Moses Storm: Trash White (2022) | Transcript

In his wildly original debut special, Storm gets unflinchingly personal about his childhood spent dumpster diving in extreme poverty - despite looking like he was conceived at an Ivy League a cappella concert.
Moses Storm: Trash White

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Crazy will always beat scary. Do you know what I mean by that? It’s not a great thesis. It’s not profound, but legitimately, that is the closest I have come to forgiveness in my life. So for most of my life, my mom was a single parent. Five kids. No child support. We were on food stamps. When those ran out, we would dumpster dive for food. A lot of people find it hard to believe that I was ever that poor, ’cause look at this shit. [laughter] Like, not only do I look like, “Meh, everything just, like, worked out.” I look like the kind of, like, white, wealthy– I look like I was conceived in an Ivy League a capella concert. [laughter]

[cheers and applause]

You know what I mean? Where it is, like, that…

♪ Shimmy-doo-wop, my dad owns every university ♪
♪ Shimmy-doo-wop, what is adversity? ♪

It’s not just rich either, right? It is, like, evil rich, right? It’s like a “Game of Thrones” King Joffrey type of rich. It looks like I found a way to monetize human suffering. I run a for-profit private prison, or even worse, I have a YouTube prank channel, where it’s like, uh, they all look like me. It’s a guy committing, like, a crime on camera. He’s like, “What is the prank, bro? What’s up? I’m Tyler, and today, we’re about to steal this old woman’s insulin.” [laughter] I grew up very poor in a big family. One summer, my two sisters, they go to this cheerleading day camp that’s discounted for low-income people, because the woman that runs it is very religious. About five minutes up the road is a boys basketball camp that I really wanted to go to. But because my mom wanted to save that little bit of money, little bit of drive time, she goes, “Oh. Why don’t you just attend the cheerleading camp with your sisters? Basically the same thing.” [laughter] Huh? No, those are two wildly different things. That’s like if you were in a restaurant, and you tried to order a Coke, and the server was like, “Actually, we don’t have Coke, but is it okay if I just frame you for arson? In my head, it’s the same thing.” 8 years old, no control over my life, I go to this cheer camp. I was like, you know what I’ll do? I’ll just lay low all summer. I won’t participate in any of the cheers. I’ll be in the back. Right? We’ve seen male cheerleaders before. They’re like the spotter. I’ll do that. Turns out, it’s pretty hard to lay low at a cheer camp when you are not only the only boy out of 37 girls, but you are also the smallest of all the girls. [laughter] Why is that important? Smallest girl in every cheer squad is what’s known as the…

AUDIENCE: Flyer!

The flyer. So the flyer is the delicate little angel that’s always getting tossed up in the air…

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…because her delicate, like, bird bones are too dangerous to support anyone and is the safest to be thrown by minors. Unprofessional minors, by the way. This isn’t like Netflix “Cheer” quality girls. This is day camp quality girls. You know what that means? Day camp? These girls don’t even have the heart and commitment to go to a sleepaway camp. They’re just stopping by at 2 p.m. to drop me on a rubber mat that’s somehow harder than the floor? Do you even want this, Marisa? Because right now you’re trying to make Nationals with a real Regionals attitude.

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So the whole time that I’m being… [panting and gasping] [grunts] …reluctantly tossed in the air, our cheer instructor, Mrs. Schmidt, is yelling at me, “Smile! You’re at the top of a pyramid, not the top of the cross!” [laughter] She’s very religious. Every time that the girls would drop me, which happened… all of the time, Mrs. Schmidt would have all the girls crowd around me in a semicircle, and they would all start clapping. They would go… [chanting] “Make noise, make noise. Make nose, make noise.” So not a hospital. If anything, just a way to sort of drown out any screams of pain in case the janitor comes by, like, “Nothing to see here! Business as usual!” Roll my body up in a rubber mat and then throw me into a swamp. But eventually I make it to the boys basketball camp because at the end of the summer, the big grand finale for us gals… [laughter] …is we get to go up to the boys camp–

AUDIENCE MEMBER: So sad!

…and cheer them–So sad.

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An adult that knew they were on camera for a taping went, “So sad.”

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Thank you.

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Big grand finale for us gals is we get to go up to the boys camp and cheer them on during one of their games. So sad!

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Mrs. Schmidt comes to me, and she goes, “Oh, my God, so you’re gonna laugh.” I’m like, “Fuckin’ try me!” [laughter] “We ordered the uniforms at the beginning of the summer before we knew that you were gonna join us. So all we have are skirts. Don’t worry. I wouldn’t do that to you. Why don’t you just bring a pair of blue shorts from home?” I have an idea. Why don’t you just kill me right where I stand? So I walk up to this boys basketball camp in blue shorts and a top with a neckline that could only be described as not unisex, low sweeping “V,” and because of my delicate, little bird bone frame, it’s–it’s–it’s falling off the shoulder. Little tease for the boys. Ahh. Bitch, you wanna see these chocolates? Mnh-mnh! [laughter] We walk up to the boys basketball camp. Before the boys can even take the court for their game, they’re like, “Get up there! Show ’em what you learned.” We start the boys off with probably our most masculine cheer. [chanting] “All right, boys, show us what you got! Show us what you got, boys, show us what you got!”

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Now I don’t know if you’ve ever had to cheer someone on as they bully you. [laughter] But it’s a lot like if someone shot you and then it was your job to reload their gun for them. Oh, don’t worry. It gets way worse, section that’s not that into it.

[laughter and applause]

Fucking halftime rolls around. Now we have a cheer with participation built in. We have the cheer, goes like this. [chanting] “We got spirit! Yes, we do! We got spirit! How ’bout you?” And the boys are supposed to go, “Yeah!” And we go, “I can’t hear you!” And they go, “Yeah!” even louder. So as the flyer, I have to step right out in front. [chanting] “We got spirit! Yes, we do! We got spirit! How ’bout you?” The boys take this opportunity to yell, “You’re a cheer queer!” And then I have to chime back in with, “I can’t hear you!”

[laughter and applause]

[grunts] “Smile! Not the cross!”

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I didn’t know how to stand up for myself. I was afraid. I was. I was afraid. I didn’t know how to stand up for myself at cheer camp. A lot of fear comes from being poor. If I was doing a modern-day comedy special– you know those ones where it’s like– it’s like more like a Ted Talk than… Your friend asks you, like, “Hey, how was that comedy special? Was it funny?” And you’re like, “It was…important.”

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If I was doing one of those, I would make the argument that poverty is a disease on the very macro level. ‘Cause I do believe that poverty is a disease, and its most sinister symptom is fear. It’s something that I carry with me to this day. If I was doing a modern-day comedy special, I’d make the argument that yes, poverty is a disease. It’s passed down generationally just like a disease. There’s a lower life expectancy for people born below the poverty line. It’s no revelation that poverty is a major stressor, and we know that chronic stress causes damage to the cerebral cortex, the part of your brain that’s in charge of risk/reward, long-term planning. Basically all the tools that would get you out of poverty get damaged by being poor. Trying to dig yourself out of poverty in this country, it’s like trying to fix a scratch on your car by repainting it with a rake. You’ll be like… [makes squeaking sound] That’s–That’s the modern-day comedy special. I do not want to do that. I have nothing of educational value to add to your night. You won’t learn anything. I have legitimately no agenda. I just want to tell you what it feels like to be poor, and what it feels like is fear. How do you create fear in someone? Well, a good way to start is, uh, take away their stability. For most of my life, we lived in a bus. My parents moved us into a bus because I think they were trying to speed up their divorce. If you’re ever, like, with your spouse, and you’re like, “This is taking too long,” uh, move into a vehicle. ‘Cause every time I tell people that we lived in a converted bus growing up, especially in L.A., people are like, “Oh, my God. Cute. I love that for you.” Because I think you are picturing the HGTV version of a bus, where it’s like, uh, it’s like a young couple from Portland. Something’s a little off in their relationship, and they’re always like, “Hi. I’m Tracy, and my husband, also named Tracy… We fixed up this old bus because we stopped having sex, and large construction projects are the only way that I know how to make the time move.”

[laughter]

Those are great. Those buses are great. They’re built with time, money, and sexual frustration that crushes it into a diamond. The bus that my parents built with no skill, no money, I would love to see an HGTV show Realtor try to sell it. You know those ones that have the kind of plastic surgery where it looks like the wind hurts? “All right, Greg, Donovan, I know you were looking for a 2-bedroom, 2-bath. Instead, I wanna show you this no-bedroom, no-bath, hot diesel tube that has more miles on it than we are currently to the sun. Immediately, you’re gonna notice this diesel smell. Uh, I don’t know how carbon monoxide leaks work. I just know that sometimes you’ll be driving, all the air will get wavy, and you’ll wake up in a new state. Uh, mountains now.” This is true. So now I have all this anxiety as an adult, all this fear around waking up and not knowing where I am. [sighs] And I travel a lot for this job. So what I will do is I will say out loud to myself whatever city and state I’m in before I fall asleep. So a couple days ago, I was in Chicago, and I was like, “I’m in Chicago. I’m in Chicago, Illinois.” Okay? Tonight I will say to myself, “I’m in Los Angeles. I’m in Los Angeles, California.” Fine. Sometimes I will forget that someone is in the bed with me. I was in Arizona, and I met this young woman after a show, and we had all of the drinks. Alcohol, uh, juice that makes you rude. And I forgot that she was in the bed next to me. So I just say out loud, “Sedona. I’m in Sedona, Arizona.” [laughter] Very comforting for me. For her, it’s the first act of the horror movie. I’m on my healing journey. She is on “The First 48.” Why does it matter if there’s fear in poor people? Well, the second you start making decisions out of fear, those are stupid decisions, right? You get backed into a corner, and a lot of times, as a poor person, you have to make those decisions, and we’ve somehow muddled that in our culture to think that, “Oh, poor people are stupid” because of these decisions. I just recently found out that I’m–am severely dyslexic and dysgraphic. Uh, it’s a very fancy way to say “illiterate.” If you’re rich in this country, and you not know read good, then automatically we’re like, “Okay, you probably have a learning disability. Let’s look into it. We’ll get you into a program. We’ll get you some Adderall,” and the parents are like, “Whoa, Adderall sounds super dangerous. Isn’t that just like cocaine?” And the government’s like, “No. Cocaine is bad. Adderall is…blue.”

[laughter]

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And then parents are like, “Uh…that sounds good.” I guess give it to every child that even breaks eye contact. [laughter] If you’re poor and you not know read good, then we’re just like, “Oh, yeah, business as usual.” People presume that poor people are stupid so often that when a poor person is not stupid, holy shit, well, then it’s like a whole goddamn movie. It’s like a whole “Good Will Hunting” movie where the entire premise is just, “Ah! Forget aliens in space. Can you imagine a world where this piece of shit that mops the floors understood math? Give it every Oscar.”

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I only… I only recently found out that I’m dyslexic. If you’re not familiar with dyslexia, if you haven’t, like, read up on it, don’t worry. Neither have we. All dyslexia really means is that zero percent of the time is the book better than the movie for me. I-I have never had a movie ruin a book. I have had plenty of very confusing books cleared up thanks to dogshit movies. Thank you, “Percy Jackson.” Thank you, third “Harry Potter” movie.

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Not only… Not only did people think I was stupid growing up, but, uh, adults like yourself all the time would come up to me and ask if I was, in fact, a little lady person. I was a very late bloomer. I didn’t really hit puberty until… hopefully next year. [laughter] I was very free with my wrists as a kid, just like two wet American flags in the sun, and I walked on my toes. I walked on my toes for some reason. So in combination, I-I… I walk like how bells sound. [laughter]

[tune of “Carol of the Bells”]
♪ Bing-ba-da-bing ♪
♪ Bing-ba-da-bing, bing-ba-da-bing ♪

And to make matters even worse, I had this shoulder length long, blond hair. My mom did not know how to cut hair. She was too cheap to pay someone to cut it. So she’s like, “You know what? I’ll just make it exactly like my hair but a little bit shorter, and then that’ll be for boys,” and it’s not. It is the Lizzie McGuire. In fact, it’s this right here.

[audience gasps]

Oh, God! Oh, God!

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Notice the low swooping necklace to accommodate for the puka shell necklace. Remember when you wanted a meth head’s teeth around your neck? “Now…why is it this glowing, platinum blond? You’re not blond now.” Well, this is true. My mom dyed all five of her kids blond because she didn’t want anyone knowing that she herself was not a natural blonde.

[laughter]

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Holy shit. Show’s over. Even a serial killer on the run from the law would be like, “That’s too much. I’ll do the time.” Oh. I was talking to my mom about this, just setting up the special, fact-checking everything, and she goes, “Well, I didn’t just dye your guys’ hair blond for–for–for my sake. I also dyed it blond because we were about to be evicted from a 1-bedroom apartment, and I wanted to make all you five kids look like one kid.” [laughter] [scoffs] That’s worse! That’s way worse! [scoffs] Never, never defend yourself in court. “Your Honor, how could I have committed that hit-and-run when I was across town committing a murder?” [laughter] I look so much like a little lady person. I was once kicked out of a men’s restroom. At 13, I was at an Outback Steakhouse with my mom, not to eat but to steal toilet paper. [laughter] I was always too afraid to steal because I saw my mom constantly get caught. She was a terrible shoplifter. And one time she tried to steal bottles of vitamins from a grocery store. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to steal bottles of vitamins before, but it’s a lot like trying to steal maracas. [laughter] Chh-chh! Chh-chh-chh. Chh-chh! And then she would be surprised when she got caught. “How did they know?” I’m gonna guess they were tipped off by the quinceañera you have going on in your purse.

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I was kicked out of a men’s restroom at 13, Outback Steakhouse with my mom. One of the customers comes in right after me, and he goes, “Whoa! What are you doing? The women’s restroom is the next door over, sweetie.” Okay. We’ve all established what I looked like. But also, at this point, I was already standing at the urinal. [laughter] Well, what did he think I was doing? [laughter] [grunting] Try to…cup it and splash it in? And if I do get it in there, why don’t you let a girl dream? I’m over here, trying to shatter the porcelain ceiling. [laughter] I definitely know I was supposed to be a rich piece of shit because the thing that bothered me the most was the terms for poor people. So if you’re on food stamps like we were, you were called a “food-insecure household.” I never liked that, ’cause “food-insecure”– it… [sighs] it’s too emotional of a word. It just makes, like, a pretty serious issue just sound adorable, like it’s in our heads, like the government’s like, “Oh, come on! Show us your food. Show us.” And I’m like… [laughter] Mnh-mnh. “Come on, show– go and show us that…” Look, I need carbs, not confidence. But it makes us feel better if we can make a systemic issue sound psychological, then it’s like, “I don’t have to deal with it. They can just pull themselves up.” If you’re on food stamps, they don’t call it “food stamps” anymore. Now it’s called SNAP– Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. “SNAP” just sounds like an off-off-off Broadway production of “STOMP,” the musical. “Can’t afford brooms. Don’t wanna get sued. So just snap.” A woman came up to me after a show who essentially looked like if an NPR tote bag was a person. And she was like, “Okay, so– so you were homeless growing up, but you shouldn’t say that you were homeless. It’s, like, derogatory. You should say that you were ‘unhoused.'” And I’m like, “Oh, yeah, sorry I bummed you out with my own personal experience.”

[laughter and applause]

I think it’s just like it’s these half-measures that we do to make ourselves feel better. “Unhoused” doesn’t even make sense. I get that it’s the polite thing to say, but it doesn’t make sense. “Homeless” makes sense. We had a home, and then we had less. “Unhoused”–that sounds like another HGTV show. “Tracy and Tracy realized that the bus wasn’t their problem. The problem was Tracy.” “I’ve tasted a gun before. I didn’t pull the trigger, but it hit one of my fillings, and I liked it.” [laughter] “So now they’re trying to get unhoused.” [laughter] You can’t buy everything you want on food stamps, right? And even when we would buy things that are not, like, food stamp-approved, we would still get the shitty poor person version of it. Anytime we wanted ice cream, my mom would buy us that giant, clear value bucket of ice cream. Did you ever get those? You know what I mean?

[cheers and applause]

Where, like, you read it, it’s like too cheap to even be a real flavor? You read it, it’s like, “We got white, and we got darker white!” What’s darker white? Is that supposed to be vanilla bean? Why are there pinto beans in there? And this is true. My mom only bought us that ice cream bucket because she wanted the actual bucket. At Walmart, a mopping bucket costs $6.99. Value bucket filled with ice cream–$4.99. It was cheaper than an empty bucket. [laughter] Do you know how shitty your ice cream has to be to actually depreciate the value of an empty bucket? You’ll be all, “I don’t want that bucket if that ice cream’s even touched it. It might ruin my dirty mop water.” [laughter] Now the truth about food stamps is it’s a broken system. You pay too much for it as a taxpayer. Also, for the families that are on it, it’s not enough. You always run out of food stamps. So what most families do is they, one, just won’t eat when they run out, or they’ll go to a food bank and get the dented cans. [sighs] It is… I’ll get off it, but it did seem suspicious that all of the cans were dented. All of them? It’s like, are they doing that? Or how are you guys shopping? You’re like, “What is this? Low-sodium corn?” “Get out of here!”

[laughter and applause]

If you don’t wanna do that, you don’t want the pandering programs, you can take a little agency over your life. Yeah, it’s humiliating, but you can dumpster dive for food. Whatever the grocery store throws out that’s expired or is about to expire, we would take that and… [sighs] I just hated my job dumpster diving. I-I had to be the lookout. I was the smallest, so I couldn’t be in the cool-ass dumpster with my siblings. I had to be the lookout. Like, that’s the worst job in a heist movie. I’m not even the lookout for something cool like cash or diamonds. I’m the lookout for garbage, something we’ve all unanimously decided we do not want to look at. So there’s no job. Every once in a while, a car would drive by, and then I would just be out front, just…

[laughter and applause]

The face of dumpster diving– really, the flyer of dumpster diving. [chanting] E., E. coli, E., E., E. coli!

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That’s what people wanna know. That’s the next question, right? Did we ever get sick eating from the dumpster? Of course. When I was 9 years old, we were living in this really terrible part of Florida called Florida and…

[laughter] Ha ha, no one’s ever made that joke before. [laughter] Anytime we wanted to go swimming, we couldn’t afford our own pool, what we would do is we would break into a condo community or an apartment complex, or even a country club in an upscale area, pretend we lived where you live so we could use your pool. Some of you know this as a crime. We were about to break into the nicest pool in Florida– Bluewater Bay. Only downside of Bluewater Bay is they had a shit-ton of security to the point where it made me mad how much security there was. There was a guard shack security guard, a roaming security guard, and just a pool security guard. My mom was all about doubling up, not just cheer camp and basketball camp. So she was like, “Okay, we’re gonna drive all the way out to this nice neighborhood. First, we’re gonna stop off at their grocery store dumpster, see what these richies are throwing out.” [laughter] I had never seen anything like it. This grocery store’s freezers went down, so they threw out their entire ice cream department at once. Every kind of name-brand non-bucket ice cream is now in three large blue trash bags sitting in this dumpster– Hershey’s, Klondike, whatever the fuck sherbert is supposed to be. My four siblings and I, we waste no time, right there, back of the store, just start shoveling half-melted ice cream into our face as fast as possible, just like little raccoons before this all melts. [laughter] And I feel that judgment from the crowd. “Gross! You’re gonna eat dumpster ice cream?” Yeah. It’s ice cream. Do you know how good ice cream is? Ice cream is so good, it’s the only food that all of us in this room will willingly eat out of a stranger’s windowless van.

[laughter and applause]

And we’re excited about it! Oh, yay! It’s the ice cream man! Send the kids alone! Surely that’ll be safe. He is only playing the world’s scariest clown music. Dressed in all white. What kind of pervert dresses in all white? [laughter]

[cheers and applause]

So my four siblings and I waste no time. We polish off three large trash bags of ice cream between the 5 of us in under 15 minutes. I don’t know if you’ve ever had to speed-eat dairy in the sun. [laughter] We are not doing well. Have you ever been– have you ever been so full that you feel it in your neck? [gulps] Ahh. It’s like every burp is so high stakes. Every–Every burp is a contraction for the barf baby that you’re about to deliver. Like, it’s kicking. It has a pulse. Like, if I lived in Texas right now, it’d be illegal to throw this up.

[cheers and applause]

[imitates Southern accent] “That baby’s a person there. I’ll snitch on you.”

[applause]

So my mom, thank God, being the one adult in this whole situation, gets a look at us and is like, “Okay, you guys do not look well, so pool day… is still definitely on. I’m not driving back this way again. Rally. Let’s go.” I get to this pool. It is packed with other families. So all the security guards are out– the guard shack security guard, the roaming security guard, and just the pool security guard. My mom is like, “Okay, look at me. Look at me. Don’t freak out. Just stick with the regular plan of breaking into one of these pools. Every kid spreads out as far as possible. One by one, you enter the pool from different sides. When it’s safe, you can meet in the middle. We’re not gonna flash mob people with poverty.” [laughter] But the second that I jump in on my side of the pool, I know that I’m gonna vomit. [laughter] so my plan is to just put my mouth under the water so it won’t make a sound, and then just… [imitates vomiting] So–So much. It looked like I had eaten nothing but 700 vanilla lava lamps. The amount that came out was just like, oh, my God. I think I figured out how they make darker white. This kid with red hair– he comes to the surface of the pool, and he goes, “Oh, my God!” Because he has a full IMAX 3-D experience below. That causes my older brother Jonah, who was already… [gags] not doing well– he turns–he sees me, and then he starts vomiting. Because vomiting is a lot like those inspirational quotes that white girls will post online– very contagious and embarrassing when it slips out of your mouth in public. So he just starts… [gags] “If you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best.” That triggers my two sisters over here to just… [gags] “Shoot for the moon. You might land amongst the stars.” And then finally, my older brother David just… [imitates vomiting] “If you want a rainbow, you’re gonna have to put up with some rain.” So now…

[cheers and applause]

There are five kids simultaneously inspiring the shit out of one pool, which turns out is way too many kids to be throwing up at once. I know that because the other parents at this pool are now freaking the fuck out. Because we are all so far spread out in this pool, it doesn’t look like some isolated incident. In their minds, it looks like some sort of violent supervirus has swept over the entire pool, causing kids to explode. Kids are screaming. Parents are pulling their kids out by the arms. There’s kids throwing up that didn’t even eat trash bags of ice cream. Fuck is your excuse?

[cheers and applause]

I get out of the pool. The entire pool is ruined. And I remember just thinking to myself, “Man…this place needs better security.” [laughter]

[cheers and applause]

I think the common misconception is that everyone on food stamps is just sitting around, waiting to collect a welfare check and ruining pools. In my personal memory, my mom was always in this constant manic state to provide for us– all these schemes that we’d end up losing more money on, than if she just got a minimum wage job. My earliest memory of this is in 1992, Bob Saget came on TV and introduced a show called “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” On this show, if you’re familiar, people would send in, like, their amateur tapes of, like, bloopers on a home video. Someone fell down. Someone’s playing wiffle ball and got hit in the nuts. At the end of the show, the funniest video would– it’s a very exciting show if you haven’t seen it, ’cause they–they control the video. It’s like watching someone else watch YouTube. [laughter] End of the show, the funniest video would win 10 grand. Uh, and then Bob Saget would, like, do– This is not–this probably won’t make the special, but just for you guys, um… [chuckles] I was rewatching it to, like, prep for this, and for some reason, all of Bob Saget’s improv– he would, like, do… [nasal voice] Ah. [normal voice] …voices over the clips– it was all just about his grandma to the point where I’m like, like, some kid would get, like, you know, pulled out of frame, like, “This kid got yanked harder than my grandma.” Like… I’m worried about– like, in a real way, I’m worried about his grandma.

[laughter and applause]

So most people heard this concept of “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” and they were like, “Oh, that’s a fun way to pass the time in between Fentanyl doses.” [laughter] My mom heard this, and she took it as a direct and personal job offer. “Okay, Bob Saget, I will make you this funny video that you require. You will give me your 10 grand.” Every single weekend, we would rent a camera, two 6-hour tapes, and we would shoot fake, staged bits in the hopes of scamming the show out of 10 grand. Usually it’s like a happy accident, like, whoa, hit in the nuts. But my mom was like, “No, we can engineer this. We’re gonna do highbrow non-nut humor.” One day, she gets an idea that’s gonna win us the 10 grand. Here’s the bit. All of us kids are gonna be in the kitchen, making cookies, right? And halfway through, 2-year-old Moses… Huh…is going to accidentally drop an egg off of the countertop–whoops– and it’s gonna land on my sister’s head, who is sitting just below. Judging by this audience’s response, it’s a killer bit. [laughter] Anyone that’s silent is going, “How come I didn’t think of that? Egg on the head. Egg on the face.” Two things are standing in my mom’s way between her and the 10 grand. The first is that her very young children do not understand this bit at all. No concept of, like, a joke, a prank, or pretend. A lot of us do with number two. She was a very strict, religious parent that we were a little afraid of. So when she told my 2-year-old brain, “Hey, you’re supposed to accidentally–” Oxymoron– “…drop an egg on your sister’s head,” my brain exploded. I was like, “This is some kind of trap. Why is this being filmed? You’ve been telling me my entire life not to throw eggs around like we got egg money.” [laughter] So… what we’re about to watch right now is the many outtakes…

[cheers and applause]

…that it took to get this very dumb video, and, uh, before we start it, just a heads up. The video has all the charm and production value of, like, a hostage video. So… I am here in the overalls as she explains this bit to me. [beep] [beep]

Hi!

Hi!

Hi, Grandma and Grandpa.

We’re gonna make you a video.

Yeah!

We’re starting off this morning by, um, making you some cookies. [beep] [mixer whirring] No, today on the tape, we’re gonna play, uh, uh, we’d–we’d go outside, and next we would–we– we’d play even when– we’d–we’d play outside we have a swing set out there, too. Do it again. Okay. [beep]

Hi, Grandma and Grandpa.

Hi, Grandma and Grandpa. We’re making a tape today. [mixer whirring] [audience laughing] [beep] [beep]

Hi, Grandma and Grandpa.

Hi! [mixer whirring, speaks indistinctly] Yeah. [beep] [beep] At this point, my mom had come to her senses, like all of us in this room and realized what the problem was. The egg is too small. [laughter] Let’s up the visual stakes with a large bag of flour. So now all they have to do is just knock over a bag of flour. And we’re gonna send it to you in the mail. Okay, honey, do– okay, do it again. [beep] A little beyond, but– Oh!

[mixer whirring]

Ow! [beep] Stop, stop.

[beep]

Hi, Grandma and Grandpa! Hi, Grandma and Grandpa! Now we’re gonna send it to you in the mail. [baby cries]

Wait, stop.

Just blown the entire bit. Don’t say that. We’re acting. Oh. [beep]

Hi, Grandma and Grandpa!

Hi, Grandma and Grandpa!

Hi!

Hi! [mixer whirring, indistinct conversations]

[beep]

Just do it, Moses.

[beep]

[speaks indistinctly] [beep]

[beep]

Hi, Grandma and Grandpa. So I’ve been recast in the video.

Chocolate chip.

Yeah, chocolate chips. David! [beep] [beep] [faucet runs]

[beep]

Okay, let’s do it.

[beep]

Here we go. Yeah, we’re gonna make you a lot of cookies. [indistinct conversations]

Grandma, Grandma, Grandpa.

You can help. You can help. David. [bleep]

Hi, Grandma and Grandpa!

Hi! We made you some cookies.

Yeah, chocolate chip.

[beep]

David, just do it!

[beep]

Can I help? Can I help?

Yep, we can all help. Let me get you a cup. Damn it. Do it!

Not now.

[beep]

[cheers and applause]

Do it again? [all speak at once]

[beep]

[all shouting at once]

Yeah, flour.

[speaks indistinctly] Ohh! Mommy, that was fast. [giggling]

[cheers and applause]

So now the question is, did we ever win the 10 grand? No. But we did get featured in the cold open of season 3, the very beginning, and for that, we received a $200 appearance fee. So if you add up all the camera rentals, time spent, we made a net profit of

$652, and this is how the clip actually aired on the show with Bob Saget’s narration over it. Come see why we’re making it. This is what we did. SAGET: These kids cook just like my grandmother used to– a pinch of this, a bag of that,

♪♪♪

Now…

[cheers and applause]

I only showed you that again because that was a shit-ton of takes to get a very dumb bit, right? It gets way worse. I don’t think you understand how much she believed in this idea. How the clip aired on the show– she’s wearing what color pants?

AUDIENCE MEMBER #1: White!

AUDIENCE MEMBER #2: Blue!

She’s wearing blue pants on the show, but in every take I had shown you before then– Will you press “play”? Every take I showed you before then, she’s wearing white pants, meaning there’s an entirely different reshoot day I don’t even have time to show you tonight. That’s how deep this goes.

[cheers and applause]

It’s very tacky to say how much you’re being paid for your HBO Max special. What I will say is that as of tonight, it took about– well, over 20 years, but eventually, from this bit, my mom made the 10 grand.

[cheers and applause]

A lot of people will watch that video and they’ll ask me if I’m mad at my mom. No. The older I get, the more I understand what she was going through. Now that I’m old enough to have my own kids, and by that, I mean, pregnancy scares… [laughter] I can–I can understand what she’s going through. Now understanding why someone does a behavior is also not an excuse for that behavior. There is–There is an ocean between apathy and empathy, between approval and just forgiveness. My mom displayed a lot of crazy behavior growing up. That crazy behavior was a way to combat the fear. Crazy beats scary. If your day-to-day problems are the insane decisions that you yourself have created, then you feel like you have some sort of agency over your life. I got myself into this. I can get myself out. And then you don’t have to focus on the larger fear that you’re a single parent, and you’re completely alone. And the older you get, the idea of hustling and grinding starts fading into failure, and you understand that the idea of upward mobility in this country–it’s a lie. It’s a lie because stories like mine get elevated in our culture– these stories of rags to riches, from the dumpster to HBO Max. Because these stories– they make us feel good. These make us feel good. They allow us to continue to do nothing about the unfathomable amount of poverty that is just beyond these walls. And my story is not the truth. The truth is that most people are born poor, and they die even poorer. Sure, I worked my ass off to get here in front of you tonight. But I also got very lucky. I got lucky that people took a chance on me. I got lucky that you physically came out tonight, and I don’t say this because I have any agenda or there’s any actual steps. I am only saying that I got lucky, because that is what I needed to hear as a poor kid, when I was knee-deep in a dumpster and head high in shame– “Some people get lucky.” When I was at cheer camp, and they did a lot worse than just say, “Hey, you’re a cheer queer”– “Some people just get lucky.” Now imagine you’re a single parent, and you’re not as lucky. You’re in charge of five human beings that are supposed to have a better life than you. If that doesn’t scare you, I don’t know what will. Crazy beats scary. The crazy behavior was a way to combat fear. The first time I understood that crazy beat scary was on the very literal level. I was 18. I had my very first girlfriend, and Mandy was way out of my league. Mandy was cool. Mandy had these black bangs, thick black eyeliner. She basically looked like… [sighs] like if a person just walked into a Hot Topic, looked around once, and was like, “I’ll take it.”

[laughter]

I, on the other hand, was 18, 85 pounds. I looked like I walked into a Build-A-Bear so I could get a vest in my size. [laughter] And the type of guys that Mandy was used to dating were the type of guys that people would just look at and be like, “Oh, man, that guy looks dangerous.” People would look at me, like, they look at, like, you and I, will be like, “Oh, man. That guy looks ticklish.”

[laughter]

I was also a very sensitive teenager. Very sensitive. Mandy was the strong one. I was very sensitive. A couple months before I met Mandy, I was going through a really bad breakup. I was going out with this girl for six months, and we both got to that point in our relationship where we decided that she should break up with me. [laughter] Very confusing time for both of us, ’cause she was like, “What are you talking about? We were never actually really together.”

I’m like, classic us.

[laughter] I was very chill about the breakup. I cried every single day for 33 days. I know that because I wrote that in a journal, and I sent it to her. [laughter] Emotionally abusive. So I was doing a lot of crying, you know. My older brother–he caught me crying in our shared room, this breakup, and he goes, verbatim, he goes… [scoffs] “Wow. Guess you’re the world’s biggest little bitch.” I was like, “Uh, actually, that’s an oxymoron. How can I be the world’s biggest and the world’s li–” Before I could finish “little,” he had already punched me in the neck. [laughter] So now anytime I wanted to cry, I would now have to drive to my cry spot. Uh, whoops! That is as lame as it sounds. [scoffs] A designated area I would physically drive my 2001 Mitsubishi Eclipse to to just go and cry, save up things that would happen during that week.

[voice breaking] Be like, not now. Save it. File. Save As. “Saddest Moment of My Life-Final.” “File already exists named ‘Saddest Moment of My Life-Final.’ Do you want to replace?” Yes.

[normal voice] And then once a week, drive out to this half-abandoned cul-de-sac, park my car, and unload in this tantrum cry. You ever been crying so hard, you’re, like, about to throw up? Like, your vomit sees your tears come out. It’s like, “Me, too.” I’m that level of like… [moans and gags] I see a cop car speed by the main road. The tires screech out, and it peals back around. I’m like, “Okay, well, that’s not for me.” I mean, shoo-bee-doo-wop, what is adversity? Before I know it, that cop car is now nose to nose with my car. And the cop gets over the loudspeaker, and he goes… [sighs] “All right, let’s break it up, lovebirds.” [gasps and laughter] I look up. All of my windows are fogged up from my sadness. When I cry, I’m a squirter. [laughter] But from his perspective, it looks like two human beings are in here, like à la “Titanic,” like doing sex on each other. So now I have to step out of the car and deliver the world’s saddest sentence. And he goes, “Break it up, lovebirds.” I step out of the car, still crying. I’m like… [gulps] [voice breaking] “No, it’s just one bird in here.”

[laughter and applause]

There’s just…one bird… in here. [laughter] This very tough veteran cop, like the kind of cop who has seen the worst of the worst over the course of his career– homicides, overdoses and he’s kind of tough where it looks like not only has he never let himself have an emotion, but it looks like he buys his jeans at Costco. He gets one look at me crying in his light, and he goes… [gasps] “Oh, God. Sorry.”

[laughter]

He turns away. Do you know how profoundly lame/white you have to look for a cop to ignore all of his training and turn his back to the perp to be like, “I don’t even care if you have a gun. Jesus Christ. Just end it for us both”?

[applause]

Without saying another word, he gets back into his car, and he speeds off, shook, like, visibly shook. I would like to think that later that night, that cop–he’s at a diner with all of his veteran cop buddies, exchanging different horror stories. One cop is like, “I’ll never forget 2003. 18-car pileup, body parts everywhere.” And they finally get to my cop. “John, you all right? You haven’t said a word all night.” And my cop is just in the corner. He’s in the corner trembling, smoking an unlit cigarette. [laughter] He looks up at them and goes, “I didn’t think it was possible, but tonight I met the world’s biggest little bitch.”

[laughter and applause]

And then the last cop– the last cop, he goes, “Oh, you think that’s bad? I’ll never forget 1999. Before I joined the force, I was a security guard at a pool, and a violent supervirus swept over.”

[cheers and applause]

[cheers and applause continue]

Mandy and I did have a lot in common. We both had very strict, religious parents. Like, Mandy’s mom is the kind of religious where as we speak, her bedroom walls are covered in the most gruesome photos of Jesus being crucified. Just like–or–or paintings. Sorry. Uh, right, not pho– That would be insane. There’s like a watermark. It’s like, 2008? What the fuck?

[laughter]

Paintings, renderings, and, like, shit that’s so raw, like Mel Gibson would be like, “Yikes. That looks anti-Semitic.” And here’s what gets me. They’re not even in frames. These photos are just hastily pasted up and down her walls, almost like she’s trying to solve Jesus’ murder. “Everyone thinks it’s Pontius Pilate and Judas, right? Everyone thinks it’s Pontius Pilate and Judas, but no one–no one’s talking about John the Baptist!”

[laughter]

“Why was he in Sedona? Sedona, Arizona.” [laughter] So the only place that we could ever hook up was the back seat of my car. Uh, I don’t know if you’ve ever had car sex. It’s not great. Also, you’re 18. We remember that time with rose-colored glasses, like…eh! It’s the worst sex you’re having of your life.

[laughter]

This is why I’ve never understood the male fantasy of wanting to hook up with a virgin. I mean it. I don’t get it. Like, why is that good? There’ll be those guys that’ll come to me, and they feel very comfortable saying, “I hooked up with this chick. Virgin.” Gross. Why is that good? Sex has to be the only time where inexperience is desired. I couldn’t convince you guys to go to a concert tonight and be like, “Oh, my God. You have to go to the Hollywood Bowl. There’s this girl. She has… never played guitar before.”

[laughter]

“She’s gonna learn as she goes.” Like, that sounds awful. Will she at least be enjoying herself? “No, she’s actually gonna be in a lot of pain.”

[laughter]

People actually show up to this? “Actually, most guys will come early.”

[laughter]

[cheers and applause]

I don’t mean to put it on her. I was the worst person that you could lose your virginity to. I’d stolen my older sister’s “Cosmopolitan” magazine. “Seven tips to drive your partner wild.” Boom, these are going in the arsenal. To drive your partner wild, you are su– This was what they published. To drive your partner wild, you are supposed to kiss around their jawline as you softly hum.

[laughter]

So…

[laughter continues]

♪ Hmm-mm ♪

[smooches]

♪ Mmm-mm ♪

I did this to a real human woman that I had no intention of murdering.

[laughter]

And we would never park the car in places like Make-out Point in the fear that our parents would catch us. Too obvious. We’d always go way out to a desolate road or an abandoned parking lot. It’s a longwinded way to basically say I would take Mandy to my former cry spots. [laughter] Yeah. She was like, “How’d you find this place?” I’d be like, “No more questions.”

[laughter]

I had learned from my crying experience that that these types of locations– they draw a lot of attention from the cops. If they see a car parked in the middle of nowhere, they’re gonna investigate. They’re gonna break us up. So it was like, okay, I’m gonna do something so the cops don’t break us up. I invented this very real thing that Mandy affectionately named “junk blanket.” [sighs] Stay with me. I have a replica. Let me show you. So…what junk blanket was… [sighs] was an unzipped sleeping bag that I had personally hand-sewn, mostly duct-taped a bunch of old clothes to the outside of. This way, when the cops would pull up on our car and shine the light through the window, I could just pull the junk blanket over Mandy and myself, cop would look through the window and think, “Oh, there’s just a pile of junk back there… that happens to be steaming. On with my patrol.” So one night, Mandy and I were out in our favorite desolate road. There’s not a car in a mile in each direction. There’s no streetlights, just the stars. And we’re in the back seat, having the worst sex of our lives.

[laughter]

♪ Mmm-mm ♪

Halfway through, 30 seconds in…

[laughter]

[cheers and applause]

…this car pulls up right behind us. Just the headlights are shining through the back window. I’m like, “Oh, shit. That’s the cops.” I pulled junk blanket from the hatchback of my car over Mandy and myself. As the cops get out, they’re talking to each other, and it starts to sound a lot less like cops and a lot more just like four sketchy guys that mean to do us or this car some kind of harm. I completely freeze in this situation. This is not gonna go well for me, unless there’s some sort of tickle-off, I’m not gonna win this fight. The only saving grace is that we’re safe inside the car. They tried to open the driver’s side door. It’s locked. My heart begins to race. Mandy’s eyes begin to well with tears, makes all that black mascara run. And then it’s completely silent except for the sound of metal scraping on concrete. I peek my head over junk blanket, and just over my head, boom, a metal shovel comes through the driver’s side window, spraying glass everywhere. We are no longer safe. They are inside the car. And it quickly dawns on me that they have no idea that we’re inside the car. They thought the car was abandoned. They were gonna steal the radio, whatever valuables were inside. Junk blanket has worked too well. So now we need to do something. We need to do something just to make our presence known, like, hey, human beings are in here, and Mandy is just looking at me like, “Aren’t you gonna do something?” And I’m looking at Mandy. “Aren’t you gonna do something?” So I am trying to say to these guys, “What do you want from us?!” [laughter] But…I am so scared, the only thing that can come out of my body is this mixture of, like, half breath, half just a fear sound. So now it’s this barely audible, just… [breathily] “What do you want? [mumbling] What do you want from us? [grunts] [mumbling] What do you want from us?” And it’s so frustrating. It feels like a bad dream, like your mouth is moving, but no sound is coming out. I need to do something at this point just to make some kind of sound, and I think back to cheer camp.

[laughter]

[chanting weakly] “Make noise, make noise.” And before I know it, I am outside the vehicle, and I get to look at one of these guys in the face for the first time, and they look more scared than I do. I realize now what they are seeing. My face is now covered in Mandy’s running black mascara. I am butt-naked, except for a baggy green condom, clapping at these guys on a desolate road, going, [muttering] “What do you want from us?! What do you want from us?! What do you want from us?! What do you want from us?! What the fuck do you want from us?!”

[cheers and applause]

They are so freaked out. They are so freaked out. They get back in their car, and they speed off, because crazy beats scary!

[loud cheers and applause]

Thank you so much! This is fantastic.

[cheers and applause continue]

♪♪♪

Part two. The reason that we were so poor growing up is my parents were members of an unsuccessful cult.

[laughter]

♪♪♪

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