"Be yourself. Unless 'yourself' is an asshole": David Sedaris delivers Oberlin's commencement speech

Last Monday, David Sedaris was granted an honorary doctorate in fine arts from Oberlin College in Ohio. Then, he gave the keynote address for the school's 2018 commencement ceremony. It was, of course, perfectly hilarious and full of spot-on, no-holds-barred advice for the new grads.

On May 24, just prior to giving the speech, the humorist and essayist appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (video above) and discussed how he picked the advice he was going to share, "Well, it kind of makes you wonder, 'What do I know? What wisdom do I have?' So I started keeping a list of my wisdom. Part of it is, you have to be really careful about scented candles. There's really only two kinds worth having... Diptyque or Trudon."

That was the first piece of advice he shared with Oberlin's graduating class. There are seven more, all gems, including "Be yourself. Unless 'yourself' is an asshole." Watch.

Also, Sedaris has a new book. It's called Calypso. Read the rest

Just the Tip: Documenting San Francisco's (undeniably phallic) Salesforce Tower

If you've been to San Francisco lately, no doubt that you've seen the 1,070-foot architectural monstrosity known as the Salesforce Tower. The new skyscraper is hard to miss as it's now the tallest building in the city's skyline and because it looks like a big, shiny phallus.

You can't escape it. It can be spotted from nearly everywhere you go in the city. I can even see it from various points in Alameda.

Married couple Nikki and Stone Melet noticed it too. They were so amused by it that they started the site "Just the Tip SF" as a humorous way to document what I have dubbed, the "TechBro Dick."

Nikki told ABC7News, "I was dropping my daughter off at school and I saw the tower. I was driving down the street and I saw the tower. I'm like, this is crazy, you can see the tip from everywhere."

People are encouraged to send in their own photos of "just the tip" from wherever they may see it.

photo by Rusty Blazenhoff, taken from Pier 39 pedestrian bridge Read the rest

John Hodgman's outstanding Vacationland: now in paperback!

I found John Hodgman's Vacationland to be a genuinely moving and hilarious read; and it has stuck with me in the year since its hardcover release -- now it's out in paperback, and Hodgman is touring with it. Read the rest

Watch: A Bad Lip Reading of the Royal Wedding

I've been patiently awaiting this Bad Lip Reading of the Royal Wedding, and, I have to say, it was worth the wait.

"Let's all try to be the best squirrel in the hole."

Previously: Bad Lip Reading videos on BB Read the rest

Jim Gaffigan captioning "New Yorker" cartoons

A couple of weeks ago, comedian Jim Gaffigan took a stab at writing cartoon captions for The New Yorker. Turns out he's really good at it, almost as good as 9-year-old Alice Kassnove.

Previously: Jim Gaffigan takes over a woman's Tinder, hilarity ensues Read the rest

Royal Wedding "outtakes"

When I first started watching this "outtakes" video by entertainment site BlendTV, I thought it was real. They took the part of Harry and Meghan's wedding where they exchange their vows and made it better, or at least funnier, by redubbing it.

(reddit) Read the rest

If Amazon existed in the 1980s

Activate your willing suspension of disbelief because Squirrel Monkey's back with Wonders of the World Wide Web. In this episode, they envision Amazon, "the department store of the future," as a virtual department store in the eighties. It's not historically accurate by any means, but that's part of what makes it so fun to watch.

Previously: If Siri existed in the 1980s Read the rest

Imagining a cat actually catching a red laser pointer dot

Almost nothing riles up a cat like the red dot of a laser pointer mysteriously moving around on a surface. But what would happen if one of them actually caught it?

The latest episode of Los Angeles-based visual effects artist Aaron Benitez's comedic series, "Aaron's Animals," imagines just that. The cat, Prince Michael, gets his day in the sun after nabbing that pesky little red dot.

(Tastefully Offensive) Read the rest

Workers bring the snark on bad stock photos of their jobs

The #BadStockPhotosOfMyJob has had some worthy entries so far, like OB/GYN Dr. Jennifer Gunter's comment on this gem: "I always give a thumbs up after a pelvic exam, it’s so not creepy at all." Read the rest

Secret history of classic TV's laugh tracks

When I watched the Brady Bunch as a youngster, there was one particular deep guffaw that always caught my attention. I knew the laughs were pre-recorded but always assumed that there was just a laugh track tape and they'd press play at the appropriate times. I liked (and still like) the faux communal experience that laugh tracks provide when watching the Bradys, Bewitched, the Beverly Hillbillies, and other great vintage sitcoms from the 1960s an early 1970s.

Turns out, that the rise of the laugh track was due to Charles Douglass (1910-2003), a Navy-trained electronics engineer/maker who went on to build a custom "Laff Box" of several dozen tape loops triggered by keys and dials. After its initial use on the Jack Benny Program, the machine, officially called the "Audience Reaction Duplicator," took the TV industry by storm. Douglass "played" the Laff Box like a proto-sampler and for years had the monopoly on TV laugh tracks. It was a process that the TV show producers and Douglass himself liked to keep secret.

It wasn't until 1992 that Douglass and his pioneering work at the intersection of media, psychology, and technology was recognized with a lifetime Emmy award for technical achievement.

For the whole story on Douglass and the Laff Box, don't miss this episode of the Decoder Ring podcast.

And here is an Antiques Roadshow segment appraising a Laff Box.

Read the rest

Ron Howard narrates 'Star Wars' in the style of 'Arrested Development'

Not only is Ron Howard the narrator (and an executive producer) on the Arrested Development, he's also the director of the upcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story. So, it was only natural that the two entities got combined somehow, especially since they both have end of the month release dates**.

Enter Star Wars: A New Hope, a clever parody that melds the music, narration, and editing style of the popular sitcom with the story of Star Wars.

It begins, "Now the story of a family that wants to rule the galaxy and the one son who had no choice but to save it." (The original narration began, "Now the story of a wealthy family who lost everything and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together.)

**Season 5 of Arrested Development begins on May 29 on Netflix. Solo: A Star Wars Story opens in theaters on May 25.

(Blame it on the Voices) Read the rest

Rudy and the Beast: Randy Rainbow's latest song parody rips on Giuliani and Trump

Our hero, YouTube parodist and future Tony award-winner Randy Rainbow, has a new video that tears on former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani and Trump (the "Beast")... in song! Brilliant. Read the rest

A Bad Lip Reading of Mark Zuckerberg testifying to Congress

It makes me very happy that the "Bad Lip Reading" folks took Zuck's recent testimony footage and made this gem of a video. Read the rest

Conan road trips around Italy acting like a big, dumb American (in the funniest way ever)

Conan O'Brien and his show's associate producer Jordan Schlansky recently traveled to Italy together. According to Conan, Jordan is a "self-proclaimed expert of all things Italian," as he's traveled there before 30 different times.

Their road trip -- in a tiny red vintage Fiat, no less -- began in Florence and ended in Naples, the same route Jordan has driven many times sans his boss.

Now, in case you haven't seen their previous interactions, Jordan is the perfect "uptight straight man" to Conan's over-the-top "funny man" shenanigans. And there are definitely some over-the-top shenanigans on this road trip. For instance, while walking down a street, Conan starts yelling out pasta names as if they were legit greetings to random Italians, "Rigatoni!"

In the next segment, Jordan, not once cracking a smile, strips naked to pose for Conan's drawing class. You get the picture.

I've seen all of the Conan Without Borders (imo, it's the best work Team Coco creates), and I think this particular one is the funniest yet. The entire playlist for it is here and includes behind-the-scenes footage and a Q&A segment. Read the rest

Mocking the formula of late night talk shows

Late-night talk shows have a lot in common with each other, including white male hosts, scripted political jokes, and "racially diverse" bands.

In "Every Late Night Talk Show Ever," comedy channel Smosh puts a spotlight on the late-night talk show genre's formula and mocks it mercilessly. Say hello to Jimmy Whiteguy.

[Insert funny anecdote to end the story.]

Previously: The surprisingly mathematical formula for writing late-night jokes Read the rest

$1 piano vs $1000 piano

I enjoyed the recently-viral comparison of a $600 craiglist piano with Yamaha concert grands, but was disappointed with the lack of experimental rigor. Thankfully, a more scientific comparison is now available: $1 piano vs $1000 piano, embedded here for your critical listening pleasure. Read the rest

Why no WHITE PANTHER?

Strangely reminiscent of Big Train.

Exhibit B:

Exhibit C:

Read the rest

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