Too Cute To Kill

That's a line from a movie I'm in, that's why that's the title up there.

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The UCB Is Not Your Dad


First of all, I’m incredibly grateful and #blessed to be part of UCB Digital. It’s gonna be huge, my friends, and I can’t wait to start making stuff.

Secondly, teamwise, this is my first yes in sea of nos. The UCB has been my home since 2007—I love the place— and this is the first time I’ve…

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The Jerk Dad Reviews “Angry Birds”

The Jerk Dad Reviews: Angry Birds
developed by Rovio Entertainment
available on most video game platforms


I can think of no more controversial, polarizing, or incendiary piece of children’s culture than the worldwide phenomenon that is “Angry Birds.”

At first, I thought the game was a very simple tale of infanticide followed by suicidal retribution. Then I made the mistake of looking a little closer, and what I discovered will shake you to your core:

"Angry Birds" is a metaphor for the war on terror, and it’s told from the side of the terrorists.

It all began in December of 2009, when the Finnish masterminds at Rovio unleashed their “game” for the iOS. Download it, open it up, and here is the backstory to which you are introduced:

What happens in that video? Some innocent “birds” (MUSLIMS) are fawning over their “unborn children eggs” (FUTURE). Some fat, greedy “pigs” (WESTERNERS) grow tired of the “grass and plants they are eating” (NATURAL RESOURCES THEY ARE DEPLETING). The “King Pig” (AMERICA) sees the eggs and decides to take them for himself and his “family” (OTHER WHITE PEOPLE.)

Meanwhile, the birds are distracted when a “mosquito” (THE JEWISH POPULATION) shows an interest in one of their “eggs” (ISRAEL). While the birds are reacting to the mosquito with extreme violence, the pigs sneak in and steal the “eggs” (OIL), which they then greedily “cook” (DRIVE SUVs).

Then, the final image of the video is A “F***ING MUSHROOM CLOUD” (F***ING MUSHROOM CLOUD). Once you’ve watched that, you then get to play the game, which, as we all know, is a never-ending series of literal suicide bombings.

Say it’s just a game if you like. Tell the Jerk Dad he’s reading too much into it if that’s what you think. But when the Finns side with the terrorists and western society starts collapsing around your ears, don’t forget who warned you. Also, it’s a fun and addictive game that will keep your kids busy and happy for hours at a time (and you too if you’re not careful!)

Filed under angry birds parenting terrorism iOS video games kids kids games truth conspiracy theroies finns

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The Jerk Dad Reviews “Goodnight Moon”

The Jerk Dad reviews: Goodnight Moon
by Margaret Wise Brown
pictures by Clement Hurd


The classic bed time children’s book “Goodnight Moon” was first published in 1947. Also in 1947, HUAC started issuing subpoenas to creative types within Hollywood for suspected ties to communism. Are these things connected? Without question. Can I prove it? I don’t have to. How do I know I don’t have to prove it? Joe McCarthy taught me. Am I through with these hypothetical questions? They aren’t hypothetical, I’ve answered all of them. Didn’t you know that?

Would-be revolutionaries throughout history have tried to lull unsuspecting populations into a cow-like stupor through any number of means. Drugs in the drinking supply, toxins in the air supply, Air Supply in the sound supply, any delivery system is fair game when you’re trying to topple a government.

Perhaps the most nefarious mass-soporific ever introduced to the American public is Margaret Wise Brown’s words and Clement Hurd’s illustrations in “Goodnight Moon.” Presumably written for children but secretly targeted at the adults who supervise them, “Goodnight Moon” is a non-stop un-assault on the senses that exhausts the eyes with alternating black & white and splashy color pages, and tranquilizes the ears with a loose, free rhyme scheme (and don’t think the double meaning of “scheme” here is unintended).

Any neuroscientist worth their salt could tell you that the book is more effective than a session with Kreskin, dragging you subtly into somnolence from page one until it finally snaps you into a hypnotic state of suggestibility near the end with this flagrant left turn into zen town:


After being slowly lured into a state of quiet throughout the book, anyone then suddenly thrust into the blank nothingness of that page would cluck like a chicken, dance like a drunk, or accept the tenets of fascist communism without so much as a blink’s worth of hesitation.

Luckily for America, it didn’t work, and nearly seventy years later democracy still reigns supreme in the U.S. of A. But for how long? And how is global warming connected to all of this? I can’t do all the work out here, folks. Keep asking the scary questions.

Filed under goodnight moon joseph mccarthy communism plot red scare children's books children's literature kiddie lit conspiracy conspiracy theroies danger government overthrow classic literature

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No one told me this when I was your age, and it took a surprisingly long time to figure it out on my own. People would tell me I was funny, but only in the context that I should please now stop. “You’re funny, but can you calm down and finish your dinner?” “Very funny, Mike. Now please sit back down so I can finish teaching the class about polygons.” “Now is not the time for comedy, Mr. Bradecich. Now is the time for communion wafers and penance.”

The adults were right when they told me that I was choosing inappropriate times and places to be funny. What they failed to tell me was when and where it WAS appropriate, which would have been VERY USEFUL INFORMATION.

Think of the funny people you know on TV and in movies and on the internet and in books. ALL of them started off by being funny with their families and friends, and none of them were better at it then than you are now. But they worked at it. They were funny every day in productive and constructive ways, which made them better at it, and now being funny is their job. Which is insane, but in a good way.


Good question, I commend you for asking. First, start thinking about what kind of funny you are. Are you the one who stands up on your chair in biology and sings “Edelweiss” because you couldn’t think of a reason not to? If so, you’re possibly a performer. Are you the one who tells the loud kid to get up on their chair and sing “Edelwiess?” then sits back and watches with a secret, knowing smile? In that case, you might be a writer. There’s also a distinct possibility that you’re both, and now is certainly not the time to limit yourself. 


Okay, than start performing. Get on Vine and YouTube and sing stupid songs that you make up and do impersonations of your aunts and uncles. Then audition for a show at your local community theater because there’s just no substitute for a live audience and a collaborative environment.

You lucky so-and-so, you live in the internet age. Anytime you want to make something, all you have to do is make it. If you’re VERY LUCKY, the first 100 things you make will be absolutely terrible, and there is no better school in the world than being terrible at something. I’m as old as your parents, and I still strive to do at least one terrible thing every day. It’s getting harder because I’m kind of amazing. But I find a way.


Guess what? The advice is basically the same. Start your Tumblr Tumblng, add some nonsense to your blog everyday and tweet twice before lunch. And here’s one for you that also goes back up to the performers: READ/WATCH/CONSUME EVERYTHING. Not just the funny stuff, not just the stuff that’s new and popular right now. Look at Sid Ceasar, read Vonnegut, read “A Confederacy of Dunces” twice, listen to the audiobook of Steve Martin’s book “Born Standing Up,” and check out some YouTube clips of Ed Sullivan and the Smothers Brothers. You know who’s hilarious? Geoffrey Chaucer. You know who might be even funnier than him? Shakespeare. You know who might be funnier still? Anne from “Anne of Green Gables.” Look at all of it, try to figure out why it’s funny, and copy the hell out of it. Steal every slice and sliver of it, and eventually you’ll find the parts of it that speak to you the most. Then you’ll start making stuff that’s purely yours. You’ll have a “voice.” No matter what you do or create or how you do or create it, at some point you have to start figuring out what makes you uniquely you. But right now? Steal, steal, steal (and give credit to the people you’re stealing from.)


Okay, calm down Captain Modesty. If you do both, the things you’re interested in (that I kind of didn’t know existed until I was 30) are improv and sketch comedy. You can find an improv class just about anywhere, and you should. If you get out of high school or college and you’re still sure that this is your gig, then it’s time to go to Chicago. You can also go to New York or LA, but don’t. You can, but don’t. Just go to Chicago. Be completely broke while you take classes and see shows and make all of the best friends you’ll have for the rest of your life at Second City, iO, ComedySportz, the Annoyance, and The Chicago Improv Den. THEN you can go to New York or LA and do Groundlings, UCB, whatever you want. Go crazy.


Okay! I’m game!

1)   You live in the internet age, you can make anything and give it to the world at any given INSTANT. That’s crazy. You know what else is crazy? The trolls. They’re waiting to get you. On your YouTube videos, your Vines, your blogs and your Tumblrs, DON’T LOOK AT THE COMMENTS. You’ll meet plenty of people who can give you worthwhile and valuable feedback, so ignore the trolls. It’s hard, because you really want to read the positive comments from the people who love your stuff, but it’s not worth it. I understand that you’re going to read them anyway, but stop as soon as possible. It will make the air taste better.

2)   Be a student. You might want to walk into your level 2 improv class and show everybody all the hilarious crap you learned in level 1. DON’T. Be humble, be a good listener, and try to do what the class is trying to teach you. Any teacher will be more impressed with how much you’re trying to learn than with how much you’re trying to show off what you already know. Remember when I said that now was the time to fail and stink? That’s ten times more true in class. You’re not there to be the funniest one in the room (because you won’t be), you’re there to get better and smarter. This isn’t just an improv thing, this is a life thing. Be a student. You have two ears and one tongue, use your ears twice as much.

3)   This is specific to improv but applies everywhere else as well: Be into different stuff. Have a variety of interests. Be really well-versed in biological anthropology or the Crimean War or classical guitar players or Polish Literature or whatever, but don’t make comedy your only thing. It’s easy to let that happen, and there are too many reasons not to let it happen to go into. But if you’re well-rounded, I promise you’ll be a better writer, a better performer, and a better human being. I’m not saying to trudge through five books on motorcycle repair just to be able to drop some knowledge at a party, I’m saying to figure out what else gets you excited and follow it down the rabbit hole. You will never regret it.


You shouldn’t. You should go be funny.

Filed under comedy humor teens advice career

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The Jerk Dad Reviews “Monsters University”


The Jerk Dad Reviews: Monsters University
produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar Animation Studios 
directed by Dan Scanlon

Recently released on DVD and Blu Ray and VOD and LOL and Hi-Defitronics pod, “Monsters University” has a lot to offer both you and your kids.

First of all, it has laughs and laughs a-plenty. This is a funny movie that derives most of its humor from watching monsters who are ill-suited to a task try to achieve that task anyway, and fail spectacularly. You want to be popular? But you’re socially awkward! You want to belong to a group? But you’re a nobody! Honestly, I never get tired of watching misguided and inferior people trying to fit in with the guided and superior pockets of society. It’s sad on the surface, but then it’s funny under that. It’s sad again underneath the funny layer, but I’ve always had an easy time ignoring that part.

The next thing this movie has to offer is a worthwhile message to kids. FINALLY. Most movies pander to the hopes and dreams of children by telling them something to the effect that “Anything is possible if you try,” or “There is great potential locked inside of you if you’re true to yourself and let it shine through.” This kind of message does nothing but raise the hopes of children who, in 99% of cases, won’t do anything worthwhile with their lives and will be crushed once they finally come to terms with that fact as middle-aged adults.

But the message of “Monsters University” is a far more practical one that, in my opinion, can’t be delivered to the youth of the world soon enough: What you look like will determine what and how much you are capable of achieving in this world.

The message is delivered through our protagonist, the adorable one-eyed gumdrop monster Mike Wazowski. Since childhood, Mike has had one dream: to be a “scarer” at Monsters, Inc. He studies, he trains, he practices, he does everything he can to reach his goal. ***SPOILER ALERT*** But, because of the way Mike looks, his dream NEVER EVER EVER EVER happens. Short people should know better than to waste a life dreaming of the NBA, tall people should save their horseback riding lesson money for specialty pants, people from outside that, like, one square mile of Kenya shouldn’t bother running anywhere but to a trade school, and cute little monsters should face the fact that the only way they’ll ever get to work on the scare floor at Monsters, Inc is if it is accidentally discovered that children’s laughter is an even more powerful energy source than screams. In that situation, that twee little booger ball will be given the chance to debase and humiliate himself for the betterment of society, which I guess is some kind of consolation. Or something.

So, judos* to Monsters University for finally getting it right. Just the other day, after watching the home edition Hi-Defitronics Monsters University pod with my own kids, we had a great discussion afterwards about limitations. I had each kid write up a list of at least one hundred jobs for which they are ill-suited based on their appearance and physical make-up. I added another hundred to each of their lists, and by the time we were done we had narrowed their possibilities for a financially stable and emotionally rewarding life down to just two or three, mostly in the field of manual labor. How reassuring is it to already know at 4 years old what your future holds? Thanks, Monsters University. Between you and me, I think we’ve got this child-raising thing pretty well licked.


*This is a typo, I meant to type “kudos.” But once I saw “judos” there, I decided to leave it and make it my new version of a “thumbs up/ thumbs down” rating system. If I like something, it gets judos. If I don’t, it doesn’t.

Filed under Monsters University monsters inc review reviews pixar disney pixar kids movies children's movies humor

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The Jerk Dad Reviews “Amelia Bedelia”


The Jerk Dad Reviews: Amelia Bedelia

written by Peggy Parish

pictures by Fritz Siebel

This book outrages me. It should be subtitled, “Let’s Make Fun of The Simples. Everybody Point and Laugh at The Simples! Look at the Silly Thing the Simples are Doing!”

"Amelia Bedelia" (the book) follows Amelia Bedelia (the character) on her first day in a new position as the household maid for the Rogerses, an older couple of some means and propriety. As Ms. Bedelia arrives, her new employers immediately leave, entrusting her with their posh home and a straightforward list of tasks to complete while they are away.

What follows is a series of mishaps caused my Amelia Bedelia’s overly literal interpretation of each and every item on her list of chores. To enumerate them would be tedious, but let’s use the example of Amelia “changing the bathroom towels” by cutting them to shreds(!) and assume that you have a clear picture of the kind of thing we’re talking about here.

Clearly, Amelia Bedelia is simple-minded to the extent of being dangerous. Her inability to decipher even the most basic instructions through context clues or common sense points to a person that should be cared for by professionals, and possibly studied by scientists (or at least the grad students who assist those scientists). To have a person like this at large in society, even in 1963 England (where I assume the story takes place based on the publication date and the style of dress of the characters), is reckless and irresponsible. But the author, and presumably the masses of people who have enjoyed this “comic” tale in the fifty years since its release, apparently find great humor in the foibles and failings of a girl who is clearly, using the parlance of the time, mentally retarded.

Imagine what could have been if this story had been written by a more modern, sensitive soul (not meaning myself per se, but I would certainly be up to the job if someone were to offer it). Instead of ridiculing the intellectually challenged like a horde of schoolyard bullies, this could have been an opportunity to enlighten readers on some of the finer points of the mental health profession.

I’m just spitballing, but imagine if Mr. Rogers had heroically recognized his new employee’s mental deficiencies and had her committed to an asylum? This would have given kids the chance to then meet the stern but sympathetic asylum director, the pair of hilarious bumbling orderlies that roll Amelia Bedelia back and forth between her room and the electroshock therapy room thrice daily…the possibilities are endless! Not to mention the science lessons that could be couched in the pages describing the use of electricity, the areas of the brain being targeted and their functions, etc. This book doesn’t even exist yet and I’m already way more excited to read it than I am to revisit the actual “Amelia Bedelia.”

I’m afraid I can only recommend that “Amelia Bedelia” to those of you who enjoy making fun of simple-minded people. And if you fall into that category, I’d also like to offer you a point of my admonishing finger, and a “shame on you.”

Filed under amelia bedelia children's books kids books jerk dad review reviews literature satire humor comedy

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Steve SzBLOGa: When The Axe Falls On You


A lot of my good friends are either on UCB Harold teams or auditioned this year. Many of them got callbacks.

Tomorrow, many people will be getting emails saying they did not make it. And they will be disappointed.

Some people will get amazing phone calls that their dream has come true and they…

Wise words for heartbroken improvisors and improvisers alike.

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Dear Clark Kent…



Subject: A big fan

Dear Mr. kent-

My name is Angelo Gervaise (pronounced “jer vase), I’m 16 years old and I’m a junior at Metropolis Poly West.
I’m taking a journalism class right now, and for our class we have to read the Daily Planet everyday.
I just wanted to say that I’m a big fan of your writing. Our journalism teacher Mr. Frogge says that you have a prose style that is easy and fluid and blah blah blah guess what it just took me like 5 minutes on Google to figure out that you’re Superman.

Seriously, it was crazy how easy that was to figure that shit out. I was looking at your bio on the daily Planet website and it said you got the first interview with Superman, and I was like “whys he so special he looks like a hipster dweeb in those glasses” (no offense). And then I’m looking at your picture and I’m like HOLY SHIT THOSE TWO DUDES LOOK EXACTLY LIKE EACH OTHER.”

So, long story short, I start thinking you probably don’t want people knowing that you’re Superman and I totally get that, people would be fucking with you all the time and asking you to beat up people they don’t like or whatever. So I’m thinking, it sure would be a shame if I told the wrong person you were Superman. And by the wrong person I`m thinking about my friend at school Kevin Bramer. As of right now when I’m writing this Kevin has 17.2K followers on Twitter (because his mom is a stripper and he’s always writing about all the weird skanky shit she does all the time), and that’s a lot of people and writing “Clark Kent from Daily Planet is really Superman, check it out if u don’t believe me” is a lot less than 140 characters.

So, long story short, it would be awesome if there was a silver 2013 Audi Q5 sitting in my driveway when I woke up tomorrow morning, if you know what I mean.

Thanks in advance! I’m seriously a big fan of all the stuff you do with being a reporter and superhero and everything, I hope you don’t think I’m a huge dick because of all this.


Angelo “Yer Face” Gervaise

Filed under superman clark kent comedy daily planet secret identity man of steel dc dc comics

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JERK DAD REVIEWS: Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!


Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!                                                          words and pictures by Mo Willems

In his Caldecott Award-winning book, Mo Willems never explains why the Bus Driver needs us to be responsible for his bus while he goes off to do whatever it is he needs to do (eat lunch? illegal back-alley dice game? extra-marital tryst?). Maybe we don’t need to know. Maybe we only need to know that we and our children have been entrusted with a task, and that we’d damn darn well better see it done. The Bus Driver’s plea comes immediately upon opening the book, on the inside cover. As I see it, the act of turning to page two is a contract that the reader enters into with that Bus Driver, and as a responsible, law-abiding citizen, it’s a contract that I take seriously. 

I don’t know what kind of kids you have, but I have at least one kid, my four year-old, who is the kind of kid who lets the pigeon drive the bus.

My 4 year-old has always drifted toward the dark side, the side of anarchy and societal breakdown. Each reading of Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! has seen her immediately telling the pigeon “yes.” Apparently she’s less interested in helping a uniformed representative of authority than in getting a peek at the post-apocalyptic future her generation seems hell-bent on bringing about.

Part of me wants to respect this independent spirit and forcefulness of will. But the part of me that knows what’s best for America knew that my responsibility was to use this as a Teachable Moment.

“You’re letting the pigeon drive the bus?”

“Yes,” she replied eagerly.

“Okay. If that’s the way you want it. The Bus Driver let you know how important it was not to do that, but now that you have, the pigeon has driven the bus into a school and killed a bunch of handicapped children. The handicapped children used the classroom closest to the front door so they wouldn’t have as far to walk (or roll) in case of a fire, but it looks like that little precaution just backfired and now all those crippled children are dead because you didn’t do what you were told. There’s nothing to be done about that now, so we’ll just have to hope that next time you make a better decision. Let’s go brush your teeth and say night-night to mommy.”

In summary, Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus is a great read, full of energy and humor. You and your kids will love it!

Filed under jerkdad don't let the pigeon drive the bus mo willems children's books comedy humor kids kid's books