Hey, kids, welcome to the Phile for a Thursday. How are you? Before a polar vortex makes you freeze your little ass off, take some time to stay inside and read the Phile. It's that time of year when you hop in your car and just start screaming "fuck" until you're warm again. It's so cold in most of the United States that it's starting to bother Elsa now. Okay, let's start by talking about the former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, because his presidential aspirations got Venti-sized ratios.
Is running for president just "starting a podcast" for rich people? Howard Schultz, the former Starbucks CEO and self-proclaimed centrist independent, is flirting with a presidential run, and therefore with getting Trump re-elected by splitting by anti-Trump vote. If replies to his tweets are any indication, the people do not want this to happen. They can best be summed up as "please, for the love of god, DON'T DO IT." The Democratic party in Washington state has taken to trolling Schultz.
The Atlantic reports that the constituency his advisors imagine as yearning for a Schultz presidency doesn't even exist. There are only two people who are excited about a Howard Schultz candidacy: Howard Schultz and Donald Trump. Why can't the super rich just be satisfied being super rich?
Donald Trump Jr. has done it again. He has written words on the Internet and accidentally confounded and brought joy to countless people. Per usual, the way he accidentally caused joy is inextricably linked to him failing at owning the libs. Don Jr.'s failed slam dunk came in response to Conservative John Willow's tweet dramatically mocking the 2020 Democratic platform. Naturally, ol' Don Jr. couldn't resist the opportunity to swoop in with a joke, so he searched his brain and made this golden tweet...
This is when the record scratch began, because S&L?! Since there was no indication that Don Jr. was kidding around with that creative renaming of "SNL," the tweet ushered in a lot of questions. And honestly, the idea of Don Jr., a full-grown man who is 41-years-old, living out his entire life mistaking "Saturday Night Live" for "Saturday and Live" is a beautifully absurd thought. I want to know what "Saturday and Live" would look like. Would it be a different format?! Does Don Jr. have a packet he's planning to submit?! Honestly, this failing tweet was an end of week snack for everyone looking for a bit of levity and an opportunity to sharpen their roasting skills. Just imagine, you are 41-years old, you come from money and all the resources to watch and keep up with television, and you just learned the true name of "SNL." This Don Jr. flub was the chef's kiss that Twitter needed for morale today.
Tomi Lahren, who yells at your grandparents for a living, wants sitting congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to know that there's more to life than just social media. The host of a yell-a-thon on Fox News' streaming service Fox Nation appeared on the president's daily briefing, "Fox and Friends," to suggest that people only support Rep. Ocasio-Cortez's platform of Medicare for All and climate action because she's good at Twitter. People were quick to note that Tammy Lasagna knows nothing about "actually being successful in real life," unlike AOC, who won her election and is now the youngest congresswoman in American history. Now that's successful and also real life. Timmy Lerlamet's take is actually a massive self-own. Is Tummy Livingston crying for help? Does Tabitha Lillipad know that when she talks, we can hear her, and that she's speaking from a perch granted to her by corporate overlords rather than her fellow citizens, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? AOC has yet to respond, as she is busy being successful in real life. Run for Congress, Tamela! It's time to show the world what "real success" looks like.
Speaking of AOC... A conservative tried to shame the congresswoman for having been a bartender, and I know that the Internet is full of hyperbole, but I swear that I'm not hyperbolizing when I say that her response is the best. Electoral politics is all about vanquishing trolls... whether in primaries or committee hearings or elections... and AOC is so good at it it's like watching Vincent van Gogh paint. The congresswoman was discussing the double standard America has when billionaires such as the Starbucks guy decide to enter politics. People think that the fact that someone has a lot of money means they are Very Smart, and should therefore be considered Very Serious Candidates. First-term Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez noted that her candidacy didn't receive such treatment. Conservative researcher Alex VanNess decided to respond to the tweet by demonstrating her exact point.
"The bartender" responded with her resume, and the guy deleted his tweet out of fear. Oh, and here's the best part...
VanNess may have deleted his tweet, but the congresswoman keeps receipts. Not only did that dude self-own by publicizing his elitist, classist bias, he opened himself up to being dog walked. Next time you want to shame a member of Congress for their working class background, maybe don't?
When it comes to heated and competitive feelings, awards shows are basically the Super Bowl for pop culture junkies. Regardless of who gets nominated and who wins, there will always be deeply disappointed naysayers trash talking the awards and gloating fans celebrating a win. When it comes to the Grammys, this swirl of intense feelings is normally limited to the night of the show itself. However, this week it came early when the Twitter account Main Pop Data supposedly leaked the Grammy winners ahead of time. According to Main Pop Data's "leak" the winners of the top four categories are Cardi B for Record of the Year ("I Like It"), Lady Gaga for Song of the Year ("Shallow"), H.E.R. for album of the year, and Chloe x Halle for Best New Artist. According to the leak, Beck was slated for Best Pop Solo, The Carters took Best Urban Contemporary Album and Best R&B Performance, and Drake is going to take home Best Rap Song. People on Twitter were thoroughly up in arms, both out of anger and excitement over the Grammy predictions. Luckily, for those upset, a spokesperson for the Recording Academy stepped in and refuted the claims. They told Billboard the leak was false, and that none of the names are revealed until the day of the awards. "There is no legitimacy to this. Grammy Awards results are not shared, even with Recording Academy staff members, until the day of the Grammy Awards ceremony, when names of the recipients are delivered by Deloitte in sealed envelopes." It appears, per usual, we'll have to hold our anger or applause until February 10th, when the actual Grammys take place.
So, it's so cold in Chicago look what was seen walking around...
It's so cold that Lenny Kravitz is wearing his living room rug...
Hahahaha. He's still so fucking cool. I've been saying all through January some clapbacks at MAGA trolls that made the Internet great again in 2018.
Looks directly at the camera. Some people are so dumb people so dumb they made the entire Internet face palm in 2018.
Interesting take on "strawberries." You know, if I had a TARDIS I would go to Auschwitz Concentration Camp and try to help the Hungarian Jews who were being selected by Nazis to be sent to the gas chamber in Auschwitz...
I think time travel exists and Freddie Mercury did it...
That's so stupid. That's as stupid as...
So, the Super Bowl is this upcoming Sunday and the officials are already training...
Hahahahaha. It's Thursday, kids, you know that that means...
I'm glad I'm not eating... ugh. Now for a new pheature called...
Hahahahahahaha. That makes me laugh. From one bundle of joy to another. Now from the home office in Port Jefferson, New York, here is...
Top Phive Ways You Know That You Are Living In 2019 When...
5. You accidentally enter your PIN on the microwave.
4. You haven't played solitaire with real cards in years.
3. You have a list of fifteen phone numbers to reach your family of three.
2. You e-mail the person who works at the desk next to you.
And the number one way you know that you are living in 2019 is...
1. Your reason for not staying in touch with friends and family is that they don't have e-mail addresses.
Finding one of her students making faces at others on the playground, Ms. Smith stopped to gently reprove the child. Smiling sweetly, the teacher said, "Johnny, when I was a child, I was told if that I made ugly faces, it would freeze and I would stay like that." Johnny looked up and replied, "Well, Ms. Smith, you can't say you weren't warned."
This is stupid. If you spot the Mindphuck let me know.
The President of the United States has access to the most sophisticated intelligence in the world and can summon any great mind to revered White House for a briefing. This president, however, likes to get his information from his friends on "Fox and Friends," live-tweeting his favorite show so everyone can see just how ideas are injected into his lizard brain. Trump tweeted about bible classes in public schools on Monday morning after enjoying his TiVo'ed briefing, and with a Tony the Tiger-inspired tweet, called them "Great!"
Separation of church and state be damned: Trump is all about that (religious Right) base. Trump, who famously quoted Second Corinthians as "Two Corinthians." Trump, who likely never touched a bible until his inauguration (barf). Trump, who got caught committing campaign finance violations by paying off the porn star he slept with while his third wife was nursing their child. It's easily to assume that the president isn't genuinely interested in the bible. The only thing Trump truly understands about the bible is the incest.
Can I get an "Amen"?
The 92nd book to be pheatured in the Phile's Book Club is...
Cathy Rudolph, the author of the book will be on the Phile this coming Monday.
And the guest will be legendary Disney animator Floyd Norman. Now for some Super Bowl...
Phact 1. Deion Sanders is the only man to play in a Super Bowl and World Series. And the first play in two professional league games in the same day. And score a touchdown and hit a home run in the same week.
Phact 2. The idea for YouTube, in part, was conceived when the founders couldn’t find a video of Janet Jackson’s breast popping out during the Super Bowl.
Phact 3. Super Bowl in 2016 used the Arabic numeral 50 instead of Roman Numeral L.
Phact 4. A guy named Dion Rich is the godfather of the Super Bowl gatecrasher.
Phact 5. When the Super Bowl and the Presidential Inauguration conflicted, the President did the coin toss ceremony for the Super Bowl and had his public inauguration the next day.
Today's pheatured guest is a stand up comedian whose self titled special is available on HBO. Please welcome to the Phile... Drew Michael.
Me: Hey there, Drew, welcome to the Phile. How are you?
Drew: Hi, I'm good.
Me: Okay, so for your first one hour HBO special you do stand-up with no audience. What made you decide to do that?
Drew: That was a combination of discussions between myself and Jerrod Carmichael who was the director and producer of the special. We were always focused on not only the what the comedian or what I'm saying what the material is etc., also how that is captured for viewers at home. That was sort of the starting point, how can we capture this in an interesting way. What speaks kind of directly to the material, the person involved the intention of the hour. And we were playing back and forth this idea how do we make it feel like there's nobody there and still keep the tension that an audience provides. Ultimately he said, "I think we just do this without an audience present." I thought about it for about five seconds and that was it, there was no going back. It felt so perfect to me.
Me: Okay, so, what's the reason? I have done stand-up before and I can't imagine doing it in front of no one.
Drew: There's a lot of reasons to do it, there's atheistic advantages but also more importantly it stays true to who I am. And to the types of themes that I talk about in terms of isolation and kind of being wrapped up in my own thoughts and that kind of thing. I think we found an interesting way to portray that and communicate that visual.
Me: Technically, Drew, you say it's a stand-up special without an audience but people are watching it... from their homes. Haha.
Drew: Exactly. But there's no live audience, there's no stage, there's no mic, no stool, no untouched glass of water and there's silence.
Me: You've been doing stand-up for a long time, was there an instinct you had to work against to be okay with silence after your jokes? Normally it's not good if there's silence after a comedian does a joke.
Drew: It's interesting because one of the things I think that when I've been performing the last ten years on stage and touring the country and doing it in the sort of conventional way silence was always something that for whatever reason I was very capable of handling. I enjoyed, I leaned into it. Even if there is a crowd there there's obviously moments that are going to be more tense or where there's tension inside the crowd because of what I said, because I haven't released it yet. Rather than use that as an impetuous to get out of it or cower to that and say how to I get out of this, whether it's a self-deprecating line or a punch line to release this tension I was okay with that being the case. And so to take the extreme leap of immersing myself in nothing but that yeah, it was definitely challenging but it wasn't like I was starting from zero in that respect. I definitely had something I would say oddly I was comfortable with.
Me: This is crazy to me. You talk about suicide in the special, which everyone is not going to find funny. Was there any intention of doing that? Not suicide but saying stuff that you know people wouldn't think was a joke, or you trying to be funny.
Drew: Well, I think also because of the suicide bit you pointed out it's a very visual special as well. So I don't know if I would have done, if this was only audio I don't know I would have done it that way. That said it's obvious what you're saying is true to the sense that if people are laughing around me... look, I go back and forth, I've done enough shows to know what a crowd should sound like. What doing well sounds like and what not doing well sounds like. There are many times I'm doing great and one person who didn't like it will talk about it or come to me and say, "Yeah, nobody was laughing." And I'm like, "Yeah, YOU weren't laughing. In your head everybody wasn't also." We do have this way of kind of being somewhat solecistic about our responses. Obviously this is an extreme example where I don't hear laughter that's because nobody is laughing, I am the only person who could change that.
Me: I wonder if you played the film to an audience how they would laugh, or if they would. Did you think of that?
Drew: Yeah. We screened the special at a premier a few days before it aired and it was in front of 200 or so people and it was getting those house laughs I would get in a comedy club.
Me: Oh, cool. What was that like?
Drew: It's interesting, because obviously they're experiencing it with the crowd there, and so that obviously changes it. As I said before it really zeroes in on my surroundings and the situation I'm in. That's a pivot, we could talk about whatever you want but it's interesting to me because to me shooting without an audience that to me that's just one component. The majority of it in my opinion is what's written. Obviously with playing with the audience dynamic is playing experimenting with form as much as the material and the script is experimenting with the content.
Me: I don't have HBO and haven't seen the special, just the trailer. There's a girl in the trailer who it looks like you speak to her. Who is that, Drew?
Drew: She's a British actress named Suki Waterhouse. The jokes are interspersed with this woman who I'm "dating" over FaceTime.
Me: What made you decide to include her and that bit into the special?
Drew: Well, my material is all on the focus of all my issues personally and how they relate to or how they impact relationships and things like. And so you're getting a very thorough sort of mining of those issues and what's underneath them and what causes them. For me that's what I always liked about stand-up comedy was hearing somebody kind of go that far into themselves and really reach down deep and pull out something then use that ability to turn that into jokes or comedy or a piece of a four minute bit. Oh my God, I cannot believe they took this one thought and spun it into gold like that. That's always what I inspired to do in my own way. I feel like I've done that throughout my career and I got better at doing that more and more personals and less and less about how everything in the world is messed up. I sort of realized that doing so it's done under the guise of honesty, right, whereas this is I'm just being so honest because I'm just ripping so far into myself but there's a certain inherent dishonesty with that because I think no matter how much I'm saying, how confessional I am, how much I am revealing it still is me who is in total control. I am in 100% control, I can decide to reveal or not reveal, how it's portrayed, the confidence with which I say it is somewhat fake because I've rehearsed this and so. Primarily it exists solely in my mind and any sort of counter balance from the actual world. And so there were a couple, and the two biggest reasons to include the relationship with Suki's character was to give a little flavor of moments of how these things of what exists on top of subcutaneous inner monologue what I'm experiencing. Not only what's existing in the material world but also how these things impact that and the sort of damage that they could cause and not let me off the hook for it, but also this sort of counterpoint that could be provided by reality.
Me: Hmmm, so how do you continue on after this special? Do you continue on talking about personal stuff and understanding the hypocrisy in doing so or does this make you change your act?
Drew: I haven't done stand-up in over four months. Since we wrapped up, I've been on stage twice since then.
Me: Is that because what I'm asking about?
Drew: A 100%. Well, it's not because people would think that, but because I felt this until the end of my last tour and most of going through it out of respect of putting the material together the way that I intended. That was what got me through the last leg of the tour, and that's what got me through the filming of it. I was able to summon the emotions that were present there. But I already knew the punchline, I already knew the ending. So I had to play true to the character rather than play true to the special, if that makes sense. I had to stay in the moment of the guy who is convicted in this. Which is I think how good stand-up is usually presented... with conviction. I have to believe that in what I'm saying or had believed at one point and be able to access that point. And also believe the way I am saying is is valid, and is worth it. And so, yeah, if I completely undermine that I find this sort of inherent subversion of my own art form. Which is really a part of my identity after awhile. Its not like this is some hobby I picked up, this has been my whole life for over ten years now. It gives purpose to sort of every moment that I've lived over these last decade, because almost everything I do, I'm working towards something, Yes I'm going through all these things but there's sort of a nobility to sacrifice, right. When I start to realize there's not it definitely makes me give pause. I'm not going to lie to you, your question is right on the money.
Me: So, do you have the answer to this?
Drew: No, I don't have the answer, and I knew that going in when making this I would be setting myself up to be completely severed from what had gotten me to this point. I can't just go back and do something lateral or do something that feels underneath what we put out. And so I knew by doing this I knew I'd force myself to wither adapt and find and new way in presenting ideas or I would not do that any more. Both of those I accepted going into it because I can't deny something just because it's convenient.
Me: How are you dealing with it?
Drew: It's a process. It's weird because traditionally someone shoots their first hour for HBO and it gets the kind of response that this has gotten, they're off to the races, they're booking a forty city tour, they're going X, Y and Z but it would be weird for me to do that. I don't even mean that from a PR stand point, but for me as an artist and as a person. And so I'm trying to find the way forward that most accurately represents that, that growth and that change and what have you.
Me: I don't know what to say to that. Do you think a lot of people could relate to that?
Drew: Yeah, there's something fundamentally difficult about pulling the rug out from under myself. This might get too involved but I attach so myself of my identity and also the motivation is tied to these things. For example, if you take this special at face value with all these issues with relationships and so on and so forth in order to change that I have to let go of certain things in order to grow, right, I have to let go of old habits and old mindsets and old emotions, etc, etc. But inside of those sometimes are the motivation to do the thing that got me to the place where I could sort of ask that question. So I'm finding that inside of the bad habits is the desire to do sand-up and the justification to do it and motivation to do it I have to be compelled. The lifestyle is so terrible that the only reason I would do it is because I HAVE to. If I remove that I realize I am no longer have to and if I feel like I have to that's because I'm acting on a bad impulse. That changes a lot, that changes how I move about my day, how I navigate my life. Truthfully it's been very interesting but it's difficult for sure. I can't deny that.
Me: Drew, thanks for being on the Phile. This was such a deep interview. Haha. Please come back on the Phile again soon.
Drew: Thank you so much, I really appreciate it, Jason.
That about does it for this entry of the Phile. Thanks to Drew Michael for the interview. Half the time it was hard to understand what he was talking about. He's pretty deep and smart... more than I am. Haha. The Phile will be back on Monday with author Cathy Rudolph. Spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.
I don't want you, cook my bread, I don't want you, make my bed, I don't want your money too, I just want to make love to you. - Willie Dixon