Document Prank Party

Sometimes giant companies reach out to random people for TV show ideas. A long time ago I got an e-mail (along with millions of other Americans) asking me to submit reality television show ideas to some stupid contest. The prize? $5000 and a chance to talk to someone! The contest got canceled because not enough people submitted. Still, enjoy my correspondence with them and the resulting video I made. Here were the rules of the contest:

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays

Even though I am aware that making animated characters say a small amount of dirty things is a bit childish, I am irresistibly drawn to the need to do so. However, if you surround it with a message of hope and happiness, it becomes okay. Double however, I’m not really sure I did that. Tripple however (where do I get the courage to do a triple however!), here is a short holiday greeting I made (with help from Santa, Abe Lincoln, and Sarah Palin) using my favorite intended-for-business-misappropriated-for-fun avatar building website — Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays:

Jon Benjamin and Eugene Mirman almost entered a Slingbox contest.

A little over a year ago I got an e-mail asking comedians to make a video for a contest to promote a new product called Slingbox — which “slings” video from your television to your computer or cell phone. Though I love all promotional letters asking me to enter a contest, my favorite part of this letter was that the woman’s job title was “Commander-in-misChief.”

So Jon Benjamin and I shot a “misCHIEVous” video on stage at Union Hall a year ago, but it was too long and I never had a chance to cut it down and submit it. Enjoy the video — but a warning — it contains blue material and might shock some viewers (old people, religious people, decent people, tweens, etc). Don’t watch this at work, unless you work in a place that’s “cool.” Here’s the video:

I’m not very good at auditions, and here is some proof.

I am not very good at auditions (though I did land a sweet part in Third Watch) — especially commercial auditions. Years ago when I was really broke, I would go (it was better than temping at this law firm), though I was generally terrible at it. My breaking point was about three years ago, when I arrived at an audition for a musical DVD game and saw that they were looking for “a cross between Jack Black and Robin Williams.” I was surprised I was sent there (I can’t sing and I do only two voices — regular and slightly silly). I went in, did a terrible job rapping and singing in a heavy metal style, and decided to not do that anymore.

However, about a year later, I got a call from someone I knew asking if I’d audition to be the spokesman for an online series for a new pen from OfficeMax — the Tul retractable pen. I knew the person (plus I would have made enough money to buy a Toyota Carola!!!!!!!), so I said I would, but then promptly forgot and missed my audition. The next day I went on tour and figured that was that.

However, when someone thinks your voice might be perfect for their product, they don’t give up that easily. They really wanted to see me — it was down to one man (the one they cast) and what they imagined I would do. To my surprise, they sent two people to Providence, RI to tape my audition in a conference room of the hotel I was staying at.

The premise of the ad and website was that a somewhat wacky handwriting specialist would guide you through a handwriting analysis and tell you about yourself. They had several scripts and had me improv stuff. The website they made for the pen is still up. I now realize I was mispronouncing the pen’s name (I was saying “Tul” like “Jethro Tull,” but it’s “Tul” like “tool”). Clearly the person they cast is much better for the role.

Why tell the story now, years later? Because I randomly got some of the footage from that audition! It’s somewhere between stilted, irreverent, and not great, but it’s sort of funny. Here are some of my improvised outtakes (I included a sample from the Tul website, to give a sense of the rift between what I did and what they wanted):

Howard Johnson, Fargo, ND.

In my travels I’ve seen all sorts of things  — I’ve seen the Golden Gate Bridge — I’ve seen iguanas fight to the death — I’ve seen Zingerman’s Deli (it’s real!!!!!) — I once saw a video game at a Fudruckers on which a tattered piece of paper hung dramatically warning “Do Not Use!” (I’m not sure what was so dangerous about the game that it didn’t just say “Out of order”) — I’ve seen a homeless man in Denver tightly grip a straw while yelling “I’m not trying to rob you!” at me at 7 in the morning — but this is special. This is a Howard Johnson’s I stayed at in Fargo, North Dakota while on tour. There was something very unusual about my hotel room. See if you can tell what it is:

Amoeba Records — What’s In My Bag?

In May when I was on the Standuppity tour with Andy Kindler and Marc Maron, I stopped by Amoeba records in San Francisco. In exchange for a $65 gift certificate (maybe $75 — I can’t remember!) I agreed to let them film me talking about what I bought. My favorite thing is to go wonder around a giant record/ video store, and this is the crowned prince (I’m using that phrase correctly I think) of record stores. Here’s the video (in which I really stick it to their VHS discount videos!):

Larry’s video from the Lakeshore

I was in Chicago a few weeks ago recording an album. Larry Murphy and Kumail Nanjiani came with me. Larry made a video of us before the show. If you look closely, you can see as I am leaving the hotel, I almost walk into a glass door and smile. The music makes it seem like I’m just having fun, but in reality, I almost walked into a door. Thanks for the video Larry: