I give a "masterclass" on how to give good video

I did a Skype interview and now it's being presented as a "Masterclass" so basically I'm just like Aaron Sorkin and Werner Herzog.

What is it, you will ask? It’s the video content! Your marketing strategy needs video content like a breath of fresh air. And I’ve interviewed Matt Ruby, the CEO of Vooza to give you the perfect understanding of how to make promotional videos that sell.

More interviews/press about Vooza.

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Presence and Vooza


Louis C.K. as moral detective and an analysis of Seinfeld

Nerdwriter takes a look at Louis and Seinfeld...


Music festivals, traffic, Trump, bomb robots, etc.

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The Media
I wish all these goofs complaining about "the media" would realize there are only like 30 real journalists left in this entire nation and "the media" is actually a bunch of millennials who live in Greenpoint who copy/paste tweets, then A/B test 30 different outrageous headlines, and then go to open mics to do jokes about Game of Thrones. They're as incredulous as you are that anyone is paying attention to anything they do and the only reason they have a platform at all is because y'all clicked on a video of people putting rubber bands on a watermelon until it breaks.

Music Festivals
I liked it better before music festivals took over summers and you could actually see a band you love in a decent venue instead of having to take a ferry to stand in a muddy field next to a bunch of mooks on molly and chicks taking flower crown selfies all so you can barely see a schizo shuffle "I like everything that's popular" lineup perform on the CitiSamsungPepsiToyota stage.

Judaism and Yo Mamma
"So you're Jewish?"
"Actually, I'm more of an atheist."
"But is your mom Jewish?"
"Then you're a Jew."

Judaism is like the Hotel California of religion...I can check out anytime I like but I can never leave.

Advice to suburban people: Never complain to New Yorkers about being stuck in traffic. We get it, traffic sucks – but it ain't no subway. You're "stuck" in a personal cocoon of safety where you get to control the temperature, music, and make phone calls. We ain't gonna feel bad for you until you got a homeless dude in the backseat and some half-eaten chicken wings lying around and an unidentifiable smell and an announcement every 10 minutes about how unwanted sexual conduct shouldn’t be a part of your commute. Until then, you may as well be riding in a golden chariot as far as we're concerned.

Crazy how everything is going EXACTLY how Osama hoped it would go. This diabetic goon hiding out in the desert whose only real weapon was videotaped speeches got 18 mooks with boxcutters together and set a trap for us and we fell right into it and invaded and keep doing drone strikes that are terrorism fertilizer and he's gonna get his clash of civilizations that's impossible for us to win and meanwhile we got W. swaying at funerals and singing gospel songs like he ain't been 100% punked out.

I hate how these cops getting shot by lone-wolf randos is distracting us from the systemic issues in policing.

"The OVERWHELMING amount of cops are good people."

The guards in the Stanford Prison Experiment were good people too. It's the job and having power that creates the problem.

“We can’t tell what happened on that video.”

It doesn’t matter what happened in that one video. It’s about ALL the videos. It’s about the pattern. It’s about the metadata. Things are not working.

“Cops aren’t racist. That MN cop who shot him was hispanic. The Freddy Gray cop in Baltimore was black.”

It's not that all (or most) cops are racist. It's that they are on the front line of enforcing a judicial system that is unfairly skewed against black people.

The war on drugs unfairly targets black communities - see ridic crack vs. powder cocaine sentencing disparity that existed for years. The for-profit prison industry forces us to fill vacancies in perverse criminal hotels and when beds need to be filled you know who gets targeted first. And once someone's a convict, good luck getting back on track. And then police forces like the one in Ferguson get revenue by disproportionately ticketing black people and then minor offenses turn into arrest warrants and then…well, you get it.

Basically, our society forces cops to be the tip of the sword that enforces a corrupt system. Inevitably, things go wrong with that. Every traffic stop or stop-and-frisk increases the odds that there will be a violent encounter. It’s shitty all the way around.

Now, it’d be one thing if cops were willing to admit that things go wrong or that cops can get out of hand. But they never do. We have a code of silence among the people sworn to protect us. They care more about covering up for their buddies than justice.

And everyone can see it. Cameras mean white people are finally realizing what black people have known for years. “My body cam fell off as I was shooting this black man who was selling CDs. Oops!” C’mon. It’s insulting.

That is why people are protesting. Because cops are behaving like gangs or the mafia and not like people who are out there to protect us. As long as all cops automatically cover up for each other, they will get lumped together as conspirators.

Craziest thing is we don’t even have a way to measure how many people get shot by cops. You only improve what you measure. And yet we still need reporters to track down the number of police shootings instead of having the government keep a database. Did you know the government measures the victims of unprovoked shark attacks? Maybe we’ll get some answers if there are some shark-and-frisks.

The guy who shoots cops faces justice. The cops who shoot black men never face justice. They don't get convicted. In our courts, police get away with everything and black men get away with nothing unless they're OJ.

I'm not anti-cop, I'm pro-justice. And right now, the police are the front lines of an unfair criminal justice system and deserve to be called out for it. Sure, I feel bad for the good cops out there. But I care more about justice. And when the good guys repeatedly demonstrate they don’t care about justice, I start to think that maybe they’re not the good guys.

That Bomb Robot
very sad those cops got shot but good lord it's terrifying that we got militarized police departments that dress up like storm troopers and also have the ability to explode people with bomb robots. seriously, we can’t get a robot that tases or uses tear gas or knows kung fu? we got self driving cars so this seems like nice tech to get because it keeps police from being executioners and maybe they’re doing enough of that already and also there is a reason cops and judges are different people. crazy how our society is having less and less faith in police officers while simultaneously giving them increasingly powerful weapons. kinda like saying, "you keep running over people...here's a bigger, faster car!" at the very least, i'd like some guidelines on when it’s ok for cops to disappear people rather than JUST USE YOUR DISCRETION WITH YOUR NIGHTMARE DYSTOPIAN FUTURE ROBOT, MR POLICEMAN.

Vampire Trump
You get it, right? Donald Trump doesn’t actually want to be President. The job would be a nightmare for him. As if he’d wake up every morning and reach a bunch of briefings and reports. C’mon.

He doesn’t care about any of the things he pretends to care about. He doesn’t actually think Obama is from Kenya. He’s not actually going to build a wall. He’s just spouting a bunch of right wing talk radio talking points because he saw a gap between what people loved hearing from talkshow hosts and what they were getting from politicians. There was shelf space on the right.

What he actually wants is for the word “Trump” to be said by as any people as possible. It’s all he’s wanted for his entire life. Each headline or tweet with his name in it feeds him. There is no such thing as bad publicity to him.

He is a ghoul vampire who thinks that every time someone says or reads the word “Trump” his soul will gain another year of immortality.

Rage on all you want. Your hatred feeds the beast. To him, your rage is as good as love. The more you say ANYTHING about him out loud, the more you make him feel alive.

I'm standing there talking to someone I'm trying to impress. A stranger approaches...
"Hey, do I know you?"
"Well, I'm a standup comic."
"I don't think that's it."
"I got this show named Vooza. Maybe you've seen that?"
"Nah, I'm a bartender."
"I think you used to come into the bar I worked at all the time."
"I don't really hang out at bars that much."
"Walter's in Fort Greene."
"Yeah, that's it."

Have a swell weekend.

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Advice for writing Vooza episodes

FYI, I sent this to folks who write for Vooza.


Advice for winning Vooza eps:

* Keep scripts short. Finished video under 2mins is ideal. 90secs feels like

sweet spot but shorter works too. 3-3.5mins is upper range of what’s doable.

* The fewer characters, the better.

* The fewer locations, the better.

* Using existing cast members is ideal but occasional guests are possible.

* Think about how to tell jokes visually via editing/visuals/etc instead of just relying on dialogue

* Videos should relate to startups/tech world. The more we can riff off a real-life scenario that startups face, the better.

* Think about what will be shared. Funny is great but sometimes “I was thinking it but they said it” is just as good for getting people to spread video.

* Parody of popular video formats can be effective (e.g. parodying a famous movie scene or popular online video format – like those recipe videos with only hands in them or Facebook videos with text all over ‘em or Apple product intro videos)

* Mockumentary style videos (with interviewer offscreen) or more traditional sketch can work.

* Too many jokes can be distracting. It’s fine to identify the “game of the scene” and just drilling down on that one concept.

* Inspiration for tone: Portlandia, Key & Peele, Mitchell & Webb,

Christopher Guest movies, etc.

* Happy to provide feedback to simple ideas, rough scripts, paragraph “treatment” of episode, etc. No need to polish up a “perfect version” before showing.

* Top episodes of 2015 fyi: http://vooza.com/top-10-vooza-videos-of-2015/

* Don’t try to do too much. One good joke that really nails it is better than a sprawling episode. Good example: http://vooza.com/videos/hackathon/


Smashing the watermelon


Brexit, Lebron, Facebook, Bill Cunningham, Schtick, etc.

My latest emailer covers Brexit, Lebron, Facebook, Bill Cunningham, Schtick or Treat for SeeSo! (tonight!), HOT SOUP, and Vooza. Get up on it. Subscribe.

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New Yorkers don't understand how much sports means to midwesterners

New Yorkers don't understand how much sports means to midwesterners.

In the midwest, the celeb 8x10 on the wall of the pizza place is the local newscaster. That's the most famous person around, the guy who does the weather. There, you are a big celebrity if you've been on Law & Order. In NYC, your waitress has been on Law & Order.

When the local sports team makes the playoffs, a midwestern city stops. Watching that game is what the city is doing that night. Yes, the entire city. Were you planning on performing that night? Sorry, that's not a thing anymore. Everyone will be at a sports bar. Actually, every bar becomes a sports bar. And there is a DJ who plays jock jams when the game goes to commercial. Gary Glitter is played and people scream "hey" and none of it is ironic.

There is real investment. Jerseys are worn. People sulk and hurt when their team is eliminated. They rejoice and honk horns all night when they win. In New York, we have no horns to honk.

Lebron gets it. He knew that winning would mean more to Cleveland than it could ever possibly mean to Miami, where people leave before the game ends because they have to go tan and do cocaine and promote their cool party (see, everyone in Miami is a promoter).

New Yorkers won't ever get that highest of highs that sports can deliver because that intense high comes from a place of desperation. A yearning to escape, if just for a night. To be a real player. One on the big boys.

In NYC, we are always a big boy. We have too many options. Sure, we may root for the Yankees. But when they lose, we shrug and go out and do one of the 238 other cool things there are to do in NYC that night. When Cleveland loses, they have to go back to living in Cleveland.

So I'm happy today. I'm happy for Cleveland. They got a championship. And I'm happy for everyone else too because hey, we don't live in Cleveland.


This campaign is to Donald Trump what that sex tape was to Kim Kardashian


We remember what is repeatable

Persuasion expert on what makes Trump so effective. Relates to standup too.

2. We remember not only what is repeated, but what is repeatable.

It is intuitive to believe that repetition leads to memory. And we tend to repeat what is repeatable. But what makes a message easily repeatable? Science demonstrates that one of the criteria for a repeatable message is portability.

Take famous movie lines, such as “Say hello to my little friend” (Scarface), “You talking to me?” (Taxi Driver), “I’ll have what she’s having” (When Harry Met Sally) – these phrases contain simple words that can be used in many contexts, beyond their original habitat.

Analyzing Trump’s and Hillary’s message – it is easy to repeat “Make America Great Again” – simple syntax and we can replace the word “America” with something else and use it in different contexts, from trivial to serious (Make pancakes great again or Make democracy great again). For Hillary…we don’t know what her message is and what we should repeat. Ironically, her home page repeats Trump’s name…

Reminds me of "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit" or Chris Rock's technique of repeating stuff onstage ("Now I'm not saying he should have killed her...but I understand") or insert a non-OJ related example here.


Vooza turns 150

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

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CK on the opposite of a cringe

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


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

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

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

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

via MQ


How do we pay the bills at Vooza?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Some interviews with me


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


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

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

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Seinfeld on how good comedians need a kill instinct


How to write semi-scripted comedy a la Larry David

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

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

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

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


Old people using Snapchat

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

Posted by Matt Ruby on Friday, February 26, 2016


These kids today

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

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

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

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How rappers are like entrepreneurs

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


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Billy Collins: Get influenced by people who make you jealous

Poet Billy Collins on finding your voice:

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

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

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

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

Read the full quote here.


Negotiating with The Marx Brothers

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Jim Carrey takes over the room


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David Bowie and authenticity

Maybe being authentic is overrated?


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

How David Bowie influenced a young Luther Vandross:

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

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

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


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

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

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Why the mob loved to watch The Sopranos

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

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

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

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

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We live different lives

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

Posted by Matt Ruby on Monday, January 4, 2016

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The power of silence, eye contact, and slowing down

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


Top 10 Vooza videos of 2015

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

More at Vooza.com.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Do you want to see my Grandma’s lingerie?

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


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

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


This is the theme to Garry Shandling's Show


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

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


This was the theme to Garry Shandling's show.

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

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

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

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

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

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Anthony Bourdain advice on filming and mojo

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


Giving terrible advice as the founder of Vooza

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

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

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

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What Neil deGrasse Tyson has learned from standup comedians

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

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

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

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

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


On Jews, Buddhists, faith, and source code

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

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

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

1) Letters to a Buddhist Jew

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

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

2) Next Year in Jerusalem

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

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

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

3) On Being: The Refreshing Practice of Repentance

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

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

4) David Gregory's Search for God