Humor Therapy

Circa 2006

Reality Check  

The problem with living in a free country is there’s nothing we can do to stop reality TV. If the founding fathers had foreseen a society engrossed in viewing a person eating cow entrails or marrying a millionaire who is actually a minimum-wage construction worker, it’s quite possible a no-lowering-your-IQ clause would have been added to our constitution. Benjamin Franklin, most likely, would have foregone the discovery of electricity, concluding that no electricity is better than watching this crap on television.

How did all this mind-numbery come about? How did our country let itself slip into a coma? Boredom, unfunny sitcoms, an onslaught of crime-in-the-city shows these are all good explanations, but the roots go deeper. Quite simply, people like to watch idiots. Reality TV assures them that their life isn’t so bad after all.

In the last 10 years, Hollywood has dropped its high standards from barely capable acting to desperate screen-hog-wannabee vapidity. Whatever happened to the Golden Era? Clark Gable didn’t get his big break by appearing on a show called Jackass. Actors and actress es back then had to have something completely different than the stars of today have. That something was…oh. what’s that word…oh, yeah, talent. Performers back then could sing, dance and act. Today all that’s needed for an acting career is the skill to burp and the willing ness to swim in a tub of fish guts or horse manure. In other words, as long as you’re willing to make a complete ass of yourself on national TV, you’re a star, baby!

Yes, being an actor has a different meaning than it did years ago. I’m going to go out on a limb: I seriously doubt Jack Warner would put someone like Omarosa under contract. I think if Humphrey Bogart was starting out today and saw the talent pool we see on TV every night, he and Lauren would have given up the acting bug, moved to Key Largo and just been happy shucking oysters. Something tells me Casablanca would not have worked with Johnny Knoxville as the lead. Reality shows? Don’t play it again, Sam.

We now also award karaoke singers million-dollar contracts because they know the words to a song. And these people become pop stars? Forget years of playing the nightclubs and one-night stands, doing something absurd like honing their craft. Heck, if you can sing in the shower, that’s good enough for the record companies. Could you imagine some of these American Idol contestants opening for Sinatra? I don’t think so. They aren’t worthy to carry Frank’s baubles, bangles or beads. “Ladies and gentlemen, tonight, on stage together. Old Blue Eyes and…Clay Aiken?” I’ll tell you what we’d be fishing Simon Cowell’s lifeless body out of the Jersey river. And how about that talentless William Hung? “She bang, she bang!” I bang my head against the wall!

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Why do they even call it reality TV? For most of us, reality is working a 9-to-5 job, shuttling the kids to soccer practice, waiting for the cable guy and paying bills. It certainly isn’t swapping your wife, having a nanny, ice skating with the stars or being a bachelor and choosing which of 40 money-grubbing girls you’re going to sleep with. Hell’s Kitchen? It’s hell watching what the networks have cooked up. Primetime could use an extreme makeover.

Perhaps the best show to be a contestant on would be Survivor. You are set in a jungle or remote island away from the civilized world. (We appreciate that.) However, the upside is no television. No reality shows to corrupt you. For entertainment, you have to read a book. There, I said it. A book. Yes, they still make those.

Here’s my idea for a reality show. We film kids from all around the country solving math problems. With each episode, we actually see the IQ of a child increase. Sound too boring? All right, we can spice it up. For every wrong answer, the kid has to eat a bug or lick a mouse’s back. We’ll call it Fear Factoring.

I think about the great works of art ancient cultures have passed on to us: Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, Homer’s Odyssey, Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. I could be wrong, but I doubt the show Beauty and the Geek will become a classic. To our future civilizations, please note that I am sincerely sorry. Forget the baby. creativity went out with the bath water.

As these new stars of today grab their 15 minutes, audiences are left to ponder what in the world they just watched. We’re the big losers. And these famed personalities, well, give it a year and they’ll be taking your order at Denny’s. Please tip them well so they don’t decide to go back on TV.

Whenever I see a reality show on TV, well, talk about an amazing race-I race to the remote control. The Ameri can people should take a page out of Donald Trump’s playbook and tell reality TV. “You’re fired!”

by Jeff Charlebois

“Ham on a Roll”

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Pet Peeves

Everyone should own a pet. A pet is more than a companion; it is something you can blame if you spill juice on the carpet or break a plate. And it certainly makes a great scapegoat when flatulence is present in the room.

Pets are often extensions of their owners’ personalities. Someone mean and ruthless might own a pit bull. A talker may keep a parrot. An ugly slob may pal around with a potbelly pig. And, who knows, a nymphomaniac could very well have a rabbit. Show me your pet and I’ll show you your true self.

A pet is always there for you. After a rough day of work, your pet will greet you at the door, circling and licking you…like Richard Simmons. This means, I’ve missed you; now where the hell is my food? Unlike humans, animals aren’t picky about what they eat. If you place a bowl of Kibbles and Bits in front of your Persian cat, it’s highly unlikely she will send it back to the chef, even if there’s a hair in it.

Sometimes your animal is diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. You’re never really sure what the condition is, but you know it’s bound to cost you $800. The vet always tells you there is a chance your animal will live, because putting it to sleep is only $80. Logic tells you that for $800 you can get two cats, a dog and really good spa massage. The only thing left to do is tell the kids the dog ran away. “Shouldn’t we make some lost pet posters, Mommy?” You scramble for an answer: “No honey, that won’t help. Dogs can’t read.”

Pets can have annoying habits. A cat, for instance, will suddenly decide she desperately needs to be in the next room. There was no AMBER Alert or tornado warning coming across the TV, but at this particular time in her life she has to be in the next room. Five minutes later into her life, she desperately needs to come back and sit directly on top of the newspaper you’re reading.

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On the other hand, dogs often don’t know when to excuse themselves from the room. For instance, they like to watch people eat. Nothing ruins a meal faster than a pair of beady eyes following every movement of a fork…and stringy slobber doesn’t help the experience either. I think dogs drool because they know you will soon lose your appetite and hand them the plate. All in all, dogs seem to have more annoying habits than other pets. A hamster never humps your leg, and when was the last time your gerbil drank from the toilet?

Almost every pet will wake you up in the morning usually ten minutes before your alarm goes off. That’s an hour of sleep deprivation per week. However, any pet’s biggest pesky habit is going to the bathroom at the most inopportune time and place. It’s always the owner stuck with cleaning up the dirty deed. Someone ought to invent the perfect pet-one that never has to relieve itself. You keep it for two years, it explodes, and then you get a new one..

On the bright side, pets are fun to play with. A bone, a ball, a piece of string-these simple life distractions reveal that pets don’t have any bills to pay. Not only do these games occupy the animals but they provide husbands a good excuse for ignoring the household chores their wives give them, like taking out the trash. “I can’t right now, Honey, I’m playing with Pepper,”

A pet can comfort you. When that man hasn’t called you in three days, there’s nothing more soothing than having a loving cat curled up on your lap. A carton of Häagen Dazs isn’t bad either, but it doesn’t purr. Like wise, pets help you escape from everyday problems. The credit card bills are piling up? You’re out of work? Your house is in foreclosure? These things are quickly forgotten when a dog is licking your face-that is, until the repo man repossesses your mutt as well.

The main reason we have pets is so there is someone who needs us, appreciates us, never judges us for guzzling directly from the milk carton. Yes, pets are forgiving, non-judgmental creatures. (You hear that, spouse?) That’s why it’s important to never teach the furry monsters how to use a can opener. After that, you’d be of no use to them.

“But aren’t pets loyal?” you ask. Of course they are right up to the time you open that front door wide enough for them to dash out past you. As your faithful pet darts off, you’re lucky to get an, “I’ll be back for dinner, sucker.” No matter; we need them. It’s nice to come home to something that can’t wait to see you…and doesn’t mouth off like your teenage daughter. who, incidentally, was supposed to empty the litter box a week ago.

by Jeff Charlebois

“Ham on a Roll”

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