I Am Watching Football

Hello, and welcome to I Am Watching Football, a column by me, Nat Burns, about football, ostensibly. Already, I sense you may have several questions, so let’s address those right off the bat… or, some sort of football appropriate metaphor…………. kickoff! Let’s kickoff with

Uh, wait, who are you?

I’m Nat Burns. I’ve been doing open mics here in and around Boston for the last [REDACTED] years. You may have seen me lurking around Tavern, Sally’s, etc., going up and doing a few minutes of what could at times be argued to be comedy, or you may not have, that’s fine.

I’ve ended up as, I guess kind of the proprietor here at Unscene, taking over the web hosting duties when Shawn was looking for places to move the site. But I was a bad father and walked out the door “for cigarettes” almost immediately, leaving the site on its own and the door open for certain other “editors” to come along, give themselves lofty titles and fashion the site in their own image as they see fit. But Odysseus has now returned to Ithaca and these money lenders ’bout to get cast the hell out of this temple.

It’s Week 17, what are you doing?

Alright, so, originally that question was meant to be “It’s Week 5, what are you doing?” but the cruel mistress of time, blah blah blah. I started thinking about writing this column back when I first heard the rumblings of a “coup” here at Unscene Comedy, and I thought to myself, “If anyone thinks they’re going to take the reigns from the guy who pays the bills around here, they are potentially somewhat mistaken. I didn’t salvage the rotting corpse of this website from the grave (multiple times) to then only sit on it for years and do nothing for nothing.” Then, I don’t know, fall happened, and here we are. I pretty much gave up on the idea but then I thought, you know you wrote all these notes during the season and what are you going to do just not use them? Just let them sit and become another relic of a thing you didn’t commit to? No. Not until next week, at least.

Wasn’t there already a football column here at Unscene?

Yes. And this column bears absolutely no resemblance to UNNAMED FOOTBALL COLUMN. Was the author of that column no longer interested in continuing it? Did my crippling social anxiety prevent me from even reaching out to them in the first place to see if they would want to? Who is to say.

What is it exactly you’re hoping to accomp-

And in the manner of one Bill Belichick. that is enough questions. Which leads me straight into my next point, which is fuck The Patriots. No, I’m not jumping ship because they sucked this year. I am and always have been (as long as I’ve remotely cared about football at least), and always will be, a Buffalo Bills fan. #BillsMafia, etc.. Aside from the what is not so much a glimmer of hope as it is a weak spark that was Joe Biden’s victory in the election, the stellar performance of the Bills this season has been the one shining light, a beacon, guiding the way through the long, dark tunnel that was the year 2020.

I was born in February 1992, back when the team had just made their second of four straight losing appearances at the Super Bowl, and I have to say, despite not being an astrology person, this is gearing up for one hell of a Saturn return. Will they beat out the AFC (a tough road) and make it to the Big Game this year? Will they (almost certainly inevitably) blow it all at the last moment again? I don’t even care, because they swept the Pats, and of the potentially two AFC East teams going to the playoffs this year, neither will be The Patriots, so fuck all of you.

And with all that gloating said, we do need to talk about the extremely problematic nature of Buffalo’s relationship with Josh Allen. You know what I’m talking about. I need only say the name Colin Kaepernick to begin and end the argument about racism towards black quarterbacks in the NFL, but the kind involving Josh Allen is of a much more subtle nature. None of this is to say that Josh Allen hasn’t had an incredible season, he has, but that is in a way the point. All anyone should be talking about is Josh Allen’s incredible season, he has a 106 passer rating (last year 85), 4320 yards passing (as of this week, 3089 all of last year), and 34 passing touchdowns (20 last year), yet all anyone does talk about is how much of a great “personality” fit Josh Allen is for Buffalo. AKA he’s white.

Buffalo has played I think four straight nationally televised games, because they are amazing and we are witnessing the start of a new era in the AFC East, but this has put this particular narrative of the NFL (and the NFL loves its narratives) front and center. I don’t want to get too much into the massive (over $1 million) donations made by denizens of the city to a children’s hospital in honor of Josh Allen’s grandmother who passed away earlier this fall, because I do believe it to have been motivated by a genuine outpouring of goodwill, but ask yourself if the same generosity would have been granted to Tyrod Taylor, who in all of his three years with Buffalo had about equal or better passing statistics than Josh Allen did in his first two (mentioned above for this very reason) and with decidedly not the same team around him.

I think most tellingly though, the story should be the unprecedented performance, and it is instead frequently, as I heard an announcer say the other week, “When a town embraces you like that, that affects you as a quarterback, and he’s so much more confident and comfortable in his own skin.” And I have of course added the emphasis there, and I also realise obviously that the commentator was… I’m hesitating now to say exactly how sure I am that it wasn’t an intentional reference to Josh Allen’s skin colour but I think almost certainly not. Still though, if I’m sitting here already thinking up bits about the issues the “Buffalo loves Josh Allen’s ‘personality’” story-line raises, you can’t feed me lines like that.

I sense I may be losing some of the underground/alt comedy scene audience in which Unscene theoretically traffics with all the sports talk here, even despite the heavy dose of performative white guilt in the last few paragraphs, so let’s break out into some… *music note emoji* Recurr-rring Se-eegments *music note emoji*

Sponsored by…

Unpopular opinion: I love advertising. I wish there was more of it.

Un-bunch your panties, or other… less sexist colloquialisms for calm down, let me explain myself. There should not be more airtime dedicated to advertisements, but there should be a larger number of them in the rotation. I’ve been at home for the holidays (standard COVID disclaimer: with just immediate family, and they are not far away from me) and my family does not generally watch very much television on-the-air, so when that GEICO commercial came on which is the people who’s apartment has a “clogging” problem, and that problem is the fact that there is a family of people literally clogging above them all of the time, and my mom laughed, I looked at her like, “What sort of an absolutely insane person are you?”

But I laughed at that commercial, or, you know, found myself moderately amused or whatever the appropriate response for a man sitting alone in his living room at night desiring so much to escape his own existence he’s even paying attention to the commercials during non-Super Bowl football games is, the first time. I think I kind of lost the thread for a moment there, but you get the point ultimately is it was funny the first time. All of the times after that, all I can think about is the sheer audacity of a company to showcase a behavior that the people in the commercial deem to be insufferably annoying, over, and over, and over, and over, and over again. In the afternoon, during prime-time, late at night, at all hours, clogging. GEICO you are doing to us what you presuppose that family to be doing to their downstairs neighbors, which is annoying the absolute shit out of them.

Speaking of companies choosing to advertise via methods that showcase their products in somewhat… questionable circumstances, we should talk about the recent decision of the Local To The Media Market Of This Website (LTTMMOTW) Samuel Adams to portray their beer Boston Lager as the choice of your asshole cousin who will ruin your wedding:

Look, I understand the urge to do the whole comedy-bit-as-advertising thing where the point is really for people to just remember the brand name after having a mild chuckle, BUT WHO BRINGS A SIX PACK TO WHAT APPEARS TO BE A FULLY CATERED EVENT!?!?!? The cross-section of people who would bring a six pack to an occasion like that and people who would not have made absolutely sure that there was an open bar is a nonexistent one. We’re not even getting into the fact that he introduces the six pack as “I brought a date”. Who is this sad, sad man with this unhealthy relationship to alcohol? Definitely not me, two years ago, on Valentine’s Day, when I posted a photo of a Harpoon IPA in front of our apartment’s fake gas fireplace with the caption, “Evening by the fire with my one and only *heart emojis*” No. This commercial doesn’t make me feel anything about myself at all.

The point is, why would you make a commercial where the person depicted as using your product is an unflattering portrayal of me-*cough* *cough*-ahem, a bitter and depressed single man relying on a substance to dull his pain? Take a page out of, literally every other beer manufacturer’s book and stick to the beaches and bikinis guys. Those still make me feel terrible about myself, but it’s not quite as personal.

If you think we’re not at some point going to talk about the fact that local comic Will Noonan is the LTTMMOTW Honda spokesperson, you are dead wrong, but today is not that day.

A Dream I Had the Other Night

I was in a plane flying to England, but it was a small plane, like a twin-prop sort of thing, and for some reason I was up in the co-pilot seat, next to the pilot, Stevie from Schitt’s Creek. It was a rough take-off, we had to dodge a bunch of cars on the runway and then some trees. Then once we were up there was an issue where the plane could only go to “3rd gear” and this meant we wouldn’t have enough fuel to get to England (I did some calculations) so we needed to go back. Then we made out.

What Else Am I Watching?

Oh so much. Too much. If all the streaming services that I’m currently subscribed to were billed on the same day of the month, I would surely be horrified. But look at it this way, the $6.99 per month with advertisements that CBS just suckered me into is the same as I would spend on a single Sam Adams Boston Lager out at a bar, and there’s been no opportunity for such extravagances of late, so I don’t feel quite so stupid about indulging in these superficial entertainments, and hopefully to some extent funding the continued creation of my beloved content through this difficult period.

I signed up for CBS All Access mostly because it got me… access, to some of my favourites from the Viacom family i.e. Comedy Central’s Kroll Show and Review, among others. If you consider yourself a comedy person (i.e. a person reading this website, also note my expert repeat use of the Latin abbreviation “i.e.” meaning specifically as opposed to “in example” which would be “e.g.” and also if you hate me for what just happened you should just stop reading now and not come back because this weird yet totally unoriginal mix of self-deprecating sad-boy and self-important intellectual elitism is basically all you’re going to get from me) and you aren’t familiar with these shows (go back and read the sentence from where it started before the last parentheses, also something that’s going to happen frequently, deal with it) then you are just (you know I had an English teacher back in high school who absolutely hated the phrase “a lot”. Something about you could always use a more specific term instead, so now I can’t write “a lot” without going back and replacing it with something like “frequently”. Anyway…) wrong. Go watch them.

I also watched the pilot episode of Picard, which, yes, I’m something like a year late to the game but this is a column about football starting on Week 17 so there are no rules here. I thought it looked great, good direction, mostly good acting, Patrick Stewart is of course still excellent as Picard, but I have script problems. Big ones. Too big to go into with what I feel like is already a satisfactory word count here so maybe another time. Some time when I’ve run out of notes from the fall that I can keep pretending are based on games I watched in the last week/when in a few weeks there is no more football, whichever comes first.

And with that, thanks for watching and thanks for reading, and


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