Tag Archives: humor

Humor as Discomfort

A couple of years ago I picked apart Seth MacFarlane’s performance as emcee of the Academy Awards for his blatant and frequent sexist and racist comments. I wondered openly why anyone expected he’d do anything different, given his history as the “offend everyone” writer behind Family Guy and other television shows. Late last year I was somewhat surprised and ultimately disappointed when Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson came to Walla Walla to deliver an uninteresting and Islamaphobic lecture, and I remembered that Seth MacFarlane was the executive producer of the Cosmos: A Space Odyssey series on Fox that featured Tyson. For in the Hollywood universe, there are a few individuals who drive cultural production under the guise of many studios, production companies, agenting firms, and talent. It’s the old boys’ club of popular culture at work.

Last weekend we saw something a little different. I wouldn’t climb up on the soapbox with Maggie Gyllenhaal and proclaim it “revolutionary” (and evolutionary) as she did, but it was a crack in the edifice that Hollywood normally supports. At the Golden Globes, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Margaret Cho, Lily Tomlin, and even Jane Fonda (in a brief turnabout from her foray into conservative political stances) poked fun at this boys’ club and made those boys decidedly uncomfortable. Here is the Fry-Poehler opening monologue:

Tina’s very first line, calling everyone in the audience a bunch of “minimally talented brats” signaled a critique of Hollywood culture and production. The line about Joaquin Phoenix calling award shows a bunch of bullsh*t and then the well timed, “Oh, hi, Joaquin!” was a direct calling out of his hypocrisy (and pointed at a performer who once pretended to not care about Hollywood anymore, all for the publicity). From here they made a segue way into the North Korea threats around The Interview which would form the frame of a running joke in the form of Margaret Cho as a North Korean dictator and culture aficionado. From the mention of North Korea there were more jabs at the film and fellow actors that looked at first like the usual stuff of celebrity roasts: Read More…

If a Tweet Falls in the Forest, Does It Make a Sound?

waterfall in a forestThere’s a woman in the coffee shop, standing around waiting for her $4.50 espresso drink, and I’m guessing she’s impatient because she’s pacing in a wide 8 figure. She needs a cello accompaniment, something moody to go with her dark gray fleece jacket cinched tight at the waist, and her Ralph Lauren glasses (worth approximately 100 pricey espresso drinks). I’m betting she’s a little guilty that she’s such a Type A personality, because every so often she flashes me a smile and then it’s gone as she checks her gold watch again. I like her but I find myself mildly worried for her. I want to invent a whole back story for her but I can’t decide where to begin. I think it’s a funny story but nothing is coming to me.

Two years ago, three and four years ago I loved writing humor, loved making people laugh, especially if adversity was the target. It’s been such a long-used coping mechanism of mine that I figured it was part of my personality. Coping skills what they are, I see retroactively that it was in response to a 25-year long string of stressful episodes, and not me. I hate giving up pieces of myself when I think they’re real, because blah, change sucks and is hard and all of that. But it’s also the only lasting path to improvement that I’ve found.  Read More…

It’s Week 22 and I Haven’t Blogged About the Next Offspring

pacifiers with skulls and crossbonesLet me just come right out and say a couple of things: I love you, unborn second child. I know we often refer to you as a parasitic fetus, but we did that during the first pregnancy too, and look, we’re really super nice to Emile, so it is totally not a sign that we’re unexcited about you. But for my second point, I have to say, I’m sorry. I should have plastered your photos from the ultrasounds all over the Internet by now, and I haven’t. I should have written at least nine blog posts wondering what kind of person you’re going to be someday, and here we are, more than halfway through the gestation process, and here is blog post number one.

In my defense, little fetus, I’ve got a lot more confidence this time around, and if you look at the litany of blogging I did before Emile was born, a lot of the content was really about my insecurity. I wasn’t even sure before Emile if I could effectively swaddle a newborn. Boy was that a non-event!

Also, Emile took a lot of doing and a series of rejiggered logistics to get conceived. We racked up the fertility visits, invoices, sperm donors, and awkward conversations with medical personnel in the 18 months it took us from getting started to getting knocked up. You got all zygotey on attempt number one! You didn’t give me any time to sweat about it, fetus. Where’s the drama in getting what you want when you want it? That’s not going to get a lot of blog attention, you know? Read More…

Daniel Tosh Is Not the Problem

Daniel Tosh in some kind of dragLast week, a brouhaha erupted on the Internet after Daniel Tosh, a lackluster comic and host of Tosh.0 on Comedy Central made a joke about rape. Or rather, he attempted such a joke, knowing full well that somebody out there in the world, if not his audience, would find it unfunny and offensive. Many smart people have written about why there’s no place in comedy for jokes or comic routines on the subject of rape, others have waxed eloquent on where this moment intersects with the First Amendment, but I’d like to expand the discussion here.

The issue of what’s funny and where the boundaries of taste and appropriateness in comedy comes up often. Stephen Colbert recently apologized for likening the food industry’s infamous pink slime to transsexuals. Tracy Morgan was taken to task for saying during a stage routine that he’d kill his own son if he found out the kid was gay–when asked about the lines, he remarked:

I don’t “f*cking care if I piss off some gays, because if they can take a f*cking d**k up their ass … they can take a f*cking joke. Read More…

Eleventh Hour Baby Preparation

baby swing snug-a-bunnySo many people liken a new arrival to a life-changing event that as a Jersey boy through and through, I plan like a hurricane is approaching. Thus I’ve gotten down to battening the hatches here. Come to think of it, though, I don’t have a lot of experience on ships, so I’m not sure why I think I know anything about hatches per se. The point is, we’re prepping with the idea that soon, preparation ends and the next chapter begins. All signs point to an early delivery for us, due dates and calendar slide tools aside. I am at DEFCON 3. Read More…

Breaking News: DC Earthquake Not Cool Enough for NYC

It rose out of nowhere, otherwise known as 3.7 miles below ground in a section of Virginia far from DC, but as of this writing, today’s geologic event is being called the “DC earthquake.” In the middle of the working day, government employees, among the last people in the country with jobs, evacuated their buildings in case one of them had a crack after the 5.9-level quake shook the eastern seaboard for something around 10 seconds.

J. McKinley covered the devastation on his blog, and other people began using their only means of communication—social networks—to make sure everyone was okay. Read More…

Baptism Angst

baby getting baptizedA garden variety therapist will tell you, the earliest messages absorbed are often the most powerful. Having gone through 12 years of Catholic school, it follows that my most powerful messages revolve around avoiding Hell. I was preoccupied as a child with the rather significant difference between white lies and worse offenses. “That dress looks nice” might be a non-truth, but in response to someone asking about their fashion, it appeared that Saint Peter would let it go as an infraction.

One of our earliest lessons, at least that I can remember, was the proclamation that if the world ended tomorrow, all of us Catholic kids would be okay because we’d been baptized. This was obviously a step up from getting corralled with the thieves and unrepentant pillagers of the earth, but it caused me to worry about all of the poor innocent babes who’d never crossed paths with a squirt of holy water and a proxy refusal to follow Satan.

So now that the birth of our baby is pretty much imminent, guess which dusty messages have crawled out of my memory’s woodwork? Read More…

The Terrible Prawn Abduction

I’d been sleeping, somewhere between my cycle in fetal position and an overhead reach to stretch out my right hip because years of nursing my left knee had taken its toll on my other side. I suppose it was easy to surround me in my vulnerable state, sitting ducks and all, but I woke up to the sound of them humming. They hummed like camels and llamas do to warn off potential threats, but I guess, with their aggression toward me and all, that their motivation was somewhat different.

I rolled over and rubbed my eyes. I was trapped. Trapped by three dozen jumbo prawns.

Holding toothpicks like spears. Read More…

Their Neighbors to the South

Having just spent a week en Canada, I am continuing to think about the small but notable differences I encountered while there. They may be little things, but they’re enough to remind one that one is in a foreign land, a land largely absent of GOP/Democrat partisan bickering, American Idol crooning (they have their own version), and conversations about whether evolution is a Real Thing or not. Read More…

How I Knew I Was a Klutz, Part 2

catholic school skirtsPerhaps Danny McGuinness had x-ray eyes, I’m not sure. But in one or two snaps of my right bra strap, he discovered the weakest link in the connection. Which, now that I think of it, was kind of the entire brassiere, because it was a fairly flimsy wad of cloth. In an instant the device was in ruins, and it collapsed underneath my dress, while I detected a note of relief from it. After being produced at the training bra factory, it probably expected to grace the shoulders of someone like Carolyn Westermann, not Maroon the Goon, and here I couldn’t even handle it for one week.  Read More…

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