If you’re like me, the biggest news story of 2014 (so far) isn’t Bridgegate, or the Polar Vortex or legalized weed in Colorado (although we do have an all-weed state Super Bowl) it’s when Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks did this on Sunday…
"I’m the best corner in the game! When you try me with a sorry receiver like Crabtree, that’s the results you gon’ get! Don’t you ever talk about me!"
I had people over at my apartment to watch and we probably rewound the DVR 15 times. Giddily. Not the actual play - where Sherman stopped the 49ers’ winning drive to win the NFC Championship by amazingly deflecting a pass intended for Michael Crabtree in the end zone with 30 seconds left (we only rewound that four or five times) - but him TALKING about it after the game. And that’s what most of American sports fans were talking about too. Conservative types and uptight sports analysts talked about how Sherman had no class and was unsportsmanlike. Actually, if you watch Fox Sports interviewer, Erin Andrews’ face during Sherman’s tirade, she looks like she’s just smelled a really bad fart. Then she indignantly asks, “Who was talking about you?” And Sherman responds with, “Crabtree. Don’t you open your mouth about the best. Or I’ma shut it for you real quick. L.O.B.!” You know, in reference to the Legion of Boom, Seattle’s secondary. And then they cut away. Sorry, conservative types. And sorry, Erin Andrews. This may not be one of your precious TruBiotics commercials. But Richard Sherman just moved more products than you ever will. And nobody seems to get it. Let me help you…
Richard Sherman just made the league, and more importantly, himself millions of dollars. Because isn’t that was this is all about anyway? I’m not an NFL fan and I didn’t even know who Sherman was before he gave that interview, and I’m technically in a Nike commercial with him. But now most of America knows who he is. And people will be more invested in the Super Bowl - to see him back up his statements or to see Peyton Manning make him eat his words. Endorsements are going to come falling from the sky. He’ll probably even be an analyst when his career is over. Nothing but good is going to come from this. But I also understand all of that because I understand professional wrestling. And, more specifically, I understand the art of cutting a promo.
With the advent of television in the late 40’s and early 50’s, professional wrestling entered its first Golden Age. And the new medium also added another dimension to the sport - the promotional interview. It’s known in the wrestling business as “cutting a promo,” and its use is designed to advance wrestling’s storylines, feuds and gimmicks. Basically, talking shit on television has been a staple of American sports and culture since its inception. And it can also sell a lot of merchandise. In 1996, a little known wrestler who had previously been going by the awful name of ‘The Ringmaster’ won the the WWF’s King of the RIng tournament by defeating Jake “The Snake” Roberts. Roberts had been using a new Born Again Christian gimmick. And the Ringmaster was now going by “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. And after defeating Roberts, Austin strutted down to an announcer for his coronation interview. Austin berated Roberts for being a has been before proclaiming, “You sit there, and you thump your Bible, and you say your prayers and it didn’t get you anywhere! Talk about your Psalms, talk about John 3:16. Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass!” The promo was designed to make the crowd hate Austin even more. It didn’t work. It launched him into superstardom and his ‘Austin 3:16’ t-shirt is one of (if not the) most popular and highest selling t-shirts of all time.
The art of the promo is also the difference between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. Frazier was every bit Ali’s equal in the ring and has 41 heavyweight rounds of boxing with Ali to prove it. But in 2006, Muhammad Ali sold 80% of the rights to his name and likeness for $50 million. And when an HBO documentary crew interviewed Joe Frazier in 2009, he was living in a small room in the back of his Philadelphia boxing gym. What’s that got to do with wrestling? Well, when a young Cassius Clay met a wrestler named Gorgeous George (or it might have been “Classy” Freddie Blassie, he’s not sure) in 1961, George told him, “A lot of people will pay to see someone shut your mouth. So keep bragging, keep on sassing and always be outrageous.” Georgeous George was one of the first television stars in wrestling history. And after that, Clay/Ali was inspired to say things like that he would “float like a butterfly [and] sting like a bee,” before his title fight with Sonny Liston in 1964. After he defeated the heavily-favored Liston for the first of his three heavyweight titles, the ‘Louisville Lip’ repeatedly shouted, “I shook up the world,” and “I am the greatest,” while reporters (who looked like they just smelled a bad fart) struggled to for an interview. Look familiar, Erin Andrews? Oh, I should also mention that supposedly 97% of Americans over the age of 12 can recognize Muhammad Ali. 0% of Mike Bridenstines could have recognized Richard Sherman before Sunday. But that’s before Sherman 3:16 said he just whipped your ass.
The most recent Sports Illustrated even said that Sherman was “impersonating a WWE villain in his post game interview.” Exactly. What did you want him to say? That his team played hard and he gives thanks to God, first and foremost? That’s boring. You can keep your classy. I’ll keep my “Classy” Freddie Blassie. And I’m rooting for Sherman in the frozen tundra of MetLife Stadium at Super Bowl XLVII on February 2nd. And that’s the bottom line.
Always look on the bright side of life…
As Eric Idle’s song from Monty Python’s Life of Brian closed the show, you knew it was time to gather your friends and coworkers and head across the back parking lot to Resi’s Bierstube to close the night. But the song has always kind of made me feel sad. It meant the show was over and that the make-shift wooden stage, the projection screen and the curtain would be broken down and the back of the waffle house in the North Center neighborhood of Chicago that got be be the longest-running independent comedy show in the country would have to turn back into a mediocre restaurant with surprisingly-good waffle fries and gigantic steins of Moose Head. The Lincoln Lodge at the Lincoln Restaurant was my favorite show while I lived in Chicago from 2004-2007 and it was my favorite show to return to after I’d moved to Los Angeles. I was guaranteed to see old friends from my old sales job, high school friends from Iowa who were now living in Chicago, the local comedians who hadn’t left yet (or might never leave), Susan the loud, but friendly waitress and Mary, the grandmotherly Irish bartender, who was somehow louder than Susan.
I found out yesterday that the Lincoln Restaurant is officially closing at the end of December after hosting 14 years of comedy. And I wanted to give it a proper farewell. Chicago comedy has already seen its share of semi-emotional show closings and movings - the legendary Lyon’s Den open mic closed in 2004 and Chicago Underground Comedy moved from Gunther Murphy’s (which I deemed to be the perfect comedy venue) to the Beat Kitchen in 2006 or ‘07. But I just always kind of assumed the Lodge would be there forever. It’d had been there before my time and I just assumed that’s where it would remain… until the show’s runner and co-creator, Mark Geary, finally made good on his yearly threats and shut it down himself.
Before ChUC started in 2005, stand-up on the North Side of Chicago was relegated to open mics, Dave Odd shows and the death throws of the Elevated at Cherry Red, the first independent show in the city. Zanies was around on North and Wells, but the local comics on the scene were, for the most part, too green or too weird to work there. So the Lincoln Lodge was king. At least in my mind. The first time I performed there was November 12, 2004. And it was also the first time my parents had ever seen me do comedy. I didn’t have headshots yet, so I used my first grade class photo. I overheard people saying they came to see the little kid perform. So I’m guessing that stunt kinda backfired. But I spent most Fridays after that, until I moved to L.A., parked with other comics at the back bar watching my peers become rock stars for the night. So there are a lot of very fond memories.
There was my surprise birthday roast in 2006. My first Dwight Nights the same year. Montreal auditions. The first time I ever performed “Every Eminem Song Ever” live with Mike Holmes. Him doing “Our God is an Awesome God” or “G-Carlo.” The woman from the HBO Aspen festival telling a room full of New York-bound comedians to move to L.A. instead. The drunken St. Patrick’s Day disaster show, where I met Jordan Vogt-Roberts and he began to make videos for Blerds. Brady Novak with a joke-sized sundae, T.J. Miller chugging a giant stein of milk and making a drunk guy puke in the front row. JFL Chicago shows, sets by ‘up-and-comers’ like Kumail Nanjiani, Hannibal Buress, Mike Burns, Jared Logan, Pete Holmes, Nick Vatterott, Kyle Kinane, CJ Sullivan and Mike O’Connell. The old cast - Josh Cheney, Bill Cruz, Steve O. Harvey, Dan Winter, Ken Barnard, TJ, the Drury Brothers. The man on the street segments. The Jesus clocks. The fez hats. Anytime I got to see Sean Cole. Anytime I got to see Pat Brice. There’re almost too many names and memories to mention because, at the time, the show was the centerpiece of my experience as a comedian in Chicago - the centerpiece of my identity as a comic.
Mark Geary, the grouchy British man who has continued to run the show for all 14 years was once somebody I was afraid of. I now count him as a good friend. He once sent me money in the mail, all the way to L.A., because a table of my old coworkers came in to see a show one weekend, after I’d moved. He asked them who they were there to see and they said, “We don’t know. But Mike Bridenstine used to perform here and we always liked the show.” If you’re in the Chicagoland area, go see the final shows (Kinane is headlining) and support Geary wherever he decides to take the show. I came back to do shows in May with Mike Holmes and Sean Patton, including Sean Flannery’s Blackout Diaries Show. And I had an amazing time. And I knew I would. I just didn’t know it’d be the last time I performed there. Change is inevitable. But I just wished I’d gotten to say goodbye.
Always look on the bright side of life…
Here’s a short clip from the Mike and Brady podcast with Andrew DeWitt. He’s telling us about the time Oprah had a show about analingus. Enjoy.
Everyone seems to be making ‘best of’ lists for 2013. Sometimes I do it too. But before I do that, here’s the stupid shit I posted on social media that other people liked the most this past year. Whatever that means.
1. “Staggering good looks.”
2. “No idea how this place is still open.”
3. “I made meth with @pizzanachos69!”
4. “This is a candid from a wedding. I am a huge dork.”
5. “The fam.”
4. Who’s Bad?
So there you have it. Follow me on the crap that you don’t. Or do whatever you were going to do anyway.
Despite how Thanksgiving-bloated I look in the video thumbnail, this was one of the most fun I’ve ever had on a podcast. @afterbuzztv, @jquasto, @catherinekelley @thewalkingdale. #Raw #TLC
This is fun. @mccarthyredhead, @TheTomSibley and @VinceAverill do a phenomenal job retelling a story I was lucky(?) enough to be involved in following the most recent Pro Wrestling Guerrilla show in Reseda. If you don’t listen to their podcast, “We Watch Wrestling”, check it out. It’s one of my favorites.
Here is an audio recording of a show I did in October. Bryan Cook’s amazing creation, Competitive Erotic Fan Fiction. Well, I won. And I chose to write about someone near and dear to my heart - Walter White Jr. aka Flynn White from Breaking Bad.
Was it in poor taste? Yes, very. Very very much so. But that’s the nature of the show. My friend Katie, who basically does all the podcasts for Nerdist, came up to me after my set and said, “That was disgusting… but hilarious.” And that was probably the goal. Also, when my good buddy, Mike Burns, won Competitive Erotic at JFL Chicago over the summer by choosing Guy Fieri, he posted a link to his piece on Facebook (which was reposted on Vice.com) and said, “IF YOU ARE A MEMBER OF MY FAMILY DO NOT READ THIS. I’M SERIOUS, MOM." I would like to add the same. You’ve been warned.
So Major League Baseball’s owners voted to go ahead with ‘vast expansion’ of instant replay next season. And I hate it. Here’s why.
First, let me get some things out of the way…
I don’t want to get all Ken Burnsy on you, but baseball is an old fashioned game. That’s why we love Fenway Park and Wrigley Field and hate AstroTurf and aluminum bats and steroids. It’s why uniforms are still basically based on ridiculous fashions from the 19th Century and baseball managers still have to wear them - even though no manager has played in a game in 27 years. I mean, to make 68-year-old Jim Leyland roll out of the clubhouse like he’s playing baseball player dress-up in the same shit Little Leaguers wear is crazy. Comedians have been making jokes about the equivalents (say old Joe Paterno in Penn State shoulder pads or Phil Jackson in Lakers short-shorts) for years. But that’s what baseball does. And I don’t want that changed either.
Yes, I watched the Armando Galarraga 28-out-perfect game in 2010. And Jim Joyce made a horrible call. But guess what - both of them became beloved because of it. They went in to business together afterwards. And since I hate the Cardinals and the Yankees, I know that for every 1996 Derek Jeter/Jeffrey Maier home run, there’s a 1985 Don Denkinger call at first base. Bad calls are just as much a part of the game as bad throws, dropped fly balls and home runs off of Jose Canseco’s head. It’s just that, to be in the Majors, everyone on the field has had to prove they don’t do any of those things every often.
Okay, that being said, here’s the real reason I don’t want instant replay…
I love when managers freak out. You do too. Admit it. It’s one of the greatest things in American sports. It’s one of the greatest things ever, period. And instant replay will deny me the satisfaction of watching said American greatness.
The late, great Earl Weaver is one of my favorite all-time managers because he was ejected from both games of a doubleheader three different times. And twice before a game even started. The guy even had a career-long feud with an umpire named Ron Luciano. And that’s not even the umpire from the famous, “You’re a liar, Earl!” video that I love so much. An umpire once asked Earl Weaver if he wanted to look at his rule book and Weaver said no, because he couldn’t read braille. He told another guy that if he showed up to the What’s My Line? game show wearing a mask, a chest protector and a ball/strike indicator, nobody would be able to guess he was an umpire. He kicked dirt on them. He turned his hat backwards so he could scream as close to them as possible without touching them. And that’s just Earl Weaver. We’re not even getting in to the legendary meltdowns from guys like Lou Pinella or some of the amazing minor league videos out there. I want dirt kicked! I want caps thrown on the ground! I want bases tossed! And I want old men to do all of it wearing ridiculous uniforms even though they don’t play!
Here’s another fun example…
In 2004, I convinced Mike Burns to sneak back into a bar he’d been kicked out of by wearing a fake mustache… because that’s what I’d seen Bobby Valentine do in a Mets game after he was ejected in 1999. Valentine’s plan didn’t work. Mine did.
Baseball is the one of the last bastions of the old school meltdown. Tennis has had it’s share of John McEnroes, but those wieners are screaming up at those lifeguard chairs while the umpires stare ahead motionlessly like British pussies. And other sports have things like referee whistles and coaches wearing suits. They don’t have the majesty of the swooping ‘yer-outta-here’ motion that baseball umpires get to do. And they don’t have old men in children’s clothing with anger management problems overreacting like maniacs right before and right after that happens.
Earl Weaver died this past January. Don’t make all of the fun go with him.
I just had an audition at E! and, before I could check in with reception, a guy in a shitty suit and sneakers barged in and demanded a meeting with the network.
And when the lady gave him a number to call, he loudly launched into “When You Wish Upon A Star.” I caught the tail end of it on my phone. Sorry about the pole being in the way for most of it. I didn’t want to be obvious and you never know just how crazy anyone in L.A. is.
When I went back to the receptionist to get my parking validated, I was informed that the guy had been forcibly removed by security. That’s when I leaned in to the receptionist and said, “I just want you to know… that I have the most beautiful singing voice in the whole world.” And she shot me a serious look and said, “Don’t you start too!”