Category Archives: comedy

An Email from Barack

This email arrived in my inbox last night…

Timmy —

Today, I was asked a direct question and gave a direct answer:

I believe that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.

I’ve always believed that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated the same as my parents were treated. An interracial couple, who historically would not have been allowed to marry in many states in our union, they likely suffered great and terrible bigotry that I was never allowed to see, bigotry that I was protected from seeing, clearly, for why else would it have taken me, a biracial man living in a country still grappling with a racist heritage, why did it take me so long to evolve my positions so that on this day I can finally say that gay people aren’t so different from you and me. You might think the sting of bigotry would have made me an early champion of equal rights for all. You would be wrong.

I was reluctant to use the term marriage because of the very powerful religious traditions it evokes, traditions like witch burning and youth castration and shunning. And I thought civil union laws that conferred legal rights upon gay and lesbian couples were a solution, much like earlier generations thought that separate but equal was a fair and decent way to deal with the folk who looked like me.

But over the course of several years I’ve talked to friends and family about this. I’ve thought about members of my staff in long-term, committed, same-sex relationships who are raising kids together, and while most of them gave me nicknames like “Hopeless Changeless” and were often seen facepalming themselves after five minutes of arguing with me over their right to marry, I see now what an ass I had been. Through our efforts to end the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, I’ve gotten to know some of the gay and lesbian troops who are serving our country with honor and distinction, and it really is not very easy to tell them apart from the non-homosexuals. Go figure.

What I’ve come to realize is that for loving, same-sex couples, the denial of marriage equality means that, in their eyes and the eyes of their children, they are still considered less than full citizens. My bad. That’s completely my bad. Sorry. Wow. You must think I am a complete dick.

Even at my own dinner table, when I look at Sasha and Malia, who have friends whose parents are same-sex couples, I know it wouldn’t dawn on them that their friends’ parents should be treated differently, unless their friends’ parents don’t contribute even just $5 to my 2012 campaign fund, and then my two beautiful daughters are taken by their mother to the offending holdouts’ home where my darling family just stare at the front door until cash comes out the mail slot.

So I decided it was time to affirm my personal belief that same-sex couples should be allowed to marry.

I respect the beliefs of others, sometimes, and the right of religious institutions to act in accordance with their own doctrines, especially when those institutions defend child molesters and rapists. But hey, nobody’s perfect. But I believe that in the eyes of the law, all Americans should be treated equally, sort of, I guess, I mean, okay jeez Joe quit it! [Joe Biden steps out from behind a curtain where he has been holding President Obama’s ear, and as he gives POTUS a smack on the back of the head, says, “Now finish this email up. I want to practice whispering ‘FUCK YEAH’ for when we are re-elected.”]

And where states enact same-sex marriage, no federal act should invalidate them, though I’m not sure what to do with states like California and North Carolina, but I do have armed drones standing by…

If you agree, you can stand up with me here, where I stand on legs of jello with a spine running through my back that is strengthened only by polling data, because, seriously, why else did it take me so long to stand up for civil rights for all, unless maybe I was worried about my legacy? Speaking of legacy, I need to go order some more drone bombing raids in which innocent civilians will be killed, but hey, they’re foreigners and who cares about them?

Thank you,

Barack

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Filed under comedy, politics

The Second City: A First Visit

I’ve lived in Chicago for four months now and I finally made it out to see a show at Second City.  This was the real deal, folks.  As much as I will always hold that lovely little black box of the People’s Improv Theater near to my heart, the PIT and all the other improv joints in NYC can’t stand chest to chest with Second City.  I know that UCB people might bark back that I am so wrong.  Go ahead and bark.  All that’ll get you is a shot at being let out to pee.

But this isn’t a pissing contest.  Second City is 51.  It has established itself as the center of comedy in this known universe.  It’s legacy is well-known yet it’s really worthwhile to take a minute and read the list of prominent alumni that they can claim their own.  The list reads like a Hall of Fame of Funny.  UCB is gaining, though. Established in 1990 by people out of iO and Second City, UCB has given us a lot of quality funny people.

Why have I stayed away from the Chicago comedy scene until now? Why did it take me four months to visit the Mecca of Comedy?  Simple.  I’m very underemployed and don’t have the money to go see shows and take classes.  My girlfriend’s brother suggested it for a night out so I could finally meet his wife.   It was a good time for the four of us.  We saw the 11:00 performance of The Absolute Friggin’ Best Time of Your Life. It was good stuff.  The performers were all very solid and entertaining and I found myself impressed and a wee bit envious.

Envy is not something one normally feels when watching a show.  I miss performing and it came down to them being on stage and my sitting in the audience.  That’s all.  (Listen: I know that envy is one of the Seven Deadly Sins.  It wasn’t raging envy. As I said, it was just a touch of the stuff.  It faded.  I’m no longer drenched in sin (or is that Sin? Well, not that one anyway–).

Getting back to money.  Regarding Second City, I want classes more than a show.  The reason I stayed away was because I can’t afford to start taking classes there, so there wasn’t a compelling enough reason for me to go.  I can always pop in and see a show.  I expect my affiliation to be professional and instructional.

I studied improvisational comedy at the PIT and had a great time performing with two improv troupes in NYC: my very first one was Long Division, and I soon after joined Track Suit Mafia.  From the first time I got a big laugh from an audience (in a one-time role as the roustabout for the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus), I was hooked.  I’ve gone after laughs from people most of my life, yet this was the first time I ever did it for real.

So I saw a show at Second City and had a great time with my girlfriend and her brother and his wife.  Two nights ago, Teresa and I saw Ricky Gervais play at the Chicago Theatre.  He was very good.  Damn he’s smart and funny. And during his show, I considered, during certain bits, how I might have performed them.  I have the bug again.  I want to start getting serious again about performing.  I need to make a steady income that allows me some extra cash for paying for coaches and classes and rehearsal space.  A month or so ago I wrote some spec pieces for The Onion; I haven’t done anything with them yet.  I have a couple of ideas for sketches, and I have a strong urge to try stand up.

(Yikes.  What the hell’s going on here?  Is this the direction my life is going to take?  It is if I continue to steer down that road.)

Since I started making comedy “for real,” I feel a little weird when I clown around in my regular interactions with people, as if it’s not appropriate.  I never felt that way before.

I’ve progressed past the need for acceptance from you.  Maybe now I want acceptance from everyone.

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Filed under Chicago, comedy, journal