Need A Laugh? Watch “Pittsburgh Dad”

We all need an escape from time to time. And sometimes all we need is a really good laugh. The kind of laugh that leaves you gasping for air, slapping whatever surface is near you, and thinking of one-liners for days.

Now, of course, this “best kind of laugh” is often attached to a joke or funny scenario that you identify with. That’s why some people find certain things funny while others don’t.

For me, my new “go to laugh generator” is the YouTube short film series “Pittsburgh Dad” which is one of those things that I identify so much with that it is simply hysterical.

I grew up less than a mile from the Ohio-Pennsylvania state line, my Mum is from Pennsylvania, most of my family lives there, and PA has really helped define me more than my home state of Ohio has. I root for the Steelers, not the Browns, and I would pick the forested beauty of the Alleghenies over the flat expanses of Ohio any day.

Because I’ve straddled the Ohio-PA border for my entire life and because Eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania culture and customs aren’t really that different (remember my cookie table explanation?), so many of the themes, anecdotes, jokes, and countless other nuances that appear in episodes of Pittsburgh Dad are immediately recognizable to me.

Since its debut in October 2011, Pittsburgh Dad has become something of an internet sensation, particularly in the Pittsburgh area. An ever-growing series of of 1-3 minute short films, Pittsburgh Dad is the creation of Pittsburgh-area natives Chris Preksta and Curt Wooten. The character is an exaggeration of Wooten’s own father and talks and complains about typical Dad stuff in a thick Pittsburghese accent. (For more information on Pittsburghese, check out this website.)

The premise of Pittsburgh Dad is simple. Preksta directs while Wooten stars as the title character — the only character to ever appear on camera. There are other characters, but they always remain off-screen.

Every Tuesday Curt Wooten transforms himself into Pittsburgh Dad, complete with Dad glasses, facial hair, and wardrobe.

Pittsburgh Dad appeals to me mostly because of my regional connection to it and my understanding of the Pittsburghese dialect in which the character talks. While I don’t use all the vocabulary or pronunciations that Pittsburgh Dad does, I do use/understand a lot of his words. For example, I call my mother Mum, not Mom. Water comes out of a spicket, not a faucet. You need to wear Tennies (tennis shoes/sneakers) into the woods or weeds so you don’t get pricked by a jagger bush (thorn bush).

But, you don’t have to be a Pittsburgh-area native to understand or enjoy Pittsburgh Dad. The Pittsburgh jokes aside, Pittsburgh Dad is just a funny reflection of real life — of the behavior that we all exhibit, about things we did as kids and things our parents did too.

You just have to watch to see….

Pittsburgh Dad premieres new episodes on YouTube every Tuesday. Currently, there are over 60 videos to watch including dozens of original episodes, outtakes and deleted scenes, and behind the scenes discussions.

Here are some of my many, many favorites:

“Going to Church”

“Family Dinner”

“Going to Gram’s”

“Dad Yelling on the Answering Machine”

“Slumber Party”

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Disclaimer: Pittsburgh Dad is exclusively the property of Chris Preksta and Curt Wooten.

Bossypants

Honesty time: I have a really hard time getting into books. I’ve always preferred magazines, or, now that I’m a grad student, I’ve completely nerded out and moved into scholarly journals. I love The Chronicle of Higher Education. I’ve had a subscription to Rolling Stone since at least 2007.

However, when I heard that Tina Fey was writing a book, I knew it would be fantastic. And it was. My bestie, Kara, bought it for me for my birthday and I finished the book in two weeks. I had to make myself put the book down so I would have more time to enjoy it. I’ve always thought Tina Fey and I could be besties someday, or at least she’s the person I want to be like when I grow up.  College-educated, wildly successful in her field, intelligently hilarious — how could I not want to be like that? She also has to balance her busy career with being a wife and a mother of two. Yes. I think I want to be Tina Fey when I’m an adult. But someone tell me when that actually is, because I’m not sure when that happens.

In Bossypants, Fey puts in her two cents and then some on several subjects. She also discusses her experiences as a college grad living in Chicago, working with The Second City touring company (part of the minor leagues of Saturday Night Live), getting her start on SNL and eventually becoming the first female Head Writer (a big effin’ deal), and creating 30 Rock. She talks about her nearly-fatal honeymoon with her husband (who is from Youngstown! [kind of, at least, she talks about Youngstown in the book, whoa.]) and raising her daughter. One passage that made me quite literally laugh out loud (not the lol of IMing, the real deal) was about Christmas traditions:

[Jeff and I] are absolutely mad for Route 80W between Philadelphia and Youngstown! We never miss it… I prefer the retro chic of spending Christmas just like Joseph and Mary did — traveling arduously back to the place of your birth to be counted, with no guarantee of a bed when you get there. You may end up sleeping on an old wicker couch with a dog licking your face while an Ab Rocket infomercial plays in the background. It’s a modern-day manger.

Probably my favorite part of the book, which I’ve read aloud to my mom and sister, comes early on in the book in a chapter called “All Girls Must Be Everything:”

All Beyonce and JLo have done is add to the laundry list of attributes women must have to qualify as beautiful. Now every girl is expected to have:

  • Caucasian blue eyes
  • full Spanish lips
  • a classic button nose
  • hairless Asian skin with a California tan
  • a Jamaican dance hall ass
  • long Swedish legs
  • small Japanese feet
  • the abs of a lesbian gym owner
  • the hips of a nine-year-old boy and
  • the arms of Michelle Obama …
The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes. Everyone else is struggling.
Later on, she looks at the attributes she’s grateful for:
  • Straight Greek eyebrows. They start at the hairline at my temple and, left unchecked, will grow straight across my face and onto yours.
  • Droopy brown eyes designed to confuse predators into thinking I’m just on the verge of sleep and they should come back tomorrow to eat me.
  • Permanently rounded shoulders from years of working at a computer.
  • A small high waist.
  • Wide-set knockers that aren’t so big but can be hoisted up once or twice a year for parades.
  • Good strong legs with big gym teacher calves.
  • Wide German hips that look like somebody wrapped Pillsbury dough around a case of soda.
The list goes on, but I can relate to a couple of them. Anyway, read this book. It’s light so it goes pretty quickly, but the whole thing is literally laugh-out-loud funny. You’re no one until someone calls you bossy.