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The craft of comedy
Jeff Maurer's Blog About Comedy
Friday, 28 May 2010
The funniest thing I've ever fucking seen
Topic: Arguably funny stuff

I was just made aware of the drunk outtakes of Orson Welles' champagne commercials, and they're maybe the funniest thing I've seen in my life. The "mwwmwwmaaa-haaaaaaa, the French" at :56 would be the finest piece of comic acting in history had it been intentional.

 18 years after the fact, a joke from The Critic makes sense.

Posted by jeffmaurer1980 at 9:12 AM EDT
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Thursday, 1 May 2008
Yo You Suck You Fucking Faggot LOL
Topic: Arguably funny stuff

  If you've ever worked in customer service - and I did for six years through high school and college - then you probably suspect that most people are boiling cauldrons of rage, with social conventions being the loosely-placed lid keeping the vitriol from boiling over the top. People are angry; they are insecure. If you've worked as a waiter, or a clerk, or pizza delivery guy, or anything in the service industry, then you've been the victim of someone's misplaced anger. They can't yell at their boss, or their spouse, or their parents, or God, but they can sure as hell take you to task for bringing their hot wings without any goddamned ranch dressing. What is this, Afghanistan? I hope you weren't expecting a tip, dollface.

  If you've ever doubted just how angry and vindictive many people are, doubt no longer; internet message boards have drawn back the curtain. The internet is the wild west of human interaction - there are no laws, and justice is rare. When people interact face to face, most people are afraid to be assholes. Society frowns on it, and you just might get your ass kicked. But when societal and survival considerations are removed - when you're safe in the anonymous darkness of your Mom's basement, wearing only underwear and a single sock - there's nothing to keep all the anger and rage from spilling out. 

  Every exchange on every message board on the internet is roughly the same. The topic of the initial thread barely matters - the same arguments and the same assholery always comes to the front. For example, the comments below are in response to a brownie recipe posted on


aceofknaves: First!

gourmandini: too chewy

megwiggle: first!

drandi29: Fuck you you fucking faggot thes brownies suck!!!! they tatse like my shit!!!!

reese_piece: gourmandi what would you know you fucking dago cunt. I'd like to rip out your eyes and piss in the sockets   LOL

aceofknaves: Hey megwiggle, do you know how to count? Sorry to sound pedantic, but...

Kosovi_is_Serbia: hey drandi29 do you eat your own shit?

ryguy: nice.

m1k3: ooooooooooooooooooohhh, aceofknaves."pedantic". you harvard assholes think there so smark

justiceispeace: This is about the level of conversation I would expect from a country that commits genocide against prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. Athens created art while Spara prepared for war, which is why you Americans and your paternalistic, militaristic culture will never truly appreciate the dimensions and nuances of fine food. Enjoy your hot dogs!

aceofknaves: At least I can spell.

m1k3: spell cocksucker you fucking bitch LOL

thedrumroll: I don't know why your so concerned with protecting the terrorists justicispeace. I know you got used to surrender during WWII but if we surrender now in Iraq then the terrorists will be in control. Hillary and Ombama want to tuck our tail between our legs and run home but we need to have someone with some BALLS in the White House to keep the world safe. I served in the Marine Corps for 20 years justiceispeace and I'll take your apology that you don't speak German right now.

bakken: first!

funbundle: (sigh)

hotchocolate18: do you eat your own shit drandi?!?!

aceofknaves: m1k3 I'd respond but I doubt you'd understand...

justiceispeace:  Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Vietnam, East Timor, Falkland Islands, El Salvador, Rwanda, Kuwait, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq...when will you Americans lean that WAR IS NOT THE ANSWER!

a_TOM_explosion: yo check out my band son we be rockin Cin City and all points north south east and west come check us on myspace:




That was made up. But still. 

Posted by jeffmaurer1980 at 12:01 AM EDT
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Thursday, 14 September 2006
What if Arnold Schwarzenegger Attended a Web Conference in Atlanta?
Topic: Arguably funny stuff

      Danny Rouhier has decided to get rid of his Arnold Schwarzenegger joke. Danny, I support your decision. I hope my fellow comedians will join me in recognizing the tough decision that Danny had to make; it's extremely difficult to ditch a joke that works (and that joke does work). But he's doing the right thing based on principal.


      I think that most non-comics don't realize how much duplication, repetition, and outright stealing there is in comedy. Hack comics are parasites; they ruin good comics' bits and build their reputations on lame, derivative, or blatantly stolen material. They often get away with it, too, because most audience members don't go to four shows a week or have a memory filled with old Richard Prior bits and Stand-up Stand-up episodes, as most comics do. So when the average audience member hears the "I said 'it's not the pants that make you look fat, it's the fat that makes you look fat'" joke, they're hearing it for the first time.


      Anything hack usually starts out as a good bit. There's a reason why these jokes get used so much; there's always something inherently funny about them. For example, when Cheech and Chong started talking about the weird things people do when they're high, it was new, interesting, and funny. That was 1978. Twenty-eight years later, I've heard every possible iteration of the "…then I did this goofy thing because I was high…" premise at least seventy times. Thus, hack comics have razed the crops and salted the earth on that topic.


The Arnold Schwarzenegger impression is one of the things hacks have ruined. Pretty much any impression you see on Saturday Night Live becomes a hack premise overnight; have you ever seen anyone do an impression of George H. W. Bush who wasn't actually doing an impression of Dana Carvey doing an impression of George H. W. Bush? It's a thousand times easier to do an impression once you've seen someone else do that impression.


Danny is unlucky that one of his strengths is a strength so easily bastardized by crappy comics. But this is a reality of comedy: sometimes you have to give up duplicative bits. It happens to everyone. You don't have to be a thief to be duplicative; comics come up with similar jokes with surprising regularity. Personally, I've had about 20 jokes ruined by Onion articles, and had one joke (the occasionally-used "misuse of touché" joke) ruined by a Macintosh add. My "gay friend" joke might be too close to a Mike Birbiglia joke that I've never heard before; I still need to get a ruling on that one. Those jokes are gone. It sucks, but they're gone and I have to accept it. It's just part of being a comic.


My point is this: if you're a new comic and you have a hack joke, it's best to give it up. This is especially true if you're a comic (like Danny) who is capable of writing other, better material. It will hurt, partly because you'll have one less reliable joke in your set and partly because you'll lose comedy contests to people doing ripped-off Brian Regan bits, but good comedians will respect you for it.


I am at a conference in Atlanta this week. In honor of Danny, I am writing my account of that trip in his writing style.


Holla, b*tches…


I will soon return to DC from Atlanta, which will be a cause for much mirth on my part. I have much to share.

When traveling to Atlanta, the following things will happen to you:


1. The Federal Government of America will hook you up with a new laptop immediately before you go…tightness. This laptop will have a wireless card that allows you to access the from almost anywhere, allowing you to post this blog in the middle of your conference. As long as GPO employee Jon Mumma reads this blog, this is technically a government function.


2. As is the tradition at these conferences, you will experience hotel problems. You will be booked into a hotel one mile away from the conference center in spite of the fact that there are several hotels right by the conference center. This hotel will be chosen in spite of the fact that it has a sh*tty workout room and intermittent air conditioning (intermittent air conditioning + Atlanta = sweaty, unhappy dude at a conference). There will be arrangements for a shuttle between the hotel and the conference center, but this shuttle will be only a myth (P.S. it will rain like a b-oytch three of the four days you are there). 


3.  Upon getting off the subway (the Atlantans have named it MARTA), you will ask a random dude for directions to your hotel. The random dude will be very friendly…extremely friendly…incredibly friendly. He will walk with you outside of the station until you can see your hotel. You will be very grateful. The man will then ask you if you'd like to have a drink, at which point you will suddenly add everything up in your head. You will politely decline, at which point the man will leave, grateful that you didn't try to beat him to death with a stick. You will decide that this encounter is, on the balance, a compliment, though you will only wear t-shirts with pictures of monster trucks and metal bands for the next few days in an attempt to avoid coming off gay.


4. Atlanta will remind you of Baltimore in that there are very few places to eat downtown. The only thing near your hotel will be a Hooters. You will realize that Hooters are all built with enormous windows so that you can see the afore-mentioned Hooters inside from the street. You will think that maybe eating at a Hooters could be the linchpin of the not-coming-off-gay initiative, but ultimately decide that you don't feel like explaining that credit card charge to your wife. Upon making that decision, a random passerby will read your thoughts and make the "wha-CHII" whip-crack sound.


5. You will realize that being a Hooters girl must be extremely depressing, as your job is essentially to flirt with random dudes for tips. You will then realize that Hooters girls probably make about three times what you make. This will make you wonder whether Hooters could be sued for discrimination if they refused to hire a dude. At this point, you will realize that your current train of thought is inconsistent with your not-coming-off-gay initiative and move on.


6. Upon arriving, you will receive a conference packet that includes a brochure entitled "50 Fun Things to do in Atlanta." Thing number 1 is masturbate. Things 2 through 20 are board games. Thing number 30 is a tour called "The Gone With the Wind Experience," which you will think sounds interesting. At this point, you will realize that your not-coming-off-gay initiative has bounded violently off the rails.


7. The hotel maids and fast food employees in Atlanta will be native English speakers. All of these people are counted as "fully employed" by economics statistics, thus once again demonstrating the shortcomings of those statistics. You will realize that this situation indicates that the economy in Atlanta leaves something to be desired.


8. You will see the Georgia Dome from the outside for the first time and immediately christen it the Ugliest Structure Built in the Last Twenty Years. It was built in the 1990s, and yet it is pink and teel. The facing on the outside looks like the corrugated metal that you use for the roof of a garden shed, only pink. Altogether, the entire building looks like a cross between my grandparents' living room, a circus tent, and an above ground pool. 

Posted by jeffmaurer1980 at 12:31 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 19 April 2006
How I Select My MySpace Friends
Topic: Arguably funny stuff

    I get a lot of letters from people - fans, mostly - who are dejected because I did not accept them as a MySpace friend.  It's an unfortunate truth: only one out of every 340 people who ask to be my MySpace friend are accepted.  Indeed, it is twelve times more difficult to be accepted as my MySpace friend than it is to be accepted to Harvard.  Many of the people I deny are imminently qualified to be my MySpace friend, but, unfortunately, I can only accept a small number, as my ability to produce the poems, fruit baskets, and massages that I lavish on my MySpace friends is limited.  I would like to take a minute to describe the process by which I select my MySpace friends in order to ensure those I have rejected that my selection process is fair, deliberate, and designed to determine whom amongst the candidates are most qualified to be my MySpace friend.

    The process begins with my Personal Assistant, Bunny, sorting through the thousands of friend requests and selecting the top ten percent according to a twenty-three point, weighted evaluation scale (the "Pratt-Dolinsky Index", first developed at the University of Wisconsin) that takes into account factors such as age, residence, hair color, favorite band, favorite book, and "heroes".  This is a time consuming process, and as a result I have been forced to hire a monkey to assume some of Bunny's other responsibilities. 

    The Pratt-Dolinsky Index narrows the field to a couple hundred applicants a month.  Phase two of the selection process involves my Personal Bignet Chef, Jacques, sorting through profile photos in order to remove all zaftig applicants from the pool, because - as everybody knows - Jeff Maurer don't roll with no fatties.

    Phase three involves a meeting of the "Council of Seven", which consists of myself, fellow comedian Kojo Mante, my sister Sarah, Sarah's cat Orson, Henry Fonda (who is not at all dead), and D.C. United's Ben Olsen.  The six of us ("Council of Six" just sounds dumb) lock ourselves in a conference room and debate the merits of the remaining applicants.  These knock-down, drag-out sessions usually stretch late into the night, require several orders of Chinese take-out, involve loosened ties and sweaty brows, and only end when Henry Fonda's combination of patience and reason compel us to form a consensus. 

    Phase four is the interview process.  Bunny and the monkey conduct a series of face-to-face interviews in which they grill the applicants with a series of trite, predictable, thoroughly un-probing questions that I have composed (e.g., "what is your best quality?").  The candidates reply with contrived, unsubstantiated answers (e.g., "I'm a self-starter"), but it doesn't really matter because Bunny and the monkey aren't listening anyway.  The candidates are then graded according to the mood that Bunny and the monkey happened to be in at the time the interview was conducted.  My advice to future applicants: don't schedule your interview immediately before lunch.

    Phase five involves me drunkenly stumbling into my office, ripping the pile of applications from Bunny's hands, and arbitrarily eliminating candidates just to prove what a big shot I am.

    Phase six tests physical endurance.  The applicants are summoned to my lodge in the Swiss Alps to undergo a series of physical tests loosely based on admittance exam to the German Luftwaffe.  There is an obstacle course, a centrifuge, a sleep-deprivation chamber, a swimsuit competition, a trivia round, a vomitorium, a human chess board, and American Gladiators-type q-tip/pedestal combat.  At the end of this phase, there is only one candidate remaining.

    During phase seven, I determine whether I want to admit the one remaining applicant or admit no applicants at all.  To make this decision, I obtain a photo of the applicant, put it in my pocket, and set out on a long, reflective walk along the beach.  I gaze far beyond the waves at the setting sun, glance at the photo, look back at the sun, stroke a beard that I grow just for this occasion, and pensively smoke a pipe.  Before the sun disappears beyond the horizon, I compose a haiku including the applicant's name (you may have noticed that none of my MySpace friends have names longer than seven syllables).  If I remain undecided upon returning home, I consult Jacques, who makes a decision based almost entirely on breast size.

    Also, I approve any friend request from a black person, because doing so proves that I'm not racist.

Posted by jeffmaurer1980 at 12:28 PM EDT
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Thursday, 9 February 2006
Danish Cartoon
Topic: Arguably funny stuff
  Much of the Muslim world has been rocked this week by violent protests sparked by a Danish cartoon that unfavorably depicts the Prophet Muhammad.  Obviously, I don't condone violence in response to any cartoon - no matter how offensive - but I'm sure I'm not the only person who found myself wondering what this cartoon said to cause so much anger.  American newspapers have refrained from publishing the cartoon out of sensitivity for Muslims.  That is certainly a reasonable position, but I feel that I can't fully understand these events with actually seeing the cartoon.  Therefore, with Google's help, I tracked down the cartoon and posted it below.  Knowing that the Qu'ran forbids visual depictions of the Prophet Muhammad, I have concealed his likeness.  Here is the cartoon that incited riots in from Morocco to Pakistan:


  My Danish is a little rusty, but I believe it roughly translates like this:
Danish Police Officer: Who blew up this synagogue?
The Prophet Muhammad: Not me!

  Now, I can immediately see why people found this so offensive.  First of all, it's not funny.  In fact, it's incredibly lame.  But worse than that, this cartoonist (Wilhelm Kveen) has been running essentially the same cartoon for decades.  I am glad to see the Muslim world finally taking a stand against lazy, derivative cartooning.  Also criticized in the protest was Kveen's tirelessly-repeated "dotted trail" series, in which the comically circuitous route of a character is depicted using a dotted line (protesters burned in effigagy a 2005 cartoon in which "Dolly" is shown to have visited Disneyworld, Hawaii, and a bubblegum factory before finally making her way to Mecca).  In fact, the only Western cartoon to gain widespread acceptance in the Muslim World is Andy Capp, in which Andy is regularly depicted beating his wife.

  Obviously, not every Muslim man beats his wife, and certainly most Muslim men in Western countries don't beat their wives, but I briefly lived in the Muslim world, and let me say: it is a problem.  That joke is fair.

  Incidentally: in the course of researching Family Circus so that I could draw the above cartoon, I came across the most grizzled editorial ever written.  It is by a Lieutenant Colonel in the Army, and he is complaining about the current generation's irresponsible, "not me" attitude.  But he thinks Family Circus is hysterical.  Please enjoy.

Posted by jeffmaurer1980 at 12:35 PM EST
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Wednesday, 4 January 2006
Top 10 Events of 2005
Topic: Arguably funny stuff

  I have really enjoyed reading the various informative, well-organized, logical, and imminently useful “year in review” lists that various newspapers, magazines, and online sources have produced to help us reflect on 2005.  These lists help editors of crap magazines, random shit-for-brains columnists, and various bloggers with no accreditation whatsoever tell us what events we cared about in the past year.  With that I mind, I would like to humbly present my version of…


10.    May 23: Tom Cruise jumps on Oprah’s couch.  Oh no he di-in’t!  Did the guy from Days of Thunder just put his feet on Oprah’s couch?  Oh helllllll naw!  Was he raised by wolves?  You don’t put your feet on anybody’s couch, much less Oprah’s fine-ass leather couch!  Now Oprah’s got to go buy a new couch!  Where is she gonna get the money for that?  Fuck you, Iceman.

9.  October 8: Earthquake in Central Asia kills tens of thousands/one white lady disappears in Aruba. 
These tragic events occurred on the same horrible day, creating a hole in our hearts and a dilemma in news rooms across the country.  I remember when I heard the news: a devastating earthquake had hit Pakistan and Afghanistan, causing a death toll that would surely surpass 20,000.  I was floored.  It was all I could do to continue my day at Kings Dominion.  Then, as I was exiting the Beserker, someone told me that some white lady had disappeared in Aruba.  I threw my cotton candy and oversized Spongebob Squarepants to the ground.  Two large-scale tragedies in one day!  Just when I had come to terms with the horrific death toll in Asia (let's face it - if you were living in Afghanistan or Pakistan, something was probably going to kill you in 2005), I was hit with the news that one of the personalized tragedies of the sort that happens to hundreds of people around the world every day had happened to some fairly attractive blonde lady.  If I may quote Paula Zahn: "It was a day that will live in infamy."

8.  September 24: Arizona State defeats Oregon State 42-24.  In an era in which big-time sporting events often don't live up to the hype, this one lived up to its billing - and then some!  Set in historic Corvallis, Oregon, the latest chapter in this classic rivalry produced memorable moments beyond its pallendromic final score.  We cheered when Oregon State roared back from a 32 point deficit to score an unfathomable 14 points in the fourth quarter against the Sundevils' reserves.  We cried when Arizona State reserve tight end Trent Ryberg left with a minor calf injury early in the second half.  And we marveled at Keegan Herring's incredible 58 yards on 15 carries.  Truly one for the ages.

7.  August 27: Khajuraho irrigation project completed, resulting in projected agricultural yield increases of up to 24 percent in central and northern India.  The completion of a project whose continuous delays had spawned endless Jay Leno monologue jokes and send-ups from morning radio DJs across the country resulted in a collective sigh of relief from Khajuraho politicians.  While the benefits of this project to Varanasi and Darjeeling provinces are well-known, often overlooked are the benefits to those in the Udaipur regions, who stand to benefit from increased trade with the increasingly prosperous Khajuraho-Darjeeling corridor.  Furthermore, an agricultural sector less succeptible to climactic fluctuations fosters a more stable and viable economic base, increasing incentives for non-agrarian investment.  And to think: Jim Rome said that the long-term insecurity of this project wouldn't justify the substantial initial investment.  What a fucking moron!

6.  January 8: Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston separate/I break three knuckles punching a hole in my wall.  Coming so early in the year, I was convinced that 2005 was going to be the most horrible year ever.  I stayed home from work for three days and just cried, punched things, and ate about seven gallons of Ben N' Jerry's "Autoerotic Asphyxiation by Chocolate".   I simply couldn't believe that two people I had never met and don't really know anything about couldn't find true love!  Who was I supposed to live through vicariously now?  That preggers ho-bag Brittney Spears and her street-tough hubby Kevin Federline?  Please - that would be pathetic.  Honestly, I was in a pretty serious tail-spin until Brangelina materialized to serve as lithium in my voyeuristic manic-depression.  That, plus Demi Moore's charming-if-illegal-in-twelve-states marriage to Ashton Kucher counterbalancing the totally unforeseeable Nick and Jessica split made this at least a decent year for inserting myself into the private lives of people whom I don't know and have nothing in common with.

5.  February 20: Dude totally zings his fraternity brother.  While playing a midnight game of Star Wars: Battlefront, Gamma Sigma Epsilon brother and University of Pittsburg junior Matthew "Goose" Goosen delivered the most perfect zing ever executed to fellow fraternity brother Mike "Skidmarks" Skydjowksi.  Upon encountering a large, dinosaur-like creature on the Gungan planet of Naboo, Goosen turned to Skydjowski and remarked: "Dude, check it out: it's Melissa Reagan," referring to the zaftig Theta Gamma Gamma pledge with whom Skydjowski had copulated on the previous Friday.  Goosen then capped the already gem-like zing by adding: "I'd try to ride her, but I don't have a rubber."  The perfectly-timed comment led to a round of gregarious high-fiving, while Skydjowski remained silent, thoroughly burned by the best zinger of the year.

4.  June 5: Orange juice remains the most delicious of the juices.  For yet another day, orange juice continued its dominance of the other juices.  Whether poured over ice, mixed with vodka, or whipped into delectable "julius" form, orange juice continued its reign as the Cadillac of fruit juices.

3.  January: Democracy flourishes in the Middle East: With elections for an interim parliament completed in Iraq, a new Prime Minister elected in the Palestinian Territories, Syria withdrawing from Lebanon after twenty-five years of occupation, local elections set to proceed for the first time in Saudi Arabia, and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak announcing liberalizing electoral reforms, democracy began to take root in the Middle East.  Bush administration officials cited these developments as vindication of their policy of promoting democracy through military conquest, and vowed to prove that these developments represented more than just a series of anomolies brought on by events mostly having little or nothing to do with the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

2.  December: Democracy crushed in Middle East as region reverts to apocalyptic Hobbesean warscape.   With parliamentary elections in Iraq doing little to stifle sectarian violence, Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas being forced to call new elections amidst a revolt from the Fatah movement, Lebanon continuing to struggle against Syrian influence, all meaningful posts in Saudi Arabia continuing to be held by the autocratic Saudi family, and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak jailing dissident journalists and opposition candidates after enjoying an easy win in last year's barely contested presidential election, it appears that autocracy will be the dominant form of government in the Middle East for the 252,006th straight year.

1.  July 21: Gamma ray burst in vector NGC 2583 of the Reinmuth 80 galaxy promises to destroy Earth in 800,000 years.  This is the big one, Elizabeth!  Turns out that all our recycling and Styrofoam conserving was for not: we're all just going to be fried by an intense burst of gamma rays in the year 802,006.  Bummer!  And to think that we could have been enjoying properly aqua-netted hair and Big Macs with an ice-cold cold sides and lava-hot hot sides this whole time!  Thanks a lot, environazis!  2005 was a good start, but now that we know that the Earth is just one big apartment with an expiring lease, let's make 2006 be the year of really letting everything go to shit!

Posted by jeffmaurer1980 at 12:39 PM EST
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Thursday, 1 December 2005
The Stepping Stone to Letterman
Topic: Arguably funny stuff
  Danny Rouhier, the excellent comic mentioned in my previous post, made a comment on his blog suggesting that I should write for a late-night talk show.  Little does he know how right he is: I am currently a contributing writer to Beauty by Tova with Tova Borgnine, which airs at 3:25 AM on QVC.  It doesn't get much more late-night than that.

Posted by jeffmaurer1980 at 12:41 PM EST
Updated: Thursday, 1 May 2008 12:43 PM EDT
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