“Thank you to God for making me an atheist.”

“It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God.  It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

Ricky Gervais hosted the Golden Globes Sunday night and totally killed it (or was super mean and uncalled for, if you have sand in your vagina).

He ended the show with a throwaway comment that I assumed was going to get lost in the sounds of remote controls clicking off.  But it didn’t.  And thank God for that.

In case that video gets taken down for any reason, the incomparable Ricky Gervais ended an American awards show with:

“And thank you to God, for making me an atheist.”

Brilliant.  Of course, Ricky comes from a country where Christianity (and religious belief in general) has been on a decline for awhile.  It’s no wonder that some of the most prominent atheists – Richard Dawkins, Stephen Fry, Gervais – are British.

Bringing that British humour to American shores always has risks (Americans can be a bit dense with their humor – I know that’s a blatantly baiting blanket statement, and I’m okay with it).  But then, to proudly declare one’s atheism on television (without being an attractive, genius, fictional miracle worker) is going to ruffle some feathers.

So, on cue, here come the whiners.  You can read the comments on the page (most of which seem to be pro-Ricky) or you cannot.  But let me just give you a sampling of some of the response.

Amy • January 16th, 2011 at 11:50 pm

Never heard of Rick before, but I certainly hope that I never see him again. I thought he was very obnoxious!
Also, what an uncalled for and cowardly remark to include in the last seconds of the show…….No wonder this world is the way it is!!!!!

Lindy • January 16th, 2011 at 11:57 pm

Just goes to show you that heavy drinking affects good judgment. Not surprising for an atheist!


Deb • January 17th, 2011 at 12:50 am

Very inappropriate. Comments he made about some of the stars were very inappropriate and last but not least, the comment he made about God making him an Atheist, was completely inappropriate. The show was to honor show business and the people involved, not to bash people’s religious beliefs. Won’t watch next year.

Such umbrage at Ricky’s declaration of atheism. The first two insult him for being an atheist (cos obviously his being an atheist makes him an unrepentant alcoholic who is ruining the world), and the last one complains of him “bashing” religious belief.

Um, huh? Where was the bashing? All Ricky did was say he was an atheist. How is declaring one’s lack of faith an attack on another person’s faith?

Before some Christians get their panties in a bunch, let me say that I understand these comments aren’t representative of all Christians. The fact that I have to say that everytime I write about atheism/Christianity should say something about the general level of sand in vaginas in this world, but I’ll let it go.

Those three comments are fairly representative of how people react to any public admittance of atheism (like those billboards). They either take offense or they accuse the person(s) of being what’s wrong with the world.

Yet they don’t bat an eye at someone saying “God bless you” or “I’ll pray for you.” These are just as innocuous statements as saying “I’m an atheist,” which is why I think anybody getting offended by either side should just step back and shut the hell up.

Atheists whining about religious statements being everywhere are annoying, too. Oh, boohoo, it says “In God We Trust” on money. Waaaah.

But, the fact is, there are far more Christians in this nation, and they are far more vocal about voicing their discontent the moment an Atheist steps out of the shadows.

Nothing Ricky said all night was in any way offensive towards Christianity.  And, believe me, if Ricky had wanted to be offensive on that subject, he could have been.

So, tell you what Christians.  Stop getting offended when someone says they don’t believe what you believe.  And maybe when someone actually does do something offensive to your religious sensibilities, we atheists might give a shit.

Probably not, though.

The Adventures of a White Mexican (in 3D)

I received my anti-Arizona Immigration Law sticker today (from Presente.org who are sadly out of stickers now).

Now, I don’t own a car, and even if I did, I would never put a bumpersticker on it (though, if you are so inclined, may I suggest one of these).  Maybe I’ll find someone with a McCain/Palin ’08 sticker on their car and affix it to theirs.

Look, I know there is nothing I am going to say here that is going to change anyone’s mind.  This is a preaching to the choir kind of post (and what a sexy choir you are).  In fact, I don’t really want to get into the debate, certainly not with some Conservative who thinks I know nothing about real America because I’m a godless Liberal (despite me having lived all over this country).  There are far better educated people out there who can give you all the information you can need to make an informed decision (of, if you’d rather make an uninformed decision, there’s always Fox News).

And really, if you have an interest in this topic, you should be doing the research, not listening to some blowhard rant on about the topic (or any topic), whether it be me or Glenn Beck or Keith Olbermann.  We have enough people talking, not enough people researching.

The whole topic just gets me thinking about something I’ve never even brought up on this blog (of course, those that know me personally are well aware of it):  I’m Mexican.  Well, half.

There, I said it.  Such a weight off of my shoulders.

Now, I know what you may be thinking, sexy blog reader (I mean it, dead sexy).  I don’t look particularly… brown.  And it’s true, if you’ve seen the few photos of myself that I’ve posted here on 10 Cities, you’ve seen a rather white looking fellow peering back at you.  And no, it’s not just the flash.

Now, there is the possibility that I’m the milkman’s kid, but until the DNA results come in, I’m gonna keep calling my father ‘padre’ (pretty much the only Spanish I do know).

What did that mean for my upbringing?  Not much.  No racism that I ever witnessed (though I can’t say if that’s true for my browner siblings).  No, other than telling quite a few more ‘spic’ jokes than your average non-Texan family and earning a full-ride scholarship to college (yeah, I know, hate me), being half-Mexican didn’t have any major effect on my life, good or bad.  It’s just who I was, one facet of my existence that was always there, but in no way made me different (as far as I was concerned).

Were there people who didn’t want to be my friend because I was a half-breed?  Maybe, but I highly doubt it.  I assume if anyone doesn’t want to be my friend, it’s for my winning personality.

I would say it’s safe to conclude that I have never experienced any form of racism aimed directly at me.  I’ve lived a fairly charmed life in that way, especially compared to the vast number of people who have historically made up this country, from day one to right now:  Immigrants, legal or otherwise.

Is Arizona’s SB 1070 bill racist?  In legal terms, not inherently.  In intent, most likely.  In practice, most certainly.  If it wasn’t racist, I could go to Arizona and legitimately be concerned that I might be pulled over and need to have proof of citizenship.  After all, I am Mexican.  The color of my skin doesn’t change that fact, and it shouldn’t in the eyes of the law.

But something tells me that if I were in Arizona, carousing late at night with my oldest brother and we happened to end up on el policia’s radar, one of us might spend the night in jail (“until citizenship is confirmed”) and the other would get asked tips on how to keep blond hair so shiny and vibrant.

My point is, being white is great.

No, actually, my point is, whether you love or hate the Arizona law, you have to admit that it does nothing to solve the larger immigration problems in this country.  Just imagine if the law was passed for the entire nation.  We’d all be living in a police state where anyone with the “wrong” skin color, accent or cultural norms would be easy targets for discrimination.

Making ineffective immigration laws stricter and expecting that to fix the problem is like putting grease on a broken bike chain.  It’s, how they say in Spanish, “Fucking stupid-o.”

A Bit of Fry and Laurie

I felt like posting a few youtube videos from the old British sketch comedy show, A Bit of Fry and Laurie.  Along with the hilariously surreal Kids In The Hall, this show struck that perfect note of absurdity and social commentary that pretty much always killed me.

It’s amazingly funny stuff, but I have to admit there’s a bit of a godless bent to my postings.  Stephen Fry is a well-known atheist, while my personal favorite, Hugh Laurie (best known as Dr. Gregory House to American audiences, though there is no reason he shouldn’t be known for all of his brilliant work), is, if not an atheist, then a very doubtful agnostic.

Here are just a few videos having fun with religion/spirituality (and if you enjoy these, there are plenty more, even funnier bits that are just roundly absurd).  Gobble up some good British Humo(u)r.

And hey, if that was too one-sided, here is Hugh sending up those hippie protest songs:

Hope at least one of them made you laugh.  I’ll leave you with this.

“Rational arguments don’t usually work on religious people. Otherwise there wouldn’t be religious people.” ~ Dr. House

Have you ever heard the one about…


(I’m letting you know early, just so you’re safe, you precious flower.)

The recent brouhaha over at NBC concerning The Tonight Show (with Conan O’Brien; as it should be) and the absolute fail that is/was The Jay Leno Show has me contemplating one of my favorite art forms: Stand-Up comedy.

First off, if you don’t know about the Jay Leno/Conan O’Brien mess, let the funniest guy in Late Night explain the situation:

Note:  When I say funniest guy in Late Night, I’m not counting the Comedy Central Duo of Awesome that is Stewart/Colbert (2012!), because they are their own beast.

Comedy is a subjective thing, obviously.  Personally, I find Jay Leno to be fairly dull, with a monologue that is a solid 10-15 minutes of sliced unfunny in toasted boring bread.  But, okay, I get it, for some people he’s the bee’s knees.

Those people are wearing adult Pampers.

I’m just playing, you can like whoever you like.  Unless that includes Carlos Mencia.  Then you’re probably your own uncle.

I love comedy down to my core.  I pathetically don’t have the balls to do stand-up myself (maybe one day, if I’ve free-based enough heroin), but watching live stand-up comedy is one of the best experiences you can have.  The first stand-up comedian I ever saw in person was Lewis Black, way back in the day (I got his autograph!).  Later, in my college years, one of my brothers did stand-up for some time, so I had regular viewings.  Then, when I moved to SoCal, my roommate and I would go see Daniel Tosh all the time at the Improv.  If you’re unfamiliar with Daniel Tosh, let me introduce you.

(If you aren’t tracking down more of his comedy right now, then we probably don’t have similar senses of humor.  That’s okay, I’m sure your parents are to blame.)

Continuing my personal journey with stand-up:  When I moved to San Francisco, one of my roommates was an Australian pothead who fancied himself a stand-up comedian.  Trying to be friendly with the new roomies, I met him and his girlfriend at one of his gigs (if you need to picture this couple, think of a couple so horrific, the Jerry Springer show would have deemed them too depressing to put on TV).  In the process of warming up for the show, this momentously unfunny man, let’s call him Larry the Cable Guy, got himself plastered.  When his time finally came, Larry went up to the stage, angry that he had to go on so late, drunk as Bukowski at a wedding and too Australian to make any sense.  In a 5 minute tirade of what was presumably supposed to be jokes, the only intelligible words were a smattering of ‘fuck’, ‘cunt’ and ‘Jerry Seinfeld’ (yeah, I don’t know, either).

It was funny in the same way that videos of guys on pogosticks nutting themselves are funny.

Stand-up comedy, to me, is the rawest form of performance, and for that reason I have a healthy mix of admiration and astonishment for those who get up on stage and risk all levels of humiliation on the assumption that the funny voices in their own head might amuse other people.  I have many favorite comedians, most of which could never headline an ABC sitcom because their material is bit too, as they say, blue.

For instance, there is the king of wrong:

Louis C.K.

This clip may actually be the perfect summation of his comedy, because it’s awkward and wrong and filthy and bizarre and yet so so smart.  I’m surprised to be typing this, because I have so many favorite comedians, but I think Louis C.K. is my all time favorite, the person who most perfectly fits my sense of humor.  If you haven’t heard me make this kind of joke, it’s because I don’t think you can handle it.

Dave Attell

This guy kind of looks like my oldest brother, so there’s the family connection.  Plus, this guy can take a completely ridiculous idea and make you follow it as if he were just telling you a story about going to the grocery store.  I’ve been a fan of his since he hosted Insomniac on Comedy Central (now that was a kickass show).  He drinks too much and will fuck anything that moves.  Essentially he’s a writer in the body of a comedian.

Sarah Silverman

This isn’t her best clip.  Not even close, but I like it for the shot of Laura Dern looking particularly uncomfortable.  Sarah’s comedy  has the amazing ability to not only be unfunny to certain people, but to make them ferociously angry.  She made fun of Paris Hilton (and I mean, come on, talk about an easy target), and people flipped out (as if anyone would give a guy shit for making the same jokes).  Some people just fucking hate Sarah.  Maybe it’s because of how sexual she is in her jokes, maybe it’s because she says absolutely terrible things (some of which some people like to label ‘racist’), but I think it comes down to this:  People are shocked by a woman making the same kind of filthy, un-P.C. jokes that male comics make all the time.

These three comedians (and Daniel Tosh) are the comics who make me laugh every time, without fail.

I have many many more that can make me slap my knee (literally; when I laugh it’s a full physical reaction).

Jim Gaffigan, Zach Galifianakis, David Cross, Patton Oswalt, Eddie Izzard, Mitch Hedberg, Steven Wright (aka the original Mitch Hedberg), Maria Bamford, Dave Chappelle and on and on into the night.  I love stand-up comedians.  I miss having cable where I could watch Comedy Central’s Friday Night Stand-up, but thank God for the internet, because I’m never truly at a shortage for great comedy.

But I don’t just love the comedy, I’m fascinated by the personalities that do stand-up.  It’s no secret that comedians tend to be pretty fucked up people (again, like writers, but with better stage presence), usually with major depressive issues or other mental problems.  Watch the movie Funny People for insight (a movie that didn’t do very much box office despite being quite good; if you haven’t seen it, do, but don’t expect a comedy.  Yes, it’s funny, but in a very personal way.  It really is a drama that just happens to be about comedians).

That’s why I loved the new book, I’m Dying Up Here by William Knoedelseder.  It gives an entertaining and fascinating look into the comedians and club managers that made the comedy scene of the 70s into such a boon time (both Leno and Letterman are major players in the story, along with some of the greats who have long since fallen out of the public consciousness).  I can’t do the book justice here, but if you have even the faintest interest or respect for stand-up, this book will be well worth your time.

The book will also give you a lot of great insight into the history not just behind Letterman and Dave (which is mostly public knowledge and still very interesting in a Schadenfreude sense) but also the integral part that the Tonight Show has played in launching comedy careers.  It’s why I completely respect Conan’s stance to not tarnish the long running standard of the Tonight Show by pushing it back a half hour.  NBC is about to ruin a comedy institution.

Still, there’s nothing funny about talking about comedy, so I want to leave you with this.  It is a collection of comedians telling the greatest joke of all time, taken from the DVD extras of the documentary, The Aristocrats.  You know when people say stuff like, “I know we can be friends if you like this band or this movie”?  That’s what this movie is for me.  If you don’t laugh your ass off watching this incredibly dirty and fantastically insightful film, then… well, we can still be friends, but you probably wouldn’t want to be.

If we’re ever out drinking (and there’s no one around who will get their panties in a bunch), just ask me and I’ll tell my personal version of the joke that’s so good it got Jesus to raise from the grave just to say, “The Aristocrats!”