#18. The Seasick and People Who Feel Out Of The Loop
Is this mostly just for me? That's my little secret!
When I sent last week’s newsletter, I’d been aboard the JoCo Cruise for about 17 hours, and I promised to report back after I’d more thoroughly participated in the event, so here goes…
It was such a great time! The staff did an incredible job with the logistics, and the audiences were so smart and engaged and receptive. But the best part for me was the spirit of collaboration and enthusiasm between all the artists.
In just one week I got to: read a scene written by Gennifer Hutchison (Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul) with Marc Evan Jackson (The Good Place, Brooklyn 99) in front of an audience, record a live podcast about Under Siege with Sarah Marshall and Alex Steed, tell jokes on two theater shows that the wonderful (new to me) band Rainbow Girls closed out, share the first page of my imaginary upcoming novel Gondelman Is In Peril, and more. (I’ll post a bunch more pictures and stuff on Instagram if you’re interested.)
Plus I got to see: Jonathan Coulton performing a full set with Aimee Man playing in his band on the deck of a ship, Ify Nwadiwe bringing down the house (boat?) with a karaoke performance of “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” and Maris crushing “You Oughta Know,” Puddles Pity Party doing the amazing thing he does (no spoilers), River Butcher and Jamie Loftus’s new standup sets, Open Mike Eagle and Video Dave covering De La Soul as well as a bunch of other beautiful covers/tributes to musicians who have passed away in the last year, and a zillion other cool performances that may or may not ever happen again.
It was really, really special to get to be a part of this outrageously collegial and energizing atmosphere for a week. I hope everyone stays friends!! Is that weird to say??? Either way, thank you to Jonathan, Paul, Storm, Drew, and the whole crew for having me along!
PEP TALK FOR THE SEASICK
I am currently suffering through (What’s the version of suffering when an ailment only rises to the level of annoying? Is that just “dealing with?”) a feeling that I have learned is called “mal de debarquement,” a sensation of dizziness that persists after one disembarks from a ship. It’s seasickness on land, or as I prefer to think of it, possession by a ghost boat.
It is uncomfortable for so many reasons to suffer from this kind of temporary, circumstantial malady like this or seasickness itself. Number one: It is physically uncomfortable. That goes without saying (or, as my dad abbreviates the phrase: G.W.O.S.). Number two: It’s emotionally uncomfortable to be incapacitated by something as mundane as the tides. (And that’s setting aside my current discomfort at being back on dry land. In a mere week at sea, the earth itself has become my body’s enemy. Humiliating.)
But listen: Our bodies are so fragile and can be taken out of commission, at least temporarily, by basically anything. The sea. Sleeping weird. Gluten. Your sock being kind of wadded up in your shoe as you walk around all day. Pollen. Onions. The sun. Bending over to pick up something you dropped. The list is literally limitless.
You are not a loser or a weakling if the motion of the of the ocean does you in, regardless of the size of the boat! The ocean is enormous, and it’s in cahoots with the moon. Talk about a power couple! But even if you were incapacitated by something as minor as “chair too soft,” you deserve as much compassion as you would show someone else who is not feeling well. (A brief period of mockery and then gentle care.) Much like a shark, seasickness can be defeated by going somewhere dry for a while. Take that sharks, the ocean, and the moon. Also, one thing to consider when you recover is how many people deal with pain or discomfort a lot of the time, and how to extend them the same generosity on a consistent bases that we want for ourselves after we stand up too fast or accidentally eat dairy. So give yourself a break. And give other people a break too.
Good luck and safe passage, fellow landlubber. (Can I say “landlubber?” Well, I guess I just did.)
PEP TALK FOR ANYONE WHO’S FEELING OUT OF THE LOOP LATELY
I was on a ship for a week with spotty WiFi, so I missed a lot of the news. Apparently a sexy television restauranteur cheated on his girlfriend, and the public response was a condemnation at the level of “In The Air Tonight” by Phil Collins. And then a bank failed and (as far as I can tell) the people that helped make it fail successfully lobbied the government bail it out, flipping the political ethos of the VC class from “stop hitting yourself” to “stop us from hitting ourselves.” So, between those two stories, it’s a real toss-up whether actions have consequences or not.
If you, like me, have no grasp on what’s going on, I have some words of comfort to offer: It’s fine.
Not the stories themselves! Those seem…not fine. (I honestly don’t know though. Maybe the FDIC intervening on Tom Sandoval’s behalf or whatever happened is for the best.) But not being aware of the news during a given week is, I think, okay. It’s responsible to be tuned into world events, of course, but there is, frankly, too much news! Not all of it is important in the long term. Remember that week when we (okay, I) thought the entire economy hinged on GameStop, the place where parents who don’t realize everything is for download now go to buy video games for their teenagers? It turns out, that was not the case, and it was okay to learn why a week or two later, or a few months later when the documentary came out, or a couple of years later when it’s a movie. (Or maybe not at all.)
Lots of things happen every day (damn, sometimes I’m almost too insightful), and it’s nice to know what they are for the sake of conversation at Oscar watch parties or on Zoom meetings before everyone shows up and you actually start working. But most of the stuff that’s in the public discourse, including on the news, can be caught up with after the fact like any trend, especially when it’s not about life and death. If SVB matters five days from now, I will do my best to learn enough about finance (gross) to understand why. Until then I will treat it like any other fad and will invest no more energy in it than I would discovering what a “karate goth” is or what defines the “denver omelette girlie aesthetic.” I invite you to do the same.
Although, by my own rule, I do now feel obligated to learn what the Vanderpump Rules actually are. Are they closer to O’Doyle or Cider House, I wonder? It’s time for me to figure it out.
QUICK NOTE TO NEW READERS
I have a standup special called People Pleaser that’s available to watch across the internet! In the U.S. it’s free for Prime members, and I think Tubi users as well. Other places in the world, Vimeo is a good place to rent it! It’s a different hour of jokes than I’ve been doing on tour!
PICK-ME-UP SONG: Video Dave - “The Video Dave Theme Song”
Eagle eared (are eagles known for having good ears?) That’s Marvelous readers might remember Video Dave from his appearances on an Open Mike Eagle track I posted a couple of months ago. Well, this week’s song is kind of a departure for me. It’s a Video Dave track featuring Open Mike Eagle.
On the cruise earlier this week, Video Dave performed a show in the ship’s coffee shop/makeshift gaming space, and it was such a great performance I will be thinking about it for a long time. Dave’s fusion of his music with video he shot and edited was so skillful and inventive. At midnight it became his birthday, and someone in the audience had set an alarm so the whole crowd sang “Happy Birthday” to Video Dave, who briefly paused his performance to be serenaded. As I mentioned earlier, I am such a sucker for a moment during a live show that can’t or won’t be replicated. This was a really sweet one!
I’m sharing “The Video Dave Theme Song” specifically because it is good to know that you can make your work pop and have the confidence to say so, in song or otherwise.
UPCOMING TOUR DATES
My standup calendar is filling up again, but it’ll take a little bit for me to get ticket links! North Carolina, Washington D.C., Washington state, Arizona, Indianapolis, St. Louis, and more coming soon!
4/20 - Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me Live Taping in Chicago (tickets available soon) (I am a panelist this time, not the host)
5/19-5/20 - Helium Comedy Club in Philadelphia (Three Shows)
You know what else I learned about GameStop recently? Parents use the retail stores as free babysitters! Apparently parents leave their kids at GameStop while they run other errands and the employees hate it (as they should!).
Welcome back and thank you for sharing all of this! I love everything here except for one. The only thing I don’t like is that you are not the host of wait wait don’t tell me forever. Other than that, top notch. And that one quibble is still at least middle notch.