Monday, December 31, 2012

Words and Phrases Everyone Needs to Start Saying in '13

Earlier this morning I was directed to a list of words and phrases that the genius vocabulary scientists over at Lake Superior State University have decided need to be "banned" in 2013. Because nothing says academic creativity and freedom like banning the use of language, am I right people?

Anyhoo! (BANNED IN  '07 BUT I'M STILL KEEPING IT ALIVE LIKE A COPY OF The Catcher in the Rye.) Because I believe in words and their power, I ain't gonna tell you to ban shit. Instead, I'm going to offer you a list of words and phrases we should all start saying in 2013, and yes I mean ALL OF US because I believe in socialized medicine and a forced public school education:

FISCAL SHITS

That's when you're so nervous about your financial situation it gives you diarrhea.

SOUBIRB!

SOUBIRB is the new YOLO, and also works as a great response to taunts of YOLO, because Some Of Us Believe In Reincarnation, Bitch!

SPOILED ALERT!

What you say to your roommate right before he or she is about to eat something of yours that you know has gone bad but that you left in the fridge. Can also be used to warn a friend that they are about to deal with an annoying child of entitlement.

FUCKIT LIST

Unlike other bloggers have suggested, the fuckit list isn't a list of things you want to be brave enough to do well before you die, it's a list of people you want to do before you get too old. Unless being an old person who fucks is on your fuckit list. Then that's cool.

TRONDING

When a topic is so mind-blowingly popular on Twitter you actually get sucked inside your computer and turn into a glowing, neon digibot who can't stop running around blasting lazers off in excitement about the Kardashian/West baby, for example. "OMG, Kanye West was totes on my Fuckit List, but now that he's having a baby with - SPOLIED ALERT! - Kim Kardashian I have to banish him from the list. Dude, you didn't know she was preggers? It was totally Tronding. Whatevs, SOUBIRB! Maybe next time, Kanye!"

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

An Open Letter to Adam "Picnic Tits" Carolla

I wanna say something about the whole "women aren't funny" thing, and why it matters no matter who says it, even if it is Adam "Picnic Tits" Carolla over there.

It matters because - as Rob Delaney pointed out - women are human beings. And therefore we deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

I know a lot about not being treated with respect and dignity. I think Adam Carolla does, too. Based on his New York Post interview, our childhoods and families sound very similar, which is probably what drove both of us to become comics.

The difference between me and Adam Carolla, though, is that I understand a little thing called "taste," and when it's appropriate to share your taste and with whom.

I have been a comedian for nine years now. And I am a good comedian. A really good one. I don't think I'm the best comedian who has ever lived, but I think that there are some things that I do extraordinarily well, some talents I have for conveying struggle in a certain way that allows audience members to feel catharsis when they see me perform. I'm probably not everyone's cup of tea, but what comedian is? Isn't that the whole point? I have a particular style and sensibility that Adam Carolla may or may not appreciate, but that doesn't mean it doesn't have any inherent value. Or rather that it doesn't have lots and lots and lots of inherent value. I know it does, because I can feel that it does. I can feel how special it is when I share my gifts with other people, and they can feel it, too. I know that because they tell me, and they thank me, and they hug me and say things like, "Oh my God you are hilarious. I love you!!! You are the fucking shit. You were amazing." etc. etc. etc. On and on. This isn't about giving me an opportunity to brag about how awesome I am, but this is simply to say that no man - or person - can tell me unequivocally that I am not funny because it is simply not true. When Adam Carolla or Eddie Brill (I know that was a controversial one, but go with me here) or Christopher Hitchens or your unemployed alcoholic uncle or any old douchebag says, "Women aren't funny," they're wrong. But they're not just wrong, they're trying to hurt us. Me. A woman who has been told since she was born that she wasn't good enough, by those closest and by society in general.

Fuck that.

Fuck you, Picnic Tits.

I am good enough. And I am brave enough to say so. I'm not afraid to say this rhetoric has to stop in a way that doesn't joke about it. I can't joke about it, because it's not funny. Not everything is funny. If you can't distinguish between when it's time to be funny and when it's time to be serious, you're probably not a very good comedian, and you can take your shitty, snarky, horribly unfunny insensitive tweets about whatever celebrity died five minutes ago and shove them up your pathetic, dried-up asshole.

Women deserve respect and love. We gave birth to you cocksuckers.

And if I were you, Adam Carolla, I'd find one who can stand you long enough to take you shopping. Because you look like a fucking idiot in that shirt.

What are you talking about, this is my favorite shirt!

I wear it all the time! What do you mean, "Picnic Tits?" I don't have tits! Or balls, for that matter.

This is technically a different shirt. It's basically the same shirt in a slightly different color pattern, but I see what you're saying.

Alright, maybe it's a bit much with the orange and red plaid/checks. BUT IT MATCHES MY BEEEEEERRRRR!!!! How else will the world know that I'm a dude if I don't wear a shirt that matches my beeeeerrrrrrr????? Maybe I should rape somebody. That would do it, I guess.

Haha yeah - that's funny. Women aren't, but raping them sure is! HEY-OH!!! Check the shirt!!!

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

To: NY Comedy Scene Re: Heckling Video

Well, the "heckling video" has just been made private, so this post I was working on is essentially moot now, but to the 69,000 of you who saw it, here's what I have to say:

Yesterday, a video that had already started to go viral in the comedy community was shared on The Huffington Post, which brought it to an even wider audience. The video's title, "Heckler Gets DESTROYED!," implies that this would be yet another video of a comedian on stage handling a heckler in the audience. There are lots of those online, some now infamous, like this one where Bill Burr tears into a Philly crowd so incredibly that he, perhaps unfortunately, has inspired a whole generation of younger comics to jump at the chance to be confrontational with audience members.

But, instead, the video features a young girl named Emily getting her comeuppance, as some would have you believe, for being disruptive during the open mic where this was filmed.

Like Carol Hartsell at Huffington Post Comedy, my first reaction to this video was that it had to be an April Fool's prank, since it was filmed on April 1st. Hartsell says, "No crowd could possibly be that mean to one performer, we thought." Not to mention the fact that it seems virtually implausible that any female comedian, no matter how green, would start a set in the year 2012 with "birth control tampons." But in an interview with Hartsell, Adam Cozens, the comedian who filmed and uploaded the video, confirmed that the incident was not staged. Cozens told Hartsell, "Prior to this incident, she and her friends talked and heckled and yelled all throughout the host's opening time, being repeatedly told by the host, as well as comics sitting around her to be quiet (in not always those kind of words). Of the 15 or so comics that went on prior to her, she talked during each and every one of them."

It's important to note that Cozens said "she talked during each and every one of them," not that she heckled or made fun of every one of them. The implication in the title of the video is that she was making fun of each and every comedian who went up before her, but accounts by those who were there describe her as more of a general disruption than a mean-spirited heckler. I asked Cozens to give me an example of the sort of heckling she was doing, and he said, "Something about "Don't forget to tune in to watch 'Whitney,' Thursdays on NBC," which is harmless and kind of funny. Cozens joked, "Yea, she was NASTY!"

I wasn't there so I can't attest to her behavior, which is part of the problem with this video. The viewer isn't privy to any examples of this girl's prior misbehavior, only the "little mercy" she was shown from the comedians in the audience. Most importantly, this woman was not only taped without her permission, but then subsequently exploited on the web. (As of this writing the video has nearly 69,000 hits.) Many who've seen this video wonder why she wasn't simply asked to leave. Cozens told Hartsell, "Around the time that it was all coming to a head and it was make or break time in regards to giving her the boot, it was decided to just put her on stage and handle it the way we did." So taping her without her permission in order to punish her was a premeditated act.

Even if Emily were rudely heckling every single comedian who went up before her (and it doesn't seem like she was), one person heckling one other person seems a benign act compared to a room full of mostly men attacking a woman who was clearly so nervous to do comedy that she had to get drunk first. (Note to those who want to try comedy: never drink first.) The behavior of the comedians in the audience is at best childish (big surprise!) and at worst barbaric. This should be viewed as the hazing incident it is, meant to intimidate and harass a newbie female who dared disturb the balance of power. Some have argued that a male comedian who behaved in the same way would have been met with the same response, but that's doubtful. Female hecklers are notoriously reviled by male comedians, which is not to say that other female comedians there weren't bothered by her behavior, but rather to draw attention to the latent sexism behind the act of embarrassing this girl online. Putting her in her place, as it were. This is the first video of its kind as far as I know (of an open mic-er being attacked by an audience of fellow comedians) and it's no coincidence that the subject is female.

While some comedians - male and female alike - continue to suggest that gender has nothing to do with what happened, others are willing to analyze the incident more critically. Comedian Josh Homer told me, "Watching that video was like watching gang rape. It was premeditated and over the top. It was pure mob mentality." He continued, "If that was my sister up there being treated like that, I would have burned The PIT to the ground." Indeed, watching this video is like watching a stoning. Or, as comedian Mike Lawrence tweeted, "Viral videos are the new Scarlet Letter."

I'm particularly disturbed by the fact that many people who weren't there continue to maintain that "she got what she deserved!" The willingness of people who weren't there to accuse this girl of things they didn't see her do and then to thrill at her punishment is telling. Additionally, the way some people remain ignorant of the obvious abusive nature of this exchange says so much about how violent our culture at large has become, how volatile comedy rooms can be and how anger is often at the root of what makes comedians funny. This is what happens when that anger comes out without a punchline. (Though I will admit the line, "Your hair is shitty!" is hilarious.) I'd like to commend the host for intervening eventually, though I'm not sure if he was in on the premeditated act of asking her to go up so she could be ridiculed.

To those that would counter, "What do you expect? Comedy is hard! Be rude to comedians, this is what's gonna happen!" I will say this: I might not take umbrage with this act if it happened in an isolated room. It's the uploading of this footage for the world to see that seems like the particularly cruel and unusual punishment. What's worse is that as a result of the fact that this video was shared online, Emily felt compelled to attend another open mic last night and film an apology:



Thank God for the comic at the end of this apology video (who I'm told is Scott Chaplain) who says, "Anyone who actually wants an apology is ... an idiot. Seriously, don't ever apologize, have you watched their sets?" Not only does he prove himself funny, good-natured and insightful, he also makes an important point. While I think it's fair Emily felt compelled to apologize for interrupting other people (after all, that's 1st grade etiquette), what about the apology she's deserved for the way she was treated? I asked Cozens about that and he told me he'd rather not comment publicly, but that he does feel remorse for uploading the video. (Which is perhaps why it has been made private.)

When I contacted Cozens about this saga, I told him, "I hesitate to even mention the fact that by sharing this girl's abysmal material with the world you've set women in comedy back 50 years." That's perhaps the most unfair part of all of this. The comedians who supported sharing this girl's drunken open mic set with anyone willing to witness this train wreck would certainly not support filming a well-known comedian working out new material in a loose room. This material isn't ready for anyone's consumption, let alone the judgmental eyes of the entire Internet. These terrible jokes about tampons and menstrual cups play into every negative stereotype about women in comedy, which comedian Nathan Rand notes has given "some idiots ... an excuse to shit on all women who do comedy." He told me, "I'll say that one thing I do find really disturbing in the comments is the amount of misogyny displayed by the misinformed. She was a heckling jerk who then went on stage and got booed while telling an unfunny, hacky joke. There are more awful male comics than there are awful female comics because there are more men in comedy, period." Um, no pun intended, I imagine.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Me on Uinterview: Advice for Ashton and Demi

Rumor had it that Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore were getting divorced after he cheated on her on the eve of their 6th wedding anniversary. Some say they're now trying to repair their marriage. I know how it is:

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Mr. and Miss Matched

My father was a man with many signature behaviors. He had an unmistakable laugh and gregarious nature that could penetrate even the hardest of hearts. He bore the brunt of his obsessive need to work, to do well at his work, to create work where there was none thanks to his unquenchable desire to groom and mold the physical world around him. But, perhaps most importantly, or at least most intimately, anyway - in the way that a daughter knows her father's intimate side - he had a habit of lallygagging around the house, on the few days he would allow himself to take a break from work, in the most ridiculous mismatched plaid pajama combos imaginable.

MP3
Even the couch cushions are plaid...

I'm not sure how it is that my dad acquired so many mismatched tops and bottoms, or why his loungewear collection consisted of nothing but plaid fleece, cotton stripes and bizarre prints (tractors, anyone?), all of which he liked to wear at the same time, if possible. But knowing my dad would be sitting at the head of the kitchen table reading the Sunday paper in one of these clown costumes on weekends when I came home to visit as an adult is one of the things I grew to rely on, to feel comforted by. It was a goofy tick of his that let me know that no matter how old I got, and even when I had my own child, I would always feel like a little girl around my dad.

Smile
Yes, the blanket is plaid. And I'm wearing my dad's bathrobe. It's plaid.

Cosy Chair Cuddle
Adriana, trying to comprehend the perpetual, pervasive presence of plaid.

I lost my dad in 2008 to cancer, something I haven't really talked about excessively. I've mentioned it here and there, but not nearly to an extent representative of the gaping hole he left in my life. I'm not alone in feeling his absence, of course. My father was not only the head but also the heart of our family - and, given how much time he spent yelling, I suppose he was the lungs, too. I cry all the time when I think about my father, not just because I miss him, but because he was so great. Great, as in large, larger than life. In hindsight, I realize my father expended a lot of energy throughout his life compensating for his tiny stature with the size of his personality. He left such a giant mark on everyone he touched - even people who only met him once were changed by having interacted with him, and I'm really not exaggerating. If tiny women who pack a punch are referred to as firecrackers, my dad was a hand grenade, yelling hello at mailmen from across the street, waving and shouting friendly taunts at neighbors, tooting his horn at passersby. Every time a waitress walked up to him in a restaurant and asked, "What can I getcha?," he'd respond, "A million dollars and a day off to spend it." Inevitably, even if she was having a bad day, the server couldn't help but chuckle a bit, to feel relieved by my dad's easy presence.

And boy was he present, my dad, always living in the moment, always expressing exactly how he felt when he felt it. His capacity to feel empathy was enormous, which is probably why he took me in like I was his own child. Not only did my dad never make me feel like he was my step-dad (a term that wasn't even considered for use), he told me from day one that he was my Dad. With a capital D. I'll never forget that moment, right after my parents got married. My dad ran his carpentry business out of our house, and so the phone was always ringing, especially in the evening when people knew they might actually have a chance to talk to the elusive, charming, cantankerous Mike Castiglia, Builder. One night I answered a call - like I liked to do, since it made me feel important as a young child - and ran to the garage to tell my dad who was on the phone. I opened the door and called out, "Mike! It's for you!" My dad walked up the steps, slowly and deliberately, bent down to my eye level and said, "You can't call me Mike anymore, kid. You have to call me Dad now." Then he patted my head and I went back inside, transformed. I had a Dad, and I got to love him the way only little girls can love their fathers. I spent the rest of his life giving him unwanted kisses and hugs, never fully being able to say thank you for that.

My daughter is now about the same age I was when Mike became my dad, and though she hasn't seen her grandfather in almost four years, I hope she carries a vague memory of him with her. She must know his imprint on her DNA on some basic, spiritual level, because she certainly was channeling him through her sleepwear choices the other day, so much so that I had to take her picture. So here's to you, Dad, and your ridiculous pajamas. I miss you still and always will.

Little Miss Matched

Friday, August 05, 2011

The Widow and The Divorcee, Episode 8: FINE and The Art of Brooklyn Film Festival



Check out episodes 3, 5 and 8 of The Widow and the Divorcee at The Art of Brooklyn Film Festival this month! The festival runs from August 20-27 with a special preview and gallery show tonight at the St. Francis College Theatre starting at 6 pm. For the complete schedule and more details, visit The Art of Brooklyn site.



Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Weiner's weiner!

Originally posted on Babble:

In case you haven't heard, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) said this weekend that his Twitter account had been hacked Friday night. Whoever the prankster was that broke into his account, Weiner argued, sent a lewd photo to a 21-year-old college student in Seattle. (The photo isn't really that lewd if you ask me, since whoever took the photo was wearing underwear. The weiner in the pic - which is linked after the jump - is bigger than Jane Pratt's huge boobs, tho.)

The tweet and photo in question were deleted almost immediately, reportedly before the college student even saw them. The photo was allegedly sent in response to a tweet by the student, Gennette Cordova, which read, "I wonder what my boyfriend @RepWeiner is up to right now," the Washington Post reports. New York magazine adds, "Some right-wing bloggers are asserting that the photo might be evidence that Weiner is having an affair. Those bloggers note that, on Friday, Weiner tweeted about what time he'll appear on Rachel Maddow, saying, #That's5:45inSeattleIThink," implying that Weiner and the student may have been in close contact, a suggestion she vehemently denies.

Weiner got snippy with reporters today for questioning him about the so-called Weinergate, and he has hired a lawyer, a move which some see as an admission of guilt. It's hard to tell whether or not this incident was planned and executed by conservatives or was actually a misappropriation of fun on the part of Weiner. One thing's for sure, though: Anthony Weiner has a problem... flirting with high school and college girls.

Alexandra Petri of the Washington Post notes that "of the 200 people @RepWeiner follows on Twitter, a surprising number (well, more than zero, at any rate) do seem to be what might be termed nubile out-of-state houris." Conservative blogs are having a field day with the fact that "Weiner’s Twitter Friends Include Pages of Young Luscious Fans," posting photos of some of the women Weiner has followed on Twitter. (One of the girls is in high school.) The blog The Prudence Paine Papers has screenshots of tweets sent by a porn star indicating that Weiner had sent her a Direct Message. According to Paine, Weiner has also had contact with more than one high school girl on Twitter. She writes, "@Starchild111 was a high school girl who was trying to get Weiner to be her prom date. She was overjoyed when he followed her, upset when conservatives laughed that Weiner was trolling the school yard, and dismayed when he unfollowed her. Starchild has deleted her twitter account."

The bottom line is, as many bloggers have noted, it would be easy to see who posted the questionable photo - just look up the IP address of the computer it was sent from. If the photo really was sent by Weiner, clearly his career is over. Even if the photo wasn't sent by Weiner, all this scrutiny of his Twitter account is revealing an undesirable side of the Representative. We'll know soon enough how badly this has damaged his reputation. In the meantime, here's the photo for those of you who want to see it. Parents: let this be a two-fold lesson. First, remind your children to NEVER TAKE COMPROMISING PHOTOS OF THEMSELVES! Never, never, never! It always ends poorly. Second, be sure you're monitoring your children's online activity. You never know when one of them is going to fall in love with a member of Congress.