stand-up comedy – a joke by me, analyzed by me.

I’m back doing stand-up comedy here and there on the California central coast. Great group of people involved. Various bars mostly – nothing too exciting but working up to a 30 minutes set.

Lately have been telling dark jokes, involving pets. not sure why. I like cats and dogs. I thought I’d present the joke and talk about it a little.  If it helps someone write their own joke or think of something funny, great.  I thought of this joke in July and have used it the past few sets.

As with all jokes, it’s better in person but I write this here.


I called in sick the other day because my dog died. My boss said ‘how long are you going to be out?’ and I said ‘well, when my mom died, I took 10 days off. But this is my dog, so just multiply that times 7.’


One thing I’ve noticed in performing recently is that some people are funny but they do not word their jokes correctly. If you want to do stand-up comedy, wording is extremely important for most comedic styles.  For the joke above, the word ‘7’ is the last word on purpose. (or the phrase “multiple that times seven” – whatever) – if I say “multiply the time off by 7 because it’s a dog” – it’s kinda funny, I think, but not as funny as the original ‘correct’ way. It’s also a matter of how I present the joke. I am unassuming, quiet and I tell this as if it happened (usually early in the set with the other pet jokes.).

This jokes does two things which I like:

1. Brings up a topic that happens to most of us – dealing with the death of a beloved pet. Oh, and also, a parent.  Yeah, that too.  So many people can relate to either dead pet or dead parent/family member. It’s not a fun topic, so you get to think about it through the scenario I have set up (calling in sick).  This brings the crowd (all 4 of them, usually) in and on my side because I’m a guy discussing the death of my pet dog and name dropping the dead parent.  Hard to heckle a guy talking about loss.

2. The other thing it has is math! It’s not the smartest joke in the world, not by a long shot, but it’s got a little joke about how the age of dogs in relation to ‘human years’ is multiple of 7s. Most everyone’s heard this factoid. So, instead of taking two weeks off for my dead dog, I’m asking to take 14 weeks off! See ya later bossman! Sucker!

I think a lot of people who enjoy stand-up comedy are pretty sharp and they want to laugh and think and be challenged in some ways (i.e., exercise the mind during your set a little whether it’s a historical reference, or math or puns). My joke has a simple, elementary calculation which helps in presenting the punchline; everyone does it quickly and hopefully gets the joke (that I’m looking to take about 2+ months off – 10 x 7).  If you didn’t know that fact/theory about dogs lifespan being 7 years to 1 human year, then the joke really doesn’t work.  The joke is also absurd as factoring in “dog years” into bereavement time is extremely silly.

I think the joke is funny, but it’s also sad because in reality, who wouldn’t want 3 months off after the death of a loved one (parent or dog). But, as the hard-luck comedian tells this story, it’s funny in a sad-funny way. And what do we all say about comedy – tragedy+time = comedy – and in this joke it’s about all three.

It’s a fun joke.  In the small town that I live in, I can’t tell it forever, as many of our local ‘live comedy’ supporters have heard it. Eventually, they will say “yeah, yeah, we get it! death is hilarious! do you have any airplane jokes!?”

Later, I may analyze some other jokes of mine – it helps me think of others, reminds of the format/structure of a joke.

I haven’t used my blog in 1+ year (or should I say in 7 dog years?) but perhaps that will change.  I’m not going to leave comments open because of spam but if you are a real person and want to message me a question, I think you can from the blog or thru Facebook.

The code is cracked: Ice Bucket Challenge, ISIS, Frozen, L.A. Kings, ICE, etc – read if you dare

once again, I have cracked the code. Follow me around the room: 1. The film Frozen comes out in 2014 – a story abut a ‘King’dom trapped in ice. 2. Terrorist group ISIS makes it’s move in middle east (ISIS sounds like “ICE US”!), and 3. meanwhile L.A. “Kings” when the Cup in ICE hockey. 4. Immigration big issue this year (who enforces this?: ICE, immigration and customs enforcement) 5. ICE bucket challenge goes viral. 6. What do you say when someone dumps ice water on you? “Jesus Christ that’s cold!!”. 7. How many letters are in ICE ?Three. As in Trinity (and who is part of that – Jesus (King, Kingdom). So, mind blown, yet? The mothership will be here soon, probably covered in ice. Get your purple Nikes and meet me outside. And bring some ice! 

icy cold stare…..


This. This. This. Enough already. Retire “This.”!

Hi Internet citizens,

If you read a comment or article that you appreciate and agree with, whether it’s on or Facebook or,  or your local pay-site newspaper, you do not need to start your comment posting with the very short sentence “This.”


I define the usage of the “This.” sentence as implying that you agree wholeheartedly with the article/comment you’ve just read, so much so that you say “This.” as though what was written was precisely what you would have written if you weren’t so dumb or chicken. Kinda like a version of “ditto” meaning exact copy – you agree exactly with whatever idea/sentiment is being expressed.

Why avoid the “This” sentence? Several reasons:

1. “This.” Whoa, slow down there, Tom Clancy. Don’t write too much. So, what gives, wordsmith?  This what? If what was written was precisely what you think should have been expressed, then why clutter up the comments with a one word response. Stay off the comments, you one-word ogre.  Save the space for the real psychos who turn every message board into a referendum on politics.

2. “This.” followed by your own ideas, tells me that while you think the original poster/commenter has written so perfectly you had to write “this”, you still felt the need to add your own thoughts. So, really, the writer didn’t cover all pertinent facts or opinions, huh? Just had to keep typing, didn’t you?  So, next time, don’t write “This.” Just write your own thoughts, even if they are similar or more poorly phrased.

3. Sometimes when I read a “This.” I think “oh man, I wonder if they’ve been murdered while at their keyboard. Or maybe they had a heart attack just as they started typing. Maybe they were going to write “This man is in my house with a chainsaw” but the unexpectedly jean shorts wearing chainsaw guy got to them sooner than they expected. “This.” could be a cry for help.

4. “This.” will eventually lead to “That.” And nobody wants that to lead to this happening. Some smartass is going to start it, I just know it.

So, lesson learned, internet? Knock it off with the “This.” sentence.

Royal Baby Name Revealed!

From it has been revealed the new future King’s name is down to a list of 5:

5. Wi Tu Lo

4. Ralph

3. The Dude (or His Dudeness)

2. Dumbledore

1. Saul Goodman

Better than North!

Age progression image of future king at 8 months.

Book Flipping – the Robert Galbraith / J.K. Rowling book hits Ebay!

This week, I turned $83 into $620 all thanks to J.K. Rowling.

This past week the world learned that J.K. Rowling wrote a mystery novel under the name Robert Galbraith. Ron Weasley would have been proud by the not-so-tough-to-crack deception. Upon learning of this ruse, the Rowling Readership hit the online stores and drove it to the top of the seller’s list.  Very few hardcovers were to be found, of course, as the print run was reported low. On Ebay, I read one description that listed the North American first edition as being 10,000 (an expected figure for a debut author, but of course certainly low for Rowling).

The Cuckoo's Calling - book flipper's dream come true.
The Cuckoo’s Calling – book flipper’s dream come true.

Upon reading about the Rowling/Galbraith Identity news on Sunday morning, I saw an opportunity. It’s called Book Flipping! Or, more seriously, bookselling. It’s what book scouts and booksellers do – obtain those books at a low enough price to garner some income when sold back to another person or store. They are looking at short-term increases and possibly long term holds – my guess is short-term is preferred. I’m certainly not a professional bookscout or seller, but I have enough experience to know that this type of book – a novel under a pseudonym of a world famous writer – is instantly desired by almost every muggle who likes to read.

So, last Sunday morning, I got in the car and faster than you can say Corman Strike, I was at Barnes and Noble at 9 am, the time they opened.

Hi, how are you, Book Clerk, you poor soul who is not yet aware of the Rowling Book Storm that is soon to land on top of his head. The phones – put those on silent because they will be ringing all day!

I found my copy upstairs in Mystery.  Check the copyright page – first printing, first edition – great. Then, went downstairs to the cash register, where 2 copies were already set aside as I had used their online ‘pick up’ feature before leaving on the 20 minute drive to the store. So excited I was that I had 3 copies in hand, it didn’t occur to me to see if any more copies remained. My mind was already writing my Ebay Item Description (‘free shipping!’ ‘first edition, you bet!’).  Instead, I paid and left. I used to work in a bookstore in the early 90s, so I can sympathize with bookstore employees when a sudden “flash mob” like book event happens – people come in or they call and are puzzled when a book isn’t available. Whether it’s true or not, I imagine the rest of the day for the Barnes and Nobles employees was spent explaining that they were sold out of The Cuckoo’s Calling. I did tell the clerk after my purchase why these books were important (at least from a collector’s perspective), and I’m not sure it hit her just then, but I’m sure it did later.

Cut to Sunday evening. Time to auction these off. It’d been awhile since I listed anything on Ebay (the site has long ago stopped being fun and affordable to use  with the fees but I don’t rely on it for income – perhaps it’s easier for those professionals who use it).  I upload a couple of photos, fill in the item description and then decide the most important thing – price.

The Cuckoo’s Calling is instantly a unique collectible. Written by the mega-selling author of the Harry Potter books, it is a hardboiled detective adult story.  Is this book a collectible for mystery buyers or for Harry Potter fans? Or for literary fans who may believe that Rowling’s talent will only continue to grow thus cementing her standing as one of the most beloved storytellers of the 21st century.

Not knowing anyone in the book scouting business to get advice, I listed my first copy conservatively – $85 for bidding or $115  for Buy It Now.  Other similar first editions were starting at $50 but I hadn’t seen anything selling yet for over $150. I listed my item, and almost immediately it sold. I knew I was onto something.

The next night, I listed copy #2 (all three were first editions, first printing). I took new pictures because I don’t believe in reusing same photo on three different items, even if they are the same book. Again, book sold immediately at $145 – I had listed it a little higher as I was seeing some $200+ auctions for the same book. Prices were increasing but still some auctions were ending at 75. Others were still ongoing and climbing slowly.

The third night, after seeing three books going for more than $400, yet still seeing many more in the $200 range (why I have no idea), I decided to aim higher. $450 was my buy it now. I put a starting bid at $300 so it could have easily gone that route, taking 7 days for a number of bids and maybe it would have climbed past $500, maybe not. Did I want to spend 7 days checking my Ebay account every five minute? No. With the Buy It Now option, though, one person did step up and buy my copy. For $450.  I wasn’t shocked. Not after seeing other items prices, but I was puzzled, though, why others who were bidding on the same book in the price range of $500 wouldn’t jump over and start in on my Item.  Today the same searches on ebay “Cuckoo’s calling” brings up a large variety of prices, although it appears they are all steadily increasing.

For the non-collector, paying $450 for a book is a foreign concept. They may think  “hello, the second printing will be out soon and then this stupid book will be, like, everywhere!  And, yes, the same text that is in the first edition will be in the second edition and in the electronic versions as well. I get it. But the first edition is that first public outing to readers, the first vote of confidence by a publishing house (I’ll leave the debate about the wisdom of publishers for another day). Obviously for the well-know author, a first edition is to be followed by multiple printings based on sales that occur throughout bookshops, grocery stores, Costco, etc.  Nothing special, right?  But that first edition book by an unknown author is something different.  If it catches on, the small print run and high demand will drive up the price for those who want to collect that item that existed before anyone was aware of it (even if it is that they purchased this first edition years later).  It’s a marker of sorts, especially for a first-time author or for a bestselling author’s pseudonym.

Today, five days later, I still see a similar price range for The Cuckoo’s Calling (from $200-$600). My advice? I think anything under $300 is a good deal, of course. Past $600 is iffy,  in my opinion, but only because I’m not sure of the actual print run and what the longterm value will be. I would say for serious first edition collectors, it’s still probably a safe bet both for the mystery book collectors angle and the J.K. Rowling fan-base. Two groups vying for the book for different reasons. I would not be at all surprised if the North American first edition/first printing settles in close to $1,000 this month or next. I couldn’t guess where it might plateau.

I am happy with my venture. I sold three books. After fees, I cleared just over $600.

As of this evening, there are approximately 80 books actively listed.  Where are the rest – tucked away to be sold later or, gasp, on someone’s nightstand being read at this very movement, the value decreasing with each turn of the page, each crease of the spine. The horror!

I usually do not buy books by author’s that I don’t read. I don’t read J. K. Rowling (or Galbraith) but this was an opportunity to make some dough which could be put to some good uses (other books? maybe. Or, more likely, bills).  Had I misjudged the demand (unlikely) I would have been stuck with 3 books I had no interest in. If you buy first editions with the hopes they will increase in value, you better know your market, and if you don’t, then just buy what you like, so you won’t be so disappointed to have ‘that book’ on your shelf, no matter what Ebay thinks.

(btw, I realize this post is all about books as collectibles and doesn’t even discuss the quality of the book by J.K. Rowling. It’s a weird hobby/career, book collecting or dealing. One obtains some book at some ungodly amount and then sets it on his or her shelf, never to be touched again!  The “Robert Galbraith” book’s pages could have been blank and I, having not cracked any of the copies I scooped up, wouldn’t have had any idea. Obviously, the best part of books is what the author provides – the stories and characters, drawn to such a degree that we forget our own lives or we find answers or questions that enrich our lives. A book’s real value isn’t how many dollars we might declare it to be  but whether what is between the covers has provided us with a valuable experience. That is subjective, of course.)

Excerpts from the Alec Baldwin English Language Dictionary

Noted linguist, actor, CapitalOne spokesman Alec Baldwin this week provided a preview of his self-titled English Language Dictionary, following confusion among Americans over the real meaning of the word “queen.” Mr. Baldwin promises to update all editions.

From the upcoming Alec Baldwin English Language Dictionary:

Queen: 1. (noun) somebody who’s just above, not having any necessarily sexual connotations.  2,(adj, queeny): aboveness. ex. “I know women that act queeny, I know men that are straight that act queeny, and I know gay men that act queeny”; not a definite sexual connotation, or a homophobic connotation. 3. (adj. queeny) A non-slur adjective if used by an open-minded registered Democrat. A slur if used by anybody else.
Twitter. 1. (noun) social medial platform popularized by its simple design and restricted word count per post. 2. (noun) Celebrity meltdown software, often used by well-known persons to reveal their true emotional intelligence quotient through verbal bullying and homophobic/racist rants.
CapitalOne customers can purchase Baldwin's reference book at a fair. 28.99% APR.
CapitalOne customers can purchase Baldwin’s reference book at a fair. 28.99% APR. In stores never.

In 2011, Mr. Baldwin’s passion for language and words was revealed after being booted off a plane over the matter of the challenging cell phone game  Words with Friends. Baldwin remains an avid player. From the ABELD:

Boot. 1. (noun) Footwear covering the ankle and sometimes lower leg.  2. (verb) to remove from an area a superior person or persons, often an actor or actress.
Cell-phone. 1 (noun) an electronic device used to communicate via voice, text, or electronic mail, generally used with no consideration for surroundings.  2. A gaming device for grown men and women in confined places, usually in first-class on airplanes.

When interviewed by the online blog Gothamist Apologist, Mr. Baldwin stated that since being misunderstood so frequently by the American public and some of the press, he believed a dictionary was needed. “Whether it’s ‘little pig’ when talking about my daughter, or ‘queeny’ about a sloppy reporter, what I say doesn’t mean what everyone thinks it means.”

The publisher of the Baldwin Dictionary stated in a press release they expect copies to be available this Fall, unless a small vocal minority protest, then they will pull the book.