stand-up comedian, writer, actor and voice-over artist

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Sochi Winter Olympics Check-list

So you’re going to the Winter Olympics in Sochi as either a spectator or as an athlete. Congratulations. But this is no ordinary Winter Olympics. Enjoying your time there will take a bit of preparation.

So what can you expect? Needless to say, security will be tight. Getting backstage at a Lady Gaga concert will seem like a walk in a mall. Plus, you’ll be going through metal detectors so often that you’ll feel like an employee of Homeland Security. The key is to make this process as painless as possible.

So, let’s start with your wardrobe. Ideally, you’ll wear a cotton jump suit and sneakers equipped with velcro ties. In other words, dress like you’re about to become an inmate at a minimum security prison.

Next, you don’t want to give the slightest hint that you might be gay, that you might have gay friends, that you might know someone who is gay. Tall order. Where do you begin?

Start with your smartphone. Let’s look at your music. Best of Village People? Delete. Lady Gaga? Delete. Elton John is OK. But just to be on the safe side, load up on some Metallica, Led Zeppelin, Dire Straits and Johnny Cash. Beatles are always cool.

Pictures of your young nephews and nieces on the phone? Delete ‘em.

Finally, to save you time, I checked the websites of various governments around the world to see what they had to say.

The United Kingdom Foreign Office advises, “Travellers at the Sochi Games should expect increased police presence and enhanced security measures in and around both the Olympic venues and the wider Sochi area. You should maintain a high level of personal security awareness at all times and in all places.”

The U.S. State Department on their travel advisory website says, “In July 2013, Doku Umarov, the head of the Caucasus Emirate (an organization the United States designated as a terrorist organization in 2010, and known in Russian as the Imirat Kavkaz or IK) released a video message rescinding prior directions not to attack civilians and calling for attacks on the Winter Olympics in Sochi.”

The Canadian government is a bit more specific. “Whenever possible, limit your use of public transportation that is not affiliated with the Games. If you must use public buses or trains, be particularly vigilant and remain aware of your surroundings at all times.”

The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs says, “Russian authorities have placed special restrictions on various items, including prescription medications, at Olympic venues.” I’m not sure why they are banning meds. I would imagine a little valium would be real handy at these games.

Finally, the highly regarded International Crisis Group says, “To forestall attacks on the Games themselves, which will be held a few hundred kilometres from Europe’s most active armed conflict, the government has transformed Sochi into a tightly-sealed high-security zone. Tens of thousands of troops, police and special forces have been deployed, along with drones, advanced cyber surveillance and a special security regime.”

So, if you go, be careful. Keep your wits about you. Remember that walking is good. As for me, I’ll be watching it on television.

And check out World in Colour our weekly International political satire series at AOL On


Moscow and Cairo Dating: It MUST be Valentine’s Day

Have you ever gone out with someone and then a few years later, started seeing each other again? It’s kind of neat. There’s a level of familiarity; you know what the other likes and you’ve gone through a break-up and now it’s time for make-up sex.

So the picture of Egypt’s Field Marshal Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi shaking hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin should make the most jaded of analysts say awwww.

Yes… Dorothy, there is a second act in International Relations.

While in Moscow, el-Sisi received an early Valentine’s Day card… I mean… endorsement, from Vladimir Putin on his presumptive presidential run.

This is the kind of democracy that Vladimir Putin understands. Heck, he wrote the manual.

Here’s how it works: Permit elections. If you don’t like the results, remove the guy who was elected, and take power yourself.

So no wonder el-Sisi and Vlad were all smiles. And this relationship goes back a long way.

You see during the Cold War, Egypt and Moscow were LIKE THIS. And let me tell you, Cairo looked GOOD in a sweater.

But it was the 50s. And Cairo wasn’t prepared to ‘go all the way’ with that whole Godless Communism thing. Don’t get me wrong. Cairo WAS turned on by Moscow and thought that Moscow was exciting. A real bad boy.

But Godless Communism in a Muslim country just wasn’t going to fly.

Things got tough, words were exchanged. You know how it is. And they broke up in 1972. Cairo went solo for a while and even started talking to the neighbor boy Israel which really pissed off her ex who severed the friendship treaty in 1981.

Around the same time, Cairo started seeing a nice American boy.

And Moscow, wasn’t wild about this either and got snotty and pouted. Well Cairo wasn’t going to put up with that kind of attitude, got pissed off and threw all his boy things… like military advisors out on the curb.

Well that’s how bad boys are. They can be real smooth talkers, but sooner or later everyone has heard the same old lines and they just don’t work anymore.

And like all bad boys, sooner or later they have to grow up and get a real job.

Things were rough for a while. This whole working for a living thing was new. Moscow wasn’t used to it. Hell, wearing a suit was SO not the image they were looking for. They were leather jacket kind of guys.

But suddenly, they discovered that chicks dig a well dressed man. And suddenly the bad boy was all about the wardrobe.

And even better, the rest of the world liked the bad boy in a suit. Of course the bad boy hadn’t changed. He was still a bad boy, albeit a well dressed one. But now he got invited to all the nice parties and got to meet a different class of people. Unlike in his old neighborhood where there was no class.

Fast forward to Valentine’s Day. Cairo and Moscow are making goo goo eyes at each other again.

Today they are both a little older… a little wiser.

Cairo has realized that a little religion can be a good thing, a LOT of religion, not so good.

And Moscow… well Moscow hasn’t really changed. He’s still figuring out the angles now that Cairo is single again. And he’s patient.

And Cairo still looks good in a sweater.

And… check out our weekly international political satire series World in Colour.


Diplomatic Trash-talk Explained

For those of you paying attention to the situation in Ukraine and Crimea (and you should because sooner or later bullets WILL fly) you have probably been hearing a lot of the diplomats use what I call “diplo-speak” when talking to the press.

These carefully crafted phrases are wonderfully vague and non-specific. But really, it is not very different from little children dissing each other on the playground. Whereas children are much better at saying what they really mean, “diplo-speak” can have 50 shades of meaning. (pun intended)

So, herewith, “diplo-speak” defined.

“Russia is in violation of its international obligations.”

Are you kidding me??!! What kind of idiotic move was that??

“There are very serious repercussions that can flow out of this. There are a broad array of options that are available, not just to the United States but to our allies.”

We don’t know what those options are yet…but just you wait mister. And as soon as we can herd the various cats together we’ll figure out something. You bet we will.

“You just don’t in the 21st century behave in 19th-century fashion, by invading another country on a completely trumped up pretext.”

Only we can do that you copy cat

“Any sanctions imposed would not go unanswered.”

Money talks and bullshit walks.

“Hasty and ill considered steps.”

Awwwww….that’s just mean.

“We must not leave the Ukrainian people at the mercy of those Nazi bandits.”

Look Nazis!! Bad guys… thugs… with uniforms. Not like our guys… thugs without uniforms.

“Hasty sanctions would hit the US like a ‘boomerang’.”

I’m rubber you’re glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.

“Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi called on Saturday for calm and restraint in dealing with the crisis over Ukraine.”

Yo guys… this is bad for business

And check out the weekly international political satire series World in Colour.


Kerry and Lavrov: The London Sessions (Secret Transcript)

Kerry: Hello, Sergey. How are you?

Lavrov: Good, John. You?

Kerry: Fine, fine. How was your flight?

Lavrov: Nice. It’s a short hop from Moscow. You know, John, I’ve always wanted to ask you: Do you have a bed on your plane?

Kerry: Not just a bed. There’s a bedroom and a full bathroom with a shower.

Lavrov: Ah, that’s why you always look so fresh.

Kerry: Yes, but I gotta tell ya, Sergey, I’m tired. I’m always jet-lagged.

Lavrov: Too bad you don’t get miles.

[Both laugh.]

Kerry: I don’t need miles, Sergey. I’m worth $300 million. I could buy my own plane.

Lavrov: [Sighs.] It is so important to marry well.

Kerry: So, Sergey, what are we going to do? Are you guys really going to annex Crimea? And you know, you’re not fooling anyone with the “they aren’t Russian troops” bit.

Lavrov: Look, if it were up to me, the Russian troops would be back in their barracks already. But it’s the big guy. He has his heart set on it. You know, “place in history,” blah, blah, blah.

Kerry: I understand. But you gotta know he is making folks nervous.

Lavrov: He’s making me nervous. Look, this is a guy who never misses an opportunity to take his shirt off in public.

Kerry: Can’t you talk to him?

Lavrov: I’ve tried. He won’t listen. What will Obama do?

Kerry: I don’t know. He’s getting a lot of pressure from the hardliners.

Lavrov: Can’t you just put them in jail? Trumped-up charges? Corruption? Works for us.

Kerry: [Sighs.] Sometimes I wish our system were more like yours. It would make life so easy.

Lavrov: Seriously, though, you wouldn’t send troops, would you?

Kerry: Sergey, we both know that we’re spread a little thin. It depends on the American public.

Lavrov: No offense, John, but the American public couldn’t find Crimea on a map if they were selling big-screen TVs for a dollar.

Kerry: I know, I know. Look we probably wouldn’t send troops, but if the Europeans decide to do something, then we’d have to support them. Your boss is scaring them. You know it brings back a lot of memories: the communist menace, Russian adventurism.

Lavrov: John, that was over 20 years ago. We’re capitalists now. Speaking of which, thanks for talking to Cameron. The oligarchs and mob bosses are really on our backs about making sure they have access to their cash in London.

Kerry: My pleasure. Tell them not to worry. So what are you doing for dinner tonight?

Lavrov: Not sure.

Kerry: I heard about this great new Italian place in Chelsea.

Lavrov: Enricos?

Kerry: Yeah, that’s the place. I hear their tiramisu is fantastic.

Lavrov: It is. So where do you want to meet next time?

Kerry: Wanna do Geneva again?

Lavrov: We just did Geneva.

Kerry: Right. How about Berlin?

Lavrov: And spend more time with Angela? No, thanks. How about Istanbul? I know this little place that serves the best baklava.

Kerry: Sounds good. OK, the press is waiting. What are we going tell them?

Lavrov: Shall we go with the usual “constructive dialogue”?

Kerry: Didn’t we use that last week?

Lavrov: No, I think we went with “frank exchange of views.”

Kerry: You’re right. Sorry. It’s the jet lag. OK, then. Game face on?

Lavrov: Let’s do it.

Check out our weekly international satire series World in Colour.


The UN: A Hard Day’s Nyet

So 100 nations came together this week at the UN and said that the referendum that led to Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula was illegal. Cool right?

And then? Did Ban Ki-Moon rise up and demand the removal of Russian troops from Crimea? Nope. Did he send in UN Peacekeepers to undo the Russian incursion? Nope.

Why? Because it is a non-binding resolution. In essence it is the international relations equivalent of “tsk tsk tsk.” And even though I’m sure he is a nice guy, let’s face it, Ban ki-Moon is the Elmer Fudd of international diplomacy.

And this is the problem with the United Nations. Its heart is in the right place, but it has no balls. It’s too polite. It’s like the guy who shows up at a knife fight with a butter knife.

Getting anything done quickly via the UN is impossible. In comparison, you could get windburn on a retreating glacier.

And speaking of climate change. (Oh yeah, I went shopping at Segue’s ‘R Us today.)

If you are waiting for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to resolve the global warming issue, I’d buy a hat and some sunscreen.

Every year these climate folks get together in fabulous places like Bangkok, Barcelona, Bonn and Rio de Janeiro and talk. That’s it. It makes herding cats look like the birthday celebration of Kim Il-sung in North Korea.

But I don’t blame the climate folks. Who in their right mind would NOT want to go to Rio and order room service at the Hilton. There is NO incentive to reach an agreement.

The UNFCC needs to take a lesson from the Bosnian War. You know how that ended? They took all the participants and stuck them on an air force base in Dayton, Ohio in November. And after 3 weeks, Slobodan Milošević, Franjo Tudman and Alija Izetbegović said, “We’ll sign anything, just get us the F%#K out of here!!!”

Incentive. That’s what’s missing in international diplomacy today.

So how do we incentivize the Russians to behave? Effective immediately suspend every single financial transaction in and out of Russia. When oligarchs can’t buy their mistresses the latest Louis Vuitton bag, Vladimir Putin will be the first to feel the heat. Because as the old saying goes… ‘money talks and bullshit walks.’

Also, check out the animated international political satire series World in Colour.


Russia to Build ‘Wall of Freedom’

Vladimir Putin, in a closed door speech to the Duma, announced that in keeping with his aim of bringing back the glories of the Soviet Union, would build the “Wall of Freedom” to keep out the corroding effects of western influence.

“The Iron Curtain is nothing compared to the Wall of Freedom. The new wall will once and for all keep out those foreign dogmas like democracy, financial transparency and judicial due process. All of which are antithetical to the ideals of the Russian people, who are us.”

The applause rang in the chambers.

“Effective immediately, I am bringing back, no, I am EMBRACING the basic Russian values of secrecy, gaming the system and privilege. And yes, the people WILL stand in line for bananas again!’

Deputies leapt to their feet with each new exhortation. Finally, someone was telling it like it was.

But Putin wasn’t done.

“Crimea is just the beginning. The Black Sea is ours. French beaches? Who cares? We don’t need the French Riviera. Soon you can spend your rubles from the Baltic Sea to the Great Wall of China!! We own this country. Remember cronyism? You ain’t seen nothing yet tavarich!!!

And again the deputies sprang to their feet.

“We have everything we need. Oil, gas and caviar!! We don’t need the western media. Russia Today is bought and paid for. You want propaganda? We invented the word!!!”

“So go out there and take what is yours. And don’t worry about getting caught. We own the judges and we own the courts.”

And with that, the cheering deputies hoisted Putin onto their shoulders and chanting “Magnitsky, Magnitsky, Magnitsky,” marched out into the Moscow night, to party like it was 1949 all over again.

And please visit the animated international satire series World in Colour.


Kiss My Sanctions

Details are slowly emerging from the after-party at last month’s St. Petersburg International Economic Forum, where executives of Exxon, BP of Britain and Total of France signed a raft of new oil exploration deals with Russian oil companies.

The party, according to one unnamed source who was present, was filled with good-natured joking and bawdy humor.

David Campbell, BP’s Russia chief and a British citizen, when asked after signing a $300 million “preliminary agreement” with Mr. Igor Sechin CEO of Rosneft and reportedly “The Soviet Union’s point man for weapons smuggling to much of Latin America and the Middle East” in the 1980’s, if he had any qualms about signing said, “Goodness no. I just lay back, closed my eyes and thought of England.”

Exxon-Mobil CEO Rex W. Tillerson, who was not present but checked in via Skype, got a huge laugh when Vladimir Putin asked him if the new exploration deal signed by Exxon-Mobil’s exploration chief, Neil W. Duffin would harm his personal relationship with President Barack Obama. Tillerson, according to those present, did a decent Michael Corleone impression and said, “It’s not personal, it’s business.”

Sources also said that Royal Dutch Shell’s chief executive, Ben van Beurden, also got a round of applause when, after kneeling patiently in a corner for an hour, flipped a caviar laden blini up off his nose and caught it with his mouth when Putin said, “OK, now.”

But reportedly the biggest laugh went to French oil company Total’s chief executive, Christophe de Margerie, who stood up, opened his trench coat to reveal him wearing a garter belt, fishnet stockings and stiletto heels and said, “My message to Russia is simple — it is business as usual.” Witnesses said that Vladimir Putin laughed so hard, vodka came out of his nose.

In the meantime, Sergei Magnitsky, is still dead.


Fox Creates Ebola Channel

Roger Ailes, president of the Fox News Channel, announced today that they will be creating a separate channel for all Ebola-related news.

When asked why he thought it was necessary to created an entire channel devoted exclusively to the Ebola crisis, Ailes said, “We want to get out in front of this issue. This is an excellent opportunity for us to do what we do best — misinform and create hysteria where there currently is none.”

He added that, “The Ebola crisis is here, it is not going away and we have legions of experts and journalists who know absolutely nothing about the disease and are ready to share what they don’t know with the American public, in detail.”

Reporters asked Ailes who would anchor the new channel and he smiled and said, “we’ll introduce them in the coming days, however one thing you can count on, is that they won’t be swayed by facts and medical science.”

Before ending the press conference, Ailes said, “Here is a scoop for you. We have been conducting an investigation and in the coming days, we will prove without a shadow of a doubt, that President Barack Obama is personally responsible for the Ebola crisis reaching American shores. He brought it back with him when he was in Africa last summer.”

Asked to provide proof, Ailes smiled and said, “Watch the channel.”

And for more international political satire check out World in Colour.