This was my first Channel 101 screening, over 7 years ago. Got to see Classroom, Dohar, and other rad shows in a crowded bar in Hollywood. I even got to vote on what came back next month! Still hooked, still having fun. Hope to see all the 101-lovers out there at the Channy Awards on Saturday. It’ll probably be a good time. If you’re into that sort of thing.
Of course there should be limits to comedy! There should be - and are - limits to everything in the world, comedy included.
If jumping wasn’t limited by gravity, people would fly into space and die. If life wasn’t limited by disease and death, our parents wouldn’t have met, because Atilla the Hun would be president, which would have been distracting.
And if everybody was able to be funny any time they wanted, laughing would be like breathing, and jokes wouldn’t be remarkable. If there were no limits on comedy, there would be no comedy, because comedy is essentially something done wrong. You’re not supposed to throw a pie at someone’s face. Pies are for eating, faces are for scowling. A person is supposed to knock on your door with their hand, they’re not supposed to say “knock knock,” and if they do, when you ask who’s there, they should have a name like Mark Johnson, not a long ass sentence. And nobody that owns a baseball team with a guy on first named “Who” should be unprepared for the question “Who’s on first.” They should call him by his first name or call him “Mister Who.”
They should. Technically speaking. There should certainly be limits to comedy.
Because, technically speaking, nothing funny should ever happen.
What a question. If only more people asked it, every day. If only I had spent more of my life asking it.
I don’t know if you listen to my podcast, Harmontown, but our friend, Siike, a multiple aneurysm survivor, once offered us some wisdom from his tragically unique position at the outer edge of certainty: “Give more than you take.” Sounds like you and I have both been spending time lately feeling like we aren’t succeeding at that. My attempts at contribution often end up feeling like siphons. And while I’m working so hard to make people like me, the people closest to me can take a flying fuck, except when they’re nourishing me. My girlfriend loves me unconditionally, and so, like a baby, I suck on what she offers me, cry when it’s taken away, giving nothing in return but occasional Walter White rants about how folks will appreciate me one day, they’re going to see what I gave, and blah blah blah.
Which obviously indicates that these contributions I think I’m making aren’t contributions at all. No more than a mosquito’s contribution of anti-coagulants into a host’s bloodstream.
I think I slip from the right kind of “giving” to the wrong kind without noticing because they’re identical in terms of behavior. One minute you’re carrying a box because you want to help your friend, the next minute, you’re carrying the same box to be a good person and a few steps later, after not getting some thank you you decided you deserved, you’re carrying a box because your asshole friend is a selfish piece of shit and you can’t wait to move out of your house just to make him lift a piano and you hope it crushes him to death. In one conversation’s time, you can end up eighty miles from the nearest patch of honesty, still insisting that you’re where you are because you’re a hero. And you could pass a polygraph test while saying it, because you’re not exactly lying, you’re just… lost.
So you and I need to know, today, how do we get back on track. How do we stop telling people our asses look fat in these jeans and get back to having accidentally hot asses in sweatpants on laundry day.
First we reset to that crucial gateway, where we just want to be good people. We drop the rest of our bullshit. Who cares if we got fired from Grey Matter, it’s back story, now. Who cares which meth is the best meth, or whether meth is bad, we just drop every thought in our head except the one that can’t be dropped, come hell or highwater, come bipolar autistic alcoholic schizophrenic self-diagnostic disorder or childhood trauma or anything we think is fundamental, because nothing is as fundamental as this: we want to be good people. Nobody can fuck up standing in one place wanting something, not even us.
Now how do we make sure we move forward without getting lost? According to Taoists, we don’t. We follow through on the “action” we took to get back here, which is inaction. We relax, like a puppet, so that our next move is more the universe’s than our own. When you let the universe do the moving, it will never use you to hurt people. When you’re hurting people, that’s your Ventriloquist God saying “hey, dummy, get my hand back up your ass, because the only thing creepier than our ordinary routine is whatever the hell you’re trying to do right now.”
I believe we’re heroes when we’re transparent and we’re villains when we’re blocking light, throwing ego-shaped shadows all around us, then fearing those shadows and clenching up, which blocks more light, feeding the darkness, making the problem seem unsolvable. I believe that if we all went transparent at once, all problems would stop, but that it’s probably impossible, and that having that as a goal would make us opaque and cast more shadows. I believe that Katy Perry is wrong, I think that having fireworks shoot out of your chest is dangerous, I think your clothing would catch on fire and you could die.
And I think your question, which is also my question, is its own answer. We can stop sucking other people’s necks and start giving more than we take if we ask ourselves how we can do it and make sure we don’t block the real, honest answer. Sometimes working hard is the hardest thing we can do, and sometimes it’s just our really easy way of trying to take stuff from everyone around us. Sometimes the hard thing is the easy thing. Sometimes we should do the dishes and sometimes we should take off our apron, tell our boss to fuck off and walk away, because we’re not a dishwasher, we’re just a writer washing someone else’s dishes.
And sometimes people get away with telling other people how the world works by starting their rules with “sometimes,” which is dumb, because how are you supposed to know which times are the some times. But this time, I can tell you when the sometimes are: they’re when you know, in your heart, which can’t be fooled, whether you’re really giving or just taking from behind. DAN HARMON COMPARES MISPLACED ALTRUISM TO FORCIBLE SODOMY. Please watch Rick and Morty on Adult Swim in December and watch Season 5 of Community in the future.
First and most important advice: Find Erin McGathy’s This Feels Terrible podcast. She lets people email her, and almost always writes back whether she responds on the show or not. She gets this stuff way more than me, and she might even be able to share with you the fact that having a boyfriend can also suck.
I know it doesn’t feel this way but what you’re experiencing - the most troublesome parts of it - is chemical in nature. You have a dude in your bloodstream. You’re going through withdrawal. Five months is not a long time for this kind of thing, sadly.
You might be having feelings like “I knew who I was when I was with him, now I’m nothing.” And you’re probably thinking ALL kinds of stuff about where he is and who he’s with and what he’s doing. And now we’ve got 600 apps and sites to help us torture ourselves with that stuff. Even just thinking about it while typing to you gives me a little feeling of panic, because we’ve all been there.
That’s part of the good news: you are part of a club with about five or six billion members. You can find some of those people online, I bet, and talk to them about this. It would help if they were strangers, oddly enough, because it sounds like you’re in a complex social situation where there’s friend circle overlaps and stuff, which is a big reason why it’s lingering five months. Cut down on conversation about this guy with mutual friends as much as you can for as long as you can. Find something new to add to your life, something that never existed before this guy became a thing: a TV series to binge-watch, a random subject to fixate on, something you’ve always wondered about, like “how do submarines work?” Start googling and just dive in, and let submarines or Peter Pan or Godzilla be your thing. Your symbol of how you have an identity, you have your own brain, your own body, your own control over your fixations.
If you do talk to people anonymously on the internet about what you’re going through - there’s bound to be forums for it - my advice is don’t let talking about what you’re going through turn into talking about the guy.
One more thing: this stomach turning feeling, this panic, this sadness…that’s not what real love feels like. What you’re feeling is powerful, but so is heroin and morphine, and those aren’t love. I also swear that it will go away. There’s no telling when, there’s just going to be this day when you wake up and magically do not give a shit. And a few months after that, it’s actually going to be laugh out loud funny to you that you felt how you felt. I have never felt more comfortable promising anything to a stranger.
Hang in there. Also watch Rick and Morty on Adult Swim in December and Season Five of Community in the year 2014 AD.
Nobody has ever been nothing. We are all equally something and some of us are much luckier than others. I was less lucky than I am now for over a quarter of my life, which is something like three quarters of my adult life - I’m not lucky enough to be good at math - my point is, I’ve felt like “nothing” for more waking hours on this planet than I’ve felt like anything.
I’m as bad at giving advice to others as you are at passing that med school test. But believe me, that’s all that test is measuring: your ability to pass it. It is not measuring the type or quality of doctor you might one day be, and it is certainly not measuring your worth as a person. If this is something you honestly want, I would bet you’re going to end up getting it. Or, at the very least, being totally satisfied that you left no stone unturned.
Your Mom is probably just expressing, in that frequently frustrating Mom way, that she’s worried she’s not being a good Mom. She doesn’t want to see you fail, she doesn’t want you to have a bad life, because she’s measuring her abilities as a Mom by your outcomes, same as you’re measuring yourself by this med test. I’m sure being a Mom is harder than being a doctor but I’m also sure the entrance exam was easier. Moms can’t push a button and stop being Moms just because we’ve decided we’re grown up, and the things they say in an attempt to keep “raising” us can get under our skin. But the biggest favor you can do yourself and your Mom (and everyone else) is to be confident about what you want. To know why you want it. Then you have honesty on your side. Then anyone opposing you is opposing the truth, and that’s a bad side to be on in the long run.
I don’t know you, I don’t know you’ll be a perfect doctor, or a doctor at all. There are realities with which to contend. But because reality is inescapable, it’s important that we make a choice, in our heads, to counterbalance reality with things that defy it. Gravity is a reality, but humans fly. The language we’re exchanging, the fillings in our teeth, the pavement on the road outside, everywhere you look, for better or for worse, you’re going to see evidence that accepting reality is not a human’s tendency, and not what we’re good at, and not, in my speculation, what God or Natural Selection hired us to do. We’ve been hired, by this universe, to dream, to aspire, to make things that weren’t real real - and because that involves a lot of failure, we’re damn good at doing that, too.
Without the benefit of details, I say stay the course. I say keep failing. Fall flat on your face, feel every scrape, roll in the dirt and scream in frustration. Tell your mother you love her but the fact is, she either raised a doctor or she raised a girl that’s going to fail, spectacularly, at it, and in either case, she’s done her part. Go fail that test a fourth time. And get it on the fifth. Or sixth. Push this thing to the absolute limit, make them create a new law against your level of desire, make them arrest you for wanting to be a doctor, and when they let you out, run to fail the test again, so that when you’re slipping away from this reality, which could happen at any time, you’re not spending your last moments thinking anything but “well, I did my best.” Also, watch Rick and Morty on Adult Swim in December.
I don’t know a lot about her. I know her Dad is a country singer and that she’s a pop singer. I know that whenever she does anything in public, old people get excited about wanting to hurt her. So she must be doing something right. Johnny Cash said “it’s good to know who hates you and it’s good to be hated by the right people.”
The rest is mostly rumor, I can’t say that I really know any of this for a fact. I have heard that she is taller than she seems on TV. I have heard that she is able to see in very low light. Someone told me that she is actually ashamed of this, and has had numerous surgical procedures attempting to “cure” herself of her special eyesight, which, to me sounds like more of a gift. I think I read somewhere - but please do not quote me on this - that if she is standing twenty feet from a tablecloth, in normal light, she can make out individual fibers, and that the FBI will sometimes bring her in to assist them on special cases, cases which are particularly time-sensitive, i.e., a human life is at stake, and/or a crime happened in a convertible with the top down and it’s going to rain soon, and they can’t wait for someone to look at fibers through conventional means.
Apparently, in those cases, the head investigator will say “get Miley” or “where is she this time” and it will cut to her finishing a concert, and she will look over from the stage into the wings, and there will be men in black suits waiting, and she’ll have this look on her face, like, “here we go again.” Because I guess she doesn’t get along with the FBI on a personal level, because they’re highly trained and very cautious people, and she’s just sort of a free spirit with these very powerful eyes.
As I understand it, and I need to stress this is all gossip, this is just stuff I hear in the kitchen at work, but supposedly, in the end, they get the job done together, in spite of their different approaches, and justice is essentially served.
Also, I heard she twerked, I don’t know what that is but I heard she twerked. Thank you for listening to my podcast but I feel like you should tell your parents to stop letting you do that for a couple years. There’s like a million podcasts and you’re listening to a guy your Dad’s age talk about poop. But I am glad you like it and thank you for writing. But stop listening for three full years. Thank you.
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Annie’s ”Jeff hair flip”