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.
Physical albums sell well at shows because people want a physical souvenir. I’ve looked into dozens of technologies to replace physical albums, and finally found one that works. SD cards and USB sticks are cost-prohibitive – but dropcards are not. Dropcards are credit-card sized thick plastic imprinted with unique download codes that cost between 25 and 50 cents a piece (depending on the size of your order) and are much easier to carry than CDs. You can design them however you’d like, they can hold video and images, and people still get a tangible souvenir. Also, you’re able to collect the email addresses of those downloading the album. I’ve started selling them at shows and I’m back up to the same pace I was for albums a decade ago. I reached out to the people at DropCards.com and got a discount code for all Pro-Tip readers. Enter comedyprotips at checkout (we don’t make anything on the referrals, but you save 10%).
And re: track length, "The sweet spot of track length is two to four minutes."
Doc’s Lab, San Francisco, CA
Jeff Zamaria, Comedy Booker/Manager
The best and most important moment I witnessed in comedy this year was Matt Ruby closing out his show at Doc’s Lab on the day after the election. It was a night I won’t forget. November 9th was a hard day for a lot of people. Including myself and the 39 people in the room that night. It was the first day in such a long time, that I didn’t want to see comedy. I almost felt like cancelling the show. Fortunately, I had a great chat with Matt before, and the show went on. He did a great heading set without mentioning the elephant in the room. When he finally did for his closing few moments, he turned it completely honest, talked about the youth said somethings that have really stuck with me since...Everyone in the room that night witnessed something really special. Matt gave us a much needed dose of positivity, and to be honest, I’m still living off it today. Thanks, Matt.
And another shoutout...
Independent Producer, New York, NY and National
Luisa Diez, Producer
This year I was very lucky to be a part of many amazing comedy festivals across the country, to judge numerous stand-up competitions, and to meet a whole new wave of talented comics, both in New York and elsewhere. My favorite comedy moment of the year, though, was actually three shows: In 2016, for the first time, we produced not one but three Schtick or Treat shows. The show, usually an annual Halloween event in New York, was created (and is hosted) by Mark Normand and Matt Ruby, and features comics performing as their favorite comedy legends—living, dead, real, and fictional! This year, in addition to the 9th Annual Schtick in New York, we produced one for Seeso, and held one in Los Angeles, too. Each show featured approximately 40 acts (114 total!), and everything from perfect impressions to hilarious parodies, music, and dancing, to prop comedy, exploding fruit, and fake blood.
What is truly special about this show is that it has something for everyone. For one night, comics get to play outside of their comfort zones and do things that aren’t like their regular acts. They get to pay homage to their favorites (or even lovingly mock them a little!), and to show off skills outside of their usual act, like singing, acting, and the ability to write sketches or for a voice that is not their own. Industry gets a chance to see more performers than anyone thought one show could hold, and comedy fans get a glimpse into the world of comedians and into each city’s respective comedy communities. Obviously, there were too many individual performances to single anyone out here, but the great thing is anyone you ask will have a different favorite, and you can’t get around the ‘you had to be there feeling.’ It’s an intimate and wonderful show crafted by, and for, comedy lovers.
Thanks so much Jeff and Luisa. Truly honored by the kind words!
7pm tonight I start a Week at the Creek run at The Creek and The Cave. Each night until Monday (11/17-11/21), you can see me run my hour along with opening sets from funny folks like Neal Stastny, Sagar Bhatt, and Jonathan Morvay. Also, you can get nachos. You can also see me do the hour at New York Comedy Club on 11/30 and I'm taping the album at Comedians You Should Know in Chicago on 12/7. Info/tickets here.
Tony Deyo is a funny comic (here's his Conan set) who recorded his album himself in a bunch of locations. I asked him about how he did that and he kindly wrote up some details on how to tape a live show...
Recording Yourself in a Comedy Club
To get a good recording in a club, your best option is to you grab the audio signal before it gets into the comedy club's audio system. There's a high likelihood that you'll pick up some noise if you're recording the vocal mic out of a club's soundboard. You're also at the mercy of whoever wants to adjust something on the board during your set.
In the picture below, you'll see a box that says "Splitter" on it. When you get to the club, you unplug the XLR cable from their microphone, and plug it into the side that has two XLR cables coming out of it. Then you take a long XLR that you brought with you, I think mine is 20 feet, and you plug it into the mic, and plug the other end into the side of the splitter that only has one cable. Then, one more short XLR goes from the splitter to your recorder. I use a Zoom H4n, pictured below. What this accomplishes, is that you get a perfect clean signal right from the mic, before it gets dirtied up by whatever system they have in place. You can also sound-check yourself beforehand to make sure your levels are correct... and nothing that they do on the board will change that on your recorder. Now, in an ideal world, there's a little bit of space between your recorder and the audience, and you can just use the H4n onboard mics to get the audience laughs. Often though, the audience is too close... so that's why I put an extra Zoom H2n recorder behind me. It takes some syncing in your audio program later, but you'll get the hang of it quickly if you're going to do everything yourself. Even better though, just hand off the recordings to an audio engineer and let that person sync and edit. I learned all that stuff myself, but it's kind of a big learning curve unless you're just interested in learning it... and then it's super-cool. I mix and edit in Logic Pro X, which is pretty inexpensive now. $100... maybe $200, but not bad. The industry standard is ProTools, but it's expensive.
So that's my set-up. It's an easy set-up once you get the hang of it. And the great thing is that once you own the equipment, you can record yourself every night until you get that perfect set... instead of worrying that you're only paying a guy to record on Friday and Saturday, and you HAVE to get it perfect one of those shows. It's too much pressure. Get the recorders, a splitter, some cables, a mic if you're picky... and you're all set. Ends up costing what you'd pay someone to record you anyway, and you get to keep all of the equipment and record as many times as you need to get the perfect set.
Hey! Lots going on – album taping in Chicago, Schtick shows (including Seeso show), Vooza interviews, west coast dates, NYC shows, rants about the election – so let's get to it...
Live album taping in Chicago in December
I'll be recording a standup album in Chicago on Wednesday, December 7 so if you're there come and if you know anyone there go ahead and tell 'em. Will be two shows that night at the awesome Comedians You Should Know show. Tix avail here and there's a $5 early bird discount code: MATT5
..and we're also doing it in LA for the first time this year! That show will be Sunday night (Oct 30) at The Virgil in LA (show info/tickets). Here's a writeup in LA Weekly. And I'm doing a full west coast swing (LA/SF/BC)...dates at end of email.
Interviews About Vooza
Couple of recent interviews I've done about our Vooza show that makes fun of the tech world and startups:
1) Traction Podcast: "Today, we talk to startup legend and self-made millionaire, Matt Ruby, founder of Vooza — thought leader, disruptor, and the next Steve Jobs. Alright, alright, so none of that is true — but we DO talk to a guy named Matt Ruby who parodies the startup world through his video production company, Vooza. Not only are they hilarious, but they partner with some REAL startups to create hilarious videos too."
Also: Body language guru, Harvard psychologist, and TED star Amy Cuddy gives a shoutout to this "Power Pose" episode of Vooza in her new book "Presence."
I'll be doing a special headliner show at NY Comedy Club on November 30 at 7pm. Last chance this year to see me do a full hour set in NYC! Tickets here.
And our HOT SOUP show is going strong every Tuesday night at Irish Exit. Last night we had a drop-in from Broad City's Ilana Glazer (photo).
Trump vs. Hillary
...and now here's some stuff I've written about the election. Follow me on Facebook or Twitter to see more.
Al Smith Dinner
Pretty sweet to see the political, religious, and business elite come together at that Al Smith Dinner. Totally backs up the separation of church and state when the Cardinal sits between the two presidential candidates. And I bet those journalists will do a great job of speaking truth to power as soon as they take off their tuxes, long white gloves, and ballgowns. And I appreciate how the most important guests are seated in tiers onstage so we get a physical representation of their relative status. Talk about a time saver! Yup, just a bunch of businessmen and politicians who definitely don't trade favors yukking it up at the Waldorf Astoria. Warms my heart to see these folks put aside their differences and come together to commemorate what truly matters: lavish displays of wealth disguised as charity. My only question: Does the creepy mask dungeon sex party take place before or after dessert?
Reality show idea: Ivanka hanging out for days with the people who show up at Trump rallies. Just discussing fashion trends, eating waffles in a diner, talking about her Jewish husband, etc.
"How did their empire collapse?"
"Well, they used to have 'journalism' and then they traded it in for 'content.'"
Mad Men was watched by only 300,000 people every week. Same with Girls. Meanwhile, NCIS is watched by 20 million people every week. That’s how Trump is still in this. All those people who watch NCIS, CSI, and Bones are voting for him.
Keeping Hope Alive
Hope and change. Remember that? I know this time around it all seems awful and depressing. But let’s keep this in mind: This is what change looks like.
None of this terrible stuff is new. It’s just that we’re finally talking about it. Cops have been murdering black people for a long time. But now we’re finally talking about it. Powerful men have been taking advantage of women forever. But now those women are able to speak up and fight back.
The truth can’t be denied anymore. There are tapes now. We’ve got iPhones and hot mics. There is proof. The rocks are being overturned and the creatures that hide in the dark are being exposed. Of course they’re angry about it. Of course they’re lashing out. This is their death rattle.
The voices of the oppressed are amplified now. A black woman in the White House just told a powerful white man that his behavior is disgraceful and intolerable and the country responded with an overwhelming “Amen.” I mean, imagine that sentence even being written 30 years ago.
People keep talking about how depressing the news has been this year. And I get it. But sometimes the process has to be painful at first. When you travel to a foreign place, your body gets sick at first. When your body changes, there are growing pains at first. When you take mushrooms, your stomach feels nauseous at first. But then you get to the good stuff. You have to fight through that initial tumult to get to the transcendent part.
We’re not there yet. But we’re closer than ever before. For however bad it seems, it's also the best it’s ever been. And it’s getting better.
These are hopeful times. This is what change looks like. Don't let the bastards grind you down.
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.
Just sent out this email newsletter. (Subscribe here.) 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.
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.
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.
INT HOTEL LOBBY
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."
* 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.”
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.
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!
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."
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."
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.