8-20 ''Think things through. Say them in your head first.''

I'm pretty excited to be back and I think that has inspired me to quit being so lazy about writing. I told three new jokes last week which all worked. Unfortunately, I also found another person to hate.

Here's the story.

As many of you know, I have a wife and two kids. I just spent the last 10 months seeing them only on the weekends, so I'm not ready to lose three or four nights a week with them so I can run to Virginia and tell jokes for free. Wednesday is my night to hit the open mics. So, if I can, I like to do two shows. I feel no entitlement. I ask, and the people that run these rooms are sometimes cool enough to accommodate me.

This past Wednesday I was doing RiRa's in Arlington and I asked Andy Kline if I could come over to Wiseacres afterward and do a set. When I got there I was put up 12th. Eleven comics went before me. I got up, did my time, saw the light, finished the joke I was telling and got off stage. No problem, right? Apparently not. There was a comic chewing Andy's ear the whole time, saying things like, ''How long is this guy gonna go?'' and ''Is he gonna tell another joke?'' When he finally got on stage he said something to the effect of, ''Thanks a lot for putting the national headlining radio personality on before me!''

Okay, first off, the worst thing about this is it didn't get a laugh. Why would it? It wasn't funny. Addressing that the guy in front of you did well and that you are not comfortable with this prepares them for a bad set. You're already behind and you haven't started yet. A suggestion would be, ''Give it up for (insert comic's name)!'' Then you get a free applause break, and you get to benefit from the energy created by the comic before you. That is EXACTLY what I did with Rob Maher when I took the stage that very same night.

Second, ''national headlining''? Dude, I'm not national and I don't headline. Thanks though.

Third, ''radio personality''? I was just fired. You are as much a radio personality as I am.

Fourth, people in Baltimore barely know who I am. Now we're in McLean. More people know you than me.

Fifth, there was a shit-ton of funny people there (Rob Maher, Randolph T, Andy Kline, Bryson Turner, Damone Miller, Sean Gabbert, etc.) Do you think no one will ever get laughs in front of you? What are you trying to do? If you want to do comedy professionally (which I'm sure everyone there does) you have to know that there will be other funny people at comedy shows.

Sixth, you want the people in front of you to do well. Do you understand this? Why do you think a show has an MC and a feature? So the audience is laughing before the headliner gets up. You were actually done a favor. The show had a lull and I was lucky enough to have a good set an hour and a half into the show. Take advantage of it. Do you think I want to follow you if you bomb? No. I want you to do well, not just for the show, but because I'm not a complete dick.

Seventh, don't complain to the people running the room unless you're sure you're right. Especially if they are a friend of mine. Not because I don't want you talking about me, I couldn't care less, but it makes you look amateurish. This business is about comedy, but also networking and building relationships. You will not endear yourself to people when you are upset about a comic who's doing well.

Eighth, There were 50 or 60 people there. It is important they see a good show. Open mics are hard to run. The organizer(s) need to be fair, but you also need people to come back. We have a responsibility as comics to perform when there is an audience. If you don't feel comfortable, no big deal. Don't go up. It happens.

Finally, and most importantly, TAKE RESPONSIBILITY! If you bomb, amend your set, amend your behavior, don't blame others. It's cowardly. I could keep going, but the point is that funny people will ALWAYS be around. Make them laugh when you're up there. Don't sit around looking for the softballs and excuses.

It's about to get political. Feel free to not read this.

I am sick of the labels that people try to place on candidates and then that becomes the basis for their vote justification. This one is old, this one is inexperienced, this one is a bitch, this one is stupid. It's shallow and dismissive. Find the candidate that most aligns with your set of beliefs and vote for him/her. Why does one have to be a villain?
I say this because I just listened to a talk radio show where four consecutive callers were critical of John McCain for mentioning his imprisonment in Vietnam during the ''Civility Summit.''

The question posed to him was, ''What was the toughest decision you ever had to make?'' Here was his answer:

''It was long ago and far away in a prison camp in North Vietnam. My father was a high ranking admiral. The Vietnamese came and said that I could leave prison early. And we had a code of conduct that said you only leave by order of capture. I also had a dear and beloved friend who was from California by the name of Ed Alvarez who had been shot down and captured a couple years before me. But I wasn't in good physical shape. In fact I was in rather bad physical shape.''

''So I said no. Now, in interest of full disclosure, I'm very happy I didn't know the war was going to last for another three years or so. But I said no. And I'll never forget. The high-ranking officer who offered it slammed the door and the interrogator said go back to your cell, it's going to be very tough on you now. And it was. But [it was] not only the toughest decision I ever made but I'm most happy about that decision than any decision I've ever made in my life.''

Wow.

I don't give a damn who you're voting for, but it makes me ashamed when people are ''sick'' of hearing about this. This man is the furthest thing from a villain. He is hero. Are you're disgusted by this behavior? Are you going to claim that he was thinking about a presidential campaign in which he may be involved 40 years away? His life was at stake and he risked it for honor. If you have a problem with this you are a fucking asshole. Why isn't it okay to admire him and vote for his opponent?

In 1976 Jimmy Carter won the Presidency of the United States. I don't believe a better ''man'' has ever won the office in my lifetime. He won the Nobel Peace Prize 22 years after leaving office and was a key figure in the creation of Habitat for Humanity, among many other altruistic pursuits. In addition to this, he was a horrible president.

I think you get it.

Quit acting like dicks.