Thursday, July 24, 2008


Things just seem to happen to Gregg Gethard. After telling a few stories at comedy shows in New York City, he created his own monthly show in Philly, BEDTIME STORIES, to tell a few more. Over the past year the show has grown in audience and features some of the best comics in the city. The next installment of Bedtime Stories will be August 13th.

When Gregg isn't creating controversies here, he's writing for the Madison Square Garden blog.

Have I earned the title of The Most Controversial Man in Philadelphia Comedy? This was certainly never a goal of mine, being a non-confrontational puss and all that, but I’ll take awards I can get.

So, what makes me so scandalous? Let’s have a recap!

We Want The Airwaves
This is the tale of the impact WFMU 91.1, the coolest radio station in the world, has had on my life. Namely, it’s how I got severely grounded as a high school freshman for a barage of phone calls made to 'Aerial View', a talk show hosted by Chris T. My prank phone call campaign ended when someone from WFMU called my house and told my mom what I had been doing.

Years later, my brother informed me that he was told the phone called was made by none other than Chris T. himself. I thought my brother told me Chris T. revealed this information personally, as my brother is someone who knows someone. And on top of calling my house, it was told to my brother that my mom’s conversation was recorded and played on the air.

I, however, was slightly wrong. My brother was not told by Chris T. in person. Instead, he was told by one of his bosses who thought he heard it from Chris T. So, I heard this information fourth-hand yet still wrote about it in a public forum.

My story prompted a response from Chris T. himself, who denied such actions and cast the blame on Gerard Cosloy, the part-time owner of premier indie rock label Matador Records as well as the man behind the fantastic sports blog Can’t Stop The Bleeding.

“I wish I could say this story is true but it's not. Since Gregg posted this entry I've gotten a few e-mails asking if I have an aircheck of this show and for the life of me couldn't remember EVER calling a listener's mother - even a crank caller's mother.

As much as I'd like to take credit for that, I just confirmed with Ken Freedman, WFMU's General Manager, that it was actually Gerard Cosloy - future record executive - who phoned Gregg's Mom and recorded the call, later playing it on the air. Gerard had filled in for me on "Aerial View" (not "An Aerial View") a bunch of times and I suppose had gotten fed up with the cranks (I just hung up on them and kept going - acknowledging a crank is the worst thing you can do).

Gerard was suspended for that stunt, since it was a big no-no to pull listener phone numbers off the Caller ID and an even BIGGER no-no to tape someone without his or her permission and play it on the air.

According to Ken, it was a great show, the one where Gerard finally came into his own on the air. As Ken says, ‘Too bad it was his last’.”
Cosloy then responded to Chris. T’s statement:
“I hate to take issue with Chris T. -- - a person I greatly admire and one of my own heroes in broadcast (Deborah Norville finishing a close second), but some portions of this story are incorrect.
It is true that I filled in for Chris on "Aerial View" on at least one occasion, and it is also true that I tangled with some prank-y calls on said show.
While I did indeed reveal one of the prankster's numbers (via the auspices of caller ID), I neither called their mother nor tape recorded any phone call. I only gave out said number over the air after warning them that's just what I'd do if they kept calling.
Later, I was told by station management the caller's parents were getting calls from other listeners in the middle of the night, and they'd threatened to contact the FCC (!) over this violation of their privacy.
I was suspended for a month.
Much as I appreciate Ken Freedman's 2nd hand praise, I'll submit that my own program had no shortage of listeners and I had "come into my own" (hands? hat? condom?) several years prior.
My stint subbing for Chris T. was not my last show on WFMU. I did at least 2 more episodes of my own program after my suspension, at which point I quit the station.

I did, however, return several years later and did a number of mid-week fill-in shows for various WFMU dj's.
Finally, I take exception to Chris' description of me as a "future record executive". At the time of my WFMU suspension, my day job at co-owner/moaner of Matador Records was exactly the same as it is today. It's kind of a romantic notion that ratting out Chris' profane listeners was the launching pad to an even bigger gig in the entertainment business, but it simply wasn't the case.
best wishes,
Gerard Cosloy”
My reactions: Holy fucking shit do I rule! First, I knew a response from someone tied to WFMU was possible. But a response from Gerard Cosloy? I would rank Pavement somewhere around 6th or 7th as my all-time favorite band. I spent an entire two years of college (junior and senior years) listening to all of their releases, even Wowee Zowee.

Also, Ken Freedman hearing about this tale also rules. Ken Freedman is a legend for his involvement at WFMU. He also hosts a show with the creator of Monk and former SNL writer Andy Breckman (and wrote the legendary "White Like Me sketch" with Eddy Murphy) called Seven Second Delay which is really awesome. (It is unknown if fellow Monk writer Tom Scharpling, the host of The Best Show on WFMU, aka the funniest thing going on today, has read my story.)

But no, my phone number was NOT given out on the air. If that happened to me, my parents would have forced me into an attic crawlspace for the rest of adolescence. This MAY have happened to my partner-in-bad-prank-phone-calling-crime Justin, but I do not remember for sure. And there’s no way I can confirm this information as Justin, now either 30 or 31, plays in a variety of death metal bands.

My next controversy came from the post entitled “My Top Five Presidents,” done in conjunction with the American History Bedtime Stories. The controversy came when I discussed the life of the likely homosexual Samuel Tilden, the Democratic opponent of Rutherford B. Hayes, who won the presidency via the infamous Compromise of 1877.

This comment was written by author Nikki Oldaker:
“Tilden was NOT a closeted homosexual...just because he never slept with a woman doesn't make him Gay...Nikki Oldaker, Author”
In turn, after doing extensive (and psychotic) research on Ms. Oldaker, I discovered her book was self-published and at one time she ran for Congress. I wrote my own response to Ms. Oldaker, which follows:
“Calling yourself an author when you self-published your book ruins your credibility. I can call myself a writer since I've actually been paid to write on subjects which other people have published. You're not an author. You own a publishing company and published your own material. That's the equivalent of writing a poem, photocopying it a bunch of times, handing it out at a bus station and claiming to be a poet.

Did you have your facts checked by an independent source? Did you even have an editor review your work? How much did you rely on Wikipedia for your research? Do you have any background at all as a historian?

The answer to that is no, according to the biography on your website for your Senate campaign. You worked at a beauty salon, at a hotel, as an auditor (most likely uncertified), a "WEB" publisher and as a "screen writer/producer."

According to the summary of your book on Amazon, you write about how he won by over 264,000 votes. This is true. But so what? We have an electoral college which is what really matters. If you focused solely on the popular vote then you are misrepresenting the facts of the story.

Also, in the summary you cast the blame of The Compromise of 1877 on a NY Times editor and the Republican Party. The Democrats were just as complicit in the affair. Casting blame on one political party shows a gross bias.

Uhm, never sleeping with a woman but not being out probably means he was closeted.

I quote historian James Fisher.

"Samuel Tilden was either asexual, or he was the first gay man to run for president."

Also, "gay" shouldn't be capitalized and you use elipses too much.

I'm guessing you probably hate the modern day Republican party and are using your views of today to criticize an event with happened two centuries ago with an entirely different political climate. That's like comparing apples and oranges and, frankly, anyone writing about history should know better.

Have fun pitching your work to C-Span's "Book TV." And I also wish you luck trying to turn your book into a feature film.

But from the facts I have learned about you (and your awful grammar) and from what little I can ascertain about the book, it seems like it's absolute tripe.

... Gregg Gethard, Comedian.”
And lastly, but most importantly, another controversy came from the epic tale of my appearance on the PBS game show “Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?” Google searches done by various people who read the piece indicated my nemesis on the show, Ilan Goldenberg, may actually be a well-known Middle East analyst who works for several think tanks and also writes for the highly influential political website The Huffington Post.

A comment left indicated the speculation was true. However, confirmation of this would come a few weeks later when Ilan Goldenberg himself left a comment confirming it was him. Goldenberg also contacted my via Facebook. When I saw he did, initially, I was very squeamish because of the story I wrote. However, his e-mail proved to me that he has an excellent sense of humor and has taken this all in stride. We’ve exchanged a few e-mails, actually, and he seems like a really good guy.

Also leaving a vaguely threatening comment was Spencer Ackerman, a fairly well-known blogger/journalist whose early work led to the disclosure of the Valerie Plame story. Ackerman is also known for being fired from The New Republic and now writes for The American Prospect.

These are my stories. These are my controversies. This is my life.

To be continued?!?


Anonymous said...

"Google searches done by various people who read the piece indicated my nemesis on the show, Ilan Goldenberg, may actually be a well-known Middle East analyst who works for several think tanks and also writes for the highly influential political website The Huffington Post."

That was me!!!!

PS Great piece, Blogger Gregg. Oh snap!

Rob said...

Oh my god how much do I love Andy Breckman? Seriously. How much? It's a lot.

Kent said...

I like how 1 and 3 are actual controversies, and 2 is just "I got insanely aggressive over a blog comment."

But still, love the recap.

Anonymous said...

How self important you think you are!!!!! If you did any such research at all asshole you would know my research on Tilden is extensive and not from an internet research site...
Yes I own the publishing company and yes I know MY facts are right!!! Can you prove yours? I think not! How's that for grammar?
If you are paid to write - whoever is paying you is being ripped off by a fraud.

Brendan said...

How is gregg a fraud? I've read a number of his writings, so i know he writes. And if he's being paid to write, well then it seems like he's doing what he's being paid to do.

You throw out the word fraud like a kid with limp wrists throws out the word faggot, in that, one with limp wrists will generally be called that a lot, and possibly to the point where when they want to insult someone back they just say what people call them, regardless of how inaccurate of an insult that may be.

"How self important you think you are!!!!!" <--- This statement is the written equivalent to a sloping brow ridge.

Anonymous said...

The insults keep piling up and I am supposed to sit silent while people unknown to me attack. Greg wrote that Samuel Tilden was Gay - I say he was not and I say this after many years (since reading and studying the man's life since 1993). There is not one shred of evidence to prove Greg's accusation. If Tilden were Gay I would have no problem writing that he was.
Now for the personal attacks on me. There was no reason for Greg to attack me personally or my career because I disagreed with his assumption that Tilden was Gay. He also insults my career as a hairstylist... I owned the salons and was very successful in the 2 I owned. I also did not claim to be a certified auditor -I started as a hotel auditor and worked my way up to GM. Yes, I published the Tilden book via my Production company because I wanted to get Tilden story out to the public. This man did wonderful things for our country and yet gets no credit for his efforts. He left most of his millions to build the NY Public Library - yet most people have no clue he did or who he was. As for Greg's remarks about my knowledge about Tilden - stating my research was done on the Internet...wrong again. The photo most used of Tilden on the net is from one of two glass negatives I found stashed away in a broken down box of Tilden's effects at the NY Public Library. One negative already oxidized and useless we were able to get the print from the one remaining. The library staff were as appauled as I was to see the condidtion of this great man's belongings.
Now - onward to my writing skills...I did the best I could rewriting the screenplay (I wrote in 1997) into a novel. My goal is not, nor has ever been for my own recognition but to get Tilden the recognition he deserved with other historical greats in America.
In closing, yes it was idiotic of me to respond to Greg's insults with words like fraud...but being human I re-acted by insulting him back. For this I apologize. I wish him well with his comedic career and hope he makes it to the stardom of Robin Williams or George Carlin.

Pruneface said...

Gregg is too hot to handle, and frankly, too cold to hold.

Brian said...

Gregg, I totally thought you were right in this situation and that that crazy mother fucker, Nikki Oldaker, posting as anonymous was a crazy mother fucker but...

I'm going to reconsider and take the side of the crazy mother fucker simply b/c you aluded to the fact that "Wowie Zowie" was not a good Pavement record.

Sound reasoning, away!

...And then I fly off.

Anonymous said...

I love Pavement to death but there's only a few songs on Wowee I can get into. Kennel District might actually be my favorite Pavement song, depending how I feel that day about Date With Ikea and Frontwards.

I love the first two albums because they're all over the map but Wowee Zowee is too out of the map for me. I'm a "radio hit" kind of guy.

But, I agree with your intent. I might be completely wrong about Wowee Zowee. I've been accused of that many, many times.


Samuel J. Tilden said...

I'm gay guys. End of discussion.

... Samuel J Tilden, Gay Person.

Rutherford B. Hayes said...