Friday, September 26, 2008

What A Country!

In my race to be completely prepared for movers on Monday, I have been going through boxes of papers. Boxes loaded with written works that date back to college. I'm determined to go through all my boxes and throw out everything I don't need or want.

I found a stack of jokes I tried to sell to Yakov Smirnoff.

Um, let me explain.

In the early-to-mid '90s, I was waiting on tables and temping at an insurance company. I was hungry to make income as a comedy writer. I used to do stand-up professionally, I took classes at Second City, I had an Emmy, for cryin' out loud. I was scouring all the available resources, mainly The Chicago Reader classifieds. Imagine the delight my barely used highlighter experienced when it was finally able to circle the heading "Comedy Writer Wanted." Yakov Smirnoff was prepping a weekly radio show to go along with a show he was mounting in Branson.

Yakov Smirnoff. Branson. And I desperately wanted to write for him.

Uncovered in a small U-Haul box amidst scribbled upon cocktail napkins, Xeroxed handwritten sketches, a 22-page Clash of Context sketch putting the cast of The Jack Benny Show in charge of the USS Enterprise (NCC-1701-D) and a screenplay handwritten on legal paper, I found nine pages of jokes I faxed to Yakov Smirnoff.

Yakov was looking for material based on current events (In this case, the summer of 1994). Sifting through the pages, I can see where I blatantly tore the remaining bits of meat from my old stand-up material as well as writing some original stuff, mostly bad.

Here's what I had to say about...

- Telephone companies offering cable TV service -
"Businesses will be able to buy time on my line. "We'll be right back with more about your mother and her operation right after this from Rolaids!"

- 72-year-old Senator Bob Dole running for president -
To show he's fit to hold office, he put together a package of his medical records from the past 50 years. Unfortunately, he forgot where he put it... In Russia, in order to not upset the balance of power, the health of the leaders were always exaggerated (my note: "exaggerated" is not the right word. I should have used the word "downplayed.") A heart condition would be referred to as the sniffles. If someone was bed-ridden, they were taking a little "r and r." Even death was considered a sleep disorder.

- On buying American automobiles -
I hate being followed around by salesmen when I'm looking at cars. I'm afraid they'll try to rip me off when they see how little I know. "What kind of car are you looking for?" "Oh, you know. A red one."..."What kind of mileage do you want?" "Oh, you know. The good kind."...In Russia, you were lucky to have a car, even luckier if it ran. Most cars sat on the street propped up on communist blocks. Ha, ha. That's a joke.

- On Yasser Arafat becoming as father -
Given that Arafat is in his 60s and his wife is half his age, some people have questioned if he is the true father. He responded by saying, "Yasser, that's my baby. No, Sir, don't mean maybe..."

- flag burning -
Congress will soon be voting on an amendment to ban desecrating the American flag. The republicans are the most out-spoken in favor of the proposal. Not because of any deep-seated patriotism. They're afraid someone may attempt to burn the same flag they're trying to wrap themselves in. Is this a big problem, people burning flags? In Russia, we were encouraged to burn flags. For many long winters it was our only source of heat.

- smog levels in cities -
Smog is no longer just a stigma associated with Los Angeles. Many cities across the country are now suffering from it. Scientists are already on the case. They determined that Nashville smog levels could be cut 50% if they can just get Dolly Parton to switch from hair spray to styling gel.

- On Disney -
Disney has bought ABC television network for $19 billion dollars. Imagine that, a mascot of a multi-billion dollar corporation being this cute little guy with a round head and big ears...but Ted Koppel says he doesn't mind the attention...In Russia, there is only one television network. They have TV shows based on hits in the United States. Programs like: "Full Apartment," "The Price Is Right, But The Line Is Too Long," "Pond Watch," and , my favorite, "Russia's Funniest Home Recollections." No one can afford a video camera.

He never bought any of my jokes. Imagine that.


On Wednesday, I asked...

"Cindy Michaels, a news anchor in Maine, has been getting hate mail from viewers because of what?"

16% said "Her insistence on wearing a burka"
- And then overcompensating by wearing too much eye make-up.

8% said "Her unchecked support of Ralph Nader"
- "Now, unsafe at any speed, is sports with Bud Glickman."

No one said "Her hard-to-pronounce name"
- It is hard to pronounce, but if you get her to say it backwards, she'll disappear.

75% got it right with "Her resemblance to Sarah Palin"

According to The Associated Press, a Maine TV news anchor who bears a resemblance to the Republican vice presidential nominee says she's been getting "hate mail and nasty phone calls" from viewers who think she's trying to copy Sarah Palin's signature style.

I was sympathetic to Ms.Michaels, until I saw this on her news station's website...

Michaels says she would never let this criticism of looking like one of the country's most inspirational women effect her appearance. She says to look like Palin is an honor.

Really? Inspirational? An honor? Then I realized she only started putting her hair up and wearing glasses since the Republican National Convention. Here's a picture of her previous to that interviewing a religious leader...

She's the one on the left.


Anonymous said...

Ah, Yakov Smirnoff! As a formerly frequent visitor to Branson, I have a great appreciation for Mr. Smirnoff and Shoji Tabuchi, the Japanese Fiddle player.

I read Drew Carey's book, Dirty Jokes and Beer, about 10 years ago. There is a chapter called "My Dick Is So Big" that is just about 150 MDISB jokes. I was inspired to write my own list and occasionally stumble across it. Did you know that MDISB jokes can actually be outdated? It happens.

Maybe that's what Yakov needed, and you did not provide: some good dick jokes. The bluehaired tourists would love those.

mark krause said...

sorry joe didn't think they were funny, you were funnier in 7th grade then those jokes, maybe it was your untried talent back then, you made me laugh.

Anonymous said...

Don't listen to Mark. I think he is just envious. You can't go wrong with Dolly, Yasser, and Bob Dole on the same page.

Hey, is that John McCain with Mother Teresa?