Joke News article: Dummy Falls Down

This is a parody news article I’ve written, more to come.

Dummy Falls Down on his Stupid Face in Front of Everybody

Chicago, IL — Andrew Halter, fledgling journalist and part-time stand-up comedian, looked like an idiot last Thursday when his right toe clipped the curb in front of the Walgreens at Foster and Lincoln, causing him to drop his bag of candy and painfully exclaim “Dammit!”

Most of the 11 bystanders who witnessed the event declined to comment on it, though a few mentioned that he did look foolish, most averted their eyes, looking instead at the sky out of politeness.

“Yeah that was pretty funny I guess,” remarked David Grant, local father of five, after witnessing the doofus peel himself off the asphalt.

Immediately after falling, Halter tried to gather himself as quickly as he could and walk away.  Though he tried to, he could not hide the painful limp in his stride, consequence of his badly scraped right knee.

When authorities attempted to reach Halter for comment, he yelled “I don’t know what you’re talking about!” before slamming into the nearby Lincoln bus stop kiosk as he attempted to hurry away.

Upon hearing him walk into the bus stop, Margaret Atwood, grandmother of twelve, was unable to keep herself from audibly guffawing at the silly boob as he hobbled down the sidewalk toward his apartment.

“I’m sorry,” Atwood explained as she attempted to cover her mouth with her right hand, “it was funny, I feel bad for him though.”

Douglas and Jerry Ignacio, local high schoolers who also witnessed the disturbance were less kind, remarking that “(the) b!*ch better watch where he’s going.”

Reports say that after he got back to his apartment, Halter turned off the lights and watched Fargo on Netflix under his heavy comforter, vowing to never again mention the occurrence.

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Joke News article: Dummy Falls Down

Zen Comedy 7: The Only Thing (repost)

I am here reposting an earlier Zen Comedy article of mine.  If you seek to read this blog in its original form, I’ve included the link here.  From this link, you can read any of my previously logged Zen Comedy posts.

https://thezencomedian.wordpress.com/2014/10/27/zen-comedy-7-the-only-thing/

 

The Zen Comedian, upon hearing reference to the cliché; “timing is everything,” responded with the use of another cliché from the immortal Vince Lombardi: “timing isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”  With this lesson, the Zen Comedian meant that timing is not only the most important aspect of each and every joke, but is in fact the true substance of all comedy.  I learned this lesson very powerfully when I was around ten years old, from comedy’s greatest master of timing, Jack Benny.

When I was a child, I collected cassettes of classic radio comedy, and though I had many favorites (The Bickerson’s, Fred Allen, Abbot & Costello) Jack Benny, who will be referred to as Zen Master Jack from here on, was my favorite.  Zen Master Jack’s most dominant character trait was his stinginess, and likely eighty percent of the jokes on his radio show revolved around this aspect of his personality.  He even had an underground safe in which he kept his massive fortune.  On one of his trips to this safe, he was accosted by an assailant who held a gun to his face and demanded: “Your money or your life!”

At this Zen Master Jack said nothing for a very long time.  I remember listening to the audience bristle, ready to erupt as the pause went on and on.  I could envision the burglar’s frustrated expression as I listened to the sounds of laughter from the live audience grow louder and louder.  Eventually the burglar had enough waiting and yelled “Well!  Your money or your life!” to which Zen Master Jack responded almost immediately “I’m thinking it over!”  The crowd roared with laughter, not at the joke itself, because it was even then a simple and predictable gag, but simply because of the way it was timed.

Though the live audience at the recording of this classic bit had the advantage of watching Zen Master Jack’s vaguely effeminate annoyed expression, most of the crowd and all listeners at home laughed simply at their own imaginations.  Many listeners at the time I’m sure didn’t even know what the face attached to this voice on the radio even looked like, but they laughed at the anticipation of a response.  The Zen Comedian tells us that if the audience is offered an effective set-up, even if it is extremely simple, they can fuel their laughter with their own anticipation.  Searching my own comedy for the places I most make use of this lesson, I recall the punchline to my “Burger King Confessional” joke.

The concept of this joke is that to expedite the penance process, Burger King has merged with St. Ignatius (a Chicago Catholic church) and created the worlds first Drive-Thru/Confessional.  The punchline to this joke comes after the fast food patron confesses to molesting his nephew.  The Priest/drive-thru operator begins by repeating the order, “Large Fry, Medium Dr. Pepper, Whopper Jr. and,” and then pauses for a good length of time.  After I’ve allowed the audience to anticipate what they well know will be a joke, I drop it on them.  “Hey who hasn’t?”  I’ve learnt (or believe I have) from Zen Master Jack that the greatest laughter comes from anticipation, even if it is anticipation of the laughter to come.

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Zen Comedy 7: The Only Thing (repost)

A New Dawn: Chapter 1

Volume 1:

Black Friday

I woke today to hordes charging the mall fortress

clawing at walls and breaking windows teeth first

getting at the sweet moist meat as it screamed “they got in!”

we called it rage disease and imagined a possible antidote

we might have developed a vaccine but it was too late

 

two weeks of peace before hell broke and came to roost

and now we’re passing out reloading and scribbling desperation

empty soul cages come and come In waves to the barrier

introduced with a thick wet thud and then the scraping

we found a stash of tranquilizers but sleep is dangerously sad

 

filled with the screams inside and out of each of us

and I don’t care that the laughter’s gone I have nothing

I saw my wife eat my child so I shot her in the head

in my son’s crib was only a dark red squishing

look in the mirror and scream what the difference is

 

I decided to blow it up and send everyone home at once

but there’s no way so I sunk and wept a river for everyone

can’t even do myself staring down a rifle barrel screaming

saying they need me but I’ll be dead soon and so will they

everyone is dead when they’re born and alive when they die

 

we created hilarious irony when when we did whatever we did

probably an environmental cause they all said when it began

whatever we did to make these things we should let them eat us

that would be a fitting punishment for whatever it was we did

but we have to survive so I pick a post and stand watch

 

in academic reference books it will have a term henceforth

“Disciplinary Injury” is what they call self-castration

if you’re turned on by a zombie then it all must come off

 

 

 

 

A puddle of tears on the ground I looked up into the sky

The sun hurt my eyes so I buried them in the floor

“my family’s dead too” a deep female voice utters above

Angelica is a survivor like me sitting in the dirt to my left

“they died before the zombies came in a house fire”

 

I said “lucky bitch” because I didn’t need to hear that

pouring her tragedy over me when I have my own to admire

then she stunned me with her eyes and asked “wanna fuck?”

 

“no” because I’m not the guy and you’re not the girl for it

 

“so you’re staying loyal to a shadow” she said and smiled

 

“I can still see her holding my son” I lied without knowing why

I can still see them but then Angelica got up to walk away

I said “wait” and noticed tears streaming down my face

 

Day 205 and hell started to feel just like home

Angelica’s a fixture in my life now of love and comfort

her eyes are a kind grandmother’s because she is one

her husband and children and grandchildren are all dead

 

swept away in a fire years earlier her tears have scabbed

she is a pillar of strength in all the wailing masses

I will never forget my wife but I am in love with Angelica

I love her strength and her beauty and the flow of her body

 

end-of-the-world sex is exhilarating and enlivening

I really should write a book about it but I never will

 

no one talks about fictitious ambitions anymore

art was the first casualty of the new way of life

art takes time and there’s not enough time anymore

all there is to do now is to live and fuck and die

 

 

 

we the survivors of the end call ourselves holdouts

holdouts tell themselves life is a choice they’ve made

life is a choice and not at all an easy one anymore

 

suicides are a normal every day kinda thing now

all who kill themselves are thrown to the zombies

lowered from the wall slowly and eaten as they go

 

we call them cowards and we hate their bones

they die without honor and are afforded no dignity

our leader Angelica pisses and spits on their bodies

 

she is our pillar of strength and our master of destiny

our struggle is aimed to a pinpoint by her vision

we will demolish the old and introduce the new

 

and I will stay by her side through the rebuilding

my role is tertiary and I hold no real influence

I will be privy to the birth of a survivor society

A New Dawn: Chapter 1

Short Story: The VICTORY

You thought you’d stared up at that sad white paint for the last time a year ago, didn’t you?  You really believed the lie you scribbled on the wall, that this complex wouldn’t swallow you again, and that you had it beat.  There’s no winning against this place.  The hospital is a living organism and it has your number.  You were smiling, laughing, the first time you left, and now you’re crying and you’re back. You’ll wear their pity like a bloody carpet.

And you’ll know it’s all your fault, that’s what’ll make it sting.  Not the injury, that comes from some infected scar tissue in your abdomen, but the true pain.  The true pain comes from flashbacks of Carmen, how she helped you recover emotionally, and the love you feel for her.  After you almost died in a car accident, rehabilitation was daunting, but Carmen was there to help.  Every week, she would come over to your house and watch House.  You fell in love with her then, in those hours spent glancing at her when she chuckled.

Lovely, sweet, dusky eyes peer up at you from a smiling face, and you’re caught.

You thought you could be someone to Carmen, but she helped you, you didn’t help her.  When you tried to kiss her what else was she gonna do?  And you were crushed, fucking flat Stanley crying like a little bitch.  And you can’t even stop thinking about her.

This is a pediatric ward, so there’s dead and dying little kids in every direction, but you’re not even sad about that.  Deep down in your core you’re sad about one thing, and it is pathetic.

What, when Carmen began spinning behind your pupils, you called it love, but the bad kind?  You know there’s no such thing as unrequited love; you know that’s not fair.  Obsession is real, devotion and doe-eyed obedience are real, but you can’t call these things love, because it’s not fair to.  How much do you even know Carmen?  Yes you know her better than before the accident, and that time in the bookstore you felt like maybe she liked you, but you should’ve known that that was just pity.  Pity is the most horrible thing in the world, because it is not emotion; pity is only judgement and classification.

Those that would pity you look at your life and say to themselves “There but for the grace of god go I,” and they move on, which would be fine.  The problem comes when cripples like you try to hit on normal people.  Everybody was just lying on the bed at Clark’s because we were all tired and high, and it wasn’t anything; but you saw Carmen lying next to you and you tried to kiss her, God.

And now she’s in love with Kirk and it doesn’t even matter, because she’s human and you’re fucking gross.  You can tell yourself that hole in your throat is cool all you want, but it’s nasty and it makes people uncomfortable.  It’s like you’re showing off, Mr. I’ve-Been-To-Hell-and-Back.  Look at me, I’m better than you because I know what it’s like to need a wheelchair and see a hospital ceiling all day, but that’s bullshit.   What could Carmen love in you?  Fuck, what could Carmen like about you?  Admiration though?  What’s that?  She admires you for what you went through, and that’s sexy?  That’s attractive?  That’s endearing?  You know it doesn’t even matter, anyway, because she’s just not into you.

But that’s all just slings and arrows, and everybody’s got those; you’re not special, you’re fucking typical.  You can lie there feeling sorry for yourself but around the bed next to you are new parents watching their infant child die.  You’ll probably never know pain like that, and you think you’re hurt.  Even with all that you’ve seen and been through you’ll never have to see that kind pain up close.  They seem nice; a little boring maybe, but that doesn’t mean they deserve this.  That baby might have been bouncing around and giggling a short time ago, and now it’s in the hospital.  Or maybe it never bounced or giggled.  Being in the hospital makes me consider these things..

What will you be when you go home after all this?

All you did today was watch the clock with bated breath like you were hoping for something, but you were just waiting for your parents to show up towing their sad eyes, and when they did it wasn’t any help.  Your dad came and he was like “Let’s go get a board game or something.” and you said yes because you saw hope in his face.  He wants so bad to see you smile; he wants to hear you joke, so joke, you say, you’ll really try to.

Last time you were in the hospital you and dad actually walked to a video store and picked up some Yes, Prime Minister, and that was so funny.  You can remember sitting on the hospital bed and laughing your asses off, and Fawlty Towers too, and when dad would take you out on walks sometimes and he would jog and tilt the chair back.  Going fast like that was simply fantastic, like you didn’t even know that the shadow you were rolling in was from the hospital.  it was just sharp and cold and bitter and wonderful.  It’s strange to think but you miss those times, when you were learning how to walk again,  and when you could feel progress.

But you can’t do that now, it hurts so bad to walk.  Every time you take a step you feel like nails are being pried out of your abdomen, wrenched by the tool on the back of a hammer.

So you were wheeled back to the game room with dad and what did you expect?  All it was was a bunch of sad children in bandages playing stupid board games and giggling, but their giggles didn’t sound whole.  In those little minds, even if their consciousnesses don’t realize it, score is kept and they’re way behind.  Those little kids know that their friends aren’t in the hospital, but that’s really only the beginning; they don’t even know that this is supposed to be the time their discovering girls; they don’t know what it means to miss that, and that’s probably worse than seeing it pass by.  You watched it pass by, so you at least have someone to blame.  Obviously blaming yourself isn’t ideal, but it’s better than nothing at all, you guess.

God, Hannah, when was that? Fourth grade? And you’re remembering that? Thinking about how that should’ve been your first kiss, and maybe then the whole story would’ve been different?  You know, if you access your reason and really think about it, you know that it wouldn’t have made any difference.  If while working on building the model Navaho town hall or whatever, you know that if you’d said “fuck it” and leaned over puckering it wouldn’t have been what you’d always imagined.  Face it, she’d have recoiled.

Even when it actually first happened for you that wasn’t real, not like it would’ve been if you’d created it, it was made for you and dropped in your lap because even before the accident people pitied you.  Some new fellow freshman friend set you up out of the goodness of her heart, with Lin.  You and Lin sat on the bench swing discussing what you each felt in your heart about the tenderness in human voices and the art in utilitarian craftsmanship or something, you can’t even remember, but it seemed important.

Lin just felt like home, and you loved talking to her.  You can remember sessions of kissing and rubbing over the clothes and over the sheets of Lin’s bed, you felt like that was what it was all about.  That was your mistake; you were too satisfied; you didn’t think you would have to do anything.  When she said she’d prefer to stay friends, you smiled and said “that’s cool.”  And when you tried to reconnect with her after your accident it was like she didn’t know you and who could blame her?  But you deserved it, the way you acted when you were first getting to know Lin was shameful.

So when dad wheeled you to the game room the letters on the boxes were all laughing at you, or that’s what it felt like anyway.  At first you were like “I kinda wanna go back,” but then he looked sad so you said “Okay, Connect Four.”  Who knows what it would look like to have your heart in a game of Connect Four, but your heart wasn’t in that one.

You must’ve looked real pissy grunting every time you slid one of the pieces into place, because as soon as you finished like 2 games dad was like “Alright wanna go back to the room?”

“Yeah, lets go.”

And as soon as you got back in bed dad was like “Sorry, I just thought maybe we could have a little fun.”

“Nah, it’s okay,” and you raised your chin to look into dad’s eyes.  You know it’s really a shame you can’t cry anymore, because that might’ve been a really good time.

And then when he saw you look at the mattress he put his hand on your shoulder, “How ya doin?” he asked like he didn’t know.

Not too fucking good dad.  I’m in the hospital again, my stomach hurts like hell, and the girls, the girls hurt worst of all.  “Fine.  I mean, not fine, it sucks, definitely, but it’ll be over soon, so, ya know.”  What the fuck?  Where the fuck do you get off Mr. Tough-Guy?  Everyone knows, though; everyone knows it’s just a fucking act, you’ve got no one fooled.

“All right,” the words slid out of your mouth like ash, “I’m doin alright”

Now it’s been a week and you’re still staring at the ceiling and the baby’s crying so you get up.  You know what?  Now, fuck this, that’s what, it’s time to walk.  Grab the walker it’s not so hard, grab it with both hands.  It’s right next to your bed and when you grab it it doesn’t slip away, it’s yours, and fully it is.

Okay now move the walker to the front of you.  It’s a machine, it’s supposed to make a crippled bastard like you walk, so walk.  Alright, for the first leg we’ll go to the window.  You won’t even do any more than that, will you?  Oh boo-hoo it hurts so much, that’s psychological and you know it, nothing hurts anymore, you push through that shit.  And you won’t cry.  Yeah you guess you can’t cry, but you wouldn’t cry if you could, because you’ve got more in the tank than they all have put together; they’re all jealous, they wish they could be given this kind of strength, but you know, they’d have to earn it.  They’d have to earn it through pain and disability and rehabilitation, and then they might remember what joy is.  They would know the joy of walking around and talking with Carmen on Halloween at the zoo.

That joy, whatever happened afterwards, will always be there.  When you looked in her eyes she did love you back, and it had to be special for her too.  You reach the window and look out; you can see the black, but there’s specks of light too, and it’s not so bad.

You can see the stars and they’re beautiful and fuck the pain, because it means nothing to nobody, so fuck it.  Smile now, that’s right, show those motherfuckers who’s the boss of who—you can’t tell me what to do!—that’s right because what’s even trying to tell you?  Thousands of dollars, hundreds of man hours spent just to make sure you can think and talk and walk so what are you gonna do?  No, you’re not gonna lie down and throw that pillow over your head and cry; because you’re tough, that’s why, and you’re not gonna let pain tell your legs not to move you to a better place.

When you see Carmen again your head will try to fool you again, but you won’t let it will you?  So what if you keep thinking about her?  She’s a major figure from the past it’s only natural, the way of the world.  You’re the doting skinny pale best friend of the spicy Latina, that movie came out like 7 times in 1982.  Maybe you’ll find someone who excites you like you’re alive like never before and maybe not, who cares?  Unoriginal people with nothing to offer anybody would care but you’re not one of them; you’re a hero and an artist, and that’s why you’re gonna turn around and do it again.  You’ll walk through the pain again, while it disappears, or shows you that it never existed in the first place.

Here’s what winners call the wall.  They don’t mention it’s made of nails but who cares, you said you’re the toughest son of a bitch that ever lived so fight through that shit, beat it into the ground till it coughs blood and its mother comes to save it.  You’re passing your room again and your bed looks better than ever before.  Maybe something good’s on TV now?  Who cares so you turn left and get ready to face the pain again.  TWO, say it out loud in your mind, TWO!

Fuck two, why not three?  Fuck three, why not five?  Fuck five, how about fucking EIGHT!?

Wait?  Who’s this talking?  No nurse, I’m fine.  I’m just walking around the hospital I don’t need help.  No I don’t need a wheelchair I’m not goin anywhere, just makin laps.  Why?  You know I’d never really considered it, just feels good I guess.  Yeah I guess it did hurt yesterday but I’m fine now.  Feels good because I’m free and I can do anything.

Almost, almost.  Almost!  TEN, done, you can lay down now, you beat it and it’s never coming back.

I woke up a week after the surgery and my stomach didn’t hurt anymore.  It was thanksgiving, and on the way out I saw that couple from the other bed in my room walk through the doors carrying their baby, the baby was laughing.

In an instant, the earth will open below you, and you will be swallowed into the agony and horrible congestion of the reality that exists for all of us the same.  In accepting this as an inevitability, which all of us must do, the appropriate thing is to gird your loins and paint your face.

Short Story: The VICTORY

Movie Review: Boy (2011)

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Boy, Taika Waititi’s wonderful 2011 coming-of-age story, is the most heartwarming and honest depiction of childhood I’ve seen since Babe.  Like the main character in Babe, Boy (James Rolleston) is an orphan, his mother having died in childbirth while delivering his little brother, Rocky (Te Aho Eketone-Whitu).  This orphan lives in a land of broken-down cars and rampant unemployment, yet at the very beginning of the movie, he introduces himself to camera wearing bright eyes and a million dollar smile.  “Ora (Maori greeting), my name is Boy, and welcome to my interesting world.”

In this opening speech, Boy describes his absentee father as “A master carver, deep-sea treasure diver, the captain of the rugby team, and he holds the record for knocking out the most people with one hand.”  None of this is true, obviously, and Boy’s father is actually in prison for robbery.  Boy’s father Alamein (Director Taika Waitit) shows up early in the film, and drives most of the action.  As Alamein constantly invents stories about what he’s done and will do, he actually spends all his time getting high in the garage and searching for the “Treasure” he buried in a field and forgot to mark.

Though poverty and desperation are omnipresent in Boy, and Boy’s father is a loser and a petty criminal, the implacable cheeriness of the film and its main character make the mere hour and twenty-three minute runtime breeze by like a dream.  Beyond the film’s perspective and instantly relatable characters and its emotionally powerful story, it is often astoundingly funny.  I have many times gone back in my netflix window and watched the moment when Boy’s teacher yells at him and a classmate, “Both of you fuck off or I’ll send you to the principal!”

This and innumerable other laugh-out-loud moments make the film a joy to behold, and announce Taika Waititi (What We Do in the Shadows, Eagle vs. Shark) as one of the most exciting filmmakers in the world.  Underneath the surface of hilarious revelry and indomitable childhood positivity, there is an emotionally devastating undercurrent of hopelessness and death.  The complex emotions and simple themes of Boy make it instantly enjoyable, hilarious, and emotionally devastating.

 

Director: Taika Waititi

Writer: Taika Waititi

Stars: James Rolleston, Taika Waititi

Movie Review: Boy (2011)

Zen Comedy 25: Jokes with Heart

The Zen comedian says: “The joke teller must always be smiling in his heart.”  Personally, I find this to be extremely practical and valuable advice.  Taken most simply, this counsel could mean that every joke one writes must first make him or herself laugh, but that is only one possible meaning.  The Zen Comedian’s advice is not so simple, and is open to a myriad of interpretations.

First of all, I find it important that The Zen Comedian’s advice, in this case, is directed to the “Joke teller,” and not the comedian.  Not every comedian tells jokes per se, as there are many comedians that tell stories, rather than crafting jokes.  For the comedian that tells a story, especially a story that would normally be considered sad, an inner smile is not necessary, and may not even be helpful.  When the Zen Comedian speaks of the “Joke teller,” I believe he is referencing a certain type of comedian, most clearly typified by the likes Mitch Hedburg, Emo Phillips, and the man who showed us what standup comedy could be in the hands of a performance artist, Steve Martin.

Steve Martin had a joke that he did at least near the beginning of countless performances.  In this bit, Mr. Martin would simply step to the microphone and say “here’s something you don’t often see,” after which he’d pull his lips apart with his fingers and yell while jumping up and down at least three times.  It is such a simple joke that it may elicit more eye rolling than laughter, but when he was fully energized, his spirit was infectious.

The standup comedy of Steve Martin gets right to the center of what the above lesson teaches us.  What is most evident in Steve Martin’s standup, and what made his unconventional style loved by the largest crowds that any standup act had ever seen at the time, was the joy he took in each piece of it.  The joy you feel telling jokes that make you laugh will spread to your audience, and they will join you.

Addendum: The Zen comedian does not encourage laughing out loud on stage at your own material.  He gave me no specific lesson on this, as he felt it obvious.

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Zen Comedy 25: Jokes with Heart