Comedians and Congress

The very astute and funny comedian Sarah Silverman said yesterday on a segment of The View, “Why is it we hold our comedians to a higher standard than our Congressional representatives?” She was responding to the trend for comedians to come under physical attack on stage and verbal abuse online. I want you to re-read the emboldened sentence of hers and let it sink in. Why, indeed?

If that is not enough to stew on, I want you to think of recent and not so recent comments by several members of Congress with names like Taylor-Greene, Cawthorn, Jordan, Gosar, Breitbart, Gohmer, Brooks, Gaetz et al. If that were not enough, fold in comments from folks like Senators Cruz, Paul. etc. Then we have the former president’s comments which take it to an even lower level.

These comedians make their living making fun of uncomfortable topics. Do they cross the line on occasion? Absolutely. Yet, we seem to vilify them more than we do for people who are supposed to represent our better angels as elected officials. I can disagree with a policy position of an elected official and that is OK. Yet, I want them to be respectful of the office they hold.

I disagree with Democrats and Republicans on various issues. I think some Democrats tend to forget we need to pay for things, e.g. But, the names I mention above are all Republican for a reason. They have a strident manner in dealing with opposing arguments. Name calling is not an argument. Parroting conspiracy theories is not an argument. Saying truly inane things does not make you more credible.

It is not ironic that the most touted leader in the world is a former comedian. President Zelenskyy of Ukraine has stood up against the invasion of Russian troops and rallied his country against the onslaught. To be frank, Vladimir Putin did not count on that stance thinking he could steam roll Ukraine in three days. He could not have been more wrong.

When I watch shows that are news centered comedy discussions, the more astute guests tend to be comedians. To be able to make fun of something, you tend to have to know what it is and why it could be funny. In this same vein, one of the best news shows on TV is actually a comedy show – John Oliver’s “Last Week Tonight.” Invariably, his writers will have an in-depth discussion on issues that do not get air time elsewhere such as predatory tele-evangelists, predatory lending, predatory court fees, et al. Other new sources have actually complimented their efforts.

Since comedians seem to be more knowledgeable, maybe we should do like sports teams do. When an elected official is obviously not up to the challenge, like in a sporting event, let’s just replace him or her with a comedian. In my view, we will be far better off.

Alignment

One thing that impresses me about good writers who have complex series of novels or shows is their ability to keep track of the various histories and relationships of all of their characters and story lines. My guess is the better ones take the time to document the biographies and relationships, so as not to betray the trust of the reader or watcher. I am certain mistakes happen, but it is good to see the effort.

The writers for a TV series called “Young Sheldon” have done their utmost to make sure the show is in alignment with its predecessor, “The Big Bang Theory.” For those who do not watch either show, “The Big Bang Theory” is about four highly intelligent university professors who befriend a beautiful and sarcastic neighbor who lives across the hall from two of them. Other stars are added as the men start getting more serious girlfriends and wives. But, the show is about relationships.

Sheldon, played by Jim Parsons, is the brightest yet most eccentric of an eccentric bunch. Parsons played him so well, he won several Emmy’s for the role. Due to his eccentricities, the show “Young Sheldon” was crafted to tell his story. With Parsons narrating the prequel which stars Iain Armitage as the younger version, we learn how Sheldon developed some of his habits, both endearing and frustrating. Since in the first show, we see guest appearances from the adult siblings and older mother, the prequel is good about remembering each character’s development and what the older Sheldon shared about them.

Sheldon has a twin sister, who is every bit as sarcastic as his future neighbor. He has an older brother who his jealous of the attention Sheldon gets yet is the typical teenage male. And, the scientific genius even as a boy has a mother who not only is a church goer, she works at the church. His father is a football coach, but we know already he will not be around much longer due to a storyline from “The Big Bang Theory” told of Sheldon losing his father as a young teen. The one character we did not hear much about in the first show is his grandma, who came in the second season of “Young Sheldon.”

The small things, though, are what make the alignment live. The older Sheldon loved trains, so we see the young Sheldon out in the garage with his trains. We learn why Sheldon uses terms like “bazinga” when playing a practical joke or why he uses the word “coitus” instead of sex, as it is less offensive. Don’t ask. The older Sheldon loves contractual agreements, so we see how that developed. And, of course, we see his mother singing “Soft Kitty, warm kitty” when Sheldon does not feel well and why he offers a hot beverage to anyone who is down in the dumps.

My wife and I enjoyed the first show immensely. I am a sucker for shows about relationships, especially the quirky ones. No one is more quirky than Sheldon, but what endears him is he has a good heart that is revealed from time to time. And, we adore the prequel as well, with the young Sheldon every bit as funny as the older one. Yet, what makes it live in alignment is the narration by the older Sheldon, with the occasional guest commentary by one of the other actors on the first show.

Do you like the shows? What are some others you care for?

Not much of a poet, but I was encouraged

Our friend Cindy encouraged me to post these few words as a feeble attempt at poetry. She posted a picture of a young woman with her head laying on her lap top keyboard above a poem that included a reference to “undo.” Here is a paraphrase of what I typed as a comment with the context provided above the poem.

Cindy, pairing your poem with the first picture is marvelous. “Undo won’t do the trick.” That is a terrific line that would have been unheard of forty years ago. It is the most magical button or icon ever invented – undo. So, when it does not do the trick, we are screwed. I am sure many a bad marriage would love the “undo” button. Of course, this would be passed the annulment period, which is a nice invention in its own right.

So, with this in mind, here is my feeble attempt:

“I wish my love for you remained
Undo

I wish I had not left my old job
Undo

I wish I had not given the Nigerian prince money
Undo

I wish I had not clicked on that link
Undo

Oops, undo is not working.
OK, Alt+CTRL+Del.”

If you like the format, please offer some “undos” of your own.

The Yogi of malapropisms (or Yogi-isms)

A malaprop is defined as “the mistaken use of a word in place of a similar-sounding one, often with unintentionally amusing effect, as in, for example, ‘dance a flamingo’ (instead of flamenco).” A malaprop or malapropism is the closest word(s) to describe what a rather famous baseball player would articulate to reporters on a recurring basis. The player had the iconic name of Yogi Berra.

Yogi was actually a very good and well-liked ballplayer on a very good team, the New York Yankees. As the Yankees were in the World Series with regularity, reporters had a lot of access to Yogi and what would become known as “Yogi-isms.” The funny thing about Yogi-isms is while they may sound unusual, they actually had a basis of simple truth holding them up. In other words, when you studied what he was trying to say, it actually made sense.

Here are a few Yogisms

It gets dark early out there – Yogi started as a catcher, but as he aged, he was moved to left field because he was such a good hitter and needed to be in the line-up. Late in the afternoon, the sun would cause shadows in the outfield which made it hard to see the baseball coming your way.

The future ain’t what it used to be -This may be my favorite Yogi-ism. In essence, things are happening so fast in the world, predictions of the future need updating. This is even more true today with technology advances.


It ain’t over ’til its over – This may be truest of all Yogi-isms as he has witnessed many a come from behind victory as a winner and loser. The game is not over until it is over. There is always a chance to win or lose, so finish the game.


When you come to a fork in the road, take it – This one needs to be read with a smile. You think you know what he means, but it is funny to play it against Robert Frost’s road not taken. Which way should you go? In Yogi’s mind, make a change. Or, is he saying stay the course? Or, maybe he is just saying don’t stand still, make a choice.

You can observe a lot by watching – this is one of the obvious truths. Shut up and watch what is happening. I have often felt reporters just loved to hear Yogi talk, so they would make big deals out of anything he said. Since we still have too many folks that are not present in the moment, this Yogi-ism is good advice. Pay attention, you might learn something.


Baseball is 90% mental; the over half is physical – this is one of his more famous lines. Math must have not been his strong suit. Or, more than likely, he forgot the first percentage when he closed out his point. Any endeavor has a mental aspect to it, even one where there is a ball, bat and glove involved.

Yogi-isms are priceless. They are funny, yet profound on occasion as the examples above portray. When I said he was well-liked, that is not an overstatement. He was charming and self-effacinig. He did not look like a star player, like his teammate Mickey Mantle, but he was a very good one. Kids, especially, just flocked to Yogi.

Please let me know your reactions and any other favorites.

Forgetting a name is a humbling experience

Yesterday, I was thanking a blogging friend, Polly, for her re-blogging a post I wrote. All was good until I called her Barbara on her own blog and mine. I can offer up excuses, but this is attributable to operator error. We had a good laugh after several mea culpas, I realized after I had done it that something was amiss, so while I was confirming my faux pas, Polly noted in reply that her name was Polly not Barbara. Big oops.

I would like to say this was the only time I have done this. But, two name calling errors come to my mind. First, I was with my wife and daughter on a Saturday at a restaurant awaiting an order. As I went to get the order when our name was called, I bumped into someone and his family who I knew I had met at one of my clients, yet I could not call up his name.

I said hello and then went back to our table. Then, the nightmare started. He came by to meet my wife and daughter and still nada in my memory banks on the name. So, I introduced my side of the conversation, but simply had to pass on his side, embarrassingly so. What I recalled later is I have been in a number of big meetings with this client, so I had met him with many people. At least that is plausible, but still embarrassing.

Second, this one is more embarrassing.as I know the person pretty well from some charity work. After a concert at a small venue we attended with another couple, I bumped into my friend and her friend as we were leaving. Introductions ensued, but I failed miserably on my end. I drew a deer-in-the-head-light blank. We laughed about it as we parted ways with our friends and then it hit me who that was on the way home. So, I called her to leave a message with more mea culpas. As my wife pointed out, you knew her enough to hug he, but not introduce her.

These are just two that come to mind from a longer list. My favorite name omission came from a good friend, who forgot his own wife’s name. He introduced her at a big reunion as “Jenny,” so she corrected him and said, “It’s Jeannie.”

Unfortunately, this problem will likely get worse as I age. Hopefully, I will always remember my wife’s name, but with two mothers in our family who died of complications due to Alzheimer’s, I hope that won’t be the reason. If I don’t remember a name, I may have to borrow my charming wife’s skill at calling people “Sweetie” or “Chickie” or something else when she draws a blank.

What are some of your stories on drawing a blank?

A few funnies from the past

My close friend Frank is Catholic and one of our annual traditions during our teen and college years was going to midnight mass. The priest would invariably wish everyone a Happy Easter as well, as he knew he would not see some until next Christmas Eve.

This same priest presided over another close friend’s father’s funeral. Having not seen the priest for thirty years, he looked the same as he did before, with a full head of thick hair. He must be in seventies, so I commented on his youthful look to my wife. She said what do you expect, he is not married.

Speaking of looks, my wife and I have long been fans of Tina Turner. Turner was performing in her sixties and still had a dancer’s pair of legs. When I commented to my friend Don that I hoped to look that good when I am her age, he correctly quipped you don’t look that good now.

As my hair has thinned, my older brother has been able to keep more of his on his head. When his daughter hollered across a quiet room, Uncle Keith, how come my Dad has more hair than you do, I responded because his wife does not spend as much as mine does. My wife agreed with my assessment.

Speaking of Easter, my oldest son’s Godfather Joe attended a large Easter egg hunt with us one year. Since the older kids would aggressively gather most of the eggs, Joe would be off to the side guarding a few eggs for my small son to find. It was comical to see him diplomatically tell eight year olds there were no more eggs here, so my son could find a few.

After college, one of our close friends was dating a woman named Lark, while another was dating a woman named Robin. Our friend Randy assessed the names out loud to both and added, it looks like I need to find me a girl named Con-dor, accentuating each syllable.

Randy always enjoys a good joke, yet sometimes he has to let it sink in. Going to  a game, Frank and I were chatting with Randy in the backseat about the lack of success of the junior varsity basketball team coached by Pete Poore. Frank said what do you expect when you have Poore coaching. We both chuckled at the pun and then about a full minute later Randy roars with laughter – poor coaching he shouts.

One of my favorite funny stories with the kids is when I was reading a story to my boys, who at the time shared a room. So, I plopped down on one of the beds and then bounced off between the bed and wall. It took an effort to crawl out of the crevice. The boys and I laughed so hard, my wife and daughter had to come see what happened.

A final story relates to my old boss who was working late. He had to reach someone who he knew was also working late, but had stepped away from his desk. A late night cleaning crew member answered the constantly ringing phone and my friend went into detail of what he needed. The man said sir, sir, I told you as much as I know, when I said hello.

On that note, I will say goodbye.

Do you ever feel the world is watching when you stumble?

For those old enough to remember the early Saturday Night Live shows, the actor Chevy Chase would emulate then President Gerald Ford in his latest misstep, physically not politically. Ford was a very decent man who became president after Richard Nixon resigned. However, while he was a good athlete, playing football in college, he was also prone to clumsiness and would fall on on occasion. Of course, his falls were nothing like what Chase would portray.

Since I am just a tad shorter than 6’5″ I draw more attention when I misstep. Fortunately, many of my missteps are not witnessed or seen by only a few. I recall the time I was walking in a parking garage blinded by the setting sun. I walked right into a I-beam that was angled downward, with it catching me across the forehead. While I did not fall, I staggered backwards like I just took a punch from Muhammed Ali. That could have caused a concussion, but fortunately, it was just a big ouch.

One of my favorite Super Bowl commercials is of the Coke delivery man who puts all of his Cokes away in the store refrigerator and then is tempted by the Pepsi in the next door over. He looks both ways, then samples a Pepsi. To his surprise and ours, the entire shelf of Pepsi’s come crashing down on the Coke worker in his uniform. Oops.

I have shared many times about my double date to the community play. It was ‘Picnic” for those keeping score. After returning from intermission, I was drinking my plastic cup of wine and as I did, my date seemed to be moving forward in her chair. In actuality, one of my chair legs had scooted off the two feet high platform and I was going backwards. The entire audience heard this loud crash in the back as I lay across the now folded chair on the floor. Except for my pride, I was unhurt. But, it was funny. Fortunately, we dated again.

While I have seen this happen in commercials, it also happened to me, but not in such a dramatic fashion. In the grocery store produce sections, it is not uncommon for the store to stack rounded fruits or vegetables into a pyramid. The store hopes people pick one off the top. That is usually the case, but if you are getting more than one, sometimes you get more sloppy with your picking technique. I do, and on occasion, I have caused some spillage as a layer will come off. Mind you, I have not caused the entire pyramid to crumble as it does in the commercials, but I have drawn some attention, as I have to restore order to the structure.

Finally, this past spring, I shared that my wife and I went for a first beach trip as the pandemic was waning. (at least at the time). For some reason, I wore some shoes I don’t wear often, as they have a more slippery bottom than others. As we were leaving a restaurant, I paused to let the waitress come in with a tray from serving folks outside. As I paused, I could feel myself falling and said aloud “I am going down.” My wife and I chuckle at that phrase now, but fortunately, I caught myself on the door rails before I followed my prediction.

Stumbling in public. The best thing to advise others of my oafishness is try not to get hurt and laugh at yourself. If you laugh, the world laughs with you. If you cry, you cry alone. Someone famous said something like that.

Thursday this and that’s

Thursday is an underrated day. It does not get the credit it deserves as the peek-a-boo day into the weekend. When I worked, Friday was a day to just to crash and veg out – the restaurants are to crowded and the bar/ restaurants are too boisterous. Yet, we often would go out to dinner on Thursday as it was a little more relaxing and we need only worry about one work day, if we finished off the wine.

Couples get into nice rituals around how to yin and yang with each other. This goes beyond the intimacy part, so we will keep this PG rated. I was tickled by a line from the movie “All my Life,” which I recommended the other day in post, when the girlfriend invited her boyfriend to move in. She said “If you suck at being a roommate, I will kick you out.” This was after she laid out her rules and he countered, such as closet space is 80/20 in her favor, he would cook three times a week, but she would sample things, eg. to which he agreed.

So, going to dinner on Thursday instead of Friday is one of those rituals. Now that we are retired, we tend to go out to brunches and lunches, especially with the COVID pandemic. Fewer people to come across is a safety issue these days. Other rituals we tended toward is take out food on Friday, even still today. Chinese, Mexican, seafood, pizza, etc. are in the rotation. During harvest months, we tend to go to brunch on Saturday where there is a Farmer’s Market in the parking lot. And, with children, we had to have a date night. Full stop.

Yet, Thursday remains a good day, even when retired. But, it won’t find itself in songs. When I did a series of posts based on songs with the days of the week, Thursday was a less used day. Tuesday seem to get more attention, maybe because the first syllable could be accentuated more. Thursday also won’t have a restaurant named after it as do TGI Fridays or Ruby Tuesday. Maybe that is why it gets less respect.

So, go enjoy Thursday today. (For my Australian friends, I hope you had a great one). Go help the hurting restaurant industry and dine al fresco or get take out. Or, while it is still pre-fall back on the time, go for a walk after dinner in the neighborhood. You might even see a few neighbors doing the same, at least I do.

One final note, when drinking was still a thing for me, Thursday did lend itself to a concept called “Thirsty Thursdays,” where beer was cheaper. This was especially dangerous at the minor league baseball park with its quarter beers in small cups. You definitely needed a designated driver or a designated memory person in case you met someone you liked and were to inebriated to remember her (or his or their) name. Now that we don’t drink anymore, those days are behind us.

So, a toast to Thursday. May it get the attention it deserves.

Who is Dick Gregory?

Who is Dick Gregory? Unless you are my age or more, you may not know. If you don’t know, HBO has an excellent documentary called “The one and only Dick Gregory,” that includes comedians and actors feting his career and life including folks like Chris Rock, Kevin Hart, Wanda Sykes, Dave Chappelle, Harry Belafonte and his wife Lillian, children Ayanna and Christian and various others..

Gregory was a clever and conversational style comedian who, as an African-American, was able to slip into his comedy a wry view of the civil rights deficiencies of his race. He also became an activist and protestor getting arrested over 500 times. He said in the HBO documentary he did not intend on getting involved so much, but the injustice was overwhelming.

He grew to call both Martin Luther King and Medger Evers friends. It is sad and sobering these two men were assassinated for their activism. If Gregory had not been called back home for the sudden death of his infant son, he may have been with Evers when the latter was murdered. What I did not know about Evers is he was a Korean Conflict veteran who noted that he fought for others’ freedoms abroad, when at home he did not have the same freedoms as other Americans.

The comedians in the HBO show note that Gregory’s comedic style was not over the top. He actually snuck up on you with his comedy. One comedian said his timing was excellent abd often the audience did not know they were learning something until it was too late. Early on he smoked during his routines and later confessed he used the cigarettes as a timing device for his punch lines. In fact, one of his jokes was about deducting the cost of 180 cartons of cigarettes on his taxes. He said the IRS told him they better see him with a lit cigarette when he performed.

Another example of his humor is a story about a white man stealing a car and in his get away, struck two black protestors. One of the protestors was knocked 500 feet away and the other crashed through the windshield. So, the police arrested the first black for leaving the seen of the crime and the second black for breaking and entering. HIs timing made this joke funnier than it may appear above.

Gregory may be more known for his hunger strikes protesting the Vietnam War. He used his notoriety to speak openly and honestly about an unpopular war that sent far too many blacks and poor whites to fight. As we learned later with the Pentagon Papers, the US presidents and defense leaders knew this was an unwinnable war and still poured lives and money into it. Gregory’s specific activism got him on J. Edgar Hoover’s watch list which Gregory used in his comedy. He knew he was being wiretapped and the FBI knew he knew, so he thought it was ironic.

I will tell you some that remember him may not remember him in the same light. He was outspoken and he made you think. This offended some. His best audiences tended to be college students who saw the injustice for what it was. Many black comedians stayed away from humor about civil rights and the Vietnam war. This coupled with his activism cost him a lot of money as an entertainer.

I think the documentary is excellent and worth watching, especially if you are unaware of his history. Even if you are, there is much still to be learned.

Needed sports funnies in golf and football

It may have been legendary and funny golfer Lee Trevino who answered the question why he played a fade in golf. Trevino said, “You can talk to a fade, but a hook just won’t listen.” There you have it. Trevino was crazy good. 

Football Coach Lou Holtz was also an amateur magician. Appearing on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show, he did a trick and then answered Carson’s question as to how he did that. “Perfectly,” answered Holtz.

Golfers have a term for a terrible score of an eight on a golf hole – they call it a “snowman” due to the written score resembling a snowman. When a pro made one on a par 5, the reporter asked how he could have made a snowman on such an easy hole. The golfer said, “Easy. I made a ten footer to avoid a nine.”

One of the greatest defensive lineman in NFL history was named Jim Marshall and his Minnesota Vikings team was so good at preventing scoring they were called the “Purple People Eaters.” In a moment of confusion, Marshall must have felt guilty of denying the other team points, as he recovered a fumble and ran it in for a touchdown – the wrong way.. When he crossed the goal line, he celebrated his play by throwing the ball into the stands. The referees gathered together and scored it a safety awarding the opposing team two points. Had he kept the ball, it might have been ruled a touchback with no points. Oops.

Golf is funnier when you get to the every day players who are not nearly as good as the pros. Their one-liners are immeasurable. For those of you who do not remember the TV evangelist Ernest Angley (that is a real name), he was a faith healer known for his elongated healing words. When a friend would hit a golf ball into the woods, he would pull out an Angleyism and say “Out, Satan!” If he hit another one poorly, he would say “Be Healed!” On occasion, a tree would answer his prayer and the ball would carom back onto the course.

One of the funniest endings to a football game was in the big rivalry of University of California and Stanford University. Per History.com, “On November 20, 1982, the UC Berkeley football team, referred to as Cal, wins an improbable last-second victory over Stanford when they complete five lateral passes around members of the Cardinals’ marching band, who had wandered onto the field a bit early to celebrate the upset they were sure their team had won, and score a touchdown.” One of the Cal players ran over a band member to get to the end zone. It is unreported if future Stanford bands were taught how to tackle.(see video below).

Next time, I may hit some other sports funnies besides football and golf.

Here is a link to the Cal/ Stanford final play. The band still missed the tackle.