So you unfollowed me on Twitter, what now?

My whole life people have had issues with my confidence. As a living, breathing reflection of the traits of humanity deemed less than by them, I think I scare them. 

What secrets of life have I unlocked? A fat woman, truly happy?! What sorcery is this?! It is unfathomable to some people that although my outer package isn’t perfect, I can still feel sexy and confident. I am less offended by the hard-bodied women who are floored by it, than by the average Joe man who is off put by it. The hard-bodied women had to sacrifice and work real hard on her body to love it, but the man just doesn’t want to fuck you. Two very different reasons. One is like your co-worker being mad at you that you got a promotion she worked just as hard, if not harder, than you to get, and the other is like your co-worker getting mad at you because you got a promotion they want even though they don’t think anyone wants to fuck you. 

To add to the stress of being a young woman in the early 2000’s, I had too-thin eyebrows.

To add to the stress of being a young woman in the early 2000’s, I had too-thin eyebrows.

In the early 2000s being an adolescent girl with a FUPA was a real struggle. Super low-rise jeans? More like, my-gut-is-pushing-the button-of-my-jeans-into-my-pussy-rise jeans. Body image as an issue was being spoken about, but models were still stick thin in all ad campaigns. We were all striving be Gisele Bundchen who, little did we know, would marry a man who frenches his dad. Then, Britney Spears made the “I’m a Slave 4U” video and we all decided our stomachs were disgusting because we didn’t have the abs or core strength to support both a body roll dance move and a boa constrictor at the same time.

I know it’s normal and common for teen girls and boys to not like themselves. Is it necessary to discovering who you are? I think so. What incentive do you have to improve as a person if you never questions exactly how much of a dick you are being? Healthy self-doubt is great. You can have confidence AND healthy self-doubt. They aren’t mutually exclusive.

Now, The term “thirst trap” has integrated itself into the zeitgeist. Dictionary.com defines “thirst trap” as “a provocative photo, often with a coy or confident caption, that will trap (attract) thirst (attention, in the form of comments, likes, etc.)”. My social media game of posting a #DailyThirstTrap lately has really garnered some strange and unexpected reactions. There are a ton of positive and funny interactions, but I want to explore one specific reaction.

Today, one man unfollowed me on Twitter. He told me that he “couldn’t do the self-obsessed Myspace kid vibe” I was putting out there with my #DailyThirstTrap posts. He felt the need to tweet me about why he was unfollowing me. 

(SIDEBAR: No one cares that you unfollowed them on Twitter. You tweeting them about why you’re unfollowing them is really unnecessary. Although, lets face it, if someone is tweeting someone why they are unfollowing them they are definitely NOT reading this many words typed by a woman)  

The post  that sparked the unfollow.

The post that sparked the unfollow.

The thirst trap is such a funny concept to me. It’s a gender neutral activity, but I feel as though women get the most flack for it. We’ve been accused of wanting too much attention because we wear provocative clothing in public but don’t want to be assaulted or harassed about it. We’ve been accused of wanting too much attention anytime in our lives when attention was for anything other than a man wanting to fuck us. The idea that I can’t enjoy the sensuality of my body and even go as far as to celebrate it online because I’m not doing it for a man to cum about is absurd to me. 

It’s a different world today, and I don’t see this happen nearly as often as I did when I was in my early 20’s. However, I think these old biases have more lasting affects than we think. I mean we’re all doing a great job, but centuries of being told our bodies are both for men to covet and disgusting things to be kept away unless they are perfect doesn’t just go away because of a bath bomb boomerang and some free shit from an Instagram company. Cardi B loses her mind every other day. I think we might still be working through some shit. 

Women were always being told that our sexuality was a weapon, weakness, and sin. A man was once so angry at me for speaking openly about my sexuality onstage that he attempted to leave the comedy club. The comic I was opening for, Mike Merryfield, convinced him to stay and when he saw the man in the crowd laughing his ass off at him talking about his dick, he let him know that he was a real piece of shit for having issues with a woman speaking out about her sexuality but no issue when he did it. (Shoutout to Mike Merryfield for sticking up for me like that!)

The attention we receive from our sexuality and it’s validity was always attached to some arbitrary societal expectation of how a “woman” should behave. Times are changing, and in our culture we are now shirking these expectations in favor of demonizing anyone who would try to drape you in them. 

Now, I tell you all of that to tell you this: yes, it bothers me that someone was bothered by my chosen display of loving myself. Yes, I know this seems contradictory. Why care? It’s not that I’m so upset I lost a follower I needed to write a blog about it. People telling me what I can and can’t do really gets under my skin when it comes to me, my body, or my endeavors. Especially when they are insinuating that I cannot do these things because I don’t meet the physical standards (unless it’s like boot camp). Now, I’d like to clarify that the man who unfollowed me today who inspired this train of thought didn't insinuate anything other than he’s annoyed by all my selfies. Strange to follow someone and then get mad when you see them in their posts, but go off I guess.

I’m really just bitter, ya know. Although I enjoy myself today and have worked really hard to love what I see in the mirror, I’m not perfect. I let my insecurities win and make me mad sometimes.

When you’re an overweight or ugly kid every day you are told by the outside world why what you see in the mirror isn’t good enough. You’re told by the way the other kids treat you:

You’re told when you know that people shouldn’t hit each other but when a kid in class pushes you down months after having surgery and the class laughs because of the funny way you fell. Then when another kid finally sticks up for you and says “hey you’re not supposed to hit girls!”, the kid who pushed you says, “yeah but she’s fat it doesn’t count”. 

Don’t worry, I She’s All That-ed pretty hard between sophomore year and junior year of high school and used my newfound sexuality to get revenge on most of my bullies. Like PG-13 teen comedy revenge, not I Spit On Your Grave Revenge.

Did I get revenge on the push kid? Well, if you fast forward about 8 1/2 years you’ll see him crying in an RV and drinking out of a hard liquor bottle, but that story is for another day. 

You’re told you aren’t good enough when you start to develop and your middle school crush finds out you like him and pretends to like you back. Then when he kisses you at the 7th grade dance, you pull away to see a group of his friends doubled over laughing and pointing behind him. He laughs and returns to his friends, the triumphant prankster. It’s like, I didn’t carefully place all these butterfly clips in my hair for THIS.

I care that someone was bothered by photos I’ve taken of myself for that very reason. I was told I wasn’t good enough my whole life because of my physical appearance. This isn’t the first time someone has made a comment about the photos I take of myself. I’m not interested in this. This is another person deciding the level with which I am allowed to appreciate and love myself. The level of my worth. Some of you are like, “this isn’t about loving yourself, you just want attention.”. Uh, yes bitch. Isn’t that what we’re all doing here on social media? Or are you on it for educational purposes? We all want attention, we are human beings.

This IS about loving myself. Because that voice in my head saying “don’t post another picture of yourself” is the same one who told me for years “no one will love you unless you lose weight”.

I’m really not interested in letting that voice win anymore. So, babies, if you aren’t into my vibes online the unfollow button ain’t hard to find. 

Mo'Nique and Why She Should Be an Inspiration to Comics Everywhere and My Ex Who Told Me I Wasn’t Funny

      It's December 30th and my fiancee and I are filing into the MGM Garden Arena for the John Mayer/Dave Chappelle show. The energy in the room is vibrant. John comes out, plays some songs, and speaks on music with an expertise that made me fall in love with him as an artist all over again. Then Dave comes out. You can taste it in the air. Everyone in that room knows that someday they'll be telling their children about this experience. Dave tells 25 minutes of jokes then brings up the Netflix pay scandal. And he says to a sold out arena that "Mo'Nique is a legend.". After this weekend, I don't see how anyone can disagree with him. 

      I have been a fan of comedy my whole life. I have quite a few influences, but very few female ones. One of the biggest reasons I could even picture myself doing stand-up at all was Mo’Nique. When my friend found out what Mo'Nique meant to me he got me a ticket to see her new residency at the SLS.  
     Some of you are reading this confused because you don't know what she means to this metal music loving, comic book collecting, video game playing, raw comedian. If you can’t really wrap your head around it, it probably means you have never seen Mo'Nique LIVE in her element. And shame on you for having preconceived notions about me.

A younger me. A me with a heavy heart holding a lot of sadness inside.

A younger me. A me with a heavy heart holding a lot of sadness inside.


      When I was in my early 20's I was in a bad way. I had lost all self worth, was gambling in excess, and had garnered myself an opiate addiction. I was in a relationship that had me so down on myself, had me believing I was so worthless, I had begun to live my life as such. I stole Vicodin from wherever I could find it just so I could numb myself to the fact that I couldn’t find anything to love in the mirror anymore. I was adrift and I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, but I knew I loved comedy. I would watch hours of stand-up comedy and it would be my reprieve from the constant barrage of negative inner thoughts.
I had been telling stories with my girlfriends one night, doing my best to make them laugh, and my oldest and dearest friend interrupted me. Her tone of voice would have made a lightbulb spontaneously appear over her head if we had been in a cartoon she sounded so revelatory. She pointed at me and said: “You should do stand-up comedy!”. And it clicked. That’s exactly what I wanted to do.
Once I figured out how to make people laugh, I was always chasing the next punchline way before I even recognized what I was doing. I wasn’t ever the pretty girl or the popular girl. I was the smart girl. I hated being the smart girl. People just want to cheat off your paper and they only want to be your friend in class in case there’s a group project. And no one especially wanted to dry hump the smart girl, and that’s all I wanted out of a Friday night at 17. I knew that people that made me laugh made me want to dry hump. I knew that people who made me laugh made me feel butterflies. I also knew the feeling of making people laugh was like being dry humped by the whole offensive line on Homecoming night.
I wanted people to see me and say I was the funniest girl they knew, but I was horrendously shy outside of my extra-curricular theater activities. Although I wanted to be clever and tell stories and make everyone laugh, my severe lack of confidence meant I only showed that side of myself to my closest friends. Add a unibrow and some very poor fashion choices to that mix and I wasn’t exactly screaming anything but “dork”.
My friends loved me though. My family loved me. There was always someone around who would laugh at whatever commentary I was spewing or story I was re-enacting. So when my dearest friend, my most practical and level-headed friend, looked me right in my eyeballs and said: “You should do stand-up comedy.”. My heart exploded. The gears in my head all felt like they clicked into place. Not only had someone validated me as funny verbally for one of the first times in my life, but someone had also presented an idea so out of the realm of my reality that was exactly what I wanted out of life. Make people laugh every night onstage for my job? Um, YES PLEASE. Where do I submit my resume?
Unfortunately in stand-up, there is no application. It is a sea of possibilities of ways to start and each one is more daunting than the next. So I decided to present this new dream to my boyfriend at the time. We had an extremely unhealthy relationship due to him being too young to take responsibility for the fact that he pressured me into a relationship he didn’t actually want to be in anymore, and I didn’t want to look myself in the mirror and admit just how wrong we were for each other. I had allowed myself to come to a place where one man had torn me down emotionally so severely that I didn’t even realize how abusive it was until I relayed the stories to people who loved me later. Now, don’t jump to crucify him. We were young, and everything about our relationship was wrong from jump. But that’s a story for another day.
I remember looking across the table of a BJ’s Restaurant & Brewery at him. This was someone I thought I loved, and I was still so naive and young to think that people will behave the way they’re supposed to and not the way they are going to. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized these are two very different things. I pushed my fries around on my plate and finally worked up the courage to say it. I couldn’t really bring myself to look at his face. I knew in my heart of hearts that whatever came out of his mouth following whatever I had to say would hurt me, because after a year together, I was finally starting to realize the difference between “supposed to” and “going to”. I faked nonchalance and spoke as if it was a silly idea I was presenting for conversation’s sake. “I’m thinking of trying stand-up comedy.”, and I laughed nervously waving my fork around to punctuate “stand-up comedy”. He didn’t even look up from his food. His body didn’t react. He only shoved another forkful of food into his mouth and said through a twice baked potato: “Why? You’re not funny.”. And then I thought to myself: “Well he must be right. He’s spent everyday with you for a year. Surely, if you were funny he’d be the one to know.”, and I moved on with my life.


I moved on right up until I came across a comedy special called “I Coulda Been Your Cellmate” from the star of one of my favorite movies: “Phat Girlz”. The concept of this comedy special alone shook me to my core. Mo’Nique doing stand-up for hundreds of inmates inside of a women’s prison. How could someone make people laugh in that situation? It seemed impossible.


Then the special started, and she could have done a funny sketch or just launched right into the jokes. However, as I have since learned, this is not her style. She spent the first part of this comedy special giving a voice to these women who will spend most of their natural lives behind bars. Mo’Nique took her time in the spotlight right then to highlight what is broken about prison and the so-called rehabilitation system. At one point an inmate asks her why she came there, and what she said next forever changed the way I looked at our prison system. It also forced me to confront my own inner prejudices against those who’ve been or are incarcerated. I hadn’t opened my heart to their humanity. Growing up in a conservative small town, I had only thought of them as less than decent people, and hadn’t considered how they got there. What tragedy had befallen their lives to drive them to where they were today? My heart ached with a newfound sympathy. Her statement was so profound to me I haven’t forgotten it in ten years: “We live in a society that threw you away, and they said you weren’t worthy and you weren’t valuable and that you were trash. I don’t believe that.”
Soon the shot transitions to a stage built outdoors and a crowd of female inmates all wearing different colors to designate their danger or security threat. Mo’Nique then came onstage and took control. She would bring you right to the point of a real “a-ha” moment about us and our society. Then she would hit you with a punchline so funny and so unexpected, I was snort laughing by myself in my living room. Slapping my leg and cackling like an old prospector who just found Gold and couldn’t believe his luck.
Now, I could write a massive amount on this special alone, but I’m here to talk about the NOW. I took this trip down memory lane to paint a picture of who I was when Mo’Nique’s stand-up got inside my craw. Because shortly after seeing this, I packed my bags and left. She had said right into that camera that she had been told she wasn’t good enough over and over, and yet here she stood more than good enough. There she stood, a success in her own right. So I loaded myself and my dog onto a plane bound somewhere far away from the man who told me I wasn’t good enough both in life and in my ambition.

A younger me. Now with love in my heart for myself. With joke notes in hand ready to chase a dream people had been telling me was impossible.

A younger me. Now with love in my heart for myself. With joke notes in hand ready to chase a dream people had been telling me was impossible.


Fast forward a few years and I move to Las Vegas, Nevada. My first friend (and still to this day friend) was none other than Bobby Wayne Stauts. He introduced me to a world of amateur stand-up that I didn’t even know existed. I wanted to be a part of it so badly, that I spent three weeks just going out to shows and open mics and befriending comics. Some of my friends who are reading this are like, “Jozalyn, you SURE did ‘befriend’ some of those comics.” and to them I say: Go Befriend Yourself. Then a friend put me on stage one night for 3 minutes and the rest is, as they say, history.
Now, let’s jump ahead in the timeline one last time to last week. My friend takes me to see Mo’Nique at her new residency at the SLS. I’m euphoric at the thought of seeing the woman who taught me how to clap back at bullies in “Phat Girlz” and inspired me to shut out the people saying I wasn’t going to be good at stand-up. Her opener Correy Bell had me laughing so hard I almost lost a strip of eyelashes because I was crying. Then, Mo’Nique came out. Gorgeous and statuesque, her smile lit up the whole room, she danced her way to that microphone and before we knew it we were all on our feet dancing with her. Just sharing in a moment of pure joy. No judgement, no pretensions, just everyone in a room feeling unbridled joy at exactly the same moment.
She did exactly what I fell in love with her for from the beginning. She made us laugh, she made us cry, and she made us think. She challenged her own belief systems, she challenged our belief systems, and she challenged how we treat each other. She told stories so raw and so real, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her because her pure vulnerability was beautiful.

Somehow the gentleman taking pictures managed to capture a moment where I wasn’t sobbing.

Somehow the gentleman taking pictures managed to capture a moment where I wasn’t sobbing.

Then the meet and greet comes. I am sweating and nervous. You don’t often get to meet personal heroes, but I can tell you when I do I want to vomit. Did I do that? No I just cried uncontrollably while standing in a line full of people drinking and dancing. I realize now that Mo’Nique being the thing that pulled me out of traumatic experience also meant that she would take me back there for a moment. And the tears that flooded down my face, the same tears that threaten to fall as I write this, were tears of gratitude. This woman inspired me to chase my dreams in a very real way. It comes my turn and she hugs me deeply and says some things into my ear that I will keep with me forever. I will to write them here, or anywhere because they are mine. When she speaks to you, you just know some things are for you and that moment. Then she pulls away and lets me tell her my story. I walked away knowing I’d never forget this experience.
As lucky as I felt then, I then am lucky enough to be invited to do a guest set a few days later. She sends for me when I arrive. I walk into her dressing room and she smiles at me. She squeezes my hand and says “Hello, baby.” and I remind myself that if I cry in front of Mo’Nique again she’s gonna think I’m a crazy person. So I choke back those tears and smile and say hello back. Her energy is palpable. I feel so positive and comfortable, I just know the night is going to be fun. And it was. It was one of my favorite performing experiences to date. I got to watch her bring the house down and I went home that night giving a middle finger to all those people who said “Never meet your heroes.”.

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I will save a lot of the memories of that night for me. They are special to me and I don’t believe everything is meant to be shared. I believe some things are meant to be cherished and don’t need repeating. However, there are some things from that night that made me think that a lot of comics, not just female comics, I know could take a page out of the Mo’Nique handbook. Here’s what I took away from this experience:

  1. Don’t be afraid to be real. She showed us her heart and it made those laughs feel so very good. It felt like laughing with your favorite cousin who you only get to see once a year for the holidays. It felt like laughing with that person in your life who you laugh so hard with every time you hang out and only you guys think each other is funny. It felt so very good. A pure laugh that sits in your belly and came from your heart.

  2. Be good to people. All of her messages can be summed up in one message: “Be better to each other”.

  3. And love those who love you. She spent real genuine time with each of her fans that stayed for the meet and greet. She hugged us like she lost us in the grocery store and thought we got snatched up. She didn’t fade. She gave every one of those people 110% of her right up until the moment she walked offstage. Hell, for all I know she was back there hugging the staff and giving them all those positive vibes she seems to be made of.

The fourth thing that I took away was how much she cared that the experience was good for me. She check on me FOUR times before my set. She even apologized for interrupting me while I was reading my notes. She checked on me and made me laugh and showed me love before I even touched the microphone. She didn’t need me to prove that I was funny before she treated me with kindness and love. She did it because I was, as she says, her “Sister in Comedy”.

Comics can so often can ascribe their personal feeling on a comic’s “talent” to how they feel about a person. Deigning them to be “hack” or an “open micer” or “not funny” somehow making them less worthy of kindness it seems. How many of us check on someone we’ve never seen go up even once before they do a guest set on our show? And no I’m not counting you saying “Tight five. Be funny and I'll light you at four.” as checking on them.

And finally, the last thing that I will hold with me for as long as I am in this crazy industry was what she said when I thanked her for the opportunity. I will hold onto this as a principle in my life. It is the kind of person we should all aspire to be. She took my hand and said: “Just promise me that when you’re where I’m at, you’ll reach your hand out to the next little girl trying to make her way and help her up.”.

 

Quick Makeup Tutorial/Go-To Going Out Look

I get asked a lot to do makeup tutorials. I have mad respect for the YouTube makeup gurus because these videos take a lot of effort and time to make. The latter of which I am very low on these days. Here is my first “quick tutorial”. I will make some more in depth ones down the line, but it’s still a very comprehensive look on how I put my face on. I’ve listed the products and links to where to find them below.

I give a quick and easy overview of my go-to "going out" look. This is also my preferred look for shows. Can't be washed out in those photos hunny! I have hooded lids so the eye took me awhile to get where I wanted and those without will be able to play with the eye look more.

How We've Let Politics Ruin the Art of Discourse

My grandmother screams at the television. Sucked in by the 24 hour news cycle, she sits in her red recliner day in and day out pining for a Democratic president and cursing at representatives of the right. Flip the political affiliations either way and I bet each and every one of you reading this has someone in your family like this. Someone so caught up in the discourse they forgot that part of the human condition is coexisting. She screams again, my grandfather tells her to knock it off, and I tell my grandmother what I really think of it all. She listens. Maybe she’s changed, maybe she isn’t. We have a responsibility to keep discourse alive

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Hangover Skincare: How to Look Like you Didn't Get Most of Your Sleep in the Front Seat of a Corolla

I hear my friend, Mike Simpson, talking cheerily with our hostess. He asks about her sons and the night starts to flash back to me. Did we see a deer in the front yard? Did I dream that? Why is my face so hurty? Then I peel it off the leather couch it's stuck to and ask the same thing about my head. I look at Mike and mentally send him pictures of coffee and bacon and biscuits with gravy. He must be getting the hint because he heads in to shower. I know I have no time. Hygiene is for the young and spry. If I don't get greasy solids into my stomach to wrestle down the incorrectly made Irish car bombs we did the night before, I am going to have a much bigger problem on my hands. I cannot be all barfy for the drive I had ahead of me. I have 6 hours before the next show. It's back in Las Vegas so that will give me about 20 minutes to get ready. I can't even get some hair of the dog in me to alleviate my internal suffering. I have to drive. I know I look like a hot turd on the hood of a Pontiac, so I reach into my backpack for my trusty face sheet mask: the basic bitch's human white out. 

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Struggling Comedian: A Story of Middle Aged Bar Hopping and Living with Uncertainty

We walk up the ramp to the entrance of Mike & Rhonda's "The Place". A group of tourists who speak no English secure their spot on the waiting list for a table. I am wondering what brought these tourists to a little college town in the mountains of Arizona. The sole man in the group turns around and he has three individual rat tails that have been dread-locked hanging from the base of his skull. The rest of his head is shaved. What in the actual fuck. 

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