The biggest "complaint" I get from friends and family is "Do you really mean what you say up there?"
It's a fair question. So you have some context, take a look at this 4 minute clip from last year's Burbank Comedy Festival. I'll explain what I'm doing, why I did it, and why all your concerns for my emotional well being are both sweet and wrongly analyzed.
Here's a few general notes. It was hot. I do eat salad. A girl did say I wasn't bad looking. No one ever judged my eating an egg mcmuffin. I did once observe that the mcmuffin was just a compact normal breakfast. I did once paint a girl's room. And I don't follow football, but I know that everyone hates the Raiders. Even Raider fans.
So so what was I doing on stage? I was tapping into three types of truths.
Let me explain using a boring, basic concept.
We can all agree on this basic truth. But let me explain the three truths.
Literal Truth - 1 + 1 = 2 is a fact. Case closed.
Emotional Truth - 1 + 1 = 2 is a dumb idea for an analogy. Here's an opinion or point of view.
Cultural Truth - 1 + 1 = 2 is a conceptual idea. We may change the value of one culturally. What if 1 is a pack of three cans? Then we really have 6 cans, but we as a culture still call it 1.
You might be confused. But what comedy does is take a truth in those three ways. So yes, some of those things really happened in my tape. But I tapped into the exaggerations to find humor.
I really don't think I could be Miss Bakersfield. There are many beautiful women in Bakersfield. But there were a lot of "hicks" and more so than in LA. So emotionally I felt more attractive.
I'm not a Raiders fan or enemy. But our culture has deemed them the butt of sport jokes, so relating my faith to another hard to believe faith has cultural truth to it.
I do literally think I'm not very attractive in the LA area, but that's for another blog.
So here is my main point...
Comedy is taking the different levels of truth and creating the funny out of that. A literal truth can't always do that. Literal truth can be sad, depressing, boring, etc. But when matched with emotional or cultural truth, there is laughter.
I've had people ask me this. And no. Though I did think having the image of a crying young girl is emotionally and culturally truthful. Because I do get depressed when people ask me if I am depressed after I talk about my weight, singleness, and being trolled on the internet.
One thing the comedian can do that others can't (which is why comedy is hard) is take the frustrations of life and find the funny. Many other people would just complain and say "stop being mean!"
Comedy doesn't offer solutions. If you want solutions go watch a Ted Talk. Here's one on losing weight if you are upset I made fun of being fat or fat people.
The First Time I Knew I Liked What I Liked
This year I'll turn 36. I will also celebrate another year of being a strong independent man. Sounds more silly than strong independent woman, huh?
One criticism I get a lot is that I'm too picky. My standards are too high. And I'm not good looking, powerful or rich enough to have such standards. All of these statements are generally true, though why am I attracted mostly to women that are physically more inclined to look for alpha males and power brokers?
I'll take on female attraction another time.
I have a general theory deeply interwoven within Freudian thought. What if there is a physiological matrix in which the moment a boy sees women differently and the woman/women that coincide within that coming of age awakening?
Let me break it down this way...When puberty hits, what woman was in your life at that moment? That might create a sexual desire blueprint that you'll have to adapt and fight for the rest of your life.
Ever heard your buddies talking about a girl and you just don't get it? Then you mention a girl and they look confused? That might be because attraction could be imbedded in us and creates a blind spot toward all the other beautiful women and personalities out there.
I'll give you my story. I've was never a "butt guy" (though I have changed a lot) growing up. I was a boob man. Plain and simple. Never thought of legs or hair or eyes or anything else as the do or die feature on a girl. From about 6th grade until very recently, I found the curves in the torso the most physically pleasing. But why? My buddies in junior high talked about butts a lot. I didn't get it.
Then recently I started psychoanalyzing my tastes in women. Where did it stem? What was the earliest childhood moment of pure desire and unsolicited lust?
Simple. 6th grade. Summer of 1992. Watching The Price is Right at 10am on CBS. I had watched TPIR countless times. But then one of the models, Dian Parkinson walked on set in a sundress that was removed to showcase a buxom figure unlike what I've ever noticed.
I was entranced. My hormones went into overdrive. I'd seen her before. Never thought of her as anything special. But in that moment 12 year old Paul knew he liked what he saw. So did the counselor. His jaw hit the floor.
I truly believe this moment was an actual biological explosion. Had another type of girl been showcased, I might have like brunettes with long legs. Instead, I spent junior high and high school and my 20's pursuing women with this build. The results have been disasterous.
As time went on, my obsession with women who looked like Dian got stronger. I remember in 9th grade watching USA Up All Night and The Bikini Carwash Company 2 came on. It was edited for cable and the sex scenes were blurred...but I got the gist. By now I'd expanded my physical attraction desires and fully accepted brunettes and redheads with large mammories as equal to blondes. And in the Pamela Anderson era, that was quite progressive of me.
I really hope you appreciated the above satirical tone.
By the way, younger millennials, in the mid 90s there wasn't an internet to browse. It was late night cable. We had to stay up and keep the volume low. It was exhausting. And these movies only came on once or twice a year. VCRs were recording all around the country.
Proof that I was beyond blondes only were two new favorite TV girls, Debbe Dunning of Home Improvement and Jennifer Dempster of ESPN 2's Bodyshaping.
I started watching Bodyshaping to get workout ideas for wrestling. The dudes were jacked! I wasn't. Haha. That's when I fell in love with Jennifer Dempster. The thin, fit, perky dark hair beauty was on my TV every morning from 6am to 7am. I had some free weights and would work out with the show. I looked forward to getting up every day. Saturday's were let downs because the show wasn't on.
Debbe Dunning replaced Pamela Anderson as the Tool Time girl. I was so obsessed my buddy DJ snapped at me one time saying, "She's not that hot! Get over it!" I wanted to buy her 1996 calendar. My mom objected. I still haven't forgiven her. Here's a few of those photos.
I suppose she knew why I wanted the calendar. She cleaned my sheets. She was just trying not to make more work for herself.
As you can see, my 6th grade Eureka moment inspired "a type" and I've realized over the past few years I've tried to fulfill that desire with a type that is near impossible to meet in real life or date me.
You might say, But aren't these girls everyone's type? I would argue yes...in America. In other parts of the world heavier women are desired. Older women are cherished. And hair color is irrelevant. In fact, genetically speaking, breast size is more of a western thing than eastern.
Therfore, my attraction is still unique to me, though many would agree, not all.
The Subconscious Mind
Like I mentioned before, DJ wasn't a fan of Debbe. Found her average. I remember thinking about the girl he liked in school. Very plain to me, but if his hormonal volcano eurrupted in the presence of a similar type, that would explain his association of attractiveness to that type of girl. Again...his crushes weren't ugly...just not in the mold and shape of mine.
Therefore, I believe men will unwillingly go after a type of girl that they associate with early childhood attraction. I don't remember finding a girl my own age attractive until 7th grade. I never had a school yard crush. I liked women. not girls. And the girls I liked in middle school were the ones who were genetically gifted too early in life.
Truly, I believe my subconscious was aware of my conscious lusts, and created a block toward other types.
TV Images Are Crucial
The main reason I was inspired to write this blog is because I believe that mine and other heterosexual males tastes in women were crafted at that pre-pubescent stage. Therefore, the images presented to us creates a blueprint for the rest of our lives if we don't control it.
There really is truth in the unattainable woman idea. That Hollywood creates false images through hair and makeup and costumes and lighting and men are now seeking what in reality isn't available, creating a blockage toward women who are interesting and beautiful and smart, but not in the way our brain first associates attraction and sexuality. Here's Dustin Hoffman explaining it even better than I could. I don't think he understands where his "shallowness" stemmed from, whereas I do. But take a watch!
Changing What We Find Attractive
A lot of people will say to me "I only find a certain type attractive" and say "I can't find short, fat, tall, etc. attractive." I understand. Your brain has high wired you. But why aren't other areas of a human being equally attractive?
What about integrity, character, honesty, loyalty, kindness, and other admirable traits? Movies and TV shows tend to showcases these heroic characteristics, but with already good looking people. If Danny Devito was the actual hero is more movies in the 80's, would women my age find that type more desirable?
I know people claim those attributes are important, yet many will date and marry good looking people who lack those traits hoping they'll gather them up on the journey of life.
NEWS FLASH! They probably won't. Why should they? Unless a huge life event occurs, many people stay the same. You "fell in love" with the jerk. They won. Why give up the trophy?
So while I believe there were images that formed what I thought to be physically attractive, I've had to learn and teach myself what else should be deemed desirable.
The questions arises now, how do these men that date average looking women not have a block like others do? I believe they were the lucky ones. At their moment of hormonal volcano eurruption, the girl they saw was doing something generous, and that became the association with attractiveness that they sought after from that moment on.
In stand up comedy there's a thing called a "bringer show". Ask a comic what the definition is and they'll give you a few different responses.
My experience has been very minimal. But my friends have had a lot experience. So here is my definition of a bringer show.
Any show that requires the comedian to bring X number of people to the show to perform is a bringer show.
If the venue or booker only book people who bring but put them on stage regardless if they're successful, then it's not a bringer show - it's a show that values butts in the seats over quality. Which is smart economically, but not smart comedically.
After a few years swamping through the LA comedy scene, I'll say that any booker or venue that MANDATES a number of people to come see you at a show is a scam.
By this theory, a funny comedian is less valuable than my grandma, who's never done comedy, but can bring her grandkids to watch her on the main stage of The Comedy Store.
That is offesnsive to the greats who honed an act for Mitzi in the 70s and 80s to perform on that stage. But yet clubs all over LA use the bringer model to fill rooms.
Sadly, this model doesn't improve the state of comedy, comedians, or the audience's view of comedy.
Young comedians like the promise of getting to perform at cult like secret society comedy clubs in front of their friends, but the end result leaves their friends tired and broke by the night's end.
Bringer shows are the ITT Tech of comedy shows. They look real, but they're not.
So how do they end? Simple. If comedians just stopped doing them, then they'd cease to exist.
I've been very fortunate as an upcoming comedian. I've worked a lot of road gigs so far. Cities outside the Greater Los Angeles Area include BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO:
• Chico, CA
• Humbolt, CA
• Oakland, CA
• San Diego, CA
• Tucson, AZ
• Provo, UT
In LA, the audience gets up and goes home after a show. What I find so cool is how after a road gig, everyone in the building becomes your best friend.
I've had so many different types of people approach me after a show too. Beautiful women. Families. Gang members. Hot chicks. Dads. College nerds. Extremely gorgeous women. Doctors. Lawyers. Women who made me bite my lip while I was chatting with them. Pet owners. Blondes. Brunettes. Redheads. You get it.
After filming for Laughs in Temecula, the waitresses were so happy I tipped them well and talked after the show. In Tucson, I met two girls who just wanted to hang out after the show. In Oakland, this one group wouldn't stop asking me about my parents. They were my cousins, but that's not the point.
The point is that the road has reminded me that there are tons of great people just living life in America. And they're thrilled that comedians come out to make them laugh.
Oh. And the women are much more flattering too. After every show, at least one really cute girl comes up and says, "You're not fat. You shouldn't joke about it." Then they smile. Then I smile. Then we lock eyes. Then their boyfriend takes them away.
Today I tried rock climbing. I was invited by my friend Crystal to join our friend Caroline. To be honest, I was nervous at first. Mostly because I'm not very athletic. And they're two of the most athletic girls I know.
But I decided two years ago that I was just going to do anything (within reason) I'm asked to do. So I said yes.
It was so fun. My body feels so loose and limber. The girls even did a little aerobatic activities too.
By the end of the night (3 1/2 hours) I felt like a noodle. But I'm glad I tried something new. Life is about overcoming fears. So I suggest to you to find something you wouldn't normally do and try it.
I'm not talking about dating a homeless guy, by the way. I'm talking about making memories. Though, dating a homeless guy could create a memory. What do I know.
UPDATE: THE NEXT MORNING.
I used to be a TV junkie.
From 1993 until about 2010 I was obsessed with TV. I'm the 1990's I would plan my whole life around professional wrestling, Seinfeld, and The Simpsons. In the 2000's I had news shows, The Simpsons, and NBA games to watch.
I used to record shows on my VCR, watch others shows, and would watch the VCR tapes after school.
I can still remember in 1994 taping episodes of Steve Harvey's Me & The Boys but watching The Martin Short Show. Both shows were only watched by me.
I was a TV junkie. But that ended when I moved into an apartment in 2010, and to save money I eliminated cable and just read more and learned to love the internet.
But a funny thing happened in the January winter of 2016. I got a Netflix account. And my life has changed dramatically. I've fallen in love with TV again.
Returning to Cheers, The 70's Show, and finding new shows has been a real joy.
The Netflix originals Stranger Things, Lemony Snicket, and reruns of The People v. OJ Simpson made me love the power of TV again. And commercial free. Thank you very much. Hey Hulu! Get a clue!
Last week I recently binge watched GLOW and I'm currently watching Showtime's I'm Dying Up Here on their YouTube channel and will finish the show on their 30 day free app trial. I'm cheap. I know.
GLOW is a fantastic new show fictionalizing the birth of The Glamorous Ladies of Wrestling. I'm Dying Up Here is a new show fictionalizing the birth of the LA comedy scene. Primarily The Comedy Store.
Both shows have a lot in common.
Both are period pieces. GLOW tackles the gritty 80's. Dying tackles the 70's.
Both have a large ensemble cast.
Both tackle sexism, drugs, family life, etc.
Both are dramady in tone.
Both are about creating a character on stage to entertain the masses.
Here's where they differ: GLOW is fun and Dying is miserable to watch.
Dying only works if are a comedian. The cliché of the tortured artist is the only emotion it has. The actors are all fine, but the idea of only tackling the sorry saps of Sunset is hard to watch an hour of. It's based on a book that chronicles the comedy lives of famous comedians before they were famous. That would have made a great show. Young Jay Leno and young David Letterman, before they were enemies. That would be great TV. Instead we get boring conflict between unfunny characters yelling and screwing each other. It's not fun. How anyone outside of LA or NYC would enjoy this mess is beyond me.
Then there's GLOW. This funny, inspirational, dramatic, twist filled STORY is everything great TV should be. Instead of just saying "sexism is bad" the show says that while exploiting it's characters. As a character is being called a prude, she's stripping down in the locker room of a gym. There is true satire there. The idea that a post feminist culture created an even more sexist world is deeper than anything Dying has to say.
The shows are both anchored my great performances though. Melissa Leo is fantastic as a Mitzi Shore rip off Goldie, and Marc Maron is a revelation as Sam. But where Goldie is willing to backstab and show she's one of the boys, Maron's Sam is not trying to be one of the girls. He's frustrated and anxious, but it's charming and builds empathy in the audience. We want him to win. With Goldie, we want other characters to defeat her.
The major area Dying gets wrong is the tortured artist syndrome. Yes. I get it. Stand up comedians have issues. But so do Wall Street gamblers. But a lot of comedians are funny people. I know. I am one. The myth that they're all depressed is not true. Many are just normal people who see this as an artistic outlet.
Jim Gaffigan. Jerry Seinfeld. Albert Brooks. They aren't tortured souls. Nor does their comedy reflect that. Yes, Richard Pryor was, but his story is an anomaly. Most of us didn't live in a brothel.
GLOW demonstrates the fun and excitement of performing. These girls want to put on a good show. The comics of Dying want to entertain themselves.
Either way, TV is totally back. And 13 year old Paul is thrilled he can watch it all on apps instead of a VCR tape.
We are 6 months into 2017 and so far the films presented to us have been excellent, with the best ones having been sci-fi and thriller films. The comedies and dramas have been underwhelming, whereas the Guardians have guarded, the X-men have been more human, and the monsters have been sentimental. With a lot of more fantastical films still to come, here's my list of the best films so far...in no particular order.
This brilliant social satire is both a dark comedy and a sci-fy thriller. Jordan Peele's script has to be nominated for Best Orginal Screenplay, and the supporting cast is off the hook fantastic.
Samuel L. Jackson is so underrated because he's consistently great in everything he does. Kong is no exception. Here, the filmmakers are able to take the political energy of Apocalypse Now and shift it into this fantasy adventure film with some of the best sunsets in movie history.
I promised to write about this before and got lazy. Colossal is a hard hitting look and the man v. woman relationship dance with Anne Hathaway giving an award worthy performance as an alcoholic who realizes her actions effect more than just her. But Jason Sudeikis' "nice guy" old friend is the real find. Nacho Vigalondo's screenplay is after the idea that "nice guys" are monsters too when they try to win love through giving instead of loving.
This is not a mistake. This is M. Night Shyamalan's best work in decades. Here he begins to tie his world's together, creating his own Marvel-esque universe. James McAvoy should get some love come oscar season if there's justice.
Edgar Wright's indie Fast & Furious-lite is the perfect summer get-a-way film. The writing, the music, the cast...all of them are brilliant. Here's a film that everyone involved seems proud to be involved.
Gaurdians of the Galaxy Volume 2 is another rip roaring, heart tugging, excitingly funny film from Marvel. The first five minutes of Baby Groot dancing was worth the ticket.
OJ: Made In America was the winner of Best Documentary for 2016, but Hulu put it up in January. If you haven't seen this 10 part series, you missed the best documentary since Hoop Dreams. This should be required viewing in every senior government class.
Im pretty sure Hugh Jackman has become one of our finest actors. He's created an iconic Wolverine while also doing great theater, musical, and dramatic work in other films and plays. Logan is everything Christopher Nolan's Batman series hoped to inspire, which are great comic book films drenched in blood AND humanity.
Another strong documentary about the painful life of stand up comedians. I related a lot to this film, and if you want to understand where Hobbies end and obsessions begin, watch this on iTunes.
What's left for 2017?
So far I haven't seen all the trailers, but there here are five trailers that I think make 2017 look still very promising.
I'm on the job hunt again. Ironically, there's no jobs. There's $12/hr jobs that require a college degree and 10 years experience. There's multi level marketing schemes. They're called pyramid schemes. College kids love them. There's commission based door to door sales and cold calling. Because strangers love learning about things they've lived their whole life without, right?
That is about it. Oh. There are classic jobs like waiter, bar tender and Verizon Wireless sales rep. But they pay little and the customers suck. Not you. You're awesome. I'm talking about your uncle who voted for Trump and thinks Hindus caused 9/11.
My search has been going on for a month. Most resumes just go to the internet abyss. I don't know if anyone got them because when I call the establishment there's no one to talk to. Either the business has extensions to every department but HR or HR doesn't pick up. I feel like I'm on Tinder. I'm swiping like crazy. Just no one else is on or swiping back.
I did get a few polite rejection emails. Those were sweet. One place wrote back "we have no work for you at this time." Oh they still have a job for someone. Just no work for me.
I feel I'm a solid candidate. I'm personable. I'm highly educated. I have vast amount of work experience. But alas, just like with women, no one is biting. Oh god how I'd give for a biter.
I'm not even applying for big time jobs. Just regular writing and consultant jobs in the mid $40k a year. I'm not greedy. I don't want all the Universe's money. Just enough so my rabbit doesn't starve.
Why don't we have Living wage jobs anymore? Because greedy capitalists decided we didn't need to pay for time. Just results. So if you make some shmuck money, he'll give you a cut. But if you don't, your effort means nothing to him.
We also have greedy 22 year old college grads filled with hubris willing to live at home and try commission based jobs. Why hire an established person whose past employer can't afford to run the business when there's a go getter with no experience willing to potentially never cut a check.
In many ways our lack of jobs reflects our society's lack of desiring experience and wisdom. As a teacher, marketer, writer, coach, etc. I can bring a lot of value, but in a market place that thinks instant gratification, a ship full of cocky minnows is better than an experienced seaman. I hope you enjoyed my double entendre. It was very self gratifying.
Sadly, I'm an overqualified, under skilled, too old to start, too young to manage millennial. If the 1940's were the greatest generation than today's 30 year olds are a lost generation; a group of lost souls caught up in a social media blitz that proves they're tech savvy but not skill savvy.
One of my favorite films of all time is Up In the Air. George Clooney plays a guy who fires people for a living. Then he almost loses his job. Then he loses the girl of his dreams. He feels the loss that all those people felt by him. It's a carthetic film. A film that makes you feel.
I just want to feel again. Feel useful.
Bill Maher is in trouble again. This time for saying the N word. I'm not going to defend him. At all. But I will say, I once called myself the N word too. For a joke.
Let me explain.
When I was in 5th grade I said the N word. In class. During a discussion on what we wanted to be when we grew up.
Teacher: "Class, what do you want to be when you grow up?"
Most kids said basic things: Firefighter, Superhero, Astronaut. Yep. They were more popular in 1991.
At at that time in my life I was listening to comedy albums. When my parents took me to the mall, I'd run into the book stores to buy books and cassette tapes. Yep. They were more popular in 1991.
I grew up on Steve Martin, George Carlin, Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor. And Richard Pryor liked saying the N word a lot in earlier albums. He changed his mind after going to Africa.
I didn't know what it meant. All I knew is that he'd talk about "n***ers" and the people would laugh. I still remember the drunk story. Everyone was laughing. I was 10 or 11 and didn't realize the context.
So when it was my turn to answer what I wanted to be, I told Mrs. McMahon "I wanna be a n***er because they're funny!"
Luckily for me none of the other white classmates in my private school knew what in the hell I said. But there was a black girl named Camielle. She knew. And she cried. And she ran out of the room.
I was sent to the office to see the principal. My mother was the school secretary. She asked me why I was sent. I told her I didn't know. Then she got a call.
Mom: "Hello? [...] He said what?!" She looked maaaaad.
I still didn't know what I had done.
Then I saw the principal. He told me that it was a bad word used to make fun and mistreat black people.
I said, "Like how kids call me fat?"
He said yes. "That hurts your feelings when kids say that, right?"
I said, "Sometimes. But I am fat."
He looked flustered. Looking back, I realized that having this conversation because of my ignorance was not on his agenda for the day.
Eventually, my little marshmallow body was sent back to class. Camielle was better. Mrs. McMahon was back to teaching. I just went on with the rest of my day.
The truth is, it's hard for some people to understand the historical context on how and why the N word gets used. I didn't really understand what I said until years later. It just wasn't a word I heard in my daily life. Just comedy. But later when I heard Richard Pryor talk about how he'd never use it again, I understood that what I did, though in humor, was still wrong because I hurt people.
So so with all the talk of Bill Maher this weekend, I think I understand that Maher didn't realize what he said. The difference is that he's a grown man. I was a kid. He should have known better by now.
It's been too long!
I haven't blogged in 3 months.
I feel like like a dad who walked away from his family. So I feel like my actual dad then. Wow. I became my dad. I suck.
In all reality, I've been so busy. Since The Oscars I've had some amazing and weird things happen.
- Earned my first TV Credit (Laughs TV)
- filmed a comedy special (streaming soon!)
- lost my job due to budget cuts
- helped a buddy film his comedy special
- performed over 75 comedy shows
- switched from vodka and tonic to vodka and soda
- got stood up 3 different times
- found out Bumble isn't for me
- moved to the San Fernando Valley
- saw a bunch of movies
- And my step dad gave me this cool jacket that got me two phone numbers.
The TV credit and comedy special were the coolest. And losing my job stunk. But new roads are paved over old paths. So the journey continues and I'll keep moving on. Just like the Billy Joel songs says.
Paul Douglas Moomjean Blog's About What's on His Mind
Blogging allows for me to rant when there is no stage in the moment to talk about what's important and/or funny to me.