Vooza turns 150

Holy moly, we've made 150 (!) episodes of our Vooza show. Crazy. Here's the 150th which is about the latest pukey buzzword in the tech world: Storytelling. Good time to say I'm so proud of the awesome/hilarious team that makes it all happen. It's so cool to be able to give comics I love a platform to show what they can do (especially when they take some pretty iffy scripts and spin 'em into gold). And Jesse Scaturro is a hero who does an amazing job directing and editing it all. Can't believe this lil' experiment has turned into a legit show with millions of views and led to companies like Turkish Airlines and Mailchimp hiring us to make cool shit for them and it's kinda been like film school for me so thanks to everyone involved. More fun stuff on the way too. Onward!

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CK on the opposite of a cringe

CK: The opposite of a cringe = take a deep breath and walk in there


You show the fat lady approaching, then you show the banana peel...

Great story about a conversation between the Hollywood screenwriter Charles MacArthur and Charlie Chaplin.

“How, for example, could I make a fat lady, walking down Fifth Avenue, slip on a banana peel and still get a laugh? It’s been done a million times,” said MacArthur. “What’s the best way to get the laugh? Do I show first the banana peel, then the fat lady approaching, then she slips? Or do I show the fat lady first, then the banana peel, and then she slips?”

“Neither,” said Chaplin without a moment’s hesitation. “You show the fat lady approaching; then you show the banana peel; then you show the fat lady and the banana peel together; then she steps over the banana peel and disappears down a manhole.”

via MQ


How do we pay the bills at Vooza?

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Steven Pressfield on art, fear, resistance, hacks, and what it takes to be a professional

Derek Sivers wrote up notes on The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. Really interesting stuff. Some of my fave bits below...

It’s not the writing part that’s hard. What’s hard is sitting down to write.

We don’t tell ourselves, “I’m never going to write my symphony.” Instead we say, “I am going to write my symphony; I’m just going to start tomorrow.”

Fundamentalism and art are mutually exclusive. There is no such thing as fundamentalist art.

Those who will not govern themselves are condemned to find masters to govern over them.

Inside the Actors Studio: The host, James Lipton, invariably asks his guests, “What factors make you decide to take a particular role?” The actor always answers: “Because I’m afraid of it.” The professional tackles the project that will make him stretch. He takes on the assignment that will bear him into uncharted waters, compel him to explore unconscious parts of himself. Is he scared? Hell, yes. He’s petrified. (Conversely, the professional turns down roles that he’s done before. He’s not afraid of them anymore. Why waste his time?) So if you’re paralyzed with fear, it’s a good sign. It shows you what you have to do.

If you’re feeling massive Resistance, the good news is, it means there’s tremendous love there too. If you didn’t love the project that is terrifying you, you wouldn’t feel anything.

The more psychic energy we expend dredging and re-dredging the tired, boring injustices of our personal lives, the less juice we have to do our work.

Amateur comes from the Latin root meaning “to love.” The conventional interpretation is that the amateur pursues his calling out of love, while the pro does it for money. Not the way I see it. In my view, the amateur does not love the game enough. If he did, he would not pursue it as a sideline, distinct from his “real” vocation. The professional loves it so much he dedicates his life to it. He commits full-time. That’s what I mean when I say turning pro. Resistance hates it when we turn pro.

The artist committing himself to his calling has volunteered for hell: a diet of isolation, rejection, self-doubt, despair, ridicule, contempt, and humiliation.

The qualities that define us as professionals?
1) We show up every day.
2) We show up no matter what.
3) We stay on the job all day. Our minds may wander, but our bodies remain at the wheel.
6) We accept remuneration for our labor. We’re not here for fun. We work for money.
7) We do not overidentify with our jobs.
8) We master the technique of our jobs.

The professional, though he accepts money, does his work out of love. He has to love it. Otherwise he wouldn’t devote his life to it of his own free will. The professional has learned, however, that too much love can be a bad thing. Too much love can make him choke. The seeming detachment of the professional, the cold-blooded character to his demeanor, is a compensating device to keep him from loving the game so much that he freezes in action. Playing for money, or adopting the attitude of one who plays for money, lowers the fever.

Professional respects his craft. He does not consider himself superior to it. He wants to be in possession of the full arsenal of skills when inspiration does come.

The most important thing about art is to work. Nothing else matters except sitting down every day and trying.

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it. Begin it now.”

A hack, he says, is a writer who second-guesses his audience. When the hack sits down to work, he doesn’t ask himself what’s in his own heart. He asks what the market is looking for. The hack condescends to his audience. He thinks he’s superior to them. The truth is, he’s scared to death of them or, more accurately, scared of being authentic in front of them, scared of writing what he really feels or believes, what he himself thinks is interesting.


Some interviews with me


I'm in LA this week doing shows at UCB, Little Joy, etc.


Lonnie Dama (Business Shaman) presents: Mo' Focus, Mo' Money

I gave a talk at the The East Meets West Medicine Fest in character as Lonnie Dama (Business Shaman) and explained to a roomful of yogis, healers, doctors, and other assorted hippies how they could use ancient wisdom to make modern profits, my Reiki work with Vladimir Putin, and the importance of starting each day with a Long Island Ayahuasca (a mixture of LSD, psilocybin, peyote, ketamine, DMT, molly, and bath salts). Enjoy!

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Seinfeld on how good comedians need a kill instinct


How to write semi-scripted comedy a la Larry David

Jeff Schaffer (The League) talks about creating semi-scripted productions.

I learned how to write comedy from Larry [David] and Jerry [Seinfeld] and it was all about structure. Structure, structure, structure. A Seinfeld episode and a Curb episode and a League episode are all written the exact same way: Working out a structure on a dry erase board, figuring out what the scenes are and what the beats of the scene are, making this sort of comedy geometry out of all the stories. The same thing we did with Seinfeld—"We need a Jerry story, we need a George story, we need an Elaine story"—it’s the same thing we do on The League. We need stories for all the guys. And you figure out what’s funny about the story and all the intersections and connections that make it a satisfying 22 minutes, and put all that in an outline...

Here’s the way The League works: we write an outline and it’s 10 to 12 pages for a 21-minute show. It’s got all the scenes in it: what happens in the scenes, a lot of jokes, and a lot of specific lines. The first time we're doing the scene, it's basically like rehearsing on film. Everyone’s sort of feeling out his or her spots and you do a little air-traffic control. "Okay, let him say that. You're saying these things way too early. Maybe say that after this." You’re figuring out where everything goes. After people start revving up, the trick is to always leave room for amazing digressions. That’s where the magic happens.

Good line from it: "Shooting a show is like getting mugged in an alley: it’s really fast and you can’t remember what happened."


Old people using Snapchat

When you watch someone over 35 try to figure out how to use Snapchat, it looks a lot like this...

Posted by Matt Ruby on Friday, February 26, 2016


These kids today

We're all bitching that college kids today are way too sensitive and I get that – especially when my new trans joke, which I'm pretty sure is great, doesn't work because an audience of dudes who look like they make artisanal chocolate sitting with girls dressed like Debbie Harry refuse to go with me simply because I mentioned the word "trans."

But then I stop and think: Have college kids ever been on the wrong side of history? Civil rights, Vietnam, apartheid, women's/gay rights, etc. They seem to have a pretty good track record of being right while the olds try to lecture them about how they just don't get it.

But damn, I really wanna hang onto that trans joke. I may just start ending sets by telling that joke, watching it bomb, and replying, "And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren't for you meddling kids."

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How rappers are like entrepreneurs

Watch out, Kanye and Zuckerberg. Jordan Temple and I get all hip hop in the newest Vooza video.


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Billy Collins: Get influenced by people who make you jealous

Poet Billy Collins on finding your voice:

Your voice has an external source. It is not lying within you. It is lying in other people’s poetry. It is lying on the shelves of the library. To find your voice, you need to read deeply. You need to look inside yourself, of course, for material, because poetry is something that honors subjectivity. It honors your interiority. It honors what’s inside. But to find a way to express that, you have to look outside yourself.

Read widely, read all the poetry you can get your hands on. And in your reading, you’re searching for something. Not so much your voice. You’re searching for poets that make you jealous. Professors of writing call this “literary influence.” It’s jealousy. And it’s with every art, whether you play the saxophone, or do charcoal drawings. You’re looking to get influenced by people who make you furiously jealous.

Read widely. Find poets that make you envious. And then copy them. Try to get like them.

You know, you read a great poem in a magazine somewhere, and you just can’t stand the fact that you didn’t write it. What do you do? Well, you can’t get whiteout, and blank out the poet’s name and write yours in — that’s not fair. But you can say, “Okay, I didn’t write that poem, let me write a poem like that, that’s sort of my version of that.” And that’s basically the way you grow.

Read the full quote here.


Negotiating with The Marx Brothers

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Jim Carrey takes over the room


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David Bowie and authenticity

Maybe being authentic is overrated?


The lesson David Bowie taught a young Luther Vandross: "Their reaction isn't the point. What you do is the point."

How David Bowie influenced a young Luther Vandross:

Bowie’s ‘plastic soul’ phase saw him embracing a young singer and songwriter, Luther Vandross, with whom he co-wrote Young Americans. Vandross became a key part of Bowie’s vocal arrangements, and benefited from the star’s career advice. Vandross once told me that on tour, “Bowie told me to go out there and sing five original songs every night with the band before he went on, and for 45 minutes each night I'd hear, ‘Bowie!’”.

“I said to him, ‘Listen, man, if you want to kill me, just use cyanide, but don't send me out there again.’ And Bowie just said, ‘Hey, I'm giving you a chance to get in touch with who you are. Their reaction isn't the point. What you do is the point.’”

Experimenting and bombing as a means to growing, innovating, and connecting.


Inspiration for comedy pilot scripts and some of the best ones written previously

Some good info on comedy pilot scripts and some of the best that've been done. (Interesting note: Paul Simms wrote the pilot for both News Radio and The Larry Sanders Show. Pretty impressive.)

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Why the mob loved to watch The Sopranos

Showtime is taking its new show Billions to the bankers and financiers on Wall Street and beyond.

"People love to see themselves, good or bad, depicted in popular entertainment," said Showtime's evp and CMO Don Buckley. "I remember reading quotes years ago about how the mob loved to watch The Sopranos."

I've noticed this with Vooza too. Sometimes people will ask, "Don't people in the tech world get mad at you for making fun of them?" And I've never actually experienced this. If anything, it's the opposite. People who work in the tech world day to day respond to it the most. They never go "You're making fun of me." They go "I know someone like that."

It's an interesting phenomenon to me. We all relate to the same issues and see people doing bad things but rarely do we look in the mirror and say, "I am the problem."

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We live different lives

These two posts were next to each other in my Facebook feed this morning.

Posted by Matt Ruby on Monday, January 4, 2016

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The power of silence, eye contact, and slowing down

7 Powerful Public Speaking Tips From One of the Most-Watched TED Talks Speakers:

1. Don’t talk right away.
Sinek says you should never talk as you walk out on stage. “A lot of people start talking right away, and it’s out of nerves,” Sinek says. “That communicates a little bit of insecurity and fear.”

Instead, quietly walk out on stage. Then take a deep breath, find your place, wait a few seconds and begin. “I know it sounds long and tedious and it feels excruciatingly awkward when you do it,” Sinek says, “but it shows the audience you’re totally confident and in charge of the situation.”


3. Make eye contact with audience members one by one.
Scanning and panning is your worst enemy, says Sinek. “While it looks like you’re looking at everyone, it actually disconnects you from your audience.”

It’s much easier and effective, he says, if you directly look at specific audience members throughout your speech. If you can, give each person that you intently look at an entire sentence or thought, without breaking your gaze. When you finish a sentence, move on to another person and keep connecting with individual people until you’re done speaking.

“It’s like you’re having a conversation with your audience," says Sinek. "You’re not speaking at them, you’re speaking with them."

This tactic not only creates a deeper connection with individuals but the entire audience can feel it.

Also liked the tip about focusing on folks who are digging you. It's way too easy to focus on the one guy who ain't into it.


Top 10 Vooza videos of 2015

Here are the top 10 Vooza videos of 2015, ranked by number of views at Vooza.

More at Vooza.com.

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Vooza's a unicorn (i.e. worth over $1 billion)

Vooza’s now worth over $1 billion dollars which means it’s a “unicorn” which means it’s time to celebrate. Also, everything on the internet is true.

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Lupe Fiasco on art vs. commerce and the Drake/Meek Mill beef

Ok, I admit it: Nothing is whiter than Wikipedia-ing "drake meek mill beef." Yet here we are. I found these thoughts from Lupe Fiasco about commercialism, craft, and the struggle for success to be resonant for comics and other artists too.

The Haunting. A Letter Part 1 of 2 To rappers from a rapper...simply write your own rhymes as much as you can if you are able. Ghostwriting, or borrowing lines, or taking suggestions from the room has always been in rap and will always be in rap. It is nothing to go crazy over or be offended about unless you are someone who postures him or herself on the importance of authenticity and tries to portray that quality to your fans or the public at large. Then we might have a problem. Some of the most pivotal moments in rap have been ghostwritten verses. This leads to a bigger point. Rapping is not an easy thing to do. It's takes years of work and trial and error to master some of its finer points. Respect from other MC's comes in many formats. Sales, live performances, realness etc but the one thing that is the most important is the raps themselves at least in the eyes of other serious rappers. The phrase "I'm not a rapper" gets thrown around as if it's a badge of honor. And that's fine. If rap is a side hustle for you or just a come up then by all means may the force be with you. But I know a lot of MC's where rap is the first love and the first thing they think about when they wake up and the last thing they think about when they go to sleep. Rappers who pursue the art form with this level of intention may not become rich and famous off selling their raps to a wide audience but that has never been an accepted metric to begin with in terms of quality or level of skill. The vast majority of rappers will never sell 100 records in their lifetimes let alone millions. But that's not the point, the point is that what pursuing the craft gives us in terms of the intangibles is something that record sales or fame could never represent. We achieve a mastery of language and poetics that competes on the highest levels of discourse across the entirety of human history. We express ourselves creatively and attain a sense of liberation and self-esteem via this sacred mode of creation and communication.

A photo posted by Lupe Fiasco - Bogglin' Giblets (@lupefiasco) on

Part 2 Of 2 Modern Radio and the commercial realm of music has injured rap. It set up ambiguous rules and systems for success that don't take into consideration the quality and skill of the rappers craft. It redefined rap as just being a beat driven hook with some words in between and an entire generation has surrendered to chasing the format instead of chasing the art form. While mastering any format should be the pursuit of any self-respecting rapper including the commercial format it must be kept clear that it is just one of many formats and that you should strive to master all of them. The art form is kept alive and progressive in the activities of the tens of thousands of rappers around the world who are everyday trying to think of that next witty bar. Trying to put that crazy verse together while at work. Trying to find that word that rhymes with catapult so they can finish off that vivid story rap about their childhood. Meek Mill struck a nerve accusing Drake of having a ghostwriter and the entire rap world reacted on all sides of the fence because rap is alive. It's active and it feels. Its rules and traditions are vibrant and responsive. I enjoy both these brothers music and find inspiration and appreciation from both of them. I remember being in Toronto at Goodfoot years ago and it was a stack of CD's on the counter and the guy behind the counter was like "Lupe you gotta take this CD. It's my mans mixtape." I didn't really pay it any mind I took it to the car and looked it over and just kind of set it aside focused on other things. I vividly remember saying "what kind of rap name is Drake?" The rest is history. Once while in Philly I went to do an interview in a shabby and very hood basement studio complex. I peeked into one of the rooms and it was this tall kid with his shirt off bouncing up and down in the booth with an energy that was electric. I gave him my regards. He gave them back. I think I mentioned something about him cutting his dreads. As I left I remember him rapping something about being a boss. The rest is history. At the end of the day, for better or worse, rap is alive even if some of its greatest moments are written by ghosts.

A photo posted by Lupe Fiasco - Bogglin' Giblets (@lupefiasco) on


Do you want to see my Grandma’s lingerie?

“Do you want to see my Grandma’s lingerie?” is a question I ask surprisingly often. Read this if you want to find out why. It's a story I wrote about family, love, forgiveness, psychedelics, and evening wear.


An open letter to red state governors that don't want any Syrian refugees

No one wants to blow up your damn grain silos. ISIS isn't sitting around saying, "We could blow up the Capitol building...orrrrrrr we could target this water tower an hour outside of Des Moines." Your targets are vulnerable for a reason: No one cares about them. If we get attacked again, it's gonna be in NYC, DC, or LA, so just settle down because us blue staters are the ones who are actually in danger and we're not getting all hysterical about letting in a few people who are trying to escape a tyrant. NYC has tons of Arabs and the only time it scares me is when I eat at a Halal stand that's been letting raw meat just sit there all day because I'm pretty sure that dirty kebabs are a more legitimate threat to my health than dirty bombs.


This is the theme to Garry Shandling's Show


This is the theme to Garry's Show,
The theme to Garry's show.
Garry called me up and asked if I would write his theme song.
I'm almost halfway finished,
How do you like it so far,
How do you like the theme to Garry's Show.

This is the theme to Garry's Show,
The opening theme to Garry's show.
This is the music that you hear as you watch the credits.
We're almost to the part of where I start to whistle.
Then we'll watch "It's Garry Shandling's Show".


This was the theme to Garry Shandling's show.

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Presentation: "Laugh it up: how to use humor & native advertising to get noticed"

Me ➜ at a marketing conference in Nashville ➜ "Laugh it up: how to use humor & native advertising to get noticed". Description:

Laugh it up: how to use humor and native advertising to get noticed

CAUTION: Drinking beverages of any kind while watching Matt Ruby’s session may result in liquid spewing all over your screen due to uncontrolled laughter. In one of the most popular sessions at Marketing United, Matt shares tips for adding humor to your marketing to grab attention and personalize your brand. He also plays clips from Vooza, his video comic strip that spoofs tech startups. They’re awesome, smart and hilarious – you’ve been warned.

Geared toward marketing folks who want to learn how to make stuff that doesn't suck.

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Anthony Bourdain advice on filming and mojo

Anthony Bourdain profile in GQ offers up some good advice for filming comedy stuff too.

“Bourdain calls his crew — three producers and two cameramen in mobile E-Z Rigs — his Quick Reaction Force, and they’re excellent at capturing the feel of a location while remaining respectful and unobtrusive.

“I’ve said a million times that I’d rather miss the shot than disturb the mojo,” Bourdain says. “If you’re stopping people to move a light, it fucks up the dynamic and the spontaneity. You end up with a show that looks like everybody else’s.”

The mojo is more important than the quality of the shot. Funny trumps all so don't sweat the visuals so much.


I'll be doing shows in Providence and Boston this weekend

Let's eat some chowder. Click links for tickets.

FRI 11/6 (Providence)
SAT 11/7 (Boston)
SUN 11/8 (Boston)


Giving terrible advice as the founder of Vooza

Couple of recent Vooza videos starring ME. First one filmed live in front of 2k people in Amsterdam...

Next Generation Marketing
Millenials? Been there. Generation Z? Done that. In this conference talk, Vooza’s CEO explains how to reach the next generation with your marketing.

Founder Tips: Innorupt
Vooza’s founder gives a crazy email tip, explains how to write a mission statement, and shows how to combine innovation and disruption. #innorupt

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What Neil deGrasse Tyson has learned from standup comedians

Jay Welch writes in: "I was reading an interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson on Vox where he talks about handheld vs lavalier mics, and I thought it was an interesting snippet that might fit well on Sandpaper Suit. Thought I'd pass it along. Interesting way to think about the mic that we don't hear often."

Todd VanDerWerff: What have you learned in working with stand-up comedians that you've taken into your own speaking gigs?

Neil deGrasse Tyson: [...] [W]hat I get from comedians are things like timing and how we know that one word is funnier than another word. It could be simple things like, does the word rhyme with some other word you just used or little things that I see them invoke in their craft.

At a minimum, for example, the host might say, "Would you like a lavalier mic?" [a small microphone usually clipped to one's clothing] and I say, "No, I want a handheld mic." Have you ever offered a lavalier mic to a stand-up comedian? No, they want the handheld mic. The handheld mic is a prop, it's a tool, it's a device. Your imagination can make it something in the moment.

Related: I think it's weird that late night spots are often the first time a comic tells jokes without holding a mic.


On Jews, Buddhists, faith, and source code

I've been thinking a lot about soul, faith, mindfulness, meditation, psychedelics, and ego lately. Maybe residue from my ayahuasca adventures, maybe not.

This has led me to examine my relationship to Judaism more than I ever did in the past. I've always been in the "I'm a cultural Jew but not a religious Jew" camp. But I've been thinking about the artists I love and how many of them are Jewish. Comedians: Larry David, Woody Allen, Howard Stern, Garry Shandling. Non-comedians: Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Mark Rothko, Marc Chagall, etc. Seems like I really enjoy the "app" of Jewishness, so I've been wondering if I should look more at the source code.

Along those lines, I've been reading up and found some of this to be interesting stuff for a curious but non-believing Jew who's got a hankering for some spirituality.

1) Letters to a Buddhist Jew

Their year-long correspondence resulted in Letters to a Buddhist Jew, a lively, rigorous conversation on spirituality seasoned with humor.

This is an important book on many levels, but for secular Jews with a spiritual yearning, it illuminates realms of Judaism they may never have known existed, some of which have much in common with aspects of Buddhism. Whatever choices they make, this book will engross readers and advance their understanding of both religions.

2) Next Year in Jerusalem

In the spring of 1975, my brother Michael, then 24, was on his way home from his third trip through Asia when he arrived in Israel, planning to stay a few weeks before heading back to New York. On April 28th, he wrote to our parents: “I’ve been staying at, of all things, an Orthodox Jewish yeshiva — when I got to Jerusalem I went to visit the Wailing Wall and got invited - they hang around there looking for unsuspecting tourists to proselytize. It’s sort of a Jewish Jesus-freak type outfit - dedicated to bringing real Judaism to backsliding Jews. I haven’t been especially impressed by the message, but it’s been a really interesting week.” On June 4th, he wrote me, “I’ve had my lack of faith shaken.”

I enjoyed both those greatly and found overlap in my questions about zen, psychedelics, judaism, faith, etc. Reading that book now too.

Oh, and this podcast has been touching on spirituality and occasionally on Jew stuff in a way i've found intriguing…

3) On Being: The Refreshing Practice of Repentance

The High Holy Days create an annual ritual of repentance, both individual and collective. Louis Newman, who has explored repentance as an ethicist and a person in recovery, opens this up as a refreshing practice for every life, even beyond the lifetime of those to whom we would make amends.

And lastly, celebrities…they're just like us!

4) David Gregory's Search for God


Lee Daniels on white vs. black crowds

Why Lee Daniels Thinks Shows Without Diversity Are “Bullshit”:

Daniels said that, in every level of the film and TV worlds, he’s found people who aren’t quite picking up what he’s putting down and chalks that up to a fundamental difference between the black and white perspective. Daniels’s harrowing Oscar contender, Precious, played as a comedy to “a group of 800 black people” during an early screening. But when the film played at Sundance, Daniels said, “It was a lily-white audience. And you could hear a pin drop. It was ‘art.’

Interesting perspective.


People don't like the smartest guy in the room

In The Psyche on Automatic, Amy Cuddy talks about why trying to seem smart won't always get people on your side. Seems relevant to standup also. Talking about how dumb you are (see Regan or Burr) is a better way to get people to go with ya then coming out with facts and figures.

Leaders often see themselves as separate from their audiences, says Cuddy. “They want to stake out a position and then try to move audiences toward them. That’s not effective.” At the business school, she notes, many students tend “to overemphasize the importance of projecting high competence--they want to be the smartest guy in the room. They’re trying to be dominant. Clearly there are advantages to feeling and seeing yourself as powerful and competent--you’ll be more confident, more willing to take risks. And it’s important for others to perceive you as strong and competent. That said, you don’t have to prove that you’re the most dominant, most competent person there. In fact, it’s rarely a good idea to strive to show everyone that you’re the smartest guy in the room: that person tends to be less creative, and less cognitively open to other ideas and people.”

(via APYSK)



All these fertility drugs are leading to tons of twins being born and I wonder why we aren't talking about this more. What happens when a significant portion of the population are twins? They'll all be reading each other's minds, marrying women with the same names, and doing Danny Devito and Arnold Schwarzenegger stuff. And then in 20 years, we won't even notice that people are having lots of triplets and then eventually women will just give birth to an entire tribe and there will be self-driving Tesla minivans to take them to Space Diving practice and the future scares me.


Those who can, do. Those who can't, hold meetings.

New Vooza video.

Reminds me of how comedy industry folks constantly are taking meetings that never go anywhere. They get to say they've done their job. "I had five meetings today." Meanwhile, it's just a waste of the other person's time. Beware of folks who make a living by wasting your time on the slight chance it MIGHT wind up one day being a fruitful relationship.

Planned Parenthood and dudes

Hey fellas, Planned Parenthood has been really, really good to your dick. Y'all need to speak up too. Birth control and abortions are two of your best friends unless you really dig condoms and giving up on your dreams. I know they mostly do cancer screenings and other lady parts stuff but I wish it was just 100% birth control and abortions so I could scream, "HELL YEAH GIVE ME MORE, you goddamn pussy angels." ‪#‎StandwithPP‬


“New York’s Funniest Stand Up” open call

From Caroline's:

The search is on for New York’s funniest comedians and comedic performers! Launched in 2008 as part of the annual New York Comedy Festival, the “New York’s Funniest Stand Up” competition is open to any and all performers who think that have what it takes to be called “New York’s Funniest.”

There will be an open call audition at Carolines on Broadway (1626 Broadway between 49th and 50th Streets) on Tuesday, October 6 starting at 9:00 AM. Participants will perform up to 2 minutes of their original material before a panel of industry judges.

20 performers from the open call will be selected to advance to 2 semi-final rounds on Tuesday, October 20 at Carolines on Broadway. 10 performers from the semi-final rounds will be selected to advance and perform in the final round, which will be held on November 15 at 4:00 PM at Carolines on Broadway as part of the 2015 New York Comedy Festival.


10 things I’ve been thinking about life, love, and relationships lately

High holidays time and I was asked to write a short piece on relationships for a Jew publication. What I came up with:


Here are 10 things I’ve been thinking about life, love, and relationships lately...

1) There’s a book a palliative care doctor wrote explaining what people actually care about when they’re dying. And there are four things that matter: Please forgive me. I forgive you. Thank you. I love you. Those are the things we actually care about with the people we love. Probably wise to keep that in mind every day.

2) Tinder is just another video game. It is Angry Birds but with people.

3) I think that trilogy of movies that Richard Linklater/Ethan Hawke/Julie Delpy did reveal more about the reality of relationships than any of the silly rom coms Hollywood puts out..“Before Sunset” is my fave.

4) Dance more. People who dance a lot never seem that sad. They have a way to let it go. And if you don’t dance, find another way to let it go. Because it’s building up in there..Also, if you’re a dude: Twirl your woman. Gals love to be twirled.

5) Every time a woman posts a photo of an engagement ring on Facebook, a feminist loses her wings.

6) A good relationship is like cooking with a cast iron pan. You keep building up the seasoning in there and then you are cooking in your past and all the flavors from your previous experiences seep into your current experience and things get more complex and deeper and delicious in a way that teflon can’t reproduce. That’s the sweet part about being with someone for the long haul. When you make love, you wind up making love to every other time you’ve made love.

7) Our culture overemphasizes happiness as the ultimate goal. It’s all Pharell songs and self-help books and that’s cool and all but if you never experience sadness than you never experience joy. You need dynamics, otherwise it’s all the same. If all the type on a page is bold, then nothing really stands out. So try to find the right balance of happy/sad instead of relentlessly pursuing some plastic version of joy.

8) You keep looking for the answer but you already know.

9) Get into nature more. The problem with the city is we’ve traded trees for therapists and trees are much better listeners.

10) Text messaging is creating a lot of frustration in our relationships. It is a very low bandwidth form of communication compared to actually looking someone in the eyes and speaking to them. I wonder how much psychic pain is caused by the illusion of connectedness we get from [bzzzzz]...hang on, just got a text...


High kicks forever

My buddy Jake died last week. In Chicago, he used to play drums and I'd play guitar and he was sloppy but good and hit the drums hard and danced around the beat but never lost it. He reminded me of a cross between Keith Moon and Peter Sellers. Then he moved to NYC shortly after me and we used to listen to records and see rock shows and watch football together.

He had a light about him. Everybody loved Jake. He flowed through the room. He had long hair and, often, a mustache. Something about him glowed. He could really seduce you with that.

He introduced me to a ton of great music. Weird avant garde German instrumental shit from the sixties and underground psychedelic stoner rock. He had vinyl flowing through his blood. He told me about Wooden Shjips and Cave and Cluster and other bands I never would have found and wound up on repeat in my life.

He once ordered a bunch of Russian wooden crates off the internet and then spent the next year trying to sell these crates to everyone he knew. You could use them as a table. Or a bookshelf. Or whatever. And they had Russian printed on the side. He never sold ya hard. But if you needed a crate, he was your man.

He also would sell other stuff. He had a store on Amazon. Books that were signed and promo CDs and other random crap. He was always buying and selling stuff and working the angles. He couldn't handle working a real job. He had to carve out his own groove.

And we'd watch football together. He liked the Bears and the Jets. It'd be the middle of winter and we'd be watching the games and he'd fire up the grill and make pizzas on it and roast shrimp kebabs and give us some of his home brewed beer that he made under his bed. One time I had people over on my roof and he brought a neon Jets sign to light up the roof. For the next three years, we talked about that neon Jets sign every time I saw him.

And he dated and lived with Gina, one of my best friends and someone I knew even before Jake. They showed me what it's like to be a resilient couple who goes for it over the long haul while I spent years bouncing around relationships. I remember the first night she emailed me about him after their first date and how she referred to him as "the young turk." It's one of the best emails I've ever read and I'm sad I don't have a copy of it. I just remember grinning the entire time. Jake had a way of making everyone around him grin.

I think about The Beach Boys song "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times" when I think of Jake. He belonged in the sixties or seventies, not now. Same thing geographically. He loved the city but I think it was too much for him. He should have been on a tractor somewhere. He was so sensitive. I think he wanted to swim under the current so it was tough for him to deal with a world full of waves.

He took drugs. Lots of 'em. He said he had back problems and so he needed something for the pain. I never really knew what he was doing. We'd smoke weed but the rest of it he hid from me. Later on, I'd hear about trips to the methadone clinic and trying to kick stuff and most of the time he seemed fine but once in a while I felt like he wasn't all there. He died of a heroin overdose. I wasn't too shocked. He had been spinning out for a while there at the end. He moved back to Chicago. I hadn't talked to him in a while.

He used to do high kicks. Everyone had to back off and give him space. And then he'd launch into the air and kick his leg over his head. Total seventies rocker move and it seemed like the world would freeze for a split second when he did it. Then he'd land and we'd all laugh. It was a joke but it wasn't. That high kick was as beautiful as any dance move I've ever seen. I love you Jake. Rock on.


Comedy questions about fear, mistakes, and books

From a reader:

Hi Matt, do you have checklists or techniques you use as a reference in the creation process?
Nah, I mostly have an organic writing process now. I keep notes in a notebook and in a web app and then I sometimes will talk ‘em out at home but mostly I’ll try to do ‘em onstage and see if the crowd responds and then hone and tweak from there. I think I was a little bit more meticulous about developing bits when I was greener though.

Your favorite comedians?
Bill Burr, Doug Stanhope, Norm Macdonald, Nate Bargatze, John Mulaney, Chris Rock, Patrice Oneal, Greg Giraldo, and Paul F. Tompkins.

Books you recommend to learn comedy techniques?
Born Standing Up is good. And those Mike Sacks interview books are good reads. But you gotta do it to learn I think.

2-3 mistakes to avoid?
Don’t go for clapter. Laughs are better than applause.
Stop talking so much. Cut words. Go from A to B as quickly as you can.
Don’t take rejection personally. It’s usually apathy, not antipathy. Part of this game is not getting what you want.

How did you deal with fear on stage.
I like fear. It makes me feel alive. You’re not in Afghanistan. It’s just a stage and the worst thing that can happen is they start checking their phones. We’re all gonna die anyway so wheeeeeeeeeeeee…

Live set from The Knitting Factory

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Profile of me in Splitsider: "Comedy as a Startup"

Comedy as a Startup is a Splitsider profile on yours truly and the shows I produce. Well researched piece! Excerpt:

So it was with great joy and a few droplets of pain that I devoured the web series Vooza in more or less the afternoon I discovered it. Here is the startup world in all its sleek hubris and ridiculous jargon, its mosaic of turtlenecks and button-downs, its insistent self-congratulatory self-congratulation...

Like Vooza, Club Scale is directed by (Jesse) Scaturro with a sleekness befitting of the world it skewers. (Joe) List and (Dan) Soder bring a disorienting honesty that speaks to Ruby’s love for Christopher Guest; they’re almost adorable, in fact, once you overlook their characters’ unabashed dickery. This is sort of true of the series as a whole, though: behind the flashing lights and dancing bodies is the distinct feel of just some buddies hanging out.

The piece also says I am birthing "a bizarre new model for indie comedy." Well, that explains these cramps.

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