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Joke of the Year

Rooftop favorites Kumail Nanjiani, David Angelo, Sean Patton, Taylor Williamson, and Brent Weinbach have all been nominated for “Joke of the Year” by Time Out New York and your vote will help decide the winner.

And the nominated jokes are…

Sean Patton
“If I had to choose between being eaten by a shark or getting my heart broken again, I’d rather get eaten—at least the shark actually wanted me.”

David Angelo
“I went to a Turkish bath recently. It’s a lot like a regular bath except it doesn’t recognize the Armenian genocide.”

Taylor Williamson
“I went to a department store and saw a pregnant mannequin. That really bothered me. You know it wasn’t consensual.”

Kumail Nanjiani
“The song ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ was released to raise awareness about Ethiopia famine in the mid-’80s. What most people don’t know is that the Ethiopians released a response song called ‘Do They Know We’re Muslim?’ ”

Brent Weinbach
“Women are from Venus. Men are from Pagina.”

Who will emerge victorious? Will it be Genocide? Mannequin Rape? Famine? Heartbreak? Pagina? What the hell is Pagina, by the way?

And we thought the last election was close! Vote today! It’s your civic duty, America.

Laughter Against the Machine

W. Kamau Bell, Hari Kondabolu, and Nato Green, three of the nation’s most fearless and thought-provoking comedians, reunite for the 2nd annual New Year’s Eve edition of Laughter Against The Machine at The Phoenix Theatre in San Francisco, Ca.

LATM is a rare kind of stand-up comedy show filled with biting commentary about politics, culture, and society, which will attack the entire spectrum from the rightest right to the leftest left. If you want a New Year’s Eve full of “WHOOOOOOHOOOOOOO!” and “I’M SOOOOOOOOOO WASTED!” and “AS MUCH AS I PAID TO GET IN HERE I BETTER HAVE A GOOD TIME!” then this is not the show for you. You have plenty of events to choose from. But if you want to witness three comedians diving off the edge of their intelligence and comfort, then check out Laughter Against The Machine. This is an evening of three acclaimed comedians doing what they do best, expressing their opinions in hilariously awesome ways, without the yoke of two drink minimums, or confetti, or “LOOK WHAT YOU DID TO MY SHOES!” Just come. Sit down. Laugh. Go home.

Here’s a recent clip of Kamau doing his thing at Go Bananas Comedy Club in Cincinnati.

For more information, visit www.wkamaubell.com

Sometimes I Love Customers

As a comedian, I get approached after shows.

Sometimes I receive a simple shake of the hand, possibly a clap on the back and a “good job.” I’ve been offered both room keys and offers of sex from men and women, and have on an occasion (or more) taken the woman up on it. And, more often than not, I get offered jokes.

“You can use this one” is the bane-phrase of almost every comedian’s existence. Usually, the joke is something racist, hack, or taken from the Internet. What it rarely is, is something original or interesting. Last night, however, I had the pleasure of meeting two wholly original, honest and entertaining people.

I have a joke, the gist of which I will not go into, but which has the closing tag, “…and don’t forget to wash your hands.” The phrase allows me to get one final little chuckle from the audience as I then segue into my next bit. Last night, however, after I uttered it, two people erupted in enormous table-pounding applause and gut busting, choking laughter.

I was taken back, and said, “That is too much laughter for such an innocent phrase; there’s a story behind that outburst.”

(I often speak using semi-colons)

They waved me off, saying, “Inside joke,” and I moved on and forgot all about it. Fortunately, they remembered all too well and after the show decided to share with me their story.

A few weeks ago, the husband was making burritos, and he enjoys the spicy variety. Habanero peppers, the hottest of the hot chili peppers, were the call of the day. His wife reminded him repeatedly, “Don’t forget to wash your hands; those things burn skin.”

(She speaks using semi-colons, too)

She said she must have told him a half-dozen times to keep his hands clean, and every time he said he indeed was soaping it up.

Later that night, they were feeling frisky, and decided to play with one another’s naughty parts. To get her juices flowing, that he may enter unimpeded, he offered up a little manual stimulation. His fingers went a-wandering, turning their little circles and stimulating the blood flow necessary to excitement.

Naturally, moments like that create a warming sensation in the nether regions, but that night everything felt a little too warm…

…and it was continually getting warmer.

So much so, to the point it was actually hot down below, like the fires of hell.

So much so, to the point she said she had to up, jump and rush into the bathroom, yelping in pain as she “drenched a washcloth in cold water and shoved it up my cooch.”

Her husband, you see, works with his hands for a living, making them hard and calloused, and therefore immune to the effects of the Habanero pepper. So while he didn’t feel its burn, she definitely felt it in the transfer.

When I said, “…and don’t forget to wash your hands…”

Yup.

Oddly enough, they didn’t say, “You can use that for your show” after telling me their tale of overheated passion.

NFLOL: Week 15

Coach Jim ZornWeek 15 was supposed to clarify the playoff picture, with some teams able to clinch division titles and postseason berths, and others looking to pull away from the pack.  Instead, Green Bay failed to clinch, Denver failed to clinch, Cincinnati failed to pull away in the AFC North, three 7-6 teams lost, and four 6-7 teams won.  The playoff picture is now an out-of-focus impressionist canvas, with a whopping six different teams sitting at 7-7 in the AFC and only four of the 16 teams eliminated.  With the Broncos reeling and the Ravens and Steelers squaring off next week, we could be looking at seven different 8-7 AFC teams in Week 17.  In other words, nearly the entire country has an excuse to ignore relatives in favor of televised football this weekend.  Thanks, NFL!

Indianapolis 35, Jacksonville 31

Even against a depleted Colts defense, the Jaguars offense couldn’t get it done in a game that was meaningless for Indianapolis’ playoff chances and of dire importance to Jacksonville’s.  Indy rested some of its defensive starters, but were still clearly trying to win.  Next week, expect even more resting, at least a cameo appearance by Jim Sorgi, and a bored Peyton Manning throwing touchdown passes left-handed just to see if he can do it.  For Jacksonville, expect a disappointing loss to New England followed by the franchise moving to Los Angeles.

Dallas 24, New Orleans 17

Who dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints?  Dem Cowboys, dat’s who.  Dallas dominated the game, but a missed field goal almost allowed New Orleans to come back and win.  Cowboys’ kicker Nick Holt has been terrible, and was released after the game in favor of kicker Shaun Suisham, who was released by the Redskins after HE blew a chip shot against New Orleans which let them come back and win.  They’ve got Tony Romo revisiting his career lowlight as the new holder, and now Suisham will face his former team in his Dallas debut.  It’s as if Wade Phillips is trying to maximize the nightmare potential for every single field goal, something he exacerbated this week by inadvertently icing his own kicker before the blown kick.

Meanwhile, New Orleans has released their own erratic kicker, John Carney, part of a weird trend where half of the NFL’s playoff contenders are switching kickers with a few weeks left. It’s sort of like how all the terrible teams fired their offensive coordinators a few weeks before the season, only less depressing.  John Carney, the released kicker, may later be found out as a secret degenerate gambler.  He whiffed on a field goal that would have guaranteed to the over-under against the Patriots, and years ago, he <a href=”http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2003/dec/26/columnist-sal-defilippo-dont-blame-the-kicker—-s/”>preserved a point spread cover – and blew the Saints playoff chances – by whiffing on a PAT after the Saints completed a last-second three-lateral touchdown play.  If Carney becomes the new Tim Donaghy, you read it here first.

Cleveland 41, Kansas City 34

Even two of the worst teams in the league can play an exciting game if they both refuse to tackle!  Brady Quinn threw for 66 yards and two interceptions -and the team still put up 41 points, thanks to two kick return touchdowns from Josh Cribbs and a near-NFL record 286 yards from Jerome Harrison.  If Harrison’s teammates really cared about him, they would have let Kansas City score so he could have set the single-game record in overtime.  Enjoy that third win, jerks.  Kansas City earns the draft tiebreaker under the Browns, meaning they’ll draft ahead of Cleveland if both teams finish with three wins, which they will.  The Chiefs plan to use their pick on a disappointing player.

Atlanta 10, New York Jets 7

The Jets dominated this game completely, but botched three field goals, in three totally different ways.  They missed one outright, botched a snap on another, and had a third blocked.  If only they’d had Tony Romo to hold for them!  Mark Sanchez threw three interceptions to match the three blown figgies, but the Jets still would have won if they’d guarded Tony Gonzalez on Atlanta’s last-gasp fourth-down play from the six.  Despite Sanchez’s late charge for the interception title and yet another fourth quarter defensive meltdown, the Jets are still in the playoff chase.  Maybe they could stick Thomas Jones behind center for the rest of the year.

Tennessee 27, Miami 24 (OT)

Tennessee took a big lead, but Miami crawled back in the game with the help of an INT-turned-long completion courtesy of standout Caucasian wideout Brian Hartline.  But as the Caucasian wideout giveth, so does the Caucasian wideout taketh away: Greg Camarillo put the Titans in field goal range after a late-hit penalty in overtime.  One white wide receiver is fine; two is just asking for trouble.  Just like how NBA teams will start only one Russian, and only one player with an extended goatee.

New England 17, Buffalo 10

Tom Brady threw for only 115 yards, and Randy Moss had 70 of them, as the Patriots won their first real road game of the season.  Luckily, Buffalo logged even more than that in penalty yardage (124), and handicapped themselves by bringing in Trent Edwards in the fourth quarter.  Edwards threw two passes for -1 yards, then took a nine-yard sack and injured his ankle.  Later, a hobo stole Edwards’ car from the parking lot and crashed it into the team training facility.

Buffalo came very close to recovering an onside kick, but went offsides.  Generally, Buffalo has outstanding special teams, while the rest of the team plays like Special Olympians.  The loss makes it unlikely that their interim coach will keep his job, and rumor has it that Marty Schottenheimer wants the job.  Marty in Buffalo!  The NFL coach and the NFL city most synonymous with playoff failure, finally reunited! Please make this happen.

Arizona 31, Detroit 24

Arizona clinched the NFC West title with a surprisingly close game against Detroit.  They’ll warm up for the playoffs by playing St. Louis next week.  You remember those Marines commercials where a sword gets hammered out by a hot forge to toughen it up for battle ahead?  The Cardinals have basically been dipped in warm butter and massaged like baby veal cows with their six NFC West games, plus bonus contests against the Lions and Bears.

Third-stringer Drew Stanton led a comeback in relief of Daunte Culpepper, and appears to have locked down the starting job for the remainder of the season.  This has two benefits: One, Stanton can show his stuff and earn some future playing time.  Two, that playing time will likely come as the result of a trade away from Detroit.  As Michael Scott would say, that’s a win-win-win.

Houston 16, St. Louis 13

Houston continued their unlikely playoff push, getting back to 7-7 with a win over the hapless Rams.  This is confusing for Texans fans, who would dearly love to make the playoff for the first time, but would also really like to see Gary Kubiak fired.  As for the Rams, they may have given up entirely on watching film of upcoming opponents, since they seem locked into 1-15 and the first pick in the 2010 Draft.  I imagine that film sessions consist of the coaching staff drooling over slow-motion footage of Ndamukong Suh throwing blockers into Colt McCoy.

Oakland 20, Denver 19

The Broncos were once 6-0, and seemingly a lock for the playoffs.  With a loss to the Raiders, they’ve fallen to 8-6, and a dogfight for a wild-card spot.  Some would argue that allowing a game-winning touchdown drive by Jamarcus Russell, the worst quarterback in the NFL, should disqualify a team from the playoffs automatically.  To which I say, Hey, voice in my head, the Broncos will lose to Philadelphia on their own.

San Diego 27, Cincinnati 24

It was an emotional game for the Bengals, who lost teammate Chris Henry this week.  The game was full of tearful moments, including an end zone prayer by Chad Ochocino and lots of pointing to the sky.  Of course, given Henry’s track record, are we totally sure those players were pointing in the correct direction?  Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding overdid a little after hitting an admittedly-difficult 52-yard game-winning field goal, leaping into the holder’s arms and pumping his fists.  Dude, the funeral was Tuesday. Tone it down!  Also, you’re only a fucking kicker. Tone it down!

Philadelphia 27, San Francisco 13

The 49ers and Alex Smith are a horribly mismatched couple in a desperate, loveless marriage, sticking together for the sake of the children and the salary cap because, deep down, both know they can’t do any better.  Philly overcame a sloppy first half and pulled away, thanks to the stellar play of Desean Jackson.  He’s a great receiver and a great cold-weather player, despite appearing to be the NFL player most uncomfortable in cold weather.  About 85% of his face is covered by various hats and masks, he wears big gloves, and his sideline parka looks like it was custom-fit for Andy Reid.  It’s possible that his terrible end zone celebrations are not in fact awful dances, but instead, his body’s involuntary reaction to snowy conditions in Philadelphia.

Baltimore 31, Chicago 7

Eight months ago, the Bears gave up Kyle Orton, two first-round picks, and a third-round pick to get Jay Cutler.  Sunday, Jay Cutler completed 10 of 27 passes and threw 3 INTs, for a quarterback rating of 7.9.  That’s the equivalent of getting a 410 on the SAT.  What would Chicago get if they tried to trade Cutler right now?  Kyle Boller, two first-grade Pop Warner players, and a third-degree burn from torch-wielding Bears fans chasing Cutler to the edge of town.  Cutler’s backup also threw an INT, and the Bears fumbled three times as well.  A team of actual Bears would hold onto the ball better than this team would, and even though it’s hibernation season, they wouldn’t sleep walk through games nearly as blatantly.

Tampa Bay 24, Seattle 7

Tampa Bay put some SERIOUS DAYLIGHT between themselves and the St. Louis Rams with a dismantling of the Seahawks.  How did Seattle win five games this year?  Next week should mark the end of the Matt Hasselbeck Era in Seattle, as Hasselbeck is poised to enter the Brunell phase of his career: holding for field goals, backing up future washout quarterbacks in Detroit, and holding a clipboard so tightly that his fingers turn blue.  Unfortunately, the Jim Mora, Junior Era in Seattle has at least another year to run. Mora cut his teeth coaching Michael Vick in Atlanta. Hmm, college star, mobile quarterback, wildly popular jersey in the South… With the 8th pick in the NFL Draft, the Seattle Seahawks select Tim Tebow!

Pittsburgh 37, Green Bay 36

Wildly entertaining game thanks to both defenses refusing to cover more than one receiver at once.  Ben Roethlisberger threw a pinpoint, near-uncatchable pass as time expired, after the teams traded scores in the fourth quarter, combining for 35 points.  Neither team could stop the other, but Mike Tomlin made the ballsiest call of the year when he called for an onside kick with four minutes left leading by two.  Green Bay recovered, but this meant their inevitable score came with two minutes left instead of time expiring.  Pittsburgh may have compounded their ballsiness by letting James Jones take a short pass in for a touchdown from the 24.  Of course, if Green Bay has rushed more than three guys on any play in Pittsburgh’s last drive, the result may have been different.  The prevent defense only prevented victory, and the left-for-dead Steelers now have new playoff life.  THANKS, Packers.

Carolina 26, Minnesota 7

The Panthers played quite well, but the story was Brett Favre’s meltdown and Brett Favre’s argument with his coach.  Because it’s December, and bad things happen when Brett Favre has to play outdoors in December.  His arthritis kicks in, his propensity to audible out of running plays is riskier, and the Vicodin loses potency in cold weather.  Minnesota can only hope that the usual late-season Favre Fade will be diminished by playing in a dome, and that they can hold of the Eagles for a first-round bye to ensure Favre won’t have to play in the snow.  By the way, Brad Childress is signed for four more years, Vikings fans, and that contract extension was not at all premature.

New York Giants 136, Washington -13

The game and perhaps the entire season was exemplified by a play call at the end of the first half. Trailing 24-0, the Redskins lined up for a field goal, then shifted to the “swinging gate” formation.  The Swinging Gate is a common play at the high school or college level, where the entire line moves over to the left, leaving the center alone with the ball in front of the holder.  It generally just forces the defense to shift, at which point the offense will move back and kick anyway.

This one seemed to surprise New York, as they called timeout when Washington shifted formations.  What didn’t surprise them is when Washington lined up in the same formation after the timeout – a formation that doesn’t even fool JV football teams – and still tried the fake.  Unblocked rushers swarmed the punter, who threw an interception that almost came back for a TD.  There’s a theory that Jim Zorn called the play as an eff you to the team owner; but I don’t see how that works even as misguided revenge. No, this is simply what Jim Zorn is as a head coach: an empty head with a swinging gate inside.

NFLOL: Week 14

By Sean Keane

Cleveland 13, Pittsburgh 6

Pittsburgh lost their fifth game in a row as America slowly realized that, as much as they dislike Eric Mangini, they hate Hines Ward and the Steelers more.  Not since the 18-0 Patriots went down in the Super Bowl versus the Giants have I heard so many people with no particular rooting interest in the winning team left absolutely giddy by an NFL victory. Even Notre Dame haters could enjoy thewin, since Brady Quinn threw for only 90 yards.  Although Pittsburgh’s not officially out, it feels like this is the earliest a defending champ has been eliminated from title consideration since Terrell Davis blew out his knee in 1999, or when Mickey had a heart attack right before Rocky fought Mr. T.

New Orleans 26, Atlanta 23

The Saints maintained their perfect season, but one misstep nearly doomed them.  Leading by three with two minutes left, they attempted a fake field goal – not the worst idea, but they had backup quarterback Mark Brunell throw the pass.  I’d rather have the punter throw the ball on a fake field goal rather than Brunell, who fired the ball out of bounds and Atlanta got a second chance.  Meanwhile, Khloe Kardashian talked about her marriage to Life & Style magazine, Lamar Odom averaged eight points a game, and the curse-free Reggie Bush scored three touchdowns for New Orleans.

Green Bay 21, Chicago 14

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers survived a surprisingly tough Bears team and one of the most ridiculous fumbles of the year to continue to 9-4.  Rodgers fumbled, recovered the ball, and then fumbled a second time to set up Chicago’s go-ahead TD.  He then stepped on a rake on his way to the sidelines, and fell through a huge pane of glass two workmen were walking down the sideline, landing in an enormous wedding cake.  Luckily, you’ll never have the game’s most devastating turnover when you’re squaring off with Jay Cutler.  Cutler took advantage of injuries to Jake Delhomme and Matthew Stafford and extended his interception lead, the second one giving Green Bay the ball on the 11 and officially eliminating Chicago from the playoffs.  You know, there probably aren’t any players Chicago would want in next year’s draft anyway.

Indianapolis 28, Denver 16

Brandon Marshall caught an NFL-record 21 passes (and was targeted an amazing 28 times), more passes than the entire Colts team caught combined. But it didn’t matter, since Indianapolis is unbeatable even when their starting secondary is out.  Terrell Owens had the old record, from a game where the Bears triple-covered Jerry Rice in his last game in SF.  Third place on the list is Tom Fears, from a game played in 1950, when the forward pass had only been legal for two years, and defensive backs were still allowed to bite, kick, and stab receivers within fifteen yards of the line of scrimmage.

One of Indianapolis’ most important players is Jeff Saturday, who looks like a very tall medieval dwarf, or an undiscovered caveman.  I’m leaning towards “caveman,” because his last name sounds like something that the suburban teenagers who discovered him would make up when confronted by authority figures.
“It’s Saturday morning. What is this bearded fellow doing in our yard?  And why is he in a three-point stance?”
“That’s our friend Jeff.  Jeff…um…Saturday.  Yeah, that’s it.  He’s really good at making fire and recognizing the zone blitz.  Can he stay in our garage?”
“I guess so.  But you’re gonna clean up after him!”

Buffalo 16, Kansas City 10

This game counts in the standings, but really, does it matter?  Who cares if musical theater kids are cooler than the gamer’s guild, or if the kids who smoke cigarettes outside the auto shop have a better GPA than the kids who smoke pot behind the gym?  These teams are losers, and the only time we’ll have to worry about them is if someone elects Matt Cassel homecoming king as a joke, so they can dump a huge bucket of Gatorade and pig’s blood on him at the big NFL dance.

Minnesota 30, Cincinnati 10

Cincinnati seems like a team that would have been a powerhouse decades ago, before indoor stadiums, artificial turf, and women’s suffrage.  They have one fast receiver, they like to line up six offensive linemen on every play, and their locker room is filled with anti-Communist propaganda.  This year, they play in the AFC North, where everyone plays in freezing-cold outdoor stadiums with chewed-up turf.  The other quarterbacks are either too incompetent or too concussed to throw deep, so the Bengals dominate them.  While Brett Favre was born in the same time period that the Bengals would dominate, his Vikings still run a 2009 offense, and Cincinnati simply could not keep up.

New England 20, Carolina 10

Randy Moss responded to criticism that he quit after the first quarter last week by quitting two or three plays into the game this week.  After the game, Carolina’s Chris Gamble said, “We knew he was going to shut it down … Once you get into him in the beginning of the game, he shuts it down.”  Of course, what does that say about Carolina that they still lost by ten points with Moss dogging it?  With a motivated Moss, does Carolina lose by 21?  24?

New York Jets 26, Tampa Bay 3

Jon Gruden is the luckiest man in the NFL.  With the rickety pirate ship that is the Tampa Bay franchise about to capsize, he was fired by management, and kept his hands cleans of the entire subsequent debacle – huge interception numbers, fired coordinators, the disrespect for Bucco Bruce.  He didn’t have to sit through it, nor was he blamed for it, AND, he’s still getting paid by Tampa.  Instead of watching Josh Freeman fire ill-advised red zone passes, he spends every Monday night talking up players and fake-laughing with Ron Jaworski, while drawing two salaries.  It’s kind of like George W. Bush leaving office right as the recession was about to really sink in; that is, if Hurrican Katrina, the second Gulf War, Enron, and torture scandals hadn’t already happened.  I still think W could rehab his image by going on cable and cracking jokes with Wolf Blitzer (the Jaworski of CNN) every week.

Miami 14, Jacksonville 10

Ricky Williams fumbled twice in three plays, and both bounced harmlessly out of bounds.  That was the kind of day it was for Miami, who got ahead early, completed a lot of passes in a row, and nursed their lead to a close victory.  The three things I like best about Miami are:

1.  Ricky Williams
2.  That their head coach wears sunglasses, indoors, during his press conferences.
3.  Their contribution to knocking the unwatchable Jacksonville Jaguars out of the wild-card hunt.  Someone’s got to win that #6 seed, I understand that, but really – anyone but the Jags.

Baltimore 48, Detroit 3

The Ravens destroyed the Lions, and in other news, a lion at the SF Zoo destroyed a raw steak that a zookeeper tossed into his cage.  The steak put up a better fight than Detroit.  Daunte Culpepper started, and in a moral victory for the Lions, he was not maimed or concussed, though he did cry a little bit on the bench.  The Lions’ most spectacular play was a huge hit on Derrick Mason – which was followed by Mason shaking off his separated shoulder and running for a touchdown anyway.

Houston 34, Seattle 7

Now that it no longer matters, the Texans are taking care of business against the dregs of the NFC West.  It’s amazing that Jim Mora Junior was selected at Seattle’s new coach a full year in advance, and not even one year in, it seems like a dead certainty that he will be fired.  His performance is actually worse than the one delivered by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie “Junior,” where he played a pregnant man, which is a scenario more plausible than Seattle returning to the playoffs under JMJ.  When asked about his son’s future, former coach Jim Mora, Senior said, “Layoffs?  Layoffs???  Yeah, that sounds about right.”

Tennessee 47, St. Louis 7

Chris Johnson still had to carry the ball 28 times in this blowout victory, lending credence to the theory that Jeff Fisher may want to destroy Johnson’s legs even more than he wants to make the playoffs.  Kerry Collins got to come in and throw 20 passes after Vince Young left, while St. Louis started a guy named “Null.”  There might not be anything that encapsulates the 2009 Rams season more than the fact that they’ll be willfully trusting their future to a man named “Null.”

Washington 34, St. Louis 13

The Raiders were showing signs of life under Bruce Gradkowski.  Then, with two minutes left in the second half, Oakland:

– committed three penalties worth 35 on two plays
– allowed a 60-yard touchdown drive in 52 seconds
– followed that kickoff with another ten-yard penalty
– got Gradkowski hurt
– attempted a 66-yard field goal as time expired, which was returned 66 yards by the Redskins.

The rest of the game was JaMarcus Russell time, which meant 17-3 Washington, and a lot of public drunkenness arrests on BART.

San Diego 20, Dallas 17

Dallas put together a 76-yard drive, gaining yardage exclusively through runs, and got stopped at the 1 after running Marion Barber four consecutive times.  Someone should tell Wade Phillips that the definition of insanity – and a legal justification for firing – is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  After throwing 55 passes last week, Phillips this time went too much toward the ground game.  Like a balding man with a small penis and a $100,000 Ferrari, Wade Phillips was overcompensating.

Philadelphia 45, New York Giants 38

Early in the third quarter, Andy Reid challenged an out of bounds play unsuccessfully, but was more saddened to learn he’d lost the shiny red flag rather than his timeout, which wouldn’t have been used correctly anyway.  The real star of the game was Desean Jackson, who is the most dynamic player in the league, but a horrible, horrible touchdown celebrant.  It’s sad because he clearly lives for it – slowing down as he approaches the end zone, launching into choreographed dances, spiking the ball early – but the celebrations are never good.  Dating back to a high-school all-star game where he fumbled while trying to front-flip into the end zone, Jackson has never celebrated well.  He needs to train with Chad Ochocinco in the off-season, or simply realize his limitations and start flipping the ball to the ref instead.

San Francisco 24, Arizona 9

Arizona fumbled seven times, lost five of them, and also threw two INTs.  Apparently, some NFL teams can’t deal with the variety of free personal lubricants available in San Francisco.  I mean, it might not have been lube – could have been sensual body butter, passion fruit massage oil, stay-hard erection cream, whatever.  Non-SF residents may not realize just how slick these fine products can make your hands, and Monday night, the 49ers took advantage.  With the momentum they’ve gained from this huge divisional win, the 49ers are going to go to Philadelphia and only lose by 13.

On Fear and Heckling

By Robert Buscemi

The first thing most non-comedians say when they hear I’m a stand-up is “Oh. That must be so hard.” They’re almost wincing at me in sympathy. I usually respond “It was tough at first, but you get used to it if you’re a certain kind of person.” I never know what else to say.

If they press me, I’ll tell them that yes, it was scary as hell at first. Your worst shows happen early on, and I remember almost physically forcing myself to remain in … say … a sports bar by Wrigley Field in Chicago after I’d signed an open-mike list. I remember imagining that staying in that club that night was precisely as unpleasant and difficult as standing still when someone pours a tub of ice water on you. That’s how bad I wanted to hit the door and hit the street.

But you’re desperate, you’re craven, you’ve come that far, and somehow you coerce yourself into staying. I used to do it by steps: “Just leave the apartment to walk to the car. Just drive to the bar. Just park. Just ask that guy over there how you sign up. Just write down your name. Just stay put at least till the show begins. Just don’t leave until you hear your name.” Each action was a separate hurdle.

Because doing stand-up can be a lot like playing chicken. But when you’re new, you’re helmetless on a brand-new bike that’s too big for you, and the audience seems like a very fast semi-truck.

So yeah, it was scary for a while. It’s a perfect storm of inopportune things when you start. You don’t know your voice. Your material isn’t tested. You’re doing horrible shows. You don’t have friends yet. You don’t know what to do when things go south. You’re nervous and scared.

You’re like a teenager — as if everything else weren’t difficult enough at that age, God has to give you ACNE. It’s cruel.

The second most common thing non-comedians ask me about is how I handle hecklers. And … that question’s easier to deal with, I find.

Because basically I don’t really anticipate or even encounter hecklers. I certainly don’t plan responses to them.

Someone told me once that that certain comedians attract hecklers, and I believe that. We’ve all seen comics with chips on their shoulders, and to me it’s not entertaining to see a comedian say something, say, politically inflammatory (especially when they’re being loutish rather than funny) and then slam someone in the audience for muttering a little umbrage. The comedian invited it, so he or she shouldn’t act shocked when someone reacts.

My feelings on politics as a topic are this: I went to college and I vote, so unless you have something funny or original to say, I’ll listen to AM radio when I want to hear rants. You’re an entertainer. Entertain me. Otherwise, go write a letter to the editor. If you DO have something original or funny to say about a political or social topic (off the top of my head, Jimmy Dore, Duane Kennedy, and Nate Craig always manage to pull off genuinely fresh angles …), I’m all ears. But I find fresh political commentary from the stand-up stage the exception. Usually it’s just canned, knee-jerk stuff presented in an off-putting, self-aggrandizing way.

Back to heckling … I find that 95% of the time when someone in the audience speaks up, they’re just trying to play along anyway, are pretty inexperienced at watching comedy, and are tipsy or drunk. Or it’s just some poor guy who wants to do stand-up himself. Or it’s someone who thinks you’re interested in conversation. I try to throw ‘em a bone and help them enjoy the show in the right way and hope they’ll keep quiet.

Because the fact is, I can’t really do my act at all if people are heckling or talking over me. My material’s just too dense. I’m not saying it’s too GOOD, I’m just saying it’s densely enough written and has enough off-beats and nuance that genuine, sustained flack from the audience just tanks my set entirely and I have to drop all planned material in favor of staging a big argument or conversation I don’t really want to have, and I hate that and don’t relish it. I’ll even appeal to the person’s table-mates or neighbors to keep them quiet. But the last thing I want to do is to get angry or let myself stop enjoying the show.

But I almost never, almost NEVER, hear directly mean-spirited comments from any audience, anywhere. Nor do I hear them directed at other comics. I don’t want to jinx myself, but I’ve almost never head “You suck!” flat-out. I bombed out hard enough a few times early on, but I tend to wrap up and step down before anyone can get to the point of hurling insults. I get perplexed, audible “Whaaaats?” often enough, but that’s my doing for having weird material.

That’s it. Just thinking out loud.

Movie Review: Avatar

By Mark Potts

Avatar is not a film. Avatar is an existential crisis.

Na’vi, the alien race of the film, are tall, slender blue creatures. They gallop around the forest with ease, run up trees, fly on magical animals, and the female have breasts. Nice, round, perky breasts. I did not see one saggy breast in the fill. James Cameron, the director, said he modeled this alien tribe off African tribes.

I’ve watched Discovery Channel. I’ve seen shows about these tribes. There are saggy-breasts everywhere.

So I thought about this while watching the film. I kept checking out these alien breasts, looking for some that looked somewhat realistic. Even the old Na’vi in the film had a perky set.

But then it hit me: I’m actively searching for alien boobs.

But why? Am I wrong? Am I a pervert? Am I bi-species-curious?

Who am I?

So all the aliens have pretty hot breasts. The main female Na’vi, Neytiri, has a fantastic set. They are on the small side, but as my grandpa once said, “More than a handful is a waste.”

So for most of the film, I kept waiting to see nipple. The filmmakers really made this difficult and I resent them for this. Neytiri wear a feather necklace for most of the film that is always strategically in the way. How is this possible? How are the feathers always covering them? Even when flying through the air, the damn feathers stay put. I guess in alien worlds the laws of physics don’t apply.

But then I saw them, or so I think. It was a dark scene and Na’vi was saying something that I don’t remember because I was concentrating on her boobs. She was walking toward the camera and I swear, I saw her left nipple. Boom! Right there! I think it was. I looked around and no one else was excited.

Alone. I am an alien in this theater.

Is it wrong to just want to see some alien breasts in full view? It’s not my fault they are designed so perfectly well. That’s the blame of the perverts who made this film. Why did I get so excited about the possibility of catching a glimpse as some sweet, sweet alien milk cartons?

Then I remembered something back in second grade. I raced home and pulled out all my school notes for the last 18 years. I started throwing pages and pages of notes around the room until I found the math notes. And there it was: my drawing during math class.
2n grade math

I drew Neytiri when I was in second grade.

My goodness! Are we connected? Is she real? She looks real. How did I know about her so long ago? Can I look into the future? Was a second-grade psychic? Why was I so into blue alien boobs that long ago? Did an adult touch me inappropriately and I just don’t remember?

I wish, cause that would explain a lot. But alas, nothing can explain the predicament I was in while watching Avatar. There I was, feeling emotions in my pants that should be reserved for only humans, and no one else was there to understand.

So where do I go from here? I don’t know. I have a lot of soul searching to do.

By the way, the film was awesome. Seriously, check it out.

Mark Potts is a filmmaker, producer, and former Finalist in the Rooftop Comedy National College Funny Film Competition.

Movie Review: Did you Hear about the Morgans?

by Mark Potts

This column is an early review for a film yet to be released. The review is based on watching the trailer and filling in the details myself. While not all the details are accurate, I don’t care.

did_you_hear_about_the_morgans_ver2

Oh, Hugh Grant. Your smooth British accent and calm, fumbling demeanor allow you to say and do anything and it comes off as funny and charming. I am serious. When my parents die, I hope it’s Hugh Grant who tells me.

Hugh
Mr. Potts, uh, um … I’m afraid that your mummy and daddy,
Well … Oh, God, how do I say this? How to give this news?

Mark

I wish you and I were friends.

Hugh
Well, I am afraid that … uh, me giving you this information
might make that wish die in a horrible fire crash…much like
your parents.

Mark
Let’s get yogurt!

So, it’s with this in mind that I did in fact enjoy Did You Hear About the Morgans? But, it is definitely not without flaws.

The film follows Meryl and Paul Morgan (Sarah Jessica Parker and Hugh Grant) and their dreadful married life. On the verge of getting a divorce, they witness a murder, become targets, and are moved into the Witness Relocation Program to protect their lives.

If you think that’s hilarity and life lesson learning you’re smelling, then you’re correct! (If it’s the smell of rotting flesh, then you or someone in your vicinity is dead).

The source of the marital problems is familiar. Paul is gaining ground in the corporate world and having later nights in the office. Meryl is feeling like Paul doesn’t pay attention anymore and she is having issues with the fact that she is sometimes hot, but sometimes not. Parker plays this role well.

Upon getting news that Paul has been promoted and they will have to move to Hong Kong, Meryl loses it and wants out. Paul doesn’t understand why she is so upset, which sets Meryl off. Meryl’s mother was brutally murdered the year before and Hong Kong reminds her of that (the man who killed her mother was from Maine, where he worked for a company that shipped computer parts from India, which is a country in the same vicinity as China, which is home to Hong Kong).

Needless to say, Paul did not remember this story. But this does present the film’s biggest plot hole, which is NO ONE CAN DENY HUGH GRANT.

But they see a guy get killed and are forced to move to Wyoming. Yes, Wyoming. How crazy is that? That place is like the exact opposite to Manhattan. If Manhattan were an apple, then Wyoming is a pear (those fruits are in fact opposite according to studies performed by me).

In Wyoming, they encounter some zany locals who like to hunt (weird!) talk slowly (crazy!) don’t use cell phones (impossible!) and like the slow life.

Now this is where the film begins to drop off. I understand that the Morgans are living in unknown surroundings, but some of their actions are outright moronic. For example, they see that the couple they are living with have deer heads mounted on their walls. The Morgans decide to murder a local mailman and put his head on the wall. Needless to say, the couple does not like it.

Then there’s a scene where they learn to shoot guns. Meryl turns out to be quite the marksman, which upsets Paul. One day, Paul challenges Meryl to a shooting contest. At first, they shoot cans, but then they decide to shoot at the other local mailman. Paul shoots the mailman in the chest, and Meryl laughs. “You know, what I’ve learned in Wyoming is that you gotta finish them off!” Then she shoots the mailman in the back of the head. I just don’t understand what the screenwriters were thinking here. And where were the police to lock them up? That’s a glaring continuity error.

Needless to say, the town (and audience) is not happy. The Morgans have left the town void of mailmen. Mail begins to pile up at the local post office. People can’t get mail out and due to the town not having Internet connection, it is completely cut off from the outside world. Sides are drawn and a civil war is about to start. Mary Steenburgen, who plays Emma Wheeler, one of the people who let the Morgans live with them, disembowels herself in the city square in an effort to stop the ensuing battle. The Morgans see this, fall in love, and decide to make things right.

While I did not enjoy seeing a fifteen-minute disembowel scene, what comes afterward makes up for it and leaves the audience smiling. The Morgans decide to take over as the town mailmen, deliver all the mail, and restore order. Once done, they vow to stay together forever, in Wyoming, and deliver mail.

Overall, I thought the film did well telling the story of a couple falling out of love, then discovering what was most important: the mail system. However, I felt that it was a little heavy handed in pushing the pro-mail system agenda and some in the audience were not happy about this. Still, I recommend seeing it.

Mark Potts is a filmmaker, producer, and former Finalist in the Rooftop Comedy National College Funny Film Competition.

NFLOL: Week 13 of NFL Football

By Comedian Sean Keane

Ochocino Sombrero

Week Thirteen was unlucky for the AFC North, Washington’s place-kicker, and E.J. Henderson’s femur.  The 49ers apparently broke a mirror in 2002 that gave them seven year’s bad luck, one of Tony Romo’s ancestors apparently opened a mummy’s tomb in December, and Peyton Manning threw a black cat in front of Tennessee’s team bus, stopping their win streak.  Lucky for you, NFLOL is here to take you through all the games.

New York Jets 19, Buffalo Bills 13

The Jets and Bills disappointed a Thursday night television audience and the entire nation of Canada with this tepid AFC East matchup in Toronto.  The Jets once again ran at will on the Bills defence, logging 249 yards on the ground, which is just under 228 metres, and Mark Sanchez got injured before he could blow the game by throwing multiple picks.  Luckily, Canada has universal health care, so Sanchez will get the help he needs. The Jets did very little with Kellen Clemens under centre, as he was 1-for-2 on pass attempts, took two sacks, and fumbled.  It’s possible that he made a deal with the British to throw the game, and also surrender West Point.

The Bills may as well have played by Canadian Football League rules and punted on third down, as they converted only one of their 11 third-down attempts. Ryan Fitzpatrick threw the ball like his hands were covered in maple syrup  The only consolation for Buffalo fans who made the journey to watch this disappointing squad was the ready access to legal weed, so they can quickly forget this game ever happened.

Philadelphia 34, Atlanta 7

For the second consecutive week, Chris Redman threw a touchdown pass as the game clock expired.  Unfortunately, this one just cut Philadelphia’s lead to 34-7, and narrowly avoided a shameful shutout at home.  This game had so much garbage time that Michael Vick came in to play quarterback in the fourth quarter, and then got pulled for third-string quarterback Kevin Kolb, who was only allowed to hand off during his stint in compost time.

The Eagles tried to spare Vick booing by listing him as  Ron Mexico on the active roster, but the fears were unfounded.  Cheers outnumbered the boos when Vick came out on the field, and the stands were full of #7 Vick jerseys.  That in itself can’t be taken as a huge endorsement of Vick, since what other Atlanta jersey would you buy? The highly-speculative Matt Ryan?  The future-ironic-thrift-store Tony Gonzalez?  Or even, would you have bought in previous years?  Eventually the Jamal Anderson jersey wears thin, and as we all know, Andre Rison jerseys are highly flammable.

Chicago 17, St. Louis 9

Jay Cutler looked like a much better quarterback on Sunday. Not because he threw particularly better, but because he was facing Kyle Boller, who threw an interception and fumbled. In addition, punter Brad Maynard threw a pass for zero yardage on a failed fake field goal play, a call that made no sense strategically, but may have helped Cutler’s confidence to know there were TWO quarterbacks worse than him on one field.  DE Alex Brown summarized this game best when someone asked what the difference in the Bears was, compared to previous losing weeks, and he said, “The Rams.”

Cincinnati 23, Detroit 13

Chad Ochocino is not actually Mexican, but after a sliding touchdown catch, Chad threw a bitchin’ Meixcan party on the sidelines by donning a poncho and sombrero on the sidelines.  After paying tribute to his adopted surname’s heritage, the next step is to don a long African robe and a headscarf to honor the nation of Chad.

Cincinnati might be the best team in the league when it comes to killing the clock with a lead.  It’s like facing the Yankees in the playoffs, when the game is effectively over when New York has a lead after seven innings.  Which would make Cedric Benson the Mariano Rivera of the Bengals, if Mariano Rivera had a bunch of DUIs.  Which would actually make Cedric Benson the Joba Chamberlain of the Bengals.

Indianapolis 27, Tennessee 17

The Indianapolis Colts are the Dirk Diggler of the NFL: they can score fast, and they can score really slow.  They drove for a field goal in 20 seconds at the end of the first half, and put together a seven-and-a-half minute field goal drive in the fourth quarter.  Clearly, Peyton Manning’s got the touch, and I’m pretty sure Jim Caldwell lets him direct his own scenes.

Tennessee saw their five-game winning streak stopped, but the across-the-board failure of all other AFC contenders means that they’ve still got a shot at the #6 seed.  They’ve got a mutual elimination game against Miami in Week 15, but all four remaining games are eminently winnable, provided Chris Johnson’s legs don’t fall off from overuse.  Sadly, punter Brett Kern’s undefeated season ended, after starting the year 6-0 with Denver and 5-0 with the Titans.  Larry Seiple, the punter from the 1973 Dolphins, opened a bottle of champagne after the game.

Denver 44, Kansas City 13

Kansas City failed in every single aspect of the game on Sunday: offense, defense, special teams, coaching, postgame spread, calisthenics, cheerleading, and one end zone was painted with the word ” Chefs.” The Chiefs also called the worst fake punt of the season on their opening drive, subbing in their backup quarterback at punter and fooling no one, leading to a turnover at their own 28.  That’s a more obvious fake than 90% of the breasts on  Rock of Love.

Jacksonville 23, Houston 18

The Tin Woodman.  The guy from  Temple of Doom  who gets sacrificed to Kali Ma.  The Houston Texans.  All have no heart.  The Texans lost their fourth straight game, thanks in part to an interception thrown by running back Chris Brown.  Brown also fumbled at the goal line in the previous game against Jacksonville, and cost Houston a chance to tie Arizona when he couldn’t score in repeated attempts from the one-yard line.  Brown is the third-string running back for Houston, and by far the worst player who’s still able to torpedo his team’s season.  Arguably, this Chris Brown is having an even worse year than the R&B singer – at least that guy had the funny wedding dance video.

Miami 22, New England 21

Miami didn’t run a single play out of the Wildcat, and Randy Moss didn’t run at all after the first quarter as the Dolphins came back to stun the Patriots, who haven’t won a road game in America this season. Wes Welker continued to re-define the position of Caucasian wide receiver by catching ten passes for 167 yards, a far cry from the days where legends like Ed McCaffrey and Wayne Chrebet plodded over the gridiron.  In hindsight, it seems ridiculous that Chrebet was known as “Green Lantern,” when Wes Welker is so much more impressive AND has a name that already sounds like a superhero’s civilian identity.  Somewhere, Tim Dwight is still watching highlights of Welker’s performance and slow-clapping from his couch.

Oakland 27, Pittsburgh 24

A ho-hum game exploded in the fourth quarter, as the Raiders and Steelers traded touchdowns and combined for 35 points.  With former first-round pick JaMarcus Russell benched, former first-round pick Darren McFadden ineffective, and former first-round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey injured, the Raiders built their comeback on the Bruce-Gradkowski-to-Louis-Murphy connection.  As long as they’re not playing the guys that Al Davis is infatuated with, the Raiders might well be a playoff team. Perhaps that’s the genius behind the Richard Seymour deal – get rid of first-round picks before Al has a chance to waste them.

The Steelers’ playoff hopes took a blow as they lost their fourth straight game, although losing to Oakland at home should automatically render a team ineligible for postseason play.  Pittsburgh clearly missed Troy Polamalu, especially when his replacement committed a personal foul on Oakland’s game-winning drive, then gave up the winning touchdown pass two plays later.  After the game, Hines Ward said that Polamalu’s posterior cruciate ligament had let the team down, and also called out Polamalu’s “pussy-ass patella.”

New Orleans 33, Washington 30

A snowstorm earlier in the week turned the field into a muddy mess, slowing down the Saints offense and leading to some hilarious pratfalls.  Future Saints opponents would be wise to leave the tarp off the field with a game coming up, like the Giants watering down the basepaths to slow Maury Wills in the ’60s, or hiding the meth when you’re about to face the Black Eyed Peas in a Battle of the Bands. It was a ridiculous carnival of a game left New Orelans still undefeated, somehow.  They won thanks to:

– a 29-yard punt that bounced off a Redskin’s back
– a forced fumble on an interception return that became a touchdown the other way
– a missed 23-yard field goal that would have clinched the game
– a questionable fumble in overtime awarded to the Saints only after replay review
– many voodoo incantations and animal sacrifices

Of course, we had to catch up on highlights in the Bay Area, as the start of Seahawks-49ers was deemed much more crucial for local audience.  The battle for second place in the NFC West is way better than a dynamic offensive shootout and the possible upset of an 11-0 team.  Who dat making the NFL local broadcast rules? Who dat?!?

Carolina 16, Tampa Bay 6

Jake Delhomme was out with an injury, a broken finger likely inflicted by one of his angry teammates, possibly while Delhomme was held down in his bed and the rest of the Panthers ran by, hitting him with large socks packed with bars of soap.  The spirit of Delhomme lived on in Tampa QB Josh Freeman, who threw five interceptions, most of them in the red zone.

Delhomme may go to the bench, or the trainer’s room, or even be forced into retirement, but the spirit of Delhomme will always remain, like the ghost of Tom Joad.  Wherever there’s a wide-open receiver waiting to be overthrown, he’ll be there.  Wherever there’s an offensive line beating up a defense, and only a horrible turnover can stop the offense, that’s where he’ll be.  He’ll be there in the noises gamblers make when a two-team teaser is ruined by bad decisions, and the yells of fans as their playoff hopes go down the toilet, and when a wide receiver punches a teammate on the sidelines – he’ll be there, too.

San Diego 30, Cleveland 23

This game was not nearly as close as the final score, as Brady Quinn and the Browns scored ten of their points in the final two minutes to make things look better.  I’d call it a face-saving effort, but that ship sailed months ago for the 2009 Cleveland Browns.  Antonio Gates had a huge game for San Diego, LaDainian Tomlinson passed Jim Brown on the all-time rushing list, and the delightfully-named Legedu Naanee completed a pass.  The Naanee are, of course, the aliens from the upcoming 3-D sci-fi epic “Avatar,” any of whom could pass at will on the horrible Cleveland defense.  One silver lining for Cleveland fans: the stadium was only half-full and the game was blacked out locally, so only about 30,000 people were subjected to this particular defeat.

New York Giants 31, Dallas 24

Dallas was killed by big plays in this one, getting burned for a 79-yard punt return and a short pass that turned into a 74-yard touchdown.  Tony Romo’s December record dropped to 5-9, which is a bad indicator, as Dallas could easily lose every one of their remaining games.  This may set up a rock-paper-scissors situation in the NFC East, where Dallas owns Philly, Philly owns the Giants, and the Giants own Dallas, and there’s a three-way tie. Of course, in an actual game of rock-paper-scissors, Wade Phillips would look pained and throw rock every time, Tom Coughlin would berate the other coaches for not choosing in a timely fashion, and Andy Reid would attempt to call timeout, then throw dynamite.

Seattle 20, San Francisco 17

With 51 seconds left, the 49ers got the ball back on their own 11 and the game tied at 17.  Time to run out the clock and head to overtime, right?  Not if you’re Coach Mike Singletary.  The 49ers threw incomplete on three straight plays, giving the ball back to Seattle at midfield, with two timeouts and 20 seconds left.  Maybe they should change those Singletary billboards to show him demanding, “I want timekeepers!”  Or, he could start wearing a stopwatch around his neck instead of a twelve-pound wooden cross.

The 49ers got burned by an uncalled pass interference on fourth-and-goal in the first half, when Leroy Hill tackled Delanie Walker in the end zone, though Walker nearly caught the ball anyway.  If the Baltimore-Green Bay refs had been working this game, Hill would have been thrown out of the game, if not publicly flogged.

Arizona 30, Minnesota 17

If Arizona can protect Kurt Warner’s brain pan, they might be the most dangerous team in the NFC come playoff time.  He threw on Minnesota’s defense at will, as both Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin racked up huge yardage and points.  Meanwhile, Minnesota has to wonder about Brett Favre playing in December, as he threw two ugly interceptions.  If the Vikings end up with an outdoor playoff game, watch out.  The world may need to watch out if the Vikings play the Cowboys, as the meeting of Tony Romo and Brett Favre’s late-season meltdown capabilities might create a black hole.  It’s more dangerous than the Large Hadron Collider, people!

Green Bay 27, Baltimore 14

The best offensive strategy on Monday night was to throw the ball deep and wait for a pass interference flag.  Baltimore had five infractions; Green Bay only four, and the Packers pulled it out.  Aaron Rodgers was only sacked once by the Baltimore defense, a proposition that would have sounded preposterous a month ago.  At this point, Ray Lewis needs to replace his pre-game dance to better reflect the toughness of the Ravens defense.  Can he do the Carlton?

Rooftop’s Fatluck Covered in the Toronto Star

Our meaty love handles have made their way to Canada. Read about why we’re fat in the Toronto Star, Canada’s biggest (and fattest) newspaper.