erin judge writes this

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I'm Erin Judge. I'm a comedian and a writer. I live in Los Angeles. Let's hug.

December 31, 2014

clickbait I intend to write in 2015

You're Probably Using Your Microwave Wrong You Asshole

Life Hack: Steal Someone's Identity

33 Ways To Click On This Highlighted Text Right Now

It Happened To Me: I Figured Out A Thing From My Life That Others Found Vaguely Interesting

69 Sexy Secrets For Starting Sexting Sects

Love Yourself EXACTLY As You Are, And STILL Lose That Weight!

The Cum-munist Manifesto: 27 Real Sex-Havers Who Are Taking Control Of The Means Of Seduction

#[Cause]: Why Twitter, Not People, Is The REAL Force Behind The Latest Struggle For Human Rights

I Can-'T: 14 Preserved Foods That Simply Cannot Right Now

42 Signs Your Everlasting Love Is Really Just You Dry Humping A Pair Of Boxing Gloves

Could You Be Bored At Work? Take This Quiz To Find Out

96 Ways To Combat Workplace Boredom

The Worst Mistake I Ever Made (FULL DISCLOSURE: That's Actually Following My Dreams, But This Is About Something Else, Involving Snorting Heroin A Couple Of Times)

How To Tell If You Should Take Up Smoking

Don't Eat This. It's A Computer Screen.

Lonely? Press To Release Dopamine

November 18, 2014

sorry about your harsh bummer

a letter to comics who are going through a rough time

Dear Hilarious Person,

I heard about what happened. It sucks so much that [your late night appearance got cancelled/you got fired from your first TV writing gig/you didn't win that contest even though you had the best set of the night]. I know you must be feeling [embarrassed about all the promotion you did for your appearance/racked with self-doubt/angry at the injustice of it all]. Trust me: I know how you feel.

My first impulse is to [buy you a beer/give you a merit badge/get ill-advised tattoos together]. Set-backs like this are all part of the journey, just like [your first time on stage/your first bombing/the first time you piss off a blogger]. I know it's probably cold comfort right now, but I'm proud of you for making it far enough to get to this particular crushing blow. I'm confident you'll get beyond it, both personally and professionally, really soon.

I know you probably need to [cry/hole up/punch the wall] for a few hours. I just want you to know that, whenever you're ready to [talk/vent/hit a mic], I'm available to [listen/agree/tag along].

Now please enjoy this rainbow: 🌈

In solidarity,

October 26, 2014

young and dumb

“Dinner’s ready,” I declare, flipping off the electric burner on the stove-sink-fridge combo unit. I load my bowl with veggies and beans  -- “orphan mash,” as we dubbed it back in the aughts -- and squirt too much Sriracha on top. Then I plop myself down in front of the normal tenant’s bed to watch my husband prepare his plate.

We’ve been living like this for a quarter of a year. Three months ago, we packed up our lives to camp, kayak and couch-surf across the country and ultimately land in a series of cramped, awkward sublets on the left coast.

“Good for you!” people tell us. “This is the time to do it! While you’re young!”

We are not young. He turns thirty-nine on a date of numerological significance later this year. I’m pushing thirty-four. My grandmother had five kids well before she was my age. We might start trying next year. We keep saying that.

Once upon a time we had our own dental plans and 401Ks. We met eleven years ago, working semi-serious full-time jobs at the same exceedingly serious academic institution outside Boston. (“No, not Tufts…”) Today our queen-sized bed and our tax records and our Cuisinart standing mixer are hibernating in a storage pod somewhere near Elmira, New York.

He sits down next to me and scoops some orphan mash into his mouth. “Baby.” He shakes his head. “This is so good. Thank you.” That’s how we are. We praise each other’s cooking. We say “thank you.” My eyes start to water every time I hear lyrics about love that lasts a lifetime. I never even knew those songs existed in high school.

We’re in Los Angeles for my career. I tell jokes and I write stuff. Three years ago he moved from New York City to Ithaca for his dream job, and I half-moved and shit got complicated. I was on the road or in the City a lot of the time, and somehow I was still not on stage enough and not with him enough. His dream job morphed into something far less dreamy. It wasn’t working.

“Let’s move to LA,” he proposed on our Christmas road trip.

“Serious?” I asked from my perch in the passenger seat.

“Why not? I think we’ve got one last young and dumb thing left in us.”

We call our new sublet “the yurt.” It is small and filled with musical instruments that belong to the teen genius who normally lives here but is currently on tour with his band. We chop our vegetables on a corner of the sink. We eat on the floor. We are young and dumb.

“I’m just so happy here,” I say, impaling a chick pea with my REI camping fork. “I love the city and the culture and the comedy scene. It feels like I’ve finally found my place in the world, you know?”

“Well, it’s a desert ecology,” he explains. “So there’s probably a lot of lithium in the groundwater.”

I am very lucky.

October 3, 2014

not just another wednesday night

On Wednesday night at Meltdown I saw Dave Chappelle and it was a transcendent experience. I am also queer and I grew up in a gay family. And I am a comedian. So basically everybody should care what I and only I have to say about this particular internet non-troversy.

Here is a link to a Tumblr post about the show that I'm partly responding to, but I'm also responding to what other comedians on all sides of this question had to say about the performance on social media.]

A few bullet points about the actual event:

* Tackling material like Dave did is neither safe nor easy at The Meltdown. Meltdown is a room full of sweet youthful internet-savvy comedy nerds, not conservative suburbanites who watch Fox News.

* He said a lot of stuff about sexuality. He also talked quite a bit about decapitation. And lactation. And South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission. He's an odd and fearless man.

* The way he talked about trans people was, frankly, dehumanizing. But it was also about being himself out in the real world and encountering something outside of his experience and having those around him shame him for not instantly conforming to their/our way of talking about it.

Now, about "calling him out" for what he said:

I do honestly appreciate the deep commitment to plurality and to not hurting people's feelings and to promoting the rights of all the oppressed people that is at the heart of what such people (be they "white liberals" or "caller outers" or "progressives" or whatever) think and do and say.

Here's the story of how I started comedy. The year was 2002. I was 21 years old. There was probably an Orange Alert. I went down to NYC and saw a show at the Comedy Cellar, one of the best clubs in America. And I watched as 7 out of 8 comics ripped Arabs and Muslims and the poor South Asian American guy in the front row. I was horrified that the crowd found it so funny.

And then there was another comic who just didn't do that. One dude. His material about 9/11 was completely different, coming from pretty much the opposite political perspective. And the same audience was still laughing. Nobody had ever told me or shown me that was possible. I thought people either liked your opinions and agreed with you, so they would laugh and clap, or they didn't agree with you, so they would sit stone-faced. Not true. Comedy opens people up, in every direction.

A few months later, I left the womb of my women's liberal arts college and started doing stand-up. Right away, I was exposed to so much aggressive language, riddled with misogyny and violence and homophobia and ignorance. I learned in college (through the culture on campus, not the classes) that such language is extraordinarily dangerous, that we all need to change our vocabularies in order to avoid it, that to do otherwise is to be a foot-soldier of white supremacy and homophobia and oppression.

I had been taught to fear language and bias, my own included. I expected it to hurt me, so it did. But the people saying it were all perfectly nice to me. The people who sometimes espoused these views (or so I saw it) by using words that I'd been taught to fear didn't hate me or wish to harm me or think that I should not have equal rights. And those words? They didn't actually hurt me. Those taboos being transgressed didn't re-traumatize me. (And I will tell you all about my trauma history if you actually care to hear it. It's a doozy. Or, rather, a series of doozies.)

My rarified campus post-structuralist vocabulary was not and is not a universal language, available to all people whose hearts are in the right place.

Comedians throw out ideas all the time. Some of them they believe deeply, and others they don't. Lots of us want to be agents of social change, to push society in the "right" direction. Others just want to write really tight one-liners. And still others want to be agitators, jesters, agents of chaos, teetering on the edge of the taboos. And that has value too.

Dave Chappelle does not approach the stage from the position of privilege that you might assume. Keep in mind that this is a man who, at the height of his fame, fled the country. This was at least in part due to his perception of his comedy becoming a vehicle for anti-black racism rather than a satirical skewering of it. I can't imagine that pain. I also believe that I was laughing at Chappelle's Show for all the "right" reasons, because I'm a good little progressive white girl with a great big subtle brain and a heart of gold. But what do I know?

When your burden is to make the jokes that everybody gets, that never hurt anybody, that lift the downtrodden out of the trenches and right the wrongs of society, you get tripped up. Some people might be laughing because they enjoy seeing other people mocked. And some people might turn off their brains because you use a word that they have come to fear, either through real world experiences of violence or through being taught that the word only comes out of the mouths of people who hate them.

The best thing that I've heard that delves into these questions in a meaningful way is RuPaul's episode of WTF. Go listen if you haven't heard it. And, after twelve years in the trenches of comedy clubs and far too many precious hours spent reading wars of words online, I myself am on Team RuPaul. "All of us here on this planet, we are God in drag."

I believe that, and I believe this: Being your authentic self is the hardest fucking thing, no matter who you are or where you come from. Even for white dudes. The straight cis ones.

I hope my comedy can live up to that.

Now, please enjoy this rainbow:

September 20, 2014

close enough

I've been ruminating on this for weeks, so I thought I'd post something about it here. In general I tend to believe that misogyny is a bigger problem than sexism, and I'm fascinated by what it means for people to be fully-actualized versions of themselves out in the world, liberated from social expectations based on sex or gender (or race or ethnicity or or or...).

So read on if you dig that shit.

My recent four seconds of fame on Last Comic Standing (which you can watch here, starting around minute 6) featured precisely one joke from my act. I loathe writing out my comedy, but since I had to type it up for standards and practices anyway, I'll just go ahead and copy-paste it here:
I’m married. To a man. I have a husband. I know, a minute ago I said I was bisexual, and now I'm talking about my husband. I guess it is confusing. The truth is, I dated women for years, and then I met my husband, and I was like, “Wow...... Close enough.”
[insert uproarious laughter and applause here]

After the episode aired, my real live actual husband received some gentle ribbing from his pals. One texted, simply: "close enough." Another posted "close enough" on his Facebook wall. A guy friend of mine pulled me aside and said, "I watched Last Comic Standing. I wish they'd showed more of you! They only aired the one husband-bashing joke."

Now, I'm not going to pretend that line gets laughs from a super enlightened place. "LOL, he's emasculated!" is at least part of the reaction. I often follow that up with my bit about how much said husband loves Jane Austen. Comedy comes from life, people.

But the truth is, my husband does have a lot of the qualities our society tends to associate with the feminine, and he decidedly lacks a lot of traits and interests that your typical "man's man" is expected to possess.

The dude really really loves Jane Austen. And he's quick to laugh at my dumb jokes. A partner who strokes my fragile comedian's ego is both absolutely essential and a traditionally female role to play. (He calls himself my "comedy wife," as in, "You head backstage. I'll go sit over there with the other comedy wives.")

He doesn't watch professional or college sports, and he knows next to nothing about any of them. He understands all the rules, but when it comes to players, stats, or even team names, he's just not that into it.

Even though he's an introvert, he's so kind and sweet that most anyone who meets him warms to him immediately. He has a disarming smile and a gentle nature. He loves birds and plants and books and baking.

And, perhaps most incredibly, he deeply, in his very soul, does not give a fuck what you think about any of that. I've never met anybody so effortlessly confident in liking what they like and being exactly who they are.

There are a lot of women who used to date women and wind up with a male partner. Chirlane McCray, the First Lady of New York City (pictured above with her family), leaps to mind as an example, and I know many others personally. Generally, those male partners tend to be open-hearted feminists who have no interest in traditional gender roles. They tend to be dudes who don't need to learn to respect women because to do otherwise would be unfathomable to them. They tend to be men who hear female voices in meetings, laugh at women's jokes, read female authors, and watch movies and TV shows with female protagonists all on their own. In short, they treat women like peers. Equals. Friends. Human beings, even.

Now, it's possible to be a woman and date a woman who treats you with a lack of respect. It's a sad fact that misogyny -- which I define as the hatred and fear of women coupled with the denigration of the "feminine" human traits that all people share -- creeps into plenty of lesbian relationships. Fortunately, the relationships I had with women and the ones I saw around me were, first and foremost, friendships. They were romances between peers, where neither person was expected to ask the other out or pay for dates or be the first to call or text after sex. Once you've had that -- once you've really escaped the gender politics of sex and dating -- it's generally not terribly tempting to go back.

Is my husband a "Real Man?" Well, it depends on who you ask. My husband is taller than me and very strong from doing squats and dead lifts. He's been known to trek out into the backwoods for more than a week at a time or chill out in a hut in the Panamanian jungle for a month. He loves Jackass and owns three huge red boxes full of tools that he actually knows how to use. Then again, if "Real Men" love Jesus, then he probably doesn't qualify. (My husband likes Jesus, but only as a friend.) Nor does he keep his quiver full or try to rule over our household.

But what is this obsession with being a "real man," anyway? As Ta-Nehisi Coates points out:

Men who have no horse in the "Real Man" race are the ones who get it. And there are many, many such men. I'm lucky to call lots of them my friends. My old pal Myq Kaplan tells jokes about it. (Watch the whole clip, but especially the part around 02:50.)

For a lot of people, calling a man "woman-like" is an obvious dig. The opening line from the Disney movie Planes is a clear example. But, from my perspective, "close enough" is not an insult. "You're like a woman" is only an insult if we accept that a woman is a low-status and weak and generally bad thing to be. I love women, especially women who also toss aside gender expectations and walk around being exactly who they are, without apology.

One last thing: The first time I ad-libbed the "close enough" line, my husband was in the audience. I made eye contact with him from the stage, and it just kind of flew out of my mouth, as if it were an inside joke between us. "You HAVE to keep that line!" he insisted after the show. "It's hilarious!"

So I did. What kind of a wife would I be if I failed to submit to my husband's commands?

September 10, 2014

doing 90

No, I did not get a speeding ticket. I traversed the continent.

I have a strong impulse to list every place we went and name-drop every friend and relative we stayed with or visited, but I doubt a straight-up trip log would be particularly interesting to anybody who isn't me. Beyond that, I'm afraid my reflections on the trip would read like those of a wide-eyed undergrad returning from study abroad: "It was aMAzing. Like I like can't even, like, describe it, you know? Like. It was THAT amazing."


I did learn a few things, though, and I figure a quick bulleted list never hurt anybody:

* Airbnb is fantastic and communitarian and offers the most interesting and reasonably priced places to stay everywhere in America. It is truly a game-changing travel resource.

* I developed some one-pot recipes for camping and backpacking that I'm sure I'll use throughout my lifetime. The critical ingredient in most of them is couscous, or, as I call it, "Lightweight Miracle Dots!"

* ATTENTION COAST-DWELLERS: Visit your college friends who live in the Midwest. They're tired of schlepping to New York or San Francisco to see your hipster ass. Plus they have an embarrassment of extra space.

* If you've ever kayaked ever once in your life, then you are no longer a beginner kayaker. So don't sign up for the "No Experience Necessary!" group tours, lest you find yourself acting out like a soccer hooligan during the poor guide's safety spiel.

* We are truly in the midst of a stand-up comedy boom/renaissance, and it is happening everywhere. If you find yourself in Western New York, go see Josh Potter or Mark Walton or Rick Matthews. Want some night life in Wisconsin? Check out Nick Hart or Sarah Connor or Greg Bach or Stacey Kulow, and definitely go to the fabulous Comedy Club on State. I met and watched so many exciting, interesting, funny comics on this trip. Cities like San Francisco and Minneapolis and Chicago are known for their strong comedy scenes, and they're great, but places like Madison and Buffalo (and Syracuse and Knoxville and Raleigh and and and...) are excellent comedy towns in their own right. It's a wonderful time to be a comic or a comedy fan. Or both. Like me.

...and, perhaps most importantly:

* Find a way to break free. Whether you're taking a day trip or a long weekend or a week or a month or a year, whether you're traveling by car or plane or bus or train or subway or bike, whether you have endless resources or a super duper tight budget... just GET OUT of your routine. Do something different. Go outside. Check out the free shit to do in your town. Find a nearby city or even a new neighborhood that you've never visited and just go there. So many of the "shoulds" in our lives involve adhering to our routine, spending MORE time at home or at work or at the gym or in any of the inherently limiting and circumscribed venues of our daily lives. Getting out of those patterns and places and known knowns opens you up and makes you feel so, so alive.

Holland Lake  -   Missoula, MT  -  August 19, 2014
Ahh, the mountains of Montana!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I gotta go harvest some limes from our backyard here in LA.

June 21, 2014

fear of a green planet

I talk a big game these days about hiking and kayaking. I even drop the c-word from time to time, as in, "We're driving out to LA this summer, gonna do some camping." On a recent trip to the Berkshires, I searched online and found a waterfall on the Greylock preserve for me and my friend to climb around in. This still feels like a big deal to me, because underneath my Smartwool socks and breathable synthetic shirts (cotton kills!), I'm very much a recovering city kid.

I'm from Brooklyn. I did not see a rabbit in the wild until I was six years old. I remember it vividly: my grandparents had just driven me up to Cape Cod for a week's vacation. I wandered into the backyard, and there it was! Just like at the Staten Island Zoo! I stood stock-still, transfixed by the panting bunny, for at least three minutes. Eating blueberries right off the bushes later that week was a second unprecedented revelation.

My urban people were not the kind of urban people who went to national parks or sent their children on Outward Bound trips to build character and provide fodder for college entrance essays. "Camping? Not for me!" my grandmother would declare, laughing and shaking her head at the notion of sleeping on the ground. Who would put up with all that? Bugs. Weather. Wild animals. Murderers. No good. Not for us.

For many of my peers, living in a city like New York takes a lot of getting used to. You have to navigate the transit system, dodge obstacles, deal with confrontation, move quickly, avoid danger. And if you're not used to banging up against loud, insane people every day, the danger can feel ubiquitous. I notice rookie mistakes, like making eye contact with some stranger who's hollering randomly or even attempting to get your attention. NYC newbies are like old people who just got on Facebook. They have no filter. They can't tell what's real and what's just noise.

I'm faced with similar challenges when I find myself out in nature. I'm lousy at orienting myself. Despite my ability to navigate cities and roads, I cannot for the life of me learn to read a trail map. Sometimes I still lose the trail I'm supposed to be following.

And I'm no good at assessing danger in the woods. Every noise in the bushes makes me jump. For years, I would cross streams with tremendous anxiety about losing my footing. I guess in my head I thought I might injure myself and get hypothermia and have to turn back or be carried out. Here's what actually happens: your boot gets wet. Sometimes your sock. But you rarely even feel it. I just had no idea.

On top of all that, I cannot understate the fear of other humans we city folk experience in an unpopulated environment. In New York, a busy subway platform at 3am on a Tuesday is about as safe as you can get. It's well-lit, there are other watchful citizens around... Meanwhile, walking down an empty street and noticing a single human figure approaching makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. That scenario constitutes 100% of interpersonal encounters out in the wilderness. Every time I tell my aunt I'm going hiking, she asks if I bring mace with me, and not because she's concerned about rabid raccoons.* It's because, in her city logic, a woman walking through a low foot traffic area is a target.

I'm so lucky that my husband and the woman I dated before him are extremely experienced in the outdoors. They taught me everything I know about how to feel comfortable in the woods or in a canoe or a kayak. These days, I do my best to observe my husband and absorb his knowledge, to retain the skills for navigating nature on my own. NYC newbies didn't grow up watching parents and grandparents and strangers and various caretakers negotiate the city's obstacles. They didn't get "around the block" privileges at age seven. They never rode the subway as kids. When you grow up immersed in something, you understand it instinctively, inside and out. It's now twelve years since I summited my first real mountain, and I still have so much to learn.

But I'm determined. The benefits of getting to know the outdoors far outweigh the horror of pulling off your first tick.** I want to get more comfortable sleeping in a tent, and eventually I hope to graduate to backpacking. For now, I scramble around familiar hiking trails and waterfalls in Ithaca, and I'm proud to say I went for my first solo kayak trip on a choppy bay off Lake Ontario just two weeks ago. My half hour on the water paled in comparison to what my husband was doing at the time (thru-hiking the Foothills Trail in seven days), but I felt proud of my little victory nonetheless.

I myself am extremely concerned about rabid raccoons.

** That first leech, however... I'm still recovering from that one.

June 12, 2014

more art

Here is the transcript of an actual conversation that took place between me and an old friend at the Harvard Bookstore, sometime earlier this century:

HER: Ugh, Eat Pray Love!

ME: Have you read it?

HER: No but my friend from work said it was awful.

ME: I really liked it.

HER: She said it was totally classist. Like, nobody is so privileged they can just go do stuff like that.

ME: Which friend from work?

HER: The one I'm subbing for.

ME: The one you're subbing for because she took five months off to go to Australia?

HER: ......Yes.


Too often, women's criticisms of female artists raise the stakes from a question of taste to one of moral judgment. This isn't simply not for me; this is bad for everyone.

Stating that somebody's personal memoir is harmful to our collective cultural consciousness when her life is so similar to your own has but one implication: self-hate.

I knew it wouldn't be long before OITNB became "problematic." Girls had no chance. RuPaul is up to her neck in criticism. Meanwhile, tired sit-com rom-com stereotypes continue to dominate culture.

There's a particular sting that comes when you're trying your best to tell stories that haven't been told. You're a new generation, or an unheard voice, and you want to tell your story, or the stories of multiple fascinating characters, in a whole new way. You're up against, frankly, The Man. Dominant cultural hegemony is your main obstacle. Somehow, you push beyond that. It's thrilling, it's exciting, it's happening. Then, somebody you think might be on your team turns to you and says: "You do not speak for us. You do not represent us. People like us would be better off if you did not speak at all."

The world is unfair. No cultural revolution will ever go far enough to fix that, or even to fix what society's got wrong. We can push. We can make little dents. But we can't be the everything. We can't write the book or make the television show that is the antidote to injustice. Moreover, any story we create that realistically reflects this broken society will likely include portrayals of injustice. Those are not endorsements. Our personal experiences are still real even if they do align with the dominant narrative. Most good stories, like most lives, contain the expected and the surprising, the typical and the unique.

If your story has not been told, tell it. Make art. Forget the consequences. And there will be many consequences, and many criticisms, some blaming you for shit that happens long after you're dead. (Seriously, read this. It'll make your head spin around at least a dozen times. It's such an exemplar of the moral judgment of women artists by women critics that it's almost a primer. It's about Frida Kahlo, and it should be called "How to Find Fault in Popular Ladies.")

Don't fear judgment. Make art. Criticism is important, but we as women need to make more art and write fewer words that break down art by women.

As RuPaul says, humans are God in drag. See that in other women, and know it in yourself. Art by women can't be "just women's art" anymore when it finally hits critical mass.

We don't need to correct other women or judge them or write them off or digitally rage, at least not as much as we need to make more art. You hear it again and again: women don't submit as much.

We need to turn up the volume.

And if you need a pep talk, just let me know.

June 3, 2014

the unisex friendzone

The more I read about getting "friendzoned," the more I see it portrayed as an essentially straight male experience. Come on now, kids.

Is there a misconception out there that human females watch "The Breakfast Club" or "Pretty In Pink" and universally identify with Molly Ringwald?

Please. I'm a natural redhead and I've still never identified with a Molly Ringwald character, not for a single second.

Okay, maybe I get a little Team Molly when her family ignores her in "Sixteen Candles." But in the company of her peers, Molly's always a pretty girl, and at least a mid-level It Girl, and so I, being Not It, tend to see myself much more in the nerds and weirdos orbiting around her.

And indeed, I have been friendzoned. Many, many times. I've been friendzoned by people I got along great with, who loved hanging out with me, who sought me out, who laughed at my jokes and cried on my shoulder but ultimately went off to seek the affections of a totally different type of girl, one who was thinner and prettier and cooler and quieter than me.

It's such a painful experience, a baffling injustice piled on top of rejection. Never does the world of love seem more undemocratic. Sometimes you don't even get to plead your case. And may god have mercy on your soul if you do.

I'm going to attempt to break down the experience of being friendzoned, and hopefully I'll end with a nice Zen lesson that will make everybody feel greater equanimity and higher self-esteem, and then we'll all send love and smiles and well-wishes to the beautiful flawed souls who've kicked our little hearts around along the way.


Zone A: Fixers of Broken Toys
The person you've fallen for likes you but loves -- loves -- the chronically unstable. Maybe they* follow an erratic addict around like a puppy dog and you get to field the scary calls in the middle of the night when he really goes off the rails. Or maybe they fawn over a gorgeous girl who can't manage to take her meds as prescribed. You see what a beautiful, beautiful heart your beloved has in the care and dedication they have for these human disasters, and you just wish they would let you treat them the way they deserve to be treated.

This is a tough position to be in, but try to realize that your pining and counseling is at least on the same spectrum as the enabling behaviors they're caught up in. You might be stuck in the friendzone, but they're in the much worse Codependency Area, which is more than halfway down the road to Abuse Town. They can't fix their people, but you can't fix their desire to fix people either. You can offer moral support, but let the crush go. Search for a love less addicted to the drama.

Zone B: Achievers
Some people used to be fat and ridiculed for it. Some people grew up gay in a bigoted environment. Some people never got attention from their dads. Some people simply felt like losers. And as a result, those people can wind up suspicious of love that's offered freely. The warm and accepting way that you adore them feels cheap. It's too easy. They believe love is a thing they have to fight for, and so only the reticent are worthy of their affections. These people will ignore you and devote time, energy, money, and all other resources to courting the lukewarm and diffident. They're obsessed with winning someone over, so they tend to find their own objects of affection with hearts like Everest to climb. You alone see how simple it could be if they just stopped fighting so hard and let you love them. But, alas, you can't make them see how inherently worthy they are. They have to figure that one out for themselves.

Zone C: Idealists
This is the classic friendzoning scenario, and it usually overlaps with one or both of the syndromes explained above. The person putting you in the friendzone has a very specific idea of the kind of partner they deserve. They want a catch, a real hottie, the human equivalent of a sports car (or a Prius, depending on their milieu) to reflect their worth and their position in the social hierarchy. When you confess your feelings to the Idealist, they often claim they're just not attracted to you, even after you've shared a series of passionate hook-ups that would seem to indicate otherwise.

Man, this one sucks.

Ultimately, the real loser here is compatibility. Many relationships -- heck, even marriages -- fail because people fixate on the brand of partner or spouse they desire and pay little attention to the actual connection. One of the biggest problems with online dating is that it usually operates under the false assumption that we know what we want, that we can rattle off the characteristics and traits we're looking for in a mate. In real life, introverted bookworms who pine after professor types with expensive eyewear might actually fall for foul-mouthed lawyers who love loud dance clubs. It's a weird world, and you have to get to know people in order to let them surprise you.

So let the Idealist seek their Perfect Object. Perhaps they'll be frustrated, or perhaps they'll find a richer, more beautiful, more socially successful version of you. Fuck 'em anyway. One of the most attractive traits in the whole wide world is the ability to walk away from somebody who is ambivalent about you. Simply stop showing up for those consolation prize make-out sessions, and I promise you'll find yourself holding your head up higher.

End Zone
Now, it shouldn't be hard to recognize that many of us who complain about getting friendzoned are ourselves often guilty of these same mindsets. If you're a software developer who constantly laments being friendzoned by Sports Illustrated swimsuit models, maybe your Idealist tendencies are holding you back from finding genuine connections with the types who grace the pages of Wired. And partnering "up" is truly just as bad as settling. I can't think of anything worse than finding yourself tied to somebody who seems great on paper but who cannot make you feel seen, who does not know your soul.

If you get friendzoned, lick your wounds and walk away. Ultimately we can't dictate how anyone else feels about us. We can't control it, and they can't control it, and the only way to deal with it is to give yourself and the other person some space.

And don't forget to look around your life from time to time to see if there's a Duckie grinning eagerly in the corner. You might be somebody's Molly Ringwald after all.

* I use the singular "they" instead of s/he and I don't care how you feel about that.

May 27, 2014

okay no

I really enjoyed Arthur Chu's piece "Your Princess Is In Another Castle," in which he questions the messages our culture gives to young (and in particular nerdy) guys about women. To me the most impressive parts come when Chu turns the lens on himself and talks about his own sense of frustration and entitlement in his younger days. But I think his argument falls short of offering a more productive, empathetic and self-respectful way to view the fundamental event that creates the very frustration he's talking about: the experience of rejection.

We, as a collective culture and as individuals, could really stand to examine how we deal with rejection. Most of us need to learn how to communicate it better, how to receive it more gracefully, and how to grow from the experience instead of allowing these necessary interactions to harm us for good.

So let's start with the fundamentals.

Most of us have one of two knee-jerk reactions to rejection. I call them "Fuck Me" and "Fuck You."

The Fuck Me's

This perspective on rejection operates under the guise of personal responsibility, but in actuality it results in staggering self-doubt and, ultimately, self-negation. If you want to, say, ruin a kid's life, here are a few steps for indoctrinating them into this way of thinking:
1. After the kid gets rejected, always ask follow-up questions that imply they did something wrong. "Did you forget any of your lines?" "Did you check your resume for typos?" "Did you wear those shoes everyone hates?" It doesn't matter if you know absolutely nothing about the context of the situation. Just be certain it's all their fault, and then take wild stabs in the dark as to how it's all their fault. 

2. Speculate about what the kid could've done better. Do this immediately, and be as critical as possible. "Maybe if you lost 20 pounds a year ago, she would've gone to the prom with you." Don't hold back here. Really go for the knees.

3. Whatever you do, DO NOT let them feel sad feelings. "Don't you dare sulk! At least you HAVE a prom to not go to, you unemployable fatty!" or some such admonishment should really do the trick.

This attitude towards rejection, where every "no" is further evidence that you're lazy and ugly and bad, comes with some super-awesome additional implications for your own choices too! For example, if you believe all of this AND you're empathetic and kind, you can't ever reject anyone else ever, because that's the very cruelest thing you can do to a person. You have to kiss everyone who tries to kiss you, and date and marry anyone who asks you, and never break up with them no matter what, because rejecting another person is the most condemning and humiliating thing you could possibly do to them.

The Fuck You's
The most important element of this perspective is victimhood victimhood victimhood. Everybody else is simultaneously an idiot and a cruel manipulating mastermind. They can't see your brilliance because they're too busy trying to keep you down. You are always at the center of their thoughts, and they're simultaneously scared of you and too dumb to realize that they should be. Most importantly, they are a bitch.

If you want to encourage this frame of mind in a kid, I recommend the following tactics:

1. Threaten violence upon every teacher or other adult who ever dares to correct them. 

2. Help them pull pranks on kids who outshine them. Encourage sabotage.

3. When all else fails, place the blame on those around them. And don't forget to teach them the value of holding a lengthy and vitriolic grudge. 

The Third Way
If, for some reason, you're interested in creating a different relationship to rejection that lies outside of these two unhealthy yet very common frameworks, how might you go about forming that? I'm not 100% there myself, but I have some ideas that might be helpful:

1. Build fundamental self-respect. Every life has ups and downs, and many of the setbacks we experience have nothing to do with anything we can control. If you can love and support yourself through illness, then you can love and support yourself through heartbreak or downsizing or any of the other difficulties in life we believe we have more control over.

2. Build self-awareness. If you find yourself trying and failing to do something over and over again, turn to people you trust to check your reality. Maybe you're just trying to do something that's super hard and have to keep plugging away. Maybe you need to change your perspective in order to have more success. Many people are crushed to find they've been going about something the wrong way. But isn't it liberating to learn new things? Can't it be refreshing to find out you can stop banging your head against the wall and instead approach the problem differently?

3. View others as responsible, accountable peers. This really brings back Arthur Chu's point about seeing other people as protagonists in their own stories. Everybody has a million reasons for doing what they do that we may or may not understand. Trust them to know what's best for themselves even if it doesn't make sense to you. And, on the doling-out-rejection front, be sufficiently honest and kind and respectful. It's so difficult given how screwed up so many people are about rejection, but it's the best any of us can do.

I'm not perfect in any of these arenas. I've got plenty of Fuck You and Fuck Me floating around in my consciousness. But, I'm learning. And I hope that we can all work to lift the stigma on saying or hearing something as simple "no."

May 22, 2014

personal best

I've been doing stand-up for over a decade now, and I have gotten to enjoy a few fun Hollywood highlights along the way. And indeed, sleeping in hotel rooms paid for by television networks never really gets old. But, like wedding days and first trips to the Eiffel Tower, the big shiny moments in a comedy career are fleeting and mostly symbolic.

So today I want to share a couple of my own personal highlights: the times when I felt proudest and happiest, those moments I felt like a real fucking comedian.

March 15, 2014
I told jokes about being bisexual and being raised in a gay household here:

the fox in anderson sc

That would be The Fox in Anderson, South Carolina. Because fuck it, why not? And the crowd laughed and had a good time, as I figured they would, because I work really hard to make that stuff as relatable and funny as possible. Afterwards, a young employee came up, shook my hand and thanked me. She told me she was the only out bartender in town. She said my set meant a lot to her. That pretty much made my life.

June 29, 2012
I was featuring for Baron Vaughn at the Arlington Drafthouse outside DC when this famously huge storm rolled in. I was about halfway through my set when all the power went out. No mic and no lights. So I projected my voice and started cracking jokes about the odd and terrifying situation we all found ourselves in. The audience laughed and relaxed a bit, and then they started lifting up their cell phones and shining them at me. I kept the show going until the lights and sound came back on. Once Baron got on stage, I walked up to David Tveite (who did a guest set earlier), and we just shook our heads and smiled at each other. I think neither of us could quite believe what had just happened.

And I'm proud of some other stuff that falls outside the typical range of comedy credits, like putting together shows in more than 40 cities with the Pink Collar Comedy Tour which we produce entirely on our own, or being the first ever Comic in Residence at the Comedy Studio, or moderating some pretty feisty panels at the Women in Comedy Festival in 2012 and 2014.

I'm super excited to be one of the Top 100 on Last Comic Standing, and I'm also really psyched to be on the latest Put Your Hands Together podcast. But moments like those are the shiny ones, and ultimately we comedians have very little control over when that cool stuff comes along. I think all of us should be proudest of surviving tough situations on stage, turning the room around, winning the crowd over, and, most of all, just plain ol' making people laugh. That's the very best part, and it happens all the time.

March 10, 2014

hack battle of the hack sexes

Over the weekend, the gangs of marauding feministas over at Jezebel and The Gloss took the #LiesToldByFemales hashtag to task for its sexism and reductionism. Jezebel even started to deconstruct the #LiesToldByMales tag for being equally essentializing and harmful.

As a comedian, I feel compelled to point out that the primary sin of these Tweets is being SO. FUCKING. HACKNEYED.

I will now demonstrate this by writing as many #LiesToldByMales-style Tweets as I can in one and one half seconds.

Ready? GO:

I know where I'm going.

Yeah, I can fix that.

Of course I never look at porn.

That was the most delicious thing I've ever eaten.

It's fine if you don't shave your legs for a few days.

My wife is the only woman I look at.

We just play poker for nickels.

Yes, I definitely want another kid.

I'm fine with driving the minivan to work.

I love hanging out with your friends.

A handjob? Sure. I'd really like that.


OMG LOL, right?

The only thing less funny on Twitter than some battle of the sexes hashtag is when conservatives try to make fun of liberals. That usually turns out like:

#ThingsObamaSays Hey give me all your gun and money we dont have that stuff in Kenya where Im from!!!

That might actually make too much sense. I'll try to come up with a better example next time I'm drunk.

January 27, 2014

thirty three

I turn 33 in 33 minutes. So here's a list!

33 Things You Must Do 33 Minutes Before Turning 33

1. Blog.

2. Drink water from your new water bottle.

3. Do the arithmetic to figure out when, exactly, to hit "publish" on this post.

4. Worry people might think this is stupid.

5. Realize you're officially too old to worry about whether people think what you're doing is stupid.

6. Obsessively check to see if your friends in Europe have wished you a happy birthday on Facebook yet.

7. Turn up the heat because it is one fucking degree outside.

8. Contemplate how long you've been alive.

9. Contemplate how little time you've been alive.

10. Get annoyed at internet culture war debates that don't matter.

11. Regret not having taken down your Christmas decorations yet.

12. Think about your sleeping husband and what a mensch he is.

13. Panic about timing this post.

14. Brainstorm like a maniac.

15. Inhale.

16. Blink.

17. Exhale.

18. Rub your RSI-addled wrists and forearms.

19. Check for new texts.

20. Grind your teeth.

21. Resolve to stop grinding your teeth once you're solidly in your mid-30s.

22. REALLY start to run out of time.

23. Lower your standards for list items.

24. Think about summer typing class in high school.

25. Or was it middle school?

26. Abandon the format you yourself created for your own post.

27. Shake your head at your own obnoxiousness.

28. Heave a huge sigh.

29. Call yourself a drama queen in your head.

30. Call yourself a "fucking drama queen" out loud.

31. Laugh at your own jokes.

32. Forgive yourself.

33. Love yourself and your work.

January 21, 2014

empire state of mine

A friend on Facebook recently posted this map of New York State's economic regions. I found it lacking. For starters, as a NYC native, I believe deep in my heart that everything other than #9 should be labeled, simply, "Upstate."

But comedy has given me the opportunity to travel all over New York in recent years, and I've managed to formulate a deeper understanding of how the whole state really works.

So I fixed the map:

There you have it. Sorry, Hamptons! Oh, and come see me and the rest of the Pink Collar Comedy Tour when we descend upon zones 1, 2 and 4 this February!

January 15, 2014

how to tell if a person is a real man

Once again, the question of what real men should do and how it's up to men to redefine manhood is all over the media. It seems odd to me that every side of every issue attempts to claim "real men" as devotees. You know what I mean. "Real men love guns" vs. "real men don't need guns to prove they're real men." And so on.

Just to clear up the confusion, I've made this handy flow chart to help you figure out if a person is a real man.

How To Tell If A Person Is A Real Man

And that's pretty much the long and short of it.

Now, whether or not you are a real man, if the question you have is about how you should behave, try going with this: be a good person and respect your fellow humans.

It's basic golden rule stuff, ladies and gentlemen and the rest of us.

Now let's all human up and be folks.