@loripalminteriTweets by @loripalminteri
Our family reunions are filled with sarcastic comments, jabs, a few debates and a couple of arguments. Also, board games! My family has always been a board game playing family. This may seem like wholesome family fun, but I assure you, our board game playing has never mirrored the commercials they put on TV. We may look like a Norman Rockwell painting in pictures but my family is fiercely competitive and our game playing involves incessant mocking and an almost alarming thirst for winning to prove who’s best.
Playing Monopoly on Christmas used to be an annual tradition for us. Every year my sister would lose and cry and we’d laugh at her which sounds mean, and in retrospect, it probably was a little mean. My Mom would tell my Brother, Father and I to be more sensitive to her sensitivity but that is precisely why we pushed her buttons: because they were so easy to push and she is so sensitive. Don’t get me wrong, we would never push my sister to tears in a serious situation. We’re supportive when we need to be. Not during board games though. Not in Monopoly. Monopoly truly brings out our inner asshole.
My Brother usually won these games of Monopoly. Probably because he cheated. But we all cheated in Monopoly because it’s such a boring game. I’ve never finished a game of Monopoly not cheating. We would all get equally bored with the game, and so, half way through the game we would change the rules to expedite the game and/or shift it against my sisters favor because this, apparently, was hilarious to us.
I don’t understand why anyone even likes Monopoly. If you think Monopoly is fun, I’m not entirely sure you’ve ever really had fun. You should really reconsider your whole life if you love playing Monopoly. Ironically, my sisters still loves Monopoly, which doesn’t make any sense at all to me. Perhaps she has some sort of memory lapse.
I hate Monopoly so much, I once wrote this gem of a joke on twitter: “For me dating is like Monopoly. At first it’s fun, then I get bored and start to cheat.” Unbeknownst to me at the time, this joke would haunt me because I would later date someone who brought up this tweet and questioned my loyalty. Based on that tweet from years before and none of my actions. I had to explain (more than once) that this is really a joke about how much I hate Monopoly. Also, it’s a joke (and a really funny joke)! I tried explaining that I don’t have infidelity issues: I have trust issues with a side of fear of commitment. I would go into it but I don’t trust you’ll understand, also I don’t feel like committing to writing about that right now (ah, see what I did there, I’m clever and annoying!).
You might be surprised at how often I have to defend myself against my own jokes, which is ridiculous. Because half of the shit I write is simply ridiculous. Some of the “conversation” jokes I write on twitter are not from actual conversations. I just made them up sitting alone in my apartment staring at a wall. I know you’re disappointed that my real life isn’t full of witty banter like a sitcom. Trust me, I’m disappointed too. Even the conversations that are based on truth are edited down to the funny parts. What people don’t understand is, I’m not actually a great writer; I’m a great editor. I write a lot and then I realize a lot of what I write is garbage but I have the wherewithal to recognize how stupid most of the things I think/write are and I remove those parts, leaving what I think are the funny and/or poignant parts. Which makes me look smarter than I actually am. Which is genius in itself, if you really think about it.
Here’s the perfect example of why you shouldn’t take my (or anyone’s jokes) seriously. If you come see me do a half hour set, I kill multiple babies in my bits. There are so many babies dying in my act, it’s mildly disturbing even to me. But I have never killed a baby. Still, I will defend my abortion jokes to my grave because they are smart AND funny AND disturbing, which in my opinion are the BEST jokes. I would also defend abortion itself but only to a certain degree. For example, I think every woman should get a “one free abortion” card. Shit happens. But if you get two abortions, I think you should have your tubes tied because your irresponsibility just proves you shouldn’t be making babies. See? I’m a problem solver.
Back to family game night (weird non sequitur to go from my spot on abortion views to my family). We’re all reunited in Florida at my sisters house: my parents, my sister, her husband, my nephew, my fresh from my sisters vagina niece (I agree, pregnancy is DISGUSTING but babies are cute), my brother, his girlfriend and myself. It is suggested that we all play a game of Yahtzee! To which my Dad replies that he has never played Yahtzee! before.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” We all say to my Dad. We should really watch our language in front of my three year old nephew but we struggle with this. Or should I say, I struggle with this.
At first, we thought Dad was fucking with us. But he legitimately had no recollection of ever playing Yahtzee! which is insane because we had played Yahtzee! many times growing up.
“Seriously, how can you not remember playing Yahtzee?”
“Are you retarded?”
“Jesus, I didn’t realize how fast your memory was deteriorating.”
“We’re officially worried about you.”
“How come the fuck your brain Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind itself for Yahtzee!?”
This is actually pretty scary. Because Alzheimer’s does run in our family. His mother had a long struggle with it before she passed away. But, overall, my Dad does have a pretty good memory. Why the fuck did his brain just decide to omit the nights we played Yahtzee! It makes no sense. None of us would let this go. Not only did we play Yahtzee! a bunch of times, we had this little handheld electronic Yahtzee game (before cell phones) that my brother, sister, and I would occasionally fight over (I’m not sure why we were so obsessed with that handheld Yahtzee game, I think we were all competing for the high score which my Mom held for years until my Brother beat her score). In fact, when I was in the hospital for my blood transfusions after I almost died from my tonsillectomy, one of the things I requested was that stupid handheld Yahtzee! game. I don’t remember if they brought it or not since I was basically doped on painkillers the entire time I was hospitalized.
After verbally lashing out on my Dad for his inexplicable lack of memory of Yahtzee! (they even had to explain the rules) they delved into the game that was now completely new to my Dad even though he’s played it at least 20 times before.
I opted out of family Yahtzee! not because I was flabbergasted by my Dad, but because I had to work on a writing packet. I hadn’t made much headway on it because my niece is so fucking adorable that every time I looked at her I had to pick her up and cuddle her for hours at a time. But I only had a week to work on the writing packet so I really needed to get going.
I retreated to the kitchen to write jokes. My nephew, too young to know the joys of Yahtzee! joined me at the table with his Play-Doh. He wanted to me play with him, and admittedly, I’m a Play-Doh fan, but I was a trying to work. He kept talking to me and if he were anyone else I would tell them to “fuck off” but he is so goddamn cute I can’t look at his face with those big brown eyes and shaggy blond hair and not want to kiss him. I tried to explain to him that I was working on a very important writing packet that could potentially change the trajectory of my entire life to which he responded, “Wook Aunt Wori, I made a dinosaur!” Showing off his Play-Doh creation. I said, “that looks less like a dinosaur and more like a dinosaur poop,” and he laughed hysterically like it was the funniest joke he had ever heard. It just might be the funniest joke he’s ever heard since he is three and doesn’t have a ton of experience with jokes yet. Plus, saying “poop” to get a laugh from a three year old is basically hack. I could have said, “Donald Trump is a misogynist because of poop,” and he would have fell to the floor laughing even though that’s neither a joke nor is it a statement that makes sense.
How easy this writing packet would have been if I could just tag all of my jokes with “poop!” I halfway considered doing that to a couple of jokes as a gag for my writing partner. Though I think he’d be less amused and be more like, “Gee, I can’t believe I hitched my wagon to you,” which he has said to me many times, sarcastically (I hope). I sometimes worry that he does regret asking me to be his writing partner because sometimes when he pitches ideas to me I just stare at him blankly and this makes him (and everyone, really) very uncomfortable. I don’t mean to do that. After all, he is a better joke writer than me. Though, in my defense, he’s had more practice. He started writing jokes when I was three. So when he was started doing comedy some 25 years ago, I was showing off my Play-Doh creations that looked less like animals and more like neon poop. How funny life is! I guess the point I’m trying to make here is joke writing is really hard.
Wow, this blog has really gone off the rails. And I’m SOBER writing this one. My Dad won that game of Yahtzee! and then bragged about it, which is pretty absurd considering he has Yahtzee! amnesia and who knows if he will even remember if he won tomorrow. IS THAT HOW YAHTZEE! AMNESIA WORKS?
It’s not like he bragged about it just once, either. In a classic Palminteri fashion, he bragged about it multiple times on the ride from my sister’s house on the west coast of Florida to the their house on the east coast. Of course, every time he brought up his win my Mom and I would immediately shut him down. “Well, at least we remember all the other times we won throughout the history of our lives.”
Back at base camp (my parents house), my brother and his girlfriend came over too. I still had to work on my writing packet where they were infinitely more distracting than my nephew. I hate and usually never try jokes out on people before they are stage tested, but considering my writing packet jokes would never hit a stage, I decided to use my family as an audience to test if my jokes were good. If someone else told me they did this, I would tell them that’s not only a horrible idea, but it sounds painful for the writer. But then again, most families aren’t my family. And actually, it was fun testing my jokes on them. My family are sick enough to enjoy a good joke, but also honest enough that if they don’t like a joke they will blank stare you. I had, at my disposal, a writers room. Sure, I was the only writer, really, but they enjoyed being the judge of my work (they enjoy being the judge of anything, really). So, at the table in my parents lanai Florida room, where geckos scurry across the screen, we sat and drank as I spitball my half developed jokes. It was a good time, especially because there is something special in having a family that is supportive and believes in you in what is a borderline impossible career to succeed in. In no ones life do they have everything, but there are moments, if you’re paying attention, that you do have everything. And I hoped that at no time in the future my memory would omit this moment. I’d trade all my Yahtzee! memories instead.