality as foundational principle. Was it equal then or now? No, but to write that off is to ignore the reality of humankind’s flaws and asses the past from a modern lens without adjusting for perspective. Also, watch what history is being touted. I see danger in ignoring the ugly, but there is also a looming threat from rewriting events with an agenda laced pen. Abraham Lincoln, during his Senate campaign, which he lost, but was able to parlay into a presidential run, defended the founding principles in the face of a tense country ready to explode over slavery. By putting the statement that all men were created equal, it became the shining light to achieve from that moment on. It wasn’t a reality under British rule and would not be when America became free, but it set the target that we are shooting for.

A great example is recently a push to replace Columbus Day with Juneteenth as a federal holiday has arisen. We are constantly seeking higher ground, but don’t have to burn down the past that set the foundation for such lofty ideals that we still hold them up. Most countries were founded as a result of war, common ethnicity or geographical boundaries. America was not. It was founded on reason and hope. Compare it to its bastard cousin, the French Revolution, which was violent reverted back to authoritarianism as fast as the guillotines dropped. The revolutionaries, out for vengeance consumed themselves in rivers of blood and were brought into a Napoleonic rule to restore authoritarian order. America has had one violent struggle above all others, a Civil War, which corrected the mistake of continuing the slavery that had existed for 157 years when the Declaration was written. They tried to restrict it via the Northwest Ordinance and the slave trade restriction, but it would take 600,000 casualties to eradicate it as an official institution.

While not perfect then or now, America still has people desperately trying to become citizens. Our institutions are flawed, but ultimately subject to the people, not the other way around. The holiday of July 4th was the first step in rejecting rule without representation. We have written into the foundations of our government the protections of speech, religion, assembly and the separations of power and we are seeking improvement and justice constantly, even if we are not there yet. That’s why I celebrate Independence Day.