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Conan answers your questions

Posted January 15 into Funny by John Birmingham


"Conan, what is best in life?"

To make the yellow light at the intersection with but a fraction of a second to spare, then to savour expressions of your enemies, the other, lesser drivers as they are bathed in the loathsome flash of the red light camera.

Conan, please, what is best in life?

To see a close friend stumble in public, to almost fall, and to regain his footing but only at the cost of great embarrassment. This. This is best. Most especially the embarrassment, but also the clumsiness.

Come now, Conan.

It is also best to find twenty dollars folded into your pocket. Not less, for there is little one can do with less. Not more, for with great riches, or fifty dollars, comes great responsibility. To accidentally find and wantonly spend twenty dollars is indeed best.

Conan, what is best in life?

Not the Celebrity Retweet, but the envy of your closest friends at your Celebrity Retweet.

Conan, is that really what’s best in life?

For Conan there is also pleasure to be had in the awkward, slightly uncomfortable moment when another must hold the door open longer than usual so that I might pass through.


If the door is the entrance to a crowded restaurant or bar, and your long and awkward approach is long enough that a table opens up directly in front of you as you enter? This, this too is best in life. For some reason, greater pleasure is to be had in subterranean venues.

But what is really best in life, Conan?

I speak true when I say that to freeze frame the TV just as your enemy is blinking so as to appear in the throes of a stroke, perhaps brought on by an explosive and unexpected end to a prolonged bout of constipation, this is best.

Conan, what is truly best?

To have a water balloon fight with small children in which your superior reach, speed and throw weight allows you to utterly drench them while you yourself remain dry.

Any more, Conan?

To drive one’s wagon to market, and pull into a parking space at the exact moment the wagon immediately in front of you pulls out, allowing you to claim the pull through slot and ultimately to drive away without the inconvenience of reversing, that is best in life.

Conan, is that truly what is best in life?

The crusty edge on a muffin top also pleases Conan.

You’ve changed, Conan.

Conan does not change, not for mere pleasure, unless it is into a fleecy track suit, fresh from the warm cycle of the clothes dryer. This too Conan finds best.

Conan, there must be more than this.

Only the look on someone’s face as the elevator door closes with them still outside and Conan within, smiling, victorious.

You can get two boobs a week for one lousy buck (plus GST of course, because filthy socialism) at Gaaarrn, give us a click and check it out.

1 Responses to ‘Conan answers your questions’

jl has opinions thus...

Posted January 15
This post is one of my all-time favs from ASB. I await similar jewels in my inbox every week- thanks JB!

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Life hacks for the end of the world

Posted May 8, 2017 into Funny by John Birmingham

Today's aliensideboob is free. Partly cos I'm not filing a Blunty for tomorrow, due to the Fairfax strike. Mostly cos giving one away every now and then pays off with a subscription bump. Today's came from wondering what a ridiculously upbeat life hack blog post might look like after the end of the world.

My Top Five Amazing Post Apocalyptic Self Improvement Hacks That You Need to Action Today

It can be hard in this post-apocalyptic world of ours to stay focussed on what’s important: you and the better you inside you just waiting to get out of you?—?like the giant tapeworms which helped bring down our civilisation.

People don’t change. (Unless they’re infected with tapeworms or the zombie virus, or if they’ve been injected with a nanite swarm by our robot enemies). Most people still look for secrets, amazing tricks and life hacks that will make everything better right away.

Unfortunately there are no “overnight successes”, not even last night’s successful overnight raid on the rival scavenger camp which had been hoarding all of those tins of premium dog food. We got the dog food, but lets never forget we had to leave old Vernon behind to slow down the human-tapeworm hybrids chasing us.

Vernon was slow. He didn’t adapt. Not to the end of the world as we knew it. Not to the bullets I put into his leg as we fled the scavenger camp. And certainly not to the challenge of all those tapeworm people burrowing in through every orifice.

But think of all the incredible, adaptable people you truly admire in our post-apocalyptic world today. They didn’t succeed because of one power move. They succeeded because they followed my Top Five Amazing Self Improvement Hacks That You Need to Action Today.

So stop aiming for radical personal change.

A magic bullet cannot save you.

But five well-aimed conventional bullets into a slow-poke like Vernon almost certainly can.

I’m not saying it’s easy. But there is no more chance of escaping the hard work of self improvement than there is of escaping the robot slave mines of Area 7. So, stop looking for “quick hacks” that bring faster results. The only hacking that works since our computers went dark is the sort involving machetes and the undead, and of course my Top Five Amazing Self Improvement Hacks That You Need to Action Today.

1. Think of your time as money.

OK. We stopped using money after the banks collapsed, but we do barter and we only have a finite amount of things to barter with. Time is finite. It’s more important than ever to learn when to delegate a task rather than do it yourself. Do you really need to sharpen all the stakes guarding the zig-zag road into the strategic hamlet? Is dragging a heavy rock to the trebuchet commanding the riverine approaches the best use of your time? Probably not, now that Vernon’s comely young hand-fasted woman is single again and that big old yurt of hers can get cold and lonely on a nuclear winter’s night.

2. Improvise, adapt, overcome.

When those tapeworm-human hybrids sprang their ambush, I improvised a distraction for them. I adapted to the situation, the same way that Vernon will soon adapt to his new life as a giant flesh-eating nematode. And I will overcome his woman’s objections to sharing her yurt and bed roll with the guy who, lets face it, murdered her husband, by offering up a dinner of delicious dog food that Vernon’s unavoidable murder made possible. I improvised, adapted, and will overcome. You can too.

3. Schedule your energy.

It can be difficult to filter out the noise and actually achieve what we set out to do, every day. Rather than trying to avoid distractions completely, we should schedule around our energy instead. Plan to do, say, an hour’s work hammering and grinding salvaged tea spoons into arrow heads, followed by five minutes of rest. Read the Facebook on the hamlet bulletin board, to catch up on who’s had their face cut off by the Inquisition lately. Check on your mail, if the postman still lives. But just be aware of and prioritise around your times of maximum productivity and avoid the infamous afternoon slump when more than one sleepyhead has found themselves waking up in the communal cook pot.

4. Networking.

Did you know that over one hundred percent of people still find their jobs through networking? You can safely bet that successful hamlet elders didn’t get to the top by living in a bubble. Not since the last domed city collapsed. Now more than ever, networking is a necessity.

So how do you pull it off?

It doesn’t involve throwing yourself at everyone you meet. Truly effective networking involves being your authentic, fabulous self, and becoming your own best cheerleader since we’ve already eaten the rest of the cheerleaders. Looking to grab up that sweet, sweet gig as village herbalist? Think you’ve got what it takes to replace the blacksmith one day? You could spend all your time chewing bark and grass or begging for an ironmongery apprenticeship. Or you could just make friends in the Assassin’s Guild. In the modern world, it’s not who you know. It’s who they’re willing to kill in return for a couple of tins of stolen dog food.

5. Get started early.

One thing that hasn’t changed even as everything else has? Successful people get an early start on their success. That crucial hour before dawn, when most people are still hiding from the vampires, you could be up cutting a deal with our vampire overlords to guarantee your position as hamlet chieftain in return for guaranteeing them a regular supply of human blood going forward.

6. Always under-promise and over-deliver.

I promised Five Amazing Self Improvement Hacks, but I’m going to give you Six.

Eliminate ANTS.

Not the giant, man-eating fire ants which have proven all but impossible to eliminate, but the other, even deadlier ANTS: Automatic Negative Thoughts.

Negative thoughts happen to everyone, but the worst thing you can do is let them bring your day down. Focus on learning how you can change your perspective and realise your most fantastic self even as the world dies screaming all around us?—?it’s well worth the effort.

Don’t think, omigod these human nematodes are going to catch up with us.

Think, omigod these human nematodes are my chance to finally get into Vernon’s hand-fasted woman’s hand stitched britches. Huzzah!

Staying optimistic keeps me almost as excited as those well stuffed britches. And by staying optimistic and excited, your day will always be worth it, no matter how few you have left.

6 Responses to ‘Life hacks for the end of the world’

insomniac has opinions thus...

Posted May 8, 2017
Thank you, comrade.

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jl reckons...

Posted May 9, 2017
LOL. I'm going to remember this piece every time I see a "ten best ways to..." piece in the future.

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Lulu is gonna tell you...

Posted May 9, 2017

I'm starting to seriously rethink my commitment to Fairfax, particularly after seeing Media Watch last night. I'm a customer not a shareholder, and the priority they are giving to shareholders is damaging the product I enjoy buying. The size of executive bonuses (which could pay for many journalists) doesn't help their case.

Dave W asserts...

Posted May 10, 2017
Yep, agreed. I pay for the good reads and there will be a point where there just isn't enough interesting and informative stuff in it anymore.

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NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted May 9, 2017
Hand fasted.

Bondiboy66 ducks in to say...

Posted May 9, 2017
Bound together as it were...sworn to service, loyalty, that sort of thing

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Yoga with Goats

Posted April 3, 2017 into Funny by John Birmingham

It's a thing. Seriously. And it's a thing I dicuss in today's Alien Side Boob.

You are receiving this email because you are a bro who needs yoga in his life. Or you know a bro who needs some yoga in his life. And all bros do, so that is why you received this email.

Before you stab viciously at the delete button, examine your feelings right now. That sick sense of dizziness which came out of nowhere when you opened this email? That sudden free floating rage? That pain in your arm and crushing weight on your chest? That’s the absence of yoga silently screaming at full volume in your chakra.

5 Responses to ‘Yoga with Goats’

jl has opinions thus...

Posted April 3, 2017
ASB is always good for laughs. Just like goats are.

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insomniac puts forth...

Posted April 3, 2017
I prefer my goat in curried form, perhaps with a dollop of yoghurt.

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Oldy reckons...

Posted April 5, 2017
I did Bikram Yoga once, and it was entirely for the reason you mention in the column - that unbearably, heartbreakingly gorgeous (and ridiculously flexible) hot white chick who conned me into doing it.

I'm a 6'2 120kg former footballer, a year older than you are, so me doing yoga of any kind is always hilarious. But I totally would have done it three times a week if I could be guaranteed the mat next to that unbearably, heartbreakingly gorgeous (and ridiculously flexible) hot white chick.

Pathetic? Whatever. I'm not ashamed. Getting through life enjoying the view is half the battle, I reckon!

jason ducks in to say...

Posted April 5, 2017
I hear you. I hadn't played squash for a long time but pulled on the runners again in order to have a reason to be around a certain hot blonde that I had fallen for. Luckily for me I didn't hurt myself too badly and ended up marrying the hot blonde. Worth every pulled muscle and painful morning.

John Birmingham asserts...

Posted April 5, 2017
As the Buddha teaches, the love of hot white chicks is the root of all suffering.

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"SEAGULLS! (Stop It Now)" -- A Bad Lip Reading of The Empire Strikes Back

Posted January 3, 2017 into Funny by John Birmingham

This may be their finest work yet.

5 Responses to ‘"SEAGULLS! (Stop It Now)" -- A Bad Lip Reading of The Empire Strikes Back’

Rob reckons...

Posted January 3, 2017
how good are puppets? so good. CGI just isn't the same.

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mumbles...

Posted January 4, 2017
Damn, haven't laughed like that since Trump won. Thank you, John.

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pedrogb mutters...

Posted January 14, 2017
I was introduced to this on Boxing Day by friends in Sydney. My kids watched it over and over. They now like to sing it in the car. Hilarious.

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DNA Dunc puts forth...

Posted January 15, 2017
Seems like some people have too much free time on their hands - which is just as well, or we wouldn't have class nuggets like this. Brilliant. Laughed like a drain

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan reckons...

Posted January 15, 2017
These brilliant artists are doing this for profit.

Take a look at "Bushes of Love" by the same blokes.

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New favourite word

Posted June 30, 2016 into Funny by John Birmingham

Cocksplat. Thanks to David Tenant. (And Donald Trump)

8 Responses to ‘New favourite word’

HAVOCK21 puts forth...

Posted June 30, 2016
Shes actually jumpable I think. Anywho. Its a fkn retard, and fkn HELL FKN YES. you FKN COCKSPLAT!

yeah.. I like it a lot too its a slightly more refined and I guess toned down version of COCKHEAD. Tha latter is harsher, the CS version would be a more acceptable itenm in a more refined genteel setting I guess.

here is oz, would you say.

Guys a cocksplat or
guys a cockhead.

The latter is us, FKN POKMS and SCOTS can have the other I think..pussies

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Murphy_of_Missouri has opinions thus...

Posted June 30, 2016
I remember why I stopped watching these things.

But cocksplat? That is a good one.

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Quokka ducks in to say...

Posted July 3, 2016
And mine, followed closely by arsebiscuit.
Being female, one of my pet hates is the phrase 'jumpable' and is best left to the ilk of Eddy McGuire & Chris Gayle.

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Dave W puts forth...

Posted June 30, 2016
Yeah, well thay also came up with additions to the english language like bell-end and numpty. Dicksplat nearly made me choke on my tim-tam (no euphemism) and is worthy of joining the lexicon.

NBlob mumbles...

Posted July 2, 2016
Bell end is a personal favourite.

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Jon puts forth...

Posted July 1, 2016
Being a blue collar worker I have ample opportunity to use these kind of insults conversationally, I'll try it out at work on monday. Cocksplat still isn't as good as "your a piece of shit wrapped in skin" though.

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w from brisbane is gonna tell you...

Posted July 1, 2016
Cocksplat : Sound made by a cockpunch. (source : John Birmingham - the Dave vs the Monsters series)

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The 100 Jokes that shaped modern comedy

Posted February 3, 2016 into Funny by John Birmingham

For anyone interested in the artform, this is kind of amazing, even if the authors admit the limits. (One joke per comedian, and only American gags).

I don't get some of the early ones, which just goes to show how much of our humour is contextual. Worth a long read on the weekend. I can't help but feel that Professor will study this closely.


1937 ‘Take My Wife … Please.’ Henny Youngman

It’s hard to say with authority exactly who invented the one-liner, but Borscht Belt comedian Henny Youngman (the man Walter Winchell called “the King of the One-Liners”) is arguably responsible for the most famous one ever. Just like how Groucho's moustache, eyebrows, nose, and glasses became synonymous with “comedian,” “Take my wife … please” is the Platonic ideal of a joke. The format is one that is still mimicked to this day: using a familiar phrase to draw people in, then taking a sharp left turn. And though the joke is seen as shticky and hacky at this point, structurally it is deceptively elegant, as the setup is hiding inside what seems like a transition. Despite writing tens, if not hundreds of thousands, of jokes in his life, legend has it that Youngman’s most famous one was the result of an accident. When he first started working on the The Kate Smith Show, Youngman's beloved wife, Sadie, brought a bunch of her friends backstage with her. Annoyed, Youngman brought his wife to the stagehand and said, “Take my wife, please.” The rest is history.

22 Responses to ‘The 100 Jokes that shaped modern comedy’

BigWillieStyle has opinions thus...

Posted February 3, 2016
I couldn't see "Coal is good for humanity" on the list anywhere.

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NBlob puts forth...

Posted February 3, 2016
Are you familiar with the term 'facilitator' as it relates to addiction? What did poor Mrs Professor Boylan, their charming son ever do to you? Why would you cause them such pain? You may not have lit the fire, but you've handed a known pyromaniac the accelerant and a bic lighter.
For shame sir.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 4, 2016
And I am itching to burn down the argument that those jokes shaped "modern comedy" - if there is such a thing. Funny, yes (Robin Williams' joke about cocaine is fucking hilarious). But influential?

w from brisbane would have you know...

Posted February 4, 2016
PNB, I don't know if you are joking, but most professional comedians are very knowledgeable about the history of funny. They love listening to other comedians. They study them. What is the funny idea, what is the rhythm used, the word selection, the number of syllables etc. Is someone doing something new? Why is that gag funny, why is that gag not so funny. Pro comedians will say how Woody Allen's gag telling style is taken from Bob Hope and explain why. I think the history of joke telling is very influential, not always for thinking up the idea behind the gag, but for the toolkit of how to get the laugh.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan would have you know...

Posted February 4, 2016
I was serious because it is funny to be deadly serious and analytical when discussing humour. When I was younger I instigated violent arguments over what is and isn't funny. My mantra was "comedy is serious business."

There is an incredibly funny group of very well thought out and reasoned scholarly papers that came out of a psychology conference on humour back in the early 1980's. Very dry. Very bland. Discussing things like "glee factors" without any glee at all.

What could possibly be funnier than that?

BigWillieStyle asserts...

Posted February 4, 2016
I can't think of a comedian who wasn't influenced by those that came before. Jerry Seinfeld grew up studying Bill Cosby and Robert Klein. Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock were heavily influenced by Richard Pryor, who in turn was influenced by Cosby and Lenny Bruce. Jim Carrey was influenced by Jerry Lewis. Michael Richards' slapstick turn on "Seinfeld" was a nod to Lewis and Laurel & Hardy. WC Fields used a cigar as a prop, and Groucho Marx, George Burns and Milton Berle did likewise.

Adam Sandler and Rob Schneider, to their credit, have steadfastly refused to be influenced by anybody, and their commitment to being relentlessly unfunny for their entire careers is to be applauded.

dweeze ducks in to say...

Posted February 4, 2016
"Adam Sandler and Rob Schneider, to their credit, have steadfastly
refused to be influenced by anybody, and their commitment to being
relentlessly unfunny for their entire careers is to be applauded."

Now, that is piss funny.

Lulu ducks in to say...

Posted February 4, 2016
"most professional comedians are very knowledgeable about the history of funny. They love listening to other comedians."

w, I'm assuming you know about the English comedian Ross Noble who lived here for a while. He spent years collecting an entire tradition of English comedians (on tapes, vinyl etc etc), and built up a huge library, some of the material apparently quite rare.

Then, AFIAK, lost the lot in the 2009 Black Saturday fires.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted February 4, 2016
Adam Sandler is a comic genius. Little Nicky is one of the best films of all time. I have to agree with you about Rob Schneider. He is mixed race, and that is never funny.

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Lulu asserts...

Posted February 3, 2016
I want to spend the rest of the day reading this. It's reminded me of my teenage love of Mae West & the Marx Brothers.

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insomniac would have you know...

Posted February 3, 2016
Man, that 'Nobody' joke is a cracker.

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KreepyKrawly reckons...

Posted February 3, 2016
As a young'un, I grew up on the Goon show and British comedy... Reading those 100 "Jokes" is like going to the pub, ordering a beer and getting metho...

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DarrenBloomfield would have you know...

Posted February 4, 2016
I got ready to read it, already primed to be pissed off that it was Seppo-only.
But then as I read it, I realised that this kind of list really needs to be country/cultural-specific. I'd love to see a similar one for the UK (or British Isles) : Goons, Python, Morceambe and Wise, Sellers, Moore and Cook, etc etc.
And Australia? pretty much covered on the ABC recently in "stop laughing, this is serious" but Roy Rene through to Barry Humphries to Kennedy to ...

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GhostSwirv ducks in to say...

Posted February 4, 2016

Springtime for Hitler is my favourite - Brooks is a anarchic genius from Bialystok & Bloom, KAOS v CONTROL, Froderick and Egor to ... "how did he do such fantastic stunts with such little feet?"

PS - PNB ... someone should rip off Big Bang Theory by creating a sitcom of academics arguing over the science of what constitutes the essential funny elements necessary to generate comedy - their mortal enemies could be a phalanx of twitter followers hell bent of ridding the world of academics who ruthlessly appropriate humour and break it down into its unfunny sub-atomic parts.

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JG asserts...

Posted February 4, 2016
Terrific stuff. Thanks for the link, JB. There's a lot to read and view, so I'll savour this a few gags at a time. True that comedy is a serious business, PNB. Punch lines are often born of tragedy, cutting against normality, the unexpected, and shock value. I love absurdity and comedy gold. Laugh and the world laughs with you... laughter is the best medicine. I think comedy has an important place in changing and recontextualising thoughts about oneself and issues in tha world both big and small. Funny that many comedians come from a place of truth that touch on fear and suppressed desires or urges. Neh. Too serious about the funny stuff. Just laugh. Release. It's instinctual. I think all animals laugh.

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BigWillieStyle would have you know...

Posted February 4, 2016
Two of the most successful TV comedies in recent years are "Two and a Half Men" and "The Big Bang Theory". If this constitutes "modern comedy", then we're already in the seventh circle of Hell.

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted February 4, 2016
If you are alluding to Dante, I think the Fourth Circle is more appropriate. Not judging. Just sayin.

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Barnesm mumbles...

Posted February 5, 2016
and may I present the world's funniest joke. One of my favorites they had in their "Gentelmen you can't fight in here this is the war room". from Dr Stranglelove.

DarrenBloomfield would have you know...

Posted February 5, 2016
A man goes to the zooIt only had one exhibit, a dog.It was a Shih tzu

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Bondiboy66 is gonna tell you...

Posted February 5, 2016
Aspiring comedians should also study Dave Allen - in fact go look up the plethora of his stuff on youtube yourself!

DarrenBloomfield has opinions thus...

Posted February 5, 2016
"Goodnight, and may your God go with you"
The man was a genius. I used to watch - mesmerised - his (short-a-fingertip) hand, trapping a cigarette and fondling his whiskey glass, while spinning a yarn...

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GhostSwirv reckons...

Posted February 5, 2016

Can anyone imagine any of our home-grown comedians being hard core enough to cut off a fingertip to emulate #TheFunnyDave?

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