Saturday, June 1, 2013

All 99 of Jay Z's Problems

When a few comedians have to kill a few hours in the car between gigs, sometimes they tweet Jay Z's 99 Problems. And sometimes they tweet all of them @S_C_ - sorry Jigga Man. Don't hurt us.

1. Isreali/Palestinian Conflict.
2. Ceiling fan makes that clicking noise when set on "High".
3. Wifi keeps resetting.
4. All of the sudden I miss everyone. And I barely even like Explosions in the Sky, why can't I get into that band?
5. "Keep Your Hands To Yourself" by The Georgia Satellites is stuck in my head.
6. Dropped a cell phone in between the car seat and door.
7. The alarming rise in Cran-apple prices.
8. Scrubs rerun came on but it was one of the serious ones :(
9. In-flight magazine sudoku already filled out. Haven't yet learned KenKen.
10. Vanilla Wafers. Can't stop eatin em.
11. Funny gif of an elephant won't load.
12. Number 13 is next and I'm scared.
13. Never got the resolution I wanted from the ending of Twin Peaks
14. Washing machine keeps making that "errrrrrrrrrrgugugug" sound.
15. A little seasick. Not a lot, but it's still uncomfortable.
16. Copy of Blink 182's Dude Ranch is scratched
17. Got a stomach ache from drinking too much @Pepto. Don't know how to cure it now.
18. Tour date conflicts with my nephew's bar mitzvah.
19. Can NOT not cry at the end of City of Angels
20. Got one of those random boners you get while just walking around. I'm at IKEA.
21. Can't put this damn Flange together.
22. Was asked who the fuck I think I am and realized I've never truly known myself
23. The Number 23 my least favorite movie by Jim Carrey.
24. Finally have the entire set of Star Wars Pez dispensers, but Boba Fett is scratched.
25. These Reese's bar are way too nutrageous!
26. Beyonce won't buy crunchy peanut butter. Only smooth.
27. Just started watching The Sopranos but somebody already told me that Christopher gets whacked.
28. Don't have enough votes to win the condo board election.
XXIX. Never really understood arabic numerals. XXIX.V, 'arabic numerals' makes me think back to Ist problem
30. Someone just put water in the soap bottle assuming that that magically creates more soap. #smh
31. McRib isn't in season.
32. I felt that Daniel Radcliffe's acting was really forced in the first 4 Harry Potter movies.
33. Fans put hands in the air, but refuse to waive them as if they just don't care. They clearly care.
34. Played Monopoly but had to use the top hat as my piece because Sasha Fierce took the race car.
35. No one joined my Meetup group. Doesn't anyone else have a kid named Blue Ivy?
36. I actually don't care for the movie "Scarface" but I have to keep up appearances.
37. Pinterest won't stop sending me emails and I don't know what Pinterest is.
38. Just poured a bowl of cereal. No damn milk.
39. Found out what bologna is made out of. Kinda gross, you guys.
40. Not sure what 'Panera Bread' is. Is it a restaurant that just serves bread? THAAAAA FUCK?!?!?
41. Being hurt. I fall in love too easy.
42. Can't remember how Friends ended. Did Ross and Rachel get married? They must have gotten married.
43. Just found out what happened to Steve Irwin! Wasn't even a crocodile that did him dirty?! #smh
44. Obama won't stop texting me. Shouldn't have made out with him during spring break.
45. Still write "2012" on my checks.
47. Dad has a Show-Me State of mind. Not a fan.
48. Magic. I fucking hate magic.
49. That song "I've Been Everywhere" doesn't even mention NYC. EVERYWHERE, really, have you been EVERYWHERE?
50. Tried to book a suite at the Neutral Milk Hotel. Turns out it's just a band.
51. I liked Crystal Pepsi. What was so wrong with Crystal Pepsi?
52. Why can't Jay Baruchel get more work? I thought Undeclared was full of laughs. Not Apatow's best or anything...
53. I want to be cast as War Machine in the next Iron Man movie but Don Cheadele is a BAMF
54. Always forgetting to BYOB at parties.
55. I cant get my calculator to spell "boobs."
56. Hot dogs come in packs of 8, but condoms come in packs of 100? What the hell, conglomerates?
57. I'm hungry but all I have in the kitchen is some pears.
58. Can't spell gregarious...see?!
59. Black-Tie optional. I don't want to be too formal, but I don't want to be too casual. Black suit?
60. Never been able to solve a problem like that Maria chick... and I heard she solved bitches!
61. Jayden Smith lacks charisma.
62. None of my friends like talking about Captain Ron...loved that movie.
63. Thought I had Flange put together. I thought wrong.
64. My stars, I am positively FAMISHED!
65. Accidentally shrunk my tall tee in the wash. Now it's just a tee.
66. No one talks to me at Rush concerts.
67. Twitter handle is just @S_C_, or will be several years after this single's released and twitter becomes a thing
68. Gluten.
69. I have weird speech impediment, I'm actually British.
70. Forever haunted by the ghost of President Taft
71. Cadbury cream eggs seem to get smaller every year.
71. Lady Di. Nuf ced.
72. Parallel parking.
73. As a writer/producer I shouldn't like Huey Lewis and the News...but Heart of Rock n Roll..c'mon
74. The homeless....always in my way.
75. Is it garbage day? I think its garbage day.
76. My shirts are all wrinkled. Turns out my iron was made of zinc! Fourth row problems!
77. Sometimes people get on the elevator and press 2.
78. What the fuck makes gases noble?
79. Still waiting for Cabbage Patch Adults
80. I never got my neighbor's name and its way too late to ask him.
81. Birches, and other deciduous trees
82. My sitcom From J to Z never got greenlit
83. Have to say Beyonce's not home every time Kelly and Michelle call.
84. I've got chills and they're multiplyin.
85. If Kanye was the first black person in the major leagues, AND invented peanut butter, what have I done?
86. My nephew won't stop callin me P-Diddy
87. Kansas is pronounced Kansas but Arkansas is pronounced Arkansas. Whats the deal with states?
88. Biff fucked up my time line.
89. JUST. NOT. INTO. GRACKLES. #dontask #jusplayin #urbancrows
90. Someone took one took one of my Archie comics. I know who...but I hate confrontation
91. I'm losing followers over this.
92. I left my iPod charger at Michael Jackson's house and I REALLY need it back.
93. Reruns of The Fresh Prince? Is it still called 'Fresh'?... never understood how time worked
94. Cant. Stop. Thinking about tomorrow.
95. I have dandruff so at least 3 times a day I have to listen to people tell me to gon brush my shoulders off
96. I call my albums The Blueprints because I never realized my dream of becoming an architect.
97. Doctor said getting my eyes replaced with tiger eyes is a bad idea...sorry Survivor. I tried.
98. Hot dog guy never has change of a thousand.
99. These comedians won't leave me the hell alone.
100. Bitches

This was tweeted by Josh Johnson, Grant Redmond, Marshall Townsend, and me.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Scamming a Scammer

Two years ago, I received an email from someone saying that their 11-year-old son was a big fan of mine, and my comedy helped him get through his cancer treatments. The timing was perfect - my wife was going through a preventative double mastectomy surgery due to her BRCA1 mutation, and I received the email while at her side in the cancer ward of Sloan Kettering.

The kid being 11 threw me a bit - that's too young for my comedy, especially since he started listening before his treatments. A 9 year-old doesn't usually fall in love with harsh commentary on race, religion, and social inequality. Maybe it was my bit on how invasive the TSA is or how abortion is nothing to be ashamed of that really grabbed him.

A bit of googling showed me he was a scammer - an Atlanta autograph collector in his 50s who changed his story repeatedly. So when I got an email this morning that sounded a bit similar, I was ready.

Dear Steve, I'm writing to you in regard to my husband Kenny who is disabled and a Veteran. My husband is a very big fan of yours. I would like to ask if you could please send him an autographed photo. If you could I know my husband would be thrilled and I would be forever grateful to you. Thank You Very Much

Kenny Thrun
40 Clifford Street
Buffalo New York
USA        14210

One quick google showed me that not only was this a similar situation, but this was a much dumber man - he was using his real name, and he even had a classified listing selling all the autographs - again with his real name. And since he was using the US mail to engage in this deception, he was committing a federal offense. I alerted the Buffalo media, and decided to have a bit of fun with "her" meanwhile.

Thank you, Sandy. What a wonderfully touching email. As I'm sure you know, I do a great deal of fundraising for veterans. I would love to do more for your husband. Forget the photo, I'm sending all 5 of my albums as well.

I know some people at the USO - I'd love to see if they can put together a few autographed CDs and DVDs from some other comedians, too. Would Kenny like that?


Steve Hofstetter

How could she/he refuse such a kind offer? Probably because he's not in the CD/DVD re-selling business. Cue refusal:

Dear Steve, Thank you so very much for the response! My husband will be very surprised and excited when it comes. As he has no idea that I wrote to you. You don't have to over do it. A photo or anything from you will be wonderful. Thank you again.

Love Sandy xo

I am amazed that he's so stupid that he even wrote back. Any intelligent person engaged in such a scam would be wary of people figuring it out. Though any intelligent person would not be engaged in such a scam. It was time to pry for some more information. Let's play a little "yes, and."

I know I don't have to, but I would love to. You're doing a great thing for your husband - everyone should have such a caring wife. Was Kenny in Afghanistan or Iraq (or somewhere else?) I want to personalize the photo.


Steve Hofstetter

I assumed that "he" was smart enough to be a veteran of a recent war. You know, one where you'd have to be young enough to enjoy my comedy. Nope. Seems that the only people who fictitiously enjoy me are nine and ninety.

Thank you so much for your kindness. My husband is a little
bit older. He is a Vietnam vet.

Sandy :) xo

It was time to take things to the next level. I was tired of fishing. I wanted to see just how gullible this "woman" thought I was. Or how gullible "she" actually was.

Oh wow! Sorry - I sholdn't have assumed. Of course I would like to help. It was an unjust war, and it's so sad to see how little support the veterans of Vietnam received from the government. The least I could do is make up for that with a bit of kindness. Your husband sounds like a great man.

My buddy at the USO says he thinks he can get a few photos and albums from Louis CK, Whitney Cummings, and get this - Seinfeld! I know you told me to not make a big fuss, but I can I have them sent your way?

I'm playing the Hard Rock Cafe in Niagara Falls in October. I would love for you two to come to the show.

Steve Hofstetter

I don't know anyone at the USO, and I'm not playing the Hard Rock in Niagara Falls in October (though I am playing the ones in Memphis, Baltimore, and DC that month - tickets available). The important part was to get the "wife" of Kenny, a huge fan of mine/autograph collector, to refuse such a generous offer.

Like I said you are so kind. If you want that would be unreal. But my husband will be so happy just to receive something from you. As far as your show in October that is a maybe. Because my husband cant drive and I don't drive. As the day got closer I would know if we could get a ride. Thank you again so much!

Love Sandy xo

Smart enough to not press in case I was on to "her" but dumb enough to full out refuse the other autographs in case they were real. After all, an autograph from Seinfeld would probably sell better than one from a guy who you may not have heard of til you read this blog.

But to not come to my show? After I go out of my way to allegedly call my non-existent friend at the USO? Not on my watch.

Thanks Sandy, I completely understand. I may be able to get the Hard Rock to send you a car - I will stay in touch.

Do you want the autographs personalized with anything? Ken? Kenny? Or just generally signed?

Steve Hofstetter

I very much wanted "her" to reply and suggest that the autographs be signed to no one in particular, and come with a certificate of authenticity. I also wanted "her" to find a way to refuse the free ride to the Hard Rock. I got one of the two.

He prefers Kenny . I look forward to hearing from you. It will all depend on how he is doing as well. Because he deals with severe back spasms daily and that's a long ride for him. But as they say will cross that bridge when it comes. :)

What? "She" didn't sign it? What happened to the love and all the Xs and Os? Maybe "she" was on to me in that I was on to her. And so, it was time for the punch line.

Great news! I've spoken to the president of the military, and he loves this story. They have a big veterans comedy benefit concert coming up - Patton Oswalt, Aziz Ansari, Sarah Silverman, Maria Bamford, and Dave Coulier. It's so big, it's being simulcast on HBO and SyFy, and it's sponsored by Chipotle and Taco Bell, so everyone in attendance gets a free burrito and something that looks kind of like a taco. David Petreus will even be there to make a speech about the importance of character in our veterans.

The concert was supposed to take place at Madison Square Garden. But here's the great news - they want to move it to Buffalo! They're going to hold it at the First Niagara Center, just two miles from your house. And they're sending a limo for you designed for people with back problems so that you and your husband can be there. Why? Because they want you to share the stage with Petreus so that everyone in attendance can see just how important family is to veterans. Real veterans. Real, actual, no fakesies veterans. Because veterans are the backbone of our society. No pun intended, I know your husband has back problems. I just mean that they're what keeps our country from spasming. Dammit, I did it again.

Anyway, I'm so glad you reached out to me. If you hadn't, the world would never get to know what a kind and loving relationship the two of you have. You seem so close, it's almost as if you're one person.

Stay strong.

Steve Hofstetter

Despite "her" rapid replies to my earlier emails, I haven't heard back on this one. I wonder why.

BTW, if you wish to purchase any of these autographs, his email is and his phone number is 716-826-5060. Though with the amount of people reading this, he may have to change that real soon.