The Blog of Young America

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Stand Up for Diversity!

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Once a year, NBC holds a standup comedy contest for comics who aren't white. It's called "Stand up for Diversity." The cool part about this contest is that the winner actually gets a holding deal at NBC -- which if I'm not mistaken is what you get for winning Last Comic Standing, too. A year or two ago, our buddy Brent Weinbach (half-filipino, half-jew) won the contest, and while he didn't get a guest show on Joey, he did make some money and contacts out of it.

The big show is tonight in New York, and it's hosted by the very funny Jordan Carlos. So if you're not already going to see Kasper Hauser, see deets below.

Stand Up New York
236 W. 78th st just east of Broadway

Office Hours are CLOSED

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Update: Office Hours are CLOSED thanks to those who called.

Office hours are open for a little while here. Call and ask me any question on any subject, or share your thoughts about TSOYA or any of the rest of the MaxFun Empire.

So... lines are open. Gimme a call. IF YOU DARE.

Podcast: The Upright Citizens Brigade

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Show: 
Bullseye

Matt Besser (above) is a founding member of the Upright Citizens Brigade, a comedy group which brought long-form improvisation to New York City in the late 1990s, and has brought high-quality comedy to both coasts since opening theaters in New York and Los Angeles. Besser talks about the history of the group, which also includes SNL's Amy Poehler, Ian Roberts and Matt Walsh, and has also included comedy luminaries like Adam McKay and Horatio Sanz. The second season of their Comedy Central sketch series was recently released on DVD.

We also hear improvisation from Besser and colleagues from the UCB Theater in Los Angeles -- Sean Conroy, Andy Daly and Chad Carter.

Please share your thoughts on this program on our forum!
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You might also enjoy these past interview programs:
Put-Ons with Matt Walsh and Charlie Todd
Del Close Marathon with Ian Roberts and Anthony King (MP3)
Life Changes with Rodney Rothman and Matt Besser (MP3)

Fighting Little Donny Disease

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Little Donny Disease, or magnimus-obliviophallocytis, is a terrifying affliction that affects young people across the country. You can find out more information here, or by viewing these short informational clips.

Little Donny on the Upright Citizens Brigade

And visiting The Today Show.

Dexter: The First Season Contest

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Hey everyone... another giveaway up for grabs. Season 1 of the hit tv show Dexter is now on sale but you can get a copy right here for free! Not only that, there's also a music cd from the series plus a poster you can hang on your wall, or ceiling or wherever!

To get your hands on the loot: just email our intern Emma (emma@maximumfun dot org) with your name, address and tell us the name of Dexter's boat in the series. Please note that this contest is open to Maximum Fun donors only. You have until 5PM Pacific this Thursday 8th November! Good luck!


The Poems - The Sound of Young America

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From their upcoming album "Young America." Apparently The Poems are a Glasweigan band. Nice record.

Love the bridge. "You got the words / You got the chords / You got the songs / To make it right, maybe."

Some vexing Snoop Dogg footage

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Here's some footage of the fight that got Snoop Dogg arrested and held overnight (but not charged) in the UK's Heathrow Airport. The high-profile case led to Snoop being banned from the UK due to his prior criminal convictions in the US.

Of course the footage is heavily edited in Snoop's favor, but it's nevertheless very disturbing. We see cops hounding Snoop and his entourage, physically provoking them, and eventually using nightsticks on them.

I've only seen this sort of thing go down a couple times in real life, but it's always the combination of the victim's extreme suspicion and the police's arrogance that leads to conflagration. People who are scared of cops freak out when they deal with cops. That can mean abuse, or physical resistance, or whatever. Too often the police are unwilling to de-escalate, fearful of losing their position of authority if they do, but this baloney is just not how you solve shit. Being the bigger man is how you gain authority, not lose it.

If you're a middle class rich guy like me, it's easy to stay cool and not start anything -- if you're scared of the cops (for good reason), it isn't. If I was Snoop, I'd be freaked out, too. And Snoop has done criminal shit in the past I would never condone, but as far as I'm concerned the responsibility for situations like this lies with the folks with the uniforms and nightsticks and power of arrest.

The cops have the power, and they have a really tough job -- it's tough to de-escalate when people are yelling at you, freaking out, being abusive, etc. But that's why they're cops, and we're civilians. If they can't handle it, they shouldn't be serving.

Blah blah blah, politics whatever, sorry to intrude. I promise Maximum Fun later.

Podthoughts by Ian Brill: "The Lazy Environmentalist"

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Josh Dorfman, the host of The Lazy Environmentalist (iTunes link) radio show and author of the book of the same name, is a different kind of voice in the Green Movement. There are no prophecies of environmental disasters meant to scare you into action. Dorfman says that he is wary of “doom and gloom” in environmental messages. His show radiates this cheerful, enthusiastic attitude towards changing the world. He instills in listeners a hopeful sense the world can change and that it’s not even that hard.

The podcast features short segments of Dorfman’s show on Sirius Satellite Radio. They run from five to twenty minutes long. Some shows will feature Dorfman listing the greenest options for a certain activity, such as which are the most environmentally friendly airlines to choose. Others will have Dorfman expounding on a certain subject, such as putting forth his thesis that we can indeed “shop our way to sustainability.” Their nice little tidbits that you can start your day with or use as a quick reference, say when you want to know how to get quality skin care while saving the world.

I worry that maybe the tips aren’t enough. There is the idea that we can shop our way to sustainability and indeed, consumerism can change the world. I worry (and yes, even with Dorfman’s happy tone I’m still going to be filled with worries) that just tweaking our current way of life isn’t enough. Just replacing light bulbs or picking an airline whose planes don’t use as much fuel doesn’t feel like enough change is happening. The actual infrastructure based around burning through the Earth’s resources is still there.

Perhaps hoping for a revolution is too pie-in-the-sky to be effective. Dorfman is being realistic. He does say that government regulation is important but he admits that we are still going to be living in this particular marketplace. He’s most likely right that there won’t be a major overhaul in first world life so let’s try to change what we have now. The call to change the current economy we have now can even have wide ranging benefits that go beyond the issues of the environment. I liked the show about “Green Collar Jobs” that featured an interview with Van Jones of Ella Baker Center for Human Rights. Jones talked about creating new work opportunities for underprivileged youth by finding them jobs such as installing solar panels. The show gave a more expansive look of why retooling the economy for a sustainable future is so important.

Podthoughts by Ian Brill: "LSAT Logic in Everyday Life"

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There are few things I love more in life than Star Trek. I won’t deny that food and shelter have their charms but Star Trek lore offers me plenty of what I can’t find anywhere else. One is that thoroughly logical race the Vulcans. No matter what the situation presented in front of Kirk, McCoy and their green-blooded pal Spock you could always count on the Vulcan of the trio to asses every instance with cold hard logic. It’s not something we humans can always do but for those who take the Law School Admissions Test it is a requirement to pass the test. The Princeton Review’s podcast “LSAT Logic in Everyday Life” (iTunes link) explains the philosophy of the exam by examining current events through the lens of pure logic.

This is another “short burst” podcast like last week’s "The Lazy Environmentalist" and ”Grammar Girl’s Quick and Drity Tips for Better Writing” (you do a column enough times you start making up your own terms). The shows run six to eight minutes long. Keep in mind that the pre-recorded into and outro take up about one minute and we’re looking at a show that goes by pretty fast. Host Andrew Brody condenses the arguments and solutions of that week’s show into a tight little production. This keeps the content very clear no matter how complex the issue might be. In fact, it seems drawing out the show and delving into all the complexities and nuances of an issue would obscure the logical strategy Brody employs. I must add that Brody’s impeccable pronunciation of the English language is added a bonus for me. The guy just sounds like someone who is very familiar with the unimpassioned speech of both law and standardized tests (and I do mean that as a compliment).

The podcast doesn’t just serve those preparing for the LSAT. Brody’s decision to make the news the subject of his shows means that listeners get the chance to hear a calm and fair take on the world around us. While the rest of the media seems to be going in a very emotional to the point of shrill direction Brody presents a welcome alternative. A good example is the Sept. 23rd show. It was dedicated to a recent incident where a university student was tasered by police after asking a (frankly, ridiculous) question to Sen. John Kerrey and breaking the university’s discussions rules. Video of the incident hit YouTube and it was so intense that in no time people got into heated discussion. Brody applied LSAT logic, looking at simply the causes and effects, and came down on both sides with no bias or agenda. It was an interesting way to look at the story, one we could use more of.

As Brody says in every show to apply LSAT logic to situations around us we must distance ourselves emotionally. It’s a nice idea but, going back to Star Trek, there will always be a McCoy in us arguing our gut feeling to the straight-ahead Spock. I still find the commitment to logic something to aspire to and I hope more people learn from this podcast. Now I'm just waiting for someone to send Brody a question begging for some unforgiving logic: is there a God?

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