#10. Birthday Complaints
It's my party, you can whine if you want to.
Hi, everyone! Welcome back to That’s Marvelous! I just got back from a wonderful weekend in Toronto performing at Comedy Bar’s new location and hanging out with friends. The comedy scene in Toronto is SO good, and it’s always such a pleasure to work with so many brilliant comedians over the course of the weekend! Comedy Bar was also one of the first rooms to consistently bring me in to headline, so I feel an extra fondness for them. It’s a great place! If you’re in Toronto, check out a show there!
NEW SHOW ADDED: Helium in Philadelphia does a series called Stand Up Confidential where they book a mystery headliner for one show. Well, spoiler alert, on the 2/8 show, that mystery headliner is me! Come enjoy a show, Philadelphia. It’s an all-new hour since the last time I was in town! (I’m also a panelist on the Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me live taping in Chicago on 2/16!)
Also, I know it’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which is an important occasion for reflecting on racial inequality and the importance of working towards a more just world. But honestly, I don’t know always know how to fold that information into this newsletter in a respectful way. It’s always weird to me when people get a little out of their depth addressing serious issues in venues that aren’t built to accommodate those conversations, like when a natural disaster happens and a podcast called like Fart Posse or something takes five minutes to clumsily ramble about climate change.
So what I will say is that someone whose work addresses racial justice in a really thoughtful and informative way is Josie Duffy Rice. She has her own newsletter that’s worth paying to subscribe to, and a podcast that just launched. Plus she’s appeared on some excellent episodes of You’re Wrong About. She’s a really great writer/talker and her work always helps me think about what a fairer, better world can look like and how to contribute to that!!!
Okay time for some pep!!!
PEP TALKS: BIRTHDAY COMPLAINTS EDITION
Yesterday was my birthday! (“Wow, you’re 38? You look so young and telegenic/castable! Honestly, you’re even bald in such a fresh/youthful way!” - you) My very funny friend Eliza Skinner invented the concept of Birthday Complaints. Essentially, on your birthday, anyone has to let you complain about whatever you want! It’s like the total inverse of the wish you secretly make when you blow out your the candles on your cake. In the spirit of this newsletter, I asked people on Twitter if they had any birthday complaints, and I will now validate those complaints below! I got such a wonderful breadth and depth of birthday complaint, and I was not able to get to them all, but I do appreciate each and every one! (Leave a birthday complaint of your own in the comments if you’ve got one.)
Time to bring the ‘plain!
I hate when I type my password into a website and it’s just dots and there’s not even an option to show the actual text I’m typing. I AM ALONE IN MY HOUSE, GRUBHUB. YOU CAN SHOW ME MY OWN PASSWORD. CALM DOWN.
That’s the stuff right there. SO petty. Exactly what we’re aiming for. This issue is a 15-second inconvenience at most, but a truck bed full of annoyance. For me, the worst of these are publications I subscribe to that treat me like a stranger every time I click on an article. Really, New York Magazine, you’re going to ask me to log in again? You always seem to recognize my name when it’s time to charge my credit card each month!!!!! Funny how that works!
My gym plays Law & Order SVU all the time and I don’t want to watch people getting murdered while I do my cardio. I honestly can’t believe this is ok and we all just accept it!
Look, I know many people for whom SVU is a comfort show, which is fine, if deeply unsettling. I’m not trying to sex-crime-shame anyone here. But these people need to acknowledge that it is a context-dependent show. It’s not for everyone all the time. I also have several friends who listen to metal bands with names like Slasherizer and Deathville, USA and Pummel The Horses, but they mostly get that you can’t just spring that music on people in a Walgreens or wherever.
There is a new class of bars where the owners watched Bar Rescue and while they're usually clean and the drinks are OK the vibes are bad and the food sucks.
- Twitter Commentator Bobby Big Wheel
This is so bleak. Creating a bar with the intent to please famous blazer-clad screamer Jon Taffer is like recording a sex tape with the goal of your parents being able to enjoy it. That is NOT the audience you should have in mind! I resent any consumer experience whose theme is efficiency at my expense. Oh cool, it feels like I’m having drinks inside an Allbirds shoe! Fun! I bet they’re really maximizing profits and minimizing overhead here, and those are my concerns when I go out!
I have two complaints- I hate that “no ice” is such a difficult thing to order when getting a cheap Diet Coke from McDonald’s, etc. On the topic of opting out- a pickle spear on the side of a sandwich/wrap with chips/fries should NOT be the default. Nobody likes soggy chips!
my petty complaint is not enough places sell red hots!!! (the cinnamon candy)
The specifics of these complaints do not resonate with me at all, but food complaints are so important. To me, for example, it is ridiculous that tomato is such a default topping on sandwiches. It is, in my opinion, like adorning every hamburger with a dusting of shaved eyebrow hair. Gross and hard to get fully rid of.
I love ice and pickles, and I do not care about spicy candy that much, but I do think people should get to eat the meals and snacks they like, and this is the perfect place to complain about those very minor difficulties.
why is it raining so much in California? why aren't there more clothes for petite people? why do good, funny podcasts hosted by wonderful people have to end? why can't the Warriors get their act together?
I don’t have much to say about this one except that it reminds me of the Jadakiss song “Why” which famously includes the rhetorical(?) question: “Why did Bush knock down the towers?” which I believe was such a powerful moment that it caused YouTube to come into being.
I watched RRR yesterday at home and it had one, which was awesome! I got up and had a snazzy coffee my friend made and felt like I could settle into the second half without disrupting the flow! No movies are doing it like that! Give me a moment to refresh my popcorn, go pee, and discuss the film briefly with my friends! Or give me an out to say “mm no, too long for me, g’bye.” If you’re not gonna make your movie under two hours (best thing a movie can be), give us a damn break!
Great complaint. I hate missing out on things, and I love not sitting in the dark having to pee so bad but not being able to.
My petty complaint is that my when I go home, my parents say “Pick whatever you want to watch!” when they 100% do not want to watch most of the things I would pick! Just be upfront with me and put on a repeat of Dr. Pol, we’re not starting a new season of Drag Race and we all know that!
Ooo this is so sneaky! It’s one thing to say: “What would you like to watch?” and then disagree with the choice. It’s another thing to hand over the remote control and then decide “actually what I really wanted was for you to magically choose the thing I wanted to do all along without my having to say it at all.”
These people are lucky you keep them in your life. You could very easily become whatever it’s called when an adult is an emancipated minor.
my petty complaint is that more people aren't reviewing my book on goodreads lol
- Jaime Green, whose wonderful book about space and aliens and so much more, The Possibility of Life, is available for preorder now
Jaime’s book is good, and people should order it and rate it highly!!!!
People who crowd the gate at the airport are the worst people on the planet and should be made to check their bags and board last.
my petty complaint is sidewalk etiquette! You walk like you drive — on the right side of the sidewalk!! AND if you are in a couple or group and you are fanned across the entire sidewalk and you see another person coming towards you, GET IN SINGLE FILE! I swear to god im going to have a larry david moment yelling at people on the sidewalk because they don’t know how to walk!!! it’s common sense!!!
WE HAVE A SYSTEM, PEOPLE!!!
as we are, famously, near-birthday twins, i have two complaints: 1. this wind is extremely rude (nyc-specific) 2. i hate the cowboys and also hope they beat tom brady by a hundred. (is this a complaint? yes.)
- Local Brooklyn Crank
I was just talking about the lousy weather with a friend over the weekend, and we agreed that if it’s going to be cold and overcast, it should also be picturesque and snowy. Frigid temperatures and punishing winds with no fluffy snowfall is like if a jackhammer didn’t actually tear up the sidewalk and just made the loud noises.
Also, I sympathize with your sports dilemma, and I actually have a pep talk for this. Last night I watched the Los Angeles Lakers play against the Philadelphia 76ers, and I wished they could both lose. In the end, Philly defeated LA in LA and rather than focus on the fact that one team won, I took solace in the fact that one team lost, which was 50% of what I’d been hoping for! So remember: Dallas OR Tom Brady will lose next week, which is a guaranteed win for you. (No offense to Philadelphia and Los Angeles or Dallas or Tampa readers. I want you to be happy, just not from sports.)
Petty complaint: when people complain to you about something that you have going on way worse and you can’t validly state how much shittier your life is without sounding like a jerk (for example, and this is true, a few days after I totaled my car, a friend complained that her car’s check engine light was on and it was going to be so expensive to fix)
Yes! And the opposite is also true! When someone complains about something major, you can’t then hit them with something similar but less bad. “My cat just died.” “Well my adorable new puppy is too energetic and wants to play all the time, so I’m exhausted. Want to see some pictures?”
My petty complaints all take place at the roller rink. I hate it when new skaters hold hands and make a wall that is hard to get past. I hate Instagram people who can't skate taking out their phone and stopping in the middle of the rink. Kids who skate against the direction of everyone else? Fuck 'em.
Okay this complaint is perfect, and it evokes all kinds of feelings in me. 1. The mortification of breaching the etiquette of a culture I’m visiting. But also 2. The joy of learning specific customs and/or jargon of a hobby or workplace. I love knowing insider information and smugly using it in ways that are probably actually slightly clunky or unnecessary. (One of my favorite such things is the baseball slang term “eyewash” which is like fake hustle that someone might do to look effortful and impressive.)
I grew up in the Huntsville, Alabama. The home of the US Space and Rocket Center and Space Camp. Every year, all the sixth grade students in my school district got to go to Space Camp. But they cut the funding for exactly one year. My sixth grade year. They brought back the next year.
If this had happened to me, it would have legitimately turned me into a supervillain. I’d have grown up calling myself The Void and made it my life’s work to destroy space. Not the moon. Not the sun. Space itself. And the best part, as the nothingness of outerspace was obliterated into an even nothinger nothingness, no one would hear it scream. Or maybe I’d fill all of space with STUFF so there’s no space anymore. Either way, I’d be a monster and you should buy Jaime Green’s aforementioned book.
Why in god's name do cuisines with dishes that include shrimp leave the tails on the shrimp? It is always a dish covered in some sort of sauce and must be eaten with a utensil, yet this one whole component requires using your hands to eat? Why must I pick up a steaming hot shrimp covered in sauce with my bare hands? It forces me to request that the tails be removed whenever I order takeout like I have some sort of inept or allergic toddler at home!
Eating a dish with the shrimp tails still on instills in me the same reaction as every time I go through airport security: There simply has to be a better way to do this.
With the Jacksonville Jaguars advancing in the NFL playoffs, we now have to listen to more people pronouncing Jaguars as “JAG-WIRES.” WTF, people? Where the hell did the “i” come from? It’s a “JAG-WAHR.” Bothers me to no end!!! Super British people say it “JAG-U-AR,” but at least they’re using the letters actually in the damn word. Get a hold of yourself, people!
- Mike S.
This is a complaint that I would not expect anyone to endure were it not your birthday, and I thank you for trusting me/my readers with it. That is so beautiful to me.
when someone is out for a walk or something wearing airpods, why do strangers bother trying to talk to them? have some awareness! the other day, i was waiting at a crosswalk walking my dog and I noticed a man to my side obviously saying something to me despite the fact that I had my airpods in and was not looking at him -- get this: he wanted to ask me if they fall out easily! people just need to let people listen to "The Daily" or the new SZA album in without pointless interruption!
Some information is not for you, strangers! I know you may be curious about whether someone’s headphones or good or whether they’re enjoying the book they’re reading, but that’s what Jadakiss invented Google for. Don’t make your curiosity someone else’s problem when the information is available to you elsewhere!
My complaint is that it seems like everyone is forgetting (on purpose) that Covid is still a thing! I’m mad at the government and public health that they won’t take any real action but I’m also mad at my friends who are just out raw-dogging the air like it’s 2019!!
This is a serious one, but I thought it would be good to take a moment to remind people to be safe and careful and consider other people’s risk factors in addition to your own out there! We’ve got to care for each other!
Complaint: the complete acceptance by society of turning "invite" and "install" into nouns. They are VERBS. "Invitation" and "installation" are the nouns!
Much like with the food complaints earlier, these are not the ones that get under my skin, but I appreciate and respect the premise of this pet peeve. The one I hate the most is when people use “fail” instead of “failure.” There’s just something about the smugness with which “fail” is ALWAYS used (incorrectly) that gets to me. I understand that language changes and evolves with time, but that doesn’t mean I have to like every change.
Why can't the kids these days deliver a podcast that's under an hour? In my day, you got in, said what needed to be said, and got out before listeners tired of the repetitive sponsor spots. 90 minutes could be 3 episodes of content, I'm not sittin thru all that. What is the "Less Talk, More Rock" of spoken word?
- Mr. Ronald Feder Ft. Mifflin, PA
A beautiful complaint for the modern era. “Podcasts are too long these days.” If Andy Rooney had lived to read this opinion, he’d be giving you a standing ovation right now.
My mother-in-law talks in baby talk to my baby, and it is annoying for me, an adult, to listen to. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if the baby finds it annoying too! His name is Big Bird, not Biggy Birdie!
A perfect place to end. You can’t add baby talk to Sesame Street. It’s already operating at a level that babies understand. I get if your mother-in-law is throwing little cutesy terms into a dissertation on quantum physics or zoning law to keep the baby engaged, but Big Bird is probably already what a baby would name Big Bird if given the opportunity.
PICK-ME-UP SONG: The New Pornographers - “Really Really Light”
The New Pornographers are such a great band. Their songs are so distinctive, but so melodic and catchy too. They’ve got a new album coming out soon, which is great news, and the first single and its video are out now (produced by the wonderful Rob Hatch-Miller and Puloma Basu)! A song that didn’t come out in like 2016? Is this really my newsletter? Very funny, smart guy. YUK IT UP! But more importantly, enjoy this excellent new song!
UPCOMING TOUR DATES
My road dates are slowing down considerably after this weekend, but I’ve got some fun stuff coming up, and I’d love to see you there!
1/20-1/21 - Wiseguys in West Jordan, Utah
2/8 - Helium in Philadelphia
3/5-3/12 - JoCo Cruise
More info and dates available at joshgondelman.com/schedule!
Okay! That’s all for now! Thanks for reading! And as always, if you enjoyed the newsletter, please subscribe and/or share it with a pal!