Hey. I’m Matt Ruby (firstname.lastname@example.org). I live in Brooklyn and I'm a standup comedian and the creator of Vooza, a video comic strip about the tech world. This is Sandpaper Suit, a comedy blog about standup, filmmaking, and whatever else I feel like talking about. Established 2006. Phew, that's a while.
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.
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.
"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."
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.
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.
“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.
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'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".
Laugh it up: how to use humor and native advertising to get noticed
FILMED THURSDAY, APRIL 30TH 2015
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.’
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.”
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.
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.
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
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.
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...
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.
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…
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.
Tompkins: There’s always something more that you’re gonna want. There’s never—because, there’s—I think especially—I think this is true for everybody, but I think especially in our business, because we have these, um, there’s, there’s, um, there’s always a carrot a-and the stick always gets longer, you know. It’s always like, well, OK, you got this, but what about this, you don’t have this yet. You know, and we keep thinking, like, you know, right now, what I would love more than anything, uh, is to get a steady gig on television, you know, where I go to the same place every day, Monday through Friday, um, and I get to come home and have dinner with my wife, you know, at the end of the day. I would love that, absolutely. And (laughs) in my mind, I conditioned myself to think that is a modest goal. You know what I mean? Like, I don’t want to be a global superstar, all I want is my own television show. Is that asking for so much?
Gilmartin: Financially and creatively rewarding, right near my home.
Tompkins: Exactly. Now the thing is, that is, that is a somewhat attainable goal. It’s possible that that can happen. It’s not probably, you know what I mean? I-i-it’s—nothing i-in a weird world like this is probable, it’s only possible...
Tompkins: It’s like, look, I, I, uh, I went through a period of bitterness not that long ago, where I was in a, I was in a really dark place. I-i-it was all about, um, you know, uh, entering into middle age, turning—getting into my 40s. And getting, like, I’m 43 now. So, realizing, like, well that’s just going to continue happening. That’s—there’s not—I’m not gonna wake up and, like, “Oh, you’re 38 again.” What? Fantastic! I didn’t know it could go the other way! Um, you get, like, a reset of a couple years. Um, so, I, I, I got into this, this place where I was just overwhelmed. And it, it was, like, it was so much, like, what I bet my mother experience where it’s like, holy shit. Time is going by so fast, so fast, that all I can think about it, ‘I’m almost dead. I am almost dead and where am I and what am I doing?’ You know, I did not realize how great my life was. I couldn’t see it. And I tried—I was trying to see it. You know what I mean? Like, at this point, I am a married man, I’m a professional standup comedian, uh, I’m having, like, a really good year financially, from all these different things. I’m working on, um, all these other projects that are towards my goal, but I was still at this point where everybody else was doing better than I was. I was, I was not any closer to achieving this goal that I wanted to achieve. It was never going to happen. And, but really what it was about was mortality. It’s that time is too short. It’s never gonna happen. And, uh, I-I-I—it’s embarrassing, that I can’t, um, uh, provide for my wife better. It’s uh, it’s embarrassing that I have, I have fucked up my career with this dumb behavior in the past, that now I’m never gonna be where I wanna be, not even what I want to be, but to a point where, uh, I can breathe, you know. It’s always gonna be like this. I’m always gonna be on the fucking hustle. I’m always gonna be traveling around, I’m gonna be packing that goddamned suitcase.
Gilmartin: That’s so crazy.
Tompkins: It was terrible. It was terrible.
Gilmartin: Because I can tell you, Paul, from—you’re—as a peer of yours, and I know there are tons of other peers that feel the same way, we look at you and think, “If I could only get to where, where ….” And that ladder, I think, never ends. Unless you can say I’m happy to just be on this journey—
Tompkins: The ladder never ends because you’re always building the fucking ladder.
Tompkins: You’re always adding the rungs on there. It’s always you, you know. Nobody else was telling me, “Paul, you know you’re a failure, right? You know that, uh, you should be a lot farther along.” I was the only one telling myself that.
Gilmartin: Do you ever stop sometimes, uh—
Tompkins: Paul, I’m sorry, I do wanna say this. The life that I’m leading now is the exact same life that I was leading when I was in that horrible place, except now I see it all totally differently. And I see how great it is.
I admire his openness and think this is a good perspective to keep in mind. It's easy to look up at the mountaintop and see how far you have to go. But it's also worthwhile to stop and look behind you and see how far you've come.
Another interesting bit from this talk is when he explains talking about his personal crisis onstage, even if it doesn't bring laughs:
I feel like the, the difference between the entertainer and the artist is that, that the entertainer, the first duty of the entertainer is to entertain. But the first duty of the artist is truth. And I like to consider myself an artist. And I feel like my evolution as an artist has not come all this way to just stop at merely entertaining people. I’m not trying to shut anybody out, I’m not alienate anyone, but I do feel like it is pointless for me to not explore these things.
If people talked or wrote about the show, it was usually with a focus on race. Personally, I’ve always thought our primary subject matter was masculinity: what it means to be a man, what we can and can’t say. The scared husbands whispering “Bitch,” the vain slaves on the auction block, the hit man crapping his pants, Lil Wayne rapping in the cellblock, the two businessmen competing to eat the most disgusting soul food—they’re all fronting, trying desperately to be braver, cooler, smarter, and stronger than they really are. Fronting continued to be our meat and potatoes for the next four seasons.
That Soul Food sketch may still be my fave:
He also mentions they typically wrote five times as many sketches as they needed. Then "a process of mercilessly winnowing down the material: cutting sketches, rewriting the ones that survived, and, later, editing each scene until we felt that what remained was the essence of what had intrigued us in the first place. And, of course, the dick jokes."
2. A lot of artists and creative types see marketing as an evil necessity – or just plain evil. What would you say to them?
“Artists cannot market” is complete crap. Warhol was GREAT at marketing. As was Picasso and countless other “Blue Chips”. Of course, they’d often take the “anti-marketing” stance as a form of marketing themselves. And their patrons lapped it up.
The way artists market themselves is by having a great story, by having a “Myth”. Telling anecdotal stories about Warhol, Pollack, Basquiat, Van Gogh is both (A) fun and (B) has a mythical dimension… if they didn’t, they wouldn’t have had movies made about them. The art feeds the myth. The myth feeds the art.
The worst thing an artist can do is see marketing as “The Other”, i.e. something outside of themselves. It’s not.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)