If you want to give someone a nice Valentine's Day gift, buy this book. I have an essay in it so I might be a little biased. A lot biased, even. But there are tons of funny essays in it by other humor writers as well. They made me write that before I got my copy.
I've had my jokes published in The Huffington Post, The New York Post, The New York Daily News, The Edmonton Sun, The Calgary Sun, The Toronto Sun, The Los Angeles Times, The Philadelphia Daily News, The International Herald Tribune and Stars and Stripes. They were also featured in the seminal book on women in comedy, Performing Marginality by Joanne Gilbert.
But this is the first time an essay of mine appears in a book with pages that turn, as opposed to a download. I have nothing against downloads so stop typing your comment. And I didn't have to self-publish!! Yet. It's so intellectually satisfying to wave it in front of my family and yell, "I'M ONLY GOING TO CHARGE YOU RETAIL!"
I wish my dad was still alive because he would have bought hundreds of copies.
He followed my comedy career with an enthusiasm he usually reserved for bourbon. He often penned a joke or two and would say "You can use that if you want." It was really endearing as Dad often lamented he didn't pursue a career in humor. But his generation had to work to support families. First his own, then ours. I always feel bad for people who can't pursue what they feel their gift is, what their heart wants. As someone who did, I know how lucky I am. Even though the money isn't always there, I won't be on my deathbed saying "If only I'd..." But I will be on my deathbed saying, "Now, who can put my funeral on their credit card?"
After I'd done Seinfeld, Dad was at a dinner party at his Yacht Club in St. Petersburg. I don't recall my Dad being on any yachts in his lifetime unless the Army used them in World War 2. He was seated next to a woman who patiently listened as my Dad went on and on and ON about how funny I was as a child.
"How old is your daughter now?" She asked when Dad stopped talking long enough to take a sip of his Manhattan.
"I don't know; she won't tell me."
He was funny. Everything I got, I got from him.
So this book is for you, Dad.
P.S. I'm signing my copy of My Funny Valentine and giving it away. Leave a comment (or many for a better chance) and I'll pick a winner by Sunday and speed it your way in time for Valentine's Day. Did I mention I'm in it? No? Well, I'm in it.
When the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up in 1986, killing all on board including Christa McAuliffe, the first member of the Teacher in Space Project, the following joke hit the streets within minutes of the disaster:
Q: “What were Christa McAuliffe’s last words?”
A: “What does this button do?”
If that joke had made the rounds today with the Internet as our Orwellian gatekeeper, the person who first said it would be spending hours apologizing to the McAuliffe family and explaining themselves to the press. And if they were employed they probably would have been fired.
Like it or not, comedians say things others are thinking but are afraid to speak out loud. It’s brave. It’s often cringe-worthy. But mainly it’s brave.
The purpose of comedy is to make people think. Its purpose is not to make you comfortable or make you smile. Its purpose is to make you laugh. And in the pursuit of that end, there will be casualties.
What other profession combines making you think with making you laugh? Politics, but that’s probably not on purpose.
Does this mean we can’t make fun of death or tragedies but can make fun of little old ladies driving in Florida, Mexicans trying to get into the U.S. or Tiger Woods and his white mistresses? Where do you draw the line and do you draw it for everyone? Or just for yourself? The correct answer to that question should be Just For Yourself. Please leave the rest of us out of it. Don’t tell me what I can’t say and I won’t tell you how badly you need a nose job.
I was unfollowed on Twitter by an irate gentleman who took exception to this tweet of mine:
“People in Mississippi can't wear white sheets after Labor Day.”
"Police now use an iPhone app that scans irises to ID suspects. It replaces their previous method: scanning for dark skin."
Of course both Neal and I thought our tweets were hilarious. Others did not. That’s because comedy is subjective. Not forbidden.
While she was interviewing people on the red carpet, celebrity basher Kathy Griffin said that Dakota Fanning was in rehab. Steven Spielberg’s movie War of the Worlds was coming out and insiders speculated that he insisted that the E! channel ban Kathy for saying such a "horrible" thing to the young star of his movie.
Off the wall comedian Tracy Morgan was performing in a comedy club and after a lengthy anti-gay rant ended it by saying he would not talk to his child and would stab him if that child was gay. NBC threatened 30 Rock with pulling advertisers if Tracy didn’t apologize.
Because 75% of Aflac’s business is in Japan, well known shock comic Gilbert Gottfried was fired from being the annoying duck voice on the annoying Aflac commercial because of a series of dark but funny tweets he made about last year's Japanese tsunami.
The world jumps on the lone tweet, comment or sound bite from a comic while we let movies like The Hangover - which is phobic, racist and sexist – slide. The 40 year Old Virgin had an entire scene of "You're so gay because…" and it was never criticized once in the press. There appears to be selective outrage when it comes to products that make millions of dollars, like hit movies, and stand up comedians, who don't.
Stop the political correctness; I want to get off.
I don’t have to like or agree with anything anyone says but threaten me and you threaten the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution, part of the Bill of Rights:
The 1st Amendment protects the freedom of religion, speech, and the press, as well as the right to assemble and petition the government.
We have to let the Westboro Baptist Church protest at funerals of soldiers, gays and public figures like former First Lady Betty Ford because it’s their right. We wouldn’t dream of taking away someone’s religious freedoms even if it is as hateful as theirs.
Firing someone, forcing them to resign, threatening them with loss of income doesn’t work. Because people keep speaking their minds. As recently as Academy Awards producer Brett Ratner, who made a gay slur and ‘resigned’ from this year's event. Did Ratner live in a bubble so small that he was unaware of the trouble Gilbert Gottfried and Tracy Morgan got into? Did he, a movie director, not hear about Danish movie director Lars von Trier, who was ousted and banned from the Cannes Film Festival in 2011 for saying he sympathized with Hitler and was himself a Nazi? Apparently the Danish are not known for their comedic talents because Von Trier said he was trying to make a joke.
Not when I see it like this, out the window of my friend's condo in Santa Monica,
but when I see it like this, out the window of hell.
My fear is so irrational that once in Ocean City, Maryland, a "friend" threatened to throw me in the water and I bit his arm so hard it surely had to be amputated. At least I hope it did because that's how much I hated him, especially while I screamed, "Please don't, I'm afraid of water, pleeeeeaaase don't!"
"Jean, did I kill a little boy on a water ride of motorized boats when I was 4 years old?" Jean stuttered a little. (AHA!)
"Uh, no honey, you didn't."
"Are you SURE?"
Jean, a friend of my parents, has known me since I was born. This memory of my murderous past had haunted me for years and I finally got enough courage to ask her about it. Surely there's a statute of limitations on killing someone on a motorized boat when you were a child, isn't there?
Jean was more than sure because she'd taken me to that particular street fair and no one had died. I thought she might have been lying. She probably thought I was insane.
When I was 13, my mother, sister and I took the Queen Elizabeth to Cherbourg, France, on our way to Paris to visit our grandparents, which we did every summer. On this particular voyage we met a man who took us down below, to the loading bay. It was wide open and there was a metal chain stretched across the opening. The Atlantic Ocean rushed past in a blue fury, whitecaps dotting the landscape as far as the eye could travel. The man told us to step back and be very careful.
When, many years later, I asked my mother why she let this stranger take us so close to danger she replied that IT NEVER HAPPENED. I'm pretty sure you can't get Alzheimer's at 13 but maybe I was singled out because of my bad perm and braces. Not to mention because I hated my parents.
The only time I went to sleep away camp I was in a pool that had no shallow end. It was a pool specifically designed to teach kids to swim. Terrified, I clung to the edges. Every time this one counselor walked by she'd step on my hands and make me shove off into the middle of the pool where I sputtered and took in water like the Titanic. I hope she's dead now because if I ever find her I'll make her wish she was.
A lifetime of strange water memories. It didn't appear that some of them were real. Then how did I remember them so vividly and what did they have to do with my fear of water? Like the chicken and the egg, which came first, my fear or those incidents?
I meditate and have for over 25 years. I've studied metaphysics longer. I read Shakti Gawain's Creative Visualizations in the 1980's and got in touch with my Higher Self, sometimes known as a spirit guide. It's the voice in your head that tells you what to do, or what not to do. Mine turned out to be a 7 foot tall man with a flowing white beard. His name was Raji and he WALKED TOWARDS ME ON A BEACH during my first meditation about contacting the Higher Self. A beach is next to water in case the cap locked letters weren't enough of a clue.
I depended on Raji for advice until I moved to California and he disappeared. How does a non-human form disappear? One day while I was out hiking I realized he no longer "talked" to me. The next year I had new guides, 4 or 5, depending on the day. They were very loving and encouraging, like Raji, and there was one in particular, a Scotsman, who kept calling me Laddie. And I would reply that I was a Lassie (not the dog) but he didn't seem to care and continued to call me Laddie. He spoke in a Scottish accent and in my entire acting career the Scottish accent is the one accent I could never replicate.
I worked a lot as a comic the first 10 years I lived here in L.A. I traveled to clubs all over the U.S., Canada and overseas and went to Hawaii once a year. On one trip I was on the island of Maui, lying on a towel on the beach in front of my hotel. I went into one of my meditations and silently asked why I was so drawn to Hawaii that I cried whenever I left.
And one of my guides answered: "Because this is where you drowned."
This is who I house sit: Brady. He jumps on my bed at 7:15 each morning I'm there and makes me think EARTHQUAKE!! So I get up, assuming he wants to go outside, we go into the living room and he jumps on one of the couches and promptly goes back to sleep.
She's had the shirt since August. Of 2011. How do I know that's how long she's had it? I hand delivered it to her. In San Diego. San Diego, California. I'd like to say I made the trip from LA to SD expressly for this purpose but that would be a lie. There was BlogHer Adjacent going on and she graciously invited me to sleep in her garage.
In her well appointed and spacious spare bedroom. I stole nothing. But there's always a next time.
I'm beginning to think the wait was worth it because she appears younger and younger in each new picture I see of her. Naturally I call bullshit.
When I wrote her and demanded to know how she was accomplishing this she replied that all her kids were now OUT OF THE HOUSE, except for one piece of cake child, a girl (a beautiful girl) who gives this mom of 4 zero trouble. She thinks she's finally able to relax after 86 years of child rearing. I may be off on that number.
I'm pretty sure you all read this blogger already but if you don't, start. And if you leave her a comment please ask her to run for Congress. We need more women running things THE WAY THEY SHOULD BE RUN. i.e. unlike a man.
And if there's anyone who could whip Congress into shape, this woman could.
I'm a standup comic. My first book, Celebrity sTalker, is now available on Amazon. I've entertained the troops for the USO and performed in 8 countries and 24 states. I'm also the co-creator of Single, Married & Divorced. You might have seen me on Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm.