I’ve been doing stand-up comedy once a month for the past 5 months. It’s something I always wanted to try, and now I’m doing it! I don’t want to do it for any reason other than as a creative outlet. Now that I’ve done it a few times, the challenge isn’t getting up there in front of a crowd and forgetting my routine. The challenge is finding enough material to keep it fresh and new every time I go up there! I get only five minutes, so I don’t need a lot of material. Still, it takes discipline and a deadline to keep me writing and revising my routine. That might explain why I don’t update this blog on a regular basis – no deadline!
A friend asked me recently which comics influenced me or were my favorites. I told him I grew up listening to Bill Cosby and George Carlin when I was a kid. I also listened to Steve Martin, and Richard Pryor as a teen. I watched every episode of the early days of Saturday Night Live and as many episodes of Monty Python’s Flying Circus as I could find. Later, my taste for comedy added Mitch Hedberg, Stephen Wright, Jim Gaffigan, and lately, Louis C.K. My taste in TV shows gravitates to the weird/abnormal comedies, like Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Archer, Frisky Dingo, and Robot Chicken. Apparently, I like cartoon humor. When I was a kid, I sat in front of the TV every Saturday morning watching Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Road Runner, Tom & Jerry, Hong Kong Phooey, and Fat Albert.
The first thing I do every morning, after I grab a cup of coffee, is to go online looking for something that makes me laugh. I share most of it on Facebook, but not everyone likes it. I think there are things that are funny in general, and things that are funny to small groups who have something in common, and things that are funny to just me. My only rule before posting something is that it has to make me really laugh!
Which brings me to my central question – What is your sense of humor? Do you have a sense of humor? Of course you do! Everyone has a sense of what is funny to them. Knowing that not everything will be funny to everyone makes it easier to try being funny. When I didn’t have enough material to have a fresh five minutes, I repeated a portion of my previous routine. The first time I did it, I got some hearty laughter. The second time was just mild chuckling. The only difference was the audience. As long as the humor can’t be mistaken for bullying (mean spirited comedy), then someone somewhere will find it funny. You might be a horrible joke teller, but you can tell a true story that will make people laugh. I’m sure something funny has happened to you recently!
Laughter really is the best medicine. Research has shown that regular laughter can help improve your immune system and help you live longer. I never get sick. Next time you have a sick day, break out the funny! Better yet, look for the funny in your everyday life and don’t get sick in the first place. Humor is everywhere – you just have to know how to see it when it’s happening. If all else fails, you can laugh about it later.
So many things happened on our honeymoon. People have asked me, “how was your trip?” As I explain things to them, I realize how little I remember what happened! I remember everything we did, I’m having trouble remembering which place it happened. I’m really glad I wrote a daily entry on this blog so I can remember what the hell happened on my honeymoon!
Here are the odds & ends of the trip:
1. On the ship, the elevators weren’t connected to each other. Usually, you push one button and it would control every elevator on the floor. On the ship, there was one button for the first elevator, another button for the next two elevators, another button for the next two elevators, and one more button for the last elevator. Every single time I wanted to get on an elevator, I started with the first button and pressed all four buttons to maximize my chance to get an elevator. On the flip side, as I rode the elevators, we would stop at a floor and no one would get on! I’m guessing that there was another asshole who did what I did and found a different elevator first.
2. Karaoke contests are frustrating! On the ship, we had three nights of competitions with a final night where the top two finishers of each night competed in the finals. I sang every night! The audience would vote for their favorite and the top two finishers went on to the finals. I believe, and I’ve been told, that I’m a pretty good singer. I have years of experience singing karaoke. I sang songs that the audience would like to hear and not songs I like to sing. Every single night, I sang and every single night, I was not selected in the top two! The only thing that kept me sane was the people who came up to me the next day and said, “Hi, Jim! I loved your song last night”" or, “I really enjoyed your singing.” So why the fuck didn’t you vote for me, you assholes??? Given my years of karaoke experience, I have seen a huge variety of singers. I believed every night that I sang better than all the singers who went to the finals. I’m conceited that way.
3. Meeting people is fun. During the first night on the ship, this friendly young woman asked Alana and me if we wanted to be on their team for a music trivia competition. She and her sister were on the cruise with their parents. The older sister was one of the karaoke singers who beat me on the first night. Her younger sister also sings, but didn’t enter the competition. They were both adorable and we struck up an on-board friendship that made me want to adopt them! I even told their parents that I wanted to adopt them! I have three wonderful sons, but if I could have had a couple of daughters, these two would be exactly the type of daughters I would want! Also, at every stop on the trip, I was able to go onshore and find an extremely interesting person or couple to talk to at a bar.
4. Food is just not that important. The main source of food was the buffet. When you entered the buffet, they gave you enormous plates! If you put a normal amount of food on this plate, it looked like you barely had anything on the plate! So I ended up filling the plate! I would taste something and if it wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever tasted, I pushed it aside. I estimate that I ate about 25% of the food I put on my plate. One time, I found a small round dessert plate and put my food on that. It was loaded with food that I liked and it was just the right amount. Another thing that happened is, I wasn’t worried about getting hungry because food was always available! This made me take even less food because I knew that if I got hungry later, I could always go back for more. I ended up eating less during the trip than I would have eaten at home!
5. I had a distinct feeling of “disconnectedness” during the trip. The TV channels on the ship were very limited. The cost of an internet connection was $100 for 200 minutes. You don’t browse casually at 50 cents a minute! So, I spent the entire trip with very limited access to Cincinnati news, which includes how the Reds and Bengals were doing. The ship forces you to be a part of the ship’s culture and they don’t want you to or care if you know what’s going on at home.
6. Too much togetherness is not necessarily a good thing. When Alana and I are at home, I spend a lot of time in my man cave and she spends a lot of time upstairs doing her thing. When we were forced to be together in the same room at the same time, we were ready to kill each other by the end of the trip! We laugh about it now, but there was a lot of frustration by the end of the trip. The key to our relationship is a strong desire to be together balanced with a strong desire to be alone periodically. If we can’t get the alone time, we don’t want the together time! The fact that we both know this and want this is a very, very good thing!
I’ve enjoyed writing about our honeymoon and I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it. I’ll have some pictures posted on Facebook soon. You can follow me at facebook.com/jim.whittenburg We just posted our wedding photos, so the honeymoon photos might take a while! Thank you for joining us on our excursion.
Alana had to go to Hollywood for a business trip. She left on Monday morning, which is harder than it sounds! She likes to sleep a little later than 5:30 AM on most days, so getting up that early was a challenge for her. I promised her I’d help her get out the door on-time, so I jumped out of bed at 5:30 ready to help her with her luggage. She told me to go back to bed, but I just kept saying, “but I promised to help you!” She explained that she still had to wash her face and do her hair and that I just needed to go back to bed. So I did that and fell asleep until she was ready to walk out the door at 6:50. I again jumped out of bed to help her with her luggage only to be told that she already took it to her car! So my help consisted of waking up twice when I wasn’t needed and walking her to the door when she had to go.
Here’s our daily routine in a nutshell – I come home at around 5:30 every day, we spend 15 minutes or so reconnecting, we have dinner, and then she sends me to my man cave by saying “Go to your hole!” We then spend the rest of the evening mostly by ourselves, but with frequent visits on commercial breaks. Sometimes, she joins me in the man cave for a TV show of her choosing. We have a great system that encourages freedom with periodic togetherness.
Now that she’s gone from Monday through Thursday, I get to do whatever the hell I want! If I want to leave a light on in a room I’m not in, I’m going to leave the damn light on! If I want to pee with the door open, I’m going to pee with the damn door open! I might even leave the damn seat up! I’m a rebel! On a recent phone call, she asked me if I turned on the air conditioner. I said, “It’s March! I opened the damn windows!” What the hell is wrong with that woman?
So Monday night arrives and I have the house to myself. What did I do? I mowed the lawn! That took less than an hour, I then had dinner, surfed the web, and watched TV in the Cave. Even though I could have watched TV wherever I damn well pleased, I was still in the Cave! Going upstairs periodically made me remember she wasn’t there.
Tuesday, I spent the evening going to trivia at the Village Tavern in Montgomery. You would think that I am doing that because she is gone and I “get to go out.” When she’s home, she will wish I would stay home but she never complains when I go out. Most of the time, I would rather stay home with her rather than drag her out somewhere she won’t enjoy as much as I will. The one place I know she’ll usually go is Go Bananas Comedy Club which is where we had our first date and it’s always a good time. I came home Tuesday night and I wasn’t able to tell her about my trivia expertise!
Wednesday night is always my run with Team in Training. She is usually out on Wednesdays going to her tennis lessons, so we aren’t together until 9:00 or so. This particular Wednesday, I was home early because no one I was running with wanted to go out for a beer! I came home, had some dinner, went to my Cave and watched TV.
She comes home on Thursday and she’ll be there when I get home. When I get home, I’m going to tell her, “Bitch, you better step off – I’m going to do what I want! And then I’ll make her dinner. We’ll reconnect for maybe 20 minutes this time, and she’ll say, “Go to your hole!” But this time, I’ll know that she’ll be there when I come upstairs. It’s pathetic, I know, but I’m still gonna do what I damn well please! I just damn well please want to hang with my baby!
I used to watch all kinds of TV. I remember watching TV in the days before remote controls and before the DVR! With a good antenna, you could get all three networks plus a couple of the UHF stations (PBS and the like). Then we got cable installed in our town and I was in TV heaven! The picture was clear and you had so many choices! I watched TV when I came home from school. I watched TV every Saturday morning until at least noon. There were shows you just didn’t want to miss, so you made damn sure you were home when that show was on! As I got older, I found some shows that have become my lifetime favorites. Shows like Monty Python’s Flying Circus, SCTV, and even the early years of Saturday Night Live were on late at night and were not to be missed! I would even splash water on my face to help me stay awake sometimes! I grew up with the wonders of TV.
When I could afford one, I bought a VHS recorder. With this, I learned the pleasures of skipping past commercials, but it was very frustrating! It was frustrating because I never knew which shows were on which tapes! I’d spend more time finding a show than I saved in skipping the commercials! Then, I got a second recorder and I invented the dual recording feature all those with DVRs have come to know and love. I would record on one machine and watch something I recorded on the other machine. I was a TV watching genius! Then, the VHS machine got hungry and started eating my tapes! That’s when I discovered TiVo.
What a wonderful invention TiVo was! I now had no trouble finding the shows I recorded because they kept a handy list for me! I could record a season pass and record every episode of every show I loved. I was in TV heaven! That was good until TiVo started to get personal. TiVo wanted to suggest other shows I might like based on shows I recorded. At one point, I wondered if TiVo thought I was gay! No, I do not want to watch Tom Cruise movies all the time! No TiVo! That’s a bad TiVo! Then TiVo started to warn me that if I didn’t watch my older shows it was going to erase them. So now I was forced to be a couch potato and watch a marathon of all the shows that were going to expire soon. TiVo was hungry and needed more shows! It was a blessing and a curse but I got to watch a lot of TV.
Then, along came the HD DVR from the cable company. At first, it had as much space as TiVo. Now, I have a machine that has enough space to record full seasons of every show I like and keep it there until I want to watch them. I thought the space was almost limitless, but I have it filled up at 80% of capacity. I scroll to the bottom of the list to see the oldest shows I’ve recorded and I think I should probably watch that show. But last night’s new shows look so enticing! So I watch those instead while my older shows sit neglected. Thank god DVR doesn’t suggest shows because I record Glee, Smash, American Idol, and Once Upon a Time. If DVR suggested shows, I’m sure I’d be forced to watch Dancing with The Stars! After a while, if I haven’t watched a series I’ve recorded, I just end up deleting it and canceling the series. I’m like a one man Nielsen Machine!
These days, I have too many distractions to watch TV. Now, I have the internet calling my name! Facebook needs me! Words with Nerds needs me! There are too many funny sites to explore! There is so much news to read! I now watch TV with a laptop literally on my lap sometimes! I see an actor and I can’t remember what other show they were on so I go to IMDB.com and look it up! I need to know something and I can’t remember so I Google it. I used to watch TV to relax and now I make it an immersive experience. Except now, I find myself not even turning on the TV for hours. The internet has sucked me in so deeply it won’t let go! There are even times I’ll sit on the couch and read! And my TV sits there like a spurned girlfriend waiting for me to notice her again. ”Remember me? We used to be best friends! Now I feel like you don’t even notice me. I used to be fat and heavy but now I’m sleek and thin but you don’t care! You don’t love me! You never loved me!” I feel guilty. I feel like I’m cheating on TV with the internet.
TVs problem is that it’s too needy. ”You don’t like what I have to offer? How about this show, or this one, or how about I add 100 channels of everything you can ever want to watch? Will that bring you back?” You’re just trying too hard, TV. It’s not you, it’s me. I’ve changed and I need to move on. But don’t worry, I’ll still look at you and remember the good old days. I will always love you. Just make sure you don’t record Desperate Housewives just because I recorded House. Thank you, TV. I <3 you!
Larry King used to write a column for USA Today where he would share random thoughts. Now it’s on Twitter, but I’ve never seen it. I never watched his show when it was on, but I liked how he could just sit down and write such randomness for the newspaper. I too have many thoughts that pop into my head, with many of those thoughts turned into a Facebook status update. Today, I’d like to share with you my random thoughts Larry King style:
1. I have entirely too many plastic cards in my wallet. I have everything from credit cards to library cards to shopper loyalty cards. The only two I need are the Kroger Plus card and the 5/3 debit card. I’m one sub away from a free one at Jersey Mike’s, so I’ll keep that one too.
2. There’s not much worse than using a bathroom away from home, only to find out it’s broken and won’t flush! That’s a walk of shame if there ever was one.
3. Is there a better band than Radiohead? No band has put out such consistently good music that the masses don’t really understand, and where the band itself doesn’t really care if they do.
4. The internet consists of countless websites but I still go to only a handful of them every day. I always use Facebook, Yahoo e-mail, and dailywhat.com for comedy. If there’s anything else I want, I Google it.
5. Suspenders on suits make a man look like a man. Suspenders on jeans make a man look like a farmer.
6. I wonder if there’s a doctor willing to put me in a coma for 12 hours so I can get a decent night’s sleep.
8. Knowing that today is the first day of the rest of my life, while knowing that tomorrow is also the first day of the rest of my life does nothing to help me with my procrastination problem.
9. You know how it feels when you’re watching a TV show or movie and you see an actor you can’t quite name and you sit there trying to figure out what other TV show or movie you’ve seen them in? I feel that way when I can’t remember the name of the person in front of me.
10. Being funny is easy. Writing funny is hard!
Everyone says you don’t really get to know someone until after you live with them. You can take that two ways. One, the person you’re dating will reveal her true self after living with her for a while. Two, she’s going to find out about my true self too! That’s kind of scary! Only I know my true self and I’m my worst critic, so how can I let her see that guy? You are always on your best behavior during the dating stage. The gentleman opens the door for the lady, you call if you’re going to be late, you’re always in a good mood, and the most important rule is, NO belching or farting!
Alana and I spent a few dates in that “polite” stage, then we spent some time telling each other our deepest, darkest secrets. I think she was telling me what she thought would scare me away. This just caused me to tell her things I thought would scare her away. I found out rather quickly that she accepted me flaws and all, and I accepted her without judging her. We had this mutual, unspoken, agreement that we were getting and giving a new start to each other. It was like getting a do-over! The funny thing is, this acceptance of each other created a bond very quickly. We entered the “impolite” stage soon thereafter. That’s when I found out that you keep a woman who won’t fart in front of you, yet who laughs at my farts! Her laughter is what has saved her from the dreaded Dutch Oven.
As soon as I moved in, she did everything she could to make me feel at home. She helped set up the Man Cave in the finished basement. Then I found out that she sends me to The Cave so she can watch TV alone! This really is a good thing. I’d rather watch the shows I like and not be forced to watch The Bachelor in order to compromise with her! Every so often, I’ll go upstairs just to say hi. She is genuinely happy to see me every time. Forced togetherness causes resentments. Being able to be home with her while doing what I like to do without her makes me want to be with her more! This reminds me of one of my favorite sayings – “how can I miss you if you won’t go away?” Our “alone” time makes our together time all the better.
There are many things I’ve learned about her since moving in. Whenever I do something that makes her laugh, she makes me do it again. She’s like a little kid saying “do it again, do it again!” So I do it again and she laughs harder than she did the first time. There are things I have repeated for months now just because it makes her laugh! Because she is so competitive about everything, I’ve also learned to let her win most of the time! She has found out that I sometimes need to vent about something that frustrated me. She listens and understands my venting has nothing to do with her – I just need someone to care that I’m frustrated. She makes these faces and says “you’re scaring me, Baby.” I know she’s joking and that helps defuse the situation. She realizes that once the venting is done, I’m happy again.
Life with me can’t be a bed of roses, but it’s been pretty spectacular so far! We have so much respect for each other that when disagreements or misunderstandings occur, we work them out very quickly. She figured out the trick to staying happy with me is to not take me too seriously. I figured out the trick to staying happy with her is to just let Alana be Alana. We fell in love with each other after we allowed each other to just be ourselves. Neither of us wants to change anything about the other. I guess that means no matter what else we learn about each other over the rest of our lives, that’s going to be okay too!