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August 22, 2010

Last Night I Kind of Lost My Shit

It's the late show on a Saturday night in Columbus, Ohio. I'm halfway through my set and I mention Barack Obama. Some scattered boos. Which is normal. Somebody always hates the president, no matter who that president might be. In this case, the president is Obama and I am a fan, so I always ask they are so mad at him.

"Why are you mad at the president?"

Some common responses:

"Because he's an idiot."

"Because he doesn't do anything."

"Because he broke his campaign promises."

That's usually as far as people are able to go. They're mad but they don't know why. Which is always funny, at least to me. In fact, now that I think of it, nobody has ever given me a specific policy reason why they do not like our current president. I try to be polite about it while simultaneously making fun of them, then I give whoever I was making fun of a dollar, and we move on.

Last night, as I was talking about how much I love the president (because I do), somebody yelled out "Heil Hitler."

Heil Hitler?

My immediate reaction was to crumple to the floor, which I did. I don't know why, except that it seemed to me in that moment that the show had now gone south very quickly, and if bottles were going to be thrown, I didn't want to get hit.

But then I stood up and asked the person (shrouded in darkness, as people who scream "Heil Hitler" often are) why he yelled that, thinking maybe he thought it was funny in some obtuse way, like maybe he though shouting that would be interpreted as clever satire. Or maybe he was being ironic. Grasping, I know, but I honestly had no idea why somebody would yell that outside of a Klan rally. 

But I am still being polite.

The guy in the dark says, "Because when you say you like Obama, that's the same thing to me as saying 'Heil Hitler.'"

The audience, predictably, starts booing. I ask them to please calm down, that I will handle this in a mature way. While I am saying this to the audience, I am thinking, How do I possibly handle this in a mature way.

So the audience settles down, and I turn to the gentleman and say, "Sir, I say with this all due respectyou are a fucking moron."

And then I kind of lost my shit.

I just started screaming at the guy. Screaming. I don't even know what I was screaming, although the gist was, "How dare you compare Hitler to this president or any president? How dare you equate what he did with Obama is doing? Do you have any idea how insulting that is? Do you know anything about history? Do you have any idea what Hitler did? He killed six million of my people, which is six million more than Obama has killed. You're a fucking idiot. You're a fucking moron. You're the fucking problem with this country. You and your reflexive retardation. You're a fucking this-and-that..." and then I just basically started yelling "fuck" a lot at the guy. Fuck fuck fuck fuck.

Then he stood up and left.

It felt really, really great.

But now I feel bad. I feel bad because, in retrospect, that guy didn't deserve that. Yes he said something incredibly stupid, but my response was just as stupid. I could have made my point a million different ways without screaming into a microphone in a room filled with drunk people. I wasn't clever, I wasn't thoughtful, I said nothing that would move the conversation forward. I just yelled because Nazis push my Jew button (my Jew button is located right below my tail).

It was a purely emotional response, the kind that I get upset at other people for making when talking about the mosque they want to build or gay marriage or gun violence or any issue that people use to piss each other off.

Hitler is just a buzz word. Which is actually part of my problem with him saying it in such a blithe way. In a weird way, by equating policy disagreements with a genocidal egomaniac, you're actually disrespecting Hitler. You're actually bringing his evil down to the level of the mundane, which we should never do. Obama is Hitler because he created a consumer protection agency? C'mon.

So yeah, I kind of lost my shit last night. And to that guy who shouted out "Heil Hitler," I apologize. There was no reason to meet your idiocy with my own, even though you are a fucking moron.

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Brian

Michael, I think you did the right thing here. Don't feel bad for that idiot. You earned respect from me here (I think you're totally not funny.) Good luck in the future.

Melissa

I was supposed to be at this show and was very disappointed to miss it. I bet it was awesome even when you lost your shit. Oh, and thank you for taking that picture with my friend with that note. It was about the most awesome thing I have ever seen. I'll definitely be there next time.

Jaime

"I try to be polite about it while simultaneously making fun of them, then I give whoever I was making fun of a dollar, and we move on."

First of all, I love that this is your policy. I remember there was a bitch named Stephanie at our Austin show. I still remember Stephanie because she made me angry. But you hugged her. I love that you hug bitchy Stephanies. Love. That. About. You. My friend.

That being said, I think bitchy Stephanies like getting hugged for being a bitch. I think their bitchiness just made them think they won for being a special and important bitch face that scored a hug from a (very famous) funny man, and I think their attitude sucks and they don't learn much anyway. That guy was looking for attention, and you shut him down. And I do think he probably learned from that. But of course, I wasn't there. But I do like what Adam said you said, the "How can you equate policy disagreements with pure evil?" thing. Cogent. I like that you yelled it. I like that you lost your shit. Hitler isn't a bobble head. He isn't a cartoon. He was a real vicious soulless nefarious monster. And exaggerated ad hominem comparisons are the epitome of ignorance. Shut that shit down and lose your shit. Good for you.

But what I love about you, what I really truly love, is that you value and strive for being "clever, [...being] thoughtful, [and saying things] that would move the conversation forward." I love love love love love love love love that about you. Until I couldn't love it any more. I love that that's important to you, and just that fact alone, gives you license to lose your shit when you like. Thank you for this thoughtful post on comedic discourse. Amazing.

kate

i think that the last time i was at easton, i logged about 3 hours and barely managed to lose my shit with my kids. i can't imagine 2 days and a looming cheesecake factory. get booked at the wexner center next time. you'll have a better audience.

several years ago john stewart talked about liberals' overuse of the comparison between hitler and bush. i think your point was about the same. hitler is hitler. but bravo for talking about it afterward.

Jack

Damn. Don't feel bad about that. At all. You're human. And hey! --at least he wasn't black!

It's awesome you're doing standup.

But I've been wondering lately if you've ever been offered or involved with anything on Adult Swim--besides the greatest episode of TGTTM ever? (idk.. maybe you have) I've been reading your blog since I read your book and you joke a lot about how you are a commercial failure. Well look at "Delocated", "Frisky Dingo", "Venture Brothers", "ATHF" -- there's your audience man. You might not make a shitload of money, but then, your crazy turkey ass wasn't makin any anyway right?

If Stella was on Adult Swim I really don't think it would've gotten cancelled -- that's all I'm sayin. And if it was, and it did, then call me a crazy turkey.

Anyways, thanks for being really funny.

P.S. - not the guy who yelled out "hitler"

Reen

Still loving this post, forwarding the link, bragging on you, and getting a great reception from my Obama supporting friends (there's more than a few of us still left). Seems to me one can be at their best even when they *think* they're at their worst.

Re: http://www.observer.com/2010/daily-transom/michael-ian-black-and-hitler-shouter-dark

You're such a Leo. Where exactly on the ear? Behind, along the rim, or inside?
Woo!

Kristen

"How dare you equate what he did with Obama is doing? . . .Do you have any idea what Hitler did? He killed six million of my people, which is six million more than Obama has killed. "

I dunno, I think you got some salient points in there. Between the f-bombs. And I think it's impossible not to get emotional over such a dumb comparison. Because for a person to say that, you know it's coming from such a ridiculous place. And that guy's mindset pretty much sums up everything that sucks about our country right now.

Levi

I didn't vote for Obama, and don't particularly think he's doing a bang-up job, but wow. I am utterly confounded by some of the unfounded nonsense that crawls out of the anti-Obama morass, and actually comes out of the mouths of Americans. Unbelievable. Thanks for putting him in his place.

To Jessica: I think it's only 20% that believe Obama's a Muslim, but still. 20%? really?

Jaime

"Nobody need be afraid of me. I am a meek little kitten who just wants his ears scratched."

Reason #1057 why I ♡ MIB. Adorable.

Katie

I heard this story at your UCF show last night and I read it on your blog like the day before. That guy was a total asshole, but you're definitely the bigger man for apologizing. Thanks for coming to Orlando! I hope to see you performing there again.

The Naked Redhead

DAMMIT. I missed your show in my own hometown and would have loved to see this. LOVED. Just the other day, my grandparents and I had this conversation:

"How long have you two been married?" I said.
"Sixty-four years!" Grandma said, looking lovingly at Grandpa.
"Sheesh!" I said. "I sure hope you guys just call it quits at 70 years, because that's just too long for anyone to be married!"
Grandpa chuckled a bit, then got deadly serious, "Well, that's what Obama wants...to get rid of us so we won't be a drain on the system."

Errr...whaaa?

Either way, I'm sorry I missed both you and your Jew Button. Please get booked closer to downtown and we'll be sure to treat you and your crazy liberal agenda right.

Richard Tuckerman

You rant perfectly expresses my rage at the idiots of the right. One can question the time and place, but the opportunity provided by this yahoo trumps any such considerations! Right on!

Lee

Michael, you are right. It was a lost opportunity. I don't know that it would have made any difference. I don't know that the dialogue would have moved forward with that individual. But I usually feel better for having tried and exactly like you do now when I let my anger and frustration get the better of me.

You noted something VERY interesting. I too have noticed when people vehemently dislike a politician they cannot explain why. They don't refer to policies or anything. I ask them why even when I dislike the politician too. It is important to understand why I have an issue with something and make sure it is not something else lurking unsaid in the darkness.

Don't you beat yourself up. Just move forward yourself. Even in your "rant?" you've shown more thought than some in their calm hateful ignorance. Your words here are an excellent opportunity for all of us to move the dialogue forward and really think about things constructively.

Thanks so much for your post.

Christina Melocik

Video?! Anyone? I'm dying to see this. Thank you for standing up to stupidity. I feel like people often tip toe around dumb people, especially when it comes to politics. Thank you for being real.

margot ring (frank egan's wife)

MIB, omg. Posie had me sit down and read this blog. I know you know this already - but, you are hysterical. So well put. I get why you felt compelled to apologize to the moron and even though you didn't move the important conversation forward... i LOVED loved LOOOOOOved your response. anyway - thanks for the laughing outloud in daignault's kitchen.
peace, margot

amy anderson

I have always been a huge fan of you and the blog,but now you've outdone yourself with wonderfulness..(word?)
Now the next obvious step is that you run for public office...

greenhouse

Honestly, he was probably one of those LaRouche dumbos. And trust me, they deserve it.
Really though, you go girl! Sometimes people need to be called out on being total asshole idiots and I think you did a pretty damn good job.

Jimmyjam

Come to Texas and hear alot worse from the crowd. Phrases like "KILL THAT N****R!!!" will seamlessly blend "Heil Hitler!"

Joe

What's wrong with Obama? He's a racist, socialist dictator. What the fuck's the matter with you?

Michele

Sounds fantastic! I think I would be just as pissed as you, just at the sheer stupidity of it. Comparing Hitler and Obama makes zero sense on every level and I don't get the reasoning behind it. But people like that don't use reason anyway, I guess. Would've loved to have been there! If you ever come back to Philly, I'll see you there.

Zbigniew Brzezinski

There are several valid reasons not to like Obama.

Obama voted to RENEW the Patriot Act. And he voted that way twice. Once as a senator in 2006 and then later again as President in 2010. The guy is an extension of the same agenda that Bush was following, he just looks a lot better while doing it so all superficial types love him.

Obama is a warmonger. Under his watch over 700 people have been blown up in air raids by predator drones in Pakistan in 2009, only 14 or so that we Al Quida, the rest were civilians, women and children.

Bush blows up brown kids overseas and the left has a parade with images comparing him to Hitler.

Obama has been blowing up brown kids overseas for well over a year now and when someone makes the Hitler comparison people on the left have a melt down temper tantrum.

david

@Joe: Really? Elucidate, please.

@Zbigniew: It's kind of disingenuous to fault Obama for extending the Patriot Act given the take it or leave it attitude created by the right regarding the very real attempt of the left to reign in the less savory elements of the legislation.

As for air raids by predator drones, the best information I could find was this article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/20/AR2010032003343_pf.html. Your figures are certainly different- care to source them?

I don't believe the Bush-Hitler comparisons were any more apt, nor do I imagine does Michael. I think that in order to genuinely support the Hitler comparison, you have to be willfully obtuse.

I'll assert that your reasons for even casually disliking Obama reflect an unwillingness to acknowledge the hard choices presented to an executive who has inherited a problem he did not create and yet seeks to resolve effectively. Toward point 1, the patriot act has, in certain measures proved useful. For its negatives, the positives might be sufficient to vote it back in (though only for a year and with an expressed intention [thwarted by the right] by his party to limit its overreaches)- I don't know, but I'm willing to trust the man. To put it another way: I'd rather have a leader with too much power who seeks to limit it than a leader who spends his time in office acting as though he has the power already while ceaselessly trying to increase it. Toward point 2, given that military operations were extant at the time Obama took office, that abandoning the fight without a reasonable exit strategy could have far-reaching negative impacts, and that military action in the meantime via unmanned agents (read: fewer American casualties) can achieve the same ends that would otherwise be carried out by flesh and blood soldiers, it would be a failure of leadership _not_ to utilize predator drones. Regardless, their use certainly doesn't make him a warmonger. A warmonger advocates & desires war. A warmonger does not aggressively seek an end to combat operations and pursue necessary strikes via the latest technology designed specifically to limit casualties to all but the intended targets.

Perhaps we just disagree. Perhaps, however, you're wrong. I don't meant to be insulting- I only mean to say it's crucial to recognize that even a fervently held and widely believed position might simply be untenable. My argument runs the same risk. I welcome thoughtful refute.

david

Also, though it goes without saying: well said, Michael! Clearly, your story touched a nerve given that I read every comment & spent the last hour responding to a couple of them. =)

On behalf of someone trying to change minds, thanks for speaking out & thanks for apologizing. I think you did the right thing. In both cases. ;)

FSK

I don't get this. The standard for "successful President" is "less evil than Hitler"?

Zbigniew Brzezinski

“As for air raids by predator drones, the best information I could find was this article:

“some webpage I could not access without a password so I have no idea what it says”

Your figures are certainly different- care to source them?”

Sure.


http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=19029

According to one recent estimate by Pakistani officials, some 700 Pakistani civilians, the majority of them women and children, were killed by Hellfire missiles fired by drones in attacks ordered by the White House during Obama’s first year in office.

The officials indicated that for every alleged Al Qaeda or Taliban figure killed in these remote-controlled assassinations, 147 civilians have died.

A running tally of reported casualties kept by the web site pakistanbodycount.org puts the total number of civilians killed since the first known US drone attack on Pakistan in May 2004 at 1,226.

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