Good Humor on the Right

A couple of years ago, a family member sent me a video of a ‘millenial’ talking about how she graduated from Harvard earlier in the week, got a job, showed up late the first day due to partying, and was fired, and proceeded to tell the ‘white man’ boss that she was to be respected.  It was portrayed as a first hand account, and clearly supposed to be taken seriously, and when I responded with “um… this seems fake, she’s at least my age” (technically a millenial, but I’m in my thirties so the graduating from Harvard and going out partying the night before a job didn’t ring true in the slightest) “I think this is just to spark outrage,” the response I got was “no shit Sherlock, it’s called satire.  That’s why it’s funny.”

But here’s the thing, it wasn’t funny, and I don’t mean “I didn’t like the angle” so it wasn’t funny, it was just objectively poorly executed and not funny.  There is a real political satire/humor deficit between the two sides.  The left has so many funny people that the unfunny are washed out, and so it seems to further intensify the ‘quality’ of the humor, and refines the tastes of those in agreement, but the right really has so little.  Dennis Miller, I’m told is pretty funny, I’ve enjoyed the little that I’ve seen of his stuff, but I’m not aware of where to find more (contemporary) stuff from him.  So when you get someone who you agree with, and they’re making fun of the other guys, you tend to find that funny if you have nothing else.

So where am I going with this?  Steven Crowder.  Now, I’ve talked about how I think Milo Yiannopoulos is entertaining, and occasionally he’s funny, but Steven Crowder is the first person, that I’m aware of, who is definitely on the right (Joe Rogan is in a kind of nebulous non-affiliated place, that’s why I’m not including him) who is pretty consistently funny.

Crowder’s impression of Young Turks’ creator Cenk Uygur is hilarious, and let me just say, I mostly like what I see from Cenk, but Crowder’s impersonation is spot on, and he finds the naturally exaggerated parts and mimics them perfectly.  “OF COURSE!”

What’s really impressive about Crowder, in addition to his ability to be funny, is that he is coherent while being funny, and he’s researched.  The first time I watched a “Change My Mind” segment, I was amazed at how deep he’d dove into the subject matter ahead of time.

The “Change My Mind” segment is also a good example of something that he’s doing, that I’m not aware of anyone else, left or right doing, and that is consistently airing unedited these pieces.  That’s not to say that there is an inherent fairness, ultimately whether it’s him, or Sasha Baron Cohen, or The Daily Show, the ‘house’ has the advantage, by going in prepared, but by not editing them, he shows his own confidence in his points, and he does tend to come out looking pretty good.

Now, I disagree on at least 50% of everything I’ve ever heard him say, but I do think he’s a really interesting voice in our political satire/commentary culture, and importantly he’s funny.  So, here’s the thing, that is both a good thing for conservatives, because humor can definitely make your points stronger.  I want to see the smartest, and funniest people on both sides making their points.  I think we only improve by getting the best people, with the best minds on both sides.  I don’t want dumb, or unfunny right leaning people to represent the right, because both sides can motivate each other to be better, but only if they’re on equal footing.

But, the right actually having a legitimately funny (and intelligent) voice is also a bad thing, for all of the unfunny conservatives who’ve been getting the default laughter of people who just happen to agree with them.  He’s raised the bar, and hopefully we’ll see more come out, because disagreeing with someone doesn’t inherently upset me, but thinking they’re unfunny, when they clearly think they are funny, upsets me more.  We need good comedy, and I hope we continue to get it.

The Jesus/Christian Paradox

This post, despite it’s title, should not be offensive to anyone regardless of religious affiliation, or lack of religious affiliation.  So keep reading!

There is a thing that I’ve found myself referring to a lot lately, but I came up with the idea a long time ago.  I refer to it as “the Jesus/Christian Paradox.”  What it is, is when someone starts to get backlash, because their followers/supporters/fans are assholes, and not based on their own merit or lack thereof.  If you listen to most of what Jesus said, it’s pretty non-controversial, and while there are many amazing Christians, there are a few that are so irritating, that they make us not want to associate with the term anymore.  It’s not really fair to Christianity on the whole, but we feel the need to go far away from it. Like the Westboro Baptist Church, they’re just so far from what we consider reasonable, that we want to disconnect.

When I first came up with this concept, it was after having spent a few years disliking Joss Whedon.  For a while, I thought he was a talentless hack of a writer, and then I watched some more of his shows/films and realized, he is a talented writer, but I hate his obnoxious fans who would tell me how he’s the most brilliant and innovative writer because he killed Buffy.  He wasn’t the problem and it took me a while to realize that.

In the last year, I’ve referred to Boston sports teams (and I stand by it) as being guilty of this Jesus/Christian Paradox—most sports teams might be.  Then there was Oprah, after the week of talking about whether or not she’d be running for President, I had to explain to several people who hated her for it, that she hadn’t said anything, it was her fans that were driving the hype.

Now, it’s Black Panther.  I just watched a video about how the hype is dampening excitement for some.  I think the creator of the video does a pretty fair job of not blaming Marvel or the cast and crew for the issues.  It falls onto the fans, followers, supporters, whatever the term is for them.

We need to properly advocate for what we think is best, and I think being over-zealous, becomes a massive turn off for most, and ends up having the opposite result intended.  Jesus said things that can be appreciated whether you’re Jewish, or Buddhist, or Atheist, but we really don’t see that in modern society.  Christianity doesn’t seem to mean following Christ’s ideas any more, and is in many cases a status symbol, and a necklace you wear, while you attack others and use him as the excuse.  The Patriots play football well, whether you love them or hate them, they’re pretty good at the game, and for the most part the really obnoxious team members get weeded out, and they’re probably a bunch of otherwise average guys, but we think of the fans crying when they lose, or being assholes when they win (btw, the reaction I saw on Facebook after their Super Bowl loss was better than any other experience I’ve ever had with their fans).

So, try not to judge someone (or something) by it’s fans, but by its content.  At the same time, fans, try not to be obnoxious.  Ok?

Suicide and Jokes

Suicide has been talked about a lot lately.  First there was August Ames’ suicide, then Logan Paul going to the suicide forest in Japan, and before either of those.  It’s a serious topic, and it’s one that deserves serious discussion, but there is a different side to it that should be discussed too, and that is jokes about it.  I will not be minimizing the topic in this post, but I will be talking more about humor and jokes surrounding suicide.

The reason I’m bringing this up, is Logan Paul.  Now, you should understand, that I didn’t watch the Logan Paul video, but I saw clips through many other stories talking about it.  I personally don’t want to see a dead body in video, and so I never watch anything like that.  That being said, me not wanting to see it, doesn’t mean you can’t show it.

Ok, disclaimers aside, I saw some of the clips of Logan Paul joking, as well as laughing.  Now some of the jokes, seemed like they were in poor taste, or insensitive, but some came across as nervousness, and I think that’s a totally natural response.  We often laugh at what may not seem the best time, because we don’t know what else to do, it’s natural.

Now, some of what I personally didn’t care for with what I saw of Logan Paul’s video, wasn’t joking about suicide, but joking about someone specific.  That may seem weird, but follow me for a second.  I personally, have laughed a lot at suicide jokes, but I don’t know that I’ve ever laughed about suicide jokes that involved someone real or specific, as much as the idea of suicide.

But Mike, suicide is never funny!

Suicide isn’t, but suicide jokes can be, and they can be helpful or good.  As you may or may not know, I am bi-polar, and have not only struggled with suicidal thoughts, but a couple of attempts.  When I was 24, I swallowed a bunch of pills, and was hospitalized for a week, and made to swallow liquid charcoal to neutralize the toxins of the pills.  It was a miserable time for myself, and my family (probably worse for them if I’m being honest).  When I got out of the hospital, I saw my friend Jimbo, and Jimbo’s first thing he said to me was:

“Hey, next time you try to kill yourself, you should get a whole bunch of chicken wire, make a noose, put it around your neck, duct tape your hands to your head and jump off a bridge in front of traffic.  That way, the noose will cut your head off, and it will look like you pulled your own head off with your hands!”

Now, if you’re like my family, you may be reading this thinking that it’s completely insensitive, and disturbing, and you might be mad that it was ever said.  I, however, burst into laughter, laughter like I hadn’t laughed since before the whole thing happened.

I had spent all of the time between swallowing the pills and Jimbo saying that joke, in a state of emotional NPR soft talk, and after he said that, I was listening to music again.  To this day, it is one of the two best comedic experiences I’ve ever had (the other was after an even worse day).

After Jimbo made that joke, we went around and around coming up with different ways that would have been far more memorable.  I like to think no one really meant them, and that the humor was our coping mechanism.  Because even though some people don’t get it, humor is largely a way of people making thing palatable that are otherwise unacceptable.  Humor is important, and not just humor that comes at no ones expense, because really that shit doesn’t exist (watch Mike Birbiglia’s Netflix special “Thank God For Jokes,” about how every joke is at someone’s expense.)

I imagine, if I had successfully killed myself, that Jimbo would not have told that joke, and if he had told it to him, I don’t think there would have been an audience for it, but telling that suicide joke, because I had a different outcome was great, it was what I needed.  So my point is this, suicide isn’t funny, but the jokes can be, and they can be cathartic, and they can shatter our self imposed prisons of ‘sobriety,’ but like anything else, there is a time and a place, and hopefully we can get help for those who need help, and humor for those who need humor.

 

Daily Calendars and The Danger of 365 Days of Planning

On New Year’s Day, my wife and I were going to go out and do some shopping.  We just needed to get out of the house, and it was too cold to do anything truly ‘outside.’  So we ended up at Barnes and Noble, and while we had each got our share of calendars as Christmas gifts, my wife suggested I get some kind of daily calendar.  You know these calendars that you remove a sheet each day, and there is some fun joke, or fact, or word each day.  The reason she suggested it, was because I used to love these calendars.

On a few occasions, I’ve purchased for myself daily calendars mostly containing the ‘italian word or phrase of the day’ in an attempt to learn Italian.  It’s a fun way of passing the time, and I put it on my desk at work, and I always enjoy them, for the first few months at least.

When she suggested that I buy one, my response to her was “I’ve never finished a whole calendar” because I end up leaving a job and it goes in a box for ‘later’.  When I got laid off in 2016, there was just a month and a half left in the year, and we found the calendar months later.  Before that, I left a job I hated and the calendar got lost in the process.

So, in one of my rare fits of superstition, I decided not to buy a daily calendar, for fear that I would not end the year at my job.  Don’t get me wrong, there are a ton of options in which that is a great thing, and I won’t fight it if something amazing comes along, but I guess it was mostly out of a fear of losing this job.  I enjoy where I am work-wise, and while it isn’t perfect, it’s pretty damn good, one of the best atmosphere’s that I’ve been in a long time, and I don’t want to lose that.

Also, I don’t want the job to become something I hate and then lose.  That happened at my last job, it was a great job, with a great atmosphere, and then the last 6 months were terrifying, and ultimately ended in me getting laid off.  I don’t think it makes it better when the job deteriorates first.

I just realized— just now, while I’m writing this— that I’m starting 2018 from a place of fear.  Which totally isn’t what I feel like overall, I’m very excited about where I’m at, and where I think I’m going, but ultimately I just don’t want to make any plans for work that consume the next 365 days.

Happy New Years everyone!  Don’t worry like me!

What an Amazing Learning Opportunity

HI! Have you ever said to yourself:
How do I make money on the internet?

Of course you have!

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But I’m not really good at anything!

None of us are!  But there is a great new way to make money on the internet without having any discernible skills!

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Wow! Tell me more!

Ok! I will!  For only $499.99 (plus s/h) you can take my 12 week web seminar on how to create a business making web seminars that (get this!) teach others how to create web seminars.

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Is this a pyramid scheme?

What’s a pyramid scheme?  We like to think of this as Inception-style education sales!

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Is this legal?

Well, I suppose that depends on where you’re attending the seminar from!

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Oh ok! But where am I going to get $500 to attend?

Woah!  It’s $499.99 (plus s/h) not $500!  Secondly, if you want something bad enough, you’ll find a way!  Plus, after you’re certified, you’ll be able to teach your own web seminar and make that money back right away!

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It sounds like I can’t afford not to give you $499.99 (plus s/h)!

That’s what we’ve been trying to tell you!  Now where’s our money?

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Season Review: NC Autumn

Lots of people can do a movie review, or a book review, or some stupid gadget review, but I wanted to do a review of one of the seasons, since this was my first year in NC, and Fall is starting to give way to winter, I thought it only fitting that I review a North Carolina autumn for you.

Now, if you’ve read my book (which sales figures show you probably haven’t) or read enough of my blog posts, you might know, that I hate fall/autumn.  Hate it.  So why bother reviewing it?  Because, I found something different about it this year.

I moved from Uxbridge MA (adjacent to East Bumfuck) to a small town just outside of Raleigh NC, and things are a bit different in the world of weather.

First off, I get seasonal affect disorder, which some asshole decided to call SAD (probably the same person who named the condition of stuttering “a stutter” or lisping “a lisp.”  Just a real sick kinda person.)  A big portion of this condition is not getting enough light due to shortening days.  Well, here in North Carolina, the sun goes down about 40 minutes later on most days than it did up north, which so far has meant that I’m at least leaving work in the sunlight.  This does wonders for me.

Last weekend, the foliage was in peak color, which makes me think that perhaps the season is just delayed down here, but we’re now less than a month away from the days getting longer again, so I tend to think that perhaps, this is just a better fall as far as light and mild weather are concerned.

I’m not sure it’s accurate to say this is the best autumn of my life, that I feel the best I ever have, but certainly it’s the best of the 20 years (more than half my life).  I’ve felt only the slightest twinges of sadness and depression the last couple of months, and they’ve barely made a blip on my depression-o-meter (if you suffer from depression, I strongly suggest getting a depression-o-meter, they’re a real life saver.)

Now, if I’m being totally honest, I think that there may be other reasons, why this year autumn has been so awesome.  First, my son is at an age where he is incredibly fun to hang out with, and things like Halloween are fun again, watching him waddle around as Yoda.  Second factor, I’ve felt like I’m really making headway towards my goals, I’ve been writing a ton of articles over at World’s Best Media, I started a second paying gig as an assistant editor at a book publisher, I’ve had some smaller successes with articles and things I’ve written, and honestly, it’s just starting to feel like it’s coming together.  Third factor, I’m enjoying my time; all of those things I mentioned before are fun and rewarding, but I’m also spending time with my wife, and with our son, we drive around this new state of ours, and explore.  My wife seems a little worried because I’m more tired than I used to be, but it’s because I’m living more than I used to be, and I can’t do it without her (and frankly I don’t want to try).

So maybe the weather doesn’t deserve credit, maybe my recent happiness, is just a convergence of factors, but at least the weather isn’t dampening it.  At least I don’t feel like a fucking mole person in my day job, going into work in the dark, and being released back into the dark.  Honestly, even with the all of the other factors, that mole-man mentality can really ruin shit, and I’m thankful that I’m not doing it.

I give NC Autumn: B+ (Because after all, it’s still the 4th best season.)