My Guide to Punching People

Growing up in Alaska, the threat of physical violence casually loomed over many of my experiences. There was a lot of hostility, a lot of bored guys with nothing to lose. Townies. G.I.’s, etc.  I’ve seen countless fist-fights up close and in person, and there’s nothing really that cool about it.

That’s one of the things I love about living in Los Angeles – I almost never have to deal with that anymore. People who move to L.A. are often not the type of person inclined to punch someone else in the face, and even if they are, their odds of finding someone else willing to engage are very low.

It seems that this is part of the social contract that Angelenos have agreed upon: Let’s not damage our faces. We have an audition tomorrow.

While I do enjoy this aspect of life in L.A., there’s also a drawback – people think they can now get away with doing all kinds of things that would be punchworthy in other parts of the country.

In short, there are less repercussions, so people are more douchey.

Where I grew up, if you did something even remotely punchworthy, the odds you would get punched by someone would be nearly a hundred percent.

I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but I think that this made people more friendly – less snarky, less passive-aggressive, less condescending, less disingenuous.

Given my upbringing, I now know when, and when not to float the idea of punching someone. And in L.A., the slight hint of willingness to punch another person in the right circumstance can be a very useful tool.

Very rarely, some guy, for some reason, will suggest to me that we take it outside and then become surprised and nervous when I agree in principle to this proposal.

So, if some guy is doing something punchworthy in L.A., you need to know who you can pursue punching, and who you can’t.

Here are a few excerpts of my Guide to Punching. The complete version will be released soon.

These are people you MAY PUNCH if they deserve it:

– Any frat boy or group of them.

– Any guy in a fancy nightclub, bar, or restaurant – he probably has too much to lose.

– Any guy over fifty who is abusing his ‘old guy’ privileges.

These are people you should be CAUTIOUS OF PUNCHING:

– Guys from foreign English speaking countries such as England, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand.  They’re wild cards.

– Guys who have been on any sort of oil rig, barge, commercial fishing vessel, or any similar contraption in the past year, or guys who have ventured out of any city center in the past year to pursue any natural-resource extraction such as logging, gold-mining, fracking, etc.

These are people you should NOT PUNCH, and whatever the disagreement is, just apologize.

– Any white guy from the former Soviet Republic. You can tell these guys by their pasty complexions, pointy noses, and jagged incisors.

– Cholos.

– Homeless guys.

– Nerds who know where you live. These guys often have a Kill List.

– Cab drivers.

– Most importantly, anyone who is down to fight you. Stay away from those people at all costs.




Matt Ralston is a comedian and writer based in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @MatthewRalston

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