Friday, May 29, 2009

Conservatives Ruin Something In New, Profoundly Upsetting Way

If you're anything like me, you've been waiting for two white guys to rap about how awesome conservative ideology is.

Oh, you're not like me? You say no one is? You say no one has ever been or will ever be waiting for conservative rap?

You're probably right.

Presented below without comment--because, really, these guys say more than enough themselves--is The Young Cons, "rapping" their song "Young Con Anthem." Everyone (so far) seems to think that this is real, so who am I to say that anything this grotesque when taken at face-value must be a brilliant parody.

If it's real, it's embarrassing to every group even tangentially associated with it--conservatives, religious folk, rappers, white people, men, people who own or use video cameras, anybody who has ever spoken into a microphone for any reason, etc. If it's fake, it is absolute genius. [via TPM]

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Lawmaker Really Knocked This One Out Of The Park

John Culberson (R-TX) recently addressed Texan high school kids, but was stumped by a question about gay rights. He proceeded to make a fool of himself when asked how he can reconcile his "libertarian" and "states-rights" views while simultaneously advocating for a federal ban on same-sex marriage. Here's a snippet [click through to see the incoherent video]:

However, when a student asked Culberson about state control over gay marriage, Culberson rapidly descended into incoherence. He began by declaring, “It’s up to the states.” But by the end of his rambling answer, he tried to explain why the federal government “cannot permit” a state like Vermont to make its own rules. All this while repeating that people’s “privacy is fundamental”:

CULBERSON: Well under the 10th amendment, the states have a first responsibility for providing for public safety, public health, public morality. All issues that just affect the people within that state. It’s up to the states. And you either follow the constitution or you don’t. [...]

Federal law cannot permit — if one state, Vermont, wants to do that, you can’t let that cross state lines. You’ve got to let — frankly, a lot of these issues have got to be left up to the states. But the federal government cannot permit for example — The federal government has a legitimate role in interstate commerce. And that’s where the federal government comes in. I think the federal government can’t recognize — shouldn’t recognize it, it’s just a bad idea. And uh — But fundamentally, the right of privacy’s fundamental. I’m not interested — what people do at home’s their own business.

In Which I Predict the Sad Future

Here's a headline I posted on this blog a few days ago:

US Investment Bankers Sent To China In Covert Plan To Destroy China

And here's a headline from today's New York Post:



Wednesday, May 27, 2009

No Webby For Sad Repub

The video below is truly one of the saddest clips you'll ever see. In it, Rep. Tom Price, the head of the Republican Study Group--which, in all seriousness, is one intern sitting at an old Dell PC twittering "waht shood we doo guyz?"-- claims that because Barack Obama paid lip-service to "not standing with hedge funds," we should all pee our short pants in terror.

Judging by the odd edits and stuttering, the "director" got fed up after 147 takes and said, "fuck it, we'll fix it in post." In this case, that means putting a horrible blue title at the end.

Gibbs Explains Context, Which Really Shouldn't Have To Happen

The job of the White House Press Secretary--currently Robert Gibbs--is to lie to reporters and conceal information in the slickest way possible. I find Gibbs generally disagreeable for this reason and this reason alone. In the clip below, though, he comes across as an adult who understands that the context in which a statement is made is very important. The journalist asking the question, on the other hand, comes across like the winner of a reality TV show where the prize is getting to ask stupid questions to that man in front of the prezidant's sealy thing.

The idiotic question this idiot asks is "why did La Sonia JustICE accurately describe the difference between appellate and circuit courts on that youtube clip?" but he asks it like an idiot and totally misses the point. Gibbs then explains that youtube shouldn't determine who is on the Supreme Court.

I love his follow up question, which is essentially, "but what if everybody is as stupid and shallow as I am?"

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Enemy Laughs

The National Review's blog, The Corner, linked to my Onion headline. I don't want to read too much into this, but I will say that I don't particularly care for it.

I can't remember exactly what I've written about The Corner on this blog in the past, but I've probably called them xenophobic war-mongering bigots--or, if I haven't before, now I have.

Maybe they have a sense of humor? That seems unlikely. Need to process this unlikeliest turn of events.

New Onion Headline

In Attempt To Jump-Start Economy, Obama Declares Tuesdays Ladies' Night

The rest of the story is here.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Gov. Leaders Cream Jeans Over Speed Reader

This video makes no sense and proves once and for all that Washington is a horrible place full of ass clowns. Apparently Joe Barton (R-TX) and Henry Waxman (D-CA) are in some sort of geographically-close to Mexican standoff, and instead of dueling like American gentlemen, they hired some boob to read a piece of paper very quickly.

When said boob began speaking rapidly, everyone in DC stopped what they were doing and giggled like children watching the Micro Machines commercial.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

To the Obama Apologists

To anybody curious about whether or not we are a nation of laws, a nation that believes that felonies committed by those at the highest levels of government deserve to be prosecuted, I suggest taking a look at this blog post from Gawker. The writer describes a "secret meeting" that happened between Obama and his top advisers and leaders from human rights and civil liberties groups, and reads, in part:

"The purpose of the meeting seems pretty clear—-Obama and company, according to Isikoff, reached out to the leaders of the various groups present and basically said, "Ok, what do we need to do to make you people happy so this will all go away." In fact, Isikoff quoted Obama as saying something along the lines of "(Attorney General) Holder is having to spend way too much time on this." The leaders of the groups present floated the idea that Obama should appoint some sort of "truth commission" to investigate everything fully, thereby taking the burden off of Holder and the Justice Department, but Obama shot that idea down, going on to say that he was "firmly against" any sort of investigatory committee."

It should go without saying that Obama is better than Bush, or McCain, but that in and of itself doesn't excuse his advancement of policies that are in direct opposition to the platform he ran on, and in direct opposition to the policies advocated by the majority of his constituents. Either the law is the law, and those who, in bad faith, provided bogus legal cover for torture--thereby breaking domestic and international law--deserve to be prosecuted, or they don't. And if our elected leaders decide that criminal behavior at the top levels of government doesn't deserve to be investigated and prosecuted to the full extent of the law, then we are simply not a functioning democracy.

(One could, and should, argue that there are multiple ways in which we are not a healthy, functioning democracy. This is just one of them.)

Obama's lofty rhetoric today at his press conference is fine and good, but without concrete action--such as prosecutions--that would punish past law breakers and deter future ones, we as a country are living in a fantasy world, placated by promises of past and future greatness, wrapped tightly in our blanket of exceptionalism. Without investigations and consequences for unlawful behavior, what good is rhetoric?

Regardless of whether these investigations would "take up valuable time" that could be used to fix other domestic and international problems, or if they would "stir up more partisan rancor" (a phrase I find reprehensible--as though there is too much opposition in Washington), or if they would somehow "hurt the troops," if we as a country believe in the law, then its full force should be brought down on those government and military leaders who broke it. All of the justifications for why we should "move on" are simply apologies for murderers and criminals. Those who advance those apologies will, eventually and correctly, be considered criminals themselves.

One last quote from the article:

"At one point, one of the group leaders took a shot at Obama, saying that he was "allowing President Bush's policies to become his own." According to Isikoff, this pissed Obama off greatly, to the point where he was visibly shaken by the comment, "demonstrably not pleased" according to Maddow."

If Obama doesn't want to be associated with those policies, there are clear and decisive actions he can take. Those actions also have the happy coincidence of being Constitutionally obligated. It would be fantastic if that, and that alone, was a strong enough reason to force Obama to act.

The Flow

Friend and comedian Matt Ruby writes a comedy blog called Sandpaper Suit that I enjoy reading very much. His latest post is about getting in the zone on stage, and well worth reading regardless of whether or not you are a comedian.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

No More Confusion!

There is very little to say about the following video that is not blatantly obvious to anyone with half an ounce of compassion. Once again, vicious Right has created an artifact that will remind people 30 years from now that even in 2009, some people still advocated withholding basic rights from individuals based on nothing more than sexual orientation. And they were not above exploiting children--ironically, the "safety" of children is one of the most used (and repugnant) arguments against granting gays' rights--to advance their message of intolerance and fear.

In regards to that last line--you know what else confuses kids? Airplanes. Microwaves. Representative democracy. Body parts that belong to someone of the opposite sex. Getting grounded.

So, now, after a moment of reflection, I think this video makes a good point. We should restructure the world so that everything makes immediate sense to a 4 year old, and never ask him or her to "learn" things. No more technology, whatever Mommy or Daddy (or the President or King) says is true, and no looking at anybody else's body under any circumstances or else you're grounded in Cuba for the rest of your child-like adult life.

(Additionally, the hateful philosophy that drives an Ad like this one offers no comfort to a kid who is confused about his or her sexual identity or orientation. If they're so concerned--they're not--about kids growing up confused about sexuality, oh, I don't know, how about implementing an intelligent sex ed policy for adolescents.)

As an antidote to the above video, I present a different one below. There is maybe some tangential point to be made here, that this song explores the inherent difficulties of adult relationships without having lunatic right-wingers involve themselves in your personal business, but, really, it's just a great song.

It's called Autoclave, and it's by The Mountain Goats. Just heard it for the first time recently, and it is fantastic. FYI, an autoclave is a device used to sterilize medical equipment in preparation for surgery. It kills bacteria by subjecting the instruments to extremely high pressure and temperatures, a process so poetic I can't believe this machine hasn't shown up as a metaphor in anything else I've ever heard. For a short explanation of the song by the songwriter, click here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Rejected Headlines and Thoughts About Them (2)

Here are a few headlines I submitted this week that didn't make the cut. Several of them aren't even funny enough to appear here, but, hey, content is hard to come by. Ones that warrant explanation, or apology, are followed by a few short thoughts. [Note: I went back through and took out several that are not funny enough even to be here. Content is hard to come by, but let's not waste each other's time.] Here we go:

US Investment Bankers Sent To China In Covert Plan To Destroy China
I know we're not at war with China, but it feels like we might be at some point, or at least that the CIA is doing crazy shit over there. Plus, the idea of sending "the best and brightest" to inadvertently ruin a country strikes me as funny.

Man Wanting To Go Where Everybody Knows His Name Out Of Luck
I like this one because it's mean. Think about the poor bastard depicted here! And yet, who among us hasn't been wandering around like, "I'm gonna go where my friends are," only to realize that you've got nowhere to go?

Area Man Still Searching For Perfect Gazebo
Not sure why I find this so funny, but I do.

Applause Too Loud To Be Sincere
This line's existence can be blamed on going to too many open mics, with too many comedians who know each other and just looooove being sarcastic.

Man At Bar Pretty Sure Other Man At Bar Quoting Hold Steady Song
I have been both men in this headline, sometimes at the same time. "Am I quoting the Hold Steady right now?" Yes, I probably am.

Couple Desperately Seeking Good Enough Reason To Break Up
Failed or failing relationships are a constant source of dark humor. Have you heard?

Goofball Pilot Fools Passengers Again With Nose-Dive Prank
This is so stupid I wasn't going to submit it, but I just love the idea of some pilot being like, "You suckers fell for it again! Hahahahahaha! What a bunch of boners back here! Am I right!?"

A lot of times I'll try to turn rejected headlines into stand up bits, or premises, or whatever, but sometimes that's virtually impossible. "Guys, imagine there's this goofy pilot, and he keeps pulling nose dives to prank the passengers! Isn't that a funny and honest premise to work from?!" So, that idea might not go anywhere. Or, "Who here is still searching for the perfect gazebo? Fellas!?" Again, that one might not translate.

At some point I'll post some of my political headlines too, but for various reasons it's harder to know when those have been outrightly rejected.

Now begins another week, and another list.

Monday, May 18, 2009

First Onion Headline

Woo! Here's a link to my first headline in The Onion.

Friday, May 15, 2009


I've gone to a few storytelling shows this week, and, I gotta say, it's been fantastic. It's like a break from stand up without actually taking a break, if you get my meaning.

Last night I went to Giulia Rozzi and Margot Leitman's show Stripped Stories at UCB, which was really really great. They both told personal stories that were sad and funny, and honest. One of the joys of watching stand ups tell real stories is that, inevitably, they will get a few great jokes in, often when you're least expecting it.

The line of the night came from Giulia. I don't want to offer too much detail or context--because I haven't cleared it with her--but suffice to say that in her story she was feeling quite down, and a boy said to her, "you're cute." She continued:

"So, he said 'you're cute,' but what I heard was, 'you're cute, and I'm going to fuck the sadness out of you.'"

It's the kind of line that would get a laugh at a stand up show, without question. But when the audience is expecting honesty and vulnerability--which can and should exist in stand up, but aren't necessarily prerequisites like with storytelling--and they get it, their laughter comes from identification with the storyteller's emotion, not from appreciation of how clever that particular "turn" was. Don't get me wrong, I love a good punchline as much as the next person, but seeing these storytelling shows this week has been a nice change of pace.

The show ended with a set from Thin Skin Jonny. Give a listen if you get a chance.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Friday Cat Funny

Have a good weekend everybody.

British Comedian Gives Me an Idea for Summer Project

Well, it just goes to show how far you can get with a printer and a little bit of confidence. This headline from the UK Telegraph made my Friday:

Comedian sneaks into US State department

This story was made for ComedyandPolitics! It's got literally everything in this blog's name in the article! It reads as follows (posted in full):

Mr Iannucci was researching his latest film, the US-British political drama 'In the Loop', when he visited the department's headquarters in the Foggy Bottom neighbourhood of the US political capital.

The identification he had with him was an amateurish BBC pass with his face show by a print out of a picture of him from the Internet.

He flashed the card at the guards in the main reception of the building, said he had an appointment and was waved through.

The comedian then spent an hour walking around the building taking photographs, which were later used to help with the set designs for the film.

The writer, who also created political satire-cum-farce The Thick Of It for BBC4, said: "I had a terrible, amateur BBC identity pass, with basically my face printed off Google and my name under it.

"A child could have produced it in 20 seconds. I wandered up to the front reception of the State department and said 'BBC. I'm here for the 12. 30.'

"They showed me in. I spent an hour wandering round the building with my camera taking photos for our designer.

"Part of me thought it was fun, another part thought it was probably international espionage."

So in a few weeks I'll be going to London to sneak into "Parliament" and whatever other wacky buildings they have "over there" and I'm bringing my camera and my googled picture of myself.

You may be saying to yourself, "John, someone already did that. That's the whole point of the article you just posted in full." Yeah, you're right, and it sounded fun. And when has the fact that the Brits already did something ever stopped Americans from copying it poorly? Check. Mate.

Bill Richardson Is the Hardest Working Man In This Tent

The only upside to running for president in this country and failing is that when you don't get it, you can attain a level of internet psuedo-celebrity normally reserved for piano-playing cats or men getting hit in the balls with objects. Bill Richardson is one of the lucky souls who has risen to this level of notoriety.

He recently signed a bill ending capital punishment in New Mexico--which this blog gives him a lot of credit for--and he wanted to celebrate with a dance. Or, more likely, he just wanted to dance because he doesn't have to kiss up to Barack Obama or Hilary Clinton any more.

Norm MacDonald Is the Greatest Man Alive

Norm MacDonald was on Late Night last night swearing up a storm, much to the delight of the giggling Letterman. Here he is telling a story about Bob Uecker.

A bit more of the interview can be seen here.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

30 Minutes At American University

For anyone who's interested, here's a video of me talking into a microphone for 30 minutes at American University. This is the show I went down to do with Drucker a few weeks ago. We performed for the Rationalists and Atheists society down there, and The Gathering, who I refer to at the beginning, is some sort of religious group on campus.

John Knefel at American University from Jeremy Diamond on Vimeo.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Supreme Court Thoughts

I read two fantastic articles today about Sonia Sotomayor, the presumptive front runner in the deathrace to replace Souter.

The first is from Greenwald, critiquing Jeffrey Rosen of the New Republic. Rosen published a hit piece on Sotomayor, citing exclusively annoymous sources who questioned her intelligence and temperament. The article was widely circulated in the rightwing trashpile, giving cover to many conservatives to wonder aloud if Sotomayor's gender and ethnicity (she is black and Puerto Rican) played a large role in granting her front-runner status. Greenwald writes:

In the last 24 hours alone, Rosen's article has been used by three different National Review writers -- who, I'd be willing to bet lots of money, know virtually nothing about Sotomayor -- to declare her to be "dumb and obnoxious." That's a phrase they've revelled in repeating three times now (and counting), culminating with this: "I'm sure Mark H. is right about Sotomayor's being dumb and obnoxious, just as Derb is right about her being female and Hispanic is all the [sic] matters." The amazing speed with which so many people who know absolutely nothing about her are willing, indeed eager, to assume that she's stupid and doesn't deserve her achievements -- based on the fact that she's Puerto Rican and female and Rosen published some trashy, unaccountable gossip feeding that perception -- is really remarkable.

The second article, which considers the sexist and racist implications in many of the rightwing critiques, is by A. Serwer, and appears at The American Prospect. Serwer writes:

Affirmative action was installed as a corrective against bigotry, a way to ensure qualified people were not passed over because of arbitrary conditions of their race or gender -- not as a "punishment" for whites, although it's not surprising to me that Cohen sees it that way. The fact that white women have been the greatest beneficiaries of affirmative action goes unmentioned because it's harder to make the case that "white people" have been hurt, because in the end, "white people" have benefited more than anyone else. "There's no need to cling to such a remedy anymore," says Cohen, who shares the WaPo op-ed page with a single black columnist.

And then, if you can stomach it, here is the remedy against thoughtful, mature dialogue courtesy of Sean Hannity and friends. I got about 2 minutes in before I stopped. If you can beat me, you get a special surprise present.

KATG and General Round Up

Work has been super busy lately, so blogging has been suffering for several weeks now. Today has been light, though, so I'll try to throw a few things up here. We'll see how it goes.

The first thing worth noting is that I'll be on a very fun podcast called Keith and the Girl tonight at 7pm. That link will take you to their website, where you can either livestream the show or download it to listen to later on your mp3 player or other compatible device. Jesse Joyce, a very talented young man with a bright future (full disclosure: he once referred to me as his "horse," ie, he's betting on me), will be a guest as well.

I don't really have anything else to share right now, and I'm quite behind on my news/blog reading, so I'll just offer a few rejected Onion headlines from this week. I've been meaning to post these regularly, but, since I'm lazy, it hasn't happened. Both Ben Schwartz and Jon Friedman have previously made names for themselves, in part, by highlighting rejected material--Rejected Jokes and The Rejection Show, respectively--so I harbor no illusions that posting a few mediocre Onion headlines is groundbreaking. That said, I hope you enjoy them.

I had one get past the first round this week, and if it shows up in the paper I will of course post it here. Here area a few of the 14 that got rejected.

Drunk Morning DJ Actually Asking What Radio Station Made Listener A Winner

Detroit Now Ruled By Warlord

Detroit Divided Into Five Separate Fiefdoms

[ed note: I have nothing against Detroit. Some of my best friends...etc.]

Sex Playlist On Computer Remains Untested

Area Couple Realizes They're Living Out Sam Medes Movie Plot

Man Could Swear Garfield Did The Same Thing Last Sunday

"Hang In There" Cat Run Over By Car After Falling From Tree

[ed note: This one is my favorite of the bunch]

Man Trying To End Conversation Wishes He Had Second Phone To Look At