a complete history of stand up comedy in America

Jokes! Laughter! Buzz! Excitement!

These are just some of the words you might use to describe “stand up comedy.” But if you described stand up comedy that way, you’d be doing a horrible job. And that’s because you don’t know anything about comedy in America.

Much like jazz, stand up comedy is often viewed as one of the only truly “American” art forms. But, shamefully, a lot of people today (including comedians themselves) actually don’t know the true history of the art. The backstory of stand up is just as important as ever – as topics like “political correctness,” a constant theme throughout haha yesteryear, are super trendy right now. Subjects like transgender people are posh, a la mode, and other french words that mean “cool.” By looking backwards, comedians have an opportunity to “learn from our mistakes” .. .and all that stuff. Being informed about our past allows us to be more analytical when looking forward .. .I guess. Pretty much any cliche argument your friend Sharon uses to justify her degree in history will also apply to learning about the history of comedy.

Which is why I’ve done extensive research in order to pull together a highly, highly comprehensive history of this American institution, including facts that I guarantee you haven’t heard before. After all, how can we respect the art form of comedy today if we have no understanding of how we got here? (Wow, I snuck in another cliche!) Let’s take a dive into the “ocean” that is funniness in America, shall we? Let the waves of history wash over you. Lick the salty taste of history on your lips, smell the rich stand up in the fresh breeze, and.. .well, you get it.

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it looks like a freaking TORNADO hit!!!

Did one of your parents ever have a phrase they’d say when you made a huge mess in the house? Something like: “It looks like a PIG STYE in here?!”

I feel like everyone has a parent who says one of those phrases. My mom would always walk into a room and go: “Je-sus Christ! It looks like a freaking TORNADO hit!”

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the (honest) stand up comedy dictionary

A lot of “normal” people don’t know there’s a whole different language comedians use to talk about stand up comedy.. .which has led to the creation of “stand up dictionaries” in an attempt to explain our lives to humorless plebeians.

But this isn’t one of those fluffy-ass dictionaries for non-comics! This dictionary is for advanced, fluent stand up comedians! With the real, honest definitions – what the words really mean. This ain’t your grandma’s stand up dictionary (unless your grandma was a comic!).

Unfortunately, if you’re not a comedian, this glossary is about as useful as bringing a pocket French dictionary to France. So it might help a little bit. But you’re definitely still going to look stupid. Hey, it’s a start! Actually, it’s the perfect piece to read if, like my mother, you don’t particularly care for comedy but you have “a horse in the race.” With some practice, maybe your poor grasp on our lexicon won’t completely stick out like a sore incomplete idiom.

I know this isn’t an alphabetical list. And, yes, technically that’s what a dictionary is supposed to be. But the alphabet is overrated! Screw the alphabet! Who uses anything besides emojis anymore? screen-shot-2016-10-14-at-11-08-05-am That’s why I organized these words for maximal vocabularic retention (i.e. however I feel like it). I’m not sure if “vocabularic” is a real word, but it should be.

So. Below is the very first, very un-alphabetical edition of The (Honest) Stand Up Comedy Dictionary.

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bullshit is entertaining

Hello! I’ve been working hard on this story so that I could submit it to a comedy festival…and I just finished it! It’s a story about a trip I took to New Orleans with my grandpa. It’s pretty damn long, but I really do like it a lot. I’m not just saying that. Give it a darn minute of your time and see if you like it!

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what’s up with dolphins?!

What’s up with dolphins?! Right?!?!? Are we on board with this? You better get on board cuz we’re on the dolphin hating boat and we’re going for a ride.

Why do so many people like dolphins? Huh?!

Especially, like, 6-12 year old girls.

Dolphins dominate the school supplies of 6-12 year old girls! Why?!

I wonder if they tried other animals first. Like, they put a gopher on a folder and it didn’t sell. So they put it on an orange background, but the gopher/orange combination didn’t work. And then they tried a dolphin with pink and for whatever reason it totally worked, even though dolphins are basically the gopher of the sea.

Do you think the school supply people were pissed when the naked mole rat worked out for Kim Possible? They were all like, “We tried that in the 90’s and nobody bought it!”

Do you think dolphins are obsessed with 6-12 year old girls? Like pedophilic dolphins? I DON’T THINK SO. Girls are weird! And friggin’ creepy. You should never like an animal that much.

 

…don’t even get me started on horses…

Neigh?! NEIGH?!?!

Why are you making that sound? Why must you whinny? YOU ARE NOT A POOH! Are you confused? There is only one animal who can winnie and it is a fictional gender questionable bear named Pooh.

You have hooves. Which are basically the closest to shoes that feet can get. But then you’re like “Oh no, I need special ‘horse shoes,’ which can only be used for 1) my feet or 2) a silly game that cowboys and weird old smelly men play.” You’re not special, horse. You don’t need special shoes.

What’s so great about horses?! Come on little girls, get a grip!

 

…don’t even get me started on unicorns

 

The featured image is a cartoon I drew in college.

bottle openers

Last year, my sister went to the Wimbledon tennis tournament. You know what that is? It’s a tennis tournament. And she brought me back a keychain bottle opener that says “Wimbledon” on it. Which essentially says, “I’m a douche who is prepared to party” which is redundant.

And last year when I graduated college, my mom got me an antique bottle opener, which was cool except I couldn’t use it because I didn’t have any antique bottles to open.

Now, my mom is moving away from my hometown. So, to commemorate the place where I spent the first 18 years of my life, she got me…a bottle opener! I don’t know what it is about me that makes my family think I really need to open bottles. They must think I just have thousands of unopened bottles stashed away in my apartment or something…

But this one is not just any bottle opener, because it has the name and the exact geographical coordinates of my hometown on it!

Which strikes me as the ultimate drunk survival kit. Because you can use it to open up all the beer you could ever want and it also says, “If found drunk and passed out, please return this person to 41.7947 degrees North and 88.0169 degrees West. Someone there will recognize him and will know what to do…even if they haven’t seen him since high school.”

If someone found me in that state, it would be like, “Wow! How’d you get all the way to New York City, fella?! These coordinates are in Illinois! This is gonna be one hell of an Uber ride.”

 

The featured image is the aforementioned bottle opener with the coordinates of Downers Grove, IL.

“i’m gonna go kill myself!”

If comedians have a bad set, they’re always like, “I’m gonna go kill myself!”

And then everyone is like, “HAAAAA! THAT’S THE FUNNIEST THING I’VE EVER HEARD!!!!!!!!! SUICIDE IS HILARIOUS!”

Which I think is dumb. To me, it’s not funny to just say you’re gonna kill yourself. That’s not a well-written joke. I just feel like it should feel more hacky to other comedians by now. Like, if you want to have a mental disorder, then get more creative with it, right?

How about something like, “Man, there were so few laughs in this set that I’m gonna have PTSD!!! I know that’s a real thing that people actually have but I don’t care!!!”

Or, “This set was so bad, when I go home and my wife wants to have sex with me I won’t be able to get hard!”

Or, “After this I’m gonna go home and have me some bulimia so I can puke up all that shit I just ate on stage!!!”

 

The featured image is of One Court Square, also known as the Citigroup Building. It was taken down Jackson Avenue from The Creek and The Cave in Long Island City.

jokes that only i think are funny

One of my favorite things is telling jokes that only I think are funny and nobody else thinks are funny. Which is, like, fantastic for stand up – I know.

I just think that there’s something hilarious about somebody thinking something is the funniest thing ever and everybody else just being like, “No, that’s not true. That is NOT funny. At all.”

That happened to me in real life once recently. 

I was on the train listening to a podcast in my headphones and then something funny happened in the podcast and I started laughing out loud. Like, really hard.

And then I looked next to me and I saw that this really old woman who was sitting next to me had just fallen off her seat on the ground.

And then I realized that everyone in the train was looking at me like I was some asshole because they thought I was just laughing my ass off at this old, injured, helpless lady who was sprawled out on the ground of the train.

And that just made me laugh even harder! Because they didn’t get the joke. They didn’t get why I thought it was funny. And at this point I was laughing hysterically, so I couldn’t just be like, “No, people…you don’t understand: my podcast is funny.” So I thought, “Okay, fine. I don’t care. I’m just make this even funnier for me.”

So, I just went with it. I pointed at the lady on the ground and went, “Ha, she’s old! She’s old and she fell! That’s hilarious!”

And then I got up…and I started kicking her. Real hard.

And then I pulled out my switch blade and I went, “STAB! STAB!”

And then I grabbed some of the blood and I was like flicking it on peoples faces all around the train.

And they still did not get the joke. They did not think that was funny. At all.

Except for one guy who was laughing. But then I realized that he had headphones on too, so he was probably just listening to the same podcast that I was.

You people get it though, right? That’s FUNNY. You get it. You’re totally on my side.

The featured image is a mural of Jerry Seinfeld and George Costanza from the TV show Seinfeld that I found somewhere in Bushwick.

are math jokes taboo?

A lot of people hate math. People hate math so much that our word for “complete and utter destruction” is “aftermath.” That’s pretty bad. Like, what’s left after a bomb – we compare that…to multiplication tables.

That’s a joke I wrote that pretty much sums up how 50% of people feel about mathematics: it’s the absolute worst thing in the world. Physical torture cannot compare to the mundaneness of arithmetic nor the frustration of solving a system of equations. And yet, there are some crazy, weird people who actually like math.

What?! Who?! Well, I’m one of them! And so is San Francisco/Los Angeles based comedian Sammy Obeid. And if you’re a comedian who likes math, sometimes that can work against you.

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yesterday’s weather 1/19/16

You just got back into town from a long business trip. And you’re like, “Hey! No one is talking about what the weather was like yesterday! I wonder what I missed! Even if it was a pretty regular day I’d just like to know about it, you know? Just to ease my mind. Like, the weather channel only ever talks about the weather for today and the future! Unless there was an avalanche or Sharknado yesterday, no one is ever chatting about yesterday! I wanna know about the past, man! I wanna know what I missed!” You talk to yourself a lot.

Or, maybe you’re just forgetful.

Either way, my new segment, Yesterday’s Weather, is a perfect fit for you. I’m no meteorologist, but you will find out whatever yesterday’s weather was like wherever I was. The weather channel is always wrong. Get ready for the only weather report that’s 100% guaranteed…it’s time for Yesterday’s Weather.

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