if only obama were really a socialist…

I’m not known for making great choices. When I left high school, with a 4.0 g.p.a. and a combined SAT score of 1450, I entered U.C.L.A. planning to be a doctor. Not, mind you, because of a life-long passion for healing the sick and serving humanity, but because that’s what I thought ‘straight A’ students did—they became doctors (spoiler alert: I didn’t become a doctor).

About the time I started my pre-med training, I discovered theater, and right then I knew I had a choice. I could use my hard-earned scholarship money to get a bachelor’s degree in biology, making my parents proud and justifying an adolescence in which I developed no social skills, go to medical school, and within a few years make hundreds of thousands of dollars providing help to those in need. Or, I could spend the scholarship money on classes like Film Studies 167: The Early Works of Peter Bogdanovich, compete with hundreds of thousands of attractive people who all had connections in order to get into show business, and if I got really lucky, I could one day make enough money to pay rent on a studio apartment.

I’ve consistently made bad choices in my career as a comedian. Although originally from Los Angeles, I spent most of the eighties working at comedy clubs in Minnesota, apparently believing that the entertainment industry would eventually be based there. Every time there was an earthquake in California, I would think “now I’m in the perfect place…the studios will finally move here.” Even after twenty-five years I make poor choices. Comics frequently open for musical acts, and that can lead to bigger venues, celebrity connections and national recognition. Me, I opened for Arsenio Hall. After his show was cancelled.

Last year, I opened for a Blues Brothers cover band. Talk about diluting the gene pool. Process this for a minute. There’s the blues—gritty, real…gut-level artistic integrity. Then there were the Blues Brothers—not actual blues musicians, but an entertaining and affectionate tribute from a couple of famous white guys. And, an act that hasn’t been popular since 1982. But I didn’t open for a blues legend, or even the ‘actual’ Blues Brothers. No, I opened for two unknown white guys in Blues Brothers suits, one of whom couldn’t find his shades, in the town of Nelson, Minnesota, a town which had more pro-life billboards (four) than open businesses (three, all bars).

So looking at the arc of my career, I wasn’t surprised when I received the news today from the Obama administration. Beginning June 1st, the federal government will take over day-to-day operations of My Comedy Career. To prevent My Career from going into bankruptcy, in an agreement I signed yesterday, the government will control seventy-percent of My assets and be responsible for guiding Me through the current economic crisis. I’ve assured my investors that this only a first step toward a new Me, a Me that will be competitive and profitable. The comedy industry has changed, and I need to be willing to change with it. Here is the text of President Obama’s statement:

“It is with great ambivalence that I announce today the government takeover of Michael Dane’s Comedy Career. Understand this—your government does not want to be in the comedy business. But it is vital that Michael Dane succeed, to bring the United States back to a position of prominence in the comedy industry. Too many people depend upon Michael Dane for us to let him fail. The repercussions would extend from comedy club waitresses to Rotary Club event organizers if we do not step in. Now make no mistake—Michael Dane is in some ways responsible. Poor planning, lack of strategy and getting a Capitol One credit card have all contributed to this collapse. But as structured, this Comedy Career was not following a profitable business model, spending too many years trying to sell the American people jokes they simply were not buying. But our economy is interconnected, and we cannot allow Michael Dane’s toxic assets bring down this country’s infrastructure. I’ve instructed the Treasury Department to pay off all of Dane’s past cell phone and cable bills, and I will be proposing a stimulus package of 6.8 hundred dollars to be given to Dane for day-to-day expenses. He will become a publicly traded company, accountable to you the taxpayer as shareholders. In short, our goal is to get Michael Dane back on his feet, take a hands-off approach and get out quickly.”


obama resigns, tired of ‘knuckleheads’

During an appearance with Oprah Winfrey, President Barack Obama today resigned from office, claiming he had become “tired of dealing with knuckleheads.” What follows are excerpts from the surprisingly frank hour-long interview:

Oprah: This week many people are celebrating the killing of Osama Bin Laden, yet your poll numbers are still just slightly over fifty percent. And now, you’re walking away. What would you like the American people to understand about your three years in office?

Obama: First, Oprah, thank you for having me on your show. What I don’t think the American people realize is that my job is…how can I put this…HARDER  THAN THEIRS. I know you all thought I was cool as a symbol—heck, I even got caught up in it—but I wasn’t campaigning to be a symbol. I was handed a big steaming plate of shit by the last guy and was asked to turn it into a chef’s salad. But since about week two of my presidency, everyone’s ‘disappointed.’ Seriously?

Oprah: But your campaign was all about ‘hope’ and ‘change’–

Obama: First of all, what I meant was that the American people should feel free to ‘hope’  for ‘change.’ Sure, we all had a good national catharsis yelling ‘Yes we can!’ but at about ten o’clock on January 20th, ‘we’ weren’t in charge, I was. And this may surprise those of you who missed the last two hundred and thirty-five years of American history, but the guy you pick as president has to work with a whole bunch of other people to get things done.

Oprah: When you were elected, it seemed you had the political capital to make your agenda a reality. What happened?

Obama: Of course, when my approval ratings were higher than Jesus, I wanted nothing more than to enact all of my ideas by some sort of sweeping decree. But it doesn’t work that way, because my office, as it turns out, is located in the REAL WORLD. So I decided to work with the Republicans—fine, I was an idiot on that one, but I actually thought, if any issue were a ‘life or death’ issue worthy of some teamwork, it might be health care, seeing as it deals with…life and death.

Oprah: I think we’re seeing another side of you, Mr. President. What are your real feelings about your critics?

Obama: Well, Oprah, I just get so irritated. I’m so tired of dealing with knuckleheads. But see, the President’s not allowed to be irritated. I’m sure most of you, in your non-presidential jobs, blow off steam once in a while. Not me. I have to be poised and calm, because if I showed the American people how I really felt, it wouldn’t look…presidential. And, there’d be panic in the streets. I swear, Oprah, I’m losing it. If one more person asks ‘what is President Obama’ going to do about this?’ I will snap. I just want to hand them copies of my morning briefings for the last few months and say “You figure this out.”

Oprah: Don’t you have an obligation to the millions who voted for you?

Obama: The people who most annoy me are the people who voted for me. I give the right-wing credit for one thing—they know how to do big-picture thinking. Instead of getting bogged down with details and facts, they simply lump every issue under the heading of ‘family values.’ Whereas my progressive supporters all seem to think that if their particular issue wasn’t made into law by April, then not only did I fail, but I violated their trust and abandoned my principles.

Oprah: Well, to a certain extent–

Obama: I’m not finished. I want to address the people who voted for me. To the sixty-six million, eight-hundred eighty-two thousand, two hundred thirty people who could get past the fact that I’m an Islamic Kenyan socialist, I’m sorry I couldn’t please every one of you. Oh, and I also wasn’t able to do everything I mentioned AT THE SAME TIME .

Oprah: We all remember specific things you promised as a candidate. Why have you not been able to deliver?

Obama: Well, as luck would have it, I didn’t get chosen as President of Gays in the Military, or President of the Environmentalists, or President of the Public Option People. I have to be president of everyone. Which means, somebody’s shit is gonna have to wait. When you’re home, don’t you make little to-do lists and prioritize? Now, imagine if your family had the national media get on your ass because, let’s say, you told them you planned on cleaning the rain gutters but didn’t get around to it yet because you were too busy fixing the broken pipe in the basement. All of sudden you’re having to defend yourself on MSNBC, saying that you realize progress has been slow on the rain gutters but that you are still committed to solving the rain gutter problem.

Oprah: I really appreciate how honest you’re being here.

Obama: As I’ve said, I don’t have the chance to tell people what I really think anymore. I’m too busy trying to figure out a way to keep some sort of health care for people, just in case they start clobbering each other with signs at town hall meetings, raging wackjobs at Tea Parties start shooting people. I didn’t even think the whole ‘Tea Party’ thing was a movement—it’s not like I can actually hear what you’re screaming at me when you march in front of my house—I’m usually way in the back…I thought it was just a bunch of really loud Revolutionary War buffs—you know, like some people reenact the Civil War on weekends.

Oprah: Is there anything else that you’d like to get off your chest?

Obama: Yes. Yes…I’m not thrilled with ‘Saturday Night Live.’ I don’t expect it to be as consistently funny as it was thirty years ago, but Fred Armisen as me? Really? A white guy in blackface?

Oprah: So, you’ve made up your mind to resign. Is there a chance you’ll change your mind?

Obama: Bottom line is, the job just isn’t worth the hassles. And, frankly, it’s too hard. Do you think I really understood every arcane and obscure detail about economics when I was running? I’ll bet most of you didn’t know what a derivative was either. I hired some smart people and we’ve tried to keep all the plates spinning. And guess what? Sometimes two smart people have different ideas about how to fix things. And they have to work out a compromise!

Oprah: When I had Jay-Z on the show, he mentioned how difficult it is to be on top.

Obama: I know how he feels. I suppose I’ll miss some things about being President—there are perks. But there are definitely things I won’t miss. Do you realize there were mornings when the person who woke me up was Rahm Emmanuel? Can I really walk away from that. I think I’m gonna look for a community that needs organizing—that’s where the real changes are made. Can I really walk away from the Presidency? Yes I can.

Oprah: Former President Barack Obama, everybody! Now if you’ll all look under your seats, you’ll find a special gift—it’s a copy of his autobiography, “The Audacity of Hope”!


it’s a good thing i’m not president

I’ve never wanted to be in charge of anything.  I’ve certainly never wanted to have political power, and I don’t envy those who have it. I’m content to change the world five hundred words at a time with my little comedy pieces.

Besides which, I’m probably not very electable, and it’s not my stands on the issues as much as what some would call ‘voter negatives’—namely, that I’m a bisexual, pot-smoking socialist. I don’t doubt that there exists an vast army of horny, stoned leftists out there as a potential base, but it strikes me that this would be a difficult group to galvanize, what with them already busy getting laid and getting high.

I may not want to be president, but I do have a big enough ego to imagine myself as president.  And in looking at what President Obama was handed for his first term, I think if I were in his place, my first official act would have been to flip out.

Seriously, what a crappy gig this is.  Two (three? I can’t keep track) unwinnable and unpopular wars, collapsed banks, outsourced companies, nobody has credit, nobody has a job, nobody wants to buy cars because they don’t have credit (and don’t have jobs to drive to),  and, for nostalgia’s sake, let’s throw in travel advisories for the country right next to us, a country that is apparently governed predominately by drug lords. Oh–almost forgot–most of the world isn’t really sure they trust us. Here’s the paperwork on all that, Mr. President. Any ideas?

As we approach the next election cycle, pundits are already assigning letter grades to the President–and they’ve been doing it since his ‘first hundred days.’ First hundred days’ is such bullshit. Do the math, people. A little over three months, and we’re seriously judging  performance? It takes most people more than three months to get the hang of a new job in the mail room. Hell, it took me four months at my last office job before I figured out where they kept the extra paper clips.

When I look at my last hundred days, I see a mixed record. In no particular order of importance, my accomplishments include:

  1. filed income tax returns
  2. signed up with two temp agencies
  3. responded to 137 Craigslist job leads
  4. wrote over several allegedly funny essays
  5. organized the music on my computer into folders
  6. bought two pairs of jeans

In my defense, I didn’t have a staff of advisors, so I was pretty much flying solo on most of this.

I don’t think my personality is suited to the demands of the presidency, anyway. First, I’m not a morning person, and I understand the president has  ‘morning briefings’. Now, everyone I worked with at the old office job knew that until 11 o’clock, it probably wasn’t a good idea to talk to me, let alone hand me a bunch of paperwork.

Secondly, and I’m not proud of this–I’m a ditherer. If I absolutely have to make a decision, it takes me for-freakin-ever. I once spent three and a half hours in a book store trying to decide what to get for a girlfriend’s birthday. “Hmmm…I could get this, but she might have that already, maybe this is too serious, she might hate this, screw it I’ll get a gift card. ”

So imagining I were president, let’s look at just one decision from Obama’s first year. The Somali pirate thing. Here’s how I would have handled it.

After making several dumb pirate jokes, I would call my advisors in, and then I would have to sort through the options. And then I would freeze up.

“Hmmm…I could send in the Navy, but maybe that’s too aggressive, and what if the pirates shoot the captain, well then we have to shoot the pirates first, but they’re teenagers, and what if we miss, then they shoot the captain anyway, but if I don’t do something right away I look weak, but wait I’m the President so who cares what they think”–and by the time I called my advisors back in, the pirates would have actually seized our Navy ship. Maybe our entire Navy. And the pirates would have been in their mid-thirties.

I think it’s pretty clear that I shouldn’t be president. What’s also clear to me is that it’s a thankless job for anybody, and maybe we should hold off with the evaluations and grades. In fact, I have an idea–maybe, instead of the first hundred days, we should judge him on his first 1460 days in office. Then we can…vote on it or something.