"I guess I have a lot of problems, so many that I don't have time to go into them all in detail. Suffice it to say I'm anal, obsessive, vain, quick to temper, overly introspective, lazy, judgmental, insecure, and self-righteous. Probably the most annoying thing about me is that I'm hugely opinionated. But I kind of make up for that by always being right."


Saturday, April 22, 2006

True Comic Confessions, Part I

Years ago, when I was just starting my career as a stand-up comedian, I worked a club in Seattle, opening for a comic by the name of John Fox. He was not one of my favorite headliners, but he was a great crowd pleaser, and had a reputation amongst the comics as being a cocksman of the first order. Usually one of the three acts on the bill lived in the area, so the opening act would have a bedroom of his own, but due to some glitch in booking, all of us were from out of town, and I was stuck on the couch.

One night I was lying on my little couch, about to fall asleep, when John came in with two women he had picked up after the show. They turned on a light in the small kitchen, which was just behind my makeshift bed, and proceeded to party. I, of course, found this extremely annoying. But, in their defense, none of them knew I was there.

At one point, John excused himself and went to the bathroom, and the two tipsy bimbos began this insipid conversation:

“I hate it when a guy uses the word ‘bitch.' It’s so disrespectful.”

“I hate the word ‘cunt.' That’s even worse.”

I always wondered what the looks on their faces were, when out of the dark living room a man’s voice chimed in with, “Will you two cunts stop your bitching?!”

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Self-Medicating at the Supermarket

When I finished the first draft of my new show, "Happiness," I sat down and read it, and became totally depressed. Not only am I trite, I realized; I’m whiny and pedantic. I immediately got into my car and drove to Albertsons, where I bought two gallons of their generic chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, three bags of Doritos (the regular nacho cheese flavor), eight Butterfingers, and ten cherry Hostess fruit pies. Absolutely true. Do you remember when a Hostess fruit pie was 15 cents, by the way? I’m sorry to tell you this, but if you do, that means you’re officially old. They’re actually $1.19 now. Nickel candy bars are 65 cents. Which means that I’m not just a hack, I’m an over-the-hill hack. Actually, I bought so many of the pies because they were marked down to 60 cents. The Butterfingers were only a quarter. It’s sad when your idea of luck is getting your sugar-induced coma on sale.

By the way, you can always spot the unhappy people at the supermarket. The general rule is this: The more crap in your heart, the more crap in your cart.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

A Spiritual Panic Room

When we were little, our parents, and society, and especially our church began building this little sanctuary in our brains that I call the “religion room.” And in this room they instilled a bunch of beliefs, like Noah’s ark, the virgin birth, and "guns are good," that are unassailable by empirical data.

The cool thing about this room is that when demons such as “the fear of death” or “the pointlessness of existence” come to call, you can use it as a kind of spiritual panic room. As soon as you run into it, these thick doors slam shut, and nothing can get at you. Doubt and Fear just stand outside, pounding on the door screaming, “You’re going to get old and die! There’s nothing you can do about it! Life has no meaning! It’s totally pointless! Professional wrestling is fixed! Do you hear me? It’s all an act!”

And you’re just sitting in there, eatin’ pork rinds, watching “Little House On The Prairie,” without a care in the world.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Thou Shalt Not Be Boring

What I remember most about going to church when I was a kid is how boring it was. Which is odd, considering the source material. I mean, think about it, you’ve got burning bushes that talk, floods, wars, zombies, miracles, sodomy. Have you ever read the Bible? Well, I have, and I’ll tell you, it’s like one of those old serials, moving from one cliff-hanger to the next: “Is this the end for Jesus?! Join us next week to see if our hero can escape ‘The Brutal Crucifixion!’”

Don’t get me wrong, I love the teachings of Jesus. I love the Golden Rule and the Psalms. I actually love the Bible. I do. It’s a great book. I also love all of those old Biblical epics that were made in the fifties and sixties. Remember those? Charlton Heston as Moses, standing on the mountaintop, clutching his staff, screaming, “If you want this you’ll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands!”

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Unhappiness

I believe that unhappiness is the root of all of our problems -- not just personal, but social as well. I mean, look around. Our prisons are overflowing with unhappy people. Our court system is backlogged with unhappy people. There is an epidemic of drug abuse in this country because people are so unhappy with their lives.

I used to think that the Bible was right -- people do horrible things because they’re bad. But that seems simplistic to me now. Doing something horrible might mean you’re a bad person, but it’s not the reason you did it. You did it because you’re unhappy. Happy people don’t, for example, stab other people and take their money. You will never hear this conversation:

"How was your day, sweetheart?"

"It was great! I met this really nice man in the alley, stabbed him in the liver! Turned out he had 147 bucks on him!"

"Oh, that’s wonderful! Now we can get Nicole that pair of skates she’s been wanting!"

Monday, April 03, 2006

Instant Gratification

For most of my life I thought that the way to be happy was to have as many pleasurable experiences as you could. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? But as it turns out, one of life’s many cruel whims is that happiness and pleasure are often at complete odds. For me, one of the most unpleasant things in life is writing. I hate writing. I hate having to sit down to a blank screen every day and create something. I’d so much rather curl up in front of my TV and watch some mindless movie. That would bring me a lot more pure pleasure. On the other hand, except for my boys, nothing in life brings me more happiness than writing. So on the days I do surrender to the lure of instant gratification, I wind up feeling miserable. It’s often true that while displeasure lies in the doing, happiness lies in the having done.