Don Friesen

I got hooked on live comedy in the 80’s and have loved it ever since.  My friends and I saw the starts to so many careers including Bobby Slayton, Ellen DeGeneres, Paula Poundstone, Dana Carvey, Tom Kenny (SpongeBob Squarepants), and even Robin Williams.  Even though there are not as many comedy clubs as there used to be, I still like to take in a show now and then.  One of my new favorites is a comedian by the name of Don Friesen.  Don is the only two-time winner of the San Francisco Comedy Competition and recently had his own Showtime comedy special called “Ask Your Mom”.  While I having nothing against a comedian who uses harsh language and sexual situations to produce laughs, Don is a refreshing change from all of that.  His observational humor is storytelling at its finest.  Check out Don at his web site:

Don has one particular routine called “Forgot Password” that is funny for all kinds of computer users.  See the five minute bit at here.  Without spoiling the act, the comments that really struck a chord with me were:

  • We get conflicting advice about how to select a password.  On the one hand, we are asked to choose something we can easily remember… like a pet’s name.  On the other hand, we are asked to use capitalization, numbers, and special characters in our passwords.  Don asks, “Who names their pet ‘P 3 Underscore’?”
  • If you don’t go to a web site often, do you find yourself clicking the ‘forgot password’ link automatically?  You are then asked if you want a hint which is usually constructed of questions and answers you set up long ago.  Don laments, “Can I have a hint for my hint?”
  • Many of the security questions we are asked at web sites must be chosen from a predetermined list:  What is the name of your first grade teacher?  What was the mascot at your high school?  What is your mother’s maiden name?  Many months later when you return to the site, those hints seem like they were selected by somebody else.  Don has a different theory… “I think ‘Previous Me’ decided to play a joke on ‘Future Me’!”
  • Sometimes we get so frustrated trying to figure out our user name and password, we resort to setting up a whole new account from scratch.  We smile smugly thinking we have found a way around the hoops.  We put in our new user ID and new password.  Alas, we are told the password is too weak and too easy to guess.  Don disagrees… “If it were so easy to guess, why did I just resort to setting up an entirely new account?”
  • The last thing you have to do when setting up most new online accounts is the CAPTCHA.  The name is short for ‘Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.’  The purpose is to prevent automated computer ‘bots’ from performing actions on the internet that are intended for people to do.  These actions include making purchases and providing personal information.  The CAPTCHA is a picture of jumbled letters and numbers that the user is asked to reproduce.  Don’s view… “That Squiggly Letter Test always takes me six or seven tries.  It might work better if they chose real words or phrases, but they never make any sense.”

I don’t believe Don is trying to change anyone or anything.  He is just pointing out the funny things that occur to him when he is forced to interact with technology.  Judging by the number of laughs he gets, I suspect the same thoughts have crossed the minds of most members of his audience.

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