Wayne Dyer

Sad to hear of the passing of Dr. Wayne Dyer. I remember watching him on PBS as a kid and thinking he was some weird, barefoot, bald, hippie dude spouting new agey crap to a bunch of old folks. Yet I couldn't turn it off because he'd be talking about ancient Chinese texts, Persian poets, Lao Tzu, being connected to source, dying while you're alive, and by the end of the whole thing I felt like I'd brushed up against something deeper and more important than anything else that was on TV.

And given our current outrage culture, I often recall his advice to stop looking for opportunities to be offended. He wrote, "When you feel offended, you're practicing judgment. You judge someone else to be stupid, insensitive, rude, arrogant, inconsiderate, or foolish, and then you find yourself upset and offended by their conduct. What you may not realize is that when you judge another person, you do not define them. You define yourself as someone who needs to judge others."


Trigger words and audiences that shut down

Audiences are starting to just shut down at certain words more and more. Just say the word "rape" or "vagina" or "black" and a segment of people shut down. "That's not funny." Not all of 'em, but more of 'em. As another comic I know put it: "It's the same way some audiences don't listen on a joke that has a trigger word and normally crushes and they look at u like a racist..... Like you idiots this joke crushes and black people laugh at it 99% of the time."

The Coddling of the American Mind in The Atlantic touches on trigger words and this attitude. "In the name of emotional well-being, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they don’t like. Here’s why that’s disastrous for education—and mental health." (via NB)

However, there is a deeper problem with trigger warnings. According to the most-basic tenets of psychology, the very idea of helping people with anxiety disorders avoid the things they fear is misguided. A person who is trapped in an elevator during a power outage may panic and think she is going to die. That frightening experience can change neural connections in her amygdala, leading to an elevator phobia. If you want this woman to retain her fear for life, you should help her avoid elevators.

But if you want to help her return to normalcy, you should take your cues from Ivan Pavlov and guide her through a process known as exposure therapy. You might start by asking the woman to merely look at an elevator from a distance—standing in a building lobby, perhaps—until her apprehension begins to subside. If nothing bad happens while she’s standing in the lobby—if the fear is not “reinforced”—then she will begin to learn a new association: elevators are not dangerous. (This reduction in fear during exposure is called habituation.) Then, on subsequent days, you might ask her to get closer, and on later days to push the call button, and eventually to step in and go up one floor. This is how the amygdala can get rewired again to associate a previously feared situation with safety or normalcy.

Students who call for trigger warnings may be correct that some of their peers are harboring memories of trauma that could be reactivated by course readings. But they are wrong to try to prevent such reactivations. Students with PTSD should of course get treatment, but they should not try to avoid normal life, with its many opportunities for habituation. Classroom discussions are safe places to be exposed to incidental reminders of trauma (such as the word violate). A discussion of violence is unlikely to be followed by actual violence, so it is a good way to help students change the associations that are causing them discomfort. And they’d better get their habituation done in college, because the world beyond college will be far less willing to accommodate requests for trigger warnings and opt-outs.

The expansive use of trigger warnings may also foster unhealthy mental habits in the vastly larger group of students who do not suffer from PTSD or other anxiety disorders. People acquire their fears not just from their own past experiences, but from social learning as well. If everyone around you acts as though something is dangerous—elevators, certain neighborhoods, novels depicting racism—then you are at risk of acquiring that fear too. The psychiatrist Sarah Roff pointed this out last year in an online article for The Chronicle of Higher Education. “One of my biggest concerns about trigger warnings,” Roff wrote, “is that they will apply not just to those who have experienced trauma, but to all students, creating an atmosphere in which they are encouraged to believe that there is something dangerous or damaging about discussing difficult aspects of our history.”

What I love about comedy is that we can dive into these topics and fears and bring out deeper insights. If we can't even talk about this stuff, we're all going to just get more scared to "go there" and that can't be good. We should be able to discuss racism, sexism, violence or whatever on stage. That's how we can all get to a better place with dealing with these realities. If it's dangerous or damaging, that's great for comedy and for healing and it's a bummer that sorta thing is getting squeezed out of the standup game.


Obama and the good fight

I'm sick of people shitting on Obama. He’s a good man. Doesn’t that matter anymore? I want kids to see him and think, “I should act like that.” Because they are right. We all should act like that. He behaves like a grown up. He's been given an impossible task. Our government is completely dysfunctional and bought off. No one can fix it. So he does what he can and he carries himself with grace and dignity and tries to teach through his actions. And he laughs and makes jokes and sings Al Green and Amazing Grace and shoots hoops and he is a good father and behaves honorably and all of that is nothing to sneeze at. He’s making the best of a fucked up situation and he's putting up a fight in a gallant way. And if nothing else, there's a generation of children that have witnessed how a grown man is supposed to behave and there's incredible value to that. I love him and what he stands for. What he's doing is bigger than politics, it's about humanity.


Does comedy have to come from a place of pain? Jerry Seinfeld and Garry Shandling discuss...

Garry: I think that getting into in show business comes from some core dysfunction where you say, "I want to be seen."

Jerry: Or god forbid maybe you have some talent. God forbid maybe it's not all yawning chasms of human insecurity. Is it possible someone out there has some talent? And maybe they want to express that for the betterment of mankind!?

Garry: I think I hear rage.

Shandling's response (at :35) is just so goddamn perfect. Comedy, life, and the whole shebang. Shandling's WTF is amazing too btw.

In Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy, Judd Apatow discusses this exchange (via MK) like this:

Judd: In personality, it’s different. There are some guys who are kind of smart and witty and funny, and there are some guys who are just a little bit off, and there’s some guys who clearly got a beat-down at some point during their young life and that made them feel the need to get attention.

Charlie: And so which one is he?

Adam: So many of those.

Charlie: All of the above.

Judd: There is a moment on Garry Shandling’s DVD commentary for The Larry Sanders Show where he talks about this with Jerry Seinfeld and Jerry Seinfeld says to Garry, “Why can’t you be a comedian just because you’re talented and you’re smart and that’s why you’re a comedian?”

Charlie: That’s what I would ask, yes.

Judd: And Garry just goes, “Why so angry, Jerry?” I think that captures it.

Ya can also check out "The 12 Best Stories, From Stephen Colbert to Amy Schumer, in Judd Apatow’s Book Sick in the Head" [Vulture].

And here's the Phil Hartman acting coach sketch that Seinfeld raves about later in that video.

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Watch me on MTV's Girl Code

I was just on MTV's Girl Code giving menstruation tips. J/K, I was talking about diiiiiiicks. 🍆 Also, I wear an ugly suit and make fun of a guy with abs so, y'know, BIG STRETCH.

Get More:
Girl Code, Full Episodes

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What we can learn from the Fat Jew debacle

Re: Fat Jew, there's a lesson here for folks who hope the industry will help them "make it" in show business. Increasingly, the industry is just looking for someone who has a "platform." If you've got 5 million followers, they will give you a deal. Execs care about numbers more than talent or originality. They chase more than they create. They say things like, "If ‘Ghostbusters’ is still shooting, they should find a way to put in Amy Schumer." (That's an actual quote from Variety.) It's annoying but also liberating. You can lament the decisions of the gatekeepers or you can realize the gate is wide open already and make something that people dig and follow. Then, the gatekeepers will come to you and ask you if they can build a gate around the land you already own.

Update: Posted this stuff in replies at Facebook version of this post.

I don't think the quality of the content matters at all to these people. If you have the followers, they'll give you a deal. Figure out how to do that making stuff you're proud of...or be a butt model. The choice is yours!

Other than the whole stealing content thing (which is obvs terrible) this guy has done a brilliant job of building a platform and gaining followers though. Most comedians are terrible at doing this. We throw up occasional funny tweets and hope that they will magically turn into gold. This guy took a methodical, businesslike approach to building a platform and that is why the industry is interested in him. Comics could learn something from that aspect of the story. Josh Spector at Connected Comedy writes about this frequently. Comics would be wise to heed the advice being given there rather than just complaining about the injustice of joke thievery.

Too often, comics romanticize the industry as some sort of comedy guardian angel that will swoop down and turn them from a pumpkin into Cinderella. Truth is 90% of 'em are dudes looking at spreadsheets who say things like "We need to put Amy Schumer in a Ghostbusters reboot because LOOK AT THESE NUMBERS."

OK, hope this post goes VIRAL so I can say LOOK AT THESE NUMBERS. Also, I'm currently listening to The Smiths. "In my life, why do I give valuable time to people who don't care if I live or die?" Morrissey knows all.


The problem is your body

I used to watch the Dog Whisperer and was always amazed at how 80% of the time the problem with the dog wasn't mental, it was physical. The dog was a sheepherding dog or something and wanted to run around all day but his owner didn't let him so he started attacking skateboarders and shitting on the rug. I always felt the real lesson there was for humans, not for dogs.

I mean, I get it. We feel sad or depressed. So we blame our brains. But so often the problem is our bodies. We keep neglecting them. We keep repressing the things they want to let go. Our bodies want to laugh and cry and dance and fuck and sweat and create and take care of something and instead of letting it do these things, we are putting it in front of a screen and then putting it in front of a smaller screen and then putting it in front of a bigger screen and then getting in a taxi with a screen and then riding an elevator with a screen and then going to bar with a screen and all these screens are making us want to scream but capitalism convinces us that our own brains are the problem because it's easier to make money from selling pills than meditation or a hike in the woods or laughter or anything else that truly feeds one's soul.

All that sadness, anxiety, and depression we feel is a totally normal response to the environment we live in. That pain is our brains rioting against the oppression of our bodies. Pills may stop the riot, but the underlying cause will remain. And the thing about riots is they keep happening until you address the root cause.

Being emotionally connected to the words you’re saying

Radio/podcast guru Alex Blumberg gets interviewed.

There’s sometimes psychological reasons people tell stories badly. One element of good storying is being emotionally connected to the words you’re saying, but if people are in denial about something, or suppressing the emotions involved, the story can sound somehow flat and affectless.

Resonated with me about how jokes start to slowly die once they get codified. As soon as the words are locked in, I can feel the juice slip out of a bit and crowds slowly start to detect that and then you're back to a bit that doesn't work. For me, constantly tweaking or trying new tags is one solution to staying connected to the bit. Another is to just change the words. Keeps from going into that autopilot mode. Also, putting it on hiatus for a bit can help rejuvenate it later.


Inc. magazine interviews me about Vooza and making funny videos

In "Content May Be King, But Branded Video Content Rules Marketing Tactics," Inc. magazine interviews me about Vooza and how we make funny videos for companies. I offer some tips for creating video content at the end of the piece:

Looking to reach consumers on mobile? Then look to creating and consistently distributing valuable, relevant video content - and make it funny.

As for tips or tactical advice for content creators looking to connect with a targeted consumer audience on mobile, Ruby offers this guidance:

Start with the audience. Figure out who you’re trying to reach with your content and then reverse engineer from there. For example, we like going after Apple because Apple fans are so insane about their products.

Expect to roll out a lot of content consistently over time. It takes a while to build up an audience.
Get an email list going--it’s still the best way to reach fans.

Answer this question: “Why would people want to share this?” Because if people don’t share it organically, it probably won’t go far. For example, designers love sharing this CEO video with each other because they can all relate to the know-it-all CEO who thinks he/she knows best how to design a logo.

The more heavy-handed you are with the sales pitch, the less likely people are to share it. Let the funny lead the way whenever possible.

Don't be so fearful to push people's buttons. Have some edge. Make fun of people. HBO is great because there are no advertisers who say, “Don’t say that.”

Find your intersection. What's the thing that you can make that no one else can? That's your island. For Vooza, it's funny plus tech.

Make it findable. Think about how people search for things online and get into that stream with the right headlines, keywords, etc.

More press coverage on Vooza.

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New from the guy who brought you Vooza (aka me): Club Scale

Club Scale is the hottest nightclub in the world and you need to meet the doormen who look a lot like Dan Soder and Joe List and there's more to come so sign up for the email list to get updates and that's it. (Directed by Jesse Scaturro and written/produced by me.)

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Piper's Pit with Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka in 1984

"You want bananas? We got bananas."

RIP Rowdy Roddy Piper.


Camille Paglia explains why Donald Trump is a great stand-up comedian

Over at Salon, Camille Paglia takes on Jon Stewart, Trump, Cosby, Sanders, feminism, and more in three different pieces. She's super interesting and thinks like a comic in her premises. You hate at least some of what she's saying but you're fascinated by all of it and damn, she sure is smart in her arguments. Here's her take on Trump as carnival barker/comedian and how she brought her own improv/comedy experience to the stage when dealing with hecklers.

Comedy, to me, is one of the major modern genres, and the big influences on my generation were Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl. Then Joan Rivers had an enormous impact on me–she’s one of my major role models. It’s the old caustic, confrontational style of Jewish comedy. It was Jewish comedians who turned stand-up from the old gag-meister shtick of vaudeville into a biting analysis of current social issues, and they really pushed the envelope. Lenny Bruce used stand-up to produce gasps and silence from the audience. And that’s my standard–a comedy of personal risk...

[Trump] takes hits like a comedian–and to me he’s more of a comedian than Jon Stewart is! Like claiming John McCain isn’t a war hero, because his kind of war hero doesn’t get captured–that’s hilarious! That’s like something crass that Lenny Bruce might have said! It’s so startling and entertaining.

It’s as if the stars have suddenly shifted–because we’re getting a mix-up in the other party too, as in that recent disruption of the NetRoots convention, with all that raw emotion and chaos in the air. To me, it feels very 1960s. These sudden disruptions, as when the Yippies would appear to do a stunt–like when they invaded Wall Street and threw dollar bills down on the stock exchange and did pig-calls! I’m enjoying this, but it’s throwing both campaigns off. None of the candidates on either side know how to respond to this kind of wild spontaneity, because we haven’t seen it in so long.

Politics has always been performance art. So we’ll see who the candidates are who can think on their feet. That’s certainly how I succeeded in the early 1990s. Before that, the campus thought police could easily disrupt visiting speakers who came with a prepared speech to read. But they couldn’t disrupt me, because I had studied comedy and did improv! The great comedians knew how to deal with hecklers in the audience. I loved to counterattack! Protestors were helpless when the audiences laughed.

So what I’m saying is that the authentic 1960s were about street theater–chaos, spontaneity, caustic humor. And Trump actually has it! He does better comedy than most professional comedians right now, because we’re in this terrible period where the comedians do their tours with canned jokes. They go from place to place, saying the same list of jokes in the same way. But the old vaudevillians had 5,000 jokes stored in their heads. They went out there and responded to that particular audience on that particular night. They had to read the crowd and try out what worked or didn’t work.

Our politicians, like our comedians, have been boring us with their canned formulas for way too long. So that’s why Donald Trump has suddenly leapt in the polls. He’s a great stand-up comedian. He’s anti-PC–he’s not afraid to say things that are rude and mean. I think he’s doing a great service for comedy as well as for politics!

Her no-shits-given/I-make-my-own-feminism perspective reminds me of Fran Lebowitz a bit. (Thx JF)

Btw, I'm amazed when anyone takes Trump seriously. He doesn't actually want to be President. He wants to get his name in the news as much as possible so his awareness increases of the Trump brand and then he can license it for more to the shitty vodka, golf course, condo building, suit manufacturer, or whatever else that wants to pay him for it. Everyone who mentions him just makes him richer. So Donald, you're welcome.


Film school in a day

Three of the best avenues online that I've found to learn about filmmaking:

1) In the AV Club's Scenic Routes, Mike D’Angelo looks at key scenes, explaining how they work and what they mean.

2) Every Frame a Painting is dedicated to the analysis of film form. "My name is Tony Zhou. I am a filmmaker and freelance editor based in San Francisco. I make video essays that run from 3 to 9 minutes. Each one focuses on one filmmaker or one aspect of film form. So far I've tackled topics as diverse as Akira Kurosawa's use of movement, Satoshi Kon's unique editing style, and how movies depict texting and the internet."

3) The Story of Film: An Odyssey on Netflix. Award-winning film-maker Mark Cousins' documentary about the history of film, presented in 15 one-hour chapters.

Some cool excerpts from an AMA with Tony Zhou of Every Frame a Painting:

Funny story about China and filmmaking:
In 2007, I was traveling in Tibet and walked into a small teahouse in the middle of nowhere. The proprietor didn't speak Mandarin and neither did any of the patrons, so I ordered by gesturing.
Jaws was on TV, horribly subtitled in big white Chinese characters and dubbed in Mandarin. Everyone was watching. So I stuck around and watched, too.
Here's the crazy thing: the TV sucked, the image was obscured, the patrons couldn't understand the dialogue. And yet they were still scared of the shark. Tibet is a high-altitude desert, nowhere near the ocean. But man, there was one lady freaking out that the shark was going to eat Brody's kid.
I didn't think much of it at the time, but honestly, that viewing of Jaws is one of the most memorable experiences of my life. To this day, I refer to the "Tibet Test" when I think about filmmaking. Is this movie still comprehensible after bad dubbing, shitty subtitles, a crappy TV, and an audience who doesn't understand the context?
Jaws is a masterpiece of visual storytelling, and I can prove it because I saw some Tibetans scared of the shark.


I think this is a huge problem in filmmaking today too: the myth of the perfect first feature.
I am going to (at some point) make a video essay called "Everybody Used to Suck" comprised entirely of footage from everyone's earliest directorial work.
Scorsese's first feature was actually called Bring On the Dancing Girls and it bombed so bad at NYFF that he didn't do anything for a few years, before repurposing it into Who's That Knocking. Tarantino never finished his first feature, My Best Friend's Birthday. Kubrick hated Fear and Desire so much he destroyed every copy. The list goes on and on, but the myth of the "first feature" is exactly that: a myth. Everybody used to suck, it's just that everybody also hides their earliest work from the public.


Honestly, the #1 thing I look for when I'm watching a movie is the feeling that there's a human being on the other side talking to me.
Like, it can be the crappiest, most poorly made film in the world, but if it feels like a human being desperately trying to tell me something, I stick around and watch.


Editing ah my scourge.
1) Try editing standing up. I cut like this. Walter Murch cuts like this. We're gonna start a club. You may not end up doing it, but you'd be surprised how different your body feels. Just remember that you need to take care of your body because editing is very stationary. Even if you end up sitting, take breaks.
2) Always sleep 8 hours. Nobody edits well on lack of sleep, and it is a stupid belief in this industry that editors want to lose rest. No, we don't.
3) Trust your emotional instincts. If you watch a piece of footage and it gives you an emotional reaction (whether a laugh, a feeling of disgust, happiness), save that clip and mark it down.
4) Get to the rough edit as quickly as possible. The assembly is always brutal. Get to rough so that you have something passable to show people.
5) Show it to people. Do not trust what they tell you to change. People are extremely good at feeling when something is wrong, but not always at articulating it. Your best guide is to watch their reaction during the film. Wherever you see attention flag, or a laugh, mark it down. If they write up their notes afterwards, you can read em, but never trust those notes more than their actual reactions while watching.
6) Editing is largely mental and mostly about patience. Basically, there's you and there's the footage, and you're going to wrestle. You will eventually come out on top, but the footage will not make it easy for you. Subdue it. Kill it. Drink its blood. Mentally, of course.
7) Every once in a while, test yourself by doing a speed edit. Basically, knock out something in 8 hours. You will fly on instinct and get to the end and realize that hey, your instincts aren't half bad. Now go back and overthink everything.

I dig the Tibet Test.

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CK stopped by HOT SOUP last night

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The evolution of love letters

1815: "My happiness is to be near you. Incessantly I live over in my memory your caresses, your tears, your affectionate solicitude. The charms of you kindle continually a burning and a glowing flame in my heart. I thought that I loved you months ago, but since my separation from you I feel that I love you a thousand fold more. Each day since I knew you, have I adored you more and more."

2015: "you up? send me some n00dz 😎"


Chicago shows this week

I'm coming to Chitown...

Jul 1, 2015
8:30pm CYSK @ Timothy O'Toole's
9pm The Blind Bet @ the Pony Inn

Jul 2, 2015
7pm Congrats @ Uncharted Book
9pm Parlour Car @ Bar DeVille


How to be that guy with the Apple Watch who everyone hates

More at Vooza.com.

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I guest it up on "It's Not You, It's Us" podcast

"This week on It's Not You, It's Us our guest is Matt Ruby! We learn what it means to be 'thirsty,' why it may be to your advantage to have a poor sense of smell, & discuss why we may attract what we are attracted to. Also, Matt helps us break down some break up guidelines and we find out there may be another reason to see your gynecologist, plus an all new Love Machine segment with Andy. Get to it..."

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Jokes that need narrative and emotional undergirding

Deep dive on Comedy Central and how it's "in the middle of a creative renaissance — and a business-model crisis." Interesting bit: This discussion about how comics who are good at getting laughs still need help with narrative and character development.

Gifted comedians might excel at creating tone and finding novel laughs, but they often need a hand reconciling these skills with the mechanical and structural demands of a traditional series...“We had never written anything” for television, Abbi Jacobson said, “so Comedy Central needed someone there with us in the writers’ room.” She added, “They wanted us to focus more on the characters’ drives, and to learn how to work within the structure of act breaks.”

Jokes land most satisfyingly when they’re supported by narrative and emotional undergirding, Alterman says...Jargowsky, characterizing Comedy Central’s priorities and proclivities from the producer’s end, explained that “when I go to pitch them on a workplace comedy, they’ll ask really specific questions, like, What is the characters’ relationship to their work? Are they successful? Why do they hang out with each other?” There’s good reason for this, he said: “When you pitch a movie, you’re telling a story, but when you pitch a TV show, you’re kind of describing a game like chess, where the characters are the pieces. Let’s have a rook that moves this way and a bishop who moves that way — but what if a knight showed up? You’re creating this interlocked network of gears that you can wind up and, if you’ve done it right, you have a comedic perpetual-motion machine.”

Read the full article.


Colin Quinn, Kurt Metzger, and punching up vs. punching down

I find most of the dialogue about outrage culture tiresome. But Colin Quinn and Kurt Metzger? I'll listen to those two.

Colin Quinn on race, comedy and political correctness is a solid interview.

And punching up, punching down! Once again, these terms were not created by humorous people. Activists are activists. They are great and a big part of American society. Humorists and activists don’t very often meld. Humorists and activists have two very different mentalities. Activists are very sincere, very positive. That’s how activists should be. Humorists are supposed to look at everything and see the bullshit in all sides. This is my opinion. We are not supposed to see 100 percent right and wrong. Everything is middle ground. Everything is hypocrisy in all people and all situations.

And you hear Metzger on WTF? Good stuff. He has an interesting exchange with Maron (around 15:30in) about how people who talk about “punching up” are actually condescending.

Jokes, to me, there's no moral component whatsoever. It's merely funny and that's its own force. I know for a fact that something that's absolutely not funny and terribly wrong can be the most hysterical thing in the world in the right context. That's just a fact.

So people who don't get funny, there's a lot of people who feel punching up and punching down comedy and all that shit. It's a very telling thing to say. You hear that "punching down comedy." That's the most elitist [thing], that's saying, "There's a caste system and I'm on top of it and I will not deign to punch downward at the people lower than me." You think people are lower than you and you think that makes you more moral than me? I thought we were all equal so I'm punching straight ahead. But it turns out that I'm supposed to buy into that I'm on top of someone.

My reaction to the recent discussions around offended audiences...

Comedians: I'm annoyed at uptight crowds too. I get it. But my .02: You're not entitled to get laughs on your jokes. No one's banning you from saying stuff. They're just not laughing. If that bugs you, start performing in front of different crowds. If you want to be edgy and offensive, don't perform for liberal twenty-year-olds. This idea that every audience needs to dig your set is a weird comedy-centric thing. A punk band doesn't get mad when an opera crowd doesn't enjoy their music. They play a dive bar instead of an opera house. The internet is turning us into a bunch of niche cultures and insisting on a one-size-fits-all approach to comedy seems antiquated. I love Dave Attell. I listen to NPR all the time. But Dave Attell probably shouldn't perform at an NPR fundraiser. That doesn't mean anyone is wrong. It's ok for us to enjoy different things.

Joe Derosa had some smart tweets about all this...

Also, the "it's a free speech issue" and "people shouldn't get fired" comments seem a bit hysterical. No one's passing laws against these jokes and it seems pretty rare that anyone's actually lost a job due to Twitter outrage. There are drama queens on both sides here.

Minority groups: A lot of minority groups are making great strides lately. That's awesome. If you buy that punching up/down does matter: Part of the deal of gaining a more powerful position in society is that people are entitled to make fun of you more. You gain power, you become a legit target for comedy. If legit comedians wanna try to make good natured jokes about your group, it's a sign that y'all are coming up. Gaining power but claiming immunity from mockery doesn't add up. You can't have it both ways. If I'm gonna have to say L.G.B.T.Q. instead of gay, you may have to deal with some jokes about that being too many syllables.

People on either side who get outraged: Here's how the internet works...

1) You think something is terrible.
2) You blog/tweet/whatever about it.
3) People click on it.
4) Clicks means ad revenues for the publisher.
5) So they publish more like it.
6) Voila, the internet gets more terrible.

By publicly hating on something, you are ensuring it will happen more often. Congrats!

Also, if you're gonna summarize a Seinfeld episode, at least be in the goddamn ballpark with your summary.

The big story here isn't rape culture, it's social media culture
I don't understand being offended


The Jenner hype

this entire Jenner thing is so ridic. it’s all self-promotion by Jenner and rubbernecking by the rest of us in the disguise of “transgender awareness.” carnival sideshow turned into faux political cause. the ultimate Kardashian checkmate...until one of them commits suicide to promote their final project. now if you'll excuse me, i'm gonna go watch "Network" again.


A weekend on Ayahuasca

I recently spent a weekend on Ayahuasca (hallucinogenic brew from the Amazon) and it was the most significant spiritual experience of my life. (No joke!) Here's what happened.


"Look at this fish I caught" photos

Run your online dating profile photos past someone of the opposite gender. Because dudes, no girl wants to see your "look at this fish I caught" photo. And ladies, no guy wants to peep your "look at me with a fake mustache" shot. Either of those is basically just screaming, "I don't understand the opposite sex!"


The best comedy on TV is the Wendy Williams show

Wendy basically reads Us Weekly and the whole crowd boos or cheers like it's a church sermon. Now Wendy is telling the crowd she needs silence in the airport bathroom when she's trying to do her business. *wild applause* She can tell us that because we KNOW EACH OTHER. *more applause* Lesson: Do NOT ask for Wendy's autograph when she is on the toilet. Time for a commercial break... *dancing* Wendy audience is getting 50 Shades of Grey box set. *standing ovation* Guess what? Wendy loves chocolate! *nods all around* Also, she does NOT think Eva should get back together with Tony Parker. *crowd agrees* Now Wendy is giving advice to the crowd. An audience member found another girl sending her man photos! Red low cut v-neck top & red lipstick. *shocked gasps* And that's it. Now it's time for some show called The Real. I'm sad Wendy is over, but The Real also features an audience that is *dancing* so I'm pretty sure it's gonna be a good time.


You can't say that on television

John Oliver going after Bud Light, HBO moneymakers, and Time Warner in same episode was cool: Why John Oliver Is Even More Badass Than You Might Realize.

Part of it is not worrying about advertisers. It's why shit on HBO is so much more interesting than other networks.

Thought of that while reading this too: Asking "who's the customer?"

It turns out asking "who's the customer?" is a great way of thinking about when certain companies or industries do things that aren't aligned with good customer service or user experience.

The customer for network TV shows isn't viewers. The customer is the advertisers. The viewer is just a means to an end. AKA "if you're not paying for the product, you are the product."


I spoke at a marketing conference about Vooza, humor, and native advertising

Here are some photos of me onstage at the Country Music Hall of Fame. I sang Jolene along with Dolly...er, not really. The real deal: Last week, I gave a talk at the Marketing United conference in Nashville. I showed some of our Vooza videos, made some jokes, and then gave a legit presentation on how we work with advertisers at Vooza and how brands can make stuff that doesn't suck. Here's some of the crowd response on Twitter (and some related links at the end):

Some of the stuff I talked about in case you're interested in more info:

1,000 True Fans [Kevin Kelley]
The Economics of Internet Comedy Videos [Splitsider]
Jerry Seinfeld Aces Product Placement [Brand Channel]
12 video sharing triggers [Econsultancy]
How Publishers and Brands Can Measure the Value of Native Advertising [Content Standard]
Brands as publishers [Curve]
Brands as Publishers [Huge]

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Editing tip: "Matching is for sissies"

The Man Who Makes the World’s Funniest People Even Funnier is a look at the man who edits Apatow/Feig movies.

One of White’s mentors at Sundance was Dede Allen, who cut “Dog Day Afternoon” and “Bonnie and Clyde.” Allen instilled in White an unfussy approach. “You run into editors who say, ‘I can’t make that cut, the glass of water is in the wrong place in that take,’ ” White said. “But I’ll say: ‘Who cares? The performance is strongest in that cut!’ Why would you match the glass and take on that worse performance? ‘Matching is for sissies’ — that’s one of the things Dede would say all the time.” White argues that as audience members, we “look at actors’ eyes most of the time, so as long as they’re engaging, you’re going to be connected to that person, and whatever happens elsewhere in the frame is less important.”

Reminds me of one of Airplane creators David Zucker's rules:

That didn`t happen: Completely defying logic is bad, but something that is on and off the screen so fast that we can get away with it is OK. Example: Robert Stack in ``Airplane!`` yells to Lloyd Bridges, ``He can`t land; they`re on instruments!`` And of course we cut to the cockpit and four of the actors are playing musical instruments. Seconds later, in the next scene, the saxophone and clarinets have disappeared. If it`s done right, no one in the audience will ask where the instruments went.

We used that as a guiding rule during edit of this Vooza episode...

...At 1:20, Steve's gums get all bloody. In the next shot, they're all clean again. "That didn't happen."

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"How do I market to your fetus?" and other bits from my Vooza talk at The Next Web Europe conference

Yesterday I spoke at The Next Web conference in Amsterdam in character as an idiot startup CEO (spinoff from our Vooza show). It was fun. The venue looked like a combination of a spaceship and Qbert. Video coming soon.

Here's a clip from my talk last year:

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David Foster Wallace: "90% of the stuff you're writing is motivated and informed by an overwhelming need to be liked"

Doogie Horner passed this along and wrote, "I read this David Foster Wallace essay about an author's relationship to his work, and it applies to standup as well."

In the beginning, when you first start out trying to write fiction, the whole endeavor's about fun. You don't expect anybody else to read it. You're writing almost wholly to get yourself off. To enable your own fantasies and deviant logics and to escape or transform parts of yourself you don't like. And it works - and it's terrific fun. Then, if you have good luck and people seem to like what you do, and you actually start to get paid for it, and get to see your stuff professionally typeset and bound and blurbed and reviewed and even (once) being read on the a.m. subway by a pretty girl you don't even know it seems to make it even more fun. For a while. Then things start to get complicated and confusing, not to mention scary. Now you feel like you're writing for other people, or at least you hope so. You're no longer writing just to get yourself off, which - since any kind of masturbation is lonely and hollow - is probably good. But what replaces the onanistic motive? You've found you very much enjoy having your writing liked by people, and you find you're extremely keen to have people like the new stuff you're doing. The motive of pure personal starts to get supplanted by the motive of being liked, of having pretty people you don't know like you and admire you and think you're a good writer. Onanism gives way to attempted seduction, as a motive. Now, attempted seduction is hard work, and its fun is offset by a terrible fear of rejection. Whatever "ego" means, your ego has now gotten into the game. Or maybe "vanity" is a better word. Because you notice that a good deal of your writing has now become basically showing off, trying to get people to think you're good. This is understandable. You have a great deal of yourself on the line, writing - your vanity is at stake. You discover a tricky thing about fiction writing; a certain amount of vanity is necessary to be able to do it all, but any vanity above that certain amount is lethal...

At some point you find that 90% of the stuff you're writing is motivated and informed by an overwhelming need to be liked. This results in shitty fiction. And the shitty work must get fed to the wastebasket, less because of any sort of artistic integrity than simply because shitty work will cause you to be disliked. At this point in the evolution of writerly fun, the very thing that's always motivated you to write is now also what's motivating you to feed your writing to the wastebasket. This is a paradox and a kind of double-bind, and it can keep you stuck inside yourself for months or even years, during which period you wail and gnash and rue your bad luck and wonder bitterly where all the fun of the thing could have gone...

The smart thing to say, I think, is that the way out of this bind is to work your way somehow back to your original motivation — fun. And, if you can find your way back to fun, you will find that the hideously unfortunate double-bind of the late vain period turns out really to have been good luck for you. Because the fun you work back to has been transfigured by the extreme unpleasantness of vanity and fear, an unpleasantness you’re now so anxious to avoid that the fun you rediscover is a way fuller and more large-hearted kind of fun. It has something to do with Work as Play. Or with the discovery that disciplined fun is more than impulsive or hedonistic fun. Or with figuring out that not all paradoxes have to be paralyzing. Under fun’s new administration, writing fiction becomes a way to go deep inside yourself and illuminate precisely the stuff you don’t want to see or let anyone else see, and this stuff usually turns out (paradoxically) to be precisely the stuff all writers and readers everywhere share and respond to, feel. Fiction becomes a weird way to countenance yourself and to tell the truth instead of being a way to escape yourself or present yourself in a way you figure you will be maximally likable. This process is complicated and confusing and scary, and also hard work, but it turns out to be the best fun there is...

The fact that you can now sustain the fun of writing only by confronting the very same unfun parts of yourself you’d first used writing to avoid or disguise is another paradox, but this one isn’t any kind of bind at all. What it is is a gift, a kind of miracle, and compared to it the rewards of strangers’ affection is as dust, lint.

Ah, the old conundrum: Wanting to be liked ➜ shitty work ➜ not being liked

This line stuck out to me: "Under fun’s new administration, writing fiction becomes a way to go deep inside yourself and illuminate precisely the stuff you don’t want to see or let anyone else see, and this stuff usually turns out (paradoxically) to be precisely the stuff all writers and readers everywhere share and respond to, feel."

Reminds me of something Howard Stern has said (paraphrasing): "The thing that you least want to talk about is the thing they most want to hear."


Jamming econo

Some cool excerpts from Michael Azerrad's book "Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991."

Corporate rock was about living large; indie was about living realistically and being proud of it. Indie bands didn’t need million-dollar promotional budgets and multiple costume changes. All they needed was to believe in themselves and for a few other people to believe in them, too. You didn’t need some big corporation to fund you, or even verify that you were any good. It was about viewing as a virtue what most saw as a limitation.

The Minutemen called it “jamming econo.“ And not only could you jam econo with your rock group — you could jam econo on your job, in your buying habits, in your whole way of living. You could take this particular approach to music and apply it to just about anything else you wanted to. You could be beholden only to yourself and the values and people you respected. You could take charge of your own existence. Or as the Minutemen put it in a song, “Our band could be your life.”

Great quote here too:

“I must create a system or be enslaved by another man’s.”
—William Blake

More like this: Steve Albini and rock 'n roll philosophy and Thinking like a comic: Fran Lebowitz, Steve Albini, Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, etc.


The mile high startup!?

Our cast at Vooza (along with some other great comics) just made a weird/funny video of tech geeks taking over a plane for Turkish Airlines. Includes ping pong table, fixie bike, selfie stick, and lots of self-important "we're changing the world" BS!

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Special People and Spit Take Comedy interview me about music, tech, satire, and more

I had a good deep dive with Tom Cowell on his podcast. We talk satire, tech, Tom Petty, and more: Special People Ep. #06: Matt Ruby | Mr. Tom Cowell.

I think Matt Ruby is a brilliant mind, a superb creator of comedy, and a great guy. He's the man behind Vooza, a start-up tech company that satirizes start-up tech companies. He also runs Sandpaper Suit, a comedy blog that, in ways large and small, changed my life. We had a conversation that speaks for itself. I think you should follow him on Twitter @mattruby and watch/buy/pay attention to everything he does.

Also a good time with George Flanagan on this Spit Take Comedy episode on BTR. Cue the sound effects!

Comedian Matt Ruby pays a visit to the Spit Take Comedy lair to discuss his transition from the music world to the comedy world, as well as to fill George in on what it was like to grow up with two parents who had opposing lifestyles. Also, in a new installment of "Topical Topics." both Matt and George rip the Grammys a new one.

Here's a video excerpt:

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The n-word and tolerance theater

Punishing a bunch of drunk Okie teenagers or a senile old rich dude for using the n-word makes us feel good but it's really just a form of tolerance theater unless we examine the deeper, more insidious forms of racism in our country (i.e. the unequal enforcement of the war on drugs and the for-profit prison system).

We watch that SAE bus video over and over and we gloat about how much better we are than those idiots but none of that does anything to address the real problems outlined in "The New Jim Crow" book or "The House I Live In" documentary. The high-horse response to this stuff reeks of "I'm one of the good ones because I cried during that John Legend song at the Oscars!" It's just a distraction, not a solution.

Anyway, what I'd really like to see is a video of drunk black teenagers on a bus singing songs from Oklahoma. "The Surrey with the Fringe on Top" please!


My San Francisco shows this week

I'm in SF. Get ready to pitch me on your app that I don't want to download! Here are shows I'm doing...

Wed: 8pm - Dark Room
Thu: 8pm - Doc's Lab, 9pm - Lost Weekend
Fri: 8pm - Doc's Lab
Sat: 8pm - Doc's Lab

Fri and Sat nights I'll be doing extended sets along with the very funny Andy Hendrickson. Tix for those shows available here.


Jarvis Cocker on finding your voice and being specific

Interviews: Jarvis Cocker. He's the frontman from Pulp and a funny lyricist (e.g. he starts a song with "I am not Jesus though I have the same initials. I am the man who stays home and does the dishes.") Here he talks about finding your creative voice and the power of being specific.

I’ve never thought, “Oh, I’ve got to write songs about normal people or real life.” When people set out to write a song aimed at the common man—I mean, I don’t even believe that that person exists—that’s when you get really horrible, preachy, vague, waffly songs. I hate those songs. If you want to be a creative person, the big thing is to locate your own creative voice, which can be quite difficult. When I went to art college, I would read books about famous artists of years gone by and think, “Oh, well, if I went and lived in Marrakech and ate only oatmeal and bananas for a year, I’d become really artistic,” as if there’s some kind of recipe. But instead of looking off into the distance, try and concentrate on your immediate surroundings and you will find that you already have a unique take on the world. It’s just that you might not recognize it. The key to locating it is by being specific and writing about the details of situations, because a detail proves that you were actually there and lends authenticity to what you’re writing. And the weird thing is that, by being more specific, it opens things up and makes it universal.


"Meet the Man That Gets Paid to Make Fun of Tech Startups"

"Meet the Man That Gets Paid to Make Fun of Tech Startups." Hey, that's me. It's an interview about Vooza, which the interviewer calls "some of the funniest lampoons of the tech and marketing industries I’ve ever seen."

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How Hollywood seduces talented people into making crap

Some interesting Joe Rogan podcasts with Neal Brennan: #443, #131, and #114. In that last one, Brennan rants about how Hollywood seduces talented people into making crap.

It's funny. You do good work or personal work and then they'll go – like I always used to say to Chappelle and Mos Def after we'd do a sketch I'd be like, "Fellas, that was a great sketch. Hollywood called and they want you to play cops!" Hollywood calls and then you're upgraded into some shit that you didn't want in the first place but you're so [taken with] awards shows and shit like E! and Entertainment Tonight. It brainwashes you into thinking, "That Hollywood is valuable." And you just walk like a zombie toward Hollywood and go, "Where do I stand? Here?"

More Rogan pods.


How to light your video

Wanna do video stuff? Get your sound/lights right! Lighting on the Fly is "a minimal and flexible philosophy for lighting your video on any budget."


Interview about rock 'n roll, comedy, and Vooza

Podcast interview with me: Rock ‘n’ Roll, Comedy and Native Advertising Models with Matt Ruby.

Today’s episode is an interview with Matt Ruby. Matt is a stand-up comedian who has a successful series on the web at Vooza.com. It’s a sketch comedy show lampooning the tech/startup/business world and I think it’s very funny because I work in a corporate sector of the technology world at my day job. You won’t need to be part of that world to enjoy today’s episode though as Matt and I talk about his starting in a band in the early 2000s and getting his start in stand-up comedy and how that all lead to his current project Vooza and then his latest project taking shots at the club scene.

Was a good chat.


Great interview with Dave Attell

Great interview with Dave Attell by Aisha Tyler. He talks about his first road gig with Sandler, bombing for years, day jobs, etc. Nice deep dive. (via MN)

A lot of new comics who have honed their set they think and they don't lock into the crowd. They don't read the crowd. I look at the crowd. I'll always go, "What's the crowd like?" And all these people are like, "Does it matter? You're just gonna do your set." Well, it matters to me because if I do a Klan joke and there's a guy out there who's a skinhead, I don't think he's gonna like it. Sometimes these jokes might help your set, sometimes they might save your life.


What are we so afraid of?

We live in the safest place in the safest time ever in the history of the planet. No one's ever had it this good. And yet our society is constantly afraid. We want to feel fear so badly that we invent things to be afraid of (see ISIS, Ebola, etc.). And the powers that be know fear is the last/best way to manipulate people.

We should look at who profits from this fear:

-the media ("tell us what to be scared of!")
-the pharmaceutical companies ("give me pills for my anxiety!")
-the military-industrial complex ("make weapons to scare the bad men!")
-the police ("have some of the extra military weapons to scare local bad men!")
-the people who are actually doing evil things and getting away with it ("I don't listen to Elizabeth Warren because hackers/school shootings/whatever!")

Just imagine trying to explain to someone who lived 100 years ago or earlier about how scared we are today. They'd let ya know that when it comes to danger, murder, disease, and the rest of it, modern day Americans have no idea just how good we've got it. We should be celebrating our lucky existence instead of incessantly cocooning ourselves in fear and negativity.

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Tu n'es pas Charlie

Today: "‪#‎JeSuisCharlie‬"
Same person last month: "I'm offended by that thing you wrote..."

Actually, the whole raison d'etre of ‪‎Charlie Hebdo‬ was to offend people and show that nothing is sacred. So if you've ever called something offensive, tasteless, obscene, or inappropriate, tu n'es pas Charlie.

Every "that crossed the line" zealot has a Prophet Mohammed. Your Prophet Mohammed may be 9/11, catcalling, AIDS, rape, gay rights, anti-Semitism, Asians, the n-word, the c-word, or the some-other-letter-word. But all that shit deserves to be made fun of too because, y'know, everything deserves that.

If you really want to show #JeSuisCharlie, let someone mock the thing you believe in most – for me, that's pretentious blog posts that hijack a tragedy in order to further one's own personal agenda while also showing off a superficial knowledge of French along the way. C'est la vie!

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Making money off of internet videos

The Economics of Internet Comedy Videos (Splitsider) is a good look at making money off of videos. My experience with Vooza echoes this: "Branded content funds more than you think. YouTube revenue funds less than you think. Comedy studios, like everyone else, earn money so they can fund passion projects." If you've got any questions about similar stuff, feel free to shoot me an email about it or post a comment.

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Norm: "Now you don't know what the hell to do"

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