"Life is a miracle. Death is inevitable. Everything else is hilarious." -- Stu Baker

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Disney Reveals Master Plan for Ticket Pricing for Parks - Raises Prices to $50,000 Per-Day for Disneyland

ANAHEIM, CA: On the heels of two hikes in the ticket prices this year alone, Disney has just announced that they are now pulling out all stops and going ahead with their eventual plan for the parks -- they are now raising prices to $50,000 for a One-Day ticket to Disneyland.
Disneyland to Be Less Crowded with New Pricing Structure
"The good news about this pricing structure is that we expect only about 100 people a day, so there should be no wait for the lines on most rides", a spokesman for Disney says, "Our costs for employee staff should be quite a bit lower as well, so it's really a win-win."

Tomorrowland in Disneyland, Anaheim, CA
A "One-Day Park Hopper" ticket (i.e. additional access to Disney's California Adventure) will reportedly be only $75,000.  The cost of Annual Passes will start at at $400,000 which will include "blockout days".  This ticket will now be called the "Paris", playfully named after the famous and entitled celebrity Paris Hilton.  A Full Access Pass year round with no blackout days will now be $999,999 and will be called "The Marie". It was not immediately clear if this level was named after the cat in the Aristocats or after Marie Antoinette.

Frontierland in Disneyland, Anaheim, CA
When asked to comment on criticism that Disney is now pricing tickets out of reach of the average american family, the spokesman said, "Well, it's all about value. A middle class family just needs to decide whether they want to go to Disneyland once a year or spend their money on clothes and food."
Shorter Line Waits at Disneyland
The pricing structure for food and souvenirs has not yet been released, but the spokesman said, "We expect a cheeseburger should be under $1000 and as far as souvenirs go, we're toying with the idea that guests can actually buy a real Disney character to take home with them!"

Service Should be Quicker Too

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Monkey Business at Monkey Pants

I don't do stand up anymore but I did for a long time and I ran some shows.  It's a tough, often thankless job. Though some may be appreciative of your efforts, you can't be thanked enough for all the bullshit you have to put up with. If you care, you try to put on a good show every time, picking the best comics and organizing the lineup. You try to keep the bar owner happy. You navigate the feelings and egos of the comics who either don't get to perform, don't get enough time, or think they got the light too early. All this while putting your own set list together and trying to deliver a performance yourself. If you're really lucky, you make a couple of bucks. Most of the time you don't. 

For the past few years, Jamie and Steve have built a quality show at Monkey Pants.  As others have pointed out, they did it for the love of comedy. They certainly didn't get paid. From their efforts, by putting on a consistent show week after week, the crowds came. Monkey Pants had nearly every table filled and more each week. The owner made money and chose not to share it with Steve and Jamie.  They could have quit, but they didn't.  They just kept putting on the best show they knew how.

Now it appears they have been pushed out.  The owner wanted more money. Really? A two-drink minimum? This isn't the Tempe Improv, dude.  These are mostly up-and-coming comics working for free to try and get better. The formula that Steve an Jamie put together worked for the comics and for the crowds that came to see them. They didn't fuck with it by asking for money.  They started and ended the show on time. They quietly went about their business of making comedy better in the Phoenix area. For these efforts you might expect that they would be rewarded. Maybe some eventual financial compensation? Maybe some respect from the owner for what they had done. But you would be wrong.  Business doesn't always work like that. Business is business. It's always monkey business. It doesn't care about anything but money.  Steve and Jamie's time at Monkey Pants is over. 

We move on.  They run the show(s) down at Hidden House.  If you're fan of local comedy, you know that Hidden House is the longest running show in Phoenix. Run for years by Steve Maxwell, Kirk Buckhout and for a time also with Myke Dehu, the room still lives. Go there.  Support these guys and local comedy by going where real comedy goes.  The best stand up comics in Phoenix all cut their teeth there. They all have hilarious crooked smiles and overbites as a result. You won't be disappointed.

I hear that the owner is trying to put on his own shows at Monkey Pants now.  Don't go there.  As Maxwell would say, "They hate comedy."

Monday, November 4, 2013

Phyllis Diller: Funny is Funny

They say in every joke, there is a victim. That is to say, whether it is the idiot at Walmart, the spouse who doesn't understand you, or the "system", we like to laugh at people or things when life goes ..."wrong". Phyllis Diller knew this and made herself the 'victim' of her jokes. Whether she was talking about her looks, her cooking, or the frustrations she had with her imaginary husband "Fang", she made herself the object of the joke.

Much may be made about the fact that she was one of very few women who succeeded as a comic, and women in comedy everywhere can certainly do well by studying Diller. But what they would be studying is not how a woman does comedy, but what 'funny' is. Phyllis Diller was successful in comedy because she knew how to make people laugh. Likable, vulnerable and accessible, she was a giant and a master and part of an old guard in comedy that is nearly gone now. She will be missed.

A Giant of Comedy, Comedian Phyllis Diller Died in 2012.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

DEAR MEDIA: Some Asshole shot and killed Gerardo Hernandez on Friday.

Gerardo I. Hernandez is the name of the first TSA officer killed while on duty at LAX this past Friday. Born in El Salvador, Hernandez was the youngest of four boys. He moved to the United States when he was 15. Four years later, he met his wife, and they married on Valentine's Day in 1998. A man who was trying to serve his co...untry, do his job well and support his family, all he talked about was his family.

While the media spends most of the time focusing on the shooter - mentioning his name, plastering his picture across our screens, and speculating on why he did what he did and what his story was - we are rarely hearing much about Hernandez.

I would like to see the media keep the name and picture of the shooters in these tragedies to a minimum, keeping the focus on the victims and their heroic, though sometimes ordinary, lives. As far as I'm concerned, they can simply refer to the shooter in these stories as "Some Asshole".

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Are you a Wordist?

For me, Facebook serves as a decent medium for pure joke writing.  It's not a performance medium, the joke has to work from a written standpoint. For better or worse, I am like a lot of the Social Media Society today and gage my interaction with others by responses.  So, instead of hoping for laughs, as in stand up, I'm looking for "likes" or comments.

Social media is a restrictive format that forces the joke writer into the short form.  Attention spans and a 140-character limit on Twitter don't help.  At any rate, I have found if I throw enough material up there someone eventually might think its funny and hopefully it brightens their day.  Less often, I even think its funny.

Every once in a while you write a joke that is provocative for one reason or another.  This past week, I wrote such a joke and it seemed to have struck a nerve of social correctness (or incorrectness).  SInce most of my Facebook friends are comics, I enjoy a good back and forth as long as it doesn't get too serious.  

In this case, I tried valiantly to 'humor' those that were offended by the joke, but at some point (*sigh*), I felt it was time to do the long form of the subtext of the joke.  I can hit the pseudo-intellectual bullshit switch with the best of 'em, but typically like to let a joke stand for itself.  Still I couldn't resist at one point in the conversation mostly because someone mistook the point so dramatically as to pointedly say I was shitting on the disabled. Me.

So, as an exercise in joke writing, explanations and reactions, I've decided to archive this one in a blog post. Enjoy ... or not.

[For the record: I don't think this is a great joke.  It's not badly constructed and the social commentary imbedded in it is powerful (obviously).  But I have written better.  This one did make me laugh out loud after I wrote it, so it worked for me.]

The Joke:

"Paula Dean should know better. The only people who don't care if you use the 'N' word anymore are retards."

I captured the joke and comments in sections below but if they are too small to read here, I have also included a link.

My Response:

For all of you who are slow (retarded), I guess I'll have to explain this joke. *sigh*

If I can claim a word offends me, even if it wasn't meant to offend me, then I am co-opting language for my own selfish use. I am declaring your intentions in the use of the word as well as determining an exact single definition when there may be many. For example, as a disabled person, I could choose to decide that every time a person used the words "lame", "crippled", "handicapped", I should be offended even if it wasn't intended to hurt me.  "That's really lame, dude." "The inaction of Congress has crippled the economy.", "You golf? What's your handicap?".  You can't possibly know how deep my feelings are about the use of this language in casual conversation.   You can't know how being called a 'cripple' hurts when someone means to put you down with the word.  But, do disabled people have the right to insist that all these words be stricken from everyone's vocabulary because we choose to be offended by them?  I don't think so. Just because a person happens to use one of those words, doesn't mean they intended to harm me or any other person who is disabled. If someone says a word (any word) with the intent to harm, subjugate, or belittle another, then they are fair game to be taken to task.  

The 'N' word has enjoyed a special place in this regard because it is hard to make the case that any non-black person who uses it, can do so without it carrying the baggage and history of slavery and the inference that black people are less than equal to the user. As a comedian, Chris Rock made the point (as others have), that black people can choose to use the 'N' word among themselves (or the variation Nigga) because they are not using it to put down their own race. Non-blacks don't have the right to determine how deep that word cuts. Non-blacks, especially white people, use it at their own risk. Paula Dean found this out. So did Michael Richards. 

As an aside, artistic form allows use of certain, even offensive, words as commentary. Quentin Tarantino can write and direct a movie with the 'N' word all over it because it is reflective of the use of the word in real life. Comedy can have exceptional creative leeway. In a sketch on Saturday Night Live in the 70's, Chevy chase said "Nigger" and Richard Pryor answered "Dead Honky".

As far as the joke in question goes, the use of the word 'retards' was calculated.  It was intended to be provocative. While we are all ganging up on Paula Dean for using the 'n' word, the actor in the joke (me), uses the word "retard".  What did this word mean in this context? Slow and stupid, not developmentally disabled.

In the english language, retarded sometimes just means "slow".  When you slow a passage in music, you retard it.  Gary Baker pointed out: "They have a 'Jacobs Brake' (or Jake Brake) on trucks that retard the engine as it goes down a hill".  Subsequently, Mentally Retarded, simply meant mentally slow.  Calling a person a "Retard" in a mean way in order to hurt them (who would do that?), is wrong.  But people use the word all the time in casual conversation to describe someone who is a little behind. It is a colloquialism for slow and/or stupid. People use it in much the same way they might use the word "lame" or "gay'.  Its use is not intended to harm populations of people and those who insist that it is are word nazis who are putting intentions in the minds of people where it doesn't belong.  And before you argue effect instead of intent -- as in, "well, it's the effect the word has on these people" -- the effect is decidedly heightened by the attention the word now has when no ill intention ever existed.  Mothers, caretakers and friends of the developmentally disabled have decided to be offended on behalf of them.  They have done more harm to the developmentally disabled by teaching them to be offended when no offense was intended. That's just retarded. And, from an evolutionary standpoint, I mean developmentally challenged.

One defense for my joke might go like this: I am disabled and so are the developmentally disabled.  What we call each other is our business.  I can call another handicap person a gimp if I want. They understand I am not putting them down anymore than I would put down myself.  If you're not disabled, shut the fuck up. Just like as a white person you can't tell black people not to use the 'N' word when talking to each other, you can't tell disabled people what to call each other either.

But that's not my defense.  Instead, the joke stands as irony and commentary of words, their meaning and the people who get offended by imagined intentions they put in other people minds.  Using the word "retards" next to Paula Dean's gaff is irony (Thanks: Teddy Bearskovich).  

For future reference, if I say "Dude, that was lame!", I'm not intending to offend (other) disabled people. If I say, "Tom Sims is a fag", I just mean he puts his penis in another man's bumhole (in a good way).  If I say, "Ann Coulter is a cunt" (wait, that last one is just true. No offense to other cunts).

So, Danny Vega, The joke was not me "shitting on" on anybody. The fact that you took it that way is what the joke was actually about. It was actually bait for those people who choose to be offended by the word 'retarded' even though it wasn't directed at the developmentally disabled.  Your inference that my joke was intended to put down those people is patently offensive to me. In short, you a "wordist". This is a word that I just made up that means; a person who attempts to police other people's use of the language according to their own sensibilities and definitions of particular words. (And everyone should be offended that I just made up a word because that's just presumptive, self-indulgent and arrogant).

Lastly, if you think I used the word "retards" like a new comic uses a dick joke -- just to get a laugh -- you don't know me or my comedy. You're gonna need to step back, about an inch, maybe an inch and quarter.

P.S. Thanks to Myke Dehu for the input.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A New Frontier in Joke Writing - A Book Review of "Social Comedia"

I am still working on my research for definitions of stand up and a brief history of stand-up comedy, but I wanted to take a break and tell you about a book I recommend which was written by a comedian friend of mine from Seattle, Dartanion London. (Note: Each link in this blog entry is to a different one of each of his social media outlets.)

Social media has created new opportunities for humor to be expressed. The short form of Facebook and Twitter updates combined with a multitasking and distracted society call for a new approach. Though this short form actually owes to the old one-liner style of comedy, the immediate and ever present world of the internet delivers it us with ease and frequency. From our fingertips we can now have delivered a pie in the face.

With Social Comedia, Dartanion London has written a new kind of joke book. From his almost once-a-day delivery of slightly slanted observations of today's world on his social media profiles (Facebook and Twitter), he gives you something to think about -- although just for a second. Then another joke moves in.

This book may not grant all your comedy wishes. But hell, the damn thing has robots! Take it into the bathroom, take it one joke at a time, take two and call me in the morning. It'll keep you entertained for minutes at a stretch!

I've seen Dartanion's stand-up act a number of times live. Each time I was struck by his original approach. Leave no doubt, he is funny. But he pushes boundaries too, which is what I like to see in any comedian I follow. He has a background in sketch and improv and he takes this with him to the stage. He is intelligent, composed and unpredictable. He also has a quality I like to see in comics -- it's as if he doesn't really care if you laugh or not (even though you do). If you need comedic touchstones to help you get a handle on what he's like, I would suggest that Dartanion London is as if Steve Martin and Andy Kaufman had a love child -- with Aspberger Syndrome. Just take a look at the promotional video for his book below. It alone is worth the price you pay for the book.

Even my cat Oreo likes "Social Comedia"!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

History of Stand Up: The Prologue

In my last blog entry, I indicated I'm reading a lot of books on the history of Stand-Up. My intention was to write a "Brief History of Stand-Up". But as I made my way through the volumes of material on the subject I also encountered a problem; not everyone agrees on just what stand-up comedy is. So, as "First Things First" things go, I'm backing up once again and tackling this by asking several comic how they define Stand-Up.

Certainly, the dictionary offers a starting point: Merriam-Webster 2: performed in, performing in, or requiring a standing position; especially : of, relating to, performing, or being a monologue of jokes, gags, or satirical comments delivered usually while standing alone on a stage or in front of a camera (stand–up comedy) (stand-up comedian) . Wikipedia: Stand-up comedy is a style of comedy where a comedian performs for a live audience, usually speaking indirectly to them. It is usually performed by a comedian with the aid of a microphone, either hand-held or mounted. Google: "Stand Up Comedy" is a song by rock band U2. It is the seventh track on their 2009 album No Line on the Horizon.

It seems to me that each comic has a definition that relates to their particular style of comedy. That's why I decided to ask several comics -- famous and infamous -- and see who responds. I'll post these responses and a few more thoughts soon.