This is the dawning of the age of the, *internets.*
I don’t remember if I was 19 or 20.
I spent high school in wanting to be a comedian. That’s all that made sense to me after I was a math and science nerd in middle school who played baseball and martial arts and led the project for the video yearbook in eighth grade, which is why I had my name in the Santa Cruz Sentinel.
Back when having your name in the local paper was supposed to mean something.
Point being: my interest in comedy became a tragic trajectory or comedy of errors. Tragedy starts out on a high and ends on a low. Comedy starts on a low and ends on a high (what defines high and low?). All the while, I was immersing myself in classic rock: Beach Boys, Creedence, and The Who. I liked Queen in middle school because of, “We Will Rock You,” and, “We are the Champions,” but I decided to stop saying that I was a fan of Queen when a wannabe gang-banger started calling me gay because of it. As Jerry Seinfeld joked,“Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”
I’m going to skip over a long backstory about my time in high school to say that I graduated with honors. After graduation, I found an online FAQ for Late Night with Conan O’Brien that said messages (including email) would be answered by a, “talent coordinator,” for the show. Instead, I was blocked.
Rejection the hard way.
And, I have no fear in sharing what type of content I thought I was submitting as freelance material:
1) Rolling Stone magazine defined, “Conanism,” as “bizarre sketch comedy,” and that, “the point of this story is that NBC has terrible security.”
2) 0ne of the submissions was essentially fake news, like something out of the Onion in which I scraped memes of Conan O’Brien from Yahoo (your clue on how long it has been since then) and turned it into a brochure to alien warlords that want to buy Earth as real estate. Earth was being marketed by PETA—the People for the Exploitation of Terran Apathy. This was being a little mean and absurd as a spoof on charities or causes with the joke being that PETA is paradoxical and tautological: “People” and “Terran” are synonymous but one is exploiting the other.
3) Infomercial-tainment–that was an absurd commercial hosted by Michael Stipe, in which he sells an album of Christmas covers as sung by Bob Dylan called, “T’was the Night before Chanukah.” The joke was that all the covers were intentionally bad and bizarre rambling (ex, “I’m dreaming of a black Christmas but the man just made it white,” which was loosely inspired by Roger & Me by Michael Moore, but I’m not a fan of Moore; I just had to watch his films in high school). *Nevertheless,* ("nevertheless” is slang from California) the commercial would feature rock legends trying to get people to understand the real message of intentionally bad cover songs of holiday music. Again, this was just being little mean. I was a teen of the late 90s—the biggest bands were still Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins,Limp Bizkit, and Korn among a few others. I was a fan of Weird Al. But, the idea was simply to skewer people that try too hard to find a message in a song. Generally, those songs are open to interpretation even if the songwriter had something in mind … and a copyright to invoke to block people from using their song to push an agenda or do something that they think would ruin the song. Basically, I thought Fred Durst and Billy Corgan were pretentious douches who romanticize their depression to cash in on teenagers. Bart Simpson joked in the Lollapalooza episode in 1996, “Making teenagers depressed is like shooting fish in a barrel.” Back then, I preferred the message of the Blues Brothers, “Everybody needs somebody to love.”
3) There was a video in this bundle I sent. Basically, it was 3 hours of stream of consciousness stuff … at the time, I lost a sense of time after seeing Lord of the Rings (which I watched ad nauseum on DVD), which does not have a standard narrative to a film and it is three hours long without an ending. If you watch Too Funny to Fail on Hulu about The Dana Carvey Show from 1996: you will see that Stephen Colbert sent a disturbing video to Dana Carvey and still got hired for the show. Albeit, Colbert had connections from Second City to vouch for him; nevertheless (ahem), I maintain that my video was merely experimental humor and that I am otherwise normal but had and still have a knack for doing weird characters. For instance, in senior year of high school,I did a scene from Psycho as Norman Bates for a drama class, which scared the crap out of the class.
4) There were other jokes in which I made fun of the counterculture of the 60s… I thought it was funny to have Joan Baez calling people “individuals,” but then insisting that they sing, “in key,” on, “We Shall Overcome.” There was also a fake boy band called The Jetyzen Dudez, which was a super-group of rejects from other boy bands with Pete Best as their manager. The joke being: “jettison,” is respelled to look hip, but is actually a subtle joke (this was before the show Punk’d, but it’s essentially the same idea). I liked words that people might misuse in thinking they are giving a compliment, like saying someone is “homely,” doesn’t mean down to earth or that they remind you of home. In this case, the boys were told that “jettison” means that they’re “jetting” up the charts when in fact you’ve been ditched.
5) And finally, I included an extremely long letter … that,in my mind, was comedy. It was an absurd journal (or manifesto) in which I was dumping on bitterness, heartaches, and illusions … when none of it was about rejection by girls. In fact, most girls in 11th and 12th grade thought I was hilarious. Nevertheless, I didn’t make plans with them because I didn’t have a car, phone, or job at the time … I thought comedy was where I would get those things. But at one point, I wrote that I once read that he (O’Brien) was “obsessed” with the show Saved by the Bell in his late 20s and I thought that was pretty pathetic, so I wrote, “maybe I won’t stalk you, you’ll stalk me.” Do the math (not meth): the actors on Saved by the Bell were all in their 20s yet playing minors, so for O’Brien to say he was “obsessed” with that show is a bit disturbing—in reality, they were the same age as he was but he was “obsessed” with teenage characters. Elizabeth Berkeley did Striptease and Dustin Diamond went on to star in porn. In voluntarily entered an alternative high school in ninth and tenth grade before I went back… at which point, I started to like the theme song for Welcome Back Kotter.
I was over-zealous in trying to get this freelance material to Late Night.
Nevertheless, in being blocked, I got the idea: rejection is new direction. I focused on college instead while working for my dad. I had connections in radio with Dr. Maimes at KFBK who wanted to get me hired therein 2006 but when I wasn’t hired—the *hunch* was that I had been blackballed by NBC. So I moved forward to what was next instead of crying over spilled milk and despite being accepted to transfer to UC Davis and UCLA with essays, rigorous curriculum, working masonry construction, extracurricular activities, and B+ average (I also wanted to play baseball). I worked at Home Depot and needed a judge to vacate the claim that I was fired with cause after I reported a supervisor for sexual assault. Long story.
Afterwards, I wrote sports blogs for Bleacher Report, which is now part of Time Warner. In 2009, I was attacked by Keith Olbermann on MSNBC for the factual accuracy of blogs labeled as humor in saying, “Why ESPN Should Have its License to Broadcast Revoked,” when they don’t need one. He also mocked me for other blogs in which I said there was an East Coast bias. I was doing this as a form of rebellion against, primarily TV news: CNN, MSNBC, FOX, ESPN, and even Comedy Central. To me, the least reliable news source is TV news (which doesn’t mean that I hate TV). Much of it looks like poorly edited clips from an eighth grade video arts class and you don’t really know where their sources came from, which is why you err on the side of thinking it’s fake, fabricated, unauthentic, or embellished —> which, for example, was the lesson of that scandal involving Brian Williams pretending to fly around in a helicopter. Much of the “news” on TV is just commentary, which is why I preferred to read the Associated Press on the internet, magazines, newspapers, books, and even radio. TV seemed like the easiest way to manipulate people with fake news. In 2011, I was blackballed by Bleacher Report and the last blog I wrote was in defense of Michael Vick’s right to work in the NFL. They do that for Colin Kaepernick now.
Ultimately, the moral of this blog is that, in being blocked by Late Night on NBC and blackballed several times since then: I was unable to get my stuff together and no matter how much a girl liked me—I was basically nothing. And thanks to social media, it has been easy to irritate people with nostalgia, reminiscing, and messages to name a few things (ahem)—which were also influenced by previously untreated effects of concussions, PTSD, ADD, and stomach injuries that inhibited the creation of neurotransmitters. So by my late 20s: I was just old, weird, and an evil-spirit in the eyes of some preacher kids in a church I went to until they, basically, ran me out despite the fact that many people there liked me. I was taking"coverings,” from their dad to get involved in their church, only for his son to complain to a different pastor. The complaint resulted in me being evaluated for Asperger’s Syndrome,which I do not have. Afterwards, I complained about the preacher kid and I was *voluntold* to leave. I’m pretty sure that they either wanted to decide who could date who or turn their so-called church into a reality show (they had connections).
At the end of the day, I wanted someone to see that I wasn’t worthless, irredeemable, or deplorable simply because some feckless hacks (who are gendered male) in Hollywood and Manhattan needed to be able to say MeToo to be interesting to their partner.
So, at this point: next time you (the reader) hear or play the Queen song, “Somebody to Love,” I hope you think of me. Or, listen to “Zero” by Smashing Pumpkins to taunt me (because I hated Billy Corgan in the 90s) or the theme for Welcome Back Kotter and laugh at my expense.
Karma … also something I learned about from a show on NBC before it was abruptly cancelled. In retrospect, I could have learned karma from the Lollapalooza episode of The Simpsons. So, thinking of that: if Roseanne can reboot a sitcom from the early 90s, why not reboot My Name is Earl, which was cancelled abruptly on a cliffhanger episode?
I would start a petition … but I have never quite understood how to get a trend going, so I’m hoping there’s a reader out there who wants to start a petition to reboot My Name is Earl. It seems apropos in this day and age of MeToo or people like Roseanne and James Gunn getting fired over tweets.
Because of events of the past decade or so, I can now summarize my reasons for voluntarily entering an alternative high school in ninth and tenth grade as:
1) I don’t want to do Two-A-Days with Jerry Sandusky.
2) I don’t want to Netflix and Chill with Kevin Spacey.
3) There’s a reason I write “blackballed,” because it’s literal and figurative—growing up with a testicle in the wrong place because of a neighborhood prick, because I wanted to know what “red rocket,”is. The same prick was a temporary friend after several other friends had moved away. I spent the night at his house once too and awoke (if you get my drift), in which he rented a few movies including Soap Dish and Dick Tracy. Part of my “soul-searching”once involved trying to deduce when that happened by looking up the release date of Dick Tracy and how long it was in the movie theaters before it was released on VHS. The surgery I needed for that sexual injury was in 2008, which is the same period when I was fired without cause from The Home Depot and why I started to write blogs for Bleacher Report.
Or, you know, quoth the raven …
Here it is now, your *moments* of zen:
Cut and paste these links–