Gretchen Martens

Don’t Let Savantophobia Ruin Friday the 13th

Friday the 13 Are you suffering from savantophobia, the fear of looking stupid? Tomorrow is Friday the 13th, a national day of obsession over phobias. You know your friends are not going to be impressed if you ask them for the 40th time if they suffer from triskaidekaphobia, fear of the number 13, or ailurophobia, fear of black cats. So, how are you going to impress them this year? Here at Dallas Comedy House, we want you to look and feel intelligent. So, we have assembled a list of obscure phobias that your friends have never heard of, unless they read this blog.

It’s been a great year for clowns, so lots of folks have heard of coulrophobia, fear of clowns. But, how many people have heard of kohlrabiphobia, fear of root vegetables that look like cabbage and taste like broccoli? This is sure to impress your culinary friends or that hot produce guy at Whole Foods. Beanophobia, is the fear of passing wind after eating a burrito while on a date with a hot Latina woman who might otherwise agree to spend the night with you. And, somnambonachophobia is the fear of midnight snacking while sleepwalking causing you to run out of food during Sunday night football.

For the wine snob in your life, there’s vinophobia, fear of appearing like a pseudo-intellectual elitist reading Flaubert at a vineyard while sipping Pinot Gris. And, for folks living in Napa Valley, there’s bordeauxphobia—fear of not appreciating expensive French wine and having your neighbors find out you drink box wine from Target.

Not to be confused with merlotphobia, fear of merlot, there’s merylophobia, fear of a Twitter war when Meryl Streep calls you out at the Golden Globes for mocking disabled people. Ectophobia is the fear of drowning in ectoplasm while starring with Sigourney Weaver in a movie about aliens. And, brangelinophobia is the dual fear that Brad and Angelina may actually get divorced or may never get divorced, making for poor tabloid reading the next time you’re prepping for a colonoscopy.

Speaking of medical conditions, psychologists are seeing an increase in the incidence of GoTophobia, fear of facing life after Game of Thrones even though you own all the seasons on Amazon Prime and could watch them in a continuous loop for at least a decade. For fans of 1970s TV shows, you may be at risk for minnowphobia, fear of going on a three-hour tour and being shipwrecked on a small desert island with three beautiful blondes but no one remembered beer or condoms.

If you live in the tropics, the CDC is monitoring a rise in hotashellophobia, fear of global warming getting so bad that tourists abandon Belize for aptly named Greenland. The new folks at EPA are predicting a rise in palinophobia, fear that Sarah Palin will get more kudos as a climate change denier than Scott Pruitt who will head the EPA.

Which brings us to politicophobia, the fear of never reading happy news again, unless you count the random articles about firemen rescuing kittens. Federal workers need to be on the lookout for automatonophobia, fear of ventriloquist's dummies and anything that falsely represents a sentient being, like conservative pollsters who give lip service to the truth. Looming over the oval office is moscowphobia, fear that a foreign head of state may have information that could cause you to be impeached or perhaps even convicted of treason.

Men in power don’t just own prime real estate, they are the sole victims of solomortophobia, the fear of being found dead in a cheap motel after a night with a hooker, blindfolded, handcuffed, and wearing ladies panties. Evangelicals, known for monogamy, dread hormonophobia, fear of hitting a midlife crisis and being tempted by your son’s girlfriend when your wife hits menopause simultaneous to your daughter(s) entering puberty.

Women have their phobias, too. Brides often suffer from solophobia, the fear of drinking from a Solo cup and spilling Kool-Aid on your white pants when you meet the in-laws for the first time. And, heliodermophobia, fear of having your dermatologist yell at you for getting sunburned at a nude beach on spring break, increasing your risk of skin cancer that might disfigure you and ruin your chances of marrying a millionaire. Lubribruisophobia is the fear of excessive lubrication during coitus causing one or both partners to slip off the bed, bruising themselves on the nightstand and having a lot of explaining to do at Bible study Wednesday night.

And, finally, there’s phobiaphobia, the fear of having phobias. And, nophobiaphobia, the fear of not having phobias. 

So, there you have it! Go and impress the hell out of your friends. It’s a scary world out there. Just make sure you don’t overdo the fear factor and turn one of your friends into a wholeshebangophobe, someone who is afraid of everything!

Gretchen Martens is a DCH graduate who performs with Been There Done That and Brain Wearing Pants. When she’s not working as an executive coach and trainer, she writes satire for her blog www.PotatoNationUSA.com. She is finishing her first play, sanINity, an irreverent look at losing a loved one to mental illness.

(Image: jacme31/Creative Commons)

Finding Mr. Right

eharmony Dear eHarmony,

It’s a new year and you knew I was looking for love. You played on my girlish fantasies when you promised me that if I joined eHarmony, you would “make the fireworks begin.” You knew how lonely I’ve been, so you knew what buttons to push to make me whip out my credit card and pony up $19.95 a month to help me find a great relationship with “someone who truly understands me.” You told me that with just 10 minutes of my time, I might become one of the 600,000+ people you helped get married. That’s less time than I spend on a Brazilian wax. “What could go wrong?” you asked.

Well, here’s what went wrong. I used your new tool, “The Two of You Together.” You remember, the tool that ranks my matches for compatibility? I said I wanted a man who likes art and long walks on the beach. I said I wanted someone who was athletic because I’m in the Marine Corps and spend a lot of time on PT. Imagine my surprise when Brick texted me: “Babe. You. Me. Tonight. I got the reefer if you bring the PBR.” Is this some kind of a joke? We have mandatory drug testing. And, can you imagine me taking him to the Marine Corps Ball? I have buddies who died fighting for this guy? eHarmony, the two of us will never be together. Ever.

biker

But, you told me 16 percent of all people meet online, so I put another 10 minutes into my profile. I shared that I usher at church every Sunday. I wrote about how I love my big family reunions and hope to have a family of my own one day. I wrote about my favorite foods: fresh squeezed orange juice, carrots, and cheddar cheese. You matched me with Sri Sri Deva Pati, formerly known as Bobby from the Bronx. How did he make it past your screening? Yes, he was polite. He called me ma’am. He told me, “The only way you can conquer me is through love.” Seriously? I could conquer his ass in 60 seconds flat. But, he wasn’t looking to date me, he wanted to show me Krishna Consciousness and convert me. Isn’t there a rule against that?

Krishna

I found the refund button, but you seduced me with your statistics. You help marry 438 people a day, accounting for 4 percent of all marriages in America. I got 800 on my SAT math, so I really should have asked if that is 438 couples or 438 people, which would only be 219 couples. So, I took another 10 minutes to add to my profile. I talked about how my time at the Naval Academy had really built character in me. I mentioned that it was humor that got us through the rough days in Baghdad and that I love Amy Schumer. I listed my favorite songs. I posted pictures of my dog. I was doing my part. You really needed to deliver this time. Paul “call me crocodile” Dundee flunked out of college, majoring in zoology. He played Chuck E. Cheese for three years before marrying his love of animals with his acting abilities to work as the chief ostrich wrangler at the local zoofari. Seriously, where do you get these people? I could do better at the burger joint at the outlet mall.

mascot

I was done. I hit the refund button. I filled out the information and the dissatisfaction survey. I was about to hit, “Yes, delete my account” when I heard that ping. Curiosity got the best of me. And, then I got it. I understood your formula for making marriages work: three duds + desperation = dating. Dating + dread of duds = Marriage. Don’t get me wrong, Seamus McSeamus is kind of cute and he does hit some key compatibility points. But, only at eHarmony could three wrongs make a Mr. Right.

Sincerely, MSgt. Sarah “Sully” O’Sullivan, USMC

bagpipe

Gretchen Martens is a DCH graduate who performs with Been There Done That and Brain Wearing Pants. When she’s not working as an executive coach and trainer, she writes satire for her blog www.PotatoNationUSA.com. She is finishing her first play, sanINity, an irreverent look at losing a loved one to mental illness.

Infallible Dallas Comedy House Predictions for 2017

Ouija From Nostradamus to Forbes, everyone has predictions about what will happen in 2017. Prognosticating the future isn’t a yes/and job for improvisers. So, after a long night of Steve Martinis and Jell-O shots, DCH staff invited Hasbro CEO Brian Goldner and Mattel CEO Christopher Sinclair to help us. Brian brought his Executive Ouija Board and golden planchette, from which we spelled out our predictions with his dexterous guidance and a few dozen Moscow Mules. Results were independently verified using Christopher’s vintage Magic 8 Ball, which he claimed Steve Jobs used when inventing the Internet. Now that credibility’s out of the way, here are our infallible Dallas Comedy House Predictions for 2017.

January: Fearing that the African Elephant might, in fact, be extinct by 2020, three years into the Trump presidency, the Republicans replace the elephant with the cockroach. The RNC releases a statement explaining the decision: “The cockroach is one of the planet’s most ancient creatures, dating back to God’s sixth day of creation, preceding Adam and Eve. The cockroach is one of the world’s hardiest creatures, able to go a month without food and withstand nuclear radiation. The cockroach is an enduring symbol of the infinite resilience of our party.” Democrats, alarmed by the news, begin secret meetings in back booths at Applebee’s across the nation. Magic 8 Ball: “You may rely on it.”

mount-russiamore

February: Valentine’s Day. The day when Cupid shoots us in the patoot and causes us to exchange tokens of love. In a gesture of Russian-American glasnost, Vladimir Putin delivers Mount Russiamore to the Rose Garden in the wee hours of February 14, once again embarrassing the U.S. Secret Service. Mount Russsiamore, a quarter-scale homage to Mount Rushmore, shows Putin, Trump, and Rex Tillerson reshaping the world’s future. Magic 8 Ball: “Better not tell you now.”

March: Frustrated with the decline of religion in America, the Pope commissions Bob Dylan to reinterpret the Bible. The Vatican releases an encyclical instructing American bishops to expect the new bibles by Easter. Southern Baptists are secretly furious, realizing that they missed an opportunity to grow market share as Americans don’t seem to understand the words of God or Bob Dylan. Dylan refuses to comment, but “Times They Are A-Changing” becomes the most popular song on iTunes. Magic 8 Ball: “Don’t count on it.”

April: Colorado, furious with the competition stemming from other states legalizing marijuana, legalizes heroin on April 15. Releasing first quarter profits, Goldman Sachs renames itself Platinum Sachs. CEO Lloyd Blankfein announces his candidacy for Governor of Colorado. Magic 8 Ball: “Very doubtful.”

May: In an effort to become relevant to Millennials, Burberry ditches plaid in favor of tie-dye. The move provides unexpected dividends as Baby Boomers, sentimental for the 1960s, abandon Talbots for the now chic Burberry. Trump tweets a single word, “HAH,” when Burberry announces it’s moving its headquarters from London to SoHo. Magic 8 Ball: “As I see it, yes.”

chanel

June: Chanel, jumping into the Millennial Marketing Madness, releases a new perfume just before Father’s Day. The Chanel line promises to reimagine those early days of being in love when you hoped mom and dad wouldn’t come into the den after midnight. Chanel Number 69: When one number simply won’t do.” Magic 8 Ball: “Signs point to yes.”

July: With visits to Dollywood flat after the Gatlinburg fires, Dollywood opens a musical, Hello Dolly Madison, trying to create Hamilton fever for the 99 percenters in the Heartland. “Jefferson Has His Eyes on You” scandalizes Dolly’s heirs with its explicit lyrics suggesting that Dolly was more than an acting First Lady for the widowed Thomas Jefferson. The play is shuttered after Hostess Brands sues for copyright infringement over the song “One Last Zinger.” Magic 8 Ball: “Ask again later.”

August: Counting on August being a month where Americans focus their attention on vacationing not vaccinations, the CDC formally classifies cooties as a sexually transmitted disease. Pharmaceutical companies race to win government research grants and find a cure before school starts in September. Magic 8 Ball: “Outlook good.”

great-wall

September: In honor of Labor Day, President Trump announces a massive public works project to build the wall. A partnership between the Army Corps of Engineers and Neiman Marcus, Trump promises that this will be the best wall ever. Threatened, China hires Bloomingdales to redecorate the Great Wall of China. Not wanting to be left behind, Israel hires Tiffany’s to bedazzle the Wailing Wall. The U.N. fears that this will escalate into a war of walls but is powerless to intervene. Concrete futures skyrocket. Magic 8 Ball: “Cannot predict now.”

October: Following a full Brexit, Great Britain becomes known as Not So Great Britain. With relations fraying after Elton John refuses to sing “Candle in the Wind” at the funeral of Queen Elizabeth, Congress agrees to rename the Grand Canyon the Not So Grand Canyon. Park rangers rebel by refusing to serve Earl Grey at concession stands. Magic 8 Ball: “My reply is no.”

November: Not to be outdone by the Republicans, Democrats emerge from Applebee’s across the country sporting T-shirts emblazoned with their new mascot: bamboo. Presidential hopeful Joe Biden (working campaign slogan “80 is the new 70”) spearheads a press conference, explaining, “Basically, it polls better than kudzu and we don’t have to pay licensing fees.” Magic 8 Ball: “My sources say no.”

pat

December: Not to be left out of the inclusivity movement, Victoria’s Secret rebrands itself Victor Victoria’s Secret. The December Runway Show features angels in shimmery bra and panty sets, sexy cherubs in low-cut man thongs, and a special appearance by the oh so androgynous Pat of Saturday Night Live fame. Magic 8 Ball: “Without a doubt.”

So, there you have it, our 2017 predictions. If we’re right, Yes And pass the Jell-O shots! If we’re wrong, have a few Steve Martinis and enjoy the fact that the joke’s not on you.

Gretchen Martens is a DCH graduate who performs with Been There Done That and Brain Wearing Pants. When she’s not working as an executive coach and trainer, she writes satire for her blog www.PotatoNationUSA.com. She is finishing her first play, sanINity, an irreverent look at losing a loved one to mental illness.

When Elves Go Bad

elfbed I’m sharing my story in the hopes that I might save even one girl from the heartbreak I’ve suffered. I’ve always been a sucker for a man in uniform. I’m 39. I should know better than to pick up an elf in a bar a week before Christmas. He should be on duty a week before the big night, right? What was he doing hanging out at Louie’s in Hoboken, downing shots of Wild Turkey like tomorrow was never going to come? But, I’d just broken up with my boyfriend and I was lonely, if you know what I mean. Reginald paid for my rum and diet cokes. We shared pork rinds and a few laughs. The next thing I knew, we had shacked up in my fourth-floor walk-up. I hoped this wouldn’t put me on Santa’s “naughty list.” The guy was an elf, right?

elf

Reginald told me a hard luck story about being injured in the Pole Wars. Who knew ISIS had attacked the North Pole? Hoboken’s got mafia, so I’ve seen some shit, but attack Santa? He told me the DoD kept it under wraps to prevent a panic. One day, he was just an Elf on a Shelf. More rapid than eagles a mission arose, he was selected to be part of an elite SEAL team trained to protect Santa and his workshop. Six weeks ago, the team was nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of sugarplums danced in their heads. When up at the pole there arose such a clatter, they sprang from the barracks to see what was the matter. As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly, they were ambushed. Reginald was the only survivor. I give him credit, he tells a good story, practically like poetry. Or maybe Reginald knew if he talked all military I would do him again.

elfvader

I thought I had it hard working the night shift at Snackenberger’s Diner. But, I never knew how hard life could be for an Elf on a Shelf. I held Reginald tight in my arms as he cried and told me stories about how he had been bullied growing up in an orphanage. The kids always loved him. He was the Elf on a Shelf. But, Darth Vader seethed with envy because Reginald was loved and Darth was not. I’d seen the movies. I could only imagine what it would be like to be victimized by someone with such a heart as black as coal. The worst thing that happened to me growing up in Hoboken was getting a swirly in ninth grade when Carmine Mancuso asked me to the prom instead of Pearl Gambino. All that crying made me really hot. For an elf named Reginald, he knew how to work a girl’s emotions.

elfstealing

I let him stay with me. I know I was a sucker. But, man, Reginald had stamina. He started taking money from me. At first, it was just a few dollars for Wild Turkey and Vienna sausages. It was Christmas and I was getting good tips at the diner, so I didn’t really mind. It was one of those positive cycles that Dr. Phil talks about. I was getting it every night, so I was happy. When I’m happy, my customers are happy. When my customer are happy, especially at Christmas, they leave an extra dollar. Maybe two. Eventually, I was letting him use my credit card so that he could pay his therapist at the VA. I know how co-pays can add up, and his disability checks only went so far. Maybe that would put me on Santa’s “nice list.” I really wanted that Gucci knockoff.

elfdrugs

But, then a friend caught Reginald in a lie. Reginald was using my money to buy drugs in the alley around the corner. OK, so it wasn’t heroin or LSD, but I do watch Dr. Phil. Prescription drug abuse is a serious health issue, even in Hoboken. When I confronted Reginald about it, he denied it. But, my friend had the photos on Instagram to prove it was true. It was a hard choice. Reginald really had stamina. Maybe I should have been more sympathetic. It was Christmas and he was an elf war hero. But, drugs? He crossed the line. I threw his sorry little felt-covered behind out of my house and out of my life. Forever. Naughty or nice, this girl’s got standards.

elfhomeless

I wish I could tell you I had a Merry Christmas. Santa didn’t bring the handbag. And, they found Reginald frozen to death on Christmas morning after a night of binge drinking in the park. I’m just a girl from Hoboken but I grew up watching Colombo and Murder She Wrote. Reginald was a Wild Turkey man. He never drank vodka. My roommate says maybe it was Pearl Gambino but I don’t think she’d hold a grudge for 24 years. I think he was killed by the DoD. Because he knew too much about Santa and that ISIS raid on the North Pole. But, you didn’t hear that from me. It’s not pretty when elves go bad, girls. So, think twice about taking an elf home, even if he pays for the drinks.

Gretchen Martens is a DCH graduate who performs with Been There Done That and Brain Wearing Pants. When she’s not working as an executive coach and trainer, she writes satire for her blog www.PotatoNationUSA.com. She is finishing her first play, sanINity, an irreverent look at losing a loved one to mental illness.

It’s Not Easy Being Rich

rich DEAR MISS MANNERS: I read on CNN about the new health study that shows drinking white wine increases the risk of melanoma by 13 percent overall for white people and 73 percent for melanoma on the torso. I am ashamed to say that my initial reaction was to gloat. I was down at the Legion Hall for a Christmas party and boasted to a friend about how those rich folks were going to get what they deserve. My wife gave me a terrible tongue lashing for wealth-shaming. Now I’m wondering if I was insensitive. What are your thoughts?

If it matters, I am a white, unemployed coal miner in Kentucky where we drink PBR (that’s Pabst Blue Ribbon, ma’am) when it’s on sale at the IGA.

GENTLE READER: If Miss Manners believed in standing ovations, which she does not, she would applaud you. Congratulations for calling on your higher self and your Christian values to find love and charity for America’s one-percenters. No, they are not easy to like. But, life is not a game of Clue and we must not cheer when Warren Buffet bites it in the conservatory with a Chardonnay. Being rich and white looks effortless in the movies. Gentle Reader, Miss Manners can assure you it’s not.

Miss Manners recalls how Friar Laurence takes pity on the fair Juliet, both white and wealthy, in a vain attempt to reunite her with her beloved Romeo. The burdens of the rich are indeed many. Have you ever gone to Neiman Marcus, only to find that they have run out of your favorite moisturizer? Of course not. Walgreens always keeps your Jergens in stock. Wealth brings so many disappointments.

Have you ever had your housekeeper shrink your favorite angora sweater? And, then, had to watch her beg for forgiveness as you have the butler pack her belongings and escort her, sobbing, to the front gate to catch the bus back to wherever she lives with those five, fatherless children? Life for the wealthy can be indescribably wrenching.

Have you had to learn to eat escargot and drink scotch straight up? Has your personal chef ever served you chicken cordon bleu when you were in the mood for filet mignon and duchess potatoes? Of course not. Every night you can get what you want in the drive-thru at Hardees. Wealth means you live at the whims and expectations of others.

Does your budget include $2,500 a month for dues at the country club? And, then you catch your sweet young trophy wife doing it with the tennis pro or the pool boy? Of course not. Have you ever had to divorce your trophy wife for infidelity, wishing you could throw her sorry, shapely derriere back where she came from but for the fact that the prenup guarantees her alimony of $50,000 a month for life? Of course not, that’s more than you make in an entire year. How could you empathize with the injustice?

Gentle Reader, charity begins in the home. Being able to afford chardonnay or pinot grigio should not condemn one to death by melanoma. In this season of giving, examine your heart. If you truly regret your callousness and indecent behavior, consider a GoFundMe Campaign for those poor unfortunate souls born with silver spoons in their mouths. Help end white wine induced torso melanoma among wealthy whites. Then, go enjoy that PBR with Miss Manner’s blessings.

Gretchen Martens is a DCH graduate who performs with Been There Done That and Brain Wearing Pants. When she’s not working as an executive coach and trainer, she writes satire for her blog www.PotatoNationUSA.com. She is finishing her first play, sanINity, an irreverent look at losing a loved one to mental illness.

(Image: Ashley Webb, CC by 2.0)

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

Irish man Dear Neighbor,

I don’t know who you are, but I know you are new to the building. Or, you recently learned to whistle. Because prior to last month, we had no whistlers. But, now your jaunty Irish tunes fill the corridors of Building B.

I smiled hearing your pitch-perfect rendition of “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling” waft in through the sliding door as I sipped my morning coffee that first Monday. And Tuesday. And Wednesday. Thursday, I had a networking meeting, but I had faith you were there. And Friday. By Saturday, I was beginning to wonder if you knew any other tunes. It’s not that I am prejudice. If it weren’t for the Irish, we wouldn’t have Saint Patrick’s Day or Guinness. Henry Ford was Irish and he invented the car I drive. Your people also invented the submarine, the tractor, the tank, and color photography. Did innovation skip your family? Sorry if that seems harsh. But, I can’t help wondering.

My bad. Did she break your heart? Because no sooner did my irritation at “Irish Eyes” escalate when you switched to the mournful “Molly Malone.” Of course, we don’t have fish mongers in Dallas and people rarely die of fever anymore, except when Ebola strikes. Were you in love with her, or was it a Tinder fling? Did she leave you, or did she die in a tragic accident texting on the Dallas North Toll Road South or I-35 E West? Roads here in Dallas are so bipolar. Oh, I hope she didn’t have a mental illness and I’ve offended you. I can be so insensitive. I’m sure she was a lovely, sweet girl.

“Óró, sé do bheatha 'bhaile.” I know that tune from the movie The Wind That Shakes the Barley. It’s a song from the Irish War of Independence. Anger. It’s the first stage of grief. I’m so sorry. She broke your heart. I hate her for what she’s done for you. How I wish I could hear “Irish Eyes” in the mornings again. You never appreciate what you have until it’s gone.

Rebound! What a surprise you had for me when you belted out “Weigh, Hey, and Up She Rises.” Early in the morning. Except that it was nearly midnight. Not that I mind rousing Irish drinking songs, but we have a noise ordinance. Quiet time starts at 11 p.m. and some of us go to work early in the morning, when you will undoubtedly be sleeping it off. What do you do with a drunken neighbor, what do you do with a drunken neighbor, what do you do with a drunken neighbor? I can’t put you in a long boat ‘til you’re sober but I can call building security. But, I hate to add to your woes after that Molly Malone incident. You really put me in a bad spot.

Oh, you tease! Make me mad, then appease me. “The Countess Cathleen!” Yeats? Really? How did you know? It’s one of my favorites. When I saw Michael Flatley dance that in Riverdance, I practically had an orgasm. Are you coming on to me? Is this some sort of secret Irish seduction? We’ve never even met. But, if you dance half as well as Michael Flatley. OMG! You’re like the Pied Piper and I will follow you anywhere. I’m part Scottish; is that an issue for you? I promise I don’t own a kilt or play the bagpipe.

Oh, my Irish whistler. I feel the restless stirrings. I know you like I know myself. You awaken something in me. You are the hand, and I am the glove. How do I let you know that I am here for you? I played Lunasa for a week. Do like your women more brazen? Perhaps “The Night Visiting Song?” I can be brazen. And, I promise not to break your heart. I don’t want to be too forward but I have “Haste to the Wedding.” Just whistle me a hint, my love. I’m waiting.

Gretchen Martens is a DCH graduate who performs with Been There Done That and Brain Wearing Pants. When she’s not working as an executive coach and trainer, she writes satire for her blog www.PotatoNationUSA.com. She is finishing her first play, sanINity, an irreverent look at losing a loved one to mental illness.

(Image: Jordan Levine)