Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Best Urban Erma Posts of 2012

It’s the end of the world… I mean… the end of the year and I just want to say thank you to all the fans of The Urban Erma. Whether you’re a reader the blog, a listener to the podcast (or as I prefer to call it: the blogcast), a watcher of the new the video edition or all of the above, thank you so much! I really appreciate your support.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Here Comes Honey Who?

I was channel surfing the other day and finally happened upon the TV show that everyone's been talking about: Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo. In the interests of keeping up with pop culture I figured I should at least watch an episode so that I can speak on it with knowledgeable distain. When realization dawned that this was not a Saturday Night Live sketch but indeed the actual show, I began wondering if white folks are as horrified by Honey Boo Boo as black folks were by The Flavor of Love. Honey would break the loving resolve of even Uncle Ruckus. 


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I’m Going to Get Gas, Cover Me!

Image courtesy of supakitmod
They say history repeats itself but there’s some stuff you don’t want to see again: slavery, neon leg warmers, and gas lines. I've heard my parents talk about the gas lines of the 70s. It sounded like all the other crazy stuff they’ve told me about like all the things you could buy for a nickel and gas only costing $.25 a gallon. So I never thought I'd actually find myself waiting in a gas line, happy that it was only five blocks long.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Grown Folks Shoppin’

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono
My washing machine died. I can’t be mad. I had it for 15 years so I more than got my money’s worth. But this meant I had to get a new washer and dryer since I had a laundry center, stacked combo. And shopping for a washer-dryer is not like shopping for shoes. It’s not cute. It’s not sexy. And it’s definitely not an impulse buy. This is Grown Folks Shopping.



Sunday, November 4, 2012

Home for the Hurricane: The Great Bundle Debacle

New York City has been devastated by Hurricane Sandy. There was loss of life, power, and property. Honestly, I really didn’t know it was going to be this bad. It wasn’t the dire warnings of the Weather Channel that finally got through to me. It was when The City suspended parking meters and alternate side of the street parking. That’s a sign of the apocalypse isn’t it? Yeah, it was going to be bad.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Coloring Outside the Lines

Image courtesy of chokphoto
The Gift of the Battle Axe

I didn't know my maternal grandmother very well, but her name was Nana. She was not a warm and fuzzy grandma. She was tough. She didn't complement or coddle. My Dad (whom she made no bones about not liking) nick named her Axie, short for Battle Axe. They say, “It's always better at grandma's.” Not at mine.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

One of Those Days

Image courtesy of zirconicusso
Have you ever had one of those days? Mine started the night before last when I fell out of bed. I wish I could say I was doing something fun when it happened. I was simply sitting crossed-legged on the edge and leaning over to plug in my phone. I overextended just a little and gravity made me regret not springing for thicker carpet.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Does T-Mobile Hate Old People?

Image courtesy of chokphoto
Does T-Mobile hate old people? My Dad thinks so. T-Mobile is my parents’ cell phone provider, or at least it used to be until they got a letter informing them that for their “convenience” their bill would now be available on line. If they wished to continue getting a paper bill they could do so for additional monthly charge of $3.95. T-Mobile sent this letter to a man who comes from a generation where $3.95 bought you some land, a house, and a horse; and you got back change.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

For the Love of Strangers; Any Given Saturday

The comedy club was packed — standing room only. The line to get in was out the door and growing. Some folks tried to cut line and a fight broke out. Thankfully, Security squashed it quickly and no one was hurt.  And I thought "Wow, y'all. It's just jokes." 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ain’t Misbehavin’

My seventh grade teacher Mr. B got a message that he had to go down to The Office right away. What was so important it couldn't wait until the end of the school day, which was less than an hour away? I never found out. But I think we all know leaving a classroom of 28 12-year olds on their honor has a very predictable outcome.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Peeing Standing Up – A 4-Year Old’s Failed Experiment

I was lucky. While my Dad worked, my Mom stayed home with me until I was four-years old. And then my luck ran out. Somebody got the bright idea that I needed to be “socialized” with other kids my own age and off I went to day-scare. I remember there being a lot of teasing, hitting, and crying. All I wanted to do was go back home and lock myself in my room. Things haven’t changed much.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sometimes I Wish FaceBook Had a Hate Button

Back to school has always been one of my favorite times of the year. There’s just something about ball point pens, loose leaf, and marble notebooks that set my heart aflutter. But while I loved school I hated the other kids. Well not all of them, just the bullies. Nowadays bullies and their aberrant behavior are taken seriously: therapists are called, charges are pressed. But back in the day it was every kid for herself.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Power of Christ Annoys Thee

One of the things I like about running at my local outdoor track, instead of on the treadmill at the gym, is that nobody bothers me, until now. As I was finishing my first lap a woman in a sun hat, flowered dress, and sensible shoes tried to hand me a religious tract, while I’m running on the track. Say that three times fast why dontcha. When I’m working out, I don't carry a handbag and fanny packs are undignified. So where did she expect me to put a pamphlet? I had a few ideas, but all seemed rude and vaguely illegal.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Thank You Chick-fil-A

I’ve actually been trying to enjoy my summer so I’m a little late to the party on the national news. There seems to have been a bit of hoopla over statements made by Chick-fil-A’s president in his support for “traditional” marriage and therefore his de facto stance against gay marriage. (It presupposes, of course, that one group has the right to decide which definition of traditional we’re all supposed to be abiding by. Forgive my unease, but historically this hasn’t always worked out for women, the poor, or the naturally tan but, you know, whatever.) Moving right along.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Brow Beating

Coming In Hot, Fast & Mad

I went to get my eyebrows done the other day. I get them threaded now instead of waxed. I can't really say that one is less painful than the other. I suspect years of waxing has probably just deadened the feeling in that part of my face.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Price Match Death Match

I received a text message from Best Buy telling me the happy news: “Your entry last month has WON!” Nice! But since I hadn’t entered any contests at Best Buy I resisted the urge to click on the link and claim my $1,000 gift card. Later that same week I heard my local news readers warn us all to "Beware the Gift Card Texting Scam, News at 11!" How did I know? Easy. The company that sweats giving me a $50 product price match would probably not be doling out a $1,000 gift card to one of its crankiest customers. (Click here to read more about my travails at Best Buy.)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Hot Wings, Wine & Moonshine

Here’s to the Estrogen Weekend 

Back in the day, I used to hang out with My Girls like we had all the time in the world. And we did. We had time to go to class, parties, step shows, and community service projects. We had time to take road trips to do more of the same. It was awesome. When we weren’t road tripping, we sat up all night and talked about our plans. We mapped out who we were going to be, what we were going to do, and how fast we were going to do it. And I think it has indeed gone by quicker than we ever thought possible.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Who Am I? DNA Don't Lie

I wish I could say that I got myself DNA tested because of some deep desire to know who my ancestors are. If you’re African- or Caribbean-American you just accept the fact that you’re mixed. I wanted to get the lowdown on my ancestral DNA for the same reason I’ve considered getting my masters degree in sociology: for the jokes.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

New Kids on the Boat

I recently found myself performing on a charter music cruise headlined by New Kids on the Block. You heard me. I’m not big on boy bands but I was just a wee bit sorry that it wasn’t Boyz to Men. [Insert sly smile and small swoon here.] In case you didn’t know, New Kids on the Block rebranded themselves NKOTB. This is cute but it must make it hard on their dyslexic fans. I bet some of those poor ladies ended up on the MFSB cruise jamming to “Love is the Message.”

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Daddy’s Girl: The Flavor of Fatherhood*

I remember the first time (and last time) I saw The Flavor of Love and thinking: Maybe if we had more daddies who paid attention instead of fathers who just paid support, this kind of thing wouldn’t happen.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Confessions of a Wannabe Rollerblade Queen

There was a Little Girl of about nine or 10 years old rollerblading on my local running track. Well, she wasn’t so much blading as she was stomping around like Frankenstein and trying not to fall down. It was pitiful. Parents buy their kids bicycles knowing they'll have to teach them how to ride but this doesn't happen with roller skates or blades, probably because parents themselves don't know how to skate.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dead Dick: Not a Viagra Story

I was on a gig recently when a woman I was working with got the news that her mother had passed away. When she whispered it to me, I couldn’t help but stare at her in astonishment. I knew her mom was not well and that her passing was imminent, but what shocked me was that my friend wasn’t curled up in a blathering blob on the floor. All entertainers know that “the show must go on” but it’s different when your life is the one that’s falling apart behind the scenes.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

I Need a Thundershirt

My Dog and I look alike. We’re both black with a little bit of grey. Recently describing His Lordship to someone I was stunned to realize just how similar we also are in temperament. I said, “I love him but he’s spoiled, cranky, moody, entitled … wait, what? Oh damn.”

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Asshole or Asperger’s

So, I was hanging out at the bar with friends when I was approached by an audience member. He said, “You’re funny. I enjoyed your show.”

“Thank you.”

“So, how old are you?”

No, you didn’t miss anything. And, no, I didn’t leave anything out. He asked me just like that, with all the finesse of an STD test.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

But, I Don’t Want to Be a Stripper

I tried going shoe shopping but what I found instead were shelves full of brightly colored stilts. “Am I expected to actually walk in these?” I said aloud to no one in particular. A sales girl smiled and said, “You know, some women can’t walk in flats.” I bit my tongue just in time to stop myself from saying in a perfect imitation of my Grandmother, “Yes, Child, but those women are whores.” 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Hormones, Heartbreak & House Payments

Would you believe a 12-year-old wrote this: 

“By choosing to be happy we let ourselves be friendlier and more human to one another.”
Deep, right? 

I recently had the honor of being a judge for The 2012 Good Life Award Writing Contest. It was open to students from seventh to ninth grade; 522 kids entered from 34 schools. The contest was created to honor the life of Dottie Yeck, a champion of children, who believed that one is never too young to have an impact on the world. Her Life Philosophy and premise for the contest is: Being Good + Doing Good = Having Fun + Being Happy. Clearly Dottie was not a native New Yorker.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Dressed Up Community Service

Two friends were shopping in the JCPenney women's department. Well, one woman was just browsing. The other was staging an intervention. I did not know these women personally and I never had the pleasure of ever learning their names but for the purposes of this story I could call them Lucy and Ethel, or even Laverne and Shirley. But as a casual fan of the TV show Living Single I'll call them Regine and Sinclaire.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Geometry of Love & Comedy

At my last stand-up comedy college show a student came up afterwards and said, “Thanks for the ‘D’ student joke. I’m mentoring a high school student this weekend and you explained better than I could why he should get good grades.”   My joke:

“The most important thing I’ve learned watching TV crime shows is that it pays to be an ‘A’ student. If you’re an ‘A’ student and you go missing, they look for you. If you’re a ‘D’ student, you’ll be duct taped in the trunk of a car thinking, ‘Wow, I should have studied more.’”

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Very Funny Bag Lady?

In honor of my stand-up comedy anniversary, I'm sharing an essay I wrote last year for The Blog Out Loud Show: the live, staged reading version of The Urban Erma.

So, I ran into a fellow comedian whom I love and respect a great deal. He’s one of those guys who’s the cherished combination of funny and nice. I’ve always admired his success. I’ve seen him in commercials, he’s a respected regular in the A-level comedy clubs around the city, and he had his own Comedy Central special. Since I hadn’t seen him in a while I had assumed he was doing his thing out in LA. So I was crushed when he told me he’s selling real estate now.

How in the hell do you go from Comedy Central to Century 21?

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

All Men Would Be Klingons

It is no secret that I am a Star Trek fan, with a Lieutenant Uhura costume in my closet to prove it. When I meet other fans I often ask: “What would you be if you could be any other species in the Star Trek universe?” Almost without exception the men say, “Klingon!” Well, “Ka’plah!” gentlemen. I don’t know what my fellow female Star Trek fans would be. I haven’t met any.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Capital One, Capital Zero

I was more than a little surprised when The Dunkin Donuts Guy handed me back my bank card. "I'm sorry," he said. "It's been declined." I did that slow blink of surprise that morphed into embarrassment. "What?" I said, as I looked around at the other caffeine and sugar addicts hoping no one had overheard. Unlike my credit card, with which I have a love-hate-denial-did-I-say-hate relationship, my bank card is linked to my checking account. I keep a precise mental tally of my account balance that would make Ebenezer Scrooge say, "Damn Boo!" 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

My Kool Aid Moment; Apple Love You

I panicked when a dialogue box popped up on my iPhone telling me that a new iOS update was available. I'd missed this bit of information in the big announcement about the coming of iPad 3. I had the option to download and install the update or to cancel. Of course, I hit cancel and immediately sought out the advice of a more experienced iPhone user.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Drug Test Wakeup Call

When the phone rang at 9:37am I knew the caller must have the wrong number. No one ever calls me in my cabin when I'm working onboard a cruise ship. I’m the comedian. No one needs me until show time but I answered the phone anyway because that was the only way to make it stop ringing. 

"Hello, Leighann?"

"It's the Assistant Cruise Director."
"Hey, what's up?" 

"I'm sorry,” he said. “You've been randomly selected for a drug test."


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Flying Harpy of Love

I'm not a nice person when I fly. From curbside to baggage claim the entire travel experience has become so hostile towards passengers that it's every traveler for themselves. If you don't carve out your own slice of sanity, it will be taken away, screened, checked, charged extra for, and probably even lost without so much as an “I’m sorry.” 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Why Don Cornelius Left the Building

Suicide May be Painless but Writing the Note is Excruciating  - 

Don Cornelius, the creator and host of Soul Train, passed away recently. I say passed away because how he died depends on your point of view. To the general public he committed suicide. To the African-American community at large he did not. Acknowledging suicide challenges our misguided belief that black folks don’t get depressed, we just get angry. You put an “H” on your chest and just handle it, whatever it is. The slaves made it through without therapy right?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

In Memory of Comedian Todd Lynn

Comedian Todd Lynn died last Friday from complications of diabetes and pancreatic cancer, suffering two strokes and a heart attack. --

What can I say about Todd? He was quiet, humble, kept to himself … Oh wait … Todd LYNN? Take two: Todd was smart, brash, funny, and fearless. He was opinionated and you learned what his opinions were within five minutes of meeting him. He would even tell you about yourself to your face free of charge whether you asked or not. Not a very comfortable thing that, but at least you knew where you stood with him. In an industry built on backstabbing Todd was almost refreshing. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

So, About the Letterman Thing

Twat Blocked Again

It’s been an eventful time for women in comedy. The New York Times broke the story that female comedians are not booked to perform on The Letterman Show in equal numbers to their male counterparts. You don’t say. Women in comedy not being treated fairly? Well gosh darn it stop the presses. This is not news to anyone with a vagina, but hats off to the New York Times for being in the vanguard of non-current events.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Living the iLife: Look, Ma, No Manual!

It’s one thing to break all bad ass and switch from a BlackBerry to an iPhone but when the deed is done the challenge becomes living with it. I'll admit there are things I miss about my BlackBerry, especially when travelling. But would I go back to it? No, and by no I mean Hells No, but it is an adjustment and sometimes I wish I had a little bit more guidance. Mac-acolytes treat iPhone ownership as an intuitive experience so in other words no manual.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My Top 10 Urban Erma’s of 2011

Happy New Year! Thank you so much for reading and enjoying The Urban Erma. I started the blog back in 2004 and it’s evolved and grown every year with your love and support. I’m kicking off 2012 with a top 10 list of the best Urban Erma’s of 2011. Revisit, laugh, comment and share. And most of all please keep reading! Thanks again! 

1. BeyondScared Straight

Thanks for reading The Urban Erma. You can listen to the podcast on Podbean or subscribe for free on iTunes. In case you were wondering, in addition to blogging I am also a pretty good stand-up comedian. I do "Thinking Cap Comedy." If comedy were music, I'd be Jazz. Want to see a show? Check out my schedule at @