We Invented the Christmas Sweater Craze…

There was recently an abundance of news stories lately regarding Ugly Christmas Sweater Parties.  The Washington Post, ABC News and NPR have all dedicated space on their airwaves and newspapers to chronicling the birth and ascendance in popularity of these parties.  However, in spite of these institutions stellar journalistic track-record, they all failed to interview some key components of this story.  They forgot to interview the originators of this trend.

They forgot to interview me.

That’s right.  My friends and I invented the Cheesy Christmas Sweater party a decade ago. And for those of you rolling your eyes, I will provide proof.

The year was 2004.  The cold of winter had gripped Penn State University.  I was walking home from an economics class with my neighbor at the time, John DevAnanzio (better known to most as Johnny Bananas from MTV’s Real World).

He wasn’t a douche back then. He’s just been a victim of creative editing.

John and I got to talking about what we should do for the coming weekend.  It was frigid, dismal and boring in State College then.

“Man, this weekend is going to suck,” I said, typically pessimistic.

“We should throw our own party, like a Christmas party,” replied John.

“Ha.  That’d be pretty funny.  Except we should make it like we’re adults.  All the guys have to wear Christmas ties and sweaters and the women should wear gaudy brooches and Santa Hats and stuff.”

“That sound like it’d be fun.”

And on that day, the Cheesy Christmas Sweater Party was born.  All of my friends ran with it too:  Mike made spiced cider.  Justin decorated the apartment.  Reilly bought cheap wine.  Nate and Dave made Christmas cookies.  Howard just sat there.









Yes there were girls there (sometimes)


But it wasn’t really about chicks…

A tradition was started.  And through the power of Facebook…the trend spread.

In addition to creating the Cheesy Christmas Sweater Party, I also invented standing with your thumbs in your jean-pockets and the phrase, “What the…????”

Merry Christmas

After having some great shows at the Improv Thursday and Friday, I thought I’d attempt to reflect on the meaning of Christmas.  But I didn’t have time to put anything thoughtful together.  So instead here are some old Christmas-related posts that I thought you might enjoy.

Also, if you want to read actual good writing, go read the real version of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.  Best story ever written.  Anyway, Marry Christmas!  Happy Holidays!

So Long (to a Joke)

Me:   Of course all of my guy friends are giving me grief over my engagement.  They keep saying, “ I don’t know how you’re going to do it dude.  One chick the rest of your life?  The same thing over and over again?”   But I’m a creature of habit.  They should know that.  I’ve had the same thing for breakfast for 8 years running.  How could I cheat my girlfriend when I don’t even cheat on my pop-tarts?

Audience:  (silence)


My hat lifts off my shaded head.
I’m pushed by the cold wind
Standing over another gravestone;
I’ve come to bury another friend.

The somber silence envelops us now,
A misty reminder of your life on the stage.
You had my heart in your crystal window
Yet you couldn’t survive on the wrinkled page.

The battle claimed a youngster sent to war.
Melancholy isn’t a hobby I wish to pursue.
But I never got any laughs or chuckles
When I stood up there telling you.

I’ll still sprinkle the dust on your silent shell.
No carrion crow can ever make fun
Of my noble ally. Picking at the bones,
Cawing to the crowd, “We’ve slain another one!”

One day the rapture will raise you up
In a burst of earth and flame.
We’ll sew our stitches from across dark bridges
And unite them under one loving name.

Sleep for now, my fragile joke.
Rest in peace and grow strong.
I’ll soon find a notepad with your name
I’ll see you again…but for now:
So long.


Holiday Christmas Show w/ Bill Crawford, Mike Wysocki, Mike Travers and more!

Seasons Greetings everyone!

If you’re sick of the holidays already- the traffic, the family gatherings, the pepper spray- then come down to the Pittsburgh Improv Thursday and Friday.  I’ll be MC’ing a fantastic show headlined by my good buddy Bill Crawford.

At this time of the year, we all need to pitch in so we can feel better about ourselves.  Be part of the solution.

Mood Music

I, for one, am a strong proponent of music as a mood enhancer.  I think that no matter what the situation, the type of music you are listening too can heighten the experience, provided that it is contextually appropriate.  I’ve put together a list of songs that will accurately describe the situation and emotion you are in.

Deftones – Knife Party

This song is best listened to in between the third and fourth day of your ongoing heroin binge.  It will be difficult to distinguish the ephemeral, screaming background vocals from your own shattered moaning.  However, it would be fun to attempt a two-part harmony!

Talking Heads – Once in A Lifetime

This song is best listened to when feeling a sense of overwhelming, but unrealized joy.   It expresses incredulity in the face of happiness.  It asks the question that we all ask, “How did I get here?”  and then answers it with a “Shut up and accept it!”  Best situations to listen are at the end of a fun marriage reception, birth of a son/daughter, after a good long hug from your dad, receiving an extremely thoughtful present from a sibling or friend, or while watching any type of show where soldiers return home from war to surprise their families.

Brand New – Limousine

This song is best listened to when you haven’t cried in a decade or more.  I’m talking about the deep down cry where you feel like you got an ab workout afterwards.  The music and lyrics in this song are desolate and chilling to begin with.  If the line “In the choir/ I saw a sad Messiah./ He was bored and tired of my laments./ He said, ‘I died for you one time, but never again’” doesn’t haunt you to your very core, then reading about the story that inspired the song will.  I’ll include the link here to the backstory with a serious warning: the subject of the song is possibly the most gut-wrenchingly, horrifying tale in recent history.   No bull.  If you would like to remain happy for the rest of the day, don’t click here.

Again, this song should be used like a sadness laxative, sparingly and within running distance of a bathroom.

Miley Cyrus – Party in the USA

This song is best used when you wish to fully embrace your natural human tendency to be a raving hypocrite.  It is the exact type of song you always complain about on the radio.  It uses Autotune, the lyrics are moronic, the person singing the lyrics is a vapid, corporate succubus whose father may or may not have signed a legitimate deal with the devil to become famous.  Yet here you are, in your Toyota Camry, bouncing your head and singing every lyric at the tops of your lungs.  You hate yourself for loving it, but love it you do.

The Flaming Lips – Worm Mountain

In the unlikely event that you go to Hell, this is the music that would be playing in the coal elevator as you descend wildly and uncontrollably into the Shadow Realm.  You’ll step off the elevator, the fuzzy bass line still throbbing over the PA system, and shake hands with the devil.  He’ll say, “Are you ready for a lifetime of torture?”

You’ll say, “Bring it.”