Episode 141: "Congratulations"

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November 15, 2013


Emily Altman

Origin of the episode title[edit]

It is the ultimate shade-throwing maneuver to say at a party.


This week's show features the DELIGHTFUL Emily Altman, who is hilarious, smart, interesting, beautiful, and just generally wonderful. Emily is a comedy writer and a PROFESSOR OF ITALIAN LANGUAGE, and she is here to tell us about her Bulgarian roommate, the time she passed out at a Halloween party, and why old people sing like birds.

Also, Julie has become addicted to Candy Crush, despite its unacceptable aesthetic; Lars Ulrich and his art-buying ways; The most obnoxious thing a couple at a Brooklyn party said recently, why Jeff Koons stinks, and why editing TOO CUTE: PUPPIES would be the worst job.


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Episode Link

Monologue Transcript[edit]

Hello. Hello. It’s Julie Klausner back for another episode of HWYW.

It’s the mid-November already. Is it the holidays yet? Are the holidays here? How would I categorize this depression is what I am asking. Everything is fine. But don’t you feel like Thanksgiving is next week? It’s not. This year is Thanskgivakah, which is a nightmare. This year Thanksgiving and Hanukah fall on the same day which officially means the Jewish calendar has gotten out of control. Hanukah was too early last year and too early the year before. Now it’s spiraling into absurdity. Hanukah’s always been stupid but it needn’t be silly.

How is everyone doing? Hear that? Clink clinky Mommy’s got a drinky, that’s nice right? People like it when I call myself Mommy. I am gearing up. Lately I have been harried, consistently harried. I try to keep myself in that state for the sake of, I don’t know, seeming productive. I am productive. I’m a productive person. I do a lot of things, and stuff, and jobs, and work. Therefore when I downloaded Candy Crush to my phone this week I thought to myself this will be relaxing. I’ll enjoy this in moderation. It won’t get in the way of my work, my life, my productivity. At first what is it? You just have to find 3 things of the same color? Boring. Now predictably I am completely addicted to Candy Crush. I find it’s a good icebreaker for people who are looking over your shoulder. Instead of saying, “Respect my personal space.” You take your eyes off of the--what are they? The red ones are Mike and Ikes. What are the blue ones? I hope they’re not mints. The green ones are Chiclets or maybe they are Certs gum. God I think about this too much. Orange ones are jelly beans, yellow are lemon drops. The woman behind me in the elevators goes, “What level are you up to?” Level addicted. “It’s good for your brain.” Fair enough. She got off the elevator and probably died because she was old. Candy Crush is so embarrassing. It’s so embarrassing that I am a Candy Crush person. I haven’t connected it to my Facebook.

I don’t like my Facebook. Maybe I should let my Facebook go to the dogs the way so many of my peers have. I’ll be lunching with a peer and he or she says I don’t know half of my Facebook friends predictably in response to why aren’t you on Tinder? They just abandon shop and leave it to squatters. That’s all well and good but I didn’t understand it until the day I got Candy Crush. Candy Crush for those of you who don’t know has some unfortunate Steampunk meets Lisa Frank graphics around what is essentially a color—what is a game? Essentially you have to get a color and move it around a puzzle. It’s not even a puzzle is it? I had a very strict anti-game policy that I am completely violating in part because I sought to violate it. I thought to myself, I should have something on my phone that isn’t social media based for my brain t o use when it is resting. Not instead of listening to music, probably while listening. I need something to do on the subway besides fester.

I downloaded Candy Crush. I know it’s not a great story but when you start thinking about Candy Crush when you’re not playing Candy Crush. Did you ever get a slide—if your brain is a Kodak carousal kids, do you know what those are? Do you ever get the slide that is the Candy Crush screen in your head? It comes and goes. It really quick they way they have subliminal images in movies. That didn’t work by the way in the 70s or 60s. I don’t know I can’t keep track of everything for you people. Do you know who else can’t be everything to everyone is Lily Allen who put out a video this week and she may as well have published a manifesto the way people reacted to it? I stayed off the internet that day. That was too much. Boy of boy. This is the most pedantic thing I have ever seen. Everybody has something to teach somebody else. Everybody’s telling instead of showing. Everybody’s got their two cents to contribute. Lily Allen wrote a song about feminism from her point of view. Lily-isms and people said it’s racist. It is racist. I think everything is racist if you think about it. She’s just one girl. In fact you probably weren’t even thinking about her.

It comes around, nice to see you Lily Allen. There’s a disturbing liposuction scene in her video. That’s fun right? Music videos used to be so specific. There were 5 directors and each one had a style. You had Mark Romanek. You had Spike Jones. David Fincher directed Express Yourself. He should have just retired after that. What did he go on to do, Seven? There were 5 directors with very specific visual styles, Mark Mahurin is another. That’s what we had in the 90s and we liked it.

I’m working very hard. I’m working hard and smart and am sort of buzzing constantly. By the way I started doing cocaine. Just kidding I’m just sort of nervous all the time. Maybe Candy Crush is making me nervous. It’s not soothing anymore. Do you think Jeff Koons likes Candy Crush? Why are we talking about Koons? Of all the things Lady Gaga has and has not done, bringing Jeff Koons back into the popular imagination is probably the worst. Ugh, Jeff Koons man, that was something I was happy to leave in the 80s. There was an article about him in New York Magazine about how he makes a lot of money. So does Lars Ulrich and he buys art he doesn’t make it.

Jeff Koons used to make ceramic sculptures of himself fucking an Italian porn star woman. Then he made sculptures of Michael Jackson with Bubbles the chimp. He made the topiary puppy. That was great art. Do you know why? It was dog-based; otherwise Jeff Koons is like this asshole who no one in the art world likes. Not that people in the art world are such prizes. Do you want to know how to ruin your time at an art party? Ask how many people have a television. They will fall over each other to tell you that they don’t to the extent it will create a fire hazard. Nothing is more self-satisfied than somebody falling over themselves with excitement to tell you they don’t have a television or that they don’t watch television which is acceptable now that you can watch stuff on your computer, but stop taking delight in sharing it. Jeff Koons is not the kind of hack that he wants me to think he is. He’s lame. I don’t know. I feel like Lady Gaga associating with him is predictable and disappointing. She’s not my horse in this race. I got everything going on Katy Perry.

Katy Perry is so boring guys, what are we doing? You know we had Camille Paglia on last week’s show and I got a lot of emails arguing with her and that’s not helpful because I’m not her. A lot of them had to do with her saying that there’s nothing good now. That is what it is. I don’t think that’s true. Then you see Katy Perry and I guess New York Magazine described her as nice looking or was it Gawker? That just stuck to me. She’s the human equivalent of Candy Crush. Isn’t this good for my brain? I don’t think it is. I’m not learning anything. What did we used to tell our parents when Nintendo first came out? It’s good for hand eye coordination. What does that mean? It means you can touch the things you also see? Congratulations. So can a monkey baby. Aw monkey baby. Do you like monkeys? I think they’re mischievous myself. They make me a little nervous. The one’s that steal things. There are those drunk ones. I’m really more of an ape person.

Hey you guys spoke up and we listened to you. The How Was Your Week Premium which you can buy a libsyn.com is now available with downloadable episodes, so if you buy the premium for $8 you will have access to the archives and you can download and not just stream. You can keep them on your iPad forever. There’s that. Congratulations everybody. I love saying congratulations to people. There’s really nothing colder, saying congratulations at the right moment sarcastically is the ultimate shade throwing maneuver. I was at a party a little while ago, a very Brooklyn party, very, very, very . I didn’t know anyone except for my friend who I brought along, Renate. The host, Jared, had me and Renate over. He was hosting this party with a lot of Brooklyn literary types. They were very tweedy. Renate and I were in black. I was wearing hot pink lipstick. There were women in jewel tones and other such things in the room. It was very dusty, a lot of silver jewelry.

Jared, being a nice host introduced me to this couple, let’s call them Karen and David. He said, “Julie these are my friends David and Karen.” I said to David, “How do you know each other?”Meaning how do you know Jared. David said to me, “Why were engaged to be married!” Because he thought I was asking how he knew his fiancé and I said to David, “First of all congratulations. Second of all I meant how do you know Jared?” The end. He told me and it was boring.

Patti Stanger did something disgusting on twitter. If you know what it is because you saw it on my twitter, I apologize for retweeting it but I had to share the horror. Patti Stanger tweeted about the maintenance of bikini area hair. I came in mid-conversation which turns out be plenty of context. Someone said my man doesn’t want a little girl down there. God, that sentence--but it gets worse. Patti responded to her by saying my @ mentioned her disgusting lizard boyfriend let’s call him Ron; my @ron likes his slip ‘n slide. Oh my god! Isn‘t that the most terrible thing you have ever heard? Patti Stanger on twitter telling people…his slip ‘n slide, please. Madam no! You know how people say, “That’s a nice mental image.” Is that the new, “Tell me something I don’t know?” That’s a little more information than I needed. A mental picture, you mean your brain?

When is this Vanity Fair article about Gwyneth Paltrow going to come out? Do I need to occupy the Hearst building? Welcome to the Hearst building Madam. Why thank you Graydon Carter. There’s Vanity Fair article about Gwyneth Paltrow that she is trying to stop the publication of and I want it in my eyes. I want it in my eyes yesterday. We should all regret that as a society we gave her an Oscar. And we gave Kevin Spacey two! If you are ever wondering why there are pretentious twats drunk with power doing things to gay teenager that are predatory and not in a hot way, you have to acknowledge that we are partially to blame. We applauded their performances in Shakespeare in Love, boring. The Usual Suspects doesn’t stand up and American Beauty which I liked Thora Birch in. We made those monsters. Those monsters are in our pants, Fred Schneider. NBC keeps giving Anne Heche more money which is a decision that’s working out beautifully for everyone over there at the Peacock and over at the Pocket watch, what’s happening at the Pocket watch now? Is that Beau Bridges on the Toilet show doing well? Good. Keep doing exactly what you are doing network television. Nothing is going to change and it’s 1982.

Stevie Nicks is going to be on American Horror Story. That news was very intense. I got it on my cell phone. Rachel Lichtman texted me, “Did you see Ryan Murphy’s latest tweet?” I said, “I don’t follow her.” She sent it. I reacted. Everything went back to normal until I realized I was enchanted with/by a spell. I told you that Stevie Nicks casts spells with her performance. You go to see Stevie Nicks sing, she’s casting a spell on you whether or not you know it that’s what she does. Witches are everywhere. Have you noticed that witches are the new Vampires? Oh hi, Julie, nice to e-meet you. Would you like to write a trend piece? It’s 7000 words and we’ll pay you $25 and it’s due on Tuesday. By the way I love your work, love, Melissa.

Homeland had made Shiksas want to fuck Mandy Patinkin. I am grappling with this reality because since I saw his bare buns in Yentl, I was, I was, I was…I says to myself I says, “Am I attracted to Mandy Patinkin?” It’s something that every Jewish woman has asked herself since she was Bat Mitzvahed. The answer is I don’t know but probably. And now that we see him emoting around Clair Danes once a week of fewer times if we are bored with that show and then force ourselves to catch up with it homework like so we can talk about it with our mothers we see him every couple of weeks as Saul Berenson. I wish I could do a Many Patinkin impression. If I could do a Mandy Patinkin impression I would not be talking to you right now. I’d be traveling the world on my Laurels and Hardy’s. Would I want a toilet-full of money, not a toilet full of money, a toilet made out of money? I’m not stupid. I think I would as a matter of fact, but coins, not paper—Toilet Talk. Is that a podcast? It should be. I’ve been doing a lot of research for my cabaret show at Joe’s Pub next week exploring the dark world of typing Barbra into YouTube and finding things. MY director and friend, Jodi Lennon, sent me a link to Barbra’s’ (by the way, It’s Barbra Streisand) she has this screen test. It’s not even a screen test it’s a wardrobe screen test for A Star is Born. I guess this is for the DVD extra it’s footage of her and occasionally Chris Christopher just wearing the clothes from that movie looking into the camera with her lips slightly parted. She’s talking over it. She’s narrating it. It’s the most amazing thing I have ever seen in my life. She’s saying things like, “Oh, I remember that jacket,” or “We got rid of the bow tie because it was too distracting.” She says no fewer than three or four times, “My hair was so much shorter then.” Call me crazy but I think Barbra Streisand is a little full of herself. It was all very Gloria Swanson. I feel like they recorded that commentary just dropping in on an afternoon and she was watching it anyway. They thought we may as well hit record, we can use it as a DVD extra.”Oh that skirt. I loved it. I was so much thinner then.”

I never knew people that would show you slide of their vacations but I knew that it was a trope because I read about it in Mad Magazine as far as things that are boring socially. It’s really just like that except the vacation that she went on is a vacation in her mind. She talks about how she likes being a director because you can “Potschke around with the other actors.” Potschke means fuss in futz. That’s what Francis Ford Coppola said originally, “I like being a director because I can potschke around with Denis Hopper, Marlon Brando…did Francis Ford Coppola ever start calling himself the Lizard King on that set? If he had one thing in common with Jim Morrison it’s that those two could go through a Caravel Cake just like you and I pop a stick of gum. Between those two and a Cookie Puss all bets are off. The only regret I have about Jim Morrison dying when he did is that he could have gotten so much fatter, not even Elvis fat, like Brando fat. We really missed out on that. It was only just beginning.

I mentioned my cabaret show earlier. Here’s what my Cabaret show is going to be, it’s going to be me talking and singing. It will be like what I am doing now but much more energy. I will probably not be wearing this Bassett hound sweatshirt that I am wearing right now. I will definitely not be wearing this Bassett hound sweatshirt I have on right now. Let me start again. My Joe’s Pub Show is going to be a lot of fun. It’s going to be great. There’s going to be songs. There’s going to be talking. Do you know what? That’s it and that’s great. Here’s what there isn’t—I am not going to touch you, talk to you or bring you on stage. I will guarantee that this show has no audience participation. I will not surprise you. The houselights will never come up. You won’t be asked to sing along or sing a part of a song for me, with me, or by me. You will not be called on stage. You will not be spoken to. You will barely be acknowledged. If that isn’t a hard sell then fuck yourself in the ass Alec Baldwin.

Joe’s Pub Friday the 22nd through Wednesday the 26th do the math. Joespub.com, five nights in a row of el Moi-o with a band. 7:30 at night, Joespub.com, Too Gay for Brooklyn is the name of the show because the show is Too Gay For Brooklyn. We couldn’t do it in Gowanus if we wanted to. Go to Joespub.com and if you use this code you’ll get $5 off. Here is the code 2gay4bk. Got it? 2gay4bk is the code.

I did this thing last night where I wrote a script for a benefit. It was a live event. It was at Chip Brianis (Ciaprini’s) as Caroline Manzo, that cackling ghoul would say. It was a benefit for a gay-positive organization. I had the pleasure to work with a charitable organization. Calling it a script is generous. I wrote the copy for people to say on stage before they present other people with awards for doing things that were good by the gay community for the gay community, community community. I got that note-use the word community less. How about us folks? I don’t know what a synonym is. We did great. It went off gang busters. I was not expecting the actual digs—it was a black tie dinner, it was a fun gig. I didn’t know what I’d be doing at it but I wore, I didn’t show up in this Bassett hound sweatshirt. It really is a nice sweat shirt. I will say it is comfortable. Is it flattering? What’s flattering? I showed up wearing heels which is so dumb because I ended up being backstage literally right behind the curtain, not even lifted up behind the stage but where the stage drops in that little area of floor behind a black curtain-boom!

It was me next to a teleprompter woman named Sandy. I had my laptop on the table and it was a festival of people asking questions I didn’t know the answer to. I put my head down and I worked and left. In the process of the evening I got to know the teleprompter woman Sandy. Here’s what you need to know about Sandy, Sandy takes it as it comes. Sandy rolls with the punches. Sandy is from here, meaning Putnam County. Sandy lives near Dobbs Ferry with a husband which was interesting, I did not expect that from Sandy. Sandy and I connected, not immediately. At one point one of the waiters came back to where we were and actually offered us hors d’oeuvres which was incredibly kind. He said Tuna Tartar? I said, “Thank you, no thank you.” Then he offered it to her. When he left she said, “Maybe if it was pigs in a blanket.” You go Sandy; you go and say what’s on your mind. You are a woman of simple needs and means. I will say, being a teleprompter person, Sandy’s finger on the dial…here’s the thing when you are shifting the copy down on a teleprompter that has to do with a person in the back wearing classically framed glasses and a little silver necklace that sort of peeks out in the front of a black turtle neck. She looked very professional. She was turning a dial, like a volume dial, turning it, turning it, turning it stop. By the second half of the show Sandy just put on the screen PLESE WRAP IT UP !!!!!!! Do I have a photo of that? You bet I do. Am I going to send it to you? Maybe, maybe I won’t.

Listen up guys we have so much great stuff coming up on HWYW. We have exciting people I can barely contain my excitement to tell you about but I won’t tell you about because they are secret. Those are coming up. You can still download How Was Your Manson. I also talk to Jake Fogelnest and Chris Spoony Spooner.

My friend Emily Altman is one of the funniest greatest people I know. Emily and I met a while ago. She was my student at UCB. She was the funniest sketch writer I’d seen in ages. She’s the best. Enjoy getting to know my pal Emily Altman….