Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry Christmas #withmydick: By Kenny DeForest

Merry Christmas #withmydick: How Chicago Comedy Made Lebo’s Christmas and Vice Versa

As Christmas 2011 approached, I was in a weird place. It was the first Christmas I would ever spend away from my parents, who spent Christmas in Florida; the last Christmas my grandmother would have the energy to host. I have no family in Chicago, and I had to work on Christmas Eve. Everything was set up for the worst Christmas of my life. I was sad. Without a lot of religion in my life, family is THE reason I still love Christmas and still get lost in the magic of the season. This season, I thought, there would be no magic. There would certainly be mimosas and food with friends, but no magic.

Kenny DeForest
Mike Lebovitz
Friday, December 23, I decided to go the The Lincoln Lodge to watch home-town-boy-made-good Kyle Kinane who was headlining. As expected, the show was great and my family-less Christmas weekend was off to a surprisingly good start. After the show, as is customary, I headed next door with some comic friends to a neighborhood pub that has a cool atmosphere and, more importantly, a $2 mystery beer special. As the beer started to flow, the conversation somehow shifted to twitter. Somewhere along the way it was brought to our attention that Mike Lebovitz really wanted to get #withmydick to trend. Naturally, upon hearing this, we all really wanted it too. Now that, I thought, would be really great. It might even make my Christmas. To know that people all over the twitterverse would see #withmydick trending right along with things like #merrychristmas and #happyholidays brought a big, Christmas smile to my face. I didn’t think it would actually happen. So many trending topics are attempted every day that fall flat. What would make #withmydick special? It starts with Lebovitz.

For those that don’t know Mike Lebovitz, I’m sorry. He is among the most universally loved comedians in Chicago and a member of the group Comedians You Should Know. He is probably best known as that fat guy you saw take his shirt off, that fat guy you saw take his pants off, or that fat guy that used his sweaty hands to eat your table’s food while telling you about all the things he does “#withmydick” at that one comedy show. He is very funny, very fun, and most importantly, he is cool with everybody. That doesn’t necessarily mean he likes everybody, but he’s cool with everybody. He gives everyone a chance. If you’re a new comic to the scene, he’ll be warm and cordial with you. He’ll make you feel welcome. He certainly won’t give you the “who are you and why should I talk to you?” routine. Everyone loves Lebo. Have I made that clear yet? Good.

December 24 I woke up at 7:30AM groggy and hungover. I had to be at work by 8, I went to bed at 3:00, and I still had no family in site. I was pissed, a little sad, and not ready for a day of food delivery. I turned off my alarm, hopped in the shower, brushed my teeth, threw on my work clothes and headed out the door. On the way to work, my mood was only getting more sour. Why did I do this to myself again? Why am I working Christmas eve? Oh woe is me.

As I approached work, I checked my phone and saw I had a twitter update. I clicked “view” and saw the following:

TheOnlyDanDodge Dan Dodge
@KennyDeForest #withmydick
24 Dec Favorite Retweet Reply

Mike Lebovitz
Kenny DeForest with Will Miles
In spite of my souring mood, this caused me to smile. I suddenly remembered a drunken conversation from the night before that was, prior to this moment, lost in the ethos of my brain, probably floating somewhere on a sea of mystery beer sailing quickly toward oblivion propelled by the winds of sleep deprivation. I thought, “Oh yea, we were gonna try to get #withmydick to trend today. That’ll be fun. At least I’ll have something to keep my mind off throwing myself down a freight elevator shaft in lieu of delivering another christmas meal to a probably ungrateful family on the top floor of a lake front high rise”. I tweeted something back to the tune of “I want to fill you all with holiday spirit #withmydick”” and pulled up to work.

By the time I checked my phone again an hour later, there were already 3 or 4 more people participating. I tweeted a few more things, made a delivery and checked again. Now, Jeff Steinbrunner (in about the same shape I was in) is tweeting from work as is Mikey Manker (at the same job they didn’t want to be at on Christmas Eve). Jeff Hansen is on board and Gary Lee had been going insane tweeting #withmydick related tweets at everyone he could think of. By noon, #withmydick had grown to a point where I knew we could get it trending. Friends in New York, Kentucky, Florida, Detroit, Texas and the burbs, but all with ties to Lebo or Chicago comedy, had starting tweeting #withmydick, and then their friends, and then theirs and so on. The next thing I knew #withmydick was the subject of every tweet of every Chicago comedian I know, and when I say every Chicago comedian, I mean EVERY. Not just north side or south side. Everyone. Suddenly, Chicago comedy was unified #withmydick. People were tweeting at celebrities and bigger name comics to get the thing to spread. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. Some people lost followers due to annoyed people who didn’t know how to get #withmydick. It didn’t matter. What mattered was that for a full day no matter where you were, whether you were with a family you love, hate, or alone, if you had ties to Chicago comedy, we were spending Christmas Eve together. As a family. Unified by Mike Lebovitz’s dick. My parents were in Florida, but my heart was with a fat, sweaty man’s penis.

By 3:27PM I had been tagged in a Facebook photo by Lebovitz. It was a screen shot. #withmydick was trending in Chicago. I don’t know if I’ve ever been happier in my life. I can’t explain it. It was a Christmas miracle. A large group of people unified by unadulterated silliness at a time when many people feel alone and need silliness the most. I couldn’t stop laughing. Not only at the ridiculousness of the situation, but just imagining how happy this all made Lebo. I pictured his face every time another tweet rolled in, another person got on bored. I realized I was THIS happy because of how happy I was for Lebo. The whole experience embodied the Christmas spirit of giving. I realized in that moment, that this wasn’t just about giving all of us something to do to make our individual Christmases better, it was about a bunch of people showing a deserving guy how much he means to them and GIVING him the BEST Christmas. With their dicks, of course. Again, I say “Christmas” with no religious connotation.

I decided to write this as a thank you to all who participated. It made Lebo’s Christmas which, in turn, made all of ours. I certainly know it made mine. I can now say that #withmydick is synonymous with #BestChristmasEver. Thanks everyone, and thanks Mike Lebovitz.

Love #withmydick, Kenny

P.S. If you don’t think it meant much to Lebo, you haven’t read his thank you. It is posted below

Lebo’s Thank You Post From Facebook: A word of thanks to all who helped trend #withmydick. It started on Friday night at 2:00 am with a drunken conversation between myself, Kenny DeForest, Jeff Steinbrunner, Gary Lee and Dan Dodge along the lines of "you know what would be the stupidest thing ever..." By the middle of Saturday, (Christmas Eve) #withmydick was a trending locally. It made my Christmas really special; I was laughing uncontrollably all day in long shopping lines, in my car and at dinner with my family. And it warmed my heart to know that other people were having just as much fun #withmydick as I was. There was a palpable joy in the twittersphere; I think we really captured the Spirit of Christmas #withmydick. That viral joy, that contagious irreverence is all I have ever wanted from life. This really has been my peak moment thus far in comedy, and I want to thank every one who participated #withmydick for the best Christmas present ever. Sometimes the point is that there is no point at all. Much Love. #withmydick. Forever.

Kenny DeForest
Contributing Writer