My Response to the MacArthur Genius Grant Idiots

by Anthony Scibelli

As you, my faithful readers, are probably already aware, the winners of the 2012 MacArthur Genius Grant awards have been released, and once again, I have been unfairly overlooked by this seemingly respectable organization. Had this happened once, I could have assumed that they had overlooked me by accident. Perhaps the first year there were candidates who were genuinely more qualified than I am. Or my letter could have been lost in the shuffle of experimental jazz saxophone players, absurdist playwrights, and racist ventriloquists.

But this had gone way too far, straining the MacArthur Foundation’s already tenuous credulity, like a piece of Silly Putty stretched by an unusually malevolent six year old.

I have finally come to terms with the fact that I will (probably) never win the MacArthur Genius Grant, be it for my contributions to the art of stand-up comedy, comedy writing, filmmaking, making fun of old movies a la Mystery Science Theater 3000, knowledge of the Ramones, amateur Muppetry, cartooning or talking to girls.

But being a genius is like being cool. You don’t need anyone to tell you that you are cool. You know it, deep down inside you. Even when everyone tells you that you’re not, and have parties and don’t invite you, and talk about you behind your back. You’re still cool because you know it. You don’t need some affectedly genteel stuffed shirt to tell you you’re a genius.

I no longer care that I will probably continue to be ignored by the idiots at the MacArthur Foundation. In fact, anyone that needs to feel justified in their genius by the outside approval of some faceless organization and a $500,000 stipend to dick around for five years is probably not really a genius in the first place.

Einstein didn’t need some bozo in a seersucker suit with a ridiculous oversized check to know that he was the greatest creative mind of the twentieth century. Everyone knew he was a genius because of his crazy hair and knowledge of the Ramones.

So, to all the MacArthur Fellowship idiots reading this message: I don’t need you and your fancy schmancy award to validate my genius. I know it’s there, radiating through my being like gamma rays through a pre-incredible incredible Hulk.

It’s there in every aspect of my life, evident in my joke writing process, from the inception of an idea (“I haven’t seen anyone eat a Tootsie Roll Pop in a long time.”) to the first draft of a joke (“Tootsie Roll Pops are two candies for the price of one. It’s the turducken of of candy foods.”) to the second draft of a joke (“What is the deal with Tootsie Roll Pops? Seriously. There’s a deal there, and when I find it, I’m going to deal with it.”) to my trying to craft the idea into a sketch instead (“The invention of the Tootsie Roll Pop by Ramones superfan Albert Einstein.”) to my eventual rejection of the concept and decision to just go and eat a Tootsie Roll Pop.

But I know that no matter how detailed I describe the delicate and mysterious creative process, the MacArthur Foundation will simply award their coveted prize to some undeserving no-nothing who can spend the next five years whittling away the hours while they work on their experimental novel retelling Dennis the Menace told from the point of view of Mr. Wilson or they refine their pediatric neuro-surgery. Meanwhile, the real genius will continue to toil on in the shadows, like masked crime fighters in a Marvel comicbook, shunning the spotlight, while at the same time secretly craving it.

Anthony Scibelli

Anthony is a contributor for