The High Road


There’s been cloud of gray smoke billowing over my suburb in Atlanta, Georgia. I can’t think of a better metaphor for what’s happening to my surrounding country. As forest fires in Tennessee and South Carolina rage down, their effects have left an ominous atmosphere to draw conclusions from, almost 3 weeks since Orange became the new Red, White and Blue.

My evolution of what the hell just happened to wanting to burn everything down to thinking we’re all going to be okay has been hilarious.

Two years ago, a couple of months before I went back to stand up comedy, I wrote my first joke.

People ask me what it’s like living with 4 women. My immediate answer is, dealing with double standards. My least favorite one is the car. My wife can road rage with the best of them, make f bombs sound like Shakespeare, my daughters will laugh and say mom’s a character. But the moment I get frustrated and say “excuse me fellow motorist, your inability to use your turn signal has greatly inconvenienced me”, I’ve got a kid in the backseat googling therapists because “dad’s got an anger management problem”.

It usually gets solid laughs and I’ve had audience members come to me and say “that’s so true, happens to me all the time”. I think it works because it’s a real-life experience to which people with children can relate. Parents are held to lofty ideals by their kids because mom and dad are supposed to be heroic, or at the very least, role models.

I’m a ridiculously flawed person. But I try to improve every day to be a better husband, father, friend, writer and comedian.

I’ve been struggling with a lot since the election, mostly in “taking the high road” with people who voted differently than me.

The person in the White House is supposed to be better than me. If I wanted someone who was unqualified and unfit, I’d vote for myself. I’m not proud of how flawed I am, but at least I don’t celebrate me at my worst. I try to be better. The current celebration of flawed people represented by their flawed President- elect is an unfunny joke. It’s bombing.


I’m a lifelong fan of comic books. When I learned to read, they were the first things in my hands, a 30 or so page of good guys and bad guys, of escapism and adventure. My current favorite is the Captain America: Steve Rogers series written by Nick Spencer. In early summer, he turned America’s red, white and blue good guy, bad. At the end of the first issue, Captain America throws his former sidekick Jack Flag out of a plane, turns to his accomplice and says “Hail Hydra”, declaring his devotion to what had been his arch enemy for over 70 years.


When I woke up November 9th, I felt like I was now the villain, my own origin story changed, from Bible reading, praying husband and father to 3 daughters who volunteers, gives to charity, signs up for progressive causes, votes in every election, off year, presidential, emergency runoffs, SPLOST projects and city council referendums to now what is wrong with the whole country.

I live in a place of right-wing dominance. There are no radio stations outside of NPR, that broadcast anything but conservative views. I can’t get my car repaired or go to the doctor, dentist, eye specialist, or out to dinner with my family without Fox News on their televisions or Rush Limbaugh on their radios. But the county I live in, Gwinnett, voted Hillary by several points. I’m using this information as light at the end of a dark tunnel to get out of the house and make some new friends.

In response to the outpouring of “let’s give him a chance” and “let’s come together” and “don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution”, I remind myself how outnumbered I am by people, including “friends” and “family” who think, act, believe and vote differently, with me – a liberal Democrat progressive Christian in the deep south. And that brings me to realize the number of humble, caring folks who’ve forward to explain themselves, open a dialogue, bridge the gap between ideologies, offer support and comfort to me and my worried, fearful family during a time of needful reconciliation. Then that made me reflective of how over the past 8 years, how many of them were self-aware and understanding of me, my views, my different kind of family and the President I liked.

Oh, I crack myself up. None of that has ever happened.

So the answer to “give it a chance” is no.

Hail Hydra.

Oh yeah, The High Road. I’m supposed to live there. Double standards aren’t always funny.

Here’s Broken Bells.


I’m Afraid Of Americans


The internet is the best thing and world and the worst thing in the world. If you have this view and maintain this perspective, then it’s pretty easy to navigate through the minefields of online battle. Everything on the computer is extreme; political viewpoints, cultural outrage and the definitions of important words like love, hate, good and evil. Thus, perspective is so lost, no one even bothers looking for it anymore.

In one-hundred-twenty-five days I’ll cast my vote for President of the United States for the eighth time. I voted for my first one in 1988. This is the craziest, most bizarre, and culturally damaging election of my lifetime. Remember, we’re on the internet, I can say this without even being fact checked.

Seriously, I think 2016 is worse than 2000 because at least sixteen years ago, you had two qualified, traditional candidates who seemed respectful from the outside and the vote was a tie, then we got crazy after the election night, The campaign itself, save for George W. Bush mudslinging John McCain in South Carolina with rumors of illegitimate mixed race children, was tame. The debates were boring. Election night through the final Supreme Court decision in December was nutty but it all seemed relatively civilized. But I personally wasn’t on Al Gore’s internet, then.

In a few clicks you can find out who was the MVP of the 1979 MLB All Star Game  (Dave Parker, but it should’ve been Lee Mazzilli), what the capital of the Republic of Congo is (Brazzaville, also a good pop band) and who played Millicent, the girl on The Brady Bunch episode that gave Bobby Brady the mumps after kissing him (Melissa Sue Anderson). But you can also discover deep, dark corners of the world wide web that appeal to the worst parts of us. And those parts are running for the highest American political office in 2016.

My becoming a voter in 1988 also coincided with the Fairness Doctrine being revoked. The Fairness Doctrine was a policy of the FCC introduced in 1949, that required the holders of broadcast licenses to present both sides of controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was honest, equitable, and balanced. The FCC got rid of this policy in ’87 and any language binding broadcasters in 2011. The internet never had policy regarding anything but doing it without pants was encouraged. 

As a result, the past almost 30 years have been a Wild West of sorts for media. I worked in the media as a reporter, producer, writer and other various positions full-time for almost 8 years before doing it freelance online for the past decade. Watching people deliver news without training or rules or pants has been scary. We are not the better for it.

I’m not sure if the Fairness Doctrine should be brought back. It would be nice to diminish the influence of talk radio, cable news and the internet on politics. But I don’t think it’s very American. And that is frightening.

This political season has seen the extremes dominate. If you were to just pay attention to the online world, you’d think Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders were winning everything. They’re not. Sanders doesn’t have the Democratic nomination and Trump is 13 points behind in the polls and fading. It’s why perspective is the real world’s friend and the online world’s enemy.

Things are about to get worse before they get worse. The two major party nominees will go after each other and take us all with them. The minor party nominees may get more votes than a usual year, but they have no chance at anything but maybe creating amusing memes on Facebook.

What’s missing in this Dickensian tale of misplaced priorities and a lack of proper chill is a hero. Not a super one with powers and a cape but a regular, flawed, meaningful every-person one that can show us humanity and a good laugh.

And this is why I’m afraid of Americans. We can’t even agree on who that hero should be.

Here’s Bowie and Reznor.

Talk About The Passion


I started doing stand up in mid 1993 after I got out of college at the University of Alabama. With no self-confidence, little life experience and a drinking problem, I struggled to make anyone laugh, on and off, for almost two and a half years. Back then, my goal was to close out a show at the now “old” Punchline Comedy Club. I thought that was ultimate success, at least for a local comedian who didn’t know what he was doing. On Sunday, June 26th, I was the headliner for the open mic showcase known as the Jokewriter’s Showcase at the now “new” Punchline in Roswell, Georgia.


After a good ten minute set, I went home and told my wife, “Look, if you want me to stop going out 3 to 5 nights a week, it’s cool. Because I just reached my goal from twenty years ago.” She called me dumb and said “you’ve got three more sets this week so set a new goal.”

Tonight, I’m doing some new material at an open mic at The Laughing Skull Lounge in Atlanta, Georgia but tomorrow is something special. My friends, Alia Ghosheh and Veronica Darby have moved their cool Athens, Georgia showcase (that I headlined in January and am headlining again in September) to Thursdays. I’m one of the comedians on the bill but the feature act, David HT Rosen and the headliner Bo Micadelic are exceptional comics who care about their craft and most importantly, are hilariously funny. You have to see them, they’re terrific.


BO: bo micedelic

Here’s what they told My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog’s Ten Questions.

MBCBUYB: 1) How long have you been doing stand up?

HT:  I’VE BEEN DOING STAND UP AS THE DUO FOR ALMOST 7 YEARS. I DID SOLO BEFORE THE DUO. (HT has a comedy duo act called A Jew And A Black Guy, that travels all over the country)

BO: 7 years now.

MBCBUYB: 2) What led you to get on stage? 

HT: When I first got on stage I played drums and bass for countless bands and toured for years and became a studio player till I started stand up.

BO: Well, I started telling party jokes at work. Jokes off the internet, or dirty jokes you hear in bars or from friends, and they seemed to go over pretty well, so I looked at taking it to the stage since I had already been a huge fan of comedy. I wrote a five minute bit about going to a strip club and it went real well for my first time up. I was hooked after that.

MBCBUYB: 3) Tell me about your first time doing stand up? 


HT: The first time I did stand up was in alabama as a freshman in college . Stacked the crowd with fraternity brothers.

BO: Lol I kinda just did. There’s video footage of it on YouTube as well. It was at the Laughing Skull in Atlanta. It’s was about a Batchlor party at a strip club … Good times.

MBCBUYB: 4) Who are your comedy influences and why? 

HT: Rodney Dangerfield. Bobby Collins. Roy Wood Jr. Attell. Steven Wright. I like the Schick. Henny Young man. Rickles. Mel Brooks. My father Al Rosen was big influence. And Bo Micadelic. He told me early on Stage D, at the front of the stage, to command the interaction, that makes the crowd draw in and participate, work the crowd.

BO: Eddie Murphy early on, because he was so dynamic and just flat out funny with stories and impressions. Then, as I got older it was Dice Clay for his raw in you’re face style of comedy. Then Dave Chappelle for his social commentary. Now it’s more Bill Hicks, George Carlin and Richard Pryor for actually saying meaningful shit that makes you think, in a funny way. I also think Bill Burr is AMAZING.

MBCBUYB: 5) Do you do anything artistic besides comedy?

HT: I was a touring and session drummer I play guitar drums bass saxophone. Horrible at piano. I wrote a book recently.

BO:  I’ve been acting now for a few years. Had a national commercial for Norfolk Southern that they played quite a bit on CNN and other news networks. I also was just the lead in a feature independent film called Go Mad and Mark, which was fun to do and will be out in 2017.

MBCBUYB: 6) What do you think you’ll do with your comedy in the future?

HT: We hope as a duo to get to television and broaden our touring base. More main stream clubs . As a solo act I hope to tighten up my quips and crowd work and bring a broader angle to the duo.

BO: Tour around the world.

MBCBUYB: 7) What do you think of the comedy scenes on Atlanta? In Athens? 

HT:  I and the duo have been blessed to do trade gigs, promote and perform in scenes that are thriving in Athens, Atlanta and all the cities and towns we perform in. Our show producers have become close friends and each return trip warrants bigger crowds bigger laughs and work begets work. Alia Ghosheh is a great example.

BO: I think it’s incredible. Many Atlanta comedians are getting the recognition they deserve on a national level and that’s inspiring.

MBCBUYB: 8) How would you describe yourself as a comedian to someone who hasn’t seen you?

HT: Quick witted pun driven comedic mind. Whether in all black or dressed slick he finds ways to deliver laughs. Butts in the seats sell drinks and make em laugh

BO: Controversial. I like to push buttons and make people think. It does something for me.

MBCBUYB: 9) What makes you laugh?

HT: My kids make me laugh. And funny shit makes me laugh I poke and write honest real bits and content. If it didn’t happen it’s not funny.

BO: My girlfriend. She’s hilarious! Quick witted and very intelligent.

MBCBUYB: 10) Anything else you want people to know about you? 

HT: Come see the show!

BO: Yea, they need to come and see me live before ticket prices are expensive. Lol

I can’t wait to share the stage with these great pros. They do comedy with passion. Flicker Bar, Athens, Georgia, 7pm start time. Come see a great lineup talk about the passion.

Here’s another Athens fixture, REM.

The Bends


One of the few things I like about myself is my rejection of conventional attitudes and cultural projections of what a man should be. I joke a lot that “I’m half a woman” because I’ve heard that all my life and my wife and three daughters playfully mock my lack of traditional manliness.

Recently, all five of us were walking through a big box store and saw a Father’s Day display selling gift ideas for dads. I wanted nothing on the stand. Guns, knives, hunting, fishing, conservative political books, cologne, video games, power tools and various sports memorabilia; I wanted none of it.

I do things around the house like general handyman stuff, cutting the grass and I do watch sports and like superhero things but the only time you’ll see me at a home improvement store is when we absolutely have to fix something.

I’m a reader, writer, comic book collector, vinyl record enthusiast and general intellectual pursuer.

Last week, I was on a construction site for my day job as a project manager for a communications company and my contractor and his crew asked me what I did for hobbies. I wanted to talk about my stand up comedy, book writing, online activities and music and books but something inside me didn’t want to see their eyes roll so I changed the subject and took a fake phone call, like a real man.

The thing I like the most about the four women I live with is despite their mild mockery, they’re totally accepting of who I am. In fact, it wasn’t until eight years ago when we all came together as a family, that I started being the person I wanted to be, despite the unconventional definition.

I’m never been more proud of not feeling guilty about my distance from most of the fellow men, especially those who are fathers. My situation may be non-traditional because the gender roles are, at times, thoroughly reversed, as I’m the sensitive, creative, emo one and the four women I live with like to make me cry.

One thing I’m focusing on this Father’s Day is how confident, smart, interesting and centered my three girls, aged 20, 12 and 11, are and how comfortable they seem to be with their weird dad.

When you find people who “get” you, regardless of your quirks, differences and neuroses, it’s special. My first Father’s day gift was The Bends, Radiohead’s epic 1995 album, on vinyl. That means my girls do actually listen to me, or they want something the day after Father’s Day.

I’ll keep the car gassed and my debit card close.

Here’s my second favorite band of all-time with the title track to one of my favorite records.

Happy Father’s Day.

It Was A Good Day

ak bourn headhsot
One of the cool things about being a comedian, or trying to be one, is you get to meet interesting people you can’t help but root for, like AK Bjorn.
I’ve met him several times at open mics and watched him make entire rooms laugh. After talking to him, we seemed to have a lot in common. I interviewed him for the Athens, Georgia Flicker Bar Showcase, an event he’ll headline Monday, May 30th at 7pm.
ak bourn headhsot
MBCBUYB: How long have you been doing stand up?
AK Bjorn: always have a hard time getting that timeline right.  Do you count first time performing? The first big crowd? First time I took stand up classes? I look at the first time I performed in front of a crowd of about 200 people and completely bombed. That’s when I decided that I wanted to be better.
MBCBUYB : What led you to get on stage?
AK Bjorn: There were a few factors that lead me to the stage.  First I was ALWAYS a fan of stand up.  Comedy Central used to be The Comedy Channel back in the 90s. Early evenings a show came on call The A-List.  One of the first jokes I heard that really cracked me up was from A Whitney Brown.  His opener was, “Hi, I’m A Whitney Brown, I hope to one day be THE Whitney Brown…”  In my mid 20s I got married and then divorced and some friends took me to Caroline’s in NYC.  Waiting for the show to start they advertised comedy classes.  It had never occurred to me that you could take a class on being a stand up.  So I guess the short answer is that I took stand up seriously as a way to cope with the stress of the divorce. 
MBCBUYB : Tell me about your first time doing stand up.
AK Bjorn: Ok, so before the classes and before I had ever been to Caroline’s I knew I wanted to try it out.  A guy I knew said that he would give me 5 min at a bar before the music started.  My biggest laugh came from, “Wow, this is the longest 5 min of my life!” They should have never laughed because I was hooked ever since.
MBCBUYB : Who are some of your comedy influences and why?
AK Bjorn: Man, that is a long list because there are so many pieces of different styles that I latch on to.  The big names like Dave Chappelle and Louis CK have a very honest and effortless delivery that I shoot for but as of now come up a little short.  Then you have John Mulaney who I listened to over and over to slow myself down when I was rushing bits.  All three are just spot on story tellers. Then you have Baron Vaughn who is a real deal performer.  He reminds me to lay everything on the stage no matter how big or how small the crowd is.  Then there is Mia Jackson and Clayton English.  Two very funny but very humble people.  I know people who get legit angry when Mia isn’t mentioned in the top 5 funniest female comics.   
MBCBUYB : Do you do anything else artistic besides comedy?
AK Bjorn: I play the piano, badly.  I play the trumpet, badly.  I did get into graphic design a few years ago as a hobby and that has gotten me a few bucks for gas money here and there.  I also filmed and edited two seasons of a web series called Comedians Against Humanity.  It’s comedians playing Cards Against Humanity.
MBCBUYB : What do you think you’ll do with comedy in the future, goal-wise?
AK Bjorn: Did my wife put you up to this? I spent a long time not knowing and just really wanting to be good at being a stand up comic but knowing that long term it’s hard to support a family like that.  If I could get a gig as a writer or producer or something like that.  That’s what Comedians Against Humanity was supposed to be for, you know? Get my feet wet, show I have ideas that can be executed and completed. 
MBCBUYB: What do you think of the comedy scenes in Athens? In Atlanta?
AK Bjorn : I think they both have great scenes.  Athens has become a bit of a feeder scene for Atlanta? I seen several comics get good Athens and blow up in Atlanta. Rob Haze and Caleb Synan come to mind. Both went on to Last Comic Standing.  “People” are just now realizing that Atlanta has a great scene but I moved down here from NYC about 6 years ago specifically for the scene. The creativity and range of shows that go on are incredible.  Underwear show, storyteller show, stand up/improv hybrid shows, and a slew of just regular open mics and booked shows.  I say you could put Atlanta on the same level as LA and NY.  In the same way that Athens has feed Atlanta, Atlanta has feed both of those cities. 
MBCBUYB : How would you describe yourself as a comedian to someone who hasn’t seen you?
AK Bjorn : That’s really hard.  If you look in a mirror and describe yourself, that can be really different than how let’s say 5 strangers describe you.  The best way I can think of Black Alt. So, not “Urban” though I have done urban clubs, and I do really well in mainstream rooms too.  I guess my material is geared towards presenting the black experience to white people so “black alternative”. 
MBCBUYB: What makes you laugh?
AK Bjorn : Not what, but who, and that’s my wife. Honestly, she might be the funniest person in the house.  She does impersonations, characters, one liners, all of that, but has no desire to perform on stage.  If I’m having a down day, she goes into her bag of “What makes A.K. laugh” and pulls it out in a heart beat.  It’s like I have my own personal situation specific comedian at all times.
Check out AK Bjorn Monday night at Flicker Bar in Athens, Georgia at 7pm. It will be a good day, even though, technically, you’ll have to use your AK.
Here’s Ice Cube.

All For One



“Fifteen hundred dollars? Are you kidding me, Tom?”

She paced the bedroom in anger, looking at the bank charges on her phone. Tom stepped to the tall redhead but sighed searching for the right response. She continued.

“It was supposed to be an oil change and your stupid lefty card!”

He froze and looked down at the hunter green berber carpet. She dropped her broad shoulders and chewed on her upper lip.

“Tom baby, I’m sorry. This isn’t your fault and I didn’t mean the thing about the card. You’re….”

Tom raised his left hand and fought back tears. He stayed in guilt over the past few years of their lives together.

“Suzanne, it’s fine. It was a shakedown but I wasn’t prepared for it. Honey, I should’ve used our back channels to get the car serviced. I wasn’t…”

Suzanne stopped him by leaning in and touching his right hand. She pulled Tom in for a hug. He pulled back then moved in for a light kiss on the lips. He felt her phone vibrate against his left shoulder. She looked at the text message and then lost control of her legs, falling against their queen sized bed.

“What is it Suz?”

He took the phone from her hand and read the words.

“Going to Piedmont for the civil rights protest. I know. I know. But I’m still going.”

It was from their oldest daughter, Danielle, a law school student in Atlanta, about 30 miles from their home.

“I have to go get her, Suzanne. With her record and civil disobedience being banned in the city after the Christmas Day Massacre, anything could happen to her.”

Suzanne wiped away tears from her cheeks, her fair skin flush from emotion.

“I can’t go with you. The other girls will be home from their friends’ party in less than an hour. Plus, it’s Saturday and the family travel restrictions on people like us will put us all in holding.”

Tom walked to a dresser a few feet from their bed. He opened the top drawer then pulled five hundred dollars cash and a stun gun.

“I’ll take care of it. If something happens, I’ll go down for her and they’ll let her go on a parent violation since she’s still in law school on our dime. Then she can use her law office contacts from there. Call Joanna and tell her what’s happening. She’ll be our back channel if it gets bad. This is Plan C. We’ve gone over it dozens of times.

He walked to the threshold of the bedroom then felt her soft hands on his. He turned and kissed her. Their lips released.

“I’ll try to make this as okay as possible. Joanna will help you if it doesn’t work out. I love you.”

Suzanne pushed a button next to the light switch and their television monitor showed a picture of their daughter’s apartment.

“Tom, the security system’s been activated. She’s left the complex. It the campus perimeter is blocked, pay off a Yellow driver. They got me through the police barricade last time. He looked at her and shrugged.

“Yeah well, I’m not as pretty as you so it may take more than a twenty. I may have to say Heil Trump or something.”

They both laughed then dropped their smiles.

“Suzanne, our family is all we have, I’ll keep us as one.”


****blogger’s note****

This is part 2 of many more to come of a serialized fiction series about life under a Trump Presidency.

Here’s the Stone Roses.

House Of Cards


“Hit me”, he murmured to the tall, blonde Trump Mart black jack dealer as he waited for his car to be serviced and his License and Registration Card to be renewed. Her long, slender fingers placed a nine of clubs next to his three of hearts and eight of diamonds, he made no eye contact when he mouthed “stay”.

“Runson, Thomas Runson!” The Trump Mart Registration clerk called from the other room.

The dealer showed a ten and an eight. He smiled at his bet of thirty dollars. He’d gotten lucky enough to pay for his card.

The dealer spoke in broken English, her Eastern European accent inquired, “Uhgint sir, maybay you vin your cah servishing?

He rolled his eyes, collected his debit card with a picture of the current President and namesake of the store he was inside, then replied.

“No, I don’t gamble, that much.”

As he walked to the registration counter, he recognized the clerk. His face was familiar but he couldn’t recall a name.

“Oh my God, Tom Runson! There’s so few people like you around here, these days, I should’ve known I’d run into you, here.”

Tom measured his response. If he said the wrong thing, the clerk could rescind his registration and make his life as someone on the wrong end of his state’s political spectrum, very difficult.

“Hey, it’s been a long time, what, twenty or so years?”

The man took over the conversation.

“Nineteen-ninety damn seven, Tom. I saw you at Kip Perryman’s wedding. We’re in 2020 now, old man. How the hell are you?’

Tom’s memory cleared. The man’s first name came to him.

“Good to see you, Steve. Since you hold my life in your hands, you don’t need to know much about me. Are you still married? How many kids?”

Steve ran his thick fingers over a balding head of gray and black hair.

“Three boys, all out of high school. One’s in the Army in Brownsville, Texas helping build that great wall we need. Another one’s learning electrical work over at the tech school in town. The other one’s like you. He thinks college is going to do something for him. But hell, I ain’t paying for it, he is. I’m on wife number three, but dang it if she don’t get her act together I may be looking for another one, kind of like our great President, Mr. Trump.”

Steve’s smirk was aggressive, cocky but Tom wasn’t taking the bait. Steve handed over Tom’s card.

License Number 45730829

Thomas Bruce Runson

123 Crooked Bend Way

Daily, Georgia 30715

Birthdate: September 9, 1970

Height, Weight, Eyes, Hair: 5’8 175 lbs brown hair brown eyes

Sexual Orientation: Straight

Marital Status : Married, to a woman

Political Affiliation – Liberal Democrat

Occupation: Communications

Watch List Status : 7.4

He swallowed hard, then replied.

“Good luck, best wishes to the college kid.”

Tom turned and let out a deep breath. Encounters with Trump Mart employees could hurt people with his politics and activism.

He opened the door to the garage and saw his next problem. Two mechanics stood under his Honda Pilot Hybrid, with mischievous grins. Tom shrugged and braced for bad news.

“Mr. Runson, one of these days, you people are going to learn these cars are crap. We found a crack in your head gasket, You ain’t going nowhere, today.”

Tom’s car had less than twenty-five thousand miles on it. This was a shakedown. His hands became fists and white formed in his knuckles.

“Just tell me how much you’re charging me and who’s ordering me a rental. I’m going to play cards.”

*****blogger’s note*****

Every other day for the next six months, 180 days, until the American Presidential election, I’ll be serializing a dystopian story set in the year 2020, during a Trump administration. Enjoy.

Here’s Radiohead’s House Of Cards.