Bourbon Cowboy

The adventures of an urbane bar-hopping transplant to New York.

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Location: New York, New York, United States

I'm a storyteller in the New York area who is a regular on NPR's "This American Life" and at shows around the city. Moved to New York in 2006 and am working on selling a memoir of my years as a greeting card writer, and (as a personal, noncommercial obsession) a nonfiction book called "How to Love God Without Being a Jerk." My agent is Adam Chromy at Artists and Artisans. If you came here after hearing about my book on "This American Life" and Googling my name, the "How to Love God" book itself isn't in print yet, and may not even see print in its current form (I'm focusing on humorous memoir), but here's a sample I've posted in case you're curious anyway: Sample How To Love God Introduction, Pt. 1 of 3. Or just look through the archives for September 18, 2007.) The book you should be expecting is the greeting card book, about which more information is pending. Keep checking back!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Nick Di Paolo: An Initial Response

I'm late for work, but I just thought the readers of this site deserved to see the first part of my answer to his e-mail. Note that, for humor purposes, I have maintained the tenuous conceit that this actually is Nick Di Paolo writing to me. I don't actually believe it is, based mostly on the fact that he wouldn't misspell his own name. Nobody's that silly. Anyway, here it is:

Hi Dave,


What's up?

Oh, nothing. Just chillin and reading your letter.

An ex-evangelical christian who used to write Hallmark
cards..with qualifications like those i can see why you
believe you're an expert on the subject of stand up comedy.

At no point did I claim to be an expert. In fact, a sensitive reader would have noticed that this site isn't actually called The Big Site of Comedy Reviews. It's a personal website for people who know me, which is why there are so many silly poems and postings about laundromats. And I didn't even claim to be a stand-up comic. I claimed to be "trying my hand" at stand-up---because, you know, it might turn out that I might not get along with all of my co-workers. But that's exactly why I'm obsessively paying attention to comedy these days. I'm seeing what's out there, shopping for a style, and of course I'm going to be very attentive to what works.

But lest I overapologize, you know what I am an expert on? What I think is funny. You know what else? Writing. And maybe you weren't paying attention, but my Ph.D. is in the modern American humorous essay. So while I don't claim to be an expert, this isn't Bobo's Yuk Barn. I've done the reading, and people have paid me to write jokes. It's one of the reasons I moved here.

I know
your type, if you disagree with a comic's political views
(usually conservative) you brand that person not funny. Talk about a
hack approach. Let me guess, you love the Daily Show,
Al Franken, and David Cross because those guys are edgy right? Takes
alot balls to go after white, heterosexual , christain males these days.
(Ah, Distant irony the favorite weapon of comedians with no balls.) The
fact that you called sam Kinison homophobic and sexist tells me all i
need to know about your knowledge of comedy.

For the record, my two favorite comedians of all time are Eddie Izzard and seventies-era Steve Martin---two people whose act you can never predict, except to know that you're headed somewhere new and brilliant. But my fave guys are the comedian's comedians: Emo Phillips, Steven Wright, Jonathan Katz, etc. People who just tell solid jokes, and for whom attitude is not part of their delivery. As to politics, I also love early Dennis Miller and I'm convinced that conservative essayist P.J. O'Rourke is the best humor essayist we have---I've taught his stuff a dozen times in classes on "How to Write the Humorous Essay." As for political correctness, Lisa Lampanelli is a textbook example of a woman who can be "politically incorrect" and funny as hell. Why? Because beneath her offensive comments, there's a core respect she has for everyone in the audience. (Example: when she's impersonating Arabs, she doesn't actually ululate.) If you could feel her hatred---if that was part of her act---I might feel ugly just watching her.

Actually, I'll get into this in more detail in my Mencia post, but the actual problem is that too many conservative comedians push back against "political correctness" (which I call "cultural politeness"---see how that makes it less scary?) instead of going around it. As a result, there's a tendency to go straight for outdated stereotypes instead of aiming for fresh targets. (Asians can't drive? Please! Even if it were ever true, how can you claim it's original?) In other words, you start your work from untrue premises. The best basically-conservative work in this area is more likely to be done by libertarians like South Park and independents like Bill Maher.

Another thing I'll mention later is that much of stand-up comedy involves creating a persona that the audience finds appealing. It lowers the bar a little, since if they basically like you, they're more likely to laugh at okay-but-not-fabulous material. So while I do in fact like Jon Stewart, David Cross, and so on, it's not because of their political views. It's because they're like me: brainy, silly, and quietly bemused by little things. The very fact that you like Sam Kinison and have contempt for "comedians with no balls" suggests that we're very different people. Where I'm from, and among my people, the very idea of a guy constantly trying to prove he has balls is very, very funny.

Hey, and speaking of
comedy, you said in your article
your doing comedy here in NYC, so why don't you come by the comedy
cellar or any one of these shit holes and maybe i can get you on..oh
that's right
then you'd have to call me an asshole to my face. Anyways, maybe i'll
se you around the clubs here in the city ..then again probably not.

I'll get to the pushy aggressiveness of that comment later. But for the record, I never call people assholes to their face. (Nor do I correct their English, which saves us both some time.) Not only because that's not how I was brought up, but because I can't imagine the conversation would go anywhere.

Me: You're an asshole.

You: No, you're an asshole.

Me: Touche! I withdraw my earlier comment.

Or would it be something like this?

Me: You're an asshole.

You: No, you're an asshole.

Me: Fuck you.

You: No, fuck you.

Me: Double fuck you, you fucking fuck!

You: (Animalistic howling)

(Pants unzip and dicks are whipped out. A long night of pissing begins.)

As a professional comic with a public persona, you are a public citizen. That means that other people (such as myself) are allowed to have opinions about you without being nailed for libel or slander (not that it's impossible, but it sets the bar higher). Your work is subject to public review, and I reviewed it. I also reviewed Click, but so far Adam Sandler hasn't called. I guess he's busy.

Sincerely,

Nick D iPaolo

p.s.

Give Jon Stewart a call at the Daily Show and ask him if he thinks I'm
funny..just curious

I tried---I really did; it was a funny idea---but they wouldn't let me speak to him. Oh, wait! Would that be your way of pulling rank, since you can call Jon Stewart and I can't get past the guards? Where did I get the idea that you might be an insecure, thin-skinned bully?

Bourbon Cowboy???? fuckin brilliant

Your mother liked it when I was fucking her last night. [Rim shot.] Was that "edgy"? Or should I add more punctuation?

2 Comments:

Blogger Jason Rohrblogger said...

Wait,

You don't like attitude, racism, and sexual innuendo? You must have HATED my act. I'd ask for my own review but I'm affraid you would give it...

-Jason

6/21/2006 1:06 PM  
Anonymous Toonhead! said...

I'll bet as long as they're delivered the right way he'd love 'em. Like on a bagel with a schmear or something.

6/21/2006 2:35 PM  

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