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Don’t finish.

My thoughts are all incomplete, but y’know… that’s…

There would be a picture here of my notebook, but I don’t have a webcam on this computer in Sweden. The notebook doesn’t have a front or back cover, or the first two or last two pages. They’ve been destroyed by time and my pockets. The next pages are illegible because of rainwater and food spills. In the middle is somewhat legible scratches of meaning. A picture is worth 1000 words. My description is only 45. Bear with me.

This is what I find inside:

She pressed the button because she needed to know what would happen, but she knew it is embarassing to be so interested in a toy’s sounds. Every time she pressed the button she exclaimed: “What the heck!?”

My dad’s proud of me the way that you’re proud of your pee stream when you piss off a roof – unconditional, and inextricably tied to masculinity. I could call him to explain how I just threw away all of my belongings and am planning on living at the bottom of a lake, and he would start emailing me cheap deals on underwater abodes. If I told him I was a cannibal, he’d send me a recipe for intestine stew with tofu. This is the kind of thing that’s embarrassing in high school. There is nothing more embarassing than having supportive parents.

“Real mature, just run away!” She yelled as she was running away.

I had slammed the door in anger because I didn’t want to start my day angry. Our back and forth hypocrisy was lost on us as we were too focused on the hypocrisy of the other. It’s emotionally draining to imagine emotional abuse all the time, but I had mastered the art.

“It makes me sad when you don’t think of me” had become “You hurt me constantly with the emotional distance you’re forcing between us” in my mind, and by the time I had gotten a block away from her apartment huffing and puffing my way down the sidewalk it had become “You don’t care about me or this relationship.” 

To be fair to me, this had started because I bought a ticket to our mutual friend’s performance online. This became “I bought one ticket to our mutual friend’s performance” and by the time she had huffed and puffed her way through brushing her teeth it had become “You should have bought me a ticket because you care about me” and by the time I apologized and explained my regret for waht I thought still seemed like a reasonable mistake, it became “It makes me sad when you don’t think of me.”

I marched home in a temper tantrum to get cleaned up so that I could go teach children. It’s hard to be a role model when you hate the role you’re playing and the model you’re setting.

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There’s No Such Thing as a “Rape Joke”

When I was a Junior in high school I performed a 10 minute self written play with three of my best friends called “The Summoning of the Flamingo of Love.” It was “so offensive” that we were forced to go to a hearing where students and teachers were asked to find appropriate punishment. The reason it was “so offensive” is because we made a masturbation joke.

Johan, The Magical Prince of the Magical Swans, had just watched both his parents die and had accidentally let Mosquito Man steal the potion of love from his kingdom. Speaking out towards the audience, he said: “Ooooooh, I’m so lonely. Why am I so alone? When will I ever find love? Why is my right arm so much bigger than my left?”

The point is that that is a joke. Saying: “I masturbate” is not a joke. That is not to say that saying: “I masturbate” isn’t funny. In fact it might be funnier than the shitty joke I wrote when I was 16 depending on context. But it is not a joke.

The worst part about doing comedy is coming back to your rural hometown and having your parents friends ask you what you do. The second you say “I do comedy” they respond: “Oooh. Tell us a joke!” Telling jokes and doing comedy have as little to do with each other as selling life insurance and murdering people. 

Stand-up is an art form that attempts to open avenues of self-exploration for an audience by watching someone explore themselves. Stand-up is instructional scaffolding. It leads its students to water then asks them to watch as they screw up drinking in numerous ways.

For this reason: Stand-ups should talk about rape. We should be talking about rape. A stand-ups job is to educate our society, and we really need to have better education about the rape culture in which we live.

“Rape jokes” are easy and stupid and not really jokes. A joke is something that plays with misdirection to shock someone into laughing. Saying “rape” without context is a form of misdirection that will typically shock someone into nervous laughter. Shitting your pants while you’re talking accomplishes the same thing – except shitting your pants is funnier. The reason it’s funnier is because you are demanding vulnerability – you are asking the audience to pay attention to you while you illustrate how much you suck at life. Telling a “rape joke” where you make fun of people who get raped is like having an audience member accidentally shit themselves while you’re on stage, you can claim none of that laughter as your own – the only thing that’s happening is that a bunch of mean people are laughing at a person who is sad. This is not stand-up.

Comedians DO need to talk about rape though. But they need to do it intelligently. This does not mean that they need to lecture us about the pervasiveness of a society that deems male dominance the norm and asks rape to be the logical extension of that normality, but it means that they need to internalize this dialogue. When you do stand-up you should only talk about yourself. Therefore your comedy about rape should be about how living in this rapey-country/world affects you – a country where 14.8% of women and 3% of men are are sexually assaulted in their lifetime, where victims of sexual assault are 4 times more likely to contemplate suicide and 26 times more likely to abuse drugs, where 54% of sexual assaults go unreported to the police, where 73% of sexual assaults are by “non-strangers.”(source)

A lot has been written about what makes a rape joke okay to do – about why it’s different when Louis CK, or John Mulaney, or Sarah Silverman does it. It’s because they aren’t telling jokes. They are speaking from the heart about what life is like for them in this society where rape is prevalent and disturbing.

Daniel Tosh did not do that. He tried to tell a rape joke. He got frustrated that someone was farting in the audience and he started claiming that they had shit themselves. The reason people are so mad at him is because he’s not a stand-up comedian, he’s an asshole, and we’re tired of watching assholes get money and popularity.

When I made that masturbation joke in high-school it was because I was lonely and masturbated a lot. I was tired of the popular, rich asshole making fun of me for being a loser who couldn’t get laid. So I got on stage and told everybody that I was a loser who couldn’t get laid. As a gay man, Tosh understands how it hurts to be ridiculed for something inside you that you can’t change. As a kid he felt insecure about his secret and found a way to distract people from his sexuality was to make fun of the fat kid, or the slow kid, or the poor kid. I know it’s defensiveness and fear that pushes him to make these jokes, but you’re popular and rich now Daniel, you don’t need to keep making fun of others. You can make fun of yourself.

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Fuck Sorkin

Intelligence requires dialogue. Intellectualism requires even more dialogue.

It’s childish to use definitions to prove points, so pardon me while I am childish.

a : a conversation between two or more persons;

Dialogue is NOT enslaved to the prefix “dia.” And that’s important. We have been tricked into believing that all dialogue has two sides – that somehow we must be a part of polarized society. This starts with Democrat and Republican, but it doesn’t end there. Combating a two party system is not the only step necessary to provoking dialogue.

Let’s use Aaron Sorkin and his loyal cult followers as an example. It isn’t the only example and Sorkin isn’t the only dangerous person in America, but he is the one I feel like over-analyzing.

Here’s a line from his new show Newsroom: “There’s nothing more important in a democracy than a well informed electorate.” This is Aaron Sorkin’s mantra and it also embodies why he sucks at making art.

1st let’s tackle the art issue. Art is not meant to be something that jams opinions down your throat, which is all that Sorkin knows how to do. He takes his shitty, shallow opinion and puts it into the voices of three to four characters and creates a dialogue that is nearly nonsensical because of its lack of realism then he takes a smarmy douchebag and makes him the enemy. It’s a formula – and it’s not a good one. It’s a formula that is starting to feel surprisingly similar to Family Guy in its repetition and inflexibility.

Now let’s tackle the bigger issue: That Aaron Sorkin’s opinions are shallow and shitty. To say “There is nothing more important in a democracy than a well informed electorate” is like saying “there’s nothing more important in French Fries than eating them.” It means nothing and refuses to answer anything interesting. How does an electorate stay informed? What information is necessary? How are we defining “important” in a democracy? These are questions that Sorkin refuses to answer because they are difficult. Saying that people should know shit is Kindergarten class material. Sorkin just masks it in fast dialogue giving the impression that it’s intellectual or “informed.”

This line of dialogue, which means nothing at all, means so much. It immediately divides the country into “well informed” and “uninformed” as though by simply replacing “democrat” and “republican” with new words he has undone a century of polarization. This is dangerous. This is dangerous because it pacifies a somewhat informed electorate into thinking that if we assume those that disagree with us are stupid then we will have a a better dialogue.

Remember I said dialogue could contain more than two voices. It also MUST contain more than two voices. We can’t replace “democrat” and “republican” with “liberal” and “conservative” or “well informed” and “uninformed” or any two buzzwords

Informed comes from the word information and information comes from people not from automatons who have been trained in synthesizing information into digestible, irrelevant and divisive bites. Sorkin creates art about his utopian present-futures, but they seem to me to be scary dystopian present-futures. i don’t want an MSNBC that pushes the narrative of a divided public, but tries to change what we’re divided over to a different but similarly simplistic binary. The problem with a two party system is the same problem with shitty art. Instead of asking questions for us to discuss in public, it forces us into “solutions” that solve nothing. Shitty art is art that pretends it has the ability to provide solutions. It can only provide one opinion on the truth. Providing two opinions is not that much better, and what inevitably happens is that the two perspectives of the truth meld into one. Because Aaron Sorkin is uninformed he does not realize that by dividing a country over uninformed and well-informed will only resulting uniting them over truth from one perspectives and neither are useful.

Oops.

The thing that when happens when you have too many issues to tackle is that you get overwhelmed trying attack all the things that are wrong. Let’s try to boil them down to digestible bites that are neither divisive or irrelevant. Remember when Sarah Palin kept on saying “real America?” What she was really trying to do was present the image of her Ideal American.

-Joe Six-Pack
-Joe the Plumber
-Blue Collar, stay out of my way, outdoors, heterosexual families who have jobs but hate newcomers.

Sorkin has a “very” different Ideal American.

-Matt Albee
-Josh Lyman
-Will McAvoy
-Sarcastic, mean, jaded, liberal heterosexual single people who like expensive things and refuse to apologize for their love of having expensive things.

We can’t have only two options. We can’t have a BIlogue, we need a DIAlogue.

In the first episode of The Newsroom a skinny British woman with an agenda to make “news good again” demands that her anchor wear a sexy dolce and gobana suit (Which I refuse to look up how to spell) because she wants to “make [elitism] sexy again.” Are these really our choices? Are our options rich asshole or rich moron? I hope not.

Sometimes it’s best to just end with a Noam Chomsky quote (because I’m an elitist).

“The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.”

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Santa’s Lists

With the hellidays (OMG! Hilarious!) in full swing out have come the santas. I like riding the subway with many christmas fabrications. Here are my three favorite santa moments:

1. Santa and an elf sharing a passionate kiss on the 4 train.

2. Santa with a Coors light and a NJ Devils jersey flirting with a German girl on the N train.

3. Santa discussing with someone about how he used to work for UPS on the R train.

All of these things were funny to me. Here’s another list of things that I think are unfunny and people need to stop thinking are funny.

1. Listing references in place of humor – You know who else can reference things that you also remember: A group of aging males who call themselves: Lyte Funky Ones.

2. The word “faggot” – Ironic or not ironic this is just overused and is no longer funny in any context.

3. Demitri Martin/Zach Galifianakis ripoffs – Ok, they were original when they included a multimedia presentation in their standup act, but now you look like an idiot as you try to explain a pie chart that neither makes mathematical or comedic sense.

I thought of another thing I saw on the subway that was funny. It was a perfect representation of mid gentrification (aka Williamsburgh). I saw a guy with tight leather pants a popped collar pea-coat and shoes with heels walk by a group of urban (aka black) teens. One guy checked out the leather pants after he heard the heels clomp by. All his friends called him a faggot and he retorted that he had thought it was a girl. Oh, objectification: how you burst open closets.

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