knock, knock? who's there? the man who explained all of his jokes by Cory Haas

Very early on it became clear that comedy was not an innate skill for Ulrich. It did not matter how much he watched The Tonight Show or fell into a YouTube rabbit hole of stand-up comedy routines, the late gods of Richard and George were simply NOT with him.

It wasn’t for lack of trying. During his early years, he always managed to make people laugh, well, chuckle is probably the more appropriate word to use here. When he was in kindergarten, he led, what he would call, a small gang, which was nothing more than a group of mindless children running after him because Ulrich had decided to be the first to run around. At lunchtimes, he would sometimes read out jokes that were inside of the candy wrappers his mom had packed in his lunch. Once again, the vocabulary is important here, ‘jokes’ is strong, they were little stories, meant to humour (which is not the same as making people laugh), meant to produce an ephemeral exhalation and small ‘ha’ sound (again, not the same as ha ha). Most of the kids managed to produce this combination of exhale/ha before returning to throwing rocks at each other. Despite these lunch break rituals, the times that Ulrich’s gang actually laughed out loud, or LOL’d for the laypeople, was when he would run into the door on his way back to class. The first time that this moment of outward recognition happened, this real laughter, the three ha’s in a row, was Ulrich’s first interaction with the sort. He didn’t understand it. He immediately defended himself and contextualised that it wasn’t supposed to be funny, that he had actually hurt himself in the process of running into the door, that he simply wasn’t looking. The cackles, the tears, the guffaws were loudest at this point. It was as if someone had stamped this blip in time forever in Ulrich’s mind. That someone had pressed this defining moment, had seared it into his brain, as the defining definition of his comedy skills. The fact that whenever he explained his mishaps, people would see him as the epitome of cool. Finally, they saw Ulrich for who he was, someone funny, entertaining, at the highest point in the playground hierarchy. All of this, Ulrich did not yet understand.

Despite this moment in time being etched forever in his soul, it took him a little while longer to understand that the explanation of the wisecrack was a necessity to make people enjoy his performance. At first, he, understandably, got really upset. The door had left a mark on his forehead, a three-centimetre gash across his left temple. It wasn’t enough to warrant a call to emergency services, but enough to earn a free pass to the infirmary, and make Little Timmy pass out from the sight of the red liquid running down his face. Little Timmy coincidentally called this, not because of his size, but because of his family’s long lineage in American organised crime, but that is another story for another time. After this event, Ulrich continued to attempt learning jokes, gags, farces, puns and one-liners, but the response was never as apparent and regal as the time he ran into the door and defended his actions. For years, he went on and on, working at a skill he so badly wanted to have. He read books, he took classes, he watched videos, but the response he got from his actions were simply not the ones he got when he bulled headfirst into the door and further analysed what happened.

At some point during his 17th year of existence, Ulrich was invited to a party. It was a typical high school party: cheap alcohol, cheap drugs, cheap pizza, and well, free social anxiety. Most crucial was the presence of a number of his so-called rivals. Marissa, Lionel and Lisa. They were all in the same class and despite everything, they got along, save for the fact that Ulrich secretly despised them, not that he would ever tell them that. His hatred stemmed from the fact that there was one crucial difference between Ulrich and the terrible trio: Marissa, Lionel, and Lisa could make people laugh with their jokes and stories without having to explain them. Halfway through the evening, Ulrich joined one of those semi-circles which fulfilled the double duty of including those who felt they were members of the circle’s social group and excluding everyone else. The moment had come, he would attempt, the way he attempted so many times before, to make those around him laugh. He launched into the joke, one about various religious identities walking into a bar. The punchline came and went, much like a race car zooming around the final corner and just as quickly gone from sight. The participants in the circle all eyed each other, silently communicating to each other that if everyone took a step in, an impenetrable wall could be erected, leaving Ulrich on the outside of the circle. The silence was deafening, the awkwardness resembling the first time you walk in on your roommates having sex. That horrible feeling knowing you’ll picture the moment every time they pour milk into their cereal but also that feeling that well you wouldn’t be opposed to joining if they asked. This is where it dawned on Ulrich that he could take control of the situation, he did not back down and a newfound strength filled his scrawny body. He realized that maybe they hadn’t understood the joke, that maybe he could walk them through the thought process behind the story.

‘You see, the three men are of different religions, but also they probably wouldn’t drink, because of their religion, so the fact that they entered a bar, it’s already a weird thing, and so when the bartender sees them, and say ‘what is this a joke?’, the whole situation is a metatheatrical and philosophical musing on the fact that they are inside of a joke…’, he fumbled confidently through the explanation. The next second of silence was even more unbearable. He felt like when Wile E. Coyote steps off the cliff and somehow defies gravity, if he could just maintain this physical impossibility for another second, it would pass and he would be saved. Just when he was about to lose confidence, deflate, and plummet to inevitable death, the semi-circle erupted in a fit of laughter. Even Lisa, Marissa, and Lionel lost their shit. People were applauding, patting him on the shoulder, refilling his drink with liquor that no human being should ingest, much less a 17 year old. Ulrich was a Rockstar.

On his way home that night, after making out with someone for the first time, no big deal, it dawned on him that what happened tonight was a bit like a déjà-vu. He scratched his head, thinking about what memory was stirring inside of him. As he rubbed his Harry Potter-like scar on his forehead, it hit him like a bolt of lightning. The last time he heard this amount of enthusiasm for one of his performances, was the time he went headfirst into the door and attempted to make the members of his gang understand the consequences of his mistake. Back then, the reasoning behind why this was in fact not laughable, was the unequivocal source of the laughter. Tonight, the reasoning behind why this should be laughable, was the unequivocal source of the comedy. From now on, his life could only be delineated by two distinct phases:  the Pre A-Ha! and the Post A-Ha! phases. Both of these lightbulb moments, not to be mistaken with Ha Ha moments.

From that day on, the world changed for Ulrich. Another dimension had opened up. He unlocked the secret of his success. Ulrich would be able to confidently enter a party, tell a funny story, then follow with the explanation of the joke, to huge rapturous laughter and applause. Through the end of high school into his first years of university, this is how he operated. His confidence boosted and he no longer hated the moment when no one laughed at the initial offer, knowing full well that he would blindside them with an explanation and that this would be the moment where the deal between joker and jokee would be upheld. Then, when he was 26, he fell in love.

Maxim was smart, confident, tall, and handsome, he was also honest. Very honest. Their relationship took off in a fury, one night, in the walk-in closet of one of their mutual friends. The sex was surprisingly, for Maxim, amazing. For Ulrich, it was as if all of his problems had been solved. He was now smart, funny and had found ‘the one’. The one who would stomp on his heart and soul.

A few months later, they had now had sex 17 or 18 times, but no one was counting, Ulrich decided it was time to ask Maxim if they could be boyfriends and make their situation official. When he approached the Adonis-like man lying in his bed and told him the proposition, the silence that ensued was worse than any of the ones he endured in the pre A-Ha! phase of his life. Finally, Maxim’s long and thoughtful sigh cleared the tension, just for a moment, before going on to say that he did not want to enter a real relationship with Ulrich. He didn’t think they meshed well together, that outside of the sex, there wasn’t much connecting the two of them and that he was thinking of calling it quits soon anyways. This was the first blow, destabilising Ulrich, shortening his breath and making him slightly nauseous. The next sucker punch, Ulrich did not see coming. Maxim said he always thought he would be with someone with a strong sense of humour, someone that could make him laugh. This second blow came out of left-field, little birds were flying around his head as if in a cartoon, he was swaying left to right, a precarious position which only needed a slight draft to be made even worse. Finally, as if Ulrich’s mind had been read, Maxim confessed the final, deadly blow and struck Ulrich with, what can only be called savage irony, an explanation of ‘it’s just that people are always laughing at you and not with you’. 

It took 17 years to reach this level of understanding, to finally realize that he had the power to make people laugh. It was a slightly different way of making people laugh, but Ulrich could not help but wonder that maybe this was his USP. His singular way of making people feel good. Then, it all came to an abrupt end. It was ripped away from him in a single instant. He left, ran home and cried.

For months after this night, the incident gave him panic attacks, caused him severe PTSD, he became a recluse and retreated unto himself. Day in and day out, he went into work, made himself small, barely spoke to anyone at the office, and then went home. He seldom went out, put off any kind of relationship, and, toughest of all, stopped enjoying comedy. YouTube videos, SNL, stand-up clubs, candy wrappers, or comic strips were all off-limits. It was his only rule. No. More. Comedy. The effect of this on anyone would lead to a sad and dark existence, most commonly referred to as a constant state of stick up your ass. Thousands of human beings suffer from this life, but usually, it’s because they had a Catholic upbringing, or were raised by members of a conservative family. But for Ulrich, this unimaginable way of living had huge repercussions on his health and well-being. That is, until that fateful Tuesday.

Ulrich was 28 at this point, it had been nearly two years since he was run over by Maxim’s words and occupied this newfound way of living. Today, was a typical Tuesday, it was no longer Monday, yet it was still so far away from the weekend where he could stay at home and read his book, a non-fiction about the effects of torture on inmates, called ‘Waterboarding Woes’. Lunchtime had come and Ulrich realised he forgot his food on the counter of his apartment, which meant that he would have to walk down to the cafeteria, order food and sit at one of the tables. This was the type of social event he’d been avoiding for the past two years. He entered the cafeteria, scoped the place out and noticed a spot near the far corner where minimal damage could be done. He put his headphones in, looked down towards his feet and started quickly shuffling towards the food line. He grabbed a tray, a plate, cutlery, an empty glass, then he ordered from the worker behind the counter; got his food and headed straight for the table. The soup went down fine, no one came and disturbed him, but when it was time to launch into the main meal, four of his co-workers sat next to him along with their lunches and more enthusiasm than anyone should have in a workplace cafeteria at lunch time. He nodded and managed a forced smile but as much as he wanted to leave, he was drawn into the conversation. One of his co-workers, we’ll call him Joseph, because that’s his name, said he had heard a really dumb joke the previous day. Ulrich had no options. He couldn’t leave since he had barely eaten anything. He couldn’t put the volume full blast in his headphones or people would start noticing, and well he had enough of that on the subway. Finally, he couldn’t interrupt because that was just rude. Joseph launched into the joke ‘Knock, Knock?’, the rest of the group responded, almost in unison, ‘who’s there’, ‘Annie’, ‘Annie who?’, ‘Annie thing you can do, I can do better’. Ulrich’s disgust must have been apparent, or maybe it was the very obvious eye-roll and grunt that caught their attention, but while no one laughed, Joseph immediately turned to Ulrich and said ‘see? it’s an awful joke, no one laughed’. Ulrich’s life flashed before his eyes, his gang, the terrible trio, Maxim, the worst feeling of his life, the YouTube videos, the books of one-liners, sleepless nights working on his act, all of it. The sensation was so palpable, nothing he could do could stop him for what was about to happen next.

‘It’s not because the joke is bad that they aren’t laughing, it’s because you didn’t understand it. Anything you can do, I can do better, is lyrics from the song Anything You Can Do, a song from the 1946 Broadway musical Annie Get Your Gun, composed by Irving Berlin. The knock, knock joke is doubly funny in the fact that it is both a play on the name Annie, the titular character of the musical but also because it closely resembles the word any. Furthermore, it is funny, if you know the song and say the punchline like the song, because everyone knows the song, and then it becomes an immediately recognisable piece of popular culture. Knock, Knock? Who’s There? Annie? Annie, who? Annie thing you can do, I can do better’.

The moment the notes had left his mouth, he heard not only the rest of the table, but the whole of the cafeteria erupt with cheer. Ulrich’s world went into a cinematic slow-motion sweeping shot, he surveyed the cafeteria. He could see Jan from the second floor hold her belly as if with child, Jenny from accounting had black mascara streaks from the tears gently rolling down her cheeks, Jamal from the 6th floor kicked his chair so hard from laughing that he almost hit Pam from shipping and receiving, but it’s okay because at that moment her fit of laughter took her backwards and she sprawled on the cafeteria table behind her, lifting her feet off the ground and narrowly avoiding the chair. Some people he had never met were high fiving and others were holding each other steady, trying to recuperate from the exhaustion hilarity can sometimes produce.

He was back baby.

From that moment, the dark clouds were lifted, the stick was out of said ass. Ulrich had re-captured the essence of his life, his purpose, to make people laugh, to bring strangers joy, through the explanation of jokes. He finished his meal, went back to his office, cleared his desk and quit that very day. He knew what was to happen next.

Ulrich is now a spritely 68 year old, he lives in a nice walk-up in Brooklyn. From that day in the cafeteria, his life had been nothing but joy, fun and funniness. He had succeeded, albeit differently than most comedians, in making millions of people laugh. Sometimes Maxim’s words echo in his mind. The reality was that all of these strangers were laughing at him and not with him. He made peace with this idea because in the end, they were laughing and that’s all that matters.

santa's rota or the downfall of the zero-hour contract by Cory Haas

Despite the nightstand clock reading 04:15 and the loud snoring coming from the warm body next to him, Santa can’t help but enjoy the glowing sun streaming in through the little wooden hut’s window. It’s the middle of June and the sun is no longer setting in the North Pole. Midnight sun they call it. Whoever thought of that was brilliant, chuckled the old man with the white beard, to himself. Soon enough the night would slowly come back and thus would start the long and tedious preparations towards the Christmas holidays. He’s not going to worry about that today though. The last five months have been filled with such gratifying moments that the thought of looking ahead is terrifying. Instead, he’s tried focusing on the little things he can do with his time off. And whatever the case may be, he’ll sign the same Zero Hour contract he’s gotten every year for the past 100. It’s a matter of routine now, he’ll know what to do when the times comes. 

No need to think about December. Today is going to be a good day, one of productivity and positivity. First off, a short jaunt to the bathroom to pee. The bladder is a young man’s game he thinks to himself while struggling to get rid of that burning sensation from below. As he waits for the last drops to make their way out, he awkwardly grabs the toothbrush and paste from the holder next to the sink. The toothpaste tube is empty. Literally. It has been squeezed flat. Despite the little shudder of irritation, Santa knows not to let this sensation overtake him. Productivity and positivity. Morphing into another awkward shape, he opens the drawer searching blindly for a new tube. Candy Cane flavour. No. Eggnog flavour. No. Turkey dinner flavour. No. No. No. He shouldn’t have thought about Christmas this morning. Once he’s definite about the hose being empty, he leaps towards the kitchen to make coffee. 

Inside the cupboard is rows upon rows of ground up coffee beans bags. They are all lined up in an army parade configuration, the symmetry is striking, the organization impeccable. This impressive display of structure is clouded over by the fact that these coffee beans are all of the ‘Christmas Blend’ variety, putting a further damper on today’s beginnings. A few moments later, careful as not to disturb the coffee soldiers, Santa locates a rogue bag at the back. It is a simple, organic, some might say boring, Italian Roast, but this morning it will more than do the trick.

After splashing an ounce of oat’s milk in the morning elixir, the first sip feels divine, restoring balance on this sunny day. Santa chooses to settle in at the desk. The sound of the new MacBook turning on, a Christmas gift, from himself, remains a highlight every day. His work email is relatively empty. A few early requests from kids who think they can get ahead of the curve. Some junk. But one email immediately pops out at him. It’s a unbelievable deal from Jack’s Flight Club. The contents of which seems impossible. He clicks on the link. The airlines have fucked up, the deal is that good.

Santa and the missus have not had a lot of chance to travel for leisure. Obviously, they travel for business two days a year, but the layovers are so quick, sometimes under a minute, that there is no real opportunity to enjoy the locale or the people. Something happened at that moment, which if you’d ask him, he wouldn’t be able to recall. Excitement, joy, thrill, happiness, danger, revenge perhaps? Not but a minute later, a new email. Ping. 

“CONFIRMATION X2GH34 – SANTA CLAUS – DECEMBER 24th-JANUARY 2nd”

It was booked. At the bottom of the email, a link to ‘add to calendar’. MacBooks really have it all. After this elation, it’s time to take a shower. His body tingling at the prospect of having some real time off. I deserve this holiday he thinks to himself as he washes out his hair with the new all salt and pepper Head & Shoulders. The guilt tries to creep in. For someone who works once a year to take a holiday is a slap to the face to all those other people who work round the calendar. He lets the image slip away. He seldom sees the rest of the world, careful not to spend the surprisingly little money he makes on frivolous things. But this was really a deal he could not pass upon, no person in their right mind would.

The rest of the day is similar to the other 363 a year he has off. Cleaning, tidying, conversations with the neighbours, a walk with Mrs. Claus, and some reading. Except today’s read is not the latest thriller to indulge in but a travel guide to start thinking about his next great destination. A full week of holidays. How exciting.

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The next day, after his morning routine, slightly out of order since he started with a run, then a shower, coffee and finally, only now, the email check, the ping is striking. A new email.

“Re: AVAILABILITY REQUEST – SANTA CLAUS – CHRISTMAS 2019”

Timing has never been a strong suit for Santa and this new email, which he should have seen coming, has put him in a difficult position.

‘Hi Santa,

Hope you’re well. Obviously nothing new here, we’ve put you on the rota, 24th and 25th, just need you to confirm so we can sign off on it. Details are the same. 3% increase this year and a new sled being put into commission too, you’ll be the first to use it. It’s a treat!

Talk soon,

HR’ 

Suddenly he’s caught between his personality and his celebrity. He doesn’t want to let people down, obviously, but it’s June, they’ll surely be able to find someone else, or even better yet, just shift the Christmas dates by a few weeks. This deal includes checked luggage and seat selection, come on!

“Re: re: AVAILABILITY REQUEST – SANTA CLAUS – CHRISTMAS 2019”

‘Hi Mark,

Hope you’re well too. Unfortunately, I’m not available this year. I’ve attached the rota with an X next to the dates, I can’t work. All the dates really, since there are only two. 

Thanks,

Santa’

Santa thought that would be the last of it. After all, he’s really the big man on campus, the one everyone waits for, so they should be able to work around this with him. It’s also worth mentioning that legally this type of contract doesn’t engage him to do anything, it also doesn’t require human resources to hire Santa. Win-win. It’s not the new sled that’s gonna to make him double guess this all-inclusive holiday. Ping.

“Re: re: re: AVAILABILITY REQUEST – SANTA CLAUS – CHRISTMAS 2019”

Hi Santa,

Thanks for your email. 

Okay. This is delicate. Do you have a doctor’s appointment? Is there a reason why you’re not available? I know you’re not obligated to work, but as you know, the marketing department shapes its campaign around you, and you know how it is, all of this starts months in advance now. They’ve already printed the Coke bottles.

Hope you can reconsider or re-schedule, the office can put in some calls to help you out.

Best,

HR’

The guilt Santa felt after booking his holiday returns in waves. His conscience takes him down various roads of excuses and scenarios. Two lists, CHRISTMAS +/- – CABO +/-, materialize in front of him. After hours of quiet deliberation, where he ended up eating all but one of the cookies left over from last year’s work, his resolve is still murky.

“Re: re: re: re: AVAILABILITY REQUEST – SANTA CLAUS – CHRISTMAS 2019”

Hi Mark,

Hope you’re still well. Thank you for your support and for your determination in having the office put in a few calls. I know this is not ideal but I am just not going to be available. I will be around January 3rd onwards, any chance we can push back?

Let me know,

Santa’

Santa tried to recall how the last staff Christmas party went, which ironically was held in March. Did he say something mean to anyone from management? Could they hold it against him? Is there any real action they could take against him? Ping.

“Re: re: re: re: re: AVAILABILITY REQUEST – SANTA CLAUS – CHRISTMAS 2019”

‘Hi Santa,

Thanks again for the email.

Look, think of the children.

Best,

HR

PS: No, we can’t push back.’

Wow. That was a rather short email. The HR team must be pissed off. They really aren’t putting the effort Santa wished for in finding a solution or pushing back Christmas this year.

“Re: re: re: re: re: re: AVAILABILITY REQUEST – SANTA CLAUS – CHRISTMAS 2019”

‘Hi Mark,

Hope you’re well. I know this is awkward, but there’s no reason to become short with me. I am sorry you can’t work around these dates. If it helps, I can suggest a friend of mine who may be able to help us out. He does children’s parties…superheroes that kind of thing. His name is Richey. His email is richierich83@hotmail.ca.  

Hope this helps.

Best,

Santa’ 

When Santa told Mrs. Claus about the idea, she was discouraged by the fact that he had to do management’s job. Despite this unfortunate email exchange, Mr & Mrs. Claus went for lunch. Ping.

“Re: re: re: re: re: re: re: AVAILABILITY REQUEST – SANTA CLAUS – CHRISTMAS 2019”

Hi Santa,

Thanks.

HR’

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By September, the email chain had hardly been sustained. A few meagre attempts to get Santa to reconsider but they all ended with a hint of sadness knowing that they would fail no matter what they offered him.

By October, Santa had run into to some of his colleagues who work in the workshop. They all seemed happy for him. They were going to miss him while the new replacement learned the ropes of delivering gifts across the world in under 48 hours (allowing for time difference).

By November, Santa still ran into his face wherever Christmas was advertised. He heard through the grapevine that management made the decision that changing something that’s worked so well for the past century wasn’t worth the hassle. Deep down, he wished they hoped that he would return next year. He hoped that they would look pass this inconsistency and send him availability for 2020.

In December, three weeks away from the big dates, he got a new email. Ping.

“Re: Advice”

cc: HR

‘Hi Santa,

Hope you’re well. My name is Pete, I’ll be taking over this year. I have experience in covering important holidays. I have worked on the Tooth Fairy shift (she says hi by the way) and sometimes help out during Easter. It is my understanding that I should be especially furtive this year while delivering the presents (something about keeping you the face of the holiday), any advice would be appreciated. I’ve CC’d HR, in case you wanted to go through them.

Talk soon,

P’

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Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

 

He would not. He’s off to Cabo. Pete will be though and it will be fine.

the real vagina monologues or the odyssey of directing 'horny potter and the milf-rider of ass-kaban' by Cory Haas

I have weird goals in life. I want to become David Copperfield, master illusionist. I want to see if I can drop dead on precisely my 100th birthday. I want to be a bad guy in a James Bond movie. I want to create a city where the sidewalks are trampolines and finally, I want to direct a porno. That’s right folks, I want to direct the shit out of a pornographic movie; the same way that I direct theatre. 

It would all start off easily enough. I am not looking for a producer, there’s a lot of those. There’s thousands of men..and women (let’s not discriminate) who need to release energy in front of the old spank tube, so there’s lots of money being thrown around for it. I have no doubt that I can make it happen, so that’s not where the journey would start for me. No, the core of any good project stems from the material. So what famous movie series could I lampoon with penis, vagina and bumholes? Hmm? Harry Potter, of course. Except, immediately, the title becomes ‘Horny Potter’. 

Now, I won’t lie to you by saying that my ambition isn’t strong enough to take on the whole series, but you never sign on for seven films before you even make the first one. Unless, you’re ANY Marvel comic and you can see where that took us… So for this reason alone, it’s about taking one of the stories and making it the best that it can be. A cinematic delight for the whole family… as long as they are over 18. 

Which story would I take on? One with layers, relationships, great conflict and many locations for where the sexy time could be partaken in. It also needed to have a great title. So, I had to think about this for a little while. I’ve spent hours in front of my TV, looking at the programming on the X-rated channels and laughing at the hilarious and truly ingenuitive titles that were being created. You had your take on the classic stories: ‘Midsummer Night’s Cream’ or ‘Tits a Wonderful Life’. The take on the movies that I watched in my childhood: ‘Anus the Menace’, ‘Honey, I Blew Everyone’ or even ‘Little Oral Annie’, yes the curtains did match the drapes. The Academy Award winners: ‘Shaving Ryan’s Privates’ and “Lord of the Rims’. Finally, your more commercial titles, less clever but just as touching: ‘Blondes Blow Best 2’ and ‘Paste My Face 33’ (See? Some series warrant the repeated success). The latter two movies shown at 10AM on the Playboy and Hustler channels respectively, if you’ve got nothing to do tomorrow morning. 

With Horny Potter, there were plenty to choose from. ‘Horny Potter and the Daily Swallows’ or ‘Horny Potter and the Half-Black dick’ (an important interracial love story, in a time of constant unrest in the US), but I settled on ‘Horny Potter and the Milf Rider of Ass-Kaban’. The title had it all: intrigue, action and many possibilities. 

What would be the next step? Well, for me, in theatre, it’s the prep work: what’s it about? Who are the characters? You start to think about casting. What is the budget? and how can you make it entertaining? 

I won’t bore you with all of those details. Mostly because it’s a very personal process that directors don’t often share. This is no exception. You might laugh and say to yourself ‘Gees, it’s just a porno, why’s he being such an asshole about the process?’. I say to you ‘There are no small projects'…just small penises. Which brings us to casting and boy, was I shocked. I didn’t use a couch because I really wanted to concentrate on the actor’s ability to bring the story out as opposed to their cocks. In addition to casting the show, I was the reader at the audition. You try throwing in sentences like ‘Deaf Eater’s the name, Muff Eater’s the game?’ (It’s all about the script) while the actors are demonstrating why they should play Professor Gape, and how he should teach his class ‘Doggystyle in all the dark areas’. 

Then it’s time for rehearsals and boy are those always exciting. You get to meet the people who’s lives you will share for several weeks and who’s bodily juices may accidentally diverge in your direction. It’s important to create a strong trust so that the intimate scenes, when you get to them, are not as awkward and challenging for the actors. A director has many responsibilities but to create an atmosphere where everyone should feel comfortable walking around naked, with a semi hard-on, is perhaps the most vital. 

After several days of ‘table work’, spent analyzing plot points, intentions, sexual positions and the amount of lube needed for the scenes so that we can account for it in the budget, we discuss some of the more intricate scenes where the WHORECRUXES (didn’t even have to try) must be destroyed, using Horny’s wand made of 25% hawthorn wood, 25% dragon heartstring and 50% dick. I tend to be more organic when it comes to staging and (cock) blocking for camera but for this project, the level of detail needed to be complex, we were talking a multi billion dollar franchise. I may be exaggerating. 

We start shooting the film from the beginning of the story. It starts with the actors having to be put into their ‘houses’. It would very much be similar to the original series, except the hat isn’t what decides, instead it is the ‘Sorting Dick’. You see, to create a pornographic parody of quality, you need to infuse as much crude and sexual humour as you can, while having a similar story line. I guess you’re thinking Duh? But maybe some people who are going to be reading this have never experienced watching porn….(I am snickering behind my laptop, tried really hard to get through that one with a straight face).

So Horny, Dong (THAT’S RON) and Her-tongue’s on me (That was was difficult to create and to type out) are put into ‘Slide’r’in’. I know, I know, I am taking artistic freedom and moving them into another house. Anyways, these kids are constantly fucking and sinning, so they clearly are the bad people here..  

Quickly, they realize that they want to take part of the Quidditch league and join their house team. A fascinating sport, where two teams with brooms must fuck the Golden Snatch, to win the game. This scene was particularly hard to film, special effects are not a big priority in the pornography industry. We had to be creative to make it look real, while being conscious about difficult actor’s needs. The Golden Snatch was played by April Fills (that’s a real pornstar) but she did not want her vagina painted gold, go figure! The men in the film were upset that their tools of work were being replaced by real brooms, but I’ve yet to see anything bigger than 25cm. 

After several weeks of boy/girl, boy/boy, girl/girl and big black dick/dementors(don’t ask), it was time, the final battle. Orgy. Sorry still getting used to transposing the work into a world of fluffers and dildos. We set it up as a battle between Horny and his friends against Voldermort and his ‘Spunkeaters'. It was difficult to find a name worthy enough of the evil force in the series that was also appropriate for a porno.  The (hard) wand battles start quickly (after 10 to 12 minutes of oral sex). Killing Voldermort comes at the end of giant orgy where we see several impressive positions, and the inflicting of the final Anal Kadabra, which is just an ejaculation that we turn purple in post.

After calling the final cut, one of my life long dreams is achieved. I’ve directed a porno….Well that’s the plan anyways. For now, I’ll just keep watching them while stuffing my face with a bag of Doritos. 

I look down at traces of cheesy red crumbs around my wand while ‘The DaVinci Load #2: Angels and Semen’ is playing in the background. 

PS. At the time of publication of this essay, ‘Whorrey Potter and the Sorcerer’s Balls exists. Will have to check it out to see if it holds up with my vision. 

taming defeat or the nature of this business by Cory Haas

Maybe it’s because of today’s Brexit results, or maybe the insane heat wave that has swept over this part of France, where I am currently working to cushion the blow of the loan I’ve had to take to earn my Master’s degree, but today, I feel particularly defeated after, yet another, letter saying that I will not be getting a scholarship for my studies. I say yet another, but it isn't about always scholarships. It can be about not getting a role, not getting a job, not getting an opportunity, not getting a grant, not getting many things. That is the nature of this business.

I’ve always had a very can do drive when it comes to my directing/acting career. Some may call it a no bullshit approach or a ‘go big or go home’ attitude. I tend to get cautious of the people who tell other artists what the ‘specific’ approach to getting a job is and not simply a version of what they believe to work. I learned that lesson fairly early in my undergrad. I realized that there weren’t ultimate ways of succeeding but merely a myriad of ways of succeeding and a necessity for adaptability. At the end of the day, I am the one who is trying to get the god damn thing and I will strive for it in whatever way it pleases me, intelligently and bravely. 

I say this with confidence, not arrogance. I know what I am capable of. I’ve been lucky. I’ve worked hard and have gotten some great opportunities, many more than some probably get. I will stand by the way I approach projects, because it fulfills me. 

This being said. 

I’ve also been rejected. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many. Many.

times.

The ratio in somewhere in the range of 1:253. That’s one good piece of news to 253 letters telling me I am qualified but ultimately, not qualified enough. So how do I deal with it? 

Parents, friends, girlfriends, teachers, role models. They get a flurry of emails, texts, calls. Talking to them helps. They are your support system. They WORK.                For the first 253 emails.

The next 253, those are on you. On me. I have thick skin. I am ambitious, determined, the can do attitude I told you about earlier. It’s what I am proudest of. It gives me a full tank of gas. It gets me 500km on the highway. 

But here I am, the next 253, and the one after, and the one after. I am lost. I don’t know how to get out of this one. I have the conversation. The ‘should I go be a banker?’ conversation. No, I shouldn't because the flame is still lit in there, somewhere, but it’s there. I have other passions but this one is winning the race. This one excites me, invigorates me, makes me HARD for CHRIST SAKES. Sometimes these feelings are trapped under five very large, very heavy history text books, wrapped in a cute barbwire bow, guarded by a Trumpian? (Trumptastic?) wall, but they are there. I HAVE to remember that they are there. They will keep me going. Put my head down, work hard and believe in myself. Because when you have a goal, a real goal, one that gets you up in the morning, you stop at nothing to reach it. 

do you want to buy my African baby? by Cory Haas

December 1st, 2012 is a date I will forever remember. It’s not because that night was the night I met someone that I will forever call a best friend. You’d think a life altering meeting would be the cause for such remembrance, but no, oddly enough the reason I come back to 1/12/2012 has nothing to do with that encounter. 

There are few moments that happen in one’s life where you suddenly register that those specific memories will stay etched in your brain, and will become the coveted subject matter of many dinner party conversations. For years to come. Not annoying dinner party conversations mind you. Not the ones that revolve around the weather, or Grandpa Bo’s mild racism against Syrian refugees (‘They are just looking to steal our jobs’, you’re drunk Grandpa, go home), or wether auntie Kim’s new ShamWow order is doing the trick. On a side note though, have you tried those things? Wow. You shouldn’t beat up prostitutes, of course not, but good thing he had his own product to clean up the blood. 

No, it’s the type of dinner party conversation that you just can’t wait to whip out in order to be the centre of attention. Be careful though, too many of those and you become known as the anecdote master guy and will soon be requested to MC your cousin’s Game of Thrones themed wedding. Another story for another time. 

So anyways, the date is important to me because on that chilly fall (who are we kidding? December is winter) scratch that, winter night, a blue-vested associate of an organisation called Plan Canada, jogged with me for 12 blocks (I was late seeing a show), attempting to, let me put it as plainly as it sounded to me, sell me an African baby. I say African but at that point it could have been South American, Asian or a number of different ethnicities. He wasn’t discriminating and I wasn’t really listening. I was mostly trying to keep my sweat levels to a minimum and make it for curtain. 

I did make it to the theatre on time. The performance was good; not great, not horrible. Here’s how I can judge that the quality of a show is mediocre: I remember the title but I’m not involved enough to remember the story a day later.  It was the case with this show. Instead, I kept replaying the scene that had happened 24 hours before. I kept wondering if I had made the right choice not to stop. Sure, I had seen those people in the street before but this one invited and invested himself in my life. Sure, you engage with the same barista every day but that doesn’t mean you have to invite him or her over to Sloppy Saturday Sleepover night. There are boundaries in this world. The Plan Canada guy even participated in physical activity. Like, how could I be sure that I had not just shifted the rotation of the earth and the alignments of the planets by not stopping and talking to that person? How could I be sure that the karma gods wouldn't be out soon to get me? I am not a big believer in karma but I also didn’t think it was possible to acquire a baby, in less time than it takes you to renew a driver’s license at the department of motor vehicles. 

The employee of Plan Canada, I am going to call him ‘Lowell’, did not looked particularly peeved that I blew him off. I say employee but I don’t really know if Lowell is paid to do it or if he does it as some sort of Mormon missionary duty. I can’t say that any Plan Canada person has ever come to my door with outfits that, on Halloween, would be Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones, in Men In Black. They most certainly did not have pamphlets about Joseph Smith. No, the nonchalance of the situation seemed fairly average, as if that was the normal reaction Lowell got from people he stalked on the street. I guess stalked isn’t the right word because I did let him join me on my semi-marathon, an opportunity I reserve for no one, only because I start grunting like Serena Williams on the WTP tour. 

You’d think if you got rejected so frequently and sometimes have to burn calories in the process, you would change your marketing philosophy or plan of attack - maybe a 2 for 1 deal on Wednesdays, or 50% off the second baby during happy hour. Look at Fresh Slice, Tuesday’s are like Christmas day for some people. College students and stoners to be precise. But the fact of the matter is, they will scarf that pizza down instead of hitting up their dealer. Maybe I am all wrong, maybe discounts aren’t the way to go, I never really did understand statistics in high school. I don’t remember ever seeing a class called: “ Stats and analysis in offspring acquisition”

All of these different thoughts and questions kept popping up in my mind long after the show was over. My ignorance kept placing me in the lineup of a Subway sandwich shop. Sure, you choose the bun and that’s fairly easy. You got Italian, Herbs and Cheese, and Monterey cheddar, but Honey Oats is what the heart wants (and that is fine because you have hot yoga at 6). The hard part is deciding on which toppings to choose from. Height, eye color, skin color; those, I assume, are sort of the basics. You can’t stop there though, some people are really peculiar at Subway. I can’t imagine it being any different when picking out a child. I think I would want him to have a developed sense of humour and an affinity for repartee. You know, green peppers and light onions. He would also have to be an athlete. OR SHE! That’s like pretty important too right? Look back on the last time your sandwich artist asked: ‘Mayo or Mustard?’ Now think about, objectively, how long it took you to make that decision. Major career decisions of mine have taken less time than that. 

A few other thoughts: Could you get them older? I don’t know how well I would fair at explaining things like masturbation or periods, other than by using the terms ‘fun pee-pee playing time’ and ‘vagina blood’. Which organisation do you go for? I don’t want to pick favorites but I like my coffee at Starbucks and my bagels at Tim Hortons. It becomes a little difficult when you have to pick a human being. You start feeling guilty after awhile and then faster than you can say ‘Brandgelina’, you end up with a Brady Bunch of your own. Do you receive a special code that links you back to the history of the child you take on? I have a sweater that’s given me all of the important info on the sheep who’s wool was used to create the piece of clothing. “Leonard, sheep #Z-A431453, Australian”. See? All of the info. My sheep is clearly a convict. If I could skip all of that, that would be great.

Look at me, being very precise already, I haven’t even stopped and talked to Lowell yet, maybe they’re out of stock? 

It’s been over three years and I keep replaying this scenario over and over and over again. I don’t really know what to do about it. I don’t think I am ready to take it on. 

Ironically enough, three years is also the length of time between now and my last Subway sandwich. 

a week on the slopes or an exercise in festive nihilism by cory haas

It should come as no surprise to anyone that skiing is about the whitest and most expensive hobby that any one person could participate in. In fact, when deciding to take that winter holiday in the mountains, the one you've been saving up for for about three years and spent countless overtime hours in the office, photocopying project covers and imputing numbing expense reports, convincing yourself ‘Hey! A week in _______ (insert ski resort name here)this oughta be great’, it would have been much easier for you to listen to that nagging voice in your head saying ‘GET THE FUCK OUT’. But no, you signed away the life you lead with little enjoyment and you made a shit deal, my friend. The type of deal that amounts to the devil stealing all you money while simultaneously fucking your wife and fingering you in the ass (Ironically, doesn’t feel as good when the red man himself does it).

Maybe human need for success took over a little and convinced you that you needed to make room for yourself at the top of the food chain, among the MBA’s and PHD’s and SIRF’s (Snotty Inheritance Rich Fucks). Freezing your ass off seemed appropriate. Are you doing it to impress your boss, so that he could see what type of man you really are and promote you out of the windowless cubicle to the corner windowless cubicle, with ‘You should have seen the tits on this broad’ Peter and ‘Why can’t I get anyone to love me?’ Marcy next to you? Or is it to show your surprisingly more attractive and successful neighbour Mort, that, yes in fact your dick actually is bigger than his? The latter feat easily replicated drunk at the cheaper and more familial summer BBQ, only to find yourself winning by a couple millimetres of skin. No need to mention Mort’s last name is Horowitz.

Small dick Mort is taking HIS family home to upstate New York this Christmas. When you told him about your vacation plans, he was kind enough to spew out his philosophy of skiing. He eloquently described it as going down a snowy mudslide for 37 seconds on two pieces of neatly trimmed wood, only to have to go back up the mountain using a lift that forces you to stick a metal rod between your legs (college days anybody?). 

No, no, it’s true, it’s not only about that, it’s about the enjoyment, about the time off spent with your family. It’s about letting the sun and the good humour spread through your bones, making you forget how you could have spent 3 weeks in Mexico with more booze and visible boobage for a quarter of the price. 

‘Honey, this ski jacket makes me look dumb!’ - Truer words had never been spoken.

You wait in line for the cash desk, among the crying babies and horny college students, in what can only be called fluorescent adult onesies, only to find yourself unsure of what to buy in terms of lift tickets. You hadn’t really realized (Google is hard to reach in the wilderness) that six consecutive days of skiing could have gotten you and Jeanine, your college lesbian roommate, three meals a day AND have money left over for condoms. (Ironically, this was the reason you came all those years ago. You got over excited at the thought of getting post-exam pussy for once and didn’t think that a thin later of forgotten plastic would be primordial in the fast track towards the family life).

‘Do you need insurance?’ - The question comes from a moody seasonal worker who, with a dirty and vicious gaze, is telling you, you have no business here. 

She is so right.

‘Why the fuck would I need insurance? I am a grown man’ - The voice inside your head does not escape your lips because you are in the ‘here to have a good time, nothing will stop me’ mentality. The grin on your face is instantly side-swapped by the freighter train that carries the price tag of sending you, the missus and the two wonderful off-springs to the top of the mountain, with no refunds in the eventuality of shit weather.

You get a rare raging hard on every time you see an image representing anything close to an orange sphere on the daily weather forecast. It’s a small victory in a week which often feels like constant emasculation. The pride in a victory of this size is such that you might even make love to your wife tonight. You’ve come a long way since you and her, drunkenly invited your private parts to slosh together under a mixture of Malibu and cigarettes, all those years ago. 

The morning routine is always the same; you come to life once you put on your ski attire: a wet, damp, sweat ridden armour, which makes your balls tingle while you shed a single tear thinking about that photocopy machine back at the office. You head for Everest, making sure everyone is in tow. You’ve yet to make it to the top of the lift, yet you realize that you would kill for one of those downtown massage parlour foot rubs. 

It’s not even 11 and you take a break for lunch. Break is a term used loosely here since you’ve only been skiing for 45 minutes. Soggy fries, exorbitantly expensive coke (the drink, though for the same price, you could have really partied with Jeanine back in the day) and the ugly kind of sunburn, stir up longing images of sandy beaches and flip flops (Didn’t you walk by a ‘FOOTSIE RUBS’ in the village?). You fantasize about the Mexican children selling you pashmina’s, who you’d excitedly throw your money at right now.

‘Hola, umm quatro scarf things for me familia’ - Your high school Spanish coming back to you with such fluidity and precision. French, at that moment, is an insane language for lovers, intellectuals and assholes. 

The rest of the day progresses with the same amount of merriment. Seriously, it’s not that bad…you could get used to this…you think. Maybe even do it again next year? Sure, the money you would have used to send your kids to college has gone into the cold and stuffy cabin you rented for the week. On the bright side, your neighbours are a young Austrian couple who, you’re fairly certain, host nightly orgies, in lieu of an après, après-ski.

You reminisce about the ménage à trois’ Jeanine used to organize in your living room. You never participated, a lack of vagina probably the cause of it, but she was kind enough to let you watch. You never did get the name of that girl on girl on girl sex position, so beautifully executed by your roommate and her friends. It felt a little bit like watching the underage and illegal Chinese Gymnastics team during the Beijing Olympics. The judges all show a 9 and yet you can’t help but wonder if something’s not a little off….mhmm.

Tonight is Monopoly night instead. 

‘It’s okay baby girl, sometimes life ISN’T fair and that’s okay too.’ - A guilty yet extremely satisfying feeling takes hold of you as you assume ownership of the hotel on Park Place. The game sets a great foundation for many of the talks you will need to have as a father down the line. 

It quickly degenerates but the crying subsides into a snore as the evening winds down. The few precious seconds to yourself are reluctantly used the check in with the office. The red bubble indicating new messages lights up, the number 52 swooshing in a few seconds later.  The first one that pops us has an ominous subject header. 

‘New message: Thinking of you’

The night had had its fair share of eventful passages already but this one could act as a welcoming night cap, since you had no liquor in this haunted wooden box. The excitement is such that you almost immediately open the message. You whole life flashes in front of your eyes, except, instead of your life, it was the cute Swedish women you met in the last 24 hours. Was it Johanna, pronounced with a Y sound? The attendant who had taken your email down at the ski rental place. Or was it Malin, the waitress who didn’t deserve a tip but got one at the restaurant last night because of her cultural heritage?

‘Pictures from Mexico. See you back at the Office. - Peter

Only 5 more days to go. 

You wish you still talked to Jeanine, she had the best weed in college.