Monday, June 29, 2009

Board Game Flashback: Pizza Party

I used to go over to my neighbor Josh's house to play Pizza Party. It's funny how kids can find common ground right away and get along with each other. It's like the slogan for the Push Pop sucker: "Don't push me; push a Push Pop". Why resort to violence when we can all agree that sugar is delicious, amigo?

Josh went on to harrass my sister and me with prank calls in middle school, and he became a sullen high schooler who pretended not to know us. He ignored cheerful hellos on the sidewalk even though he lived two houses down.

But before he was a unibomber, Josh was a silly kid who would let me share his green plastic G.I. Joes., his mother's exercise trampoline, and his book-on-record of Br'er Rabbit. Watch out for that tar baby!

Then he presented this wonder of wonders: a board game shaped like a pizza! With pieces that look like ingredients! I don't remember really liking the game, but I always requested to play it because of the novelty of holding a fake pizza in my hands. Almost as good as the real thing!

Clearly the pepperoni and the mushroom want to date. The green pepper has her sights on the onion, but he's not interested. I never understood why the onion pizza slice had a blue handle, when the other slice handles corresponded perfectly to their respective ingredients. Who ever heard of a blue onion? I imagined a big assembly line of workers taking turns putting the game together. I figured the boardmakers at the end of the line were confused, because the illustrators at the front of the line forgot what an onion looked like and drew a Hershey's Kiss instead.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Leave Me Alone

In a CBS interview with Ed Bradley, Michael Jackson said if anyone wants to know the real him they need only listen to a song he wrote. I was on the edge of my seat. Finally some answers! Straight from the horse's mouth! Would it be "Man in the Mirror"? Or the less popular but just as moving "Earth Song"? Imagine my disappointment when he named one of my least favorites he has ever written: "Childhood"

The music video alone lights him with the eery glow of an alien from Cocoon. But he said the answers are there. So dissect I must:

Michael you seem to be distracted. Are you looking for something?

Have you seen my Childhood?

I, uh, yes I'm familiar with your popularity in the Jackson 5. Oh, is this a metaphorical question?

I'm searching for the world that I come from

You're from Gary, Indiana. A factory town. Everyone knows that.

'Cause I've been looking around
In the lost and found of my heart...

Okay, now I get it. You're longing for the childhood you didn't have because you were a superstar by age 12. So the Lost and Found is a place to reclaim things, and you can't reclaim your childhood. And you're looking in your heart. So your heart has a void. Do I understand you correctly?

No one understands me

You got that right. The affected voice, the image altering, the excessive spending, the baby-dangling...

They view it as such strange eccentricities...

the masks, the chimp, the Martin Bashir interview...

'Cause I keep kidding around

Is that what serving wine to children is called?

Like a child,

I never did that as a kid.

but pardon me...

By all means. I'll help you look. Hey, are these Edward Scissorhands Gloves?

People say I'm not okay
'Cause I love such elementary things...

I don't think we begrudged you your amusement park, but just the fact that you said it was okay to share your bed with children.

It's been my fate to compensate
For the Childhood
I've never known...

Compensating with slumber parties? So overnights with your peers was out of the question?

Have you seen my Childhood?

It's gone Michael. You have kids of your own now.

I'm searching for that wonder in my youth

Aren't we all?

Like pirates in adventurous dreams,
Of conquest and kings on the throne...

Sure, I have wished I were a pirate or a king. I escape through Disney movies. Then I pay my taxes.

Before you judge me, try hard to love me

Really, the love came before the judgment. But how well can any stranger really love or judge someone they don't have a real relationship with?

Look within your heart then ask

I shouldn't. My heart is black with anger and greed and jealousy--

Have you seen my Childhood?

Oh right, we're talking about you. Can I ask why you married Lisa Marie Presley?

People say I'm strange that way
'Cause I love such elementary things,
It's been my fate to compensate
For the Childhood I've never known...

You said that already. Now I feel like you're not even listening to me. Your eyes have glossed over, and your lawyer is telling me to leave.

Have you seen my Childhood?

I'm getting the feeling it all traces back to your childhood.

I'm searching for that wonder in my youth
Like fantastical stories to share
But the dreams I would me fly...

That's nice. But you know you can't REALLY fly, right? Hello? I think you may have Peter Pan syndrome. Which really is quite weird.

Before you judge me

Okay, you're right, that was a value judgment.

try hard to love me

I can try to love. I love...Thriller. I'm sorry, I'm a fan, that's all I know.

The painful youth I've had

Wow, I think I'm starting to get it. I can't help but think of your father Joe, who made you address him as Joe, and your mother who stayed by his side after he cheated on her. The physical abuse during your formative years, and the rumors of other forms of abuse. Really, I am only piecing together what I've seen in made-for-TV movies and talk shows. But you could start fresh with your kids. Give them the care, attention, and boundaries you never had. Is there any reason you could not communicate with them in a healthy way? Speak to US in a normal way?

Have you SEEN my Childhood?



Everybody knows what today is. A security guard in the building where I work refused to smile as I walked in. Instead of saying "Good morning" in his Caribbean accent, he shook his head and said, "It's just sad."

Maybe he saw my black dress and assumed I was in mourning too. I got some birthday gear from my sister in the mail yesterday, and in a rush to get to work this morning, I threw on the simplest outfit from that package. It is raining heavily in New York today, and with my giant umbrella and the black dress, I look like I am on my way to a funeral.

Meanwhile back on Planet Corporate America, none of my co-workers are talking about the death of Michael Jackson. Whether you loved him or hated him, you knew OF him, so not to say anything when the rest of the world takes a pause is unusual. These are the same people that make news out of an updated Dirt Devil. One woman said, "I see you're wearing a black dress. How PERFECT for Friday!" Someone else wearing a similar outfit to mine said, "We both have excellent fashion taste, don't we?"

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Grandpa Munster in Drag

I got to perform at Union Hall last night. The last time I was there was to watch Todd Barry's 20th Anniversary of Doing Stand-up show. It was cool to think that I was standing off stage behind the curtain where Sarah Silverman, Michael Showalter and David Cross had stood. Then it became awkward as none of the other comics waited back there with me. Finally I sat in the front row, but just for effect, I walked through the curtain and onto the stage. None of the other comics did that either.

It was all to raise funds for the campaign of a man I met that night, Bob Zuckerman.

He hopes to be the first openly LGBT councilman in Brooklyn. You may be thinking, "The first?! In all of Brooklyn's political history?" But the key word is OPENLY. Every other councilman happened to be gay, but just did not talk about it. I would plan to be the first hetero councilman, but that would require a transgender operation. Then I would be HT without the LGB, and that is not as cool.

The lineup was great. H.Alan Scott, Claudia Cogan, Lisa Kaplan, Shawn Hollenbach, Chris Sifflet and Ben Lerman.

I lost the mostly gray-haired crowd with my jokes about Dippin' Dots, but they stayed with me and even gave me an applause break at some point. I hitched a ride with H. Alan Scott onto SRSLY LOL at Metropolitan Bar later and got some nice compliments after that set.

Bob Zuckerman, although not a comedian, got the biggest laugh of the night when he commented that an old timey portrait on the wall behind him looked like Grandpa Munster in Drag. A councilman with transparency, a sense of humor and more importantly, an affinity for 60s pop culture? That's change we can believe in.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Crowd That Could Not Love Me

I was so geared up to knock it out of the park Sunday night. Great club, great lineup, funny host who had sufficiently warmed everyone up. Then it was my turn. Many jokes were met with polite laughter, but too many others were met with blank stares. The crowd looked like a panel of Guess Who tiles.

"Is your person young?"
"Is your person wearing a frown?"

Once in between silences a man in the back muttered something, and the people at his table laughed. I said, "Oh, what was that Sir?" to which he responded by becoming a stone statue--like kids playing hide and seek who think if they don't move, you'll walk on by them. I tried to show him I wasn't annoyed, just curious. "All I see over there is a Hawaiian shirt and a nice smile". This was true. When someone sits in the back of the room, beyond the bright lights, if you stare long enough their form starts to develop, like in a Polaroid picture. All that was coming through were green palm trees over white, and a few inches above that, gleaming teeth nervously clenched.

He finally showed a sign of life. "I HAD to wear the Hawaiian shirt. I knew someone was gonna crack on this shirt."
--No, there's nothing wrong with your clothes! Let's talk about MY clothes." After all, the next 10 minutes are supposed to be about me. I looked at myself. I saw nothing funny about what I had chosen to wear. I shrugged and moved on to my next joke. Sadly he didn't come with me.

Even sadder, that God-awful shirt remained uncriticized.
Photo credit:

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Font

Like most critics, I have a very strong opinion about films I have not seen before. After 40 Year Old Virgin, I figured there would never be a popular film featuring Seth Rogan that would be written with someone like me in mind. I respect that Judd Apatow is prolific, that a new branch of comedy has sprouted, and that such indie dramedies most likely have impeccable editing and solid acting. I just don't like when a film is sold as cool before I decide it is cool. I am hoping these cookie-cutter hipster films disappear from sight like so much trendy Zima spilled into someone's brightly-patterened Target rug.

Maybe Jonah Hill is hilarious. Maybe the accoustic guitar is romantic. I don't know, and I won't find out. Here's where you lost me: The font.

The font that says, I was drawn by a five-year-old. Or so they want you to think. This studio cares so little about aesthetics we have commissioned a team of highly paid engineers to design a program that delivers precision sloppy letters each time.

It also says, This movie is so hysterical, you will quote it (whispering) at art exhibits. This movie is so cutting edge, the soundtrack is by people you never heard of, but who have been blogged about for years. The issues the characters deal with are so real, you'll put down your man-bag to start a bro-mance with your dude-bra-ham-lincoln. Man-boobs a flopping.

It all started with a purpose: to mimic the handwriting you had in middle school.

But then it got out of hand.

I wouldn't be surprised if it were now used on wedding invitations. Ask for the "Michael Cera". I would go into how this font is a cue to buy vintage clothes and grow out your facial hair but Mark at I Watch Stuff already beat me to the punch...

And in case you need another signal that you are about to enter oaf-stoner-nerd trifecta territory, there's the red block-letter font.

Good luck exploring the infinite abyss

of my butt hole.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Soce the Elemental Wizard

Posting this from my phone. Testing...testing.

Abbi (from my cell phone)

Black Female Sketch Show

I emceed a show in the historic Nuyorican Poets Cafe yesterday. It reminded me of the Bowery Poetry club with art on the walls, an elevated stage and high ceilings. The house was packed for a sketch show called SisterGirl TV, featuring an all-black, all-female cast. It was a good time.

Me: "Where my Puerto Ricans at?"
Audience: (Cheers)
Me: "Bonsoir mes amis!!" I don't speak Spanish.

Highlights included a bizarrely blended parody of Dirty Dancing and Enter the Dragon, and a version of the Dating Game, where upon seeing his overweight choice of a date, the contestant exclaims, "That ain't baby fat. That's just fat, Baby!" There were Ike Turner, Archie Bunker and Rod Sterling impressions, all by black women in fake moustaches and white face. It was like In Living Color, but with more Kim Wayans.

Check out more shows at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe and don't forget to tip Pepe the bartender.