A cartoon about things I learned during quarantine

Posted June 23rd, 2020

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A few thoughts on women in comedy

Posted November 26th, 2017
(Originally published Nov. 21, 2017 in REFINERY29)
Inside the DNA of the average joke is usually a story about an underdog seeking to level the playing field; someone trying to right a wrong by pointing out the holes in its logic, so everyone stops accepting it and starts making fun of it instead. When you think about it that way, comedy is a woman’s art, ripe territory for people who are 50.8% of the population and somehow still living with minority status.
Which brings us to the irony-laced dilemma that only the women pursuing careers in comedy face: Even though comedy is supposed to be the art form where the outcasts and underdogs go to expose the lies inside of unfairness, women have been regularly expected to overlook the poor treatment we receive, lest we be called humorless and viewed as bad sports. In other words, we’re the one group asked not to use our “minority” status as a way to rise comedically. This is why we’re regularly labeled as unfunny.
Comedy in all of its various mutations has been my home for the past 40 years. Luckily for me, my idea of home has always been a place where I expected to be treated rudely which is why I was not knocked that far off balance when I heard about Louis C.K., whose meteoric rise to success as someone with deep insights into the human condition now seems pretty suspect.
In 1978 when I first went rushing headlong toward the professional comedy lightbulb like a medicated moth, it never occurred to me that it was a male-dominated field, because I didn’t imagine that anyone smart thought laughter had a gender bias. I was aware that historically speaking most of my comedic heroes were men: Ernie Kovacs, W.C. Fields., The Marx Brothers, Monty Python. But also there was George Burns and Gracie Allen. Mae West and Lily Tomlin had their own empires. In the midst of all those guys at the Algonquin Round Table, there sat Dorothy Parker.
And things looked to me like they were really opening up for women in comedy because there was this brand new show called Saturday Night Live, which was introducing more contemporary parody and satire onto the mostly corny TV landscape. Not only were half of the cast members women, there were three female names on the writing staff! That meant a grand total of six women creatives, a big leap forward from the usual token one.
 (PHOTO: ME when I was starting out.)

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Beautiful Women Do Not Know How to Eat Cake

Posted January 5th, 2017

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The Evolution of the Sex Doll

Posted August 15th, 2016

I wrote a piece about the evolution of the ever changing sex-bot.  You can read it HERE. If you DARE. Read more


Posted July 26th, 2016

Well, I may be losing my mind but I thought the Democratic Convention Day 1 was pretty exciting. Passionate diverse looking people! Warring factions! Actual issues!

Having sat through the entire 4 days of the GOP convention last week, the differences between the two parties are now glaringly apparent in just the language used at today’s event alone. Gone was obsessive talk about ISIS, guns and walls. In their place were phrases rarely heard last week: Civil rights! Voting rights! Affordable health insurance! Labor unions! A woman’s right to choose! There were even mentions of raising the minimum wage and two little words I was worrying I might never hear again: CLIMATE CHANGE! What a relief to realize that everyone who spoke was from the public service sector or a union or a committee of some kind…not just the relatives or employees of the candidate. Yes, there were obvious short-comings, like the notable lack of discussion of golf courses or the building of luxury hotels. But they couldn’t get to everything. It was only day 1. Read more

I Covered ALL FOUR DAYS of the GOP convention!

Posted July 22nd, 2016

I tried to cover the stuff everyone else was ignoring. I kind of succeeded. Read more

A Day In Love With You: The love song of the future

Posted July 11th, 2016

Obviously you have noticed, as I have, that emojis are now omni-present. The writing is on the wall. Its just a matter of time until the whole idea of carefully selected words becomes an interesting relic of  our cultural past, like the silent movie. Why bother with having a vocabulary when you can easily define your every emotion via a whole alphabet of ready made reactions provided for you by Japanese designers? Read more

Bob Dylan’s Christmas Lights: 2015

Posted January 20th, 2016

I didn’t intend to write this piece this year.  I felt like last year I was so thorough, everything had been said. Then VICE asked me if I would reconsider. And thus did I drive past his house and see that he or someone had added some NEW LIGHTS.


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30 years after the fact: Someone appreciates MERRiLL’s L.A.!!

Posted July 21st, 2015

In 1986 I worked in Los Angeles at KCOP, a local TV news station. I was given free reign, relatively speaking, to do pieces about Los Angeles. It was very exciting. It marked the first time I got to appear on camera and speak my own voice. My previous experiences had been writing/producing/editing pieces for Late Night with David Letterman. He always got to be the one behind the mic, because after all, it was HIS SHOW!  But it was a thrill for me to get the chance now. Read more

The Long lost TV pilots of Merrill Markoe

Posted June 24th, 2015

People say to me “Merrill, didn’t you make three TV pilots between 1987 and 1991 that you were kind of proud of?”

Okay, no…No one ever said that to me.

But because I have spent the week digitizing my old VHS tapes, I offer them to you now because: why not? Read more

A digitizing frenzy: Many videos by me.

Posted June 20th, 2015

I have been digitizing all my old VHS tapes and decided to make a page for them on You Tube. Read more

Me doing some dog related standup

Posted June 10th, 2015

Here I am doing a lot of dog related material. I was performing at a benefit for Elayne Boosler’s great dog rescue organization Tails of Joy. Read more

College isn’t necessarily the best 4 years of your life.

Posted June 9th, 2015
Tags: , ,

This is a piece I published in June in VICE.  You can read it THERE …or read it below. Read more

All that Letterman brouhaha.

Posted May 27th, 2015

devil head ride._edited-1 Read more

Letter to the thing I wished I had written: A Letter to the “Chicken Soup for the (Your Noun Here)” Series

Posted April 7th, 2015

About a year ago I was asked, by an Australian salon/charity called Women Of Letters, to write ” a letter to the thing I wish I had written.”  After I slowed down long enough to understand what that could possibly mean, I noticed that the proceeds were going Edgar’s Mission: an animal rescue and that I would be reading with the extremely brilliant Tim Minchin and Moby, among others. So I wrote the following “LETTER To Chicken Soup for the Soul” and now it has been published (along with letters by Susan Orlean, Tim Minchin, Moby, Josh Radnor, Ayelet Waldman and many many others) in a very entertaining book called AIRMAIL, which I highly recommend if you’d like to donate to an animal rescue and get a free book for your contribution. Here is a link to the book that lets you look inside. Below is my contribution.
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This week in sociopaths: My analysis of The Jinx

Posted March 31st, 2015

After watching episode 5 of The Jinx, I wrote THIS PIECE about why we all like to watch sociopaths. And when I say “we”, I mean “me”. Read more

I attended The Academy Awards of Sex Toys

Posted February 18th, 2015

I wrote this piece for VICE. You can read it here. But since they decided to only run a few of my photos, I thought I’d publish the original version of the piece below. Read more

An examination of Fifty Shades of Grey via its merchandise

Posted February 18th, 2015

I wrote a piece for GRANTLAND.com about the peculiar and hilarious FIFTY SHADES OF GREY merchandise on sale , all of it specially approved by its author. Read more

Perusing the new McDonald’s Web Pages

Posted February 5th, 2015
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I originally wrote this piece for VICE, who declined to publish it for reasons of their own. In it, I examine last fall’s new “frank and honest web page” marketing strategy by McDonald’s. Read more

Bob Dylan’s Xmas lights: A Final Wrap Up

Posted December 22nd, 2014

Dylan 2014wishbone sevenThis year, since I have a monthly column for VICE, I wrote up the past 6 years of light snooping into one big piece. I re-visited every set of lights from 2008 to present. Here are this year’s lights. For an explanation, you can read the whole piece HERE. In case that link isn’t working, here is the URL: http://www.vice.com/read/i-have-an-unhealthy-obsession-with-bob-dylans-christmas-lights-129  Visit often.  They count the page views. Read more

WORLD EXCLUSIVE: An interview with Neil Diamond’s Chair

Posted November 6th, 2014

Forty three years after Neil Diamond released his hit song, “I am I Said,” the much maligned chair from the chorus has decided to come forward and set the record straight. Read more

A Dylan Christmas MIRACLE

Posted December 22nd, 2013

UPDATE: Read more

Bob Dylan Xmas 2013

Posted December 17th, 2013

For an increasing number of people, The Holiday Season isn’t really officially under way until we all spend a moment of quiet contemplation with Bob Dylan’s Christmas decorations.  I have been doing this annually since 2009, making this my fifth year as curator of this semi-sacred event. Sometimes it seems to me that the rest of the weeks of the year are merely antipasto plates and hors d’oevres, leading up to this final special entree. Read more

Puppyboy in Put a Ring On It

Posted September 26th, 2013

My dog Puppyboy is now 17. He’s kind of blind and very deaf and not especially spry, although for his age he still gets around pretty well.  But I was going through some old footage yesterday, looking at Puppyboy in his prime. And lo and behold, I realized that he had pre-dated Beyonce and her big hit by many years. He was trying to tell me about it. He did all he could to tell me. But I was too blind. Oh well. Shoulda listened more closely. Read more

I hosted the WGA 101 Best Written Shows thing

Posted August 8th, 2013

In the beginning of June I hosted/moderated an event at The Writers Guild theater called “101 Best Written Shows.” The afore mentioned list was compiled by Guild membership voting.  I was amazed and thrilled that they asked me, and also fairly terrified since the duties involved interviewing a lot of my TV writer heroes as well as trying to amuse them. It was a pretty intimidating thought. Read more

Puppyboy at 17

Posted July 2nd, 2013

Puppyboy is the first dog I have owned who made it to seventeen. That’s pretty rarified territory for a large dog. Naturally there are age related problems. That said, I didn’t realize that as an older dog, he would become so much more refined. Yes, its true that in his senescence, he now occasionally poops in the house. But I was unprepared for the fact that he was going to prefer to eat all his meals with a fork. Read more

How not being able to walk taught me how to write.

Posted April 24th, 2013

This is a shortened version of a piece I read at a Skirball Center/Beth Lapides/Say The Word event that was called THE NEW ME.  I decided to put this part of it up here because what I learned might be useful to someone else. Read more

Dylan Christmas 2012

Posted December 13th, 2012

  The holidays mean many things to many people. One thing it always means to me is another chance to soak up the style and artistry of Bob Dylan’s Christmas decorations. Read more

Piece I wrote for WSJ on coping with post election stress!

Posted November 12th, 2012
  • Wall Street Journal
  • November 10, 2012, 10:00 AM ET

Surviving Post-Election Blues

(Or Reds, Depending)

Aren’t we all a little sick of being a country that operates like a big dysfunctional family, so perennially disgusted by each other that we dread holiday gatherings? Isn’t everyone fed up with living in our Two-Conspiracy-Theory System, wherein the minority party spends four years trying to prove how the majority party is dismantling the Constitution? Isn’t there some way for us to live in harmony with those whom we accuse of hastening the apocalypse? Read more

Women on a Panel: The musical montage

Posted September 16th, 2012

Speaking as someone who has perhaps too frequently been on panels herself, I offer this musical montage. Read more