Chatological Humor with Gene Weingarten

Oct 20, 2020

You asked for it and you got it. Gene holds weekly chats every Tuesday at 12 p.m. ET, where he takes your questions about what's happening in the country — and anything else you want to discuss.

Here is Gene's latest column.

Here is this week's poll.

Good afternoon. 

Here I am again, back from cover-story hell, ready to take questions from all you drug dealers, criminals and rapists, though I'm sure some of you are good people.  I am very glad this is not a Zoom meeting, because I'm not sure my heart could handle all the nudity. 

Strap yourselves in because we've got this chat and two more before votes are counted.   For the last of those, on the day of the election, I will be same-day-delivering Valium overdoses  to anyone who asks. 

I'd had a different intro planned, but then yesterday happened. Suddenly, we absolutely need to discuss penises.  Imagine my disappointment. 

I am going to try to deal with the Zoom D--k Incident in as serious and  dignified a way as possible, and for once I am not kidding.  

I first learned about this after a tense phone call with an editor, working on final changes to my story.  As we talked, I could see, in the living room, Ms. Manteuffel in some agony, pacing around, desperate, as though she was a deer who'd been gut shot in a hunting mishap, and was looking for a peaceful place to die.  It turns out she was just agonizing over her inability to interrupt me and deliver The News. 

My first thought was to wonder why Jeffrey Toobin apologized first to his wife.  Then, an hour or so later it became clear as details of his malfeasance arose, as it were.  

First, I really like and respect Jeff Toobin, whose opinion I always search out when writing anything about law or the courts.  He's one of the few writers who is brilliant both in print (The New Yorker) and in front of a camera (CNN).  I've never met him but we are social media correspondents.  For short, online, I call him "My Man Toobs."  

So, I am partially compromised here. 

The Incident also tests a philosophy of mine, in a kind of compelling way.  I have argued, and strongly believe, that whatever your kinks or biases  or  urges may be, however foul -- so long as they stay in your head, there is no sin.  We are allowed to think, and don't have to answer to anyone for our thoughts.  Only actions count.  No victim, no crime. Etc.   This seems patently obvious to me, but some readers have disagreed. 

What has apparently happened with Toobs seems to straddle that fine line, teeter, then pitch over into foul territory.  He is not an idiot, so I think we can safely conclude he didn't MEAN to share his turgidity.  It was an accident for which I suspect he will pay dearly.  I'm sure he shocked and offended some reasonable people, so this isn't just a thought felony -- it's a real one.  Lack of intent is a mitigating factor, in my mind, but drunk drivers also lack intent and must be punished, especially if they cause injury. 

His punishment already is kind of profound.  He will be forever linked to one of the most excruciating story-updates in memory, in Vice.com: "This piece has been updated with more detail about the call and WNYC. The headline has been updated to reflect that Toobin was masturbating."  (I am also going to add here, because I am incorrigible, that one of the reporters on the story was Joseph Cox.)

Will any additional punishment fit the crime?  How important is this, ultimately?  Is ghastly national embarrassment enough?  Is suspension enough?  

Yes, there are awkward questions.  What, exactly, was Toobin fantasizing about while on a Zoom call with coworkers? Does that obvious question alone (to which we will never get an answer) make it impossible for him to work with others in the future? What sort of impulses compelled him to do something so blitheringly stupid? Is he ... okay? 

I'd like to hear your thoughts on this, and will share mine.  

--

I love editorial cartoons when they are good.   Yesterday, Tom Toles of the Washington Post had one that I count among the best I have ever seen.  Here it is.   To me it rivals anything ever drawn by Herblock, Oliphant or any other great.  It is simple in imagery and savage in message.  It takes a second to figure out, so it delivers a thunderous A-HA moment.  And Toles's little comment in the corner provides the perfect explainer for those lagging behind.  I'd love to hear your thoughts on this, particularly if you disagree with me.   Toles retires soon; I am going to miss him a lot. 

Okay, that's it.  Chat begins at noon sharp. 

 

Okay, here we go.  There are rumors that I have come back early because Rachel Manteuffel did so well as temporary host that I fear becoming a modern Wally Pipp, a perfectly competent first baseman for the Yankees in the 1920s who got sick one day, and was replaced by Lou Gehrig, who, you know, kind of hung around for a while afterwards.  

Nothing could be further from the truth.  I came back early because I just decided to come back early, for no particular reason.  

Others have correctly guessed that Ms. Manteuffel has been my secret chat producer for lo these many months.  Busted.  So she will still be part of this chat, if in a reduced and silenced capacity, a demotion I know she will take with graciousness and class. 

Meanwhile, before we begin, I want to discuss the upcoming election and a couple of insights I recently had about the nature of hubris and the effects of narcissism on the conduct of American foreign policy.  Trump's malign influence has been dreadfully apparent not just in the obvious ways -- ruptured alliances with modern democracies -- but also in 

He is apparently going to go on a while longer, so here are some elephants joyfully crushing and eating pumpkins.  

He's still going. Here is Buster, a truly wealthy cat who has a box to be in while he's renovating his primary box. 

Okay he's winding down. 

horrific results, as I have established.  So, in short our foreign policy is a mess and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future.  Okay, now we move on to your questions. 

By the way, Michael Gerson had a wonderful line in his column today.  Referring to Trump's insistence that states reopen even as the pandemic is roaring back, Gerson wrote: "This is denial pressed to the point of lunacy.  It is the elephant urging people to ignore the elephant in the room."

Pete Davidson and Colin Jost are, for many people, simply not funny. That's it--they're just not funny!

I find Davidson funny in a pretty original way.  He's constantly busting the fourth wall, speaking half to his skit partner and half as understood, unarticulated smirking asides to the audience.  Jost I don't get, but he's in a relationship with Scarlett Johansson, so I back the hell off.   

Unlike Davidson, whose fourth-wall breaking is original, the most famous fourth-wall breaker of all time -- Bob Hope -- had no talent or originality at all, and is my choice for most overrated.  As is Jay Leno among the standups.  There you have it. 

Some Halloween season questions for Gene, just for the fun of it:

1. Have you attended any of the area Halloween season haunted house or haunted forest or haunted corn maze attractions? Markoff's Haunted Forest in Poolesville is especially fun!

2. What's the most memorable Halloween costume that you've worn out to a party or event?

3. What were your costumes, as a kid, for Halloween?

4. What are you some of your favorite horror/supernatural/paranormal movies?

5. Do you believe in the existence of ghosts and spirits from another realm? Thanks!

1. No.  

2. I've never worn a Halloween costume but my friend Libby Burger once dressed as a tampon.  Manteuffel and I also came up with the most tasteless Halloween costume idea ever, but never revealed it except to one woman who won the reveal in a contest, promising never to tell it to anyone ever, and she has kept her word.  

3.  Hm.  I suppose I must have.  Let's just say I went as a tampon.  

4. I don't really like them, as a genre.  Does the Sixth Sense count?  I think that was a great film.   Oh, and The Shining.  Oh, and Poltergeist.   So, there. 

5.  No.  Do you?  What sort of idiot are you?

How do you differentiate between "objectively" The Worst vs. Not My Cup of Tea? All the classic comedians you mention completely fail to make me laugh, but I think that's mostly because comedic sensibilities change, and in the case of the physical humor, because it has been done to death, so I had seen it a thousand times by others before I ever saw the originals.

Well, yeah, you have to judge them against their times.  I would have to say that Dickens, who I think was absolutely brilliant, would seem pretty darn windy today.  tl;dr

Boy, if ever there were a poll to tell us how spectacularly wrong we are, this is it. Before you do, let me say one way in which we were right -- Jack Benny was brilliant. He correctly finishes dead last in the list of worst classic comedy performers.

Correct.  The only thing all of you got right. 

Folks: I know comedy pretty well, and I've seen Gilbert Gottfried live, have seen his stand-up elsewhere, have listened to him in radio and television interviews, have seen him in movies and television shows, and have heard his voice work for many movies--and he is indeed funny. He's funny in stand-up. He's funny on the radio. He's funny on television. He's funny in movies. He does excellent voice work in movies. And he's just plain funny. I would recommend seeing Gottfried live, and I'd recommend doing the research. He's a thousand times more funny than Jost and Anzari

Also agreed.  More on this later. 

Can’t believe Leno getting so many votes for overrated...probably from younger folks. What most people don’t seem to remember, is before he turned into a dull, milquetoast late night host, he was a fantastic stand-up, and one of David Letterman’s favorite guests. Any time he would guest host for Carson was required viewing as well. It’s too bad he destroyed his reputation in his later years.

If you have never heard / seen it, try to find a video of Bill Hicks on Jay Leno selling out for Doritos.  

Oh, wait.  Manteuffel seems to have found it.  This should be it. 

I'm for court-packing. I say add four justices to bring it up to 13. Tie it to the fact that there were 13 original colonies during the time of the Founders, so symmetry. It's a stupid talking point, but so are most of the arguments the GOP makes when it invokes "the Founders."

Abolish the filibuster. Add D.C. as a state. Maybe split California into like 3 additional Democratic states. Never give back the Senate majority. California is a good example of what needs to happen in the United States writ large to "break the fever" in the GOP. For decades, California was considered ungovernable because the super-majority requirement to raise taxes after Prop 13. Things finally started to get better when the Democrats won a supermajority in the legislature there and the GOP lost the ability to obstruct. Make America Great Again by Making the GOP Irrelevant.

Nationally, the GOP has no incentive to move away from the far-right fringe and to stop being complete obstructionists because there has not been much of an electoral penalty. After Obama's election, they won the House back two years later in 2010 and kept the majority for 8 years. While Obama won re-election by a solid margin, his legislative agenda was DOA. Senate Democrats took heavy losses in the midterms in 2010 and 2014 and are banking on wins in red states to get the majority back in 2020.

But if Biden can win the presidency, retake the Senate, and then hold both the House and Senate in the 2022 midterms and then again in 2024, maybe the GOP starts to see the light and we can have two sane, functional political parties in this country.

You seem to have mistaken this chat for something important. 

A long time ago, executives of the Trump organization were killed in a helicopter crash. Trump spun a story to make it seem as if he had almost been on the craft when it went down. I've come to believe this is a very similar scenario to the web of lies the Trump admin has spread about the covid-19 outbreak at the White House. I think many people legitimately caught covid at the SCOTUS Super Spreader party but Trump wasn't one of them. I think his "miraculous recovery" is completely fabricated in the same way as his "near-miss" with the helicopter crash. There are a lot of reasons I believe this but the most prominent is that I don't believe a man with lack of physical fitness and multiple co-morbidities would have been out of the woods that rapidly, no matter how fancy the treatment he got. Also, he has a minor credibility problem.

I think there is no way in hell Trump pretended to have the virus.  It was devastating to his image.  It was metaphorically powerful -- he's vulnerable.   I think he did try to use his recovery strategically, and typically that use was appalling and destructive, telling people, see, it's not so bad.  

"Trump was receiving one of his first codeword classified briefings on Afghanistan, at his Bedminster club, when he suddenly got bored and ordered milkshakes." 

Nothing surprises anyone anymore about this guy.  I have a magazine story coming up that discloses something about Trump, something that would clearly damage most any other candidate.  It will barely register with the public.  

The answer is that he is not not funny.  He may be personally abhorrent, but he is funny as hell. 

Who are you? This is Rachel's chat now. Will we ever hear from her again?

Shhhhh. He doesn't know I'm talking. He won't see this until after the chat. 

Something has happened to your funny bone. Your columns have not been funny for a long time. It must be the pandemic.

Thank you!  It's been part of my "process."  I have a couple more crappy ones in the pipeline, and then, voila! I will start being funny again.   It's a tried and true method from standup.  Always go on after the lame comic, and your stuff looks waaay better by comparison.  In this case I play both roles, but the principle is the same. 

Odds are he was masturbating while fantasizing about someone on the Zoom call, which puts it into reprehensible, unforgivable territory for me. It’s quite possible that someone I work with has masturbated while thinking about me, but doing it on a zoom call would put in right into the Louis CK zone.

I agree, but see next post. 

I haven't read all the reports, and there seem to be unanswered questions, but there was one that implied that during a break from his New Yorker zoom call, he might have made another zoom call to someone else. Would it make a difference if he thought he was "sexting" ("zoomexing?) with a willing partner, and got his wires crossed?

Yes, it would.  But I'm not sure how that would work, technically, unless he is even more technologically inept than I am.   But yes, if he was not fantasizing about his coworkers, in my mind that seems at least a bit less creepypervysicko.   If that is the truth, he should say it.  

Gene, When I brush my teeth in the morning, I have an urgent need to pee----EVEN if I just peed moments before. Can you explain this? I'm a woman in my late forties btw.

I raised this issue some time ago, in a poll.  I'm going to get an answer from a doctor, hopefully by next chat.  My question was related to the occasional phenomenon of suddenly having to pee the instant you take a drink.  I'm sure it's the same psycho-physiological process at work but don't know what that process is. .  

Victim of his own success. His schtick is small venue, hanging out at a party, sketch comedy stuff. He has _some_ stuff that works broadly, and that's what you see in most of his movies. Of course it feels one note and that note is sophomoric. But the actual comic trapped inside Adam Sandler is a lot more complex and interesting. The same "trapped by your persona" thing happened to Jim Carrey, who is also a far better comic (and actor) than his movie career would indicate. I don't know if I could have resisted the easy money that comes from playing a caricature of myself. Make hay while the sun shines, you know?

I think Sandler gets an undeservedly bad rep.  I like his Hannukah song.   Okay, maybe that's all I like, but I really like it.  

An _election simulation_! A knob jockey for a metaphorical horse race! Onan for C-Span! It really is true that there's something erotic for everyone in this mad world. Okay, seriously, though - I hope his friends are taking care of him right now. He'll get through this - it's really, really embarrassing but people have the attention spans of fruit flies and literally everyone masturbates so it's not like he was doing something weird (EXCEPT FOR THE FACT THAT IT WAS AN ELECTION SIMULATION). But right now he's probably wishing for a giant meteor or a sinkhole, and in that frame of mind people can be a danger to themselves.

Yes, you are right.  He probably got confused and thought it was an erection stimulation.   

But seriously, yes.  He needs a very good friend.  Or friends.  What he is going through -- especially for a guy whose reputation is of a deeply serious person -- has to be soul crushing. 

I remember in the past you said in the event of a Trump re-election that moving to Spain was a possibility for you. While I take some comfort in the number of early votes being cast (most of them likely NOT for Trump), I am convinced that he will find some way to steal the election, regardless of the actual vote totals and Electoral College numbers. While the large number of early on-site voters will cut down on Election Day goon squad intimidation at polling places, the increasing number of mail-in votes will be ripe for litigation. And since he should have another sycophant justice on the SCOTUS by then, he will sue and appeal until he gets enough votes thrown out (or the election thrown to the House) to get the result he wants. So getting back to the original question, is Spain still at the top of your list, or has COVID made you look elsewhere? I'm rethinking my first and second choices (Canada and Iceland) and have to admit that New Zealand looks pretty good right now, assuming they would let me in.

Serious answer:  For the moment, I am not allowing myself to contemplate the scenario you describe because I don't want to think of my country as the sort of place where that could happen.  I don't want to marinate in that type of depression unless I have to.  

If the president loses the election he will make life so miserable for many of us (no stimulus, government shut down, pardoning every evil corporate criminal in the country, whining and tweeting about how suburban women didn't love and they'll get theirs when someone who knows the Spanish word for water moves in next door, sending ICE storm troops to SF and NYC to arrest anyone who has brown eyes, ordering military funds diverted to start carving his head into Mt. Rushmore, etc.) that the two and half months will feel like another 4 years. It will still be worth it, but it will be much, much worse than just those two and a half months would have been if he had won. In which case, he might talk about doing the same stuff, but will be too lazy to actually do it and the tweeting will be mostly about how the vaccine will be available in two more weeks. Over and over and over.

Yes, I agree.  He might become so vindictive and reckless that Constitutional Remedies might be seriously considered. 

I think he is literally afraid he will 1) Lose all his money; and 2) Go to prison. 

Yes, Toobin is a well-known figure in media circles, but I'd question whether anyone below the Beltway (ouch) or to the west is spending much time thinking about this incident. (And I say this as a longtime New Yorker subscriber.) With all the other crap going on, this doesn't seem like it merits incredible amounts of close scrutiny.

He's a CNN personality.  On air all the time.  

"I'm not sure my heart could handle all the nudity." I think you meant your stomach couldn't handle it...

No, I didn't.   I was talking about, um, Election Simulation. 

I swear I used to have a good sense of humor. I was, dare I say, light-hearted, Gene!! But something about being a parent has stolen my sense of humor. I no longer snicker or take fiendish delight in the Jeffrey Toobin tales of the world. I just feel bad for the guy. I've done some mortifyingly embarrassing things in my life, and I'm so grateful that they're not national news. Part of me thinks I should lighten up. Part of me thinks I've grown. I miss light-hearted me. But there's just so much pain, anger and humiliation in the world, I can't find the humor in it anymore.

I think that describes a lot of people these days, not just new moms and dads.  Your funnies will return, I predict.   Around November 4th.  

You know, being famous -- even cheesily semi-famous, as I am -- does saddle you with a constant worry.   I behave far more civilly in public than I would otherwise.  I won't "make a scene" even if a scene is warranted. I still look like a schlep, though.  Won't dress nicely, on principle. 

"Shhhhh. He doesn't know I'm talking. He won't see this until after the chat." The posts are coming from inside the house!

Host in the machine.

Yep, it is incredibly good, even in an atmosphere that often lends itself to the broadest possible derision. Were you aware that the Twitter account where it appears has only a few comments shown, followed by this admonition before clicking further: Show additional replies, including those that may contain offensive content.

I like that, on Twitter.  

Hi, Gene, I was perplexed this morning when I received an email from a higher up at my office, reminding us that even though we’re working from home, we’re all still working and we are expected to dress appropriately. I was a bit annoyed – I wore shorts and t-shirts all summer and have now started wearing sweat pants instead of shorts. Does it really matter what I wear while sitting at home at my computer? Then I read the intro to the chat. Then I googled Jeffrey Toobin. Mystery solved.

Yep.  

My son, who thinks the Toobin incident is extremely funny, tells me that men masturbate all of the time and it's surprising that this is the first time it was caught on zoom. Tell me he's wrong.

He's right only if he is talking about 14 year old "men."

As someone who also respected and liked Toobs, I was so disappointed. But the fact of the matter is that masturbating while on a work Zoom call is not just grossly unprofessional, it is also sexual harassment! There is some reporting that he might have been on a second, sneak Zoom or else had some other video playing, so he might not have been *directing* the act toward any particular caller on the New Yorker/WNYC call. But intent doesn't matter in this instance - it was gross, it was unprofessional, and it was harassment. He deserves all the punishment.

You give him no slack because it was clearly unintentional?  I mean, I'm not saying you are wrong, but to me it's germane.  It's not exculpatory, but it's germane.   The behavior itself is obviously worrisome, but that's not what we are talking about, is it?  

Whatever his punishment, it should be significantly less than Louis CK's punishment. Unlike Louis CK, Toobin was not intentionally sharing his stroke session.

C.K. was a class A felony, like murder.  Toobs is nowhere close.  He could plea bargain it down to a class B misdemeanor, I think. 

I generally agree with your philosophy, but I personally avoid thinking about people I interact with because I feel like *I* would find it weird. Do you find yourself doing the same, or can you shut that train of thinking off at will?

I'd be lying if I said it NEVER happens, but yes, I try to make it not happen.  We are human people.  

Finance guy here: The best part about the NYTimes pieces is that they reveal Trump's one true talent: losing money. No matter how he gets money (there have been really only two things: family and The Apprentice) he does the exact wrong thing and loses it all. The first time, he paid too a high a price for AC casinos and lost it all. The second time he paid too much for expensive golf courses, sold all his stocks and bonds and took out loans on his money-making office buildings to try to prop them up and now is about to go bankrupt again. HE needs to stay in office to prop up these properties with govt money (secret service paying properties) and not get indicted by the NY AG for tax, bank, and wire fraud. He really does have a reverse Midas touch.

Agreed!

I originally thought he was turned on by the excitment of the election simulation, but the idea that it was one of the people involved in the Zoom makes sense. I read it happened when the larger group broke into smaller groups in Zoom 'breakout' rooms which means he was with just a few others. Question is, who was in that virtual room?

Honestly, I don't think we know enough to speculate on this. 

hey Gene-- Did you see the pic on the backpage of Health in today's Post-- animals in the rehab center? How 'bout those adjustable wheelie walkers? The dogs look happy-- and is that... a sheep? it's a bright pic-- made me smile.

This is gorgeous, and yes it is a sheep named Adam Lambert.  I would definitely do this for a young or middle-aged dog.  I wouldn't torment a dog Murphy's age -- 14 and a half -- with having to adapt to that. 

This is beautiful.  Brought a tear. 

What comedians have you met? Did any of them act like jerks when you met them?!!

Whoa.  This embarrasses me, but I don't think I ever met a comedian.   I was going to meet Rich Jeni, and then he committed suicide.  Pretty sure it was not about having to meet me.  Rich Jeni was a fine, funny  person, not a jerk at all.  

Have you put up any Halloween decorations this year? Do you have a pumpkin or other decorations on your front porch?!

In other years, yes.  This year we will pretend to not be home, leave a big bowl of candy on the porch.  A major casualty of the  plague, and I'm sort of serious about that.  I like Halloween. 

Is absolutely hilarious if you’ve got any Jewish relatives.

Yes. 

Is there a simple word that describes a test word or phrase one says out loud to oneself as a sobriety test a la "british constitution" or "rural juror"?

When actors do it, it's called a "vocal warmup."   "Aluminum lineoleum" is one.  Another: "Blue-black bugs bleed blue-black blood."    So I think we're simply going to call it tongue twisters. 

I am great at tongue twisters.  There;s a trick to it.  Do you remember my trick?  If anyone asks I will repeat it.  

You and many others have said you'd leave the country if Trump won again. Now he's saying he might leave the country if he doesn't win. Where do you think he'd go? Would he essentially confirm all talk from the past four years and live out his remaining days in Russia?

Nah.  Too many dark-skinned and Asian people there.  He'd go to Norway or Sweden.  

Yeah, Gilbert Gottfried has a voice that makes me reach for steel wool to clean out my ear canals after I listen to him.  But he stays out of last place with his attempt to bring back a sense of humor after 9/11 by his public performance of "The Aristocrats." Jay Leno, on the other hand, has never in his life been funny.  He sure does like to laugh uncontrollably at his own "jokes" though.

Totally agreed.   Gottfried is one of a kind, and I think that gets him major points.  

Welcome back, Gene. I am majorly bummed at the news that TT is retiring, and am wondering why the Post hasn't yet announced the decision. I'm guessing they're waiting until they've hired a successor (not a replacement); do you have any inside scoop about what led him to put away his easel? What a loss.

I don't.  And yes, a great loss. 

Speaking of unfunny old time comedians, I happened to catch an old clip of Henny Youngman on the "clean comedy" satellite radio channel a while back. As he's going through his routine, I realized at one point that he was telling the "he had a hat!" joke, which I know is one of your favorites. His delivery of the punch line, however, was absolutely dreadful, a rushed montone that completely obscured the line and the joke itself. I was left wondering, this guy was supposedly the king of one-liners? Perhaps the clip was from later in his career, after he'd lost his fastball, but man what a disappointment (and it's not like people couldn't do comedy right back in the day--just watch Abbott and Costello doing "Who's on First?").

I think the answer is that the "he had a hat" joke was out of his wheelhouse.  Not really a one-liner.  Requires some setup.  If he set it up, he was throwing himself off stride.  If he DIDN'T set it up, then he was ruining the joke. 

I will fight whoever said Jack Benny was the worst. That man could wring a laugh out of a pause like no one else. I always felt that the only reason the sitcom "Family Ties" ran for so many seasons was that Michael J. Fox had Jack Benny timing.

Yes, one of the best ever.   He milked dryness brilliantly. 

OKay, what's the trick?

1.  Don't rush it.  Speak in normal cadence, maybe slightly faster but if you force yourself into rat-a-tat, you are sabotaging yourself. 

2.  Most important, as you are saying the words, picture them in your head.   Rubber baby buggy bumpers.  See the words as you say them.  You'll be surprise how effective that is.   The reason tongue twisters are so hard is that we tend to reel them off as sounds, not words. 

Gene, since you have embraced the cartoonist lifestyle, maybe you can explain why some of the cartoons still show up on the pages of the Post (e.g., Rex Morgan). Is there actually a constituency for such cartoons, who would storm the gates of the Post if they were removed? Or for that matter, cartoons like Beetle Bailey which are so freakin' TIRED and dated, that seem to redo the same "joke" day after day, week after week. More Pearls Before Swine or Foxtrot or Brewster Rockit or Candorville, PLEASE.

I cannot answer that because I have the same question.  Part of the answer I fear is that newspapers are terrified of losing circulation, and cutting an old familiar strip inevitably gets some angry mail from old familiar people.   There is no risk to NOT picking up a new strip.  It's very bad thinking. 

what do you think happened to him, was he always this venal or did he suffer some mini-strokes or something after he left office? Or maybe is normal aging, hardening of the arteries leading to less oxygen for his brain. He is so off the rails that if you made a movie with him as a character no one would think it could be true.

I think he is, and has always been, a hostile, mean guy.  I think he is in desperation mode, which is bringing even more of it to the surface. 

Do you really think everyone else knows that first group's work well enough to compare them?

Several people have complained about that. 

Do you think that Trump will back out of the final debate because the moderator can now turn off his microphone?

If he's smart, he will complain bitterly, for show, but then stay in.   Turning off his mike will help him.   He seemed like a ridiculous interrupting clown in the first debate.    

But he's not smart, so who knows?

I met Sam Kinnison. Pretty sure he called me a "bitch" and kissed me on the cheek. There were beers involved.

I have a similar story about  David Simon and Manteuffel.  I cannot tell it.  

He often fat-shamed his announcer Don Wilson, which may have been funny then but isn't anymore. But otherwise Jack himself would be the butt of the joke, which I found hilarious.

Yeah, but being fat was part of Don Wilson's shtick.  I doubt if he minded.   Jimmy Durante didn't care if others talked about is huge schnoz. 

Stanislavsky’s little sister was a syphilitic thistle sifter.

Manteuffel, who is an actor, just now did this perfectly.   

On that, I will exit.  Here is the link to next week's chat.  See you then.   

In This Chat
Gene Weingarten
Gene Weingarten is the humor writer for The Washington Post. His column, Below the Beltway, has appeared weekly in the Post's Sunday magazine since July 2000. He was awarded the 2008 and 2010 Pulitzer Prizes for Feature Writing.

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Rachel Manteuffel
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