My Stand Up Comedy Routine: Stupid Job Interview Answers

I secretly want to be a stand up comic.  Seriously.

For the past month and a half, my full time job has been looking for a full time job.  Thanks to instant streaming via Netflix (via Wii), I’ve been subconsciously overloading myself with stand up comedy.  In the past week alone, I’ve made it through the first 40 of 240 episodes available for the ongoing series Comedy Central Presents.  And last week, my wife and I spent Friday night seeing a couple of stand up comics who oddly decided to make Fort Payne, AL part of their tour at a restaurant called The Smokin’ Moose.  By now, I’ve got myself convinced that my alter-ego should be a stand up comic.  I believe I could pull it off.

Like a stand up comic, I am constantly noting awkward and weird social situations, I love communicating and relating with people, and most importantly, I am just enough narcissistic to draw in an audience when I want to.  So recently I began writing my stand up comedy routine, in my head.  But because of my narcissistic ways, I am sharing what I’ve come up with so far.  Since delivery is a very important of actually being funny, note that for the duration of this post, when you see a set of ellipses points (like this…), that symbolizes the short and necessary pause for the audience to have a chance to laugh.

Announcer: Ladies and gentleman, will you please give a warm welcome to Nick Shell!


“Alright, thanks everybody.  So, predictably, I watch a lot of stand up, and something I always think is funny is when the comedian walks out on the stage and the first thing he says is, ‘How are ya’ll doin’ tonight, everybody?!’ Because as an audience member of any congregation, whether it’s a Dave Matthews Band concert, an Easter sunrise church service… a community college graduation… or especially watching stand up comedy, my answer to that question is always, ‘Well, I don’t know yet.  I just got here.  But I’m not all happy and excited because you’re implying that I should be…”

It’s like when an adult says to a kid, ‘Are you enjoying your first week of 2nd grade?’, as the adult shakes their head ‘yes’, pressuring the child to only answer in agreement…

So, Mr. Comedian/Leader Singer of a Rock Band/Key Note Speaker at a Sales Conference in Cleveland, Ohio… I will only have a good time if I decide I want to, thank you very much…  But again, more importantly, I don’t know yet if I’m having a good time, typically when I’m asked that question.  You know, shouldn’t that be a question you’re asked near the end of event?…  Or everyone in the audience could fill out a secret ballot on a scale of 1 to 10 how good of a time they had… And they’re all emailed the results the next day… [spoken in a nerdy voice] ‘73% of the people had a good time, based on the fact they marked a 7 or higher…’

Or maybe, I’m misunderstanding the question all together.  Maybe whether or not I am in that moment having a good time is based on the events leading up to showing up to the event.  Like, before I got there, I went to Applebees and I ordered the Zesty Western Burger, without bacon because I only eat kosher, and the waiter forgot, and brought the burger to me with bacon… But because to me the combination of complaining and eating doesn’t make for an appetizing meal, I just quietly scrape the bacon off the burger with my knife which I never use.  And even though the burger is really good, I still have slightly bothered by the fact that the ‘essence of bacon’ is implemented onto the beef patty…

And then I got to the event, I had to pay 5 bucks to parking, which isn’t a lot of money, but it’s how much I could have payed for an overpriced beer there but I still buy an overpriced beer anyway- even though it’s a struggle to spend that much money on one bottle of beer when I only paid 7 dollars for a six-pack of Blue Moon which is sitting in my fridge right now…

So, am I having a good time?  You tell me…

I just recently had to find a new job when I moved from Nashville.  Has anybody else recently had to go in for a job interview?

[acknowledge the first person that says yes]

I love the stock questions they ask you.  I bet you 20 minutes before you show up, they’re like, ‘Ah, crap!  I have to interview that guy today!” And then they hurry up and Google ‘what to ask a person in a job interview’.  So they ask these seemingly intimidating questions that they themselves don’t know even what the ideal answer is supposed to be…

Like, ‘So, where do you see yourself in 5 years?’

I should be like, “Uh… alive, working here, answering questions I can’t answer about my future… pretending to having slightly impressive psychic abilities… though I didn’t realize that was part of the job description…”

And this question, “What would you say your strengths are?

‘Well… Let me tell you… I am awesome!  I bench press 350 pounds…  I cut out the floorboard of my car and just rock it Fred Flintstone style… Whenever I see a phonebook I’m always tempted to rip it in half… Which I can totally do right now if you want me to, especially if it will get me this job…’

A little bit about me- I’m not into a sports, probably because the only sport I’m good at is Corn Hole; and that just sounds horrible.  Oh yeah, and I can solve the Rubik’s Cube in less than 5 minutes every time.  So at best, I consider myself a sports agnostic. My college degree is in English, only because at 20 years old I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, but I knew I was really good at BS-ing… so, clearly, a degree in English was the way to go.

So in review, I’m not good at sports, I don’t eat pork or shellfish, I look like a cross between Paul Rudd, David Schwimmer who played Ross on Friends, and brothers Ben Savage who played Corey Matthews on Boy Meets World and Fred Savage who played Kevin Arnold on The Wonder Years , plus I’m an entertainer… Ladies and gentleman, by default, that makes me… a Jew…

That’s right- a Jew from Alabama… You don’t see those every day, do ya?

No, honestly, it’s not all that much of a stretch.  Everyone’s got that one person in their family who is the official Family Tree Climber… You know, the only person who goes through the trouble to research the family’s ancestors and heritage. Really, they could tell the family anything and the family would kind of have to believe it.  So I’m that guy, the Family Tree Climber.  And thanks to an Ullman, a Wiseman, and a Green, I’ve done the math, and at best, I’m 1/8 Jewish.  That doesn’t really count though, does it?…

That’s like a white dude saying, ‘Yeah, I’m Asian. My great-grandfather was half-Cherokee Indian, and since the Native American Indians actually migrated from across the Bering Straight from Mongolia originally, and Mongolians are Asians, that makes me part Asian.  So it’s no coincidence now that I drive a Toyota Camry and love a good sushi roll and dated a half-Korean girl in college, because hey man, it’s all just my true heritage coming out, you know?…’

For what it’s worth, my mom is half Mexican and Italian- that’s the real reason I look so Jewish.  So my grandma is completely Mexican, but like, ‘Mexican’ before it was a racial slur.  You know what I mean?…  She doesn’t speak any Spanish and she was born in Buffalo, New York, so if anything she has a Yankee accent, but not a Mexican one…  What’s really funny though is until last year, she lived in a trailer park.

Back in the ’80’s, she was surrounded by rednecks: Camaro’s with t-tops all around, Lynyrd Skynyrd playing loudly, empty cans of Bud Light scattered along the gravel parking lot.  But by the late ’90’s, the ‘New Mexicans’ started replacing them.  I remember my grandma telling my sister and me, “I almost called the cops last week, those Mexicans killed another goat right outside my window again, then cooked it over a fire for dinner…”  I was tempted to say to her, “Uh, Grandma, you’re 100% Mexican.  You’re technically one of them.  If your parents hadn’t moved from Mexico to New York in the 1930’s, I would have grown up eating your goat meat quesadillas with fried pig ears on the side.”  But I didn’t. That’s my Mexican grandma.

Alright everyone, I got to get out of here- my time’s up.  Actually, I’m not leaving. I’m just exiting the stage.  Yeah, it’s kind of awkward, because the table where I’m sitting is right next to the bathroom… So guys that I have to pee really bad right now, I guess I’ll be seeing you in minutes when you walk towards me then immediately dart for the bathroom door pretending not to see me.

This had been fun, yeah?  See you next time.”

Manspeak, Volume -1: Boyspeak

During the summer of 2000 I was a camp counselor in Florida. I didn’t have a clue what I was doing but I had to make my campers think that I did. Each week I teamed up with a different co-counselor and ruled over a new cabin full of 16 boys, ready for action and trouble. Every group of boys had a natural leader, a natural rebel, followers of both, and occasionally, what I call the Boy Wonder.

He was the most misunderstood. He had the hardest time fitting in with the rest. He was in his own world. And he really didn’t mind. Because I am convinced he didn’t realize any of this.

Of course most boys encounter these traits at some point in their boyhood; some just take longer to grow out of it, if ever.

It was camp policy that every counselor had at least one of his campers with him at all times (like Sonic the Hedgehog and his rings). The Boy Wonder of the group usually ended up being the one I spent the most time with. There was something in it for both of us: I would be his faithful friend and he would be my camper-at-all-times.

The most memorable Boy Wonder was an 8 year-old named Daniel, complete with a pasty white complexion and perfectly straight bangs running across his forehead. Everyone learned his name on the second day of camp, when he threw up his corndog and tater tots inside the cabin after lunch. As the other counselor cleaned up the mess, I watched all the boys outside.

The easier job would to have been to clean up the puke. Because outside the cabin as I tried to stabilize the situation, Daniel chased all the other boys. They were afraid to get near him because of the vomit all over his clothes and face.

But ultimately, Daniel wanted to be the comedian of the group. And in a way he was: There were times he made the other boys laugh, but they were always laughing at him, not with him. His jokes were too familiar and too predictable (knock-knock’s and chickens crossing the street). It’s like he began realizing that by the end of the week, so he decided to start making up his own jokes:

Q: “What did the anteater say to the ant?”
A: “May I eat you or may I lick you?”

I remember what happened as soon as that joke was delivered. A few seconds of silence passed as this non-logical riddle fell flat. Then, it hit us all at once. The entire cabin roared up in a session of uncontrollable laughter. The joke made no sense: Why would a talking anteater politely ask his victim if he would prefer to be eaten (and die) or licked (and survive)? And why would being licked even be an option anyway? And that’s why it was inevitably hilarious.

Somewhere out in central Florida today is a high school senior named Daniel. Maybe his jokes got better. Maybe he started fitting in with the other boys. But if I know Daniel, he still hasn’t grown out of his Boy Wonder phase.

He would be far from the first. Classically, I’m referring to Gary Busey. But more recently, any man featured on a “celebrity” reality show on VH1.  And even it weren’t for the recent MTV Video Music Awards incident, I would still say it.

Kayne West.

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:




Manspeak, Volume 1: Humor

It was April 2002 when I first learned/realized that humor is an expected male trait. My sister and I went to this $5 concert some new young musician guy was doing in Birmingham, AL. Supposedly he was about to make it huge and this show was to thank the local radio station for being the first to play his songs. It was none other than the pre-Jessica Simpson, pre-Jennifer Anniston, pre-tattoo sleeved John Mayer.

For months following the concert, I was unable and unwilling to remove his No Room for Squares album from my CD player. I picked up on the fact this 24 year-old kid swam in something I could relate to, and it wasn’t just our shared love of the year 1983. He spoke my language. The third track, “My Stupid Mouth”, had a line that said, “I just want to be liked, just want to be funny, looks like the joke’s on me”. That’s when I realized that I was not alone in that I felt responsible for having to be funny, because I am a guy.

While no doubt there are countless social expectations from the female gender, one that is not important and vital is humor. That’s a guy thing. Compared to the overwhelming number of male comedians, it’s more difficult to find successful female comedians. The ones I can think of right off, are not the norm for what is considered feminine: Ellen DeGeneres, Rosie O’Donnell, Wanda Sykes, and Roseanne Barr.

I’m a personal fan of Ellen. I watched her talk show every day my senior year of college. She’s like one of the guys. And I think that’s why I relate to her so much.

The big exception to this “guys have to be the funny one” rule of comedy is Friends. Three men, three women, and they’re all funny. The show was co-written by a man and a woman. That 50/50 designation of both the actors and writers was part of the massive success of the show. Both men and women could relate to the humor and the characters. Even Seinfeld had a 3 to 1 ratio of male to female actors. Friends broke the mold.

Yes, attractive and feminine women can definitely be funny: Anna Faris, Tina Fey, Cameron Diaz, and Chelsea Handler. But I still see a tom-boyish quality about them. Where it at least seems like they grew up with all brothers. And for every one exception, there are five Seth Rogen’s, three Jon Stewart’s, and four Adam Sandler’s.

Men are expected to be funny, at least in some degree. Even Ben Stein, as dry and drab as he is, is still hilarious. (“Bueller? Bueller? Anyone? Anyone?”) And the Terminator in his violent mission of destruction, right before he returns to the police station by running a squad car through the glass doors and blows away all those in his path, declares, “I’ll be back”. That, is funny.

While this may put extra pressure on a guy, there is a trade-off. Guys don’t have to find the perfect pair of shoes to match every “cute outfit” they own. Or give birth.

“If you can make a girl laugh, you can make her do anything.” –Marilyn Monroe

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography: