John Mayer has a lyric that goes “I wish there was an over-the-counter drug for my loneliness. FOR MY LONELINESS!” I can’t stop thinking about him saying that in earnest to a therapist who is just trying to keep it together. I’m going to challenge myself to slip it into a conversation. I want to do a joyful painting of how that lyric makes me feel. I want John to sell the rights to that song to an anti-depressant medication so the commercial starts and that lyric plays and then the guy from the All State commercials says “Now there is, John. It’s called ‘Artaxal,’ and I think you’ll find it’s what’s been missing.” I want to hear Tracey Morgan read that lyric as Tracey Jordan. I want John to get married and in his vows say “I thought I wanted an over-the-counter drug for my loneliness, for my loneliness, but really all I needed was you, by my side, Lana del Ray or whatever.” This lyric is the best thing to happen to me in such a long time.
Quick question: Do you know where your book "How to Fight Presidents..." would be located in a Barnes & Noble, or if it is even in them? I want to read it but prefer to buy my books in person rather than online. Which is curious because I am far too anxious to actually approach a B&N employee for help searching for your book. Any and all help is appreciated, thanks!
I think it most often shows up in History sections, and that varies depending on how specific the History section at your particular Barnes and Noble is. Some have a “US Presidents” section and some have a general “American History” section and some just have an even MORE general “History” section, nothing else. I’ve never seen it in the Humor section, which is fine by me, because I don’t think any of the funniest books I’ve ever read came from the Humor section of a bookstore, and a few stores occasionally rotate it into their “Helpful, Humorous and Odd” tables (though probably not anymore, this far away from the release date).
This week former congressman Todd Akin reaffirmed his beliefs that victims of “legitimate rape” can’t get pregnant & that the female body “has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” A lot of people don’t believe him, but that’s why I’m here! To explain why he’s DEAD RIGHT, using SCIENCE!!
I’ve been re-watching a lot of Looney Tunes cartoons recently because there are so many amazing comedy/writing lessons that can be learned from those old cartoons (pay close attention to speed, efficiency, and jokes-per-second). Anyone who wants to write comedy should really watch a ton of those old cartoons, just to be blown away. The amount of jokes they cram into an episode is humbling.
But watching these cartoons brought something else up. The Bugs-Fudd relationship has really been sticking out to me lately. To begin with, I always felt alienated by Bugs. Even as a child, as someone who identified more with Daffy (confused, incapable underdog with a completely unearned sense of self-confidence), I always felt Bugs was kind of a jerk even though intellectually I understood that I was SUPPOSED to hold him up as a hero (he is, after all, the closest thing Looney Tunes had to an official mascot). It was always weird. I knew I was supposed to like Bugs because he was the face of this cartoon show I liked and he always won, but I never quite wanted to be/hang out with him.
Rewatching now, as an adult, I have even more problems with Bugs specifically related to his dealings with Elmer Fudd. Fudd isn’t Yosemite Sam, he’s not some violent jerk with a hair-trigger temper; he’s a simple worker. Nothing about Elmer Fudd is high status, he’s not handsome or bright or rich or important. He can’t even remember if it’s Rabbit Season or Duck Season, he’s just trying to work the only job he can do. It’s very telling that he’s not a master hunter, he’s not tracking lions or rhinos. He’s tracking ducks and rabbits, because that’s his level. It was also important to me to note that he paid strict attention to what season it was. He wasn’t a horrible, destructive poacher like George C. Scott’s character in The Rescuers Down Under, he sat around patiently waiting for the time when he could legally hunt rabbits and ducks and then acted accordingly.
And he is the villain, according to Looney Tunes law.
That seems very unfair to me. Bugs was always Elmer’s bully. We were supposed to root for Bugs, but he’s the bully. Tormenting the sweet, kind-of-slow guy who talks funny.
I don’t know. I wrote this thing because Elmer Fudd is the Forest Gump of the LT universe, and it’s weird they made him a villain. I added the Mom stuff to really drive home how sad Fudd’s life must have been.
Hi Mom! Gosh, where do I start? The weather’s been good (perfect for rabbit season), sessions with my speech therapist seem to be going well (I hope to be able to wish you a “MERRY” Christmas this year, not “Mewwy.” That’ll be my gift to you!) and I’m making lots of friends.
But holy cow, all I REALLY want to talk about is this girl I met. Sorry, this woman. I met someone, Mom, someone special.I know I have a habit of rushing into things but, Mom, I think she’s the one. She’s so beautiful, she’s so sweet (but still kind of sassy) and she doesn’t even seem to mind my speech impediment. She accepts me, just when I thought that kind of thing would be impossible. She’s so confident, she’s on another level, I just want to give her everything to see what she can make out of it. What she even sees in a dummy like me is anyone’s guess.
OH, and best of all I met her while hunting, if you can believe it. She’s into hunting! She was just out in the woods and I found her—well, we found each other. We didn’t even speak at first, because we didn’t NEED to, there was just this CONNECTION. Instantly. So much went unspoken, it was like we were waiting for each other. She wasn’t shy about approaching me and, bizarrely, I wasn’t shy either, because we just worked together, immediately. We kissed! Right when we met! I love her. I LOVE HER!
I don’t think I knew what love was, before. I had a dim understanding of it, from movies and songs, and I remember what you and Dad were like together, but until I met Her, I only understood love anecdotally, as a bystander. I finally feel like I’m a participant, and I never thought I would be. Beyond that, I feel lucky. I’m not saying “I’m lucky because I get to be with her,” I’m saying “I’m lucky because I get the privilege of loving her.” Do you understand that, does that make sense? Even if she didn’t love me back, I will forever be grateful just for getting the opportunity to love her. Because I know what my life was like before I loved her, and I don’t even think I would call that a life, now. It feels so good to love her, to have love inside of me, to feel what normal people feel. I get to love her, do you understand? I get to. I’m allowed to. I weep at how lucky that makes me. Mom, I weep.
Listen to me, going on and on about this woman. We’re supposed to meet up in the woods again tomorrow. I’m going to ask her if she wants to go dancing with me. I don’t really dance, but I know most women like doing it so I looked up places that offer Salsa lessons for couples and there are some affordable ones in my area. I figured a dancing class would be a nice date. We can be close and we can talk, and we can move together.
I’ve rambled enough. I gotta get ready for tomorrow. I don’t even know how I’m going to sleep!
Love and Respect Forever,
Your Son Elmer
PS I know things must get lonely around the house since Dad’s passing, but remember that your “Lil’ Elmmy” loves you and is always thinking about you. I wish I could be by your side right now, but of course I have to try to catch and sell enough animals so we can afford to keep the house (I’ve included a check for $25; it’s all I made last week). It’ll get easier, Mom, I swear to God it’ll get easier. It’s going to be a good year. I can feel it.
May 15, 1972
Disregard previous letter. It was a boy rabbit in a dress. I don’t know why he did it. Don’t ask me about it.
Hello Mr. O'Brien! I hope you are well! I just read your Cracked article about adopting a dog, and saw the picture of your dog from May. I am really happy for you! Could you please show us more pictures and tell us a bit about your dog?
I made a promise long ago that I would only run for president if Ole Dirty Bastard could be my running mate (for reasons that should be obvious). He is, as far as you’re concerned “dead,” as is my campaign.
Hello! My questions are: I can't find any information on any, (IF any) acting training you have had. You are extremely good in front of a camera; it took me a fair bit into my own acting degree to learn how to get out of my head and make eye contact, heh heh. If the answer is none, What is your impression of what "the process" is like, and have you ever dealt with the questions, "who am I", "what am I doing", etc for a role? kloveyoubye.
Someone writes words down (sometimes me!) and then when all the lights are in the right place, someone says “Action,” which is code for “Pretend you’re the person who thought the words that are on the paper or, failing that, say them in the right order. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING is to remember what you were doing with your hands because when we move the camera around and shoot this same scene from a different angle we need everything to match up for continuity.” It’s just playing pretend. Acting is easy which is why it’s literally the only job children can legally do.
After a very long time away, I’m happy to announce that my Hate By Numbers video series might be returning. It’s been a long road for Hate By Numbers and the show might not be known to all of you. Some of you know me from my novel, some from Twitter, and some only as a Cracked columnist. I’ll…
Hate by Numbers will come back if YOU want it to. I dream of a future where all content happens this way.
Someone made a video for you today and his name was me. If you don’t care about bizarre rules behind naming fictional characters, don’t worry, I also do the dance from You Can’t Touch This in it. So, something for everyone.
We both ended up bleeding from the mouth after. I can’t remember the specifics exactly (I think one of us got hit in the tooth when the other one came in too strong, but I can’t remember who that happened to and I certainly can’t remember why the other one was bleeding). It really drove home the fact that Michael and I are not kiss-compatible (unless mutual-blood-loss is your thing re: kissing [and if so I’m not judging]).
Soren made us film another take where the kiss was less “wild and intense make out” and more “soft, sweet and tender smooch-session,” which was weird because Soren wasn’t directing that episode or anything. He just happened to be there that day and after Michael, Abe and I had decided we got the take that we wanted Soren said “No, no, no, again, do it again. Slower.”
I’m like most of you. School shootings stay with me for a very long time. I get sick and numb and useless. I see on the news that another kid took a gun and pointed it at a bunch of other kids with hearts and squeezed the trigger again and again, and then my brain short circuits. Then I call my Mom because she’s the smartest person I know, and even if SHE can’t explain with this happened, at least we can be upset together at the same time.
Then I read everything. Everything. Every expert in psychology who wants to figure out the shooter, every random person with an opinion, every woman sharing her story about the abuse and assault they had to live with. I read the articles saying “This happened because of [X]” and “This wouldn’t have happened if not for [Y]” and I just say OK to each and every one of them, because I never know WHAT shootings mean or how you can ever get enough distance to THINK it means anything. I don’t know how strong you have to be to see mass, school shootings as anything other than sad, just that I’m not that strong.
Another little boy got upset that the world wasn’t behaving the way he was told it would so he shot some other little boys and girls and now they’re all gone.
Six or seven years ago, I wrote and released an online, action-comedy novella called The Bartender. It was supposed to be a very long love letter to my two best friends and my older brothers, and then a few thousand people read it, which was nice of them. There was drinking, action, jokes and sex. It was the kind of story that I grew up reading and watching. The kind of story I grew up loving, the kind of story that got me interested in making stories in the first place.
It’s also a story where a bunch of guys save the day by pulling out lots of guns and firing until all of the problems go away, and it’s a story where the only female character in the entire book functions as, at one time or another, the nag, victim, sex object, traitor and eventually corpse.
So I’m getting rid of it. There are enough stories where the guys with the most guns win, and there are enough stories where women are underdeveloped sex props and target practice. We don’t need mine. And I don’t want anyone else to stumble on a story where a bunch of guys shoot a bunch of other guys as an answer and think “COOL!” So I’m deleting it, and it’s a very easy decision. I’ll leave it up through June 30th, as a courtesy to the people who are reading it currently, and then it’ll be gone. It won’t be re-released later, I won’t revise it. It’ll be gone because it should be gone.
I’m not a politician or a lobbyist or a teacher or a parent or a smart person. My function here—my contribution to society—is jokes and stories. That’s the only small thing over which I have any control. Previously I would have looked at how small my corner of influence was and dismiss it as too small to make a difference in anything, but I want to try… not doing that, anymore. I want to try to make this a world where my grandkids don’t pick up guns and kill someone else’s grandkids, and that means every single one of us needs to look at whatever small things we control— whatever tiny corners we influence—and ask ourselves “Could this be part of the problem?”
It means I can’t call myself “one of the good ones” on the justification that I’m not as bad as men who beat women. That’s the mentality I used to have, and it’s one that immediately stifles self-reflection and growth. Once I tell myself “I’m a good feminist because I would never hit a woman” or “I’m a good person because I would never stab another person,” I am instantly giving myself permission to not go through my past and investigate the subtle ways in which I might be contributing to this problem. No one should let themselves off the hook that easily. Self-reflection is a good thing, always. Always! Even acknowledging that you are or were part of the problem is good, because it means now you know how to be part of the solution. We made a world that is toxic and it’s going to take everyone to fix it. It’s going to take everyone looking at EVERYTHING, at all of their corners of influence and behavior and seeing how and if that behavior might be part of a problem that is bigger than all of us. Maybe one day I’ll be a politician who can change big things with rousing speeches but, for now, I’m a small person who can only change small things, but that’s what it takes, because if enough small people change enough small things, eventually it will look like a big change, and that’s what we need. Unless you think what we have now is fine. Unless you think this world we built where kids kill other kids is acceptable.
For my stupid part, it means re-examining my relationship with women and destroying a book I loved making, and that’s alright, because that means there will be one less book where heroes solve problems with violence instead of thoughtfulness and where women exist to be either lusted after or threatened depending on what the plot needs. It means that I won’t get to write the stories that I grew up reading. It means I won’t get to make the movies that got me interested in making movies in the first place and that’s okay, because those movies and stories helped shape our current society, and our current society is one in which our babies keep killing each other. I will never get to write Die Hard, a movie where the straight, white man is so good at killing weird-sounding bad guys that he gets rewarded with sex. And that’s fine. I’ll take that loss, because me training myself to think and write differently isn’t even a loss.
I don’t think a movie or all movies made some child kill a bunch of other children, but I do know that movies are part of our culture, in the way that books and music and sports and art and advertising and literally everything else are part of our culture. That, at least, is undeniable. And when our culture is one wherein kids kill other kids, it means to me at least that the culture is broken and that it’s worth considering how my tiny, corner of influence might be contributing.
No one wants to think they’re part of the problem or that they need to change, especially when there are so many clear and obvious monsters out there for comparison. Everyone’s knee-jerk reaction to being told to change is defensive; “Fuck you, I’m a good person, I’d never hurt anyone and I voted for [X Legislation that means I’m progressive and open-minded].” Because it feels like an accusation, and life is hard enough for everyone as it is that no one wants to be told they’re part of a problem. I understand that. And I understand that it’s hard. And I understand that change is hard, but it’s not as hard as watching kids get shot.
Hi DOB! Can you make a playlist of the infinity prison videos and/or a post with them linked to? I want to show all my friend(s)/ tumblr followers. Also, you're a hilarious writer and a huge inspiration, I loved How To Fight Presidents! Thanks, Francis!
Hey, huge fan of your work. I just started watching Cracked "After Hours" and wanted to ask if you meant to include a certain reference. In the video "4 Movie Apocalypses That Would Be More Fun than Reality", ~6:41, M. Swaim throws water out into the desert behind him, then says, "Surely we must die". Was this a reference to the Biblical verse 2 Samuel 14:14 which states "Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die..."? Sorry if I'm not the first to ask this.
Hahahha. Nope! That’s just a wacky coincidence. This is the second time we’ve accidentally inserted a Biblical reference in a Cracked video (the first time was in Agents of Cracked, when people were sure that we were referencing a specific passage based on the time my watch showed [2:22]).
The likelihood that people will panic, go insane, and make bizarre, irrational decisions is directly proportional to the amount of money involved.
Every once in a while, I still write articles for the comedy website, Cracked.com. I’ve been thinking about writing this article for a long-ass time and am thrilled that I finally found the time to do it.
“Hey, I’m some guy some people mistake for famous and I enjoyed looking at the pictures in this book. And we all know that ‘famous’ means not only better but the barometer for our basics needs…so my liking it means you should love it.”—Patrick Stump (of Fall Out Boy fame and also creator of one of my favorite Tom Waits covers) has nice things to say about my book, How to Fight Presidents.
Yo, Daniel. I can't think of anything significant or clever to ask; your "Ask me anything" prompt is at once both liberating and daunting. It makes me feel like you're the monk on top of the mountain with the answers to everything and anything, except first I have to be able to ask the right question. I don't know the right question. I did want to say, at the risk of sounding weird, that when life is too much, I like to watch/read your junk on Cracked and it makes me laugh. So thanks for that.
Thanks for reading my junk. Your viewership puts food in my dog’s bowl.
You're asked about how to deal with awkwardness an awful lot. Do you find that odd? That you're famous for comedy, but give out advice on how you've dealt with social anxiety?
I don’t think it’s odd. I’ve talked about it a bunch and it’s one of the only areas that I feel like I have a TINY bit of expertise on (the other being where my dog likes to be scratched). If people asked me questions about comedy I’d just say “Oh buddy, go read and watch the stuff made by all of those people who are much funnier than me.” And if it’s helpful for people to read one idiot’s opinion on anxiety, I’m happy to try to be that idiot from time to time.
I’ll be talking about comedy and the internet at Silicon Beach Fest this year along with Taryn Southern, Matt Clarke (Conversations with my 2-year-old) and more! We’ll be answering questions and screening some videos. Should be fun! Tickets are— holy shit— $275? Nevermind, don’t come to this thing. I’ll still be there, but SHEESH.
Dear Daniel, why do you only do standup in cool places? Why can't you do standup in shitty places like my town? Shitty places need your comedy the most!
I recently added a “Book Me For Your Things" button on my Tumblr for stand up, lit festivals, conventions, online content panels and so on. I’ve done a bunch of panels and shows and things over the last few years and I really enjoy the hell out of ‘em. If a thing comes up in your shitty town and you think I’d be a good fit (and the thing can take care of travel, if travel is needed), I’ll go. Doing stuff is the best.
Steely Dan was my first concert and they rocked. I saw the Pop Disaster Tour with Green Day, Blink and Saves the Day, Ben Folds maybe 14 times and Ben Folds Five twice, Guster (AWESOME), Barenaked Ladies, The Raconteurs (AWESOME), Very Old Bob Dylan (terrible!), Dream Theater a bunch of times, Fiona Apple, Weezer, Cake, The Hold Steady, The Format, MC Frontalot, Dave Matthews Band, Macy Gray by accident, Steel Train, The Format, Piebald, Gogol Bordello, Tegan and Sara, Childish Gambino, Victor Wooten… there are others I’m sure but that’s all I can think of right now.
EDIT: OH MY GOD and Janelle Monae who is the best thing ever.