Independent Thought

Hey there ‘Redheads… I hope everyone got through the 4th of July weekend with all of their extremities intact. Nothing says American freedom like setting off enough Chinese fireworks to have won the goddamn Revolutionary War in the first place. I think it’s kinda poetic, because in 100 years, we’ll declare financial independence from the Chinese by dumping a payload of sparklers into the Yangtze. Oh, the sense that could make. Speaking of the future of our American history textbooks, I hope everyone has set aside the time to watch the big LeBron James one-hour television extravaganza on ESPN tomorrow night. I know I can’t wait to find out where a 25 year-old will be making $100 million. Unless he chooses the winning city by throwing darts at a map, or he says that his Nike puppet will play his away games, or he reveals that he’s signing with the Washington Redskins, there isn’t a pie chart in the world that could accurately display just how little I care. Go where you will, win something, and shut the fuck up. I’m also glad the World Cup is just about done. It’s the wooden shoes and tulips versus empanadas and rain that stays mainly on the plain. Whoever wins, you can be assured their celebrations will be drowned out by the locust mating call of the vuvuzelas…

Over the weekend, I had to settle a small matter of comedy unpleasantness that came to my attention when I was driving home from the show in Maine. That Sunday was the night of the big TBS comedy special that featured the writers of the new Conan O’Brien Show. As it turns out, one of the writers, a comic named Josh Comers, does a joke about removing the analogies from the SATs that is identical to my joke about removing the analogies from the SATs. I went through my old VHS tapes of my early open mic sets and found an instance of me telling the joke from October of 2002…

Obviously, it’s more polished now and I was telling it to a grand total of about 7 people in that clip, but there it is. Unfortunately, the TBS video isn’t embeddable, but here’s the link to the special (skip to part 5, the joke is at the 2:40 mark…sorry about all the Twix commercials). I wanted to get in touch with him, so I did what anyone does these days, I looked him up on Facebook. This was our correspondence…

Hey there Josh…

I’m a comic out of DC who’s been performing about 8 years now in clubs around the country. On my way home from a gig last Sunday night, I get a call from a comedy buddy of mine who tells me to “turn on TBS right now.” I wasn’t able to then, but I’ve looked at the video online and you tell a joke that’s identical to one I’ve been telling since 2003. It’s the joke about taking the analogies out of the SATs. Same delivery. Same punch. I’m not accusing you of anything. I hope it’s just a case of parallel thinking and a good sign I could write for Conan someday. It was just a kick in the teeth hearing one of my favorite jokes being told on TV by someone who isn’t me.

–Jared Stern

Hey Jared. I absolutely cringed reading your message. As a comic, there’s nothing worse than feeling like one of your favorite jokes may have been ripped off.

Jared, I can assure you that this is a case of parallel thinking. I can’t pinpoint the exactly how long I’ve been doing the joke without going back and listening to cassettes, but I’ve been doing it for many years myself. No one has ever come up to me and said, “I heard someone else doing that joke”. If they did, I probably would have kicked the wall then stopped doing the joke, unless I could be certain I came up with it first.

I pride myself on my joke writing and being original. Good jokes are precious. I would never lift a joke one from another comic and have zero respect for anyone that does.

I appreciate your very reasoned tone about this. I hope what I’ve written here allays any suspicions and we can agree that this is one of those cases of parallel thinking.

Okay. So, where do we go from here?

Josh

That is a fine question, Josh… I guess I’ll be the one to give it up. You did it on TV, so anyone who sees me tell it from now on will think I cribbed it from the TBS special. It is on my CD, by the way, which isn’t exactly burning up the charts, but I sell it on the road.

It stinks, but it just confirms that I need to write more. Sorry to bug you about it. Good luck with the show.

–Jared

Jared, this may be ridiculous, but what if we both continued to do it from time to time? The fact is, for now, I’m pretty much anchored here in LA, and you’re on the road. I bet there’s likely a very small cross section of people who will see us both do that joke.

I’d understand if you’re resigned to dropping it, but I don’t know if it’s totally necessary right now. Hell, if we both drop it we may be motivated to write a joke of equal quality. Either way, I’m thinking I probably won’t do it as much given the situation.

I had totally forgotten that a similar thing happened to me once years ago. I was watching an old friend do a set on Letterman and he did a bit I’d been doing for a while. I had to stop doing the bit. While I’m guessing he’d seen me do it at some point, I never confronted him on it because he was a good guy who I didn’t think would never lift anything intentionally. Maybe he just absorbed it? Anyway, it still sucked.

In the mean time, let’s both write more stand up jokes. Just not the same ones.

Happy 4th.

Josh

Long story short, I’m probably going to drop it. Hopefully, the next time I manage to parallel a late night comedy writer, it can be in career trajectory.

To be continued…

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Back to the Threeture…

Hey there ‘Redheads… I’m trying my best to get this one in under the wire to keep Blog-A-Day in May chugging along. Big thanks to the great peeps at the Baltimore Comedy Factory for a fun weekend. Sometimes you want to go where everyone knows your name.

So, onto the daily nugget of nonsense. Here’s the thing, and I figured this would happen at some point, I don’t have much to say. So, as a cop out, I’m reaching back a year and reprinting the entry from the ill-fated Joke-A-Day in May. Enjoy the year old hackery and I’ll have something for you manana…

I think it’s time for movies to stop using the phrase, “From the people who brought you…” to sell a flick to the movie-going public. Judd Apatow has had one or two critically acclaimed funny movies…and alot of people were involved in bringing them to you. So, now, every piece of celluloid that has anyone from those movies attached to it is, “from the people who brought you Super Bad and Knocked Up.” Just because a gaffer from one of those flicks is holding the boom mic for the next one off the Apatow assembly line doesn’t make it good. Remember, the people who brought you Star Wars also shoveled Howard The Duck into theaters. It reminds me of my mail man. The same person who brings me my Urkel toaster cozy that I bought on Ebay also brings me my bills. Joy and pain. Yin and yang. Starsky and Hutch.

I think that one has legs. Short, stubby, polio-ridden legs, but it’s a start. Any thoughts?

See you tomorrow…

Gravy

Hey there ‘Redheads… I wanted to shoehorn one more installment into Yesvember, before the last couple days were lost to food coma. So consider this a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade of gaudy, over-inflated, and poorly expressed ideas to help distract you from candied yams, Detroit Lions football, and the awkward interaction with the sap of your family tree. A big fat thank you for tolerating me thus far. And away we go…

I just got back from the bris for my buddy Seth’s new little munchkin, Ethan Perry…who will eventually be a member of the cast of the 2028 (when our already insipid retro ironic self-referential pop culture is hip again, ripping a hole in time…get all that?) revival of 90210, with a name like that. This was the second winky snipping that I’ve witnessed. Only slightly less cringe-inducing than the last one. The kid put up a bit of a fight, when he peed on the mohel right before the circumsnippage (look it up) occurred. For some reason, the mohel had a bluetooth in his ear the whole time, I guess in case of a last minute pardon from the governor.

On Saturday, I took a trip down to the newly re-opened American History Museum. The cosmetic overhaul was well done, but I found the content of the place to be a bit lacking, particularly the pop culture representation. Sure, the regular history stuff is cool, but I was looking forward to seeing Fonzie’s jacket, Archie Bunker’s chair, or Herve Villechaize (coulda sworn he was there). Well, none of that is there anymore. Here’s a sampling of what was on display…you tell me if I’m being unfair. One case was devoted to women’s basketball…you heard me. The next case over was hip-hop themed, with Grandmaster Flash’s turntable and Fab Five Freddie’s boom box. Across from that was a case with boxing gloves from Muhammad Ali, Jack Dempsey, and, of course, Rocky. Then there was a case that had Apolo Anton Ohno’s speedskates…c’mon, this is the American History Museum, not a silent auction for the ice capades. Next to that, was something that actually belonged there, Kermit the Frog. The next case contained another muppet, Oscar the Grouch, the puffy shirt from Seinfeld, and the ventriloquist dummy from the 70’s tv show, Soap. Then there was the centerpiece of the exhibit, the ruby slippers from The Wizard of Oz. It was a pretty paltry hodgepodge. No mention of pop culture heavyweights Superman, Elvis, The Beatles, or Mickey Mouse. Luckily, the museum didn’t completely slight Star Wars. They had C3-P0 by the main entrance of the museum among a general sampling of historical trinkets. There was also an appearance by R2-D2, who rolled and beeped through the halls of the museum under remote control, courtesy of the DC chapter of the R2-D2 Builders Club. According to their brochure, they’re an internet based fan club (shocker) with over 5000 members…cluttering parents’ basements worldwide. The droids they had on display were pretty impressive…give ’em a click and check it out. While we’re on the subject, please enjoy this chunk of dork meat…

And while we’re at it, here’s a second helping…

Ok, enough of that. Here are some random processed joke-like product that’s been kicking around in my head the last couple days…

The inventor of the slinky died. He fell down the stairs…slowly. Actually, he got stuck with three steps left to go and someone had to push him the rest of the way down…

I have a Siamese twin-size bed. It’s two beds, connected at the headboard.

I’m bothered by the phrase “take a nap”. Like it’s not yours. Where are people taking these naps from?
“Jeez, Bill, you look like crap. You get enough sleep?”
“No, somebody took my nap.”

Thanks.

‘Weener

Hey hey ‘RedheadsBlogtober is just about dried up and ready to fall off the babbling tree, so this’ll most likely the last chance to squeeze in some mediocre bloggage. And away we go. Big thanks to the fine folks at the DC Improv for an amazing show in the Comedy Lounge. I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with some of DC’s finest, Nora Nolan, John McBride, Joe Robinson, and Erik Myers. Great sets and good times were had by all. I did something that went slightly against type for me…I gave some untested topical material a whirl. I know, be still your beating hearts, but I rarely go off-script without testing the punchlines with a control group and a placebo. I took some of the flat, two dimensional words from the last blog, and inflated them into out loud jokes with appropriate pauses. These specifically…

I have some problems with McCain, which are purely superficial, but that’s how I roll. First, he says “Warshington“. Learn to pronounce it first, then maybe we’ll let you live there. Also, he whistles his esses when he talks…irks the everloving crap out of me. When I close my eyes, Obama sounds presidential…McCain sounds like a cartoon squirrel. And have you seen Cindy McCain? She creeps me right the fuck out.

Obviously, I couldn’t use the pictures to illustrate Cindy McCain’s inherent creepiness on stage, so I came up with this verbal substitute…

She looks like someone spackled the Crypt Keeper.

The audio is up on my MySpace page, if you’d like the audio book version. After the show, some friends and I adjourned to the nearby Melting Pot to go wade in a chocolate jacuzzi. Everything tastes better dipped in lukewarm chocolate. The table conversation drops off a bit when the dipping is going on. It gets limited to the phrases “Wow, this is delicious”, “Holy crap this is good”, and “Someone pull Jared’s face out of the fondue pot.” The fondue magic was sullied toward the end of the evening, when I looked down to see two cockroaches scurry across the floor…they were delicious. The conversation turned to city vermin which eventually led to rats. The following sentence was then uttered by a young lady at our table, “Let me tell you how disgusting rats are. So, I was taking a piss in this alley in Boston…” She kinda trailed off when the rest of the table stared at her with our heads tilted slightly. Take your time and let it sink in. While you’re at it, riddle me this. What’s wrong with this item…?


Make sure to congratulate this young couple. Apparently, they have a time machine on their gift registry.

Wells-Fargo recently bought ailing bank, Wachovia. They’ll be opening a new bank called Well-Fachovia. I’ll be here all week. Tip your waitstaff.

Here’s one last bit of political video before we yank the levers on Tuesday…a blast from the roughly 8 years past…

Enjoy your ‘ween…

Sit In My Lapse…

Hey there ‘Redheads… Well, it’s official. After a valiant two-weekish effort, JOKE/BIT/PREMISE/TAG-A-DAY IN MAY is dead. A week between installments kinda defeats the whole daily thing. Great timing too. The stunt-blogging gets a mention on DCStandup.com, then I decide to let it stagnate. I have the follow through of a thalidomide baby’s golf swing. I think I got a couple decent comedy nuggets out of the enterprise. As my inevitable apology, I offer you a piping hot batch of cutie pie…






…now that I’ve reduced you to a puddle of goo, let’s get this installment rolling, shall we?

Now for some horn tootage. Tuesday night, I won a poker tournament. I made my way through a field of 80 fellow degenerate Texas Hold ‘Em players and won a buy-in to a tournament at the Borgata in Atlantic City next week. The top prize is in the neighborhood of $30,000. I hope to trick or treat through that neighborhood. That kind of money almost makes it worth it to visit Atlantic City. That place is a wretched hive of scum and villainy. One place I have to make sure I stop by on the way up…the HQ of Spencer’s Gifts. I need to take that tour.

A big thanks to Matt, Tonia, Jeanne, and the rest of the groovy staff at LOL Comedy Club in Clayton, NC for a great weekend. The crowds were small (some shows, they felt more like drunk focus groups) but fun. I got a chance to work with the round mound of profound, Mo Alexander.

Here we are, filling a quota…

Comics in Clayton luxuriate in the lavish accommodations of Jeanne’s house. Which has a 60-inch big screen TV…that can vote, it’s so old. It’s one of those rear projection jobs. This one takes about a half an hour before it warms up and holds a steady picture. Oh, and the cable wasn’t working. You haven’t seen scrambled snow, until you’ve seen it on a big screen. I felt like Carol Anne from Poltergeist. And the feature’s room is pink. Pepto Bismol pink.

While we were tooling around Clayton, Mo and I stopped at a local drive-thru bbq joint, Smithfield BBQ. We pulled up to the menu to check out the bill of fare, when the lady behind the speaker popped on to take our order. We had no idea what we wanted, so we asked her what was good. She said everything was good. We weren’t satisfied with what seemed like the company line, but she backed up her statement with, “I’m a 200 pound woman. I know about good barbecue.” She was right. The bbq and cole slaw sandwich was pork-tastic.
The last night in the house, Mo, Jeanne, and I were lounging on the couches in the den, discussing various mysteries of life. The conversation turned to religion, then turned into me answering questions about Jewish stuff. Jeanne then asks the loaded question, “Can I ask you something without offending you?” Well now she had to, regardless of the outcome, “Go ahead,” I said. I prepared to clear up some misconception about bar mitzvahs or having sex through a hole in a sheet. The question she chose was, “Are you really cheap?” WHA?? That was her burning question. Am I a stereotype. It was like asking Mo, “What’s your stance on grape soda? For or against?” I thanked her for the new material then, after she went to bed, I took this picture with her camera…

No promises on the next bit of bloggage, but I’m gonna try not to veer too far off the path of regular updates.

To be continued…

J/B/P/T-A-DAY IN MAY 14: Almost over…

Hey there, ‘Redheads… I hope you all had a heck of a hump day. Mine was long. I woke up an extra hour and a half earlier than I usually do, so I could take my truck in for service. Then work was way busier than usual. Oy vey, I say. But, here I am, in front of my glowing monitor…for you.

I’m super-psyched, because tomorrow I hit the road for a four night slate of shows in North Carolina. I’ll be at the LOL Comedy Club in Clayton (just outside of Raleigh) with headliner, Mo Alexander. If you find yourself on tobacco road this weekend, come check out a show. Say hi. We’ll hang.

It’s been two weeks of this veiled attempt to throw some comedy pasta on the refrigerator door to see what sticks known as, JOKE/BIT/PREMISE/TAG-A-DAY IN MAY. Where has the time gone? No really, I’m never going to get that back. Here’s today’s bit of dynamite hack…

Since I’ve been trying to strike it rich playing the lottery, I’ve been using the numbers on the back of some of my favorite Chinese food fortunes in my collection. Here’s one I’ll share…

Our first and last love is…Self-love.

That’s a masturbation fortune cookie. No need to add “in bed”. I just wish that the one time that a cookie correctly predicted my immediate future, it could’ve been something a bit more helpful.

See you on Thursday…

J/B/P/T-A-DAY IN MAY 13: Nice shoes…

Hey there ‘Redheads… Lucky number 13 in this month long series of crap-tacular comedy. Thanks to all you gluttons for punishment, who keep coming back only to find that, no, it hasn’t gotten any better. Keep holding out hope. For this installment of JOKE/BIT/PREMISE/TAG-A-DAY IN MAY I give you a small slice of my evening…

I just got back from an evening of high-falootin’ beer and pizza at Pizzeria Paradiso in Georgetown. If you like beer that doesn’t have “Lite” on the label, you should swing down there to partake of the suds for DC Beer Week. While I was waiting outside for my friends to arrive (the visible ones), taking in the lovely sun dressed scenery, I bore witness to a great bit of popped-collar douchery. There was a group of guys milling around outside the restaurant, figuring out where the next stop on their tour would be. A fetching blonde, who apparently knew one of them, came out to say hello. They tried to coax her into joining them at McFadden’s. She said she really need to get something to eat and was about to head back in when one of the guys asked, “Do you like chicken?” She replied, “Yeah.” Then the guy came back with, “Would you like a wing?,” extending his elbow so she might take his arm. Then she went inside and the guys meandered down the road. As she went in, I said very audibly, “Would you like a wing?…whadda putz,” and proceeded to giggle my ass off.

Really? That’s your line? I don’t claim to be a Don Juan, but that exchange was about as smooth as a slip n’ slide in a gravel pit. What, you couldn’t ask her is she was Jamaican, because she’s ja-makin’ you crazy?

And yet, I’m the one at home, blogging alone…

See ya Hump Day, ya humps…