Jordan Stratton or something you find in dirty diaper. We aren't sure.

Jordan Stratton

Jordan is a staff writer and Social Media Manager for The Dad and also leads The Dad Rocket League...League for The Dad Gaming. He eats an unhealthy amount of cereal, spends an irrational amount of time on the internet, and would be delighted if you followed him on Twitter.

The Dad Of The Month, November 2020: John Kay

(Photos courtesy of Heather Kay)

We are honored to announce The Dad of the Month for November 2020: John Kay. Since becoming a dad, John has exhibited a tangible excitement for fatherhood and a willingness to go above and beyond, even during a worldwide pandemic. His wife, Heather, couldn’t help gushing about him in her nomination:

“A good dad is hard to come by – John is the glue that holds it all together. He’s a one-of-a-kind dad. He was born for this. He embodies what every young boy needs in a father.

“We have a 2.5-year-old son named Hudson, who, thanks to his Dada, knows how to use mustard as a binder for meats when they BBQ on the Traeger. Hudson loves to read along to the book ‘Your Baby’s First Word Will Be Dada’ by Jimmy Fallon thanks to John’s wonderful impressions of animals! (Hudson’s dad also does a very good impression of Grover from Sesame Street.)

“John has worked throughout the pandemic. He manages transportation services and has been essential on the front lines, ensuring the public gets the goods they need. He comes home every day to help around the house, help with dinner, or pick up anything that’s needed. He volunteers to bathe our son every night and read him goodnight stories.

“He’s also a wrestling coach for a local high school and has taught our young son how to wrestle – he’s very good at it! The day we brought Hudson home from the hospital, John put pool noodles around every single hard surface in our home to make sure our new baby was totally safe! Looking back, it’s funny because now they wrestle and play WWE all the time!

“John has taken Hudson to every sporting event (pre-covid) and has also waited in lines for VIP meet and greets so that our son can meet famous hockey and baseball players! He’s is a wonderful dad and does it all with a smile on his face. He’s an excellent role model for our son and I am forever grateful that Hudson gets to have such an awesome father like John!”

To honor John and exuberance for fatherhood despite an incredibly difficult year, we’re giving him $500 and some special edition dad gear. John’s unfailing optimism, creativity, and excitement for life are exceptional attributes that we should all strive for. Cheers!

Click here to read more or nominate a special dad in your life.

The Dad Of The Month, October 2020: Steve Braun

(Photos courtesy of Tori A. Emerick Braun)

We are honored to announce The Dad of the Month for October 2020: Steve Braun. Over the years, Steve has shown that he’s not only an all-star dad who wants his kids to experience all the fun life has to offer, but that he’s ready and willing to dig deep and do the real work when life gets hard. Here’s what his friend John wrote for his nomination:

“Nobody embraces or deserves the title of dad like Steve. His kids mean everything to him and it shows, as he’s constantly teaching them something new.

“Steve is a father of 4 that never stops doing for his family. In the summer it’s every imaginable outdoor activity like sailing, camping, swimming, or as simple as teaching them how to fix things like cars or household repairs. Then in the winter, it’s running his kids all over for hockey games and practices, but not to just watch. He’s also the coach, trainer, or referee. Somehow he manages to cram snowmobile rides in there too.

“Then 2 years ago, everything changed when his youngest son was diagnosed with retinoblastoma which in simple terms is eye cancer. Steve doesn’t miss a single appointment whether it be for a checkup or an in-depth revolutionary new surgery created strictly for his son Zayne. The expense incurred and the time spent in hospitals is quite vast. Steve always looks ahead at the future and how much Zayne will be able to do instead of looking at any limitations brought on by the surgeries, or the fact that through this battle, Zayne has already lost one eye.

“No matter what Steve is doing or where he is going, he loves having his kids with him to share in every experience.”

To honor Steve and his tireless endeavors to be the best dad he can be, we’re giving him $500 and some special edition dad gear. Steve’s thirst for adventure, excitement for life, and steadfast dedication to his family are admirable characteristics that we should all strive for. Cheers!

Click here to read more or nominate a special dad in your life.

The Dad Of The Month, September 2020: Robert Bailey

(Photos courtesy of Robert Bailey)

We are honored to announce The Dad of the Month for September 2020: Robert Bailey. We recently featured Robert in our “Dadding While ____” series because he’s facing one of the most harrowing of circumstances—raising his 2-year-old son and being a good husband, all while living with terminal cancer.

“I know my son is probably not going to remember me. He’s kind of young,” Robert states in the interview about his son, Parker. “I’m just trying to find things to leave that tell him who I was… who I am.”

Robert and his wife, Debbie, couldn’t have kids naturally but finally got to be parents when they adopted Parker. Tragically, Robert’s health began to decline rapidly just as they were finishing the adoption process.

(Photos courtesy of Robert Bailey)

“It’s like, I get this miracle that I never thought would happen, and then a couple of months later, I find out I have inoperable cancer.”

Despite his dire prognosis, Robert continues to do what he can to leave a legacy for his little boy. In fact, he’s currently working with local Nashville musicians to record a song and writing a book about his life story, all in hopes of encompassing who he is and everything he loves about being a father to his son.

“It’s definitely not my choice to leave [my son] alone in this world without a dad … I love him. I love him with every fiber of my being. Losing this battle is going to be very difficult because of him.”

(Photos courtesy of Robert Bailey)

To honor Robert and his fearless commitment to family and fatherhood, we’re giving him $500 and some special edition dad gear. Robert’s dedication and celebration of life is a true inspiration—one that reminds us all to hug the ones we love a little bit tighter, whenever we can.

You will always be a part of this Dad community, Robert. Cheers.

(Robert’s GoFundMe is no longer active due to a time limit for campaigns, but funds can still be donated. His Venmo is @RBailey77 and paypal is [email protected])

Click here to read more or nominate a special dad in your life.


‘Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit’ Features Real RC Karts on Virtual Tracks

Promotional art for Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit for Nintendo Switch

Nintendo surprised everyone today with the exciting announcement of the newest Mario Kart game, and we just about guarantee it’s not the title you expected. Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit is an augmented reality version of the fan-favorite kart racer that requires players to drive actual remote-controlled, Nintendo-themed cars around a virtual track designed around the physical world.

The RC karts—each armed with a front-facing camera—are controlled via Switch and the virtual racetracks are displayed on the console’s screen. According to Nintendo, your RC kart’s performance is dependent on the virtual race world.

“The physical kart responds to boosts in-game and in the real world, stops when hit with an item, and can be affected in different ways depending on the race. Players place gates to create a custom course layout in their home, where the only limit is their imagination. Race against Koopalings in Grand Prix, unlock a variety of course customizations and costumes for Mario or Luigi, and play with up to four players in local multiplayer mode.”

Mario Kart Live: Home Circuit is set to release on October 16th for $99.99, with Mario and Luigi versions available at launch.

Sure, the price feels a little steep considering you’ll need “additional games, systems, and karts” to play multiplayer, but what other Mario Kart title offers limitless racetrack options and something for you to trip over in the middle of the night?


The Dad Of The Month, August 2020: Mark Paris

(Photos courtesy of Emily Paris)

We are honored to announce The Dad of the Month for August 2020: Mark Paris. Despite being faced with serious health issues, Mark has remained a dedicated dad who always puts his family before himself. He was nominated by his daughter, Emily, who couldn’t say enough good things about her papa:

“My dad is the type of dad that continues to work and build and tinker even after retirement (yes, his first retirement project was to build a deck in our backyard, of course). He always needs to be working, thinking, and creating. About a month before I was scheduled to move into my college dorm, my dad was diagnosed with diabetes. Shortly after, he learned that he had stage-four melanoma, as well. While still adjusting to a new diet to regain control over his blood sugar, he needed emergency surgery to remove all the cancerous lymph nodes under his right arm.

“It was a terrifying time for both of us–he was preparing for the worst while I was worried about leaving my dad in poor health, especially since his line of work relies on his physical capabilities. I still remember a few days before his surgery we went kayaking (an activity I grew up doing a lot with him), not knowing if it was the last time we would get to go together. We were both secretly terrified, but he never let me see the side of him that was scared.

“My dad deserves to be ‘Dad of the Month’ because being a dad is the very reason he is still here today. After his surgery, he drove a painstaking 10+ hours with a drain bag attached to his incision site to move me into my dorm. It has always been his dream for me to go to college and wouldn’t have missed it for the world. He always reminded me that no matter what happened to him, I needed to promise I would finish my degree.

“Even though my dad was going through a lot, he never failed to be available and supportive during my educational journey. Not only is he an active person, but he’s also one of those dads that falls asleep at 6 PM and wakes up at 2 PM. There were too many nights to count when I would call him at 5 AM crying about the half-finished essay that was due at 9 AM that day. He was and is ALWAYS there for me. He would get all kinds of interesting, random jobs to help support me financially through school as well, even though he was in no state to be exerting himself to the level he was. One time my grandma sent me a picture of him cutting dead branches out of the 30-foot pine tree in her backyard. What a guy, honestly.

“Long story short, it is because of my dad that I graduated from college and am now going on to pursue my PhD. He’s my biggest supporter, my rock, and my role model. There’s no one else in this world that could persist through the challenges he has faced with the same smile on his face and capacity to put others before himself. I love you, papa!”

To honor Mark and his fearless commitment to family, we’re giving him $500 and some special edition dad gear. Mark’s tenacity, excitement for life, and refusal to let health issues hinder him from being the best dad he can be are admirable characteristics that we should all strive for. Cheers!

Click here to read more or nominate a special dad in your life.

Ready to Face the Music With Bill & Ted: A Conversation With Alex Winter

Alex Winter headshot with Bill & Ted Face the Music Poster
(Getty / Paul Warner & United Artists Releasing)

Bill & Ted Face the Music, the highly anticipated conclusion to the totally awesome time-traveling trilogy, releases today – a whopping 31 years after audiences initially fell in love with Excellent Adventure. The cult classic series already has an army of fans behind it but this installment is even more near and dear to The Dad’s collective heart due to the fact that both members of the Wyld Stallyns are now portrayed as a couple of bodacious dads.

The stakes are even higher for William “Bill” S. Preston Esq. and Theodore “Ted” Logan this time around, too. Their rock and roll destiny has yet to be fulfilled and now the fate of all space and time is hanging in the balance. Given a meager 77 minutes and 25 seconds to write the song that will finally unify the entire world in peace and harmony, Bill and Ted will require the help of their teenage daughters and a few of history’s biggest music legends to come out on top yet again.

In order to get a behind-the-scenes peek at Face the Music, The Dad sat down with Alex Winter, who not only portrays Bill in the films, but is a father-of-three in his own right.

(United Artists Releasing)

Jordan: What was it about Bill and Ted that enamored audiences back in 1989 and then how does Face the Music recapture that magic 31 years later?

Alex: I think that people really responded to this notion of these super close friends and the kind of imaginative world that they lived in, and then the realization of that world. I think the writers, Chris Matheson and Ed Solomon, write really great dialogue. It is not what you would expect to come out of the mouths of valley teenagers.

I know that when we auditioned for it, it felt very idiosyncratic in a good way. It just wasn’t the kind of thing you auditioned for. It didn’t have that kind of language. It kind of cut against the grain of what your standard teen comedies were in those days, which were really cool. It was an era of things like Ferris Bueller and stuff. There were some great movies that came out of that period, but they were very specific and the kids didn’t know… The high school kids in those movies they acted like 45-year-old men.

Sure. They’re using reasoning and logic, unlike the usual teenager.

And it’s always all about sexual politics and extremely complex. I mean, these were two really tight friends but they were very childlike and very innocent and spoke in this incredibly distinct way, and then went on these very elaborate adventures.

In terms of recapturing it, I think that what we all liked the idea that Chris and Ed brought to us. This notion that this grandiose destiny had not been fulfilled, so what would their lives [look like]? Who would these guys be today as dads and husbands and people who were supposed to have essentially saved the entire universe but hadn’t? It seemed like there was a lot of comic potential there. So that was appealing to us.

(United Artists Releasing)

Definitely. It’s a completely different phase of life. I mean, I’m sure everyone’s curious about where the hell these guys are going to go.

And then that sort of dovetails to ‘where does anyone go?’ The promise of their youth and then processing that in a later period of life as fathers and husbands and doing that through the lens of Bill and Ted just seemed quite funny to us.

You mentioned auditions earlier – I don’t know if you saw this but literally last week, a bunch of tapes came out from your original audition for Excellent Adventure. Did you see them?

My kids showed me a couple of those. They found them lurking on the internet.

The cool thing is you can already see the obvious chemistry between you and Keanu [Reeves]. Looking back at those, can you remember what was going on there? Did something seem to just click between you two, onscreen or offscreen? How did that work?

Well, I don’t have any recollection of those auditions at all, other than a very fuzzy memory. But I will say that I do remember becoming close friends with Keanu almost immediately. He’s one of my very closest friends in the world and has been since that time. So it was sort of the meeting of a best friend.

I think both of us were pleasantly surprised by how much fun it was to act together again. I don’t think we really considered that, to be honest with you. I mean, we already knew we liked hanging out, so I don’t think we gave much thought to the distinction between being a friend out in the world and being in this performative partnership again.

Was it hard jumping back into the shoes of those characters or did that just flow naturally?

A little of both. It took thought, it took a lot of rehearsal, but we didn’t really turn the gas all the way on until we started shooting, kind of intentionally, we didn’t really want to overthink it. So we did our own prep work and then we did prep work together. And then we all did a lot of rehearsing and rewriting and things once we got down in New Orleans and were preparing to shoot, but it really wasn’t until we were on set and shooting that we turned the whole machine on, and that didn’t take a lot of thought.

It was like we found ourselves right back in the old rhythm again and that was really nice. We kind of looked at each other after the first week and thought, ‘Hey, we like doing this.’ It’s been a lot of fun

(United Artists Releasing)

So, Bill and Ted are dads now. What can you tell us about their daughters and how did casting land on Samara Weaving and Brigette Lundy-Paine?

Well, I think that the producers and casting director were looking for actors to play these roles in a very similar way as us, in the sense that I think they were looking for people who would work off of each other and have chemistry with each other. They saw a lot of people before they landed on those two, but Samara and Bridgette are great actors in their own right and have really good instincts and really good training, so we were grateful that they came at the roles, not looking to be us or to replicate us in any way, but seeing their own roles with their own views of the family and that was really fun.

I remember the first day, we rehearsed with them and so we got the vibe of what they were doing. It was really fun because they were just so not doing a Bill and Ted reduction. They had their own vibe.

They really created their own characters, huh?

And they related to us as their dad’s, not as Bill and Ted the characters.

(United Artists Releasing)

So, staying on Bill as a dad, what are some cliché dad moves that you think Bill is definitely guilty of? Is he the only one laughing at his dad jokes? Is he pointing a stud finder at himself and saying, “I’ve found one, dude!”

I think that he’s always the glass-half-full guy and he’s also ‘let’s just roll up our sleeves and dive in.’ He’s the dad who would, like, jump off the roof into the swimming pool while the kids are having a party and end up breaking his ankle and embarrassing the hell out of everybody.

Personally, I love those dads. Are there any characteristics of Bill’s that you personally would like to emulate a bit better as a father yourself?

I mean, I think his complete and utter hopefulness in the face of any adversity is something that I really liked playing. I have to believe it obviously because I’m playing it, so finding that part in my psyche is nice and it’s fun. He really does have a lot of hope no matter how awful things get, he’s always looking for whatever the path is to rectify it. The funny thing about the relationship between Bill and Ted is, Bill is the one who’s thinking everything’s going to be okay while Ted is usually the one that figures out how to make it okay.

Right. You kinda need both sides for things to actually work out.

You really do, so it’s a fun thing to play. There’s a genuine optimism there and it’s something that Keanu and I’ve worked on a lot, especially in act one of this movie, because they’re in very different places psychologically when the film starts and we like that and we really leaned into it.

(United Artists Releasing)

Love that. So, rather than going back in time in this film, Bill and Ted repeatedly jumped forward to meet progressively older versions of themselves. If you use a phone booth-shaped time machine to meet your future self, what would you hope to find?

Well, I’m a dad, so I got to think like a dad. So I want to find my kids being happy and in a different place in their lives.

Solid answer, especially for our audience.

[laughing] It is a hundred percent true, my friend. It’s all you think about!

A Conversation With Comedian Jason Weems, a Dad Who Literally Died Onstage

Jason Weems' new comedy special, "Unknown"
(Amazon Prime)

Jason Weems died in 2017. Literally, flatlined on the floor of a comedy club in Philadelphia. No heartbeat for 5 minutes thanks to a severe asthma attack.

He was (and still is) a rising star in the comedy world after reaching the semi-finals on two seasons of NBC’s “Last Comic Standing” and performing at the Just For Laughs festival in Montreal, and thankfully, his brush with death has only given him more material.

His newest special, which debuted on August 4, is titled “Unknown” in reference to the bizarre way the hospital labeled him on that fateful night.

Weems is also a father of three (and has plenty of material to prove it), so kicking the bucket that day would not only have been a tragic end to a promising career, but would’ve left his sons without a father.

In light of his new special and Grade-A dad material, we sat down with Weems to discuss near-death experiences, his sons’ pediatrician (who moonlights as a DJ), and balancing his roles of comic and father.

Jordan: So the title, “Unknown.” Can you jump into the origins of that a little bit?

Jason: Of course. One of the main themes for the special is I die, May 3rd, 2017.

Hell of a strong start.

[laughing] Yeah, I had a severe asthma attack in Philly, a few minutes into a headline set at a show. There was a doctor in the crowd, but unfortunately, they weren’t able to hook my nebulizer up quickly enough. And the attack was so aggressive that it literally shut down my airways and then ultimately stopped my heart from beating. From what I’m told from third-party people who were there—audience members, bar staff, all that stuff—I literally just coded right there in the venue.

Then there was a 16-hour period when I was unconscious in a Philadelphia hospital. And when I came to, they had me listed as “Unknown”. So, in the literal sense, it comes from that.

And it’s almost a decade since your first special, right? “Intellectual Property”?

Literally a decade. That was filmed December 4th of 2010, and this one’s coming out 2020.

That one was also filmed here in Baltimore at another great theater, completely self-produced. Both of these specials have been self-produced.

It wasn’t like somebody put the money up for us [for “Unknown”]. There was no guarantee for distribution. It was a true hail Mary, but it was a story that I felt was important. I felt it was, as much as “Unknown” as a comedy special, I feel it’s also a celebration of life.

You definitely delve into those deep and heavy themes that a lot of people might steer away from, but it’s those topics that really makes it feel authentic and real.

Yeah. Absolutely.


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I’m beyond proud of this project. This is the team that partnered with me to make this shit happen. Completely Self-Funded & Produced. We envisioned it, worked for it, manifested it, worked a whole lot more & now it’s almost here. It’s a pride & anxiousness you only truly know after witnessing your child being born into the world. This is dreams materializing. Not by chance, but by grace & by hustle. We really ran this bastard from end zone to end zone (in the rain ☔️). Thank you for the support. ⁣ ⁣ Please share the MF’ing wheels off of that trailer, thumbs up those tracks from the album on Sirus XM & Pandora right now, and burn the special up when it drops on Amazon next Tuesday August 4th, 2020. Then rinse & repeat. ⁣ ⁣ Even if you don’t think it’s funny, just write a rave review off of GP & then we can work out your poor taste in art in a personal text message. Don’t y’all fuck this up for me !!! Love y’all. I’m very grateful & humbled right now ❤️✊🏽.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ #JasonWeemsComedy #Unknown #6DaysAway MyBmore #FromBaltimoreWithLove #audaCITY🔥

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And speaking of this whole show being a community effort to come together and create something great, your house DJ and your kids’ pediatrician… are the same person?

Same dude.

I’m going to need you to talk about that.

Yeah. So, this guy’s name is Ashanti Woods. If anybody ever moves to Baltimore and needs a good pediatrician, this guy’s amazing. His wife and my wife went to high school together, but then they lost contact. Years later, I become a father and we need a new pediatrician. This was a world that we were new to. We wanted somebody that could grow up with the kids, not somebody who’s 85.

So we put out some feelers on Facebook and she responded to my wife, like “Hey, my husband’s a pediatrician”. And then we realized, ‘Oh, we do know him. And he’s a great guy.’

He was amazing with the kids. It was an instant comfort. And then years later, I’m a couple of years into doing comedy. I see that he’s starting to DJ.

Did he have posters in his office about future shows and stuff? He’s like, “Oh yeah. After you get this prescription, come down to this club.” Like, how does that translate?

[laughing] Yeah. And it feels like he does. So his name is DJ P-O-P. If you look at the trailer, that’s my DJ. P-O-P stands for Prince of Pediatrics.

Of course it does.

So then we were pulling this special together and we really didn’t want to outsource the talent. We wanted this to be us all the way through. So it was a no-brainer. It was just a matter of whether he was going to say yes or not.

And he was into it?

He was into it. He’s a dad as well. He’s got two little ones.


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La Familia ❤️. ⁣ ⁣ #JasonWeemsComedy #TeamWeems #WeemsTheNextGeneration #GangGang

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Speaking of kids, how has fatherhood impacted this new special compared to the last one? Have you noticed a shift?

Oh, absolutely.

I noticed you’re not wearing crispy white New Balances when you’re out there. You don’t have cargo shorts on or anything, but I’m assuming there had been some kind of development or evolution.

Definitely in the sense of material. I mean, the first special was 2010. I wasn’t even a dad yet. So we filmed the first special, “Intellectual Property,” December 4th, 2010, and I think December 11th or 12th, I found out that we were having our son.

We had shot the show. Everybody was exhausted. So my wife and I flew to Florida and went down to the Harry Potter resort.

We’re drinking Butterbeer and walking all around the streets, and she just kept telling me that she felt weird. So I figured we just drank too much Butterbeer.

You never know how that’s going to hit. It’s a magical concoction, man.

Then we got back to Baltimore, it was still continuing. And we were out with one of my buddies for his birthday party and she said, “Can you drop me at the house? And you guys can just continue on.”

So then I came home from the party and she was standing at the door with the test and it was a strong-ass plus sign.

Strong plus sign, like it’s punching through the screen.

[laughing] Yeah. You could feel it. It was like braille.

And then it instantly shifted the way I toured, instantly shifted the way I performed, how I accepted shows.

I was passing up so many gigs, because it was like, ‘I’m just in love with this little guy.’ But then it got to a point where, financially, I needed to start taking shows again.

But the thing was, I just filmed the special “Intellectual Property,” so I hadn’t been out enough to turn over new material and truly test it. So I started riffing a lot on stage. I’ve always been quick on my feet, but the crowd work element of my stand up, the fast and loose stuff, it really grew out of me becoming a father.

And now that’s probably what I’m known for the most. Like, if you talk to comics in the Baltimore-DC area, all of them go, “Weems just goes off the top of his head, he just riffs it. He just comes out of thin air.”


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And you can tell a lot from your material that you’re a dad who’s involved. Like, I couldn’t help but notice the amount of overlap when it comes to bathroom material and kid material. I think a lot of parents would have that Venn diagram, too. Toilets and showers and bath time… there’s always a story.

Right. I mean, there are just so, so many things can go wrong when you’re washing a little person. Or when you send a little person into a bathroom alone, you don’t know what’s going to come out. It’s always a gamble.

There’s a sentence in your special where you’re talking about giving your boys a bath and you say, quote “nut crumbs… butt crumbs… armpit juice… and piss.”

Right, it’s a good summary of boys in general.

Have any of your boys manifested that entertainer gene yet? Has that been passed down through your bloodline?

All of them…

Oh no.

It’s like The Wayans Brothers. Like straight up, these kids are so talented. Our oldest is eight turning nine, yet the level of humor that he possesses is easily that of a 14 to 16-year-old. I swear, he’s coming for my position.

Yeah, I’d totally feel a little threatened.

Now, the other two, they’re hilarious. I have twin six-year-olds. So the youngest twin is younger by a minute. He’s the most flamboyant and like really out there and he wants to dance on stage and be in front of people. And he has that real kind of firecracker type of humor.

My other twin, little quieter, his stuff is more, he’ll slip in something real quietly under a conversation. Like, me and my wife will be talking, but you hear him say something like [quietly, under breath] “I would have done that…” Like just real quiet.

Ooh, like a little sarcastic dagger.

A little dagger, yeah. Also, things lined up and my kids are in this special! Like physically you see them when the special ends. My wife, my parents are sitting front row and my mother-in-law, people I went to college with and high school. So it’s almost like a block party.

Yeah. It feels like a homecoming. A love letter to Baltimore.

It’s beautiful. Truly a love letter to Baltimore.

You can check Jason’s new comedy special “Unknown” here on Amazon Prime.

Jon Hamm Puts New Spin on the Old “If You Ever Hurt My Daughter…” Threat

Jon Hamm narrates a short film about a newly feminist father in "If you ever hurt my daughter, I swear to God I'll let her navigate her own personal growth"
(New Yorker/AMC)

You know the stereotype when it comes to being the father of a teenage daughter – a protective patriarchal figure threateningly cleaning a firearm on the front porch when the boyfriend arrives, not-so-subtly illustrating the kid’s painful demise should anything happen to his “little girl.” It’s a trope that’s been played out for years in both media and reality, but a recent short film is flipping the cliche on its head.

Adapted from a New Yorker Shouts & Murmurs column by Sophie Kohn titled “If You Ever Hurt My Daughter, I Swear To God I’ll Let Her Navigate Her Own Emotional Growth, the piece highlights a father’s personal journey in learning to love and trust his daughter in a less stereotypical way, all narrated by the indelible Jon Hamm.

“It’s flipping the script on what we’re perceiving men and fathers to be; not just in media and pop culture, but in real life,” Director Meghan Ross told The Dad. “And to me, not only is it so funny and biting, but it’s the self-awareness that this dad has that I really hope dads of all ages [see] and realize an antiquated viewpoint of raising young girls is not something that needs passing on.”

Meghan, a writer, director, and comedian residing in Austin, TX, originally heard about the New Yorker essay from her brother, Justin Ross, a producer for this piece who’s also the founder of Bravemakers, the production studio behind it all.

“I thought there was no better time to produce something like this,” Justin said. “We want to produce things that have some kind of a social message behind it, which a lot of brands are getting behind. But even in the entertainment space, I like that creativity is being challenged to have some kind of a positive message on a number of issues.”

The next step was to reach out to the editor, Sophie Kohn, a Toronto-based comedian, who was thrilled by the idea of a film adaptation. Apparently, she always envisioned her essay as something that should be illustrated onscreen, and this was the perfect opportunity. She probably didn’t expect a Hollywood powerhouse like Jon Hamm to jump on board the project, though.

“We do have to give credit to our sister,” Meghan acknowledged on roping Hamm into the project. “She was credited as an associate producer. She was helping Justin and me with casting. We were just brainstorming names and thinking about recognizable voices – people we thought would be a good fit, a funny fit. And then she was the one that mentioned Jon Hamm. I think she had watched something that he had narrated, like a documentary or something.”

“It’s pretty obvious that he’s a huge fan of comedy,” Justin commented. “And what Meghan was able to find out in the comedy scene—because she comes from the New York comedy scene, originally—is that Jon will just align himself with anything that he thinks is funny. Absolutely. Regardless of budget or anything like that. He’s just a fan of comedy. He’s not a father, clearly, but he is a fan of a socially powerful piece and comedy. It was a win-win for him.”

The pair fully recognize that the 3-minute film is controversial, but rather than shove an agenda about proper parenting (whatever that means) down viewers’ throats, Meghan and Justin hope to spur conversations between friends and family members with opposing views on the subject, and they’re confident that comedy is the perfect method for achieving that goal.

“Comedy is more important and necessary than ever,” Justin elaborated. “If you can pack a powerful message like this with comedy, it’s a win. It’s a better way to deliver things. You’re going to have the extremely one-sided people who are just going to look at this and be like, ‘This is a liberal piece and a liberal publication with a liberal Hollywood actor.’ I’m hoping that if people were on the fence about a particular subject or didn’t really know where they were taking a stance on something like this, in terms of parenting, that it made digesting a little bit easier”


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The Ross siblings aren’t parents themselves, and their dad wasn’t a gun-toting patriarch brooding on the doorstep either, but Justin admitted to playing the protective brother role from time to time when they were growing up in New Jersey.

“For my younger sisters, I was that prime high school/college age where I was waiting for any opportunity,” he remembered. “I think, Meghan’s prom weekend, I showed up with a bunch of my buddies to drive her home. Knowing the rite of passage of prom weekend, she was down the shore at a hotel with her friends, and I knew there was going to be drinking involved. We kicked in the door. We were the Bureau of Alcohol and Firearms.”

“That’s a little exaggerated,” Meghan interjected with a smile. “You opened a cooler and you were like, ‘What’s in there?’ And there were just snacks. But it was funny because it was the end of the weekend and it’s, like, obviously we had already drunk all the booze.”

As for what’s next for the brother/sister duo, they are so proud of this project and have received such a positive response that they’re hoping to collaborate again, and soon.

“Justin and I are looking to collaborate on a lot more of these projects; something that’s entertaining and has a strong message behind it,” Meghan said. “We are in talks to potentially adapt another [essay], and we’re also always open to [working with] writers who write along the same vein.”

“This was our first step in that direction in terms of collaboration,” Justin added. “And we did not expect it to be this grand. We did not expect our first sibling project to be attached to Jon Hamm, but we’re aiming for even bigger and greater things, and hopefully, Meghan and I don’t kill each other in the process.”

If you want to see more from the filmmakers, Meghan currently hosts a weekly Instagram Live series called “No One Asked For This,” interviewing female experts, activists, and leaders about the social injustices in our world that no one asked for, all while completing activities at an average-to-below-average skill level that no one asked for (e.g., baking a sheet cake, coloring in a coloring book, etc.)

Justin’s current and past work can be found at Bravemakers, helping agencies and brands effectively communicate their story through video and connect with their target audiences.

The Dad Of The Month, July 2020: Marwin Fernandez

(Photos courtesy of Jennifer Fernandez)

We are honored to announce The Dad of the Month for July, 2020: Marwin Fernandez. Marwin is one of the brave medical professionals on the front lines fighting against COVID-19, an all-star father to two boys, and a loving husband. His wife, Jennifer, couldn’t help but gush about him in her submission:

“My husband Marwin truly gives his all to his family and is dedicated to working as an ER nurse, showing compassion to everyone in our small-town community. He is a badass that stands and fights death on the daily. He loves what he does and that he makes a difference in people’s lives each day and support his family by doing it. He comes home after a 12 hr shift, his pedometer often registering over 20,000+ steps and reads to our two boys (Landon age 6 and Kai age 4), feeds our dog, and hugs his wife (that’s me Jenn, a local art teacher). He supports me as an artist and will often watch our kids so that I can pursue my professional teaching degrees and have time to work on creating my own art.

“He worked tirelessly during the pandemic often putting himself at risk, therefore having to socially distance himself from his own family for about 2 weeks after his exposure. It was heartbreaking for him to explain to the boys that he couldn’t give them hugs and that he could only video chat with them, but they made the best of it because it was best for everyone.

“He was also working the day of the fatal school bus accident on the highway nearest to Hackettstown Medical Center. They received a few urgent patients at his hospital, one of which—his patient—was a young student. It was questionable how her severe injuries would have affected her life long-term if she had not received his team’s (because he is supported by many) knowledge, quick thinking, and care that ultimately resulted in saving her life. Months later, he was extremely grateful to have the opportunity to meet this young girl, see her smile, and give her a hug once she was healed because that is what it is all about!

“Last year we had the opportunity to attend the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Marwin made sure to get out there at 4 AM in the cold just to make sure his kids got front row seats. This is a true testament to the great dad he is. He also recently taught our 4-year-old, Kai, to ride his bike without training wheels and helped Landon achieve his many cub scout badges. It would be a great honor for him to receive the DAD award because it sounds super hardcore (just like him) and being a Dad is truly the thing that he is most proud of!

“He left his home country of the Philippines to move here when he was 16 and work as an EMT, then a full time as a tech to support his family, having had his first daughter at the age of 20, all while completing nursing school. We are celebrating our 10th year of marriage this year and I was finally able to convince him to take a break from working his second job as a per diem PACU nurse at night. This way he can (maybe) get some rest and no doubt enjoy his time off on the weekends with his boys going on hikes, camping, and fishing.

“He was recently acknowledged for dedication to nursing this past November as the first Daisy award honoree at Hackettstown Medical Center for his ability to create an environment where attributes of trust, compassion, mutual respect for his colleagues and his patients.”

To honor Marwin and his tireless commitment to his family and community, we’re giving him $500 and some special edition dad gear. Marwin’s dedication to excellence in both the medical field and as a father is something we should all aspire for in our own lives!

Click here to read more or nominate a special dad in your life.

The 15 Most Popular Toys From the ’90s

Top 15 Most Popular 90s Toys
(Getty / Education Images / Chesnot / John T. Barr)

When someone references something from the ’90s, my brain still categorizes it as something taking place roughly 7 to 10 years ago. I’m pretty sure it’s a defense mechanism preventing me from focusing too hard on my body’s gradual decay and slow march towards death. But let’s not focus on that right now.

Instead, let’s dwell on the special and bizarre decade that was the ’90s itself. The books were weird. The food was awesome. Companies were going nuts with crazy, neon-colored ideas that, as kids, we couldn’t stop pining over. The toys, specifically, held a very special place in our hearts, even if they seem a little absurd in retrospect. The internet was in its infancy so we didn’t have detailed reviews or YouTube unboxing videos. We just had TV commercials that made us salivate at the prospect of getting our grimy hands on the newest popular gadget. It was a sickness and we loved it so damn much.

So here’s a list of some of the most popular toys from the 90s that we ached to have and still can’t seem to forget. And the cool part is a lot of them are still for sale!

Tamagotchi Digital Pet

Most Popular Toys of the 90s: Tamagotchi
(Getty / Xavier ROSSI)

Just because we didn’t have smartphones or tablets like kids nowadays doesn’t mean we weren’t completely addicted to other tiny screens. Tamagotchis—every kid’s favorite black & white virtual creature—required constant care from birth to their inevitable death when you forgot to feed it or clean up its pixelated poop. Hmmm, this all seems mighty familiar now that we’re parents.

Fun Fact: Tamagotchis could start their own families. You and a friend could breed a male and female Tamagotchi, after which the female would produce two eggs—one for each parent to care for respectively. No custody battles here!

Buy for $20 on Amazon

Stretch Armstrong Action Figure

Most Popular Toys of the 90s: Stretch Armstrong
(Getty / Leon Neal)

Everyone’s favorite gel-filled action figure has actually been around since 1976 but he remained popular and in production until 1997. Stretch could be pulled, twisted, and tied into a near-infinite number of positions up to 5 feet in length. By popular demand, he even made a resurgence in 2016 and can be purchased today!

Fun Fact: As of 2017, Stretch Armstrong stars in his own TV show on Netflix called Stretch Armstrong and the Flex Fighters. Whether it’s actually good is for you to decide.

Buy for $35 on Amazon

Pokemon Cards

Most Popular Toys of the 90s: Pokemon Cards
(Getty / picture alliance)

While technically a card game and not a toy in the traditional sense, we can’t talk about ‘90s crazes without talking about Pokemon Cards. This paper-based phenomenon was an instant success when it dropped thanks to the already surging popularity of the Pokemon video games. Just about everyone spent their time playing with or trading their card collection during recess… except for that kid, Kyle, who had a holographic Charizard and made sure EVERYBODY knew.

Fun Fact: Kyle is in prison now (probably).

Buy for $6 on Amazon


Most Popular Toys of the 90s: Skip-It
(YouTube / wiifermadness)

The Skip-It was released in the ‘80s but didn’t really hit its stride until the ‘90s. Not exactly an innovative piece of tech, it was literally a rolling ball attached to a string tied to your leg that required you to jump over it as you spin it faster and faster. Of course, the ball only really rolled on hard surfaces, nearly guaranteeing bodily injury when you eventually tripped and fell on the concrete. Oh well, pain builds character.

Fun Fact: The addition of the skip counter in the ‘90s led to sales doubling compared to the late ‘80s. The then-CEO gleefully referred to it as a “Skip-It Renaissance.”

Buy for $16 on Amazon

Furby Robotic Toy

Most Popular Toys of the 90s: Furby
(Getty / Matthew Fearn - PA Images)

Odds are pretty good that you were one of the many kids who felt snubbed on December 25, 1998 when your Christmas presents were markedly Furby-less. These little beaked, furballs were a massive commercial success with their moving eyes and unnerving ability to gradually learn English. Of course, the real joy was teaching them swear words and laughing as their batteries died, causing their voices to deepen and slow until they sounded like tiny, possessed demon animals. God, what a treat.

Fun Fact: An English-to-Furbish (the Furby language) dictionary was published in 2005 and included 121 words, including terms like “dog” (“bar-bar”), “joke” (“loo-loo”), and “whassup?” (“doo-oo-tye?”).

Buy for $65 on Amazon

Polly Pocket Dolls and Accessories

Most Popular Toys of the 90s: Polly Pocket
(Pinterest / Good Housekeeping)

A doll that could fit in your pocket doesn’t exactly sound revolutionary but ‘90s girls went completely ape shit over Polly Pocket and her teeny accessories. Polly’s pocket-sized dollhouses came in a variety of pretty magical designs, including a wooden ship drifting in the ocean or a bright pink palace with gold accents. Of course, Polly was also the perfect size to be a choking hazard or get sucked up in the vacuum: two slightly less luxurious homes.

Fun Fact: When I turned 6, my older sister borrowed $5 of my birthday money to buy a Polly Pocket and has still never paid me back. Yes, it’s been 25 years. Yes, I still remember, Leslie.

Buy for $11 on Amazon

Nintendo 64 Video Game Console

Most Popular Toys of the 90s: Nintendo 64
(Getty / Future Publishing)

Objectively one of the greatest video game systems of all time, the Nintendo 64 sent shockwaves through the gaming community when it dropped in 1996. If you were one of the lucky few to get one early after its release, you instantly gained celeb status in your friend group. Even if you didn’t have one, you begged your parents to take you to Blockbuster so you could get a few precious minutes with that legendary three-pronged controller yourself. The N64 boasted some of the top games of any console.

Fun Fact: The console’s most popular release title, Super Mario 64, is in fact the bestselling game of all time on the Nintendo 64… by a lot. It sold around 12 million copies while the next highest seller, Mario Kart 64, sold a paltry 9.8 million.

Buy for $165 on Amazon

Hit Clips Digital Audio Player

Most Popular Toys of the 90s: Hit Clips
(eBay / allynelson123)

Who wanted dumb old CDs with full-length albums when you could have a tiny plastic cartridge that played 1-minute clips of a song? Yes, Hit Clips might have been one of the stupidest concepts when it comes to music consumption but thanks to heavy promotion from McDonald’s, Radio Disney, and Lunchables, late-‘90s kids couldn’t seem to get enough of them. Now, shut up – I’m listening to the chorus and half a verse of “When It’s Over” by Sugar Ray.

Fun Fact: A 1-minute clip of music might not be great but the ultra-lo-fi mono music that Hit Clips provided… ALSO sounded awful. It was like listening to someone play music through a speakerphone that had horrible reception and was also on fire.

Buy for $16 on Amazon

Pogs Cap Game

Most Popular Toys of the 90s: Pogs
(Getty / Xavier ROSSI / Gamma-Rapho)

Even though they’d been around for decades, Pogs soared in popularity during the ‘90s. You probably had hundreds, won fair and square during lunch or recess, all thanks to your trusty go-to slammer(s). What was on yours? The Superman logo? Bart Simpson? A holographic skull? It didn’t matter – they were all cool as hell… unless you used one of those metal ones. You, sir or ma’am, are a cheat and have no honor.

Fun Fact: POG stands for passionfruit, orange, and mango. The cardboard discs were actually bottle caps for POG juice bottles made by Haleakala Dairy in Hawaii.

Buy for $15 on Amazon

Beanie Babies Stuffed Animals

Most Popular Toys of the 90s: Beanie Babies

No ‘90s toys list would be complete without the worldwide phenomenon that was Beanie Babies. Each creature was filled with plastic beads that made them heavier than your everyday teddy bear and included a TY tag, which revealed the animal’s name and a cutesy poem about them. God forbid you remove that tag, though. These bad boys were collector’s items. Folks dreamt of paying off their mortgage or sending kids to college with the money from their Beanie Baby collections, and while some are definitely worth a pretty penny nowadays, others are basically just adorable stuffed animals that your parents won in a fistfight inside your local McDonald’s.

Fun Fact: The most expensive single Beanie Baby is the purple Princess Bear, made in honor of the late Princess Diana. Its extreme rarity has earned an asking price of around $500,000. Time to go digging in your parents’ attic!

Buy for $7 on Amazon

Super Soakers Water Guns

Most Popular Toys of the 90s: Super Soakers
(Getty / Fabian Posselt / ullstein bild)

Water guns were generally pretty lame until Hasbro started pumping out Super Soakers in 1990. These pressurized water weapons put measly squirt pistols to shame as you were finally able to launch powerful streams of water at your friends from an impressive distance. Sure, Super Soakers caught some heat in the media for looking like actual guns, but that just made us want them more. The company has since grown into a billion-dollar brand, and “Super Soaker” has even begun being used generically to refer to any pressurized water gun.

Fun Fact: The Super Soaker CPS 2000 Mark 1 released in 1996 was considered by many to be the most powerful water gun made by a toy company. It could fire an entire liter of water in about one second and provided the shooter with some noticeable recoil. Some of those unlucky enough to be on the receiving end complained about minor injuries; however, a legend arose that some kid’s eye was shot out after catching a blast in the face at close range. The story has never been confirmed but the CPS 2000 Mark 1 was discontinued soon after these rumors spread.

Buy for $24 on Amazon

Talkboy from Home Alone

Most Popular Toys of the 90s: Talkboy
(YouTube / Laura Legends)

When a toy is used by a child to thwart violent home invaders, it should be no surprise when it becomes an item wanted by kids everywhere. The Talkboy was released on November 20, 1992, the same day Home Alone 2 debuted and it was an instant hit. Granted, the cassette and recording quality probably weren’t good enough to actually trick anybody, but why waste an opportunity to call someone a filthy animal?

Fun Fact: A pink version was released a little later, dubbed the “Talkgirl,” because gender roles, I guess.

Buy for $229 on Amazon

Bop It Audio Game

Most Popular Toys of the 90s: Bop It
(YouTube / classic90sfan)

Just because a game is easy to understand doesn’t mean it can’t be difficult. The original “Bop It” rhythmically spat out instructions to either bop it, twist it, or pull it – commands that required you to engage one of the three parts of the toy. Mess up a command or take to long and you’re out. Oh, and the game gradually increases speed as you play. It’s a fun game to play alone or with friends as long as mild anxiety attacks are your kind of fun.

Fun Fact: The original Bop It model had a limit of 100 points while the second edition released in 2000 allowed a score of up to 200. Reaching the highest score ends the game with a victory song and, hopefully, an intervention from your friends to find a new hobby.

Buy for $15 on Amazon

Easy-Bake Oven

Most Popular Toys of the 90s: Easy-Bake Oven
(YouTube / Lane and Lexi’s Funhouse)

For most, the appeal of the Easy-Bake Oven was less about actual baking and more about being able to cook your own junk food whenever you wanted and without parental supervision. Sure, it felt like it took hours for the 40W incandescent bulb to heat a single serving but it was all worth it to be able to cook brownies and riddle your body with sugar all by yourself. Ok, this actually sounds a lot like my diet in adulthood.

Fun Fact: In 2003, an updated version of the Easy-Bake was released, called the Real Meal Oven. The newer model could cook two dishes at once and at higher temperatures because who doesn’t love a good fire hazard?

Buy for $30 on Amazon

Tickle Me Elmo Plush Toy

Most Popular Toys of the 90s: Tickle Me Elmo
(Getty / Ken Lubas / Los Angeles Times)

I never knew anyone who actually wanted a Tickle Me Elmo but seeing people lined up outside various K-Marts in the December cold, fist-fighting to get their hands on one of the red, giggly muppets was Christmas PR at its finest. Everyone wanted one just to say they had one. Of course, once kids realized that it was just a doll that vibrated and laughed when you poked it, they ditched the thing (likely for another toy on this list). Your dad likely drank a little extra egg nog that day while staring into the fire as a result.

Fun Fact: In 2001, a “Surprise Edition” of Tickle Me Elmo was released. Five of these Elmos were programmed to stop laughing on Jan 9, 2002, indicating that the purchaser had won a prize – the grand prize being $200,000! It was like Willy Wonka but without all the gruesome child deaths.

Buy for $32 on Amazon

Although we only recommend picks we really love, we may earn a commission on purchases made through links from our site.

Bryce Dallas Howard Talks The Mandalorian and Baby Yoda’s Soup [WATCH]


We recently sat down with Bryce Dallas Howard to chat about her new documentary, Dads—a film that highlights the joys and challenges of parenting through the eyes of six extraordinary fathers from across the globe as well as input from choice celebrity fathers.

It was Howard’s feature-length documentary directorial debut, but that doesn’t mean she is unfamiliar with sitting in the director’s chair. She also directed an episode of the wickedly popular Disney+ series, The Mandalorian – specifically, Chapter 4: Sanctuary.

Since dads (and plenty of non-dads) tend to be rather passionate about the galaxy far, far away, we didn’t feel right ending this interview without getting the inside scoop on her episode, Baby Yoda’s mysterious identity, and how it feels to be responsible for one of the most popular memes of 2019.


“I think it’s probably Baby Yoda who’s more responsible for that,” Howard corrected, humbly giving credit where it’s due. “Jon [Favreau] just really encouraged me to push the puppet and to see what the puppet could do and to have fun with Baby Yoda.”

Baby Yoda (aka, “The Child” to you sticklers out there) is one of the most popular characters from The Mandalorian and pop culture in general, and as it turns out, the showrunners totally anticipated that.

“Oh yeah, it matters where Baby Yoda is,” Howard remembers saying on set, anticipating audiences’ fascination with the pint-sized alien. “We can’t not have baby Yoda on camera and just assume people are going to be okay with that.”

“[Jon Favreau] is an improv guy,” she elaborated, describing how the famous soup scene came to be. “So he’s like, ‘What if Baby was there? What if Baby was drinking something? What if Baby took like a big, long sip?’ And then he’s like, ‘Do it with one hand, do it with two hands, do it…’ Just do it this way, that way.”

So, yes. That means, somewhere at Lucasfilm studios, there is an archive of dozens—if not hundreds—of clips of Baby Yoda sipping soup, each probably more adorable than the last. In fact, by taking that time to get the perfect shot, Howard set a new Star Wars record.

“Apparently, on my episode, there was a day where I shot more footage than any other film that Lucasfilm has ever done. There was one day on Rogue One with four units that came close. So there’s a lot of excess Baby Yoda footage.”

Howard claims she knows the mysterious green toddler’s identity, but when pressed, was less than forthcoming.

“Nope. I vowed that I was never going to use the name because if I use the name once on set, I would accidentally say it… Baby is ‘Baby.’ Baby is ‘Baby.'”

Looks like we’ll have to wait a few months for Season 2 of The Mandalorian just like everyone else before we get some answers.

You can watch our full Mandalorian interview with Bryce Dallas Howard below or check out the rest of our interview on fatherhood and Dads here.

The Dad Of The Month, June 2020: Bryan Piatt

((Photos courtesy of Jessica Piatt))

We are honored to announce The Dad of the Month for June, 2020: Bryan Piatt. Bryan is a relentlessly hard worker and an all-star father and husband, even with a 4-year-old son who requires specialized medical care. His wife, Jessica, couldn’t help raving about him in her submission:

“Bryan is the most amazing dad. Our first baby was unplanned, but he was so excited to find out he was gonna be a dad. When he was born, we knew immediately something wasn’t right. Our son Nolan has gone on to be diagnosed with an incredibly rare chromosome disorder (very few in the world have it!), and in Nolan’s short 4 years, he’s had 4 surgeries, many ER trips, countless tests, procedures, and therapies. He’s significantly mentally impaired, so he relies on us for everything.

“Bryan has been there every step of the way, to every surgery, to most therapies, and is the sole reason Nolan learned to walk. He worked with him tirelessly. He was amazing with my post-partum depression, very encouraging, and helpful. Never judging. And all through this, he works third shifts in a factory, which is hard on his body.

“We had a second baby (no big health issues with this little boy, who we named Dallas), and he’s been just as involved with him. He gets very little sleep to make sure he gets to see the boys (and me!) before we leave for the day. We are so so fortunate for Bryan, and I couldn’t imagine living this life with someone else. Nolan and Dallas are so, so lucky.

To honor Bryan and his tireless commitment to his family in the face of such adversity, we’re giving him $500 and some special edition dad gear. Bryan’s steadfastness and refusal to let a medical condition steal their family’s joy is something we all hope we would exhibit. Cheers!

Click here to read more or nominate a special dad in your life.

The 10 Best Sega Genesis Video Games of All Time

The 10 Best Sega Genesis Games

The Sega Genesis was one of the definitive video game consoles of the ’90s and primary competition to the powerhouse that was Nintendo. At the time of its American release in 1989, it boasted incredible performance over the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) and wowed gamers with eye-popping colors and giant detailed sprites. Even after Nintendo released the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES) in 1991, Sega went on an absolute advertising offensive, bragging that “Sega does what Nintendon’t.”

With hundreds of games in its library, there were plenty of amazing titles to choose from – some standalone stars and others that built game franchises still popular today. So we’re diving into our nostalgia-ridden minds to reminisce about the best games Sega had to offer in this 16-bit era and highlight the absolute cream of the crop. Even when considering only Genesis exclusives (sorry, Mortal Kombat 2, and NBA Jam), it’s painful to narrow the list down to a mere 10, but dammit, we’re going to do it.

First things first though, you’ll probably need a console. You can grab one on eBay, they’ve got a great selection here.

So here it is. The Dad’s Top 10 Games on the Sega Genesis (in no particular order):

Earthworm Jim

Throwing an earthworm into a super-suit to create a superhero might sound ludicrous when compared to modern-day every-actor-has-a-six-pack Marvel movies, but this is 1994 we’re talking about – weird stuff just worked. Earthworm Jim is one of many 2D platformers from the Genesis era, but it had a number of characteristics that really set it apart as something special. Sure, Jim was armed with a gun like other action heroes, but it wasn’t until players watched him grab his own head out of his suit to attack enemies like a whip or navigate around and hang from hooks that we realized this was something different.

The art direction in this game is truly stunning with animations and cartoony graphics offering incredible detail and fluidity that few others can match. The only area where Jim really struggles is in the actual gameplay department. The animations, while beautiful, make Jim’s movement and combat feel imprecise at times. Enemy hitboxes and platform edges can be frustratingly hard to pinpoint, which distracts the game’s amazing humor and art style at times, but that still didn’t stop this one from becoming one of the most iconic and easily recognizable games from the Genesis era.

Buy it here.

Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master

10 Best Sega Genesis Games

You don’t really need a lot of context for a good ninja game. Just give me some cool moves, sharp weapons, and a bunch of “evil” ninjas to fight and I’m a happy camper. Shinobi III: Return of the Ninja Master does all three of these things just about perfectly on top of silky-smooth gameplay overall. The move set and weapon arsenal for this game are pretty standard when it comes to stereotypical ninja-ing (e.g., shurikens, a sword, flips, and kicks) but it’s when you see them chained together that you really feel like a high-flying ninja badass. Taking things a little outside the realm of reality, players also have a handful of fancy ninjitsu techniques that do serious damage to anyone on the receiving end – the most powerful arguably being a self-sacrificing explosion move that literally involves detonating your entire frickin’ body at the cost of one of your reserve lives. Hell yes, please.

On top of the great combat, Shinobi III breaks the monotony of its standard side-scrolling levels with alternate playstyle sequences like surfing and fighting on horseback, which actually work surprisingly well instead of feeling gimmicky or tacked on. Plus, the game features one of the best soundtracks on the Genesis, if not in all of gaming. It’s a masterful title that provides that full ninja experience without being too punishing (looking at you, Ninja Gaiden).

Buy it here.

Comix Zone

10 Best Sega Genesis Games

A 2D side-scroller developed by Sega in 1995, Comix Zone puts players in the shoes of a starving artist (appropriately named Sketch Turner) who gets thrown into the pages of his own comic book by one of his own villainous creations. Armed with his fists, glorious ponytail, and extremely ’90s wardrobe, Sketch battles his way through an army of illustrated baddies while flipping through the panels and pages of an actual comic book. Yup, if you ever got in trouble for doodling in school, this is the game for you.

Even though the idea of seeing your drawings come to life is inherently fun as hell, Comix Zone can be brutally difficult at times. Barring a few rare occasions, there are no extra lives or 1-ups in this game. If you mistime a jump and fall into a pit or your health bar drains to zero, it’s game over. Title screen. Oh, and on top of it all, your health constantly depletes as you progress through the game. Yup, since Sketch is comprised of paper, doing damage to enemies and the environment (who also live on said paper) results in taking damage yourself. Not the most enjoyable game mechanic, but it doesn’t stop Comix Zone from being one of the most unique and visually appealing titles on the platform.

Buy it here.


10 Best Sega Genesis Games

Released in October 1995, Vectorman was an attempt to extend the lifespan and relevance of the Genesis, and thanks to its stunning visuals and non-stop explosive action, it worked. Like Donkey Kong Country a year prior on the SNES, Vectorman featured revolutionary graphics for its time. The titular hero alone is comprised of 23 individual sprites moving in tandem, which are also individually affected by nearby light sources – really cool, even by today’s standards. The stunning visuals are achieved largely in part to some clever design fakery rather than some previously hidden horsepower under the Genesis hood, but the results are still undeniable.

As for gameplay, it’s a novel game but there are probably better run-and-gun titles. The enemies are a bit generic and not the most exciting to fight and bosses tend to be big, boring bullet sponges. Also, while Vectorman is fun to look at, his movement feels a little slippery and may take some getting used to. Once you get over the initial hump, though, you’ll be running, gunning, and rocket boost jumping all over the place. Vectorman is not an easy title, though. Sure, you can tone down the difficulty settings or use cheat codes to give yourself a handicap, but the game makes sure you don’t forget it by either restricting the true ending of the game or, even worse, calling you “lame.” Harsh.

Buy it here.


10 Best Sega Genesis Games

One of the earliest hits for Genesis, Strider was released in the pre-Sonic days when a huge selling point of the console was its ability to house perfect ports of arcade games. It was the title that made your NES-owning friends green with envy, and for good reason. With its explosive colors and character animations, the game looks fantastic even when compared to games that came out years later. Sure, the NES had its own version of Strider, but it was a completely different title – only loosely based on the coin-operated version in the arcade and nothing close to this beauty on Genesis.

The game follows the exploits of Strider Hiryu as he flips and slashes his way through a futuristic version of Soviet Russia (not quite as topical nowadays, but this is 1989 we’re talking about). Hiryu is armed only with a sword that can be upgraded via power-up and, occasionally, a tiny drone that takes potshots at enemies from a distance. What really sets Hiryu apart, though, are his acrobatics. He can perform mid-air flips, cling to the sides of walls, and slash at enemies in any direction. While other games from this era might give you a single attack button, Strider offers a bevy of different ways to dispatch baddies, like hanging from a ledge until an enemy turns around and then hopping up to give him a quick slash in the back. It’s all very exciting and satisfying – I just wish there was more of it. With only five levels, players can easily beat the game in less than an hour, while vets have been known to breeze through it in under 15 minutes.

Buy it here.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2

10 Best Sega Genesis Games

A good sequel keeps the aspects that worked for its predecessor and then builds on top of it to offer up a fresh new experience that still remains somewhat familiar. Sonic 2 is a near-perfect example of such a formula. It takes the characters, gameplay, and overall aesthetic of the original 1991 hit and then ramps them up into something truly special. I mean, the special stages that throw Sonic into a 3D half-pipe to find chaos emeralds were enough to completely blow my childhood mind at the time.

The game remains a fast-paced side-scroller with rolling hills and colorful surroundings, but instead of a solo mission, Sonic is now accompanied by his twin-tailed fox sidekick: Miles “Tails” Prower (a total dad-level pun based on “miles per hour,” if you didn’t catch it). Sonic 2 also introduces the Blue Blur’s iconic “spin dash” for the first time, allowing players to charge up speed in place rather than needing a long runway to accelerate. These additions—along with split-screen multiplayer—made this sequel an instant hit and even more proper than its predecessor.

Buy it here.

Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium

10 Best Sega Genesis Games

The SNES might have been a powerhouse when it came to RPGs with stellar titles like Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, and Final Fantasy IV and VI, but they were missing a huge game in the all-star RPG lineup: Phantasy Star IV: The End of the Millennium, only available on the Genesis. The universe created in the Phantasy Star series—an area of space dubbed the “Algo star system”—is rife with humans, aliens, and cyborgs, each with their own unique cultures that have been carefully developed over the course of four games and come to a satisfying climax in this fourth installment.

In true JRPG fashion, the game introduces players to new characters, teachers the general mechanics of the game, and then casually tosses in a mega-powerful villain bent on eradicating all life… pretty standard fare. The combat, while not revolutionary, includes intuitive and streamlined mechanics, like the inclusion of macros. This means you can set up systems for your entire party to execute each turn. Simply want everyone to attack? There’s a macro for that. Want one character to boost your team’s stats, three characters to attack, and then the last character to heal? That’s another macro. Where Phantasy Star IV truly shines, though, is its narrative. The game doesn’t talk down to players—characters in your party can definitely be killed permanently—and it neatly ties up loose ends from the previous games, crafting a sci-fi JRPG experience that’s truly special.

Buy it here.

Streets of Rage 2

10 Best Sega Genesis Games

What do you do when your pal gets kidnapped by a criminal mastermind? You go on a vigilante justice spree; punching, kicking and pipe-swinging your way through droves of henchmen to get him back, that’s what. Beat ’em up style games were a dime-a-dozen in the days of the Genesis, but Streets of Rage 2 stood out as one of the absolute best. On top of improved gameplay from the original SoR, the sequel also looked fantastic with colorful sprites the popped off the screen when contrasted against the grimy urban environment.

After choosing from a cast of four different characters, each with their own set of moves and combat styles, players bludgeoned their way through their crime-infested city to rescue their captured pal. And when things get tough, the adrenaline-pumping soundtrack full of killer house music will fuel you to keep fighting, just like the occasional rotisserie chicken dropped by defeated baddies. SoR2 remains not only one of the best beat ’em up titles on the Genesis, but of all time.

Buy it here.

Sonic 3 & Knuckles

10 Best Sega Genesis Games

If you don’t know any better, you might think that Sonic 3 & Knuckles is a typo, but the awkward title is actually a result of being one of the most unique games in the world. You see, Sega was so eager to get Sonic 3 on store shelves that they shipped it out only half-finished. Thankfully, they didn’t just call it a day, but rather finished the rest of the intended game, polished it up, and released it as an add-on cartridge: Sonic & Knuckles. The new “lock-on” cartridge included the standalone Sonic & Knuckles game, but if you inserted Sonic 3 into the top of Sonic & Knuckles cart, gamers had access to Sonic 3 & Knuckles – separate storylines, game options, and access to Knuckles as a playable character in all the levels from Sonic 3. Basically, a physical version of DLC.

As for gameplay, the addition of Knuckles gives the game even more depth than its predecessors. Opposed to the Blue Blur, the red Echidna can soar through the sky with his glide technique and scale walls with this signature claws. Sure, he’s fast and can keep up with Sonic as they speed through stages, but the differences are significant enough that it feels like a relatively fresh experience. This is a game where story and gameplay are both handled superbly and it’s all wrapped up in one wonderfully polished package… well, as long as you have all of the necessary cartridges.

Buy it here.

Gunstar Heroes

10 Best Sega Genesis Games

By 1993, many Genesis owners had thought they’d seen everything there was to see regarding the run-and-gun genre made popular by games like Contra and Mercs, but Gunstar Heroes unapologetically shook things up with its high octane action and stunning visual style. The cartoonish art direction is similar to that of Metal Slug and both games share a love for intense, over-the-top boss battles that conclude each level. Oh, and speaking of the Gunstar Heroes’ levels, they vary constantly, keeping players guessing and preventing the game from ever really feeling stale (something that can’t be said for many other games in this genre).

The weapon load-outs are diverse and fun to use, including a rapid-fire machine gun, a flamethrower, and a homing shot. Plus, these weapons can be mixed-and-matched to create powerful weapon combos that would usually feel overpowered if it wasn’t for the hoards of enemies constantly filling your screen. Plus, when you get tired of fighting evil robots and beefy henchmen by yourself, you can boot up co-op mode with a friend. Gunstar Heroes truly pulls out all the stops and remains one of the most creative run-and-guns you’ll ever find.

Buy it here.

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