Now Pinsker is the president of Klutz, a much-loved kid's book and toy maker. I emailed and asked if he'd be interested in coming on our show to talk about his process of pranking. He agreed. I exhaled.
I'll be honest: I hate April Fools' Day, and I'm not a big fan of practical jokes. I hate it the way that some people hate Valentine's Day or New Year's Eve. I think merriment and foolishness should be spread across the year. That's why most of our shows, even pretty serious ones, start with a comedy sketch, because life is so much better when you think of it as a comedy.
A hilariously fussy hotel manager with a taste for the high life is wrenched from his gay surroundings by the specter of war and a false murder charge. That doesn't sound terribly funny, but it's the premise for "The Grand Budapest Hotel," the latest Wes Anderson movie. Our Nose panelists all went to see it, and it will be one of our topics on this show.
Today on The Scramble, one of our favorite writers, A.J. Jacobs takes us deep inside the world of modern ancestry research where websites are all too happy to tell you that you're distantly related to Gwynyth Paltrow, Michael Bloomberg, Quincy Jones, and King David. Those are all actual examples of people A.J. was told are his relatives.
From Faith Middleton: More institutions of higher learning have shuttle busses to the nearest corporate high rises.
While it is understandable in a time of high unemployment to think about practical careers, it appears more people, including some entrepreneurial university administrators, think it's time to leave the “fluffy stuff” for hobby hour. That fluffy stuff would include literature, philosophy, languages, the arts and history—what we call the humanities. (Or, the stuff that hangs around long after we're dead.) Possibly the new rules of the road go something like this: read Michener before bed, and call it a day.
Standup is not an easy thing to do. You might think you're funny, but funny takes on a new definition when you're stranded on stage with just a microphone, a spotlight, and a judgmental audience. Todaywe talked comedy with Jason Zinoman, first-ever comedy critic for The New York Times. While researching the show, I watched a lot of comedy (what a job I have!) so I thought it would be fun to provide you with a sampling of a few of my favorite performers. Caution: some of these sketches may contain NSFW language so, you know, don't blast it at your desk.
Michael Bolton has reinvented himself many times. A few years ago, he cut off his trademark hair. He put out an album of opera arias and another of American Songbook Standards. But probably his biggest challenge was dealing with his image as a romantic icon so permanently rooted in the dead center of the mainstream that poking fun at him became an easy way for people who really weren't all that cool to prove they were at least cool enough to reject Michael Bolton.
Some time in the late 1980s, when my main job was writing allegedly funny newspapers and magazine pieces and books I was visiting a friend who worked in the offices of "Late Night with David Letterman." I think she was an assistant to Dave's assistant or something. Anyway, she introduced me to the show's head writer Steve O'Donnell and she must have mentioned me before because he said, "Oh yes. The humorist."
In 1992, film-maker Ken Simon made a documentary attempting to probe the identity of the state. He interviewed a range of "experts," including me. The title of this documentary? "Between Boston and New York."
That tells you something. Even a painstaking attempt to pin down what Connecticut is winds up bowing to all the things Connecticut ain't. There's a somewhat rude anatomical term for this. I'm not going to use it.
"Never be deceived by a humorist, for if he is any good he is a deeply serious man moved by a quirk of temperament to speak a certain kind of truth in the form of jokes. Everybody can laugh at the jokes; the real trick is to understand them."