Man

Seven Reasons Why the Facebook Experience is More Lame (CAUTION: #4 Could Cause Spleen Implosion)

Some prefer Instagram, some Facebook, some Twitter, and some cave dwelling, but of them all, Facebook is at the very top of the social web.

Facebook has the most registered users, the most active users, and in the case of me, the most attractive.

The only problem is that as their ad revenue soars, the Facebook experience gets abysmally worse. The Facebook feed, or the central column and primary focal point that displays user posts, is moving closer to the Instagram experience and away from the Twitter experience, where priority is given to images over words.

That’s fine, unless you like words and only three of your friends actively use Twitter.

facebook-sideways

Here’s how it works. Just like Google has an algorithm for search, Facebook has developed an algorithm for their feed. In its early days, if you were friends with A, B, and C, and C posted at noon, B at 1pm and A at 2pm, and you checked Facebook at 2:01pm, you would see A, B, and C posts in that order. The feed was chronological.

Then, Facebook got into the algorithm business. It tried to figure out who you were friends with and would start prioritizing posts based on who it thought you liked the most.

The feed was wrong then. It’s just as wrong now.

Facebook made a major decision about a year ago to completely move away from the chronological experience and to this odd “we think we know who you like and we want to be a lot like Instagram, that other company we own. This is because we like money and are slowly phasing in ads on Instagram — emphasis on slowly — so we don’t lose customers like we did with Facebook.” I can’t understand their logic.

So of course it’s all about money, but even so, it is still well within my human rights to create a list explaining how the Facebook experience isn’t as good as it once was.

Seven Reasons Why the Facebook Experience is More Lame (CAUTION: #4 Could Cause Spleen Implosion)

1) From mobile to tablet to web, Facebook has decided to display as little as possible to keep you on their site for as long as possible. For this reason, the largest number of posts you can see on a screen is usually 1 or 2, sometimes 2.5, rarely 3 and almost never 4 of your friends’ posts at a time –– the tablet displaying the most, on average. Yes, I actually tested this. And true, I have no real friends.

Facebook made the thumbs up cool. I hear the sideways thumb is making a comeback.

2) No matter the screen size, Facebook will prioritize posts with images over all others. Next in line is the heavily-commented post. It seems to display a new post without images or comments rarely, and only to your closest friends who are eager likers. Spell check doesn’t like ‘likers.’

3) I don’t recall ever clicking on a Facebook ad, but if I did, it would be now. And only because ads are now a significant percentage of screen real estate. When Facebook began displaying ads, they reserved the middle of the far right column in order to do that. Now they also invade the friend space in the center column. I was confused by this for a long time. I actually thought I had a friend named “Sponsored.”

4) [Note to self: research organ implosion writing techniques]

5) I’m considering launching a “FEED ME SOME FRIENDS” campaign to call upon Facebook to do the right thing and show friends’ posts in the center feed. Ok, not really. But you should!

6) This isn’t really a list, is it? I should have made this a five list — not a seven list. But five item lists make it look like the author doesn’t know what he’s talking about. So I’ll stick with seven, which is the minimum amount required for a list to appear credible and share-worthy. On Facebook.

7) LISTS!

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Man

The First Black Comedian Who Was White Who Never Performed at the Apollo and Who Wasn’t Really a Comedian And Likes Really Long Post Titles

I have spent more time writing this post’s title than the post itself. And if you peek to see how long this post is, you might appreciate what I mean.

In the middle school years growing up in Pennsylvania, I had a little old TV on the floor of my bedroom where I watched about ten and a half channels of whatever happened to “stream” via the UHF/VHF antenna.

I watched a lot of sitcoms, probably all of them, a lot of Arsenio Hall, Garry Shandling, Joan Rivers, Howard Stern. I tried to laugh at most SNL skits but learned to laugh when it was truly funny, which was maybe twice in 90 minutes. I craved watching comedians who were truly funny, and I was very picky. I don’t remember being drawn to the news or drama. Just liked comedy. I liked the weather, too.

Seinfeld’s first episode of season two began over apple cinnamon herbal tea with my secret ingredient of a half cup of sugar. I would follow the same herbal sugar drink ritual watching his show the first few seasons until I heard someone quoting it once in biology class. Then I stopped watching it. Always a little odd like that.

While watching comedy in those days before the Internet, I never seriously entertained the idea that I wanted to write or perform comedy as a profession, or even someday as a blogger, though the blogging may have crossed my mind once or twice.

I first caught the bug of wanting to try out stand up once when I was twelve watching an old Bob Hope Christmas Special, trying to memorize the jokes so I could tell them in seventh grade in hopes of becoming wildly popular. I forgot them all, and therefore did not become popular.

I caught the stand up bug again when I became completely enamored by a late night show filmed on a famous stage in Harlem.

When I first craved doing stand up

I love this image because when I look away from it, it appears 3D

After SNL, at 1 AM early Sunday morning, I would stay up to watch Showtime at the Apollo, when amateur comedians and singers attempted to launch new careers at Harlem’s Apollo Theater. I had never been drawn to talent shows like Ed McMahon’s Star Search or the Jerry Lewis Telethon. But the Apollo stage somehow grabbed me by the ambition gland and wouldn’t let go. If I could perform anywhere, the Apollo was the place for me.

Why would a young white kid dream of performing before a mostly all black audience?

The answer is simple: It’s because I thought of a joke I could perform there.

I still remember bits of my act:

I would get on stage, meet the host, which at the time was Sinbad, one of my stand up heroes who I’ve seen twice:

  • Once on a Philadelphia stage for an hour and a half in 2008 laughing so hard I broke my jaw (instead of saying LOL I’m trying to start new lingo that would replace LOL with BMJ)
  • Standing behind him in line at a Sam Goody in LA in 1994. I was buying Ride’s new album “Carnival of Light” on cassette while he had a stack of at least a hundred CDs.

So I’d step on stage to meet Sinbad dressed in suit and tie, not Sinbad in a suit, but me in a suit. I would come not as myself, but in character as the most stereotypical, out-of-touch white guy from the middle of stereotypical suburban white America. Arguably, I would be acting as me.

(If you are getting uncomfortable reading what you believe are racial overtones, please stop here, turn around, and walk away.)

My character would be an intensely serious, business-minded professional, slowly enunciating every syllable of every word in true out-of-touch white man form. That would be made clear as I talked with the black host.

(It’s not too late to go.)

After the host directed me to the microphone center stage, I would stiffly and almost robotically walk up to it and then looking up toward the ceiling say, “Well, hello out there.”

I would pause, as if I was expecting something.

“Don’t you say, ‘hello,’ back?”

And then looking down to closely examine the crowd, I would jump back and say, “Oh! Oh! Well! I admit I was prepared for a slightly different crowd tonight.”

Jeering from the crowd, I’m sure, would have already begun.

And then taking notes from my jacket, I would say that I had jokes meant for people who were…..more like me. I would say that as if I didn’t know that was offensive.

(Why are you still here? It’s okay to leave!)

Expecting the jeers to change to full-on boos by that subtly racist comment, I would shred the paper and say in thick white-speak, “Well, golly gee whizz [or similar expression], maybe I can let loose a little bit tonight. Maybe you will appreciate me for who I really am. ”

Then I would try to convince them that while I was very white on the outside, I was very black within. What would follow is a string of stereotypically white comments I would claim channel my “inner black,” in hopes that they would be so thoroughly entertained that I would have a chance to perform again.

I came up with the act before In Living Color and well before the Bill-Clinton-is-the-first-black-president era, by the way. Ahead of my time, so ahead of my time…

My act may have been inspired by Eddie Murphy’s SNL skit where he dresses as a white man for a day, going on to learn the advantages of white living, like parties on public transportation when only whites are onboard. Humor addressing racial stereotypes kills me every time.

I tried out some of my Apollo material when I worked at McDonalds, where I was often the minority. My black audience of coworkers laughed at almost anything I said, even if I was serious, so I was pretty convinced I could have killed on stage at the Apollo, whether my act was polished or not.

A fellow former McDonald’s employee (at a different location in a different time) who actually did perform before an all black audience, is none other than Jay Leno. He used to open for Rahsaan Roland Kirk, a black musician who was famous for playing a flute while singing. He did both. At the same time. He was also blind.

On a recent Jay Mohr podcast episode , Leno explains how the visually impaired Rahsaan would energetically announce to his all black audience,

“‘I wanna welcome you brothers! We’ve got a brother here! He’s gonna talk about the white devils. He’s gonna talk about…’

“and he would just do this whole black militant rap thing and he’d get the crowd all worked up.

[and then Rahsaan would say]

“‘Please welcome brother, Jay Leno.’

“So I would walk out [and whisper], ‘Shhhhh, shhhhhh. He doesn’t know I’m white!’”

Of course, the crowd ate it up, and so did Rahsaan, which is why he liked to travel with Leno.

I LOVE this style of humor. Why, you might ask? I’m not sure. Maybe it’s because I hate racism, especially racism between white and black Americans. I hate it, hate it, hate it, hate it. I’ve seen it up close and lived it. Maybe a little more comedy can bring us all together. I don’t know.

 

When I last wanted to do stand up

Last night, as a matter of fact, was the last time I wanted to do stand up.

All these years have passed thinking about trying out stand up but I have never done it. Instead, I’ve tried out becoming a sit down comic through my writing on this blog and a couple of books I’ve been working on.

Then last night, my wife and I drove downtown without any plans. As we arrived downtown, we passed a comedy club and decided to do a U-y [how is that spelled, anyway? Yewee? Do people still say that?] to check it out.

When we walked into the club I asked when the next show is.

“Nine o’clock but it hasn’t started yet.”

“What time is it now?”

He didn’t answer me. This place isn’t funny at all, I thought. I took out my phone and saw it was exactly 9:12.

Even if the show wouldn’t be funny, I was actually going to watch amateurs stand up. I was so excited.

The stage of the small comedy club we visited last night. I was so excited I took a picture of it.

The stage of the small comedy club we visited last night. I was so excited I took a picture of it.

We paid $30 for admission and our hands were stamped with the word, “Insufficient.” I changed my mind. This place is definitely funny.

We took a seat when my wife remembered she had left her phone in the car. So I left quickly to get her phone before someone broke into my car to steal it. I’m paranoid about that sort of thing. I saw a car with a Macbook Air in the backseat the other day. I came so close to stealing it and selling it on eBay.

By the time I got back, an improv group was in the middle of their act. Everyone was laughing. Unfortunately, I missed just enough that I couldn’t laugh, as I learned to do during the unfunny SNL watching days. Before I knew it, they were finished.

Just then, two women got on stage and began to perform a burlesque show…and we walked out.

I have no interest in blue comedy, or the off-color sort. None. It’s just not funny to me.

Here’s one of those annoying lists explaining why.

 

Five Ways Clean Comedy is King

Now besides being the conservative, white, Mormon, Republican, neanderthal, backward tea partier, science-hating, apocalyptic, Bible thumping, intolerant, gun clinging, loser, consitutionalist, close minded human that I am, I do believe that I have a fairly open mind. And with that mind as open as I can possibly get it, I have to say why clean comedy is king.

Two days ago on a Reddit Ask Me Anything, when asked about why his comedy is clean, Jerry Seinfeld said,

“I was comfortable in the only medium I had at the time. And when I began my career in the 70s and 80s, you had to be clean to get on Johnny Carson or any of the shows. So that’s what I became, and I found I liked it better anyways, because it felt harder and like more of an accomplishment when you could pull it off.”

Additionally, another über successful clean comic Jim Gaffigan also backs me up.

In a recent Nerdist.com interview with Gaffigan, host entertainer and comedian Chris Hardwick said, “I’m so jealous of your ability to write clean comedy that is funny,” to which Gaffigan replies with a sarcastic, “Jesus tells me to, and I listen to what the Lord says.”

1) Morality

While Gaffigan mockingly ties his clean humor to Christianity, as if no religious person swears or tells off color jokes, well, um, uh, um he’s probably right. If you are religious, you are more likely to enjoy clean comedy. Comics are funny, though, because they take on any issue, squeezing as much irony and humor from it.

Today, the freedom to go after traditional morality has definitely been filled by comedians. The default comedian, I believe, is a swearing, atheist liberal. The most common jokes are against religion and conservatives, sex and drugs, because those jokes are easy. These are the jokes anyone can tell. Jokes that maintain a certain morality are harder to pull off. And I think they are funnier.

2) Lazy

Gaffigan makes it sound like his writing partner, his wife, pushes him to be clean. “I have new stuff that my wife despises,” he told Hardwick. “There’s this writing partner who says ‘this is lazy’ when it comes to something filthy.”

Is Gaffigan’s wife right? Is blue comedy lazy?

Yes.

Now, I will say that there are topics in the blue category that cannot be described without filthy language. Comedians since forever have tackled just about any topic head on, which is the freedom comedy depends on. Some of those topics are blue by definition. That doesn’t change the fact that, like Seinfeld said, writing clean comedy is more difficult to write. It’s hard work.

3) Unfinished joke

Continuing on the topic of laziness, Gaffigan said that he used to drop an f-bomb on occasion.

“Now I rarely do but it’s an indication that I haven’t finished writing the joke.”

Here’s my take: If you think a joke requires explicit and shocking language, the joke is there, already in the language. You’ve done the thinking for everyone. You’ve shocked them with your words, right there, on the spot. The best humor, I believe, is shocking them when they have to put two and two together. It’s more subtle that way, and somehow more complete.

Here’s another way of looking at it. The main reason I haven’t frequented comedy clubs is because 98% of them are blue comedy havens. Why would that be most prevalent in these small joints? It’s because it is full of amateurs. They want the quick laugh. They are amateurs. Blue comedians can still gain in notoriety and fame, but there’s a reason why Sarah Silverman and George Carlin aren’t household names. It’s why someone like Hardwick says to Gaffigan, “I’m so jealous of your ability to write clean comedy that is funny.”

4) Clean is more creative

Gaffigan goes on to say, “I mean, we’re creative people, and I’m not that smart, but can’t we think of an adjective besides ‘bleep?’”

5) “Clean comedy is much more difficult to write” – Gaffigan

I love writing comedy. I’ve written 40 posts and about 2/3 of them are intended to be funny. Whether they are funny to you, or not, is out of my hands. But they’re funny to me! Some of them are, anyway.

Good night.

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Man

Email Signature Contest and Granny 8 Mortgage

Over the last 16 or 17 years of professional email signature experience, I have found that my email signature has decreased in size over the years, from many lines to just a few.

At the beginning of my successful professional career journey, trailblazing a path that would ultimately lead to success and bliss (this is a prediction), when I was a temp, I admit, I was young and naïve. At the time, and as I changed jobs every few months because I kept getting fired, I liked knowing there were 30 ways for people to reach me.

Today, I try to limit those contacting options down to just the bare minimum. I do this because that’s what happens when you get older.

Have you noticed that older people (39+) just want to be alone? They (45+) don’t like change or interference or telemarketers or spam or junk mail like I do. They’ve (98+) had enough of meaningless interactions with other humans. They (100+) only want meaningful interactions with humans. They (110+) want to sit in a chair staring at DirecTV all day long. Why? Because they (120+) can.

The other reason I have taken lines out of my email signature is because no one faxes me out of the blue anymore. My feeling is that in 16 or 17 years, when I’m much closer to the DirecTV phase of my life (that’s a real thing), my work email signature will likely be just a few characters long, if not eliminated altogether.

Today, I received an email from someone’s work account who had a ridiculously long signature that went something like this:

address

Email Signature Contest

I have figured out a way to make the email signature meaningful again. It wouldn’t be the addition of an inspirational quote. No, the email signature would be much cooler if a contest or game went along with it. Then people might actually read it. More on that in my updated email signature below.

Granny 8 Mortgage

Speaking of Granny 8 Mortgage, the other night I was in St. Louis at a stop light, when I couldn’t help but notice a building with the company name “Granny 8 Mortgage” boldly displayed on one side of the building. The sign was all lit up. And that’s not all. An identical sign was boldly displayed on another side of the very same building, also brightly lit.

I had to say the name of the company out loud.

Now you say it. Out loud.

Come on! Say it! I don’t care that you’re at a funeral. Make someone laugh.

You’re sick. I hope you didn’t just say it at a funeral.

Granny. 8. Mortgage.

For marketing purposes, that name works. I still remember it, as you can see. How many businesses have I driven by every day for five years that are akin to the commercials we see but don’t really see? Granny 8 Mortgage made an impression.

As soon as I said the name of the company to the lucky passenger of the vehicle, my wife, I imagined working for the company. I imagined picking up the phone with, “Granny 8 Mortgage, Josh speaking.”

I imagined a conversation at a party.

“So Josh, what do you do?”

I would stall. “Um, yeah. I’m in the mortgage business. What do you do?”

“I’m a carny. But don’t try switching subjects on me. I’m familiar with a lot of the mortgage firms in the area, especially those who specialize in tents. Who do you work for?”

What could I say? How could I respond to that?

It’s like falling on ice in front of people before you actually fall on ice. It’s like the moment you start to slip. Everyone is watching so you overcorrect and make contorted facial expressions you never knew you could make and you know everyone will laugh with the inevitable fall that will make you look pathetic, careless and weak and you will never be able to take it back no matter how hard you try, reliving the moment frequently wishing you could just have a do over and start anew.

I went to Granny 8 Mortgage’s website today and tried to find an about page explaining the significance of their name. After some digging, I found they opened in 1998 as Homestead Financial Mortgage.

Which answers my question. I would say to the carny, “I work for Homestead Financial.”

[begin, updated email signature:]

address2

 

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