As Im sure youve all heard by now, Christmas Ape has decided to hang up the, uh, what do you have to wear when your a blogger? Christmas Ape has decided to hang up the pubes and move on from KSK, a site that he has built into a NFL dick joke juggernaut. This also means theres a high probabilty of KSK just shutting down for good, which is very sad news unless your Roger Goodell or Peter King. Those of us that have forged our own takes in the fires of KSK for the past couple years wanted to write somthing dorky and earnestly sappy about him as our public, and possibly mastubatory way of saying “thank you.” So here goes.
I’ve been reading Mikes takes for as long as I’ve been reading sports blogs, and hes been a huge influence for me. Like a lot of people here I had never been paid to write about the NFL untill Mike offered me the opportunity to kontribute to KSK in 2013. I was hungover as all hell on a Sunday and I tried to go for a run to sweat it out. After about a half mile as I literally got the dry heave I got a DM notification and it was Mike suggesting that I kontribute to Kissin Suzy Kolber. It stopped my hangover dead in my tracks and I felt like I was on really good synthetic opiates for literaly the next month. It meant the world to me to be given the opportunity to write for KSK, and for the next two years or so I tried to write as often as I could about whatever Mike needed in order to take what could have very easily been a twitter acount that I got bored with after 6 months, and turn it into a voice that I could actually earn a living off of. Theres just not enough emojis in the english language to convey how greatful I am for his help. At the risk of making this about “ME” there would probly not be a PFT Commenter without Mike Tunison, you can decide on youre own if thats good or bad.
We all know that Mikes a awesome righter, but alot of people forget that he was also responsible for editing the entire site these past several years. His two strongest qualities as an editor were trust and ballsyness, which are rare to find in someone who leads (Obama Im look at youre direction). I can probably count on my dick the number of times that Mike rejected a pitch from me. When you have someone that you respect putting all the trust in the world back into you, you want to run through a god damn brick wall for him. The kind of guy you don’t want to let down so you spend that extra 5 minutes doing research for another Hitler joke, or you add more shit stains on your photoshop of Mt. Rushmore. In all serousness, Mike made me want to work hard for him and its truly a honor to say that I got to call him a colleague for these passed two years.
The point is, that in addition to being one of the funniest NFL writers of all time, Mike was a tremendous boss that made all our lives at KSK infiniteley better because of his skill as an editor and a manager. After some well-deserved time-off, I’m sure he’ll come back stronger then ever and his veteren presence will turn any team into a instant contender. God bless Mike, and thanks for all the takes.
I came to football relatively late in life. Like, after-college-late-in-life. I credit my brother for fostering a love of the sport in me, and I remember the exact moment it was sparked. We were in the car with our parents, on a road trip in the middle of the summer, and my brother just starts laughing uncontrollably. I ask him “what’s so funny?” and he shows me his phone. We spend the next 15 minutes scrolling through one of Ape’s Fun With Peter King posts, our parents in the front seat wondering why we are both laughing to the point of not being able to breathe. I had never read anything like that before.
I had no idea who Peter King was at the time. I didn’t get the in-jokes, and most of the football references went way over my head. But the spark was lit. I started watching football every week. I bought season tickets to Northwestern’s shitty football team. I did it to connect with my brother, but also to be able to connect with one of my favorite websites. I knew something was special about it.
Now might be a good time to tell you guys how I became a writer for KSK. I saw a post saying the equivalent of “Email Xmas Ape if you want to write for KSK, we need contributors”. I frantically talked to my brother– I had no idea what to pitch. Maybe a story about an NFL player becoming a superhero? Who? What could we call him? I came up with Blaine Gabbert, and my brother came up with The Flow. I sent Ape the first episode of what became The Continuing Adventures Of The Flow, and I got rejected.
When I got an email from Ape in the fall saying “hey, we had someone drop, do you still want to write for KSK?”, I was in the car on my way back from Iowa where I watched Northwestern lose a heartbreaker in 2OT. I was packed into the back seat, in the middle, and I started shaking and freaking out. It was unbelievable. My friends gave me weird looks, but they realized that this was important to me, and they got excited too.
This is a special thing you have created, Ape. And as cheesy as it sounds, nobody can take it away. Yes, I owe you so much for giving me, a dude with almost no blogging experience, a chance to write for KSK, but I think I owe you more for helping create the site in the first place. It’s special, and since I started following it, it has made me love the game of football more than ever, and brought my brother, my friends and I closer together.
I love football because of you, Ape.
I found KSK through an online football forum that always shared the Rex Ryan “How Ya Doin’ Boys” posts and became a huge fan of the site. When I started actually making football cartoons for myself and that same football forum I tried to carry on that type of style as it was pretty much my main influence. When I made my Manningface post, KSK was the first real world sports blog to pick it up. I ended up having a few things I made end up on KSK, and they were always among the very first to post on it. And it was always Ape who did the post.
In 2012, just a few months past the launch of my own site, Ape followed me on twitter and he was the first actual sports personality in any capacity to follow me, which was a big moment at the time. Maybe a month later, after my British Logos went viral, he DM’d me and asked if I wanted to write for the site. I was ecstatic and obviously said yes. I can’t even begin to describe what it’s like to get recruited by the people you’ve been admiring for years. I was kind of the weird art outsider for a bit but once you get into the community here, there is nothing else like it.
I’ve been doing my cartoons and art posts on KSK for 3 years already, and I think I’ve been able to do some great work here, and almost all of it is thanks to Ape. I never once felt restricted in what I could post, he gave me pretty much complete freedom to unleash whatever I wanted to, no matter how stupid, and over these past few years, you know I’ve done some seriously stupid things. He’s always been courteous and forgiving if we need some time off or can’t make an idea that we pitched work right. He gave us the freedom to be ourselves here, and all of his edits, if he made them, kept the spirit and voice of our work intact. Even if that voice was a dick joke. Especially if that voice was a dick joke. You pretty much can’t ask for a better editor.
I’m really proud to be a part of the KSK legacy, and that never would have happened if he hadn’t come and included me to be a part of an incredible lineup of writers. Thanks Ape.
I once got in trouble at the nationally published magazine I edit in Canada because I wanted to talk to Ape and his counterparts so bad that I put an interview in with them in the print edition of an issue that was supposed to be entirely about fashion or street art or something. At that point, the only sites I visited AT ALL were KSK, Myspace, and Hotmail. Imagine my excitement when I received an email from Ape that read “YOU A WINNER” after applying to write here. Having been an editor for nearly a decade myself, I have infinite empathy and appreciation when working for someone in that position, and Michael Tunison has done it with aplomb. As an editor to write for, he was always like that “God” character in Futurama who says “When you do things right, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all.” Sometimes, it was days before I realized what Mike had made happen with scheduling and subtly encouraging #content with his precise, but charmingly laissez-faire correspondence. If he was my “boss” then he was good enough at the position to teach a class on it over these past few years. He faced getting chewed out for us multiple times, stuck up for us constantly, and put in more hours than any of us thought were possible during some points in the season. Not to mention the grenade he fell on for readers and writers alike every single Monday morning. That deserves the dick joke sports blog equivalent of the purple heart. Mike, thanks for all the yuks. Sorry about being Canadian. I hope Christmas Ape finally goes to summer camp now.
I’ll never forget how excited I felt when I got an email from Ape that simply said “what’s your availability.” I had been talking to him about writing for the site for about two months, and the promise that I *might* get in was exciting enough. It 10 months since I had graduated from college, I had been writing my ass off, churning out hot takes for sites that earnest editors, but no readership, and not much of a way of getting one. I was seriously questioning if I would ever be able to make any money doing this, and just as the doubt was *really* starting to creep in, Ape brought me on. Out of all the editors I’ve had, Ape has easily been the coolest. In 16 months here, he never got pissed at me about anything, even though there times when he definitely had the right to. More importantly, he let me figure out why KSk was at my own pace, and never forced me to write things a certain way. He was always encouraging, and always nice, and I doubt I’ll ever write for someone like that again.
I’ve looked up to Mike for a solid decade now ever since I first discovered Kissing Suzy Kolber back when the Original Six all wrote for the site back in the mid-aughts, so I’m definitely an old-timer from the comments section. Shout out to Upstate Underdog, Otto Man, and jackin4beats.
I think what I like most about Mike, besides being a generally awesome dude, is how fearless and savage his writing is. He — and to a certain extent, the other members of the Gay Mafia — have inspired my personal credo when it comes to writing: never write scared. KSK is such a different beast compared to everything out there: it’s got balls-to-the-wall writing, kickass commenters that make it all the more fun, and just a general feeling of a good, pure, no-holds-barred atmosphere that really isn’t present anywhere else, especially in this clickbait, Buzzfeed, here’s-10-facts-about-olive-oil-that-will-blow-your-fucking-mind online world.
I still have some of my favorite works by Mike emblazoned on my mind forever. There’s “MAYBE I COULD BE THE NEW ROONEY” or “The Offseason Adventures of Jim Nantz,” to name just a couple. I’m sure all of you have your own favorites.
They say the sincerest form of flattery is imitation. So I guess the highest compliment I can pay him is that of all the writers on the planet, the many, many outstanding works that he has penned that I have absorbed throughout most of my 20s and into my 30s — along with Drew’s — have influenced my own writing more than anyone else.
And when everyone else left for other things — Drew to Bieber fame and fortune, Zerkle aka Punte to B/R, Ufford to SB Nation, Kogod to, uh, somewhere, and flubby disappearing into the ether from whence he came — Mike stuck around and kept KSK true to itself, which wasn’t an easy thing to do. Frankly, by now he’s earned a goddamned vacation.
Thanks for everything, Ape.
There’s not a lot more that needs to be said that others haven’t expressed more eloquently. Kissing Suzy Kolber was the first blog that I actually bookmarked to read on a daily basis, even before Deadspin. It was appointment reading then and I honestly believe it is right up until today. It’s weird that on my bookshelf is a book that says “Kissing Suzy Kolber” on the front, and when I look at it I’ll know that at one point myself and a bunch of awesome and cool folks wrote for it, even if I tagged on late at the end. Ape, you’ve shepherded a new generation of dick bloggers into the wonderful world of Andy Reid fat jokes and for that we could never be more thankful. Most, if not all of us, have been long time lurkers or commenters and grew up with doors flying open, Rex Ryan yelling at us, or Marmalard making sure we ask somebody something.
Lastly, in the greatest praise one man who reads terrible Facebook comments all day can give, you are the most reasonable Steelers fan I know. And I know a shit ton of Steelers fans. Thank you.
You’ve heard of a 21 Gun Salute? Well, this is a 21 Dick Joke Salute. It’s only fitting.
1. Christmas Ape is an editor. A great one, at that. He knows how to motivate people. Should the situation call for it, however, he also knows how to get hard.
2. Don’t get me wrong: he always had an encouraging word to offer up if he thought your piece was flaccid.
3. And he’d spread the opportunity to all of us to pitch and write what we truly wanted. It never felt like we were getting the shaft.
4. Just a tip: if you ever have the opportunity to work for an editor half as good as Christmas Ape, don’t walk to it.
5. Jump on it.
6. Wait for it…
7. As good an editor as Ape was, he was also a prolific Tweeter. No one made better ball GIFs.
8. Or told better ball jokes.
10. You took a chance on me, Ape. I was a fairly unproven writer and you let me inside your world.
11. I was looking for a reason to start writing again, and consider myself lucky that you presented me with such a large opportunity.
12. It couldn’t have come at a better time.
13. It didn’t hurt that I was actually getting paid for services rendered.
14. When I was running out of gas, you’d always encourage me to just plow through it.
15. None of on staff now were original KSK-ers. I know it was probably difficult onboarding all of us new writers at once, but you were always mindful of the step-children.
16. One of my favorite running gags was telling someone they’d “eaten their breakfast” that morning after a particularly good joke. That’s a strong community you created, Ape. We were always looking out for each other’s protein intake.
17. So as we say goodbye, I can’t help but sit back and reminisce on my time at KSK. I want to take it all in again.
18. All the weird things you let me take a whack at.
19. All the ball gags.
20. Seriously, though – Ape, I can’t truly thank you enough for taking a chance on me almost two years ago. KSK was a place I’d read and admired for a long time, a place inhabited by talented, funny writers and readers, and to be a part of something like that was an experience I’ll always hold onto dearly. I really was someone without much experience looking to do a little writing again, and I couldn’t have been more blessed to have a place like KSK there to do it. A good boss or editor frees someone from all the other stuff and sets them up with an opportunity to focus on their work, to become the best they can be. I think we’d all agree you did that and more. I’m a better writer and a funnier person than I was two years ago. I can’t imagine a version of KSK without Christmas Ape, which is why today will be my last day here too. We’re pulling out together.