Rejected Writing: Cards Against Humanity

When I shared my first rejected writing post a month ago, I completely forgot to list one! **cracks knuckles like a cartoon maestro, breathily exhales on them, rubs them on shirt…all the knuckle gesture clichĂ©s…** That’s right: So many people and places (don’t) want to pick up what I’m throwing down, I easily lose COUNT, son!!

Last summer, Cards Against Humanity—aka The Party Game of the 20-10s aka NSFW ‘Apples to Apples’ aka smart internet stunt factory (…I mean, if you don’t know what CAH is, this post really isn’t for you. It’s okay. You’ll be fine.)—put out a call for contributing writers.

More than one person shared the link with me, so I couldn’t not enter. Plus, once I started looking at the world through CAH-colored glasses, card ideas showed up everywhere. (Fun how our brains work that way.)

And I did it! Here’s proof!

Cards Against Humanity rejection

The assignment was simple: Come up with suggestions for 5 Black Cards (the questions) and 15 White Cards (the answers). As predicted in the auto-reply email above, I never heard from them again.

If any of the cards below show up in a future expansion pack, the next time you find yourself at a party where “oh, I guess this is happening again…okay sure,” I want you to marvel at the formidable power of coincidence and the undeniable phenomenon of parallel thinking.

There are no new ideas. Mark Twain said that I think. (“Some Dumb English Major Quoting Mark Twain” would make a just-okay white card. The kind that you keep in your pile until you absolutely have to use it. Like, your other choices are a little too ironically racist.)

Cards Against Humanity

White Cards

  • The Lisa Frank Panda living his truth.
  • The exquisite pain of 1,000 McSweeney’s rejections.
  • A Magnum™ condom filled with Goldfish® crackers.
  • Speaking in tongues.
  • Young Joe Biden.
  • Pooh Bear’s chubby yellow dick stuck in a beehive.
  • Really fine people on both sides.
  • The one white card you never want to use.
  • Oprah’s insatiable love of bread.
  • School picture day.
  • Stefan Urquelle.
  • Front butt.
  • That beautiful bean footage.
  • The healing power of John Krasinski’s beard.
  • Youth Pastor side hug.

Black Cards

  • You is kind. You is smart. You is _______.
  • My mom’s secret Pinterest board is full of _____.
  • Is that a banana in your pocket or are you just happy to see _______.
  • Take me to ______ or lose me forever.
  • When the youths stopped eating Tide PODS®, they moved on to ______.

Rejected Writing: You Never Forget Your First Time

Helluva news day here in Missouri. I have 1,000 things to say and also want to say nothing at all. Somewhere in between those two extremes, I feel like sharing this list I wrote in my Second City satire class two years ago.

It’s the very first thing I submitted to McSweeney’s, which means, of course, it was also my very first NOPE: “Appreciate your considering us for this one, but I’m afraid I’m going to pass.” **Italian Chef Kiss Gesture** Pure uncut rejection. Soak it up. Put it in a jar, then open it and have a nice long whiff the next time you want to feel extra bad about yourself. Hurts. So. Good.

Anyway. I wrote this piece to poke a little fun at abstinence-only sex education and the True Love Waits culture I grew up in as a conservative Christian kid in SWMO. (Which, oh boy did I ever. I could say 1,000 things.) 

We could all use a laugh today. Why not laugh at this.

True Love Waits Dates

True Love Waits Dates: Abstain From Sex, Not Fun!

Mini Golf!

This activity was made for date night—low on temptation but high on fun! Be cautious: Bending over that many times might cause him to think impure thoughts. Politely ask your date to pick up the ball for you. But don’t say “ball” and whatever you do, don’t pick a blue one.

Ice Skating!

This one’s a no-boner no-brainer: A few laps around the rink can literally cool your urges, plus all that awkward flailing is an Olympic-size turnoff. Hot tip: make sure your outfit isn’t too short, too tight or too sparkly—anything that might remind your date of ice dancing, the sexiest of all sports.

Bowling!

Nothing blows off the steam of sexual tension like physical exertion with no actual person-to-person contact, and also wearing rented shoes. Other people’s feet: Gross. Careful: Avoid making jokes about fingers in holes. Dirty jokes are the devil’s playground.

Worship Sesh Group Hang!

Oh-M-Gosh, you guys. It’s so fun to sit in a circle in Corey’s parents’ basement and praise the Lord on a Friday night! Just don’t stare too closely at Corey while he plays acoustic guitar. Sinewy forearms are also the devil’s playground.

Theme Park!

There’s no cuter date than a theme park: cotton candy, carnival games and, my favorite, the RIDES. It’s easy to take your mind off sex while you’re sweating and screaming til you almost can’t catch your breath. And when it’s over, you can’t wait to do it again!

School Dance!

JK. The only thing more arousing than ice dancing is actual dancing. Like our youth pastor always says: You can’t “save room for Jesus” if you’re burning in hell.

Picnic!

Probably the only safe way to sit on a blanket together, a picnic is a super chill time to bond with your boyfriend. It’s important to practice safe snacks, so avoid sexy foods like hot dogs, bananas, strawberries, chocolate, whipped cream, goldfish crackers…know what? Maybe food is a bad idea. Sit on a blanket and talk about how fun it’ll be to picnic once you’re married.

Movie Night!

Why not invite your small group over for movie night? This way you can keep the lights on and fast-forward through any brief nudity or sexual situations. Hollywood wants to get you pregnant, so you have to be on your guard. Even Disney movies aren’t safe. We tried watching Frozen and I couldn’t stop thinking about Meryl Davis and Charlie White looking deep into each other’s eyes during a difficult step sequence. I felt guilty for days.

Under-the-shirt, over-the-bra stuff in his parents’ van!

After you’ve been dating for a few weeks and establishing healthy boundaries, it’s cool to let yourselves grow your relationship through a little one-on-one time in Roger and Sheryl’s Aerostar. Turns out, the Bible doesn’t say anything about dry humping! Crazy, right?

Rejected Writing: Brother Steve’s Trump-Day School

I haven’t blogged in 896 days. November 12, 2016. My longest blog-dry-spell since I started this thing in January 2009.

What happened, one might wonder, in November 2016 that could zap my creativity and drain the energy and optimism it takes to be funny online? Dunno. Hard to put my finger on it.

Fast forward 895 days: Yesterday I got rejected by McSweeney’s. AGAIN. This is only 5 times over a year and a half. I really could/should try more often, and eventually something will stick. Still, it’s hard not to get discouraged, even though I know comedy and writing are both lifelong commitments to rejection and self-doubt. (I know, I knoooooooow.)

Sidebar: It was super delightful to discover that some of my coworkers had never heard of McSweeney’s. These are not dumb people, just people who aren’t English-major-comedy-dweebs and choose to do other things with their time online. Refreshing. I’m fine without it. Just fine.

I have also been rejected by bigger fish—it’s true! In the last 3 years or so, I’ve racked up quite the Claim to Shame:

  • NBC Late Night Writers Workshop
  • The Onion / ClickHole
  • Late Show with Stephen Colbert
  • Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!

All these aspiration-inducing entities took a look at my stuff (if I’m lucky, I should say, somebody took a look) and said: Nah. What a privilege it is to be rejected by the best! That’s mostly not sarcasm!

The thing is: With every packet I’ve written, I’ve truly, thoroughly enjoyed the process. Even though it’s taking my passion and turning it into high-stakes homework. I enjoy doing it, and I always feel good about what I turn in. That has to count for something.

To that end, I think I’ve found a way to revive the old blog. At least for a while. My creative joie de vivre may be wrung-out by life in a post-Nov-2016 world, and my priorities and free time look different than they did 10 years ago, but I do have quite the stockpile of funny stuff taking up space in my Google Docs.

Since the big guys (so far) don’t want it, I can share it with you.

This piece is from my Colbert packet, June 2016. (Oh how innocent and hopeful we were then!) Here’s the assignment for a Topical News Segment, which I feel fine sharing since it’s already online elsewhere:

In our topical news segments, we dig a little more into the news. Whether it be a deeper look at a story, or framing a news item in a larger context. Because these are often at the desk, we can include a lot more elements, such as over-the-shoulder graphics (OTSs), more elaborate props, or even characters that emerge from beneath Stephen’s desk.

Overall, rather than merely dissecting a story, we like to have some game or destination to help illuminate it. For example, if somebody in the news says something ridiculous (we’re looking at you Kanye), Stephen will embody those traits and heighten them to an outrageous level. Or we might conclude with a fake ad, or a call for the audience at home to do something, a song, or a huge string of sandwich puns. The script should feel like it builds to something that encapsulates what you’ve just told. Think of it as taking the news apart and using the parts to build something even crazier.

Ahem… here we go…

Brother Steve's Trump-Day School

ONE TOPICAL NEWS SEGMENT: Brother Steve’s Trump-Day School

(Stephen)
Donald Trump’s relationship with the Religious Right—much like his relationship with any group of any type of people—has been at times a rocky one.

It seems he may have rolled away the stone on a brand new beginning with evangelical Christian leaders, and the Man Upstairs Himself.

But not too far upstairs, even god can’t afford that Trump Tower penthouse.

According to an exclusive interview with the religious blog Godfactor.com, conservative leader Dr. James Dobson has welcomed Trump as the newest recruit in the Salvation’ed Army.

Yes, Focus on the Family founder—and kindly stock photo optometrist—James Dobson…
[TAKE: OTS: James Dobson headshot]
…has confirmed Trump’s recent salvation:

[TAKE: SOT: James Dobson interview, Audio with text onscreen –
(1:48) “He did accept a personal relationship with Christ. I know the person who led him to Christ, and that’s fairly recent. (FLASH 2:07) I believe he really made a commitment, but he is a baby Christian. We all need to be praying for him.”]

Yes, Donald Trump is a newborn Christian.
And like any baby, he speaks mostly in gibberish, is obsessed with breasts, and has trouble grasping things with his tiny, itty-bitty, stunted…emotional intelligence.

Throughout his campaign, Trump has evaded questions about his religious beliefs, presumably because that’s a topic off-limits in polite conversation.

[TAKE: SOT: Donald Trump, 8/26/15 interview: “I wouldn’t want to get into it. Because to me, it’s very personal. […] The bible means a lot to me, but I don’t want to get into specifics.”]

He doesn’t want to talk specifics—much like your coworker who
(Act out with air quotes)
“loves Game of Thrones” but can never articulate why.
(Act out)
I guess… the part… with dragons?

Yes, I’m afraid little Donny’s Goo-Goo Gaa-God is showing. And I, for one, don’t want to leave a baby on his own, flailing his tiny hands about in search of object permanence.

So come on in, boys and girls. It’s time for:

Brother Steve’s Trump-Day School

[TAKE: FF: MOCKUP: Trump-Day School logo: Title letters made out of felt, like an elementary school craft project.]

Welcome to Trump-Day School. I’m Brother Steve, and today we’re going to have some fun learning what it means to be a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N.

First, let’s start with the good book itself. Did you know the bible is made up of 66
books? That’s way too many for one person to read! So we should focus on:

  • Close to your heart, of course, Two Corinthians.
  • I think you’d also enjoy Numbers and “Job,”
    (Pronounce incorrectly, then whisper) It’s actually Jōb.
  • And finally, Judges. Seems like it could be helpful to see what the good lord has to say about that.

[TAKE: SOUND EFFECT: Friendly chime]
Oh! That means it’s time for us to sing a song!

(Stephen begins singing classic Sunday School tunes, then thinks better of each one.)

  • He’s got the whole world in his hands …should probably stay away from that one.
  • Father Abraham had many sons …but technically he was an immigrant.
    Let’s just stick with a classic:
  • Jesus Loves Me …that’s right, you are very big with The Deities!

(Sings, to the tune of Jesus Loves Me)

Jesus loves you, yes it’s true,
Cuz the voters want him to.
Other dummies must be wrong,
They are weak but you are strong.
Yes, Jesus loves you! James Dobson told me so.

[TAKE: SOUND EFFECT: Friendly chime]
Oh! That means it’s time for snack.

(Stephen is handed a grape juice box and small plate of animal crackers from under the desk.)

(Sing-song, hands together in prayer)
Lord we thank you for this snack. Brought to us by our Super PAC.
Please bless this food to make us wise, and not go straight onto our thighs. Amen.

(He quickly throws back some crackers, and drains the juice box, tossing it behind him.)

Now it’s memory verse time!

(Stephen pulls a giant, gold-trimmed bible from beneath the desk.)

Today we’ll learn Matthew chapter 19, verse 21:

Jesus said, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

(Stephen looks up)
We’ll have to work on that one. Baby steps for baby Christians!

[TAKE: SOUND EFFECT: Friendly chime]
Oh! I’m afraid that means it’s time for us to go.

I’ll see you next week, when we’ll learn all about how Joshua made the walls come tumbling down using just his trumpet. A cautionary tale.

***