Sunday Bloggy Sunday

Hey there, ‘Redheads… I’m back from whatever arbitrary hiatus I imposed on myself. Thanks for pretending to care. I’m sitting on the couch, watching the Heat/Mavericks game. I’m not usually a big NBA guy, but it doesn’t take much to get me interested in a potential championship-clinching tilt. Besides, I’d be lying if I told you I haven’t gotten caught up in the manufactured villainy of the Miami Heat. LeBron took his talents to South Beach, now the heat are the Legion of Doom. It’s halftime right now and Dirk Nowitzki is apparently trying to rebuild the Berlin Wall with all of the bricks he’s putting up. I’ll give you my favorite stat in situations like this: Dirk has only made one more shot than me. If the Mavs end up winning, I want a ring. Y’know who else should get a ring? Ted Leonsis. There are three former Wizards on this Mavs team. Washington knows how to build a championship team, just not theirs.

I’m torn about who I want to win. It’s mostly a question of which NBA fossil I’d like to see win a championship before they retire. I always root for professional athletes who are older than I am. Juwon Howard was drafted when I graduated from high school. His defensive technique is mostly just yelling at the younger players to get off his lawn.

Just to see a Game 7, I’m rooting for the Heat to win this thing. Ok, back to game. I’ll have another blog tomorrow to recount my weekend getting laughed at. Again, thanks for pretending to care.

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Don’t Have a Title… I Should Join The Heat…

Hey there ‘Redheads… Welcome back to your nearly weekly dose of flim-flammery. I bring you reheated news that’s been piling up whilst I twiddle my thumbs and wait for the other eight fingers to muster up the energy to get typing. For example, did you guys hear that LeBron is joining D-Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami? I know! Why do they keep these things from us? A lot of clever names are being bandied about as the sports world tries to figure out what to call this new power trio: The 3 My-Egos, Miami Thrice, The Yankees. All of them are good tries, but I know what I’ll be calling them. The N.W.O. Check out this video from WCW’s 1996 Bash At The Beach. As my comedy buddy, Ryan Conner, pointed out, it completely parallels the Lebron situation, right down to the fan outrage…

Even if you’re not a fan of wrestling, the similarities are eerie. I’m hoping this new storyline will make next year’s NBA season halfway interesting. And LeBron better smack Kobe upside the head with a steel chair.

Speaking of fan outrage, I’d like to express a little of my own about Predators. I had fooled myself into thinking that my expectations were lower than Verne Troyer looking for a missing contact lens, but in my heart of hearts, I wanted this movie to be good. The Predator franchise deserved a decent sequel. And they got us fanboys all in a lather because the called it Predators, so it’ll be like Aliens was to Alien, right? And they lied to us in the previews by giving us WTF shots like this…Turns out, that bad ass shot isn’t even in the movie. It was just shot for the preview. And all of the action scenes in the last half of the movie are shot in the dark, so you can’t make out what the hell is going on. What should have been a great fight between a Yakuza killer with a samurai sword and a Predator, ended up being so muddled it wouldn’tve made it past the cutting room for Power Rangers. For those of you who haven’t seen it, the premise is basically that the best killers from our world (and Topher Grace) are air dropped onto an alien planet that serves as a Predator hunting ground. My big complaint for the movie as a whole was that the filmmakers took it for granted that we know how the Predators operate and do nothing to establish their tactics or technology. In the first Predator, you got to see Ahnold noodle things through, adapt to his dire situation, and match wits with the Predator. In this one, they just shoehorned in a final confrontation with Adrien Brody spouting lines from the first movie out of context, just to get a rise out of us. There were so many forced call backs, you might as well have just had the cast of this film reminisce about the first one. Also, and this was a major missed opportunity, they did NOTHING to acknowledge the firepower that Adrien Brody was packing. His character had an AA-12. Just watch…

It makes the mini-gun Jesse Ventura was toting look like a super soaker. There are a host of other things wrong with the flick but, long story short, save your money. If you want to see a great character-driven monster movie, go watch Aliens or Pitch Black.

Here’s an item that caught my eye…

Larry Hagman of ‘Dallas’ fame becomes the new face of SolarWorldActor Larry Hagman was all about petroleum when he played oil magnate J.R. Ewing in television’s long running “Dallas” series. These days, he’s pitching solar energy with a new slogan — “Shine, baby, shine,” — soon to air on a television near you. Hagman is the face of a new ad campaign for SolarWorld.

This story struck me because… Larry Hagman is still alive? Forget pushing solar energy, I thought he was pushing daisies five years ago. He’s probably advocating solar energy out of self-preservation, since he could be used as fossil fuel. Also, I think this is the face I’d want selling my product…Use solar energy or Larry Hagman will swallow your soul.

Wow, I haven’t even gotten to my fever dream of a trip to Natural Bridge, VA. It deserves it’s own blog, but I can tease you with this in the meantime…

To be continued…

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…