#17. Horrible People and You
Plus some other Marvelous news.
If you’re reading this newsletter in a moderately timely manner, I’m on a boat, specifically the JoCo Cruise, a boat full of lots of fun and nice people. More on that next week after I’ve experienced more of it! So far it’s great, and it’s also why I’m a little late hitting SEND this morning.
Back on land, I had a pretty eventful week! I guest-hosted the most recent episode of Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me with a spectacular panel of Maeve Higgins, Mo Rocca, and Alonzo Bodden! Also, the celebrity guest was…Malala. So I interviewed Malala Yousafzai (via telephone) live in front of 600 people, which was incredibly intimidating. She was obviously very thoughtful and compelling, but she was also incredibly charming and funny.
The whole Wait Wait team is such a well oiled machine, and also a group of super super smart and talented individuals. They made it so smooth for me to hop into their process mid-stream for a week. It was really an honor to fill in as the show’s step-dad while Peter Sagal was home with his actual new baby. I’d love if you gave the episode a listen! And good luck at the Oscars, Malala!
Also, speaking of things that are Marvelous, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel announced the premiere of its fifth and final season (April 14th), which is mostly notable for the purposes of this newsletter because I got to work on it. Again, everyone was SO cool and nice and talented, and it was a thrill to be a little part of this beloved show. Technically I’ll appear in the credits as “Standup Consultant” but I think a few of my jokes my show up elsewhere in the show too. ;)
Okay time to get our peps in. (Like getting our reps in? Have I done this one before?
PEP TALK FOR HORRIBLE PEOPLE
This newsletter is (largely) about two things: Making silly jokes and assuring people that things may be better than they seem, or at least can get better. Okay, captive bolt pistol to my head, it’s also about self-promotion.
But there’s a thought that’s been lingering in the back of my head and maybe yours too: What about people who are the worst? The people sho could best serve humanity by devoting their lives to building a rocket to the moon, and then living there alone indefinitely? Why would you endeavor to put wings on their horrid dreams and validate their grimy habits?
Great questions, my own anxious brain and also possibly some readers! In part, my hope is that those people do not write to me asking for a pep talk. But also, I do think there’s something to be said for hyping up the world’s Antons Chigurh and Misters Grinch in a way that’s productive and healthy. With that said…here goes!
Hey bud, you’re the worst. You probably think the people who criticize you are just haters, or maybe, like Don Draper, you don’t think about them at all. Either way, unfortunately for you, they have a point! You probably shouldn’t watch TikToks at full volume without headphones on an airplane/make internet death threats towards people who show insufficient appreciation to your favorite artist’s newest album/say mean things to your coworkers’ new significant others as a “joke” or whatever it is you do that makes people grind their teeth when you come around.
There is a solution, though. You could just fucking knock it off! You can cut the shit at literally any time, and the sooner you start, the happier people will me. There may be a brief dip in your own happiness and satisfaction, but it’ll be worth it in the long run. Your Villain Era doesn’t have to last forever. Let down your guard and allow, for a second, that the reason you seem to have so much friction with so many people, is that you’re kind of a prick sometimes. But you don’t have to be! And softening your defensive, aggressive posture towards the world isn’t going to open you up to being taken for a fool or punched in the back of the head when you aren’t looking. Mostly it’ll make people appreciate you more and treat you better.
People love a redemption story! Almost everyone will talk themselves unconscious about how much you’ve grown and how you are an example of the human potential for change. Some people will still hate you, yeah. But they hate you now. What’ve you got to lose? There’s so much love for you in the world if you just chill, big guy.
(It should also be said that this is not about anyone who has written to me! It’s just preemptive in case someone sends me an email like: “I’m considering destroying the remaining foliage in the Amazon Rainforest, but I have impostor syndrome. Do you have any words of encouragement for widdle old me??”)
PEP TALKS FOR READERS
(Pep talk request lightly edited per usual. That’s okay, right?)
I’m about to have to become a legal guardian for my mom who is in her late 70s and I’m having trouble not resenting it. Both because she made a lot of bad decisions to get to this point, and because it feels like I don’t have a choice, as the only person in the family who could do it. It feels like I just got my impossible stack of books (aka life) to precariously balance and now someone’s piled 10 more things on top.
As usual, it’s a good thing that this isn’t an advice newsletter because I’ve kind of got nothin’ for you, advice-wise. Your situation sounds really heavy. I mean, maybe you have more of a say in the matter than you think, or it’ll be easier than you fear, but you probably know your life better than I (a guy who has read one paragraph about you), so I defer to your expertise on the matter of what your options are.
So let’s start from the premise that you’re going to take on this massive obligation, and in a lot of ways it’s going to be a pain in the ass. Okay! That stinks, but lots of things stink! And most of them don’t ruin our whole lives. There’s traffic and the windchill factor and breakups and food poisoning and the nearby grocery store being out of the ice cream you like so have to go to the other grocery store. This new responsibility sounds onerous, but it probably won’t be The One Big Change That Ruins Everything. Especially because, unlike with these other problems, you’re doing something really generous for someone you, let’s say, love(?) despite these other complicated feelings and circumstances. You’ve dealt with a lot, and you are capable and resilient. Not to mention, the people in your life who probably want to help you!
If you’re feeling resentful, feel resentful. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me to pretend you’re feeling terrific. However, resentment is like scratching a bug bite: It feels good for a while but if you keep at it you look down and you’re like oh shit there’s blood everywhere how did this happen!!! (Not implying that you’re going to fight your mom, just that sometimes it’s hard to stop resenting while it still feels satisfying!)
You’re doing a good thing, and it feels like ass, which is true a lot of the time, unfortunately. But that doesn’t mean your life is bad, or that you’re bad for acknowledging the ass-like feeling. They don’t tell you this, but when life gives you ass, you’re still allowed to make lemonade. You just have make sure you also have lemons on hand.
PICK-ME-UP SONG: De La Soul - “Watch Out”
Yes, I included a De La Soul track as a bonus pick-me-up song a couple of weeks ago, but when their music came back to streaming services on Friday, I remembered how this specific song is like a shot of good mood juice. I could walk around all day with just the instrumental playing in my headphones and it would be like having a very cheerful personal theme song.
If you enjoy this and haven’t given the group’s catalog a listen, there has literally never been a better time. Their first several albums are hugely important musical history landmarks, but they’re also fun as hell. I recommend starting with Buhloone Mindstate, which is a little more traditional than their first couple of records. Maybe some people would say this is heresy, but Open Mike Eagle seems on board so I feel pretty good staking out this position.
And of course, R.I.P. Dave aka Trugoy the Dove who passed away right before this outpouring of appreciation for the group happened.
UPCOMING TOUR DATES
My standup calendar is filling up again, but it’ll take a little bit for me to get ticket links! I’m coming back to Philadelphia for three headlining shows in May since my February show was such a good time. Plus North Carolina, Washington D.C., Arizona and more coming soon!
5/19-5/20 - Helium Comedy Club in Philadelphia (Three Shows)
Thanks for reading! If you liked what you saw, please consider signing up for a free subscription! That sounds nice, right?
I'm blown away by the sheer poetry of "They don’t tell you this, but when life gives you ass, you’re still allowed to make lemonade. You just have make sure you also have lemons on hand." It's simultaneously such a graphic image and also so inspiring
Hit the record store Friday to grab a copy of “3 Feet High and Rising.” Glad their music is available again. Thanks for the uplift.