a priori/a posteriori

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Are MEN funny?

My step-kid just started playing basketball.  She plays in a league with all boys.

None of the boys pass her the ball.  I think if you asked them, they would tell you women aren't as good as men, at basketball.  Or something like that.

If that was truly the case, they'd pass her the ball more.  The fact that they discourage her from playing, shows their fear.  Their fear of being embarrassed.  The only thing more embarrassing than getting beaten by a girl, is being on a team with a girl who's better than you.

And so they just don't pass her the ball.  Because

they're not scared of her being better than them.
They're scared of her getting better than them.

Men don't own comedy.
We act like we do.
Because we know we don't.
We never have, and never will.*
"Crying Comfortably"__________
Richard Pryor could have done it.

It didn't happen to happen.  But if it had happened in "Live on the Sunset Strip," I don't think it would have surprised anyone.

That was the coolest thing, about Pryor doing stand-up.

And that's why he still remains the best -- even better than Burr -- for now.

Nothing was out of the question.
That's a place I hope to get to, onstage.  To be able to cry, non-ironically.

I wonder if Monique cried, during "I Could Have Been Your Cellmate."

That was a special she did -- or at least, I think it was her -- in front of a bunch of prisoners.

It may be the greatest stand-up special ever made.  It certainly had the potential to be that.  She had the womb to put herself in that position.

I don't know if it was or not.  Because I still haven't watched it.

I don't do a lot of things, when it's women who did something.  I don't watch it.  I don't listen to it.  I don't read it.  I don't respect it.

I'm not happy about that reality.  I don't consider it a "strength" of mine, that I'm missing out on roughly half of the things that could be making me a better person.  A more informed person.  A more inspired person.

In Malcolm Gladwell's most famous book (so far), Outliers -- he spends 200-some pages explaining that success has less to do with who we are, and more to do with the circumstances we collectively create.

So a bunch of hockey players in Canada might think they're the best hockey players in the country.  But if 80 percent of them were born between January and June each year, then it may have a lot to do with them being more physically developed when they are 4 years old (when parents first sign them up for hockey teams)

If the cut-off for each age group is December 31st, then the kids who just missed getting to play on the previous year's team (kids born in January, February, and March) are going to be waaaaay more developed by the time next year's try-outs occur.

Thus, it's going to seem like a lot of the best hockey players are born in January, February, and March.

It's not like kids born in November and December just suck at hockey.  But at age 4, they are often told they suck at hockey, so they aren't given the repetitions or the playing time, to become as good as they could be.
"Women aren't as funny as men"
That was basically the entire point, of one of the most popular books of the past decade.

Outliers wrote all these beautiful examples, of times when people or entire groups of people were presumed lesser, because of a mistaken pre-judgement made about their type of person.

Hockey players in Canada.
And Gladwell proved his point.

The computer programmers who developed the Internet -- all born within a few years of each other.
And Gladwell proved his point.

The richest people in human history, and how many were Americans born in the 1830s.
And Gladwell proved his point.

The Beatles.
Jewish lawyers in New York City, born between 1912 and 1919.

The list goes on, and on, and on.
Oh.  I should mention one more thing.

You know what the list doesn't include?

"Wait, what?"
Yeah.  That's right.

Malcolm Gladwell wrote a 299-page book, about how we always leave half of everyone out of our stories,

and he almost completely ignores the ENTIRE female gender, throughout the book.

(I feel bad saying so, because I don't sense Gladwell intended to do so.  But that only proves my point -- which is also his point -- all the more)

I thought I might be imagining things.  So I checked the index.

Of the proper names referenced in the book,

148 of them are men
26 are women.

In the ultimate irony, Gladwell's book is more prejudiced than a Canadian hockey team.  This level of sexism would be something we'd expect from Bob Saget, not Malcolm Gladwell.

(Saget, by the way, is referenced twice in Outliers)
What does all this have to do with comedy?

Well, you tell me.

Are women "not as funny" as men?

Or, is it more likely that when anyone -- male or female -- asks what they can do to become a comedian, they are told "get onstage every night."

Which means going to open-mics -- a place where women are treated unfairly, ignored, derided, and (constantly) hit on...

and then forced to overcome the hundred other things that suck about open-mics, that I don't even realize, because I'm a male comic.

and then they have to risk "burning a bridge" every time a bitter male open-mic'er tells a violently-offensive rape joke, and they want to point out how insane they are.
I'm way past my 10-minute mark, which is how long I'm trying to take, to write these blogs now.

This topic, I find hilarious.

I'll try to wrap up in one minute.  Here we go:
(conclusion at beginning)

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Turtle Turtle Turtle

Growing up, my family had a game.

On the 1st of each new month, there was a race to see who could say "rabbit rabbit rabbit" first.

So, on March 1st, my brother would wake up, and at the breakfast table, he would see me and say "Rabbit rabbit rabbit."

(this wasn't how the game would go, of course.  Since our kitchen table was stacked 3 feet high with coupons and newspapers.  And my brother and I would always sleep in anyway, and not even wake up until the bus was 2 minutes away from our stop.  But let's not let that ruin the story...)
That game continued, into adulthood.

So now, in my 39th year, I will still call my mother on the 1st of each month,
and she will still answer the phone by saying "Rabbit rabbit rabbit."

My brother and I will still remember on the 5th of each month, that neither of us called each other on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th,

and that this month's title is still up for grabs.

We of course want to add to the suffering and regret of the other sibling, so we will tempt fate by calling,
asking how the other one is doing,
allowing sufficient time for the other brother to have said it, if they'd have remembered,

and then casually adding an, "oh by the way -- rabbit rabbit rabbitSUCKERRRRRR"
This is how my family has communicated, for the past generation.

I'm sure sociologists would study us and determine it was some coded version of "I love you."

(which all speech is, when you think about it for two minutes)
It goes back further than a generation, in fact.

My grandfather is still alive, at 97.  Born in 1918, he's been telling his wife "Rabbit Rabbit Rabbit" on the first of every month for most of their 68 years together.

I don't know how it started.  I don't know if his parents did it, as they migrated here from Poland (or wherever he told me he was from, when I was tuning him out and watching sports)
The funny thing is, I started doing this with Butterfly Starfish.

And a few months ago, she said something, right after I got her.  (again)

"I don't like this game.  It makes me feel like I already screwed up, right at the beginning of the month."

And you know what?


It's a flawed game.  It basically assures a 50 percent "I feel crappy because I lost at something" feeling, in my entire family.

No matter who wins at that game, half of the energy it creates is negative.
Right there on the spot, we came up with a new game:

Turtle Turtle Turtle

When each new month starts, we both make it a goal to say "Turtle Turtle Turtle" to each other.
(I still make it a race, out of habit.  I'm working on it.  So far I'm 2 and 0, at this game that is not a game, and that we are definitely not keeping score of)

"Rabbit rabbit rabbit" roughly translates to, "I WIN AND YOU LOSE, YOU IDIOT!!!!!!!  MAN ARE YOU STUPID!!!!!!"

"Turtle Turtle Turtle," on the other hand, translates to, "I care about you, and I'm rooting for both of us to have a good month."
It's early,

but so far, the returns have been very positive.

February was a great month for me, and I think it was a very positive month for Butterfly, too.

I woke up this morning and told her, "Turtle Turtle Turtle."

I think it's going to be a good month.

Who knows?

Maybe I'll
write more blogs,
post more videos,

and (gasp!)

get you'll ask someone else, if they've heard "Turtle Turtle Turtle" yet this month.


Friday, February 27, 2015

The Happier Train

I was coming home from my job this evening, and I got caught on a subway train.

I was on my way home from teaching a group of high schoolers.  I told a story to one of them about David Letterman.  He had never heard of him.

I'm starting to feel better and better about deciding not to sacrifice my 30s to get on his show.
At first, my 5-train going south from the Bronx was held up.

Then, when I finally arrived at the Fulton Street station, in lower Manhattan,

I walked onto an A-train that was jusssst about to pull away from the station.

"What luck!" I thought.  I was due for a break.
It was rush hour, so the train was packed.

So I squeezed in, and waited.
And waited.
And waited.

And waited.

10 minutes passed.  And then I heard an overhead voice saying there was another, different delay, between my new train and my home stop.

People were tense.  It was hot, and uncomfortable.  Nobody wanted to be there.  Everyone was miserable.  We were all just standing there, shoulder to shoulder, and not moving an inch.

One guy got off.  Then a lady got off.  Each time, someone pushed in to replace them.

At one point, a guy pressed himself through the doorway, and the guy standing in the doorway already didn't like it.  So they had words.  And they argued.

"I've been waiting for an hour, on this platform."
"Well, I've been in this train for 45 minutes.  In this spot.  So don't tell me to move."

And so at some point -- I'm not sure what the "tipping point" was -- I just...decided to get off.

I squeezed my way back through the 4 or 5 people between me and the door, and I got off the train.

And I immediately felt better.

I walked around for 10 minutes.  I called Butterfly to tell her I'd be home a little late.  I figured out a Plan B, for which trains to take to get home.
10 minutes later, I walked back to the same spot.

And the train was gone.

And you know what?

I didn't miss it.

Not even a little.  I didn't say, "Ahhhh, if I'd have just stayed!!"

I was still thrilled that I got off that train.  And still am now, as I write this, now that I'm home.

2 minutes later, another A-train pulled into the station.  It was not crowded.  It had people on it, who were in a pretty good mood.  It was the weekend, after all.  Friday night.

There was a cute couple, on this train.  Maybe teenagers.  The boy had a massive afro.  It was hilarious.  They were...cute.

I farted near them.  I guess I wanted to test their love.

It was a pretty pleasant ride home, on that second train.
Sometimes, it's just nicer to take your time.  Sometimes, it's not worth forcing your way into wherever you're trying to get to.

Those ten minutes I walked around, and talked to Butterfly, and thought about other ways to get where I wanted to go --

those have been the past two years, of my comedy career.

And I can tell you, honestly -- I don't miss that first train.

I Have No Advice for You

I'm working on several blogs, for this site.
My brother wrote me a text, a few weeks ago.  Saying he admired me, but that he thinks I'm a "step or two from full on crazy."

I chuckled at it.  And I agreed with it.

I think "crazy" is a weird word, right now.

In 2015.  In this world.  Especially in America.

Butterfly Starfish and I were lying in bed last night, getting ready to go to sleep.  We got onto the topic of hypnosis.

"Have you ever been hypnotized?"  I asked.

"I don't think so, no."

And I said the same thing.  But I added:  I don't know how I know for sure.  Since getting hypnotized includes...you know...getting hypnotized.

And then she asked:

"Do you ever get the feeling you've been brainwashed?"


Without hesitation.  I said yes.

The gravity of that set in, for maybe two seconds.

"Me too," she added.
I don't know why I'm sharing that anecdote, on this blog that is supposedly about comedy (though it rarely is)


But I want to start thinking less.

I want to start setting the timer on my phone for 10 minutes, starting the timer, and then posting whatever I write, after those 10 minutes are up.

10 minutes a day.  I can do that.

I don't know what will come from each 10 minutes.  There may not be a "point."  There may not be a "lesson."

But there will be 10 minutes of my life, that went toward something.  That went toward building something.

I remember a conversation I had with a New York comic a few years ago, and he asked me why I didn't work on jokes more, when I was doing so many open-mics around the city.

I explained that I felt like my mentality was that because of the nature of open-mics, I basically had a crowd of 30 people, watching me perform, every night.  Sure, they were other comics.

But other comics are still an audience.  And so I felt like I had an opportunity to tell a good story.  And that for me, if I had the mentality that my open-mic sets were a mosaic,

that kind of made more and more sense, the more you zoomed out and looked at all of them,

then all of a sudden, I was telling a pretty damn good story.
This has inspired me, the past 2 days:

And also this interview with Katie Nolan, I believe should be required viewing, for any young comic, or anyone with a dream, of any kind:

10 minutes is up.

Talk to you tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

2015 Premise #4: Al Roker Loves Prostitutes

Let's keep in mind, please, that

another word for "premise"

is "theory."
So my 2015 special

(tentatively titled "Go Ahead, Call It a Comeback")

will be less an hour full of "premises," and more an hour full of "theories."

And let me assure you:

But I just hope we don't act surprised, if Al Roker ever gets caught with a prostitute.

Male.  Female.  Scorpion.

Seriously.  Anything.

When it comes to Al Roker's future downfall, I'm so "Up for Whatever," I could be in a shitty beer commercial.

(If the "sell-out" role hadn't already been snatched up by Reggie Watts)

Look.  I don't know Al Roker personally.

But I know the guy has feelings.

And I know the "character" he plays on TV doesn't.

So, there's a disconnect there.

I was watching him on TV this morning, while riding the bike at work (aka the Bed-Stuy YMCA).

And he was laughing with a group of ladies who had brought their brand-new baby out into the crowded New York City streets, in 20-degree weather, so that the baby could meet "Al Roker!!!"

It was a hilariously-tragic train wreck, as I watched it.  Genuinely hilarious.

Because the baby was shivering.  Like, in that way that it thought it was dying.

And it occurred to me that those ladies didn't give half a shit about that baby.  It was merely a pawn, to get closer to the "queen" on their chessboard, which for the past 20 years of their lives has clearly been Al Roker.
Maybe that's when you "know" you're a comic:  when a dying baby -- a real, live, baby that thinks it's dying -- makes you chuckle softly, as you ride your stationary bike at the local Y.

I don't know.  I don't know why I still want to test out these joke ideas, even now that I'm getting married, and have a steady job, and so on and so on.

But I do.  And so I decided to take my phone out of my pocket, and start recording my thought.

That's what I plan on making my 2015:  the year I record my premises -- not just my sets.
And the year I post them online.  Because

1)  The idea of someone "stealing material" is hilariously outdated to me*.

and also,

2)  I want to hold myself accountable more, as a comedian.  I think I have clever ideas.  I think I'm the funniest comic alive**.  I want to start getting in the ring again.
So that's today's premise.  A little strongly-worded, perhaps.  But like I said, I don't actually claim the premise is true.  

All I'm saying is:  the IDEA of Al Roker loving prostitutes---is hilarious.
*we might as well be fighting over who gets to pay $2000 out-of-performer's-pocket to go to Montreal, for God's sake

**(Non-Bill Burr division)

Butterfly Effect Season 1, Episode 2

I'm sure some of you thought it was pretty weird, when I started writing on Facebook that I thought I could make the NBA.

My Cleveland/Ohio University comedian-brother Damen Camin -- as we were preparing for our Specials in November --

told me he thought it was funny I "used to" think I could make it to the NBA.

I remember chuckling to myself, over the phone, and thinking "I'm even funnier than that:  I still think I can."
So I admit that I may seem crazy.

And as a matter of fact, I may have seemed crazy for much of the past 2 years.

That is largely because I have a fiance' (and formerly a girlfriend) who is crazy hot.

As in, she is so hot that every time I look at her, I say to myself, "Well...I guess I just get whatever I want in this life."
Here's the thing that nobody tells us, as we're growing up:  no matter how "pretty" or "handsome" or "beautiful" we are growing up, we all get the same message.

It's the same message.

That's what I never realized,
growing up as someone who wasn't "cute."
growing up as someone the pretty girls didn't like.
As one of the kids the cool kids passed over.
I always thought about what school was like for me.
I always thought about what television ads that I saw.

I never thought about what it was like for "the pretty girls," or "the hot girls."

I never even thought about the obvious stuff:

1.  Do beautiful people get a different set of ads, when they're watching a show?  When they're walking down the street?
Answer:  No.  They get fed all of the same "you aren't good enough" messages that the rest of us do.

2.  Do they worry about getting made fun of at school?
Answer:  Yes.  No matter who you are, you are terrified of becoming unpopular at school, because at that age, you feel very locked in to your social status.  A popular kid is only popular until he gets caught masturbating in the gym locker room.
So I don't blame my fiance', for not knowing how beautiful she is.  -- because she gets the same messages we all get.

And I've even been responsible for those messages, at different times.

Which is why I want to be so crystal clear, with this point:

My fiance' -- Miss Butterfly Starfish -- is so hot, it makes me confident I can play in the NBA.
I always felt athletic.

Well no.  Actually, that's not true.  I always wanted to feel athletic.  But I never totally did.  I never felt strong enough to pursue any sport seriously.  It was always so discouraging, to be weaker than the other athletes.

I guess I never fully understood, that building up a body takes time.  And that it's largely the choice of the individual with the body.  And in the body.

My Boo taught me that.  Along with some other helpful people, in real life and on the internet.
What really made me actually start taking the thought seriously, though, was how beautiful Butterfly Starfish is.

She just has an NBA-level of hotness.  A LeBron-level of hotness.  And though she never dated any of the NBA players that tried to get with her, she did date an NFL player for a little while.  And a few other professional athletes.

And I want to say she has "the make" of a professional athlete herself...but I don't know if those are the right words for it.

I guess we'll roll with it, and let history be the judge.  I only have a few minutes left, to cap this letter off.
I don't want anyone to misunderstand:  I am not betting on me making the NBA.  I have a job teaching and tutoring students, and I intend to support myself, and the aforementioned hottest woman in history Miss Butterfly Starfish.

But I am not deciding for the NBA that I won't play in it.

Chad Warren -- a good Austin comic -- once told me a quote from a "Shit My Dad Says" twitter feed, which was popular when we were down there together.

"Never think of a woman as 'out of your league.'  Let them make that decision--not you."
I honestly think that relayed advice from Chad is a small part of the reason I'm engaged to the woman I am today.

She's completely out of my league.  It's hilarious.  It's preposterous.  And that advice helped me to say, "Hey-- if she thinks I'm her equal....well, then I must be so much more athletic than I realize,

I think a nerd can make the NBA.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

The BrysonTurner.Com Show! -- Season 2, Episode 1

I've been finding a lot of new ways, to grow as a person.

That's really what today's video is about.

Annnnnnd there.

I just taught myself how to "embed" videos on this blog.

I know that may seem crazy.  Since that's something that some people have been doing for
almost a decade.

But it's something I was intimidated by.  Because I've always been intimidated by the "HTML" aspect, of writing online.
Again, that's what today's video is about.


And I don't learn, unless I give myself a deadline.  

About two weeks ago, I went to a WIBO class, and they talked about using our phone as a tool.  I forget the connection exactly, but I came out of the class with the idea:  SET MY PHONE TIMER.

And so the past few weeks -- whenever I think of it -- I come up with a goal in my mind, for the next 20 minutes.  And then I set my timer for 20 minutes, and I press "START"

And then I either get the goal done in that amount of time, or I don't.

But either way, I don't go more than 20 minutes, without having a direction 
And for any long-time readers of this blog
(there are more of you than you realize),

And for any new-comers who are still getting caught up
(there will only be more and more as we spread the word),

that has been my greatest challenge.

When I arrived in New York ALMOST A HALF-DECADE AGO,
I DIDN'T KNOW HOW TO direct myself.

I had so many things I wanted to do.  So many dreams I wanted to accomplish.

And then I felt like, despite all the opportunities in the world, I wasn't able to get much done.

and I quickly started to feel the pressure, of my art form's "industry."  Whose message was basically,

"You comics never have your shit together.  And you never get your shit together.  The only way you're ever going to make money off of your talent -- no matter how brilliant you might be -- is if you have us pay you to be funny, while you're saying what we want to be said."

Now, I honestly don't know how true that is.  And there may well be exceptions -- the first season of Chappelle's Show is a notable example.  And though I haven't watched it, my gut feeling is that "Broad City" may have a similar slipped-through-the-cracks vibe to it.

If this 2nd season of "Broad City" builds off the momentum of Season 1, don't be surprised if executives start to "gently push" it in a more mainstream direction.  It'll be interesting to see if it catches a true wave of mainstream popularity (read:  churns more revenue for Viacom).

What would happen next?  I'm interested to see.  Or at least, I will be if something goes wrong.  Haha.

("wrong" in this case means "wrong" for the corporate entity, "Viacom."  I met one of the Broad City girls in person once, and she was super cool, super fun, and super nice.  Innocently and enjoyably flirty.  So I'm rooting for them as people, to bite off the arms of anyone who tries to hold down their spastic creativity)
So clearly, on some level, I'm wrong about "The Industry."

In a recent "B.S. Report with Bill Simmons" podcast, comedian Bill Burr talked about the concept of "comics' comics."

He pointed out that if there is such a thing, then there also has to be the same parallel for everything.  Including the "comedy industry."  There has to be some sort of "industry's industry" people,

aka industry people who do great things for comedians, and for comedy.

It was a brilliant point, made all the more brilliant by how obvious it is.

On some level, whatever I think I am as a comic,

there is someone in the industry who is this, too.
And so I don't really need to worry.
Worry becomes a sillier and sillier use of brain space, as we think about it.

I just need to keep producing.

Because "the comedy industry" is just like politics:

 if "I" don't exist in it, yet...

then the only person I have to blame, is myself.


I can prove this is worth it.

I just need to keep coming to work.

Here at my factory -- www.brysonturner.com
Every day.