Under 30

I can't complain but sometimes I still do

Friday, January 20, 2006

Shameless self-promotion

Today's Under 30.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The worst job in the world

What is the worst job in the world? Flipping burgers or picking up garbage usually tops the list for most people. I read once that lumberjacking is pretty bad. I think it would be cool to introduce yourself as a lumberjack. Then again, there’s probably more to being a lumberjack than introducing yourself as a lumberjack.

My nominee for the worst job in the world is TV show warm-up guy. Unless you have been inside the sausage factory that is a TV show taping, you might not know what a TV show warm-up guy is. Let me explain. Before the taping of a comedic television program, the TV show warm-up guy comes out and gets the crowd ready to laugh by performing a short set of jokes.

For shows where multiple takes are filmed for each scene, the TV show warm-up guy fills the down time with more jokes.

Apparently, it is dangerous to make people laugh without preparation. It’s like running a race. You have to stretch a bit before hitting the track.

Last week I was in New York City and caught a taping of the Comedy Central show “The Colbert Report.” This is the second TV show taping I have attended. (More on the first in a second.) As you would expect from a spin-off of “The Daily Show,” “The Colbert Report” is a consistently funny take on current events. I came ready to laugh, and I wasn’t disappointed. Still, the “Colbert” people felt it necessary to begin the taping with 10 warm-up minutes from a hacky stand-up comic whose act consisted of (1) already tired jokes about “Brokeback Mountain” and (2) jokes about the appearance of audience members.

If anything, Colbert’s TV show warm-up guy made me want to laugh less. Now I wonder whether he was actually TV show warm-down guy, a comic so lame you will laugh at anything that comes after.

The first TV show taping I ever attended was for the awful, awful, stinky awful Kelly Ripa sitcom, “Hope and Faith,” also in New York City. Snarky fools that we are, me and my friends thought it would be funny to go behind-the-scenes of an unfunny sitcom nobody in the world seems to watch and yet still stays on the air. (“The King of Queens” and “According to Jim” must have been booked.) Four and a half hours later, we weren’t laughing. After sitting through countless cringe-inducing jokes and not-so-hilarious situations that couldn’t even be enjoyed ironically, I felt like I had just endured my first shower in a maximum-security prison.

The only guy who had it worse was the TV show warm-up guy, who pulled out all the stops to keep the audience alert during the ordeal. He was part Robin Williams, part O’Brien from “1984.” Because “Hope and Faith” isn’t funny, he coached us on how to fake laugh. After a while, our laughs got a little too fake sounding, and he scolded us.

I used to think that being a stand-up comic would be hell on Earth, because making people laugh is incredibly difficult and a humiliating process if you fail. But coaching people to fake laugh at a fake funny sitcom makes stand-up comedy seem like a full-body massage from Brooke Burke. This is your curtain call, TV show warm-up guys. Take a bow.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

How I spent a day in the most exciting city on Earth

I visited friends in New York City last week, and while I love going to the Big Apple, I always end up doing something tediously stupid when I'm there. Last trip it was a four and a half hour taping (!) of the truly awful Kelly Ripa sitcom, "Hope and Faith." This trip it was spending 12 hours repeatedly watching a concert video starring Mark "Lil' Markie" Fox, an evangenalist "entertainer" as dangerously misguided as he is torturously unfunny.

It was a blast.

Mere words can't do justice to the unique horribleness that is Lil' Markie, but hopefully this helps. Lil' Markie/Mark Fox is perhaps best known for the anti-abortion anthem "Diary of an Unborn Child," a song so creepy it won't only prevent abortions, but sex altogether. If Ween was honestly crazy and Christian, they would sound like Lil' Markie. Listen here.

Give me your thoughts on "turd"

In my most recent "Check it Out" column, I used the word "turd" to describe the fat guy with spiky hair in the new "Dukes of Hazzard" cell phone commercial. The executive editor of The Post-Crescent recieved an e-mail from a reader who objected to my "turd" usage, noting that he could "easily remember when a statement like this in a community newspaper would have made jaws drop." The reader didn't say he was offended, he just wished I could "express (my) opinion in a more adult manner."

To be honest, I'm not sure I disagree with this reader, especially when I think about my executive editor trying to defend my turd usage. I guess you could say I have turd regret.

What are your thoughts on this? Is turd out of bounds? Am I, in fact, the one who is a turd?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Shameless self promotion

Hey, read my stuff, dudes! Like the latest Under 30, Check it Out and a fun story on awards.

I'm back

So I just got back from a loooong weekend in NYC, hence my lack of blogging. But to the four of you who read this regularly, don't fret. I will be blogging soon once I dig out from my mountain of work. Upcoming topics include: American Eagle airlines, George Michael, The Colbert Report and whether turd is an appropriate word to put in the paper.