Sunday, November 30, 2008

Oh, and one more thing...

One of my favorite people in the world has just started a blog. If you ever get tired of my ridiculous ramblings, I urge you check it out. Check it out here! You won't be disappointed!

Ain't no sick in showbiz

A few months ago, Chris Rock was on Howard Stern. He said he knew that Artie Lange -- the lovable, self-destructive comic who is a big factor in Stern's current revival -- was back on heroin because Artie had started calling in sick to the show. Rock kept repeating, "Ain't no sick in showbiz."

He's right. It's an interesting thing since I've become a full-time comic: I don't call in sick. Ever.

I used to call in sick to my teaching job if someone sneezed in the same room as me (can't be too careful, after all). Now, I could be fighting off fever shakes with my head encased in a solid block of snot -- like I was last night -- and I'm good for two shows of 45+ minutes plus four hours worth of driving.

There's a couple of reasons for this that are probably not that interesting to the non-comic. Since my brain is currently soaked silly in over-the-counter cold and flu remedies, I'm going to go against my better judgment and list them:

1. We're contract workers. We only get paid when we show up and do our job. Teaching, which has the nice double whammy of being both a union AND government gig, pays you for pretty much everything, whether or not you actually do it. I think I got six hundred sick days a year.

2. Club owners are generally soulless. This wasn't the case last night -- the club owner is actually one of my best friends -- but it's a pretty good rule of thumb. Screw them once, there's a good chance you'll never work for them again. (Interestingly enough, it doesn't work in the other direction; club owners feel entitled to screw you repeatedly without concern that you'll stop working their club. It's in this way -- and only this way -- that club owners are exactly like hot women).

3. It's easy to talk yourself into a show. Driving isn't really that hard. Talking isn't really that hard. That's about all you have to do for a comedy show: drive, then talk. You figure that so long as you're drugged to the appropriate degree, you can get through it. If there's anybody on the planet that knows how to properly calibrate OTC medicine, it's me. I'm the Elvis of advil.

4. This is going to sound sappy, but it's true: there's a sense inside of all showbiz types that the "show must go on." Even the cynical comic types; if there's a stage, some lights and an audience, we feel obligated to put on the show, regardless of how many gallons of snot there are clogging up our sinuses.

Now, if you'll excuse me, the NyQuil is kicking in. I need to get to my happy place.

Friday, November 28, 2008


Just a quick note before I collapse into sleep:

My soon-to-be brother-in-law scored really good tickets to the Eagles/Cardinals game tonight. The Eagles won and the weather was (relatively) mild, so it was a good night.


There was a dude there dressed as a turkey. Not a turkey hat or some make-up to suggest that he was a turkey, but an actual, full blown, head-to-toe turkey costume. It looked like the kind of thing that you would rent for a Halloween party if you were one of the world's biggest douchebags. Except this guy wasn't at a Halloween party, so I'm not sure if science has a douche-richter scale comprehensive enough to contain this guy.

My buddy Vinnie Nardiello is similar to me in our unwavering hate of people who dress like turkeys or vampires or cowboys when there's no godly reason to. His theory as to why it bothers us so much is this: people who try to be interesting through their choice of clothes are compensating for their inability to actually be interesting. If you see a dude in, say, a top-hat, there's no point in talking to him; he's already done the most interesting thing he'll do all night when he picked out his top-hat.

I guess I feel the same way about those who are artificially interesting as women do about breast implants. It's cheating, yet people still fall for it. The Turkey Guy was talked to all night. I'm not sure what was being said to him, but since none of the conversations ended with the Turkey Guy being lit on fire, I can only assume that no one said what needed to be said.

But other than that it was a great Thanksgiving. I got some great pictures of my son. I'll try to post them tomorrow.

Hope your Turkey Day didn't involve a dude dressed as a Turkey.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

To my several ones of readers...

If you get the chance, check out my latest column for TV Squad:

TV 101: How beer commercials got Barack Obama elected (OR: Presidential Drinkability).

Also, if you have several million friends, please pass the link along to them. Thanks!

Does anybody else miss the Soviet Union?

Yesterday, Russian ships began a series of "maneuvers" in Venezuela. Other than the way gay implication of the word "maneuvers", the action has foreign policy types a little concerned. Assuming the world lives through this latest economic crisis, they're worried that a newly aggressive Russia, flush with petrol-dollars, might be anxious to heat up another Cold War.

I say, bring it on.

I miss the Soviet Union. As a child of the eighties, I grew up secure in the knowledge that every day we were one satellite error away from global annihilation. I knew exactly who my enemy was; it was made clear to me by movies like Red Dawn, Rocky IV, and The Experts. The Soviet Union was always there, like an iceberg: giant, cold, forbidding, solid.

Since the fall of the Soviet Union, we've been saddled with something George Bush Jr. likes to call "Islamo-Fascists" as an enemy. I think you'll agree with me that they suck, completely and absolutely.

They're the worst kind of enemy, with their weird beards and funny hats and religious fervor. Fighting the Soviets was like fighting a bear -- you always knew when it was coming at you and you could prepare for it. Fighting terrorists is like fighting a rat -- you can't see it and if it bites you, there's a good chance you'll contract some sort of disease.

I want the bear back.

Sure, it might things a little more uncomfortable for us, but look at it this way, if they make a Day After 2, at least Steve Guttenberg will get to work again. And that's something.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My dog, the money pit

So, here's where men and women differ:

Our dog, Rudy, is a terrible dog. I got him eight years ago and essentially, his entire existence in our family has been to a) shit all over our house and b) need operations. If you were to make a pro/con list on Rudy, you would never actually get to the "pro" list -- it's like the canine version of Zeno's paradox.

As if Rudy wanted to cement his place in the pantheon of terrible dogs, he's recently decided to start growling and snapping at my son. He hasn't broken the skin yet, but it's only a matter of time.

To my male way of thinking, the best solution to this problem involves a burlap sack and a trip to the nearest rushing river. My son (and wallet!) is safe from Rudy forever and Rudy, if all the dog theologists are right, will be going to a better dog place. Problem solved.

My wife has a female brain though, and her solution is this: spend $150 to have Rudy's teeth filed down.

I tried to put my foot down last night. I really did. I had every intention of saying "No!" that we've already poured enough money, time, and effort, down the bottomless Rudy hole. The result? In four minutes, I leave for the vet.

Bah, humbug.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Here's a quote from a review of Chinese Democracy (the album, not the political construct):

A million monkeys with their million proverbial typewriters would have taken far longer to create something as good as this.

It's not a bad line, but certainly not a genius line. With the possible exception of the book Crank, it's a line that could be applied to just about any piece of art.

What annoyed me about it is the use of the word "proverbial." I decided today that I hate that word. It's a big long bit of pretension that never adds anything to a conversation.

Here's why: you use that word to denote that the phrase you're referring to is not your own, but rather some well worn piece of wisdom. ("I looked around the discount whorehouse like the proverbial kid in the candy store.") But if that wisdom is so well-worn, why would you ever need to inform the audience about it? If they already know it then they know it's "proverbial." If they don't already know it, then the phrase isn't proverbial.

The only reason to use "proverbial" then is to come to terms with your own inner cliche monitor. Writers -- especially those poor MFA bastards -- have been told in countless books and seminars that cliched phrases are bad. "Make it new!" as Ezra Pound might say between anti-Semitic rants. Thus, when the need arises for a little cliche in their writing, they balk; who's going to kiss their ass at the Writer's Conference if they're using stuff like "raining cats and dogs" in their essays?

So they cover their ass with "proverbial." Because if you say "T-Pain celebrated his appearance on Saturday Night Live by making it rain proverbial cats and dogs all over the strippers at Scores", it somehow pardons the sin. It's a big pretentious band-aide of a word.

But here's the thing: so what if there's some cliche in your writing? Sometimes, for clarity's sake, it's the best way to write. Look at the line I quoted again: you get immediately what the writer was saying. If he had gone for something a little more original ("A million yaks shitting a million different indigestible AlphaBits...") it would have looked silly and the sentence would have been harder to parse.

So there. If you're a writer that happened to stumble upon this blog, take heart: a random blogger says it's okay to be cliche sometimes. Like Dumbo, it's okay to drop the proverbial feather.

Where have I been?

Ah, kids, it's been a long month for your old pal Jay. Seriously, I think I logged approximately seven hundred million miles in airline miles over the last few weeks. Just yesterday, I received a thank you call from the president of United Air; apparently, I single handedly kept them in business during a late October slump.

But I'm home now. You can always tell I'm home because my wife is wearing her "brave smile". You can also tell I'm home because I'll be blogging more regularly!