usingtherightwords

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Tommy Savitt: A New (to Me) Comedy Hero


I tend to write in a direct, no-nonsense style, emphasizing honesty, accuracy, brevity and clarity in all I do. Every once in a while, I come across a comedian who does the same thing, only with that twist of misdirection comedians often use. Tommy Savitt, who calls himself “The Tommy Lama,” is one such comedian. 

Following is some of the best ones I heard him perform at a New Year’s Eve Zoom show. Keep in mind that of you read these lines in a strong Brooklyn accent (think Andrew Dice Clay, although I’m guessing Savitt doesn’t welcome the comparison), they’re that much funnier.

“We gotta go back to traditional therapy … like electroshock. Your insurance might not cover it. That’s why I make my jumper cables available.”

“We make a lot of mistakes in our lives. You might be sitting next to one of them.”

“The problem with dating people half your age is that they get older.”

“Cigarettes are much more addictive than heroin. I say make the switch. No one suffers from secondhand crack.”

“Marijuana is the active ingredient in brownies. Brownies are a gateway drug to more dangerous substances … like Taco Bell.”

“L.A. is where I became a sought-after model: the ‘before’ picture.”

“Constipation is when your body likes food so much, it doesn’t want to let it go.”

He has videos on YouTube. Check him out.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com 

January 13, 2021 Posted by | Communication, Humor, langauge | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Ban” Vs. “Permanent Suspension”


The late, great George Carlin spoke about how we use words that “hide the truth.” He referred to euphemisms and gave examples: “shell shock” became “post traumatic stress disorder,” “torture” became “enhanced interrogation,” and “death” became “passing away.”

I thought of Carlin’s wit, wisdom and genius as I read about how Twitter “permanently suspended” Donald Trump’s @realdonaldtrump account. 

Call it what it is: a ban

Ban, three letters, one syllable, means “to prohibit, forbid, bar.” Simple, direct, to the point. Contrast that with permanent suspension: two words, 19 letters, six syllables, means “a temporary stop that exists perpetually without significant change.”

Huh?

Many newspapers picked up on this and used ban in headlines. That Twitter chose the euphemistic language speaks to what Carlin said long ago: “American English is loaded with euphemisms. Americans have a lot of trouble dealing with reality. Americans have trouble facing the truth so they invent soft language to protect themselves from it.”

He also said, “You can’t be afraid of words that speak the truth.” Amen, brother.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com 

January 11, 2021 Posted by | Communication, Humor, langauge, usage | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Laugh it Up! It’s 2021!


Happy New Year! Have some laughs on me!

As I’ve written before, I love comedians, for their writing is often clever, thought-provoking and, of course, funny.

Jason Love wondered what would happen if car commercials were like political commercials. Instead of bestowing the virtues of its vehicles, Toyota would say of its competition, “Ford? Give me a break. You call yourself an Escort? No one goes with you. … I’m Toyota and I approve this message.”

He also performed a song parody about the Washington Football Team: “I’ve been through the season on a team with no name/and I still couldn’t win many games.”

At a recent Zoom show, Nancy Norton talked about growing up in the Ozark Mountains and addressed some common stereotypes.

“Not everyone lives in trailer parks,” she said. “There’s a waiting list.”

She also described the Ozark bidet: Run a garden hose through the bathroom window set the nozzle to “flowers.” “There’s a direct line between my water bill and my happiness,” she declared.

Norton admitted she isn’t young. In fact, “I’m so old, my first Easy-Bake Oven was wood-burning,” she said. “I had to chop up Lincoln Logs.”

She adopted a child when she was in her 40s; he’s a teenager now. Plus, he has ADHD. “On his report card, he also has some ADHFs,” she said.

Her mother was a nurse, Norton said, and so was she for a time. But she got out of nursing the same reason others get into nursing: “to save lives.”

Tony Deyo said you’ve got to be 100% sure you want to have a baby. “My wife was 99% sure, and I was 1% sure,” he said. “I checked the math. It added up.”

All three have videos on YouTube. Check them out.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com 

January 4, 2021 Posted by | Communication, Humor, langauge, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Comedians on Zoom Telling Jokes


The reactions I’ve received from my posting quality comedic writings from comedians on Zoom telling jokes lead to some more. Enjoy!

I saw a one-named comedian named Landry. He wondered why English food is so awful. “How did you conquer half the world and not learn any recipes?” he said.

Landry also asked the audience if anyone knew the official animal of Australia? Naturally, people answered “kangaroo.” Then Landry asked what the official food was. He said, “kangaroo.”

(I looked it up. There is no official food, but there are many favorites, including kangaroo, so the following joke works.)

“I don’t know any other country that eats its national animal,” Landry said. “You look at a bald eagle wrong and you get arrested.”

Landry said his girlfriend recently broke up with him, citing as reasons her dislike of his long hair and the fact he looks like a girl from the back. He said it wasn’t fair because he never commented on her big feet. He never said to her, “Let’s get you reshoed, Secretariat.”

Quinn Dahle’s mother told him she was worried about COVID. “Mom, relax. You had a good run,” he told her.

Dahle (pronounced Dale) credited his parents with teaching him about God. “I thought my last name was Dammit,” he said.

Dahle also spent time talking about his wife and family. His wife comes from a big Mexican family. They went on ancestry.com and traced back five generations, “all the way to 1986,” he said.

He said he and his wife argue about everything, including whiskers in the sink. “Every time she shaves…” he lamented.

He took offense to the term happy wife, happy life. “What about “happy hubby if she’s not chubby?”

Finally, he said his kids were adopted. “I don’t miss them,” he said.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com 

December 17, 2020 Posted by | Communication, Humor, langauge, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More End-of-Year Laughter from Comedians


2020 was such a hard year for so many that we need to end with laughter. So, here are some more examples of comedians proving that even in a pandemic, the great writing goes on.

Jason Love, who hosts $5 comedy shows on Zoom (the next one is Dec. 31), said he recently cut the cable TV cord, leading Spectrum to call and email him way too many times for his liking. “Spectrum is like an ex who doesn’t know it’s over,” he said. “I’m seeing Hulu, Netflix, Amazon … You know what they say: Once you go Amazon, you keep your pajamas on.”

By way of introduction, Israeli-born Gali Kroup said her background is part Israeli, part French, “half Jewish and half racist. My blood type is merlot.”

Kroup said she doesn’t like keeping six feet apart. “I want to go back to 100 yards.” And yet she went to a block party. “I blocked 12 people on Facebook,” she said.

One reason she blocked people is how they use LOL. A friend of hers texted, “I’m sad. LOL.” She responded, “It’s called bipolar. FYI.”

When she first came to the country, she went to Bank of America to open an account. The teller asked if she wanted a checking or savings account. “I’m a comedian,” she said, “do you have a GoFundMe account?”

Joe Larson talked about a double standard he sees in his family. His two daughters ripped his wife’s body as they were born and she has never mentioned it. He broke a bowl five years ago and still hears about it every day.

Larson also remembers his wife giving birth and realized there is no reason for Father’s Day. At best, men should get a participation trophy and maybe some well wishes, “Happy Father’s Minute!” But not a whole day.

All three have videos on YouTube. Check them out!

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com 

December 15, 2020 Posted by | Communication, Humor, langauge, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Correct But Misleading


I read something in Time magazine last week that caught my eye and made me, once again, realize the importance of hiring a professional when needing communication work.

Time interviewed director Steve McQueen and described him as an “Oscar-winning director.” That would make me think McQueen has won the Academy Award for Best Director.

That is not true. While McQueen was nominated for directing “12 Years a Slave” he actually won the Oscar as a producer (as did Brad Pitt, incidentally). So while it’s correct to say McQueen is an Oscar winner and a director, it is misleading to call him an “Oscar-winning director.” 

It would have been better to refer to him as a “director and Oscar winner.” Maybe Time took a shortcut but in the process misled the readers.

Professional writers and editors like the Time staff should know better, but it proves my point that people who need professional communication help should hire experts instead of trying to do it themselves.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com 

December 14, 2020 Posted by | Communication, langauge, Uncategorized, usage | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Across” as an Up and Down


Yet another news story about COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths escalating throughout the country found its way onto my television. I sighed, thinking how ridiculous it all is and how we could have past this had we just followed what science told us.

Instead, the states have been left to their own devices, and the results have been wildly inconsistent. California, my home state, has implemented a wide-ranging shutdown across the state that will last until Dec. 28 at the earliest.

“Across the state” were the words the news reporter used in announcing the state’s actions. My wife, knowing California is more long than wide, wondered if it wouldn’t have been more correct to say “up and down the state.”

I understood this. People often associate across with traveling along a horizontal line or plane. But the word means “from one side to the other of.” That can be either along the symbolic horizontal plane or vertical one.

A bridge (horizontally) goes across a gorge. Latitude lines go (vertically) across the earth from pole to pole. And so on.

No word on which direction John Lennon had in mind when he wrote “Across the Universe.”

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com 

December 8, 2020 Posted by | Communication, langauge, Uncategorized, usage | , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More Genius Comedians


Welcome to Monday! Since it’s the Monday following Thanksgiving (a long weekend), many might not want to get back to work. So, I provide you with some laughs from some comedians I heard last weekend on Zoom.

Jason Love, who puts together the comedy shows for just $5, made a comment about the effect the pandemic has on his marriage: “We’re together everyday. Cell mate, soul mate, what’s the difference?”

Andy Gross did some great magic tricks, but he’s also a ventriloquist. He apologized for not doing any traditional ventriloquism: “I got in a fight with my dummy. He said, ‘You can’t call me a dummy. Call me a Mannequin American.’”

Michele Balan objected to the COVID-19 test she recently took: “They stuck the Q-tip so far up my nose, they now know I have cataracts.”

Tom Clark talked about a date he had with the woman who became his wife: “We made love in the car. It was awkward for the Lyft driver. He only gave us two stars.”

All four have clips on YouTube. Check them out!

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com 

November 30, 2020 Posted by | Communication, Humor, langauge, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Genius of Jill Thomas Doyle


I have never met or heard of Jill Thomas Doyle until my brother-in-law sent me something attributed to her: “Visitors to a Bar.”

It’s pure genius.

• An Oxford comma walks into a bar, where it spends the evening watching the television, getting drunk, and smoking cigars.

• A dangling participle walks into a bar. Enjoying a cocktail and chatting with the bartender, the evening passes pleasantly.

• A bar was walked into by the passive voice.

• An oxymoron walked into a bar, and the silence was deafening.

• Two quotation marks walk into a “bar.”

• A malapropism walks into a bar, looking for all intensive purposes like a wolf in cheap clothing, muttering epitaphs and casting dispersions on his magnificent other, who takes him for granite.

• Hyperbole totally rips into this insane bar and absolutely destroys everything.

• A question mark walks into a bar?

• A non sequitur walks into a bar. In a strong wind, even turkeys can fly.

• Papyrus and Comic Sans walk into a bar. The bartender says, “Get out — we don’t serve your type.”

• A mixed metaphor walks into a bar, seeing the handwriting on the wall but hoping to nip it in the bud.

• A comma splice walks into a bar, it has a drink and then leaves.

• Three intransitive verbs walk into a bar. They sit. They converse. They depart.

• A synonym strolls into a tavern.

• At the end of the day, a cliché walks into a bar — fresh as a daisy, cute as a button, and sharp as a tack.

• A run-on sentence walks into a bar it starts flirting. With a cute little sentence fragment.

• Falling slowly, softly falling, the chiasmus collapses to the bar floor.

• A figure of speech literally walks into a bar and ends up getting figuratively hammered.

• An allusion walks into a bar, despite the fact that alcohol is its Achilles heel.

• The subjunctive would have walked into a bar, had it only known.

• A misplaced modifier walks into a bar owned by a man with a glass eye named Ralph.

• The past, present, and future walked into a bar. It was tense.

• A dyslexic walks into a bra.

• A verb walks into a bar, sees a beautiful noun, and suggests they conjugate. The noun declines.

• A simile walks into a bar, as parched as a desert.

• A gerund and an infinitive walk into a bar, drinking to forget.

• A hyphenated word and a non-hyphenated word walk into a bar and the bartender nearly chokes on the irony.

Thanks to Bruce G. for sending this.

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com 

November 24, 2020 Posted by | Communication, Humor, langauge, malapropisms, Uncategorized, usage | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sunday, Monday, Origins!


How well do you know the days of the week? I don’t mean if you can name them. I mean their origins. Read on:

Monday – from the Old English Mōnandæg and the Middle English Monenday, it’s a translation of the Latin dies lunae, or “days of the Moon” or “moon day.”

Tuesday – from the Old English Tiwesdæg and the Middle English Tewesday meaning “Tiw’s day.” Tiw, or Tyr, is the Norse god of combat, law and order. The equivalent Greek god was Ares. The Roman equivalent god was Mars, so it’s also a translation of the Latin dies Martis.

Wednesday – from the Old English Wōdnesdæg and the Middle English Wednesdei, it celebrates the Norse god Odin, spelled Wodin by the Anglo-Saxons.

Thursday – from the Old English Þūnresdæg and the Middle English Thuresday, it celebrates “Thor’s Day.” Thor is the Norse god of thunder, not a Marvel superhero.

Friday – from the Old English Frīġedæġ, it comemmorates the “day of Frige,” Frige being a Germanic goddess associated with the Greek Aphrodite and the Roman Venus. The word also is a translation of the Latin dies Veneris.

Saturday – from the Latin Sāturni dies, or “Saturn’s day.” Saturn was the Roman god of wealth and agriculture. The Greek equivalent was Cronos.

Sunday – from the Latin dies sol, the day of the sun. This comes from astrology dating to the late Hellenistic period (323-31 BC). Later came the Old English Sunnandæg, meaning “sun’s day.” 

Until next time! Use the right words!

leebarnathan.com 

November 10, 2020 Posted by | Communication, langauge, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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