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28MAR07 <Archives>
They say over time pets and their owners start to look alike. I believe this is true because my dog has a really large penis.

That is the joke that got me kicked off Last Comic Standing yesterday. I'll explain...

I was doing the open call in Minneapolis, MN. I got to Minneapolis around 3:30pm on Monday and was 25th in line. (auditions started at 9am on Tuesday the 26th) Met some really great people and ran into quite a few I already knew. I won't go into the details of the overnight wait in line since that would be an even longer story in itself. Back to my topic...

In case you didn't know the judges this year for Last Comic Standing season 5 are: Kathleen Madigan, Alonzo Bodden & Ant. The moment the word "penis" came out of my mouth Alonzo blurted out something to the effect of, "You can't say that! This is NBC!" (he was very adimate about it with an almost disgusted "I can't believe you said that" look on his face) I was dumbfounded. I also start to feel guilty, like I had actually done something wrong. Looking back I am near ashamed of this reaction now. I try to reassure myself that my guilt reaction stems from childhood when we are all programmed to behaviours and belief systems (such as god) based upon our parent's programming rather than reality & rationality. I still stood there dumbstruck, feeling guilty and confused. Kathleen then interjected something like, "John, why would you self sabotage like that?" (Self sabotage!?! This is the word I teach my children to use INSTEAD of other words) I basically gave a lame "I don't know" type answer, nodded a lot and just wanted off the damb stage.

Sorry, I was in a state of shock. I used a proper clinical word that is used on television regularly. (Law and Order: Special Victim's Unit... isn't that on NBC?) I take a lot of pride in my comedy writing. I don't just throw crap together. My material is written, re-written, performed and fine tuned on an ongoing basis. I hand picked bits to use that I felt were perfectly acceptable for TV, would fit the time frame for television "snippets" and would get the laughs. Penis is the best word for that joke. I would not use anything more vulgar or more childish. Penis gets the correct response. If I really thougth I was not allowed to say penis, I would have not used the joke!

I know I should have said some sort of suck up respons like, "I'm sorry, I didn't realize that word was not acceptable. Please give me a chance to do some more material more suited for the show." (whatever the fuck that would be) or (as my buddy the Fryman suggested) go the other way and ask to retell the joke only this time replace the word "penis" with "cock". I actually believe most anything else I would have done for whatever effect would have been a better choice than the one (or more like lack of one) that I chose.

I walked by Mark Sweeney (we had talked some while waiting in line Monday night/Tuesday morning) and told him I was booted for saying penis. Mark said, "You have to self edit." I told him that I thought I had. "Penis?" I asked him as though it were a question. He simply shrugged his shoulders. This is the second time I had met Mark. (I worked with him once a few years ago) I couldn't totally read him the first time, either. My friend, Greg Larson, told me that another guy was told he couldn't use the word "crap" and the comic that rode up with him was told he was too dirty because he used the word "vibrator". (sick bastard, he should be put away) Greg himself used a joke that had to do with his life growing up in a lower income family and his mother packing his lunch for school. I don't want to Plagiarize and/or slaughter his joke so I will leave it at that description. He told me Alonzo said that he thougth the joke was well written, but wasn't interested in his life growing up poor. What the fuck!!! Ok, so his joke is good and well written, but he didn't like his premise??? You are supposed to write about what you know, something the audience will relate to. I know this joke. It is well written and the premise works well for a live audience. I'll drop that there since I am not talking about my own personal experience and I don't want to look like I'm putting words into Greg's mouth.

Now, I am not naive. I realize that I don't have representation with pull to get me a scheduled audition for the show. I am not saying that if all else were the same only I didn't use the Pee Pee word that I would have been moved on to the next level. In fact I am pretty sure I wouldn't have been. (I know how things work) We do these things for experience and exposure. One joke aired on national network television certainly does not hurt your career (unless you are on the blooper reel, and even then it can help you). I realize this is TV. They are looking for somthing in particular (usually ratings) and most likely I do not fit the mold. But don't pick people apart and tell them they are bad or naughty when they are not (let's leave that one for religion, they have more practice and are much better at it). If Greg was not what they are looking for, just say so. If you don't want me to say a certain word that is perfectly acceptable on other shows on your network, fine. Just give out a list ahead of time, or post it on your website. Don't make up rules as you go and don't expect someone to follow rules when you haven't told them to him! (Once again, better left for religion) Why not handle it like the previous years. The people who got fucked with deserved it and the people who didn't got a fairly polite "You are not what we are looking for" type answer. That's what I got last year (By the way, I said penis at last years audition within the first minute and I still got to do almost my full three minutes of time. Not a word was said about that word being unacceptable, improper for NBC or anything on that level) I'm sure they have their reasons (Yes, I am eluding to something).

By the time I got in my car and was driving home I wasn't feeling guilty or wrong anymore. I had come to terms with what had happened. (not that I agree with it) If they don't want anyone to say penis, crap, vibrator I am way too much of a perv for the show! While on the road I decided I should catch up on old podcasts of the Penn Jillette radio show (sad that it has come to an end) that I had missed. I happened to tune in the August 2006 interview with Drew Carey. It was a brilliant show and great interview. Drew went off on how CBS Free Radio would not let him use the word "masturbate". (couldn't use my closer on the Penn show) How fitting! (at least they informed him first) If you have not yet listened to the Penn Radio broadcast go to iTunes right now and download every episode. (while you are there get my CD "John Vorhees Just Doesn't Give A....") You never know when it will give your day the lift it needs. (much less depressing than the bible... and I don't remember Jesus being able to juggle or play bass) You'll thank me later.

Funny is subjective. Everyone has a different opinoin on who and what they like. You've got to have thick skin to be in this business. I understand that. This just left me shaking my head. Don't take me wrong. I will watch season 5 and enjoy it. I have no ill feelings toward NBC, the show or the judges. I just disagree on this issue. I guess what I am trying to say is...

FOX would have let me say "penis"!

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