Defining Comedy Central’s Attitude
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On April 1, 1991, we premiered the newly named Comedy Central channel. Six months later, in the fall of 1991, I felt that the channel needed a tagline that would further define Comedy Central’s attitude. I knew just the guy for the job.
Danny Abelson was someone I’ d worked with before who had, among other things, written for National Lampoon in its heyday. I considered that the ultimate comedy-writer pedigree. Danny was a magician, the guy you called when you wanted it brilliant and fast and you didn’t have time to fool around. He’d never failed me, so I looked forward to hearing his ideas and getting Comedy Central an effective tagine.
A tagline could do a lot for a company or a product. It could be a short phrase that introduced a new product; a statement of a company’s mission (like General Electric’s “We Bring Good Things to Life”); a way to define a product (like .BMW’s “BMW: The Ultimate Driving Machine”); or aspirational (like IBM’s “Think Big” and Apple’s rejoinder, “Think Different”). I asked Danny to come up with a tagline that would do all of these things, and he took the challenge.
After working on it for a couple of weeks, Danny sat with me in my office, itching to unveil the new slogan and the campaign that would launch the name Comedy Central to the world…
What I Like About You
There are a lot of things I like about you.
First off, I love your love handles. There’s nothing wrong with love handles. You have them, you’re always going to have them, get used to them. I have them, too. When I run down the beach, it looks like two basset hound cheeks are flapping off my sides.
I didn’t really like them until I realized what they say about me. Each handle tells a story, like the rings on a tree. They speak of years of good times, ice-cream shops, and hot pastrami sandwiches. They tell people that I’ve enjoyed my life and there’s a good chance that the handles and I are up for anything. We love parties, late-night drinking, and birthday cakes. We eat pies, bake cookies, and aren’t afraid of dipping garlic bread into a pot of sauce when no one is looking.
That’s why I like yours, too. I know straightaway that we could be friends. When I see someone with six-pack abs, I know we won’t have fun because that person doesn’t know what fun is. Their idea of a good time is putting on tight shorts and working on their stomach muscles. Someone with love handles is putting on oven mitts and working on baking the perfect cinnamon buns. They’re fun.
I also noticed that some of you are big in the caboose. Good for you. A small backside is okay, but it takes real time and care to grow a big one. That really shows character. Nice work. A big rump is even better when it comes with big thighs and little tiny feet. That’s the balance that a good life requires.
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More reasons you’re doing great.
From You’re Doing Great! by Tom Papa. Copyright © 2020 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Publishing Group.
THE QUEST TO MAKE EVERYONE LIKE ME:
A FANTASY (OR: EAT, PRAY, CRY)
“YOU HAVE NO TALENT.”
That’s what the person on Twitter said. “YOU HAVE NO TALENT.”
I read it again, making sure that the tweet didn’t say, “YOU HAVE NO TALENT AND ALSO IT’S OPPOSITE DAY.”
Nope. Just, “YOU HAVE NO TALENT.” This must be some mistake. I know for a fact that I, Rachel Bloom, do indeed have talent.
Oh wait: This poor person must have me confused with someone else. Another Rachael Bloom who, unlike me, DOESN’T have talent. Poor thing. THAT Rachael Bloom should just give up and become a life coach or something like that.
But I checked again, and this tweet was the latest in a line of tweets from this person calling me and my TV show a self-indulgent mess.
Time stood still. My heartbeat sped up. I clutched the set of pearls that had suddenly appeared on my neck. Somewhere, a puppy burst into flame.
If this “no talent” tweet was indeed by a real person, it meant that the thing I had always dreaded was turning out to be true. Not everyone in the world liked me.
I knew that this was true in the PAST. In the PAST, before I had my shit together, not everyone in the world liked me. I was a mess. But now, I’d fixed all of that and was perfect. I knew that you shouldn’t pay attention to internet comments, but secretly I assumed that advice was for other people. I’d even counseled those other people who were upset with internet comments by saying,
“Hey man, art is subjective and everyone has their own experiences that color the way they perceive what you put out into the world. Just be yourself and fuck the haters!” But in the back of my head, I thought, “Except for me because everyone likes me and I’m adorable and amazing.”
I’d been insulted online before, but those had always been comments left on YouTube music videos I’d done. Negative YouTube comments are easier to dismiss. Anyone who insulted me on YouTube, I assumed, was most likely a misogynist, anti-Semitic, super-religious professional anti-abortion speaker / monster truck rally hot dog vendor / baby elephant poacher who was going through a hard time with his failed penis enlargement and also was a bot.
But this was different. This was a personal attack aimed at me and, not only that, it contained my and any artist’s biggest fear: that I had no talent. And when any thought is converted into the written word, that makes it a true fact.
I ignored all the other lovely comments aimed at me on Twitter. No time for those meaningless words now. Stupid kind idiots. I had to know who wrote this insult, because they were obviously a genius.
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Read the full spectrum of Rachel’s quest for normality.
Excerpted from the book I WANT TO BE WHERE THE NORMAL PEOPLE ARE by Rachel Bloom. Copyright © 2020 by Handsome Iguana, Inc. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.
The Bear Who Let It Alone
In the woods of the Far West there once lived a brown bear who could take it or let it alone. He would go into a bar where they sold mead, a fermented drink made of honey, and he would have just two drinks. Then he would put some money on the bar and say, “See what the bears in the back room will have,” and he would go home. But finally he took to drinking by himself most of the day.
He would reel home at night, kick over the umbrella stand, knock down the bridge lamps, and ram his elbows through the windows. Then he would collapse on the floor and lie there until he went to sleep. His wife was greatly distressed and his children were very frightened.
At length the bear saw the error of his ways and began to reform. In the end he became a famous teetotaler and a persistent temperance lecturer. He would tell everybody that came to his house about the awful effects of drink, and he would boast about how strong and well he had become since he gave up touching the stuff. To demonstrate this, he would stand on his head and on his hands and he would turn cartwheels in the house, kicking over the umbrella stand, knocking down the bridge lamps, and ramming his elbows through the windows.
Then he would lie down on the floor, tired by his healthful exercise, and go to sleep. His wife was greatly distressed and his children were very frightened.
Moral: You might as well fall flat on your face as lean over too far backward.
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See why his stories are still funny.
From Fables for Our Time and Famous Poems Illustrated. Copyright © 1940 James Thurber. Copyright © 1968 Rosemary A. Thurber.