In February of 2006, You Learned:
HOW TO GET YOUR MONEY'S WORTH.
To clarify a few things, regarding my t-shirts:
1. Yes, The Mustache Rides are FREE.
This seems a silly point to emphasize, but I cannot tell you how many people have approached me asking if that price is correct. No, ladies and gentlemen, your eyes do not deceive you and I am not merely being "ironic." The mustache rides are 100% gratis.
I know you've probably seen t-shirts promoting similar mustache rides for the price of 25 cents, and possibly even t-shirts advertising mustache rides for a mere nickel, surely both competitive prices for this type of service. But I'm doing you one better: if you make an appointment right now, you can walk away from your mustache ride without ever reaching into your purse. The only payment I seek is your gratitude, which you can pay with a polite "thank you," or the simple gesture of a smile.
For those of you who are worried my mustache rides are somehow less "genuine" than those offered by my competitors, I can assure you there is nothing further from the truth. At this price, you can afford to see for yourself. I think you'll find my free mustache rides are of a comparable quality with 5-cent and even 25-cent mustache rides. If you disagree, you can have your money back! (Wink! Of course you can't have your money back because, as the t-shirt indicates, the mustache ride is free.)
2. When you say potato, and I say FUCK YOU, I seriously mean it.
With apologies to Idaho, I have had enough of people saying "potato." I don't care how you pronounce it. I'm not messing around anymore. Seriously, fuck you. That's what I say when you say potato because, really, fuck you, you potato-sayer, for saying potato in the first place. Guys, the t-shirt says it all.
You might think that's a pretty radical response to someone who is just saying potato without any specific mention of inflection or attitude but, you know what? It's my decision, just as it's my decision to state my saying-potato one-part response system right on my t-shirt. (That one part? Me saying "fuck you.") This shirt was a lucky find, because it saves me the breath of saying fuck you every time I hear the word potato. Now, I simply drop my head a bit, give that "oh, really" look, and point to the shirt. The shirt that says fuck you to those of you who have said, or are planning to say, potato.
3. Contrary to appearances, I've never been to Kenya.
This is sort of embarrassing. I've had this conversation many, many times and it never gets any easier. Yes, I see that quizzical look in your eyes as you point to my t-shirt but, no, I've never actually been to Kenya. I just like shirts. I'm not even sure what this one means, honestly.
While we're at it, and before you ask, I've also never been to South Korea or Amsterdam or Utah or a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert. Honestly, I'm not even sure who Lynyrd Skynyrd is—I think they were a country band. I can't say I like them, but I do like skulls and, as I mentioned earlier, I love shirts. Now leave me alone, please. Or didn't you read my shirt? It says, "OPINIONS ARE LIKE ASSHOLES. GET YOURS OUT OF MY FACE." Words to live by.
4. I'm just now re-evaluating my position re: potato=fuck you.
Some of you were right to suggest it might be a disproportionate response, at best. I'm going to keep the t-shirt, anyway; I'm just going to hold off wearing it for a while until I get my head straight on this issue.
HOW TO DIE IN STYLE.
I never intended to have my parents seated in the audience while one of my friends stood onstage and cheerfully referred to me as "cum dump." (A nickname he claimed to have given me long before our now regular deep-arm fisting sessions.) But, on Wednesday night, that's exactly what happened. They also got to hear a long study on why my trademark motto is, "It's All Pink Inside"; they saw pictures of Bob Powers, stretched out on his couch, wearing nothing but a housecat and a coffee mug; heard a lovingly detailed description of the death of beloved character actor, Albert Dekker, whose body was found chained to a shower rod, with a homemade ball gag in his mouth, plus the words "WHIP" written in lipstick on on buttock and "MAKE ME SUCK" lipsticked across his throat.
How to Kick People was a really fun time, and thanks to everyone who came out for it or put into it. (And apologies to the audience member who was dragged onstage to sing karaoke along with a "porno-ized" version of lyrics from Islands In The Stream. I hope you've received your gift by now.) I really want to post the slideshow of show photos Lisa presented at the show, but for now here are a couple of photos from the anniversary show, taken by Ben of Thirdrate.com:
Dan Allen curses God for the handjobs he will never get to give.
Andres du Bouchet performing "My Jeans Full Of Cream" with barely-willing audience volunteer.
Our harpist, Claraliz.
Me, as de-frocked priest Gabriel Darkness, helping my parents renew their wedding vows.
All is forgiven in the Levin family.
Chris Regan with close, personal friend.
BONUS MATERIAL: There were several "karaoke" binders in the audience, meticulously designed by Bob Powers. Tucked into their many pages were three or four full pages of "Pornaoke" titles—famous pop songs with their lyrics and titles 'porno-ized'—that were created in a fit of stupidity by Bob, myself, and Giant Tuesday Night's Andres du Bouchet and Johnny Fido. Here is that list, re-printed.
HOW TO KICK PEOPLE: BOB & TODD ARE DEAD (Tonight!).
I've been glued to my laptop and telephone for the past several days, working on tonight's show. It's amazing how much more work we had to do for a show where Bob and I aren't actually reading anything.
Instead, tonight How to Kick People will be conducted as a fake memorial service for the fake deaths of Bob and me, and our loss will be eulogized by friends and past guests from the show. There will also be videos, and more awkward photos of me than I'd ever care to see.
I'm exhausted right now, but there's more to be done. In fact, I just had a meeting with two people on the show where we brainstormed in the creation of a list of popular song titles made utterly disgusting. (On my way home from picking up dry cleaning, I came up with a great one: Joan Jett's "I LOVE COCK AND BALLS.")
I kind of can't believe I've figured out a way to still operate on such a childish level, even well into adulthood, but I'm pretty grateful for it. My parents are going to at the show tonight, and I think I'm going to make them proud. And by proud, I mean "sick." There are still tickets left!!!
HOW TO KICK PEOPLE
Tonight, February 22nd, at 7:30
featuring eulogies, backstabbing and grief from friends and past H2KP guests, including:
CHRIS REGAN (4-Time Emmy-Winning writer for The Daily Show)
MIKE ALBO (author, The Underminer)
LISA WHITEMAN (h2kp official photographer, lisawhitemanlens.com)
ANDRES DU BOUCHET (voted one of TimeOut NY's favorite comics of 2004)
DAN ALLEN (Comedy Central's Premium Blend)
DAN CRONIN (writer, Late Night with Conan O'Brien)
at Mo Pitkin's House of Satisfaction
34 Avenue A, between 2nd and 3rd Streets
Tickets: $8 (advance tickets available through TicketWeb)
for more information: www.howtokickpeople.com
HOW TO VOTE FOR THIS YEAR'S BEST FILM.
This homemade clip of a 17 year-old Biggie Smalls battle-rapping on the streets of Brooklyn might be the best hip-hop video I've ever seen. (Runners-up include LL's acoustic, deoderant-enhanced "Mama Said Knock You Out" performance on MTV's unplugged and the 40+ year-old Big Daddy Kane's flip-to-split landing on this year's Hip-Hop Honors.)
Everything about this video makes my skin go bumpy: the bodega sign, the cheap-ass microphone, the guy in the background cooling his skull with a damp washcloth, and that skinny-looking Ralph Tresvant knock-off who will always have that amazing story about getting his MC ass handed to him by the fattest kid on his block. Plus, it's just amazing to see this young kid whose voice is already completely developed. That's Biggie Smalls, but small. It's so crazy.
I've heard a lot of Biggie freestyles on mix tapes and remixes that pop up here and there, and they're usually better than 99% of what makes it way on to other artists' greatest hits albums. But this one is just bananas. I have watched it again and again and again and I still feel like I'm witnessing something supernatural. (Thanks, Gothamist, for posting this before I did.)
HOW TO HAVE THE WORST SEX EVER.
I had a really nice time performing at the WYSIWYG Talent Show on Valentine's Day, and was generally really impressed by the other people on the lineup. (I was also amazed by the audience, both for their size and their patience; it was a long, packed show and the audience's enthusiasm never once seemed to dip.)
For my contribution, I presented a series of dramatic re-enactments of mortifying or painful moments from my sexual history. (At the end of one scene, I rigged a tremendous chandelier to drop from the ceiling. It was quite a spectacle!) I can't really post what I did at the show, since it was contained a lot of audience interaction and would look a bit funny flat on the screen. But here's what I read, as a preamble to those dramatic re-enactments:
I spent a great deal of time planning how to spend Valentine's Day with my girlfriend this year. I wondered, should we have a romantic dinner, filled with exotic fruits and sensuous cuts of free range meat? Or retreat to some quiet corner of a bar with a bottle of Alizé Bleu? Should we luxuriate in the delicately perfumed tides of my King Sized, open-faced waterbed-slash-hi-fi stereo? Or swing by Central Park and check out one of those free sex-toilets. Then she put a finger to my lips to silence me, and said, "Python" — she calls me Python — "I've got a better idea. Why don't you get onstage in front of a couple hundred strangers, and speak frankly and in great detail about all the sex you've had with other women, while I sit in the audience, alone, squirming uncomfortably in my seat, wishing I were very drunk and possibly single. THAT would be hot."
As you wish.
But before I commence destroying the love I've worked very hard to build, I need to address something that occurred at last year's Worst-Sex-Ever show, that is still bothering me to this very day. I was not in attendance that night, but I was told by a very reliable source that one of the performers presented, as his "worst sex ever" story, a tale about a threesome he had with two women, where he didn't feel like he was receiving an acceptable level of sexual attention.
I have some assistance for him, which will hopefully take the sting out of what must surely have been a devastating sexual experience. There is an objective way to measure whether you are receiving an acceptable level of sexual attention in a threesome, and here's how. Were you invited to the threesome? Yes? At any point were there two naked or semi-naked women somewhere in the room with you? Uh huh? Well, congratulations, because you are receiving an acceptable level of sexual attention.
I have never had a threesome. Once I had an unsuccessful twosome followed almost immediately by a one-some. But even without firsthand knowledge, I think I can safely say that, obvious awkwardness and unfulfilled expectations aside, if you're part of a threesome—even if you're just there to watch or operate the boom mic—you are having better sex than most people ever will, and you surely know this. And if that was truly your worst sexual experience, I would love to know about your best one. Was it when your sexual partner's ecstatic moans produced a high-frequency sound wave that cured a beggar's leprosy? Or perhaps the time you ejaculated gold coins and cake frosting? My point is, I have nothing personally against this individual but it's important to remember the theme of the show is Worst. Sex. Ever. It's not Most.Thinly.Veiled.Sexual.Brag.Ever.
I've really been thinking a lot about the theme for this show, wracking my brain for good stories, and here's what I realized: Of the terrible sex I've had in my life, nearly all of it has been my fault. Certainly, I've also performed very well. But I'd say for every partner I could complain about on this stage tonight, there is another woman somewhere who could just as easily accuse me of being a selfish lover, or inattentive, or of only average penis length and girth. In the almost 20 years I've been sexually active, I'm sure I have made a few vaginas frown.
But why focus on my mistakes? This show is for bloggers and as someone who has maintained a personal web site for almost 8 years now, I am well aware that blogging is a medium predicated upon the three pillars of Exhibitionism, Revenge and Total Denial Of Culpability. The only protection offered to those individuals we feel have "wronged" us is that, when we write about all their faults with painstaking specificity online, there is a small chance their true identity will be disguised and, in the blog entry, rather than being referred to as "Kevin," or whatever their real names are, they'll be permitted to exist under a clever nickname, like "Mr. Smelly Balls." In my experience, Blogging is a fantastic confessional medium, for confessing the sings of others. So, time to confess some other people's sins...
[now try to imagine some of the most professional and realistic-looking stagecraft you have ever witnessed! YOUR BREATH WILL BE TAKEN AWAY.]
HOW TO FEEL THE DOWNWARD TUG OF MORTALITY.
I was standing at the office kitchen sink this afternoon, squirting Palmolive on a plastic fork and into a microwave-safe Rubbermaid dish that contained the remnants of chickpea curry — today's lunch and last night's dinner — when I had this weird feeling overcome me. I am not a religious person, but I actually started to think about God's existence. I thought, God definitely exists and he's looking down at me right now. And he's elbowing an angel in the ribs and pointing at me, and saying, "Oh man, what a tool."
I get this way whenever I'm back at an office job for any length of time, and it's no one's fault but my own. My own perception keeps fucking with me. There really is so much in my life that's satisfying right now, or on the border of satisfying, that it feels especially frustrating when I'm experiencing these weird, undignified moments at the office sink, with my little Alfred J. Prufrock Brand® Lunchables. The smelll of dishwashing detergent, the distant sound of an Audix voicemail system, and the wipe of a sponge across the inside of a Rubbermaid dish, as seen under fluorescent lighting, creates this cumulative sensory experience that instantly sends me into an existential tailspin.
I tried to put it in perspective today, by imagining Lil Jon writing out a Post-It note at a cheap, particle board office desk. And the Post-It, which he sticks to the monitor of his brand-new Apple Powerbook (given to him for free, as part of his goody bag at the 2006 Grammys), reads, "DON'T FORGET! Drop off Pimp Cup to be Re-Dazzled."
HOW TO PAY ATTENTION AT A CRITICAL JUNCTURE.
I was just in a meeting, which I was pulled into after being pulled out of another. At the close of this meeting, some more follow-up meetings were scheduled or proposed. (One woman, in stating her lack of availability at meeting later this afternoon, explained, "Tomorrow is better for me, as I've got a phone meeting from 2-5pm today.") It has occurred to me that, while meetings seem to accomplish quite a bit at my job, there's probably a significant percentage of the corporate world that simply drifts from meeting to meeting, all day and every day, as a means of avoiding any actual work. Because often the real work happens at your desk. Sometimes, what comes out of a meeting is a cloud of loosely organized notes, which most people in meetings implicitly consider themselves a bit too important to record.
Today, with my body in one meeting, but my head in the next and previous meetings, I had very strong two doodle-based ideas. (Meetings are good for this; while you're generating ACTIONABLE[!] ideas, your brain starts producing many secondary and tertiary ideas.) The first was a simple truism, that I wrote down in the margin of my notebook:
I refuse to take you and your mole seriously.
I was proud of this truism for a couple of reasons. (I am also pretentious enough to call it a "truism.") First, I filled in the "o" in "mole" so it looked like a real mole. Classy. This was a typographical trick I learned from my mentor, Saul Bass. Also, this statement really is true. Unfair is it may sound, I may respect and care for someone with a large mole on his or her face, but I refuse to take him (and his far-fetched, mole-influenced) ideas seriously. It's a horrible prejudice, I realize, but it's my horrible prejudice. (I would like to say that I really enjoy people who believe they should be forgiven for their behaviors simply because they had one therapy session and decided that taking responsibility is all you really need to do in order to achieve absolution. They skipped out of therapy prematurely, possibly to take a jazz-fighting class, and never made it to the part about "making amends.") I will take someone with an eye patch seriously, or someone with an arm cast. I will not, however, give serious consideration to someone with a leg cast, finger splint, weak chin, or a python curled around his neck.
While in the meeting I also fantasized about what it would be like if my web site was not named "tremble." (The name is an indication of its age, as I registered the domain back when it was possible to still register single, generic words. Try to register "diapers" or "flood" or "urethra" now, and you'll have yourself a bidding war.) I thought to myself, 'What if my site was called manoverbored.com instead?" This immediately struck me as EXTREMELY clever, and I had a good little stuck-in-the-throat laugh over it. Then I started imagining what it would be like to tell people the name of my web site. Every time I told someone, I would have to add, "that's b-o-r-e-d bored, not b-o-a-r-d. Oh ho!" And as soon as I heard myself make that distinction out loud, calling attention to its intended punnery and cleverness, I would instantly regret the decision.
It was nice to sit in a meeting and play out the life cycle of having a different web site name, and how annoying it would be—all while some mole-impaired weasel loudly and unconvincingly presented his silly ideas about corporate restructure.
HOW TO WRITE BEST-SELLING NON-FICTION.
Here's one of the things I read at Comedy Central's CLIP JOINT last night. It was something I'd been kicking around for the last couple of weeks, and premiered it at the show. People seemed to like it, which was kind of a relief. I'm posting it here because I love you, and because I realize this piece is nearing the end of its cultural relevance shelf life:
"My Best-Selling Non-Fiction Memoir"
This is a prepared statement.
Good evening. My publisher has requested that I appear here tonight to address some of the recent controversy surrounding my best-selling memoir, and the integrity of some of the facts contained within.
Before I begin, let me just say thank you. Thank you all for purchasing my nonfiction memoir, Kickboxing with Jesus: Small Miracles in the Life of a Three-Legged 65 Year-Old Black Woman. Your support has been extraordinary, even as the media has been labeling me a "literary faker" and a "con-fiction writer" and "clearly neither old, nor black, nor a woman, and certainly not three-legged, but really just a sort of typically Jewey-looking writer type."
I have, and will continue to insist that the events documented in my non-fiction memoir are essential truths and facts according to my memory—in that I remember writing them down and, on the page, they looked pretty fact-y to me. That said, I confess there were a few details where I might have massaged the truth. Somewhat.
For example, I was not in the U.S. Special Forces during Desert Storm. As some newspapers reported, there is no super-secret division of the U.S. Special Forces for three-legged soldiers who can run very fast on sand. As many witnesses have corroborated, during Desert Storm I was actually at home, playing Tetris.
As records have shown, I was never admitted to rehab for an addiction to a deadly street drug called Skittles®. Several investigative sources have gone public with research indicating Skittles® are not actually a deadly street drug. Rather, they are a delicious fruit-flavored candy. Most importantly, they are not physically addictive. They are merely irresistible.
I do not own a pet dragon. I own a housecat named Gene Siskel who is a Canadian Hairless – a breed known to some as "the dragons of the cat world." I fabricated the dragon thing because, without it, the part about being forced to sell rare dragon eggs to pay the eleventy-jillion dollar monthly rent on my Moon casino would not have made any sense. It was a continuity issue, and I am sorry.
Chapter Sixteen, titled, "Here Come The Sexbots," was a work of complete imagination. I didn't even write it, really. I just transcribed it from a story I found on a Battlestar Galactica Fan Fiction web site.
If some of the passages in Chapter Four, "January Is The Cruelest Month," sound familiar, it's because I just Xeroxed pages from the the book of Revelations, and replaced all mentions of "The Dark Prince" with "my father." It's funny, because I sincerely don't even remember doing that, and I can only presume at the time I must have been high on Skittles.
Finally, I realize this has already come to light elsewhere, but I am not a three legged, 65 year-old Black Woman. Technically, I am a mulatto, though I prefer the term "HALF-rican-American." It's more respectful. Thank you.
[OK. After posting this, I appended a VERY LONG story about how I came about choosing this for the show, and my terrible habit of bringing 100% untested material to important shows, even at the risk of totally sabotaging my act. However, it's a really navel-gazing story and analysis, so I can't really justify making it public. If you care about that kind of process, it's ok to contact me and I'll just email it to you, without another word on the subject. It will be our delightfully boring secret.]
HOW TO WATCH THE WORLD GONE MAD.
I never, ever in my life imagined I'd see this headline on the front page of The New York Times:
Bush Urges World Leaders to Halt Violence Over Cartoon
There is so much insanity in that headline that I think, if invaders from another planet were doing some reconnaissance work on planet Earth, and they saw that headline, they'd probably call off the invasion, figuring we were pretty well set to destroy ourselves and save them the energy and space bullets.
HOW TO TITLE TK.
I've probably said this before – I realize apologizing for a lack of activity on one's web site suggests the author is simultaneously narcissistic and small beer. (Yes, I totally just used small beer in a sentence. And I called myself an "author." I've lost control of this ship, clearly.) But here I go, anyway. I have been up to other things, and these other things have caused me to sacrifice the amazingly mundane experiences that often serve as the fuel for this web site.
I've been working on a couple of piece of writing-for-hire, one of which is available online today, at The Morning News. It's a cleaned-up version of something I read at the last How to Kick People — a tour diary of The Piano Men, North America's only five-man Billy Joel tribute band. You can read it today, and forever, right here. (It's in the "Spoofs and Satire" section of the site, which kind of tickles me because I like the word "spoof" all on its own. Say it out loud and I think you'll agree that it's pretty good stuff. Spoof. You dropped your spoof. etc.)
Anyway, the other piece will be printed in a national humor magazine around springtime unless I totally messed it up. We'll see.
I've also been writing new pieces for a few upcoming shows this month, including the WYSIWYG Talent Show, on February 14th. (plug!) The theme of the show is "Worst. Sex. Ever." and I understand this has been a pretty popular subject for them, since this is their third go-around on that particular theme. It's a bit touchy, doing a show about bad sex on Valentine's Day, with your girlfriend in the audience. It's even touchier when you have home movies documenting that bad sex, and you're planning on showing them. (patently untrue!)
There are a couple other shows this week I'm pretty excited about. The first is The Clip Joint, this Wednesday night (feb. 8th) at Ars Nova. It's an alternative comedy showcase produced by Comedy Central, and the performances will be taped live, then mercilessly edited, and posted on CC's new broadband content experiment, Motherload.
Also working on this month's How to Kick People, which is already proving itself to be our most ambitious show yet. Bob and I decided we wanted to do something big for a 2-year anniversary show, so we're killing ourselves. Instead of performing on the show, we'll be staging our funeral with guests presenting eulogies, etc. There are going to be a lot of surprises, I think, but it's also a ridiculous amount of work, especially considering that Bob and I won't even be sharing hosting duties this month.
There are other things, too. TV things. Book things. Painting walls things. Drinking whiskey things. Kissing and hugging things. Getting very fat things. Things that get in the way of other things.
What's most frustrating is that, while I've been working I was completely unaware of Diet Pepsi's new campaign, "Brown & Bubbly." Diet Pepsi, now you done lost your mind. I think — and emphasis on the word "think" because I can't presume to know what goes on in the crazy heads of companies that large — Diet Pepsi was hoping to equate their beverage with champagne and, by extension, hip-hop's obsession with easy symbols of wealth. So, if champagne is bubbly, Diet Pepsi is also bubbly. And, unfortunately, brown. (Add your own racist subtext here.) But "brown & bubbly" does not sound like a fresh-ass champagne-sipping yacht-cruise. It sounds like a carbonated turd. Really. Not even just a little bit. BROWN & BUBBLY sounds like hot, gaseous turds.
The thing is, this campaign would have already been a failure just by the fact that it pairs a singing, headphone-wearing can of Diet Pepsi with a culturally irrelevant can of P. Diddy. I realize Diddy is sort of high-profile, but his days as a hip-hop mogul are long gone. What's he working on these days, apart from his massive, sprawling front lawn? The MASE comeback album? A Lil Cease concert film? Turning his old voicemails from Biggie into a double-album? Honestly, when I saw that commercial I actually believed that Diddy is so out of touch he'd sign a can of soda to Bad Boy records without a second thought. So there.
And because I don't like saying goodbye with a long complaint, here are five small things I really love right now:
- Wallace & Gromit in Curse of the Were-Rabbit - I wish everyone put this much work into their art. This movie is so lovingly made it kills me. And even the cheap jokes (like Wallace covering his nudity with a cheese box that has a sticker on it reading, "MAY CONTAIN NUTS") are clever and satisfying. It is sort of hard to believe the same film industry can produce this movie and A Shark Tale, with fish drawn to look like Will Smith and Martin Scorcese. Jesus!
- The Magic Numbers - still one of my favorite CDs from 2005, but I'm kind of a sucker for this kind of Nuggets-inspired psych music. (I've also been listening to The Black Mountain and the last couple of albums by The Coral on super-repeat.)
- Jelly Hearts - the jelly heart is single low-pressure element of Valentine's Day, and I love them for it. Red, enamel-stripping, gum-lodging sugar bombs. Nothing says "I love you" more than a candy heart that is sure to give you Type 2 Diabetes.
- The touch of a cat's nose. Wet, dry, or sort of sweaty-sticky, it's an all-time classic.
- Spyspace.com - my newest, and sickest pleasure. Really, there aren't enough ways to self-validate, are there? Soon we will all hear a bell in our heads whenever someone is thinking about us, even indirectly.