Pick My Brain Interview: Stephen Rivera
Creator of The Swerved
We’ve had many “guest” columnists come and go here, but when we first read Stephen Rivera’s entry, we knew he was something special.
Not only has he been writing for us since 2005, but he also started his own blog, The Swerved, which I think is positively brilliant. It was only fitting we pick the brain of the man who has made us laugh so many times, and we’re honored to bring this interview to you today. Enjoy.
1. What an honor (and self-serving) it is for us to interview one of our own. Please take this opportunity to list your plugs and introduce yourself to those who may not know you.
My name is Stephen Rivera. I am the author and owner of The Swerved at www.theswerved.blogspot.com (est. September 2006.) In all, The Swerved has been touted as the funniest wrestling blog ever to be entitled The Swerved. If you come over to my site, please enjoy its comedic content and comment in a comedic or non-comedic way even if you have nothing constructive or worthwhile to say. I post to entertain you, not myself. Speaking of posts, new entries can be found every Monday, so check it out when you can. If you somehow like my work, please spread the good word to the masses. Tell the other big wrestling sites out there to give me a chance as well. Also, continue to support The Armpit for the laughter that the Wrestling Professor shells out weekly is muchly needed in this two-out-of-three falls, no holds barred, no disqualification, happiness-on-a-pole match we call life.
If you want to know more about me, I come from the land of maple syrup and hockey sticks–Serbia and Montenegro. I am a college student who one day wishes to be an actual paid writer of television shows and or films and or books. Dear Canadian film and television industry people, please hire me for your future creative projects if you want to make a billion dollars (after the writer’s strike is settled.) I have been a wrestling fan since 1995. The first feud I witnessed involved Goldust lusting after Razor Ramon. Why that hooked me into wrestling is something I will never know. My favourite wrestlers and characters of all-time are the following in no particular order: “The Macho Man” Randy Savage, Chris Jericho, Rey Mysterio Jr, Hollywood Hulk Hogan, The Disco Inferno, Hollywood Rock and the aforementioned Scott Hall. My all-time favourite wrestling move is the Fisherman’s DDT. My least favourite wrestling move is the abdominal stretch. I listen to music that the average wrestling fan does not. If you listen to Aimee Mann or Jon Brion, I will be your best friend. I like movies that are odd and visually interesting. If you like Wes Anderson or Michel Gondry, I will give you three of my kidneys. Please support television shows like The Office, 30 Rock, Pushing Daisies, Chuck, Reaper, and Flight of the Conchords because I think they are greatness. Finally, I want those of you who are Americans to vote for Hilary Clinton in the 2008 Presidential Election if and only if she chooses to use DMX’s Get It On Floor as her theme song. She must get it on the floor, get-get it on the floor. Get it on the floor, get-get it on the floor. Once that becomes her entrance, it’ll be time to usher in the Hilennium. Big Hil-y Style, if you know what I mean.
2. Since we have limited memories, please tell us how you got your start with The Armpit and how long you’ve been writing for us.
You, the Professor Who is Wrestling, posted a message on The Armpit that asked for guest writers in the spring of 2005. By that time, I had been a follower of The ‘Pit for a short while. I had written entertainment and sports columns for other sites, but they were mostly ignored. So, I decided to give it another shot. I sent in an article that parodied ECW One Night Stand. You, the Professor Who is Wrestling, enjoyed it and brought me aboard the Good Ship. My first article was posted in May 2005, then I wrote for the site until its closing at the end of summer 2006. I’ve kept myself busy with The Swerved from that point onwards. Now that The Armpit has returned, I have come back to the site as well.
3. All great TV shows usually have a “spinoff.” For example, Cheers spun off Frasier, and Three’s Company spun off Three’s a Crowd and also the short-lived Ropers. When The Armpit ended for the 47th time in 2006, what spun off was “The Swerved,” a site which you still own and operate today. Please tell us more about The Swerved, your vision behind it, and why our readers should check it out.
To answer the question that I am sure is on a lot of people’s minds, my blog’s name is not based on Vince Russo. I called it The Swerved because the comedy you will find on the blog is meant to be sudden and unexpected rather than obvious, just like a wrestling swerve. To elaborate further, I think of The Swerved as the internet version of a personality-driven entertainment show. If I had to compare The Swerved to something that is on television right now, I’d say that my blog is the wrestling equivalent of The Colbert Report with Stephen Colbert. With the use of visuals and articles, I take an absurd look at professional wrestling in the same way that Colbert treats politics. With my writing, I spend most of the time trying to wrap my head around the weird personalities and happenings of the industry. When I first started to write guest columns for The Armpit, I created an exaggerated author character who knew very little about wrestling and learned as he went along. Now that I’m writing for The Swerved, I have put more of my own personality into my work. I’m never going to reveal which of my views are real and which are fake because I want to leave that task up to the readers.
4. One of the highlights in reading The Swerved, at least for us, is your brilliant graphics. Your writing is great, but it comes more alive with the humorous graphics you create. Where do you get your ideas from, and how are you able to create those zany pictures so quickly?
How I come up with ideas will be hard to explain, but I will try. I get my concepts for The Swerved’s graphics from what I call the “What If?” scenarios in my head. For instance, one of my features on The Swerved is entitled Dream Matches; I take wrestlers and place them in match situations against the most ridiculous opponents I can think of. Most of the graphics I create involve professional wrestling invading all aspects of life and pop culture. I can’t tell you how many images I have made out of “What if wrestling and wrestlers were not just confined to the ring, but could be found anywhere?”
To answer the second part of your question, I have taken various forms of art classes in school for what seems like forever. Since I have an art background and love visuals, I want my blog to be artwork too. I am able to create most of my images with ease because Photoshop is my homie. I let him rummage through my fridge for Sunny D all the time, despite the fact that he hurts my feelings when he calls my jug of grape juice “purple stuff.” Your face is purple stuff.
5. Time for Number Association. Please give us a number for each of the following:
Number of WWE Divas who have written you fan mail, practically begging you for sex: 20 (including Goldberg in a wig, also known as Goldbeatrice)
Percentage of your relatives who know you have a blog called The Swerved: 5
Percentage of your relatives who actually read The Swerved: 0
Percentage of your relatives who have no clue what the f*ck a “blog” is: 75
Percentage of Canadian citizens who hate America ‘s guts: 40 (I dislike that 40 percent back. What are we doing here? Picking teams? “I’ll be pro-Canadian because Canada gave me a juice box. I don’t like America because it likes Yu-Gi-Oh, not Pokémon.”
Number of wrestling matches you’ve watched in your life: 2222222
Favorite year to be a wrestling fan: 1997 for WCW, 1999 for WWF, and 2000 for ECW on TNN because I got to watch Rollerjam right after it aired
Number of times you’ve said “Eh?” this week: 0 (I find that Eastern Canadians tend to say it most. I am more likely to say “Right?” rather than “Eh?”)
The temperature outside your house right now: 8 (You are darn tooting. Eight degrees Celsius. Take that, you damn Fahrenheiters.)
Number of blankets you cover yourself with when sleeping: 3 (I have one large thick blanket, then a smaller thin blanket underneath, then a beautiful naked lady whom I use as a blanket. Her name is Christina.)
Servings of Morphoplex you consume per week: I take fifty bottles of Morphoplex pills for breakfast, fifty bottles for lunch, then I have a sensible dinner in which I eat the empty Morphoplex bottles. I weigh -40 pounds.
Your 1-rep, bench press max: The weight of one sheet of paper. Lined paper.
Number of teethmarks you have on your upper body from Swerved groupies: I have 0 bites on my upper body, but 1,000,000 on my lower body, playas. This is why I’m hot. This is why I’m hot. I’m so hot that I warm pans and pots. Holla back, son.
The square root of 225: 15; 225’s Super Sweet Sixteen Birthday Party (with a special performance by Rick Astley) is scheduled for this December
Sin2 + Cos2: More mathematics? What are you? Tri-sexual?
Number of times your crotch itched just watching Missy Hyatt on TV: What? Missy Hyatt is supposed to be on TV only? Whenever I try to watch her, she crawls out of the television set in the style of Samara from The Ring and tries to make crotchy love to me. I do not care for crotchy love with Missy Hyatt. I am not willing to put The Good Time Tambourine Band featuring Kevin (also known as my man business) through such anguish.
Highest number of flights of stairs you’ve ever climbed: 400 with the assistance of an ice climbing axe
Number of 450 splashes off the top rope you could do right now if you really felt like it: 450 while reading and finishing War and Peace
Longest amount of time you’ve ever taken to complete one bowel movement (including wiping and flushing): 0.12 milliseconds flat
Amount, in cents, you’ve received in pay from The Armpit for your writing services: 0 cents, but many Chuck E. Cheese tokens
Age that Kevin Nash looks: 5 years young
Age that Kevin Nash will look when TNA starts filming in HD next year: 12 months
6. Let’s play “The Last of Stephen Rivera.”
Last time you had to use a toilet plunger: Yesterday, just to feel like a plumber from Brooklyn who goes down a pipe into a magical land of angry bullets and hammer-throwing turtles. Yes, I went to Kentucky.
Last time you watched Conan O’Brien and said to yourself, “I can write a better monologue than that”: Never. You see, there’s not much you can do with a monologue anyway. The problem with monologue jokes is that they have to be pedestrian. Hosts cover the entertainment and news stories of the day that everybody else covers to stay relevant. In addition, they hope that you haven’t watched the news or heard the stories from other talk shows yet. Of course, late night talk shows do OJ Simpson murder jokes, Paris Hilton skank jokes, George W. Bush idiocy jokes and what have you that are not clever or funny, but that comes with the territory of a monologue. Even though Conan O’Brien is like a comedic deity to me, I think that Conan’s counterpart, Craig Ferguson, has a great monologue because it’s not even a monologue. Ferguson performs a stream of consciousness stand-up routine that is pretty great.
Last time you had diarrhea: How rude. A lady never tells.
Last time you and Jimbo talked smack about the Wrestling Professor behind his back: Never. Why talk smack about the Wrestling Professor behind his back when I can do it in front of his freakin’ face? Here are some diamondish gems:
-The Wrestling Professor’s mother is so fat that people say, “Hey, look at the Wrestling Professor’s mother. She is the opposite of skinny.” Put it on the booooooaaaarrrrrrdddd.
-The Wrestling Professor can’t please his woman because she has unreasonable demands that cannot be met by one husband, let alone one human being. Oh, snap crackle pops.
-The Wrestling Professor needs money so much that he must work on a consistent basis to maintain his quality of life. You have been served with a servedpoena, sir.
-The Wrestling Professor? More like The Wrestling Confessor. Do you like your toast light or burnt because I just burned you?
-The Wrestling Professor goes to Wal-Mart. Actually, I take that back. That statement crosses the line. My apologies.
Last time you had pizza delivered to your home: One year ago. The pizza does not come to me; I like to go to the pizza. Plus, I never know how much I should tip the delivery guy. He didn’t make the pizza, but he did make the pizza appear. What do I do? This situation is stressful, so I try to avoid it.
Last time you dressed up as Hornswoggle: Today. I try to wear a leprechaun outfit from Monday to Friday. Weekends call for Oprahwear–I dress up as Oprah Winfrey and take charge of The Oprah Army of Housewives Who Cannot Think or Feel on Their Own. “Is this book good or not? Should I buy it? Let’s see what Oprah says. Wait, she likes it? I’ll take five, please.”
Last time you freeze-framed a nip slip (such as Janet Jackson at the SuperBowl): Never with an asterisk. Janet Jackson’s boob saddened me more than anything. I did not see beauty in her breast. I freeze frame Big Daddy V’s nip slips instead. Well, they are not nip slips because they are always out there for the world to see, but his man rack amuses me nonetheless.
Last time you Danced with the Stars: Yesterday, but I fainted. I get flustered every time I dance with stars rather than near stars.
Last time you backed up your hard drive: Hard… drive? Is that some sort of vigorous tour of wine country? I like to take slow and peaceful wine tours, thank you very much.
Last time you received spam (and was it about enhancing your penis and/or sex life?): Seconds ago, but they were not spam e-mails per se. My friends and family want nothing but the best for me. May you have a dong that rivals the greatest dongs in history, they say through e-mail. May you love that lady for long time, they say as stereotypes of the Asian minority.
Last time you woke up with an erection: My dingle-dangle is so excited to be a part of my body that it stays in an upward state of rigor mortis the entire time.
Last time you got a speeding ticket: Never. I try to abide by the law, but sometimes officers like to abuse their authority. Here and there, they will pull me over because they can. In response, I pop in a Mentos mint. I don’t know how it happens, but they let me go. Mentos works, friend.
7. Yes or No, has Stephen Rivera ever:
Used chopsticks to impress a woman: Yes (I used chopsticks to play “Chopsticks”.)
Brainstormed ideas for The Swerved while sitting in class: Yes (I use chopsticks to brainstorm too.)
Disinfected the germs on a pay phone before using it: Yes (I used the cuff of my sleeve, not chopsticks.)
Fallen asleep while watching WCW: Yes (No mortal man could outlast the numerous three-hour editions of Nitros. On those days, I learned that I was but a mortal.)
Popped a zit: Yes (One time, I accidentally did it as I slapped myself in the face to wake myself up.)
Popped someone else’s zit: No
Used performance enhancing drugs: Yes (You need steroids to become a good writer. Well, steroids or talent and passion.)
Bitten a beer can with your teeth, and then crushed it with your forehead: Yes (My mistake was trying to do the same with a beer bottle. I should’ve used chopsticks.)
Gone to bed without brushing your teeth: Yes (In times like these, I try to find gum to substitute for the lack of brushing.)
Collapsed on the set of “Dancing with the Stars”: Yes (The people from the show have now turned my collapse into a dance move. They call it “The Protein Deficiency.”)
Wished cancer on someone you hate: No (Cancer has taken the lives of so many people in my life and in others. I would not wish cancer on my worst enemy. Life is hard enough as it is. In my opinion, hating someone so strongly is not worth the energy nor time.)
Imagined a teacher (or professor or teacher’s assistant) nude while she was giving a lecture: Yes, but to be fair, I’m sure at least one teacher has pictured me in a similar way. I do use chopsticks in the classroom.
Imagined a classmate nude while the teacher was giving a lecture: Yes, but once again, at least one classmate has pictured me in a similar way. Honestly, I know this for sure. How do I know this for sure? Answer: chopsticks reference.
Imagined Jimbo nude while reading his columns: Lots of t… you mean Jimbo walks around fully clothed? The world does not make sense anymore. Por qué, Maria?
Imagined yourself nude while showering: Never. I don’t even know what’s under my clothes. I want to say that there’s a motherboard. I shower in a three-piece suit with a top hat and a cane. In the shower, I purchase properties. Sometimes I go to jail, but they have cards for that.
Imagined Chyna clothed while she was posing nude: Yes for forever and ever, amen. Where’s that foxy Nicole Bass?
Shaved your pubes: I will not answer this question. How dare you insinuate that I alter my temple by myself. I would rather hire gardeners to do it for me.
Shadow-boxed in the mirror while wearing UFC gloves: Yes. One of my dreams is to fight in the UFC. If I were to become a UFC combatant, my name would be cool. I would be Stephen “Three-Piece Chicken Platter” Rivera. The first piece is pain; the second piece is pain; the third piece is undetermined (I’m leaning towards pain.)
8. Which do you prefer:
NHL or NFL: NHL in the season, NFL in the playoffs
South Americans or North Americans: Both. Chew on those jujubes, West and East America.
Jimbo or James Swift: James Swift. Jimbo is a woman.
Dave Meltzer or Bryan Alvarez: By the slightest of margins, Bryan Alvarez for his humour. Meltzer is cool beans too, though. As a side note, I would like to see Meltzer and Alvarez become a tag team with a Heart Throbs/Heartbreakers gimmick. They would have the boas, the bandanas, and the thrusting-at-one-another action. That would be amazing.
Goldust or Black Reign: Goldust by an American mile, or several Canadian kilometres. Goldust with Marlena was a great character.
TNA or UFC: UFC, but only because I find that their main events are actually significant and dramatic in comparison to TNA’s in which nothing seems important. Although, I still think that UFC needs great characters as much as they need great fighters. Different nicknames are not enough.
WordPress or Blogger: Blogger as I have never used WordPress.
Ladder matches or Ultimate X matches: Ladder matches since climbing a ladder does not look as silly as moving across a suspended rope as if you are playing in a jungle gym.
Tables, ladders, or chairs: Ladders. You can sit on a chair, but you can’t make it the centerpiece of your dining room. You can eat on a table, but you can’t climb it. With a ladder, you can sit on and climb it. Also, when you put a ladder in your home, it becomes a wonderful conversation piece.
NWO, LWO, or BWO: N-W-O. N-N-N-N-New World Order. F-F-F-F-For life. W-W-W-W-We are in control. The b-b-b-b-biggest icon in wrestling. D-D-D-D-Does anyone know where I put my snow pants? In short, I loved the New World Order. Their theme song was excellent, their leader was a great bad guy, they had entertaining interactions with Sting, and they had Scott Hall. While the Latino World Order had El Dandy, El Dandy is not enough to sway my opinion. This will probably anger a lot of ECW fans, but I was never a fan of the Blue World Order. My problem with the BWO was that their humour was too easy. Plus, they were parodying a group that was working quite well rather than poking fun of an aspect of wrestling that was created to succeed but ended up failing.
DX of 2006 or DX of 1997: DX of 1997. I do not think of the 2006 version of D-Generation X as a group. Two people do not make a group; they make a tag team. Plus, DX of 2006 used the Fat Oily Stripper Guy. They are unforgiven.
Teddy Hart or Teddy Long: Theodore R. Long. His Haterade quenches my thirst for hating.
Saturday Night Live or Mad TV: Saturday Night Live–number one with a bullet. Former head writer and cast member Tina Fey created 30 Rock, which is superb. Current cast members Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader are insanely talented performers. Andy Samberg’s Lonely Island team has revitalized the show with their writing and digital shorts. On the other hand, I believe that Mad TV fails in that it does not try to differentiate itself from SNL in any way, much like how TNA strives to emulate WWE rather than form its own identity. In my opinion, Mad TV should exist today as first conceived–a television version of MAD Magazine (with Spy vs. Spy and all that jazz.) Because it does not exist as so, I will always see it as the inferior sketch comedy show.
Scott Steiner as an early 1990s collegiate athlete who is shy and timid, or Scott Steiner the lunatic genetic freak who swears, fights, and has 100 pounds of extra muscle: I would have to take the genetic freak Scott Steiner. Once again, that character gives him personality, which he had little of as part of the Steiner Brothers. At the same time, Scott’s appearance scares me. Look at his facial hair. Holy crap. His hair is on the many juices.
Raven or Maven: Raven. What was Maven? Eyebrows? Yes, his eyebrows were Tough Enough.
The kind of girl who frequents clubs and likes one-night stands, or the kind of girl who avoids clubs and that you can take home to meet Mom: I have always gone for the girl-next-door type because they fit into the life I wish to live. I’m a laid back, bare bones guy, so I don’t actively seek the wild life or wild ones. While I have attracted club girls in my lifetime, they are usually the total opposite to me. They say opposites attract, but extreme opposites do not.
9. America is full of celebrities that even Americans hate. Please give a Canadian point of view on the following American pop culture icons:
Paris Hilton: Paris Hilton is not hot. Her being not hot is hot.
Jessica Simpson: A bikini-clad Jessica Simpson can dance around the General Lee all she wants. To me, she will always be the girl who appeared to be stretched in her first music videos to make it look as though she was skinnier than she actually was in real life. Plus, her father is creepy. What father brags about the cup size of his daughter? Joe Simpson. That’s who.
Britney Spears: Britney Spears peaked when the music video for “I’m A Slave 4 U” was released. Today, I somehow tolerate Kevin Federline more.
Pamela Anderson: Pamela Anderson was first discovered in the crowd of a Canadian Football League game featuring the B.C. Lions. She did not have Andersonish breasteses back then–the jumblies that provided entertainment for millions of viewers of Baywatch.
Justin Timberlake: Justin Timberlake left ‘NSYNC and never looked back. Poor Lance Bass. Timberlake’s music works not because of his falsetto voice but because Timbaland is his producer. I don’t mind Timberlake as an artist, but I see more promise in him as an actor. I hope his role in Southland Tales is as intriguing as the movie trailer implies.
P. Diddy, or whatever the f*ck he’s called these days: I hope he’s still called P. Diddy because I want to pitch my video game idea to him–P. Diddy Kong Racing. The secret character is Mase driving a pastor van.
Jennifer Lopez: Did you know that she’s still Jenny from the Block? Well, she says that she is though I don’t believe her. The day that Jennifer Lopez realized she had sex appeal was the day that she stopped being sexy. Do it, do it. Do it, do it well.
Mariah Carey: Her song “Fantasy” was the summer anthem of many of my childhood years. She rode that rollercoaster well. In all, I think Mariah Carey is a gifted singer but she has really slutted it up for the worse over the years.
Dr. Phil: I neither hate nor admire him as a person, but his psychiatric approach seems too simplistic. He’s one of those doctors who doesn’t see gray areas between black and white. When people go to him, he tells them that they must do one thing or the other to solve their problem(s). Life changes are not that simple. He’ll tell his on-screen patients what they should do, but he won’t necessarily tell them how they can do it well.
Rachael Ray: She cooks interesting food, but I don’t find her attractive. In the back of my mind, I feel that she’s going to turn into another Oprah Winfrey. Women will flock to her and agree with anything that she says. I can’t wait.
Oprah Winfrey: I want to fight Oprah Winfrey in the octagon. Somebody tell Dana White that Stephen “Three-Piece Chicken Platter” wants to battle “The Woman King” Oprah Winfrey at UFC 112: O My God.
Ryan Seacrest: Ryan Seacrest is an adequate presenter but that’s all. In the modern day, he occupies the bland host utility position once held by Carson Daly. He should not have hosted the Emmy’s this year. On-Air with Ryan Seacrest was a terrible show. American Idol calls for all Seacrest all of the time. Where’s Brian Dunkleman from season one? Did Seacrest absorb his powers?
Simon Cowell: I have proposed that Simon Cowell looks like Alan Thicke from Growing Pains. This comparison is my way of finding a reason to care about him. I like that Simon Cowell does not deny that he produced Wrestlemania: The Album, but he has also spawned a bevy of mean-spirited, British-speaking, reality show curmudgeon judges on the world of television.
Paula Abdul: When she danced with MC Skat Kat, she danced into my heart. Then again, that was in the past. What has she done for me lately?
Rosie O’Donnell: I cannot stand Rosie O’Donnell. It is not because she’s a lesbian. It is not because she holds certain beliefs and has certain interests. I do not like Rosie O’Donnell because she is abrasive and thinks everyone shares her “humour” and her interests. She made A League of Their Own greater but hurt The Flinstones Movie. Betty Rubble? Seriously. Betty Rubble?
Larry King: Larry King pitches softball questions to his guests, but for the most part, his interviews are interesting. He doesn’t take himself too seriously, which is nice for a host as respected as he. I think I would wear suspenders too… if I had any suspenders.
Jay Leno: I think Jay Leno gets a bad rap. Once again, he’s a stand-up comedian, but his monologue cannot accurately display his talents. One of my favourite parts of The Tonight Show is his interaction with Kevin Eubanks. The exchanges between them are humorous in their awkwardness. I particularly enjoyed the series of sketches they did together several years ago where Leno and Eubanks dressed in silk robes and penned romance stories. Those skits made me laugh aplenty. Headlines is fun, though what I probably miss most are the characters Jay used to play like Iron Jay and Beyondo. Yes, I like characters. I can’t say it enough.
David Letterman: I think David Letterman is quirky funny in a good way. I think his quirkiness separates his show from Leno’s. Then again, I don’t know why older audiences prefer Letterman over Leno. His jokes seem less accessible. In fact, sometimes Letterman’s comedy becomes so outlandish and odd that I start to wonder whether his audience knows what he’s joking about. Do they react with applause out of habit or because they actually find his strange comedic bits funny?
Johnny Fairplay: Since I only followed the first two seasons of Survivor, I knew absolutely nothing about Fairplay until he showed up on TNA. I would not call him a celebrity because it appears as if anyone can be on a reality show. I heard about the incident with Danny Bonaduce, but I struggled to care because I do not think much of either man.
Howard Stern: Howard Stern can be amusing, but he’s not really my thing. What I know about Howard Stern comes from The Howard Stern Radio Show television program that they used to show on my then-UPN affiliate channel from Seattle. They don’t show it anymore, so I stopped following him. With that said, I see why people enjoy him even if I don’t. I may take a second listen to his radio show, but it’s unlikely that I or any of my friends will ever subscribe to Sirius Satellite Radio. If I want to listen to something, I’d rather listen to music or comedy podcasts like Jimmy Pardo’s Never Not Funny (one of the only comedy podcasts that I thoroughly enjoy.)
10. Your comedic genius is very rare, and your ideas are truly unique. Whom do you cite as comedic influences?
Conan O’Brien – I have been of fan of Late Night with Conan O’Brien since 1997. In my opinion, he mans one of the most creative and hilarious late night talk shows (if not shows period) ever. I shudder to think what would have become of me or comedy in general if his show was actually cancelled as requested by the NBC higher-ups during its first years. To the non-fans out there, I suggest you take a look at past show segments like 1864 Baseball or Mr. T and Conan Go Apple Picking (links below,) or recurring segments like Clutch Cargo (still pictures, moving lips) and Satellite TV, or his interactions with former sidekick Andy Richter. These examples will give you a sense of why I think Conan bleeds awesome. He deserves to be the next host of The Tonight Show. I think he will do fine. In 2009, you will most likely see me there, front row in the audience, for his first taping.
Mitch Hedberg – I love Mitch Hedberg as much as a heterosexual male can love a comedian he never got to meet. Simply put, I thought he was brilliant. Almost everyone that knows me also knows how much his comedy means to me. Because of him, I know that an escalator never breaks but can only become stairs; when I eat at Subway, I bring in ducks to get free food; my life goal is to determine the origin of red bananas. Sadly, he died before he reached his pinnacle. It’s a shame that I never got to see him perform live, though I’m glad people are discovering him now. He should have a Dane Cook-level of fame.
The Simpsons – I will defend The Simpsons until the day I become no more. The show was, is, and will be funny for however long it lasts. Die hard fans claim that The Simpsons is not as great as it used to be, though I don’t see it in that way. The Simpsons is going to have bad episodes, and the show is going to have good episodes. Every season provides reasons why I became a fan of the show in the first place, except some episodes give me more to laugh about than others. To say that The Simpsons sucks now is a blanket statement, just as people claim that Saturday Night Live is terrible today but used to be great yesterday when they had the Not Ready For Prime Time Players, or used to be great when they had Eddie Murphy and Company, or was fantastic in the days of Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, Mike Myers, and Dana Carvey, or was only hilarious with Will Ferrell, or was the best in (insert teenage era to arguer’s current era here.) If you wish to think in that manner, of course your past will not live up to your present expections because you want to keep those fond memories on a pedestal. With that mindset, no episode of The Simpsons today will live up to your favourite episodes of all-time. It’s not even fair to compare the two.
11. As a wrestling fan from Canada, what are your feelings on the proposed new generation of Hart Foundation members (Harry Smith, Nattie Neidhart, and TJ Wilson) possibly debuting with WWE? And what are your thoughts on Teddy Hart screwing himself out of yet another high profile gig?
Teddy Hart did not screw himself out of yet another high profile gig, but I bet he moonsaulted out of it. I am for the New Hart Foundation (with a manager like Jim Neidhart or Jimmy Hart at their side,) but with Teddy’s release and Harry’s recent suspension, I do not see it happening any time soon. I know wrestling fans relate the Hart Foundation to the Montreal Screwjob, but I think that WWE can use that history to help the new incarnation get recognized as either a dastardly heel group or as a sympathetic face stable. Also, I think WWE is less likely to mess up one entire stable than four separate wrestlers, so I want it to happen.
12. Mixed martial arts, or more specifically, UFC, is enjoying a popularity surge in the USA right now. Are you a fan of MMA, and if so, why (or why not)?
When I get the chance to watch MMA programming (like Pay-Per-Views,) I take it even though I have little interest in the undercard. I tried to watch UFC’s Ultimate Fighter but the show deals a lot with the fighters living together in a house–a staple of reality television that I never liked. I guess you could say that I am a casual fan of UFC because I invest most of my interest in their main events. UFC main events have that big match feel that is rarely present in today’s wrestling matches. As I have said before, MMA fights are exciting when the fighters are exciting too. For example, I am a fan of Quinton Jackson because he’s got character. I like Anderson Silva because he exudes character in his bouts. As you can tell, I am most drawn to personalities, so I enjoy what I enjoy as far as mixed martial arts goes. When UFC gains more personalities, I will take greater interest in the UFC.
13. What advice do you have for anyone reading this who is thinking of traveling to Canada?
Canada is not as cold as you think it is. Do not come here with four jackets on your body at once or I will laugh at you. Enjoy the diverse restaurants and the beautiful scenery of Western Canada, then enjoy Eastern Canada for its landscapes that you may also find on the cover of romance novels about women trying to find themselves, complete with lighthouses and or white fences. We love hockey but are not completely aware of the fact that hockey is not as important to North American culture as we perceive it to be. We have beer if you want it. Do not act out stereotypical characteristics of Canadians in front of me or I will suplex you as you enjoy your beer. Maybe you’ll love Canada, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll make great memories, maybe you won’t. Take in the clean air. Stare at the beautiful people. Be courteous and kind and we’ll be the same. Don’t tell beaver jokes. They are not funny. But trust me on the sunscreen.
14. A couple of years ago, you wrote a humorous column about the old TNA sponsor Morphoplex. Not long after, we received an email from someone high up in the Morphoplex corporation who had read your column and had some words for you. What did it feel like to have your column read by someone within Morphoplex?
It felt like I accomplished everything and nothing. It was as if I became rich with chocolate coins. It was as if I had won a game of Jenga in an earthquake. It was as if I became WWE Cruiserweight Champion. Though Morphoplex Vincenzo (I assume his name was Vincenzo) had some words for me, they were just words… aided by the power of Morphoplex. The best thing he told me was that Morphoplex did not impregnate women. I never knew that fact. Well, how do you impregnate women then? Do you touch their hair or something? Am I supposed to play freeze tag with a girl? Do I send her 3 proofs-of-purchase?
15. You’ve been writing on the internet for a few years now. Aside from this interview, what do you consider the highlight of your writing career so far?
I haven’t had a highlight yet. When I think of a highlight, I think of a peak. Yes, I have been writing on the internet in some form since 2005, but I don’t think I’ve done even 10% of what I want to do. There are certain goals I wish to accomplish that have not been achieved. There are certain people whom I want to work with that I have not worked with yet. I hope I will get the chance to get all that done before I call it a day.
16. The biggest problem we face with this website is that we find wrestling so horrible these days that it’s hard to watch it, and thus, write about it. Do you have this problem too, and if so, how do you stomach watching such a bad product nowadays?
I followed World Championship Wrestling until its death, so I can tolerate the worst. I will most likely be a viewer of wrestling as long as there is adequate wrestling to be found on television or live in the arenas. WWE and TNA may disappoint me, but now and again they’ll have something that will entertain me by surprise. For instance, Undertaker vs. Batista matches, SAVE_US.222, and AJ Styles’ persona are some of the things that I like about the current wrestling scene. Even though I’m mad that the product is at times unwatchable, I’m angrier that both companies cannot or do not want to live up to their potential. WWE and TNA have deep talent and creative pools. Why do they insist on showing us the shallow end and nothing more?
17. Tons of wrestling books have hit the market in the last 10 years, especially since Mick Foley proved to be such a success. Which ones are your favorites, and which are you looking forward to reading that you haven’t read yet?
As of this writing, the only ones I own are Mick Foley’s first two books, Ric Flair’s book, and Jerry Lawler’s book. Out of all the books that I either own or have read, I prefer Have A Nice Day. Foley’s mix of comedy and story was almost perfect.
I plan to read or purchase Bret Hart’s book and Chris Jericho’s autobiography in the near future. I know I will enjoy them, but why do they have such corny titles? My Real Life in the Cartoon World Of Wrestling? A Lion’s Tale: Around the World in Spandex? One day, I hope to come out with a book entitled “Stephen Rivera: One Fall to a Finish Line: Tangled in the Top Rope of Superstardom (Armdragging A Rainbow of Hopes and Dreams Towards A Gold Pot O’ Bodyslams).”
18. Thanks for doing this interview with us, Stephen, and for writing such great content for us every week. Please use this last question to say any last words, and to also answer our obligatory question… who screwed Bret?
Nobody screwed Bret. It was all a dream dreamt by Bob Newhart. I’m too young to use this reference.
Stephen knows exactly how to do an interview like this, and we thank him for his time and effort. We only wish everyone else out there put the thought and effort into their answers like Rivera and Eric Gargiulo do.
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