Wednesday, August 20th, 2014
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What Happens When 'The Simpsons' Becomes Dad Humor?

1. Hey-hey

Nothing lasts forever. Take me: I used to be a medium-funny guy. You could count on me to bring a reliable number of chuckles to social occasions. I wasn’t hilarious, but I made sure to get a few solid laughs at parties, galas, potlucks, and ad hoc social gatherings.

These days, I don’t know what’s going on. Every once in a while, when I crack wise or make a seemingly-sly reference, the oddest thing happens. A few people laugh, but others just look at me, their faces like ash. In those panicky moments when I wait for the bombed joke to pass, a fear grips my bowels. Perhaps [...]

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On Hair, There and Everywhere, and Intra-Cultural Shame

“A girl told me today that I would be a lot prettier if I got my eyebrows threaded. So I told her she’d be a lot prettier if she got surgery to turn her fivehead into a forehead!!”

File that one under the “swing and a miss” column of my sick burn top hits listicle, but biting wit notwithstanding, my mother was unperturbed.

“Maybe you should start threading your eyebrows,” she conceded, staring fervently at the thicket perched above my nose like it was an unsolvable calculus problem.

I was not expecting that response. I was nine.

***

Any article trending on the Internet right now can [...]

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Dude Text Decoded

We dudes can be a confusing, emotionally constipated, nearly-illiterate group of horndogs with smartphones. And since it’s 2014 and most people are paralyzed by the idea of speaking into a phone receiver, we must fumble our path to fornication via cryptic texts which barely constitute as flirting, let alone communication, most of the time.

But hey! I’m a dumb dude with thumbs and a libido! So let me pull back the Old Spice-scented curtain and let you peek inside the mind of the modern bro’s texting intentions:

hey = I am scared, unfathomably scared.

sup? = Please do not discover my insane insecurities, I do not feel cool. Ever.

[...]

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Producing a Beyoncé-themed Burlesque Show on a Budget

Part one of a series, wherein the author attempts to answer the question, "Can I produce A NYC burlesque show without losing my shirt?"

It wasn't long after I became friends with burlesque star and producer Calamity Chang through freelance work that I came up with the idea for Beylesque, a Beyoncé burlesque show to take place on or around the pop diva's 33rd birthday. "It could be huge!" I said. "It's underground meets mainstream pop. You could serve birthday cupcakes and have a dance-off/twerkout during intermission."

See, I'm great at coming up with ideas that I absolutely, 100% guaranteed will never follow through with — TV commercials, reality [...]

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The Breast of Times: Ten Years of Irrational Nipple Controversy

No body part inspires puritanical pearl-clutching in decent Americans quite as much as the humble nipple. Ten years ago, Janet Jackson slipped the nipple heard ‘round the world, prompting comic levels of outrage and morality policing. This summer, the MPAA banned Eva Green’s Sin City 2 poster for hinting at the possible existence of a nipple through her sheer robe. In between, there was a decade’s worth of similar incidents regarding this particular brand of anatomical exposure:

Janet Jackson at Super Bowl XXXVIII

The nipple-baring that started the national conversation about wardrobe malfunctions took place at the 2004 Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show. When Justin Timberlake dance-ripped Jackson’s top, viewers [...]

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The Cost of Climbing

I have been known to joke (repeatedly, like a dad who’s come across his favorite pun) that when you cross the border into California you are issued your choice of the following: hiking boots, a surfboard, or climbing shoes. When I moved to California two years ago I picked the third option and never looked back. It's gotten expensive.

This is what rock climbing has given me: a place to direct my over-analytic, grad-school-fried brain instead of ripping my own hair out and/or developing a drinking problem; mad shoulder and back muscles that look pretty great underneath my back tattoo; the ability to open any jar, no matter how stubborn. [...]

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How I Became an Adult Backstreet Boys Fan

"Sorry, we went with another candidate."

I briefly considered putting this on my tombstone, but then I realized the better idea would be to get cremated and have a trusted friend blow my ashes into the eyes of job fair recruiters. If I were to die this instant, that is. You don't want to hire me? Too late, I fired myself from being alive.

"You'll get something,” my mom assures me. "How is your writing going?"

***

I spend all my extra money on a video player for the TV. It's small and compact enough that I could probably lose it if it didn't have wires attached. I [...]

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The Service Was Terrible and I Won't Be Coming Again: A Yelper Reviews Some Dicks

Tim, 29, Los Angeles, CA (✮✮✮☆☆): This dick used to be great, like, three years ago. But it’s really taken a turn for the worse over the past year—now the lines are huge, it takes forever to be served, and when you finally get your dick, it’s usually cold and too salty, but they won’t take it back and get you a new one because they’re “too busy.” I blame the neighborhood influx of hipsters—ugh, go back to Ohio, you guys! Anyway, I’m giving it three stars for all my memories of how good this dick used to be, but I guess it’s time for me to find a new [...]

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37 Is Objectively the Funniest Number

In his classic book A Theory of Justice, philosopher John Rawls argues for liberalism as a political ideology with a thought experiment. The subject is in the “original position” where “…no one knows his place in society, his class position or social status; nor does he know his fortune in the distribution of natural assets and abilities, his intelligence and strength, and the like.” In other words, you could be anyone in this hypothetical society. Now: what political ideology would be the best?

I would argue that when using this “veil of ignorance” to render obsolete all particulars about the joke or certain context—for example, sometimes it’s funnier to use [...]

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Apologia

Have you seen that Pantene commercial that’s been making the social media rounds? The one that asks why women are always apologizing?

I’m the first half of that commercial. I am an apologizer. You know: one of those insecure, irritating, thoroughly un-empowered women who can’t stop saying “I’m sorry” even when they haven’t done anything wrong. “I’m sorry, can I get past you?” “I’m sorry, I ordered this with no mayo.” “I’m sorry to bother you, but our meeting was supposed to start half an hour ago.”

It’s the worst type of un-feminist stereotype: the woman who feels ashamed of existing, ashamed of taking up space, ashamed of asking [...]

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A Room in an Elderly Stranger's House, and Other Places I've Lived

August 2010-December 2010, May 2011-December 2011 Orren Street NW, Washington, D.C., $700-$735/mo.

Besides me, David Sedaris is the only American I know of who spent a big part of his early 20s rooming with an elderly stranger. He describes this time, during which he took up residence in a Chapel Hill boarding house out of some vague, misplaced nostalgia for an erstwhile age, in his 2007 essay "This Old House." But the four months I spent with C.C. were a little different. This was no humble matriarch whose living quarters provided a rustic escape from modern-day campus life. No, C.C. was instead a 60-something globetrotter in the international medical [...]

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Two Victors

It’s only an estimate, but I’ve done the math. My father died while I was in a run-down hotel lobby in Newburgh, NY, picking up my race number for a half marathon that would begin in just under an hour.

Dad, at 62, was still an impressively healthy athlete. He swam a mile a day, rode his bike twice daily and played volleyball every weekend. One of the big regrets of his life was that he could not persuade me to take an interest in the game, despite the fact that I “had the shoulders for it.” That Saturday morning last June, while I was driving north from New York [...]

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Inside 'Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip' with Matt Albie

This fall, the long-running NBS sketch show Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is set to enter its 29th season, and no one has been a larger part of the program's success than its head writer and executive producer Matt Albie, who has been a major creative force behind the show since he was first hired in 1997.

I was fortunate to be granted a rare interview with Albie, who contacted me via his Twitter account to set things up during his summer break from S60. Albie and I discussed the show's legacy, Emmy chances, and his tips for young comedy writers.

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The Instagrammers of the Bay Area Femme Cartel

Earlier this year, I was walking down San Pablo around where Berkeley and Oakland rub elbows, and I saw this flyer inviting anyone, no matter whether you identified as an artist or not, to submit Instagram photos to an art collective called Femme Cartel for a show in Oakland. I was arrested by the casualness of this call for art, and the democracy, and the challenge: hey guys, you think you’re so artistic with your tilt shift and your Valencia filter? Submit and find out.

Their flyer encouraged women, people of color, young folks, and LGBT folks in particular to press send. It was a very East Bay outsider moment [...]

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Comedy Central's Graveyard of One-Season Sketch Shows

This week on "The Good, The Bad, and the Deeply Strange," my exploration of Comedy Central's short-lived shows, I’m looking at the sketch shows that only lasted one season. In the last installment, I dove into the deep well of reality and mockumentary shows. In the sketch department, there was a huge variance in quality from show to show; the good, the bad, and the strange are each well represented here.

All of the shows with full write-ups below are available on Amazon Instant Video for the curious, and all the shows without write-ups aren’t available anywhere, for better or worse. 

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How to Live with an Ex in Five Simple Steps

New York is a town with a double edge. It’s a city where you can cheap out and spend a day in The Met for a $1 (and almost feel good about it until you realize you should have given at least $5, why are you so cheap?), but then afterward, go for a walk in Central Park and not think twice about forking over $4 for a so-so cup of coffee.

It’s a city where you can have a negligible amount of money in your checking account and a non-existent savings, but when you walk around the West Village—and specifically West 10th Street—stalkily peering into the windows of the [...]

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Jesus, You're Funny: 'Black Jesus' and the Long History of Comedic Messiahs

Wherever Aaron McGruder goes, controversy follows. Black Jesus, McGruder's new live-action Adult Swim show starring Gerald "Slink" Johnson as the title character, debuts tonight amid criticisms from Christians of what they view to be blasphemous material, based not on screenings of full episodes but on footage from an extended trailer Adult Swim posted on July 18.

McGruder's last show, the just-recently-ended Boondocks, offended practically everybody. Conservatives objected to The Boondocks' raunchy material, progressives found the show to be misogynist and homophobic, a few of the show's satirical targets didn't take kindly to being satirized and threatened to sue either McGruder or Adult Swim, and Boondocks viewers were offended [...]

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I Came Dressed to Kill: Tracking the Nicki Minaj Makeunder

The cover art for Nicki Minaj’s new single, "Anaconda," is a backshot of the rapper squatting in a g-string. (Oh: There it is.) The visual was, almost immediately, enough to trigger some paternalistic outrage—for how dare a top rapper bare so much of herself in a genre that is so consistently respectful to women?

Throughout Minaj’s career, I’d argue, every outfit, every shift in aesthetic, has been intentional. The “Anaconda” art is a response to the criticism lobbed toward Minaj from all sides, a retort to those who consistently still say she wears butt pads, or has a fake booty, photoshop be damned. "Anaconda" is an [...]

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My Life as a Magnolia Bakery Cupcake Bouncer

There is something strange about the way people wait in lines in New York City for food: the bleary-eyed standing out the door during rush hour at Café Grumpy in Park Slope when they could easily get their caffeine fix cheaper and quicker across the street at the diner; the Shake Shack types that check the “Shack Cam” to see just how long the line to get a hot dog is; the drunken masses that will pass out in line waiting for a single slice of pizza on MacDougal.

People gladly stand outside of Dominique Ansel Bakery, which promises, “if you arrive prior to 7:00 am on a week [...]

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Waiting On Hollywood's LGBTQ Literacy: An Interview with Amy Sohn

In Amy Sohn’s new novel, The Actress, a millennial starlet is explicitly cast as the girlfriend of an older, closeted gay male heartthrob. Maddy Freed, an indie actress whose star is on the rise, is invited to read for an Oscar-worthy movie role opposite Steven Weller, two decades her senior. Maddy is instantly taken with Steven, a celebrated actor with a multi-decade career.

Steven has always been ripe for tabloid fodder given the endurance of his career. But despite cycling through an array of girlfriends (and one wife) over the years, gay rumors tail him constantly. Maddy, aware of the rumors, dismisses them as such and pursues a romantic [...]

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