"You can't just go around calling people Nazis!"

Mark Normand and I have begun IM'ing. Watch out world!

MN: you can't just go around calling people nazis!
MR: i think i know a nazi when i see one. you see this tattoo on my forearm...you see those numbers...those are the lottery numbers i play every day. so i think that gives me the right.
MN: Well, you're the one with the shaved head here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
MR: that's a skinhead...totally diff than nazis...i kinda like skinheads. cuz they're so silly. and already in prison.
MN: how are they silly?
MR: how intimidated can you be by people whose claim to fame is matching haircuts? it didn't work for Bon Jovi.
MN: well, they hate blacks too.
MR: hating blacks didn't work for Bon Jovi either!
MN: are you kidding? he was on ally mcbeal!! that's my new catch phrase: "i think he was on Ally mcbeal"


Guest post about being "edgy" over at Dead Frog

I've got a guest post up over at Todd Jackson's Dead-Frog.com: Making Fun of the Zebras isn’t Edgy. Excerpt:

If you want to be edgy, don’t come into the lion’s den and make fun of the zebras. Come into the lion’s den and make fun of the lion. That takes real balls.

If you're a Dead Frog reader here for the first time, welcome aboard. You can learn about me in the sidebar to the right. Here's info on tonight's "We're All Friends Here" show and here's a link to the WAFH podcast.

Butterflies, dolphins, tattoos, and rockets

Here's an example of visiting the junkyard. I put this butterfly/tattoo joke to bed a while ago. Then I thought of a fun tag (the dolphin thing) and brought it back. Then a couple of weeks later the teardrop thing occurred to me. Now it's a fuller bit and feels more substantial than it was as a one-liner.

An analogy for where I'm focusing my joke telling energy these days: I used to spend time trying to shoot lots of rockets into the clouds. Now I'm spending more time trying to get rockets that made the clouds into outer space.


Video: Compilation of acts from Schtick or Treat

Highlights from Schtick or Treat (no Rodney though). Jason Saenz did a great job putting this together. Fyi, we've got more video too but haven't gone through it yet.

Grim reaper comedy

Grim reaper comedy

Monday night I performed at a comedy show where, due to Halloween decorations, a motorized grim reaper circled directly above the comedians' heads. Above, Vince Averill "kills" as the reaper flies overhead.


Rodney Dangerfield, king of LPM (laughs per minute)

My tribute set the other night at Schtick or Treat was Rodney Dangerfield. Man, amazing how many punchlines per minute he gets. You think Steven Wright and Mitch Hedberg tell short jokes, but Rodney's the king.

Here's the set I did, cherry picked from different parts of his great "No Respect" album.

No respect at all. When I was a baby I was breastfed by my father.

I tell ya, I can't relax, ya know? The other night I felt like having a few drinks. I went over to the bartender and I said, "Surprise me." He showed me a naked picture of my wife.

My wife, I got no sex life either. She cut me down to once a month. Oh, I'm lucky. Two guys I know she cut out completely. I met one of the guys and i told him "Who told you you could fool around with my wife?" He told me, "Everybody." My wife, last night she told me she wants to have sex in the backseat of the car...and she wants me to drive. For crying out loud.

My sex life is nothing anyway. I told a girl from Allstate what I want to put in your hands, you'll never sell me insurance! What a sex life. The only reason I get any girls at all is because of who I am...a rapist. The other night I caught a peeping tom booing me.

I'm getting old. At my age, I want two girls at once so if I fall asleep they got each other to talk to. Are you kidding?

I tell you my trouble, I got the wrong doctor. You know my doctor, Dr. Vinnie Boombatz. I saw him last week. I told him, "Doc, everyday I wake up and I look in the mirror, I wanna throw up. What's wrong with me?" He said, "I don't know but your eyesight is perfect!" One time I called him, I swallowed a bottle of sleeping pills. He told me to have a few drinks and get some rest. I never had any luck with doctors. My psychiatrist told me I was going crazy. I said if you don't mind, I'd like a second opinion. He said, "Alright, you're ugly too!"

I never got girls. I was making love to one girl and she started to cry. I said, "You'll hate yourself in the morning?" She said, "I hate myself now." This girl was no bargain either. Showed up, she had pigtails under her arms. This girl was fat and ugly. Ooh was she ugly. How ugly? She was known as a "two bagger." That's a girl who's so ugly, when you go out with her you put a bag on your head in case the bag over her head breaks. She was ugly! I bent down to pet her cat, it was the hair on her legs. Ugly chick. I took her to the top of the Empire State Building, airplanes started to attack her. I mean ugly. When two guys broke in her apartment, she yelled, "Rape!" They yelled "No!"

So fucking good. There's not a single extra word in there. And the rhythm of his delivery is great too. The last paragraph just builds and builds, rapid-fire. It's like a fighter landing jab after jab. It really elevates the one-liner style to a whole new plane when you can build one joke on top of another like that. Although they're not one liner guys, you see people like Daniel Tosh and Greg Giraldo use a similar sorta pile-on style.

I also inserted a lot of the little asides he uses. Funny how just these lines can become hilarious when used to fill in the cracks between jokes.

What a crowd...Classy crowd...What d'ya wanna fight now? It's a funny line, don't give me that BS. I've been through enough in my life...Are you kidding?...I tell ya...For crying out loud...etc.

Definitely a learning experience to actually write down a great comic's material and study their rhythm and delivery this way.

The Comic's Comic recaps Schtick or Treat

Sean McCarthy on Schtick or Treat:

It was the most fun I've seen out of this community since the last time so many of them had gathered at The Creek in early January for "50 First Jokes." And by this community, I mean I'm not sure how to classify this sub-group of the New York comedy scene. They're not the alt-alt comics. They're not underground comics. They're not the AA ball or junior circuit. So who are they? Do I even need to find a word to categorize them?

"Alt-alt comics" might work because then then it could just be called AA. Are you kidding me? Count me out though...I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member. (Viva Groucho!)

Schtick or TreatPhoto from Schtick or Treat: Woody Allen, Janeane Garafolo, and Mitch Hedberg (aka Gilad Foss, Mara Herron, and Chelsea White).


THU = The Manhattan debut of WE'RE ALL FRIENDS HERE

The Manhattan debut of...
Hosted by Matt Ruby and Mark Normand
The Slipper Room
Thursday, Oct. 30 - $5
Doors at 7PM, Showtime at 8PM (sharp!)
167 Orchard St. (between Stanton and Rivington)

The most inappropriate comedy chat show/podcast around makes its Manhattan debut! The past couple of shows were standing room only at The Creek so we're excited to bring it from LIC to the LES. This show will feature:

Victor Varnado (Conan)
Myq Kaplan (Live at Gotham)
Brooke Van Poppelen (UCB)
Mike Lawrence

...and lots of boundary issues. Afterwards, there's a burlesque show that's FREE for all WAFH attendees.

Listen to the podcast.

WAFH Flyer

From high to low

Ah, funny how fickle this standup thing is. Saturday night we're opening up a show to an overstuffed house, the next night I'm standing on a box in the back of Beauty Bar trying to be louder than the DJ in the front who likes to drown out the comics. The audience is four people (three of whom are Irish) and a few comics in the back. And it's like trying to lift something way too fucking heavy.

One lesson learned: If your audience is mostly foreigners, X out your jokes that have pop culture references for punchlines before you get onstage. I started two jokes only to realize that 3/4 of the audience was gonna have no idea what I was talking about when I got to the end. Whoops.

And I realized afterwards I actually had a great bit to pull out in that situation (my Scott Baio vs. Brits thing). Always painful when you get offstage and then realize exactly what joke you shoulda told.

Back when I was doing more club shows, I prob woulda handled it better. You get used to tourists in clubs. Actually, that's a real problem with doing mostly alternative rooms: Ya get accustomed to completely homogeneous audiences. Can be a dangerous thing if you want to be funny to all kinds of people.

It's one problem I have with shows in, say, Williamsburg. They're often well attended but you're usually performing for exclusively W'burg hipsters. That's fine and all but I'd rather have a wider cross-section in the audience. Manhattan is a hub so shows there get a better mix of people from uptown, Brooklyn, Queens, the 'burbs, etc.


Schtick or Treat was amazing!

Schtick or Treat last night was great. Maybe the funnest comedy show I've seen in NYC. I'm biased but ask anyone else who was there. It was a great vibe, the laughs were nonstop, and the place was packed (people were squeezed into the hallway outside the theater trying to catch a glimpse).

All the seats were filled with civilians, while all the comics stood in the back (nearly every comic stuck around for the entire 2 1/2 hour show too). And it was the rare night where the comics in the back of the room laughed harder than the real audience members in front. The audience seemed to be playing catch up (they didn't instantly recognize all the comics) but they still were having a great time.

I did my set as Rodney Dangerfield and had a blast.

I'm getting old. At my age, I want two girls at once so if I fall asleep they got each other to talk to. Are you kidding?

Standout sets came in two flavors: those who were accurate and those who brought their own flavor. Dan Soder's Dave Chappelle was pitch perfect. Gilad Foss' Woody Allen also was dead on. Sven Wechsler's Yakov Smirnoff had a delightful Russkieness. And Cheslee Calloway's Tom McCaffrey was pretty sweet...right? And McCaffrey (who did Louis CK) was even in the room to enjoy it, the only comic to both perform and be imitated.

As far as bringing their own flavor, I thought Ross Hyzer's Chris Rock was great. He went up pretending he didn't understand the concept and thought he was just going to show a clip of a bit he liked (even I bought it and yelled out, "You don't have to go.") He said he'd perform it anyway and then way into Rock's infamous n*****s vs. black people bit and meekly started explaining why he hates n*****s. Afterwards, he told me he's been waiting years to be able to pull off that idea. My cohost Mark Normand's Paula Poundstone was also great. Immense shoulder pads and lots of sprawling over a chair made the whole thing way funnier than the actual Poundstone.

Afterwards, a couple who had been in the audience came up to me and asked, "Who was the girl who told the joke about the banana? The one where it's red?" I realized she meant Mitch Hedberg (whom Chelsea White had performed). The woman asked me to write down both Mitch's name and Chelsea's name because she wanted to hear Mitch and also see Chelsea perform again sometime. That seems like the perfect outcome: audience members being introduced to both a legend and a local up and comer.

Overall, it was great to see the whole scene come together like that. It had a really pleasant, positive vibe and someone even commented, "If every show had this much positivity with comics getting along and having fun, a lot more people would come out to comedy shows in New York." I don't know about all that but it definitely felt like a cool, "you had to be there" moment. And you can bet we'll be schticking again in a year.


Schtick or Treat (Sat) is Time Out NY Critic's pick

Time Out NY on Schtick or Treat: "Following the lead of tribute bands, more than 30 local comedians perform as their favorite stand-ups in this Halloween special. Tom McCaffrey as Louis C.K., Dan St. Germain as Monique, etc. There's no way this won't be fun."

Quick jokes or longer bits?

Did a two-minute audition spot for a standup competition this week. Was able to squeeze in three bits. Afterwards I wondered if I shoulda gone for more one-liners. Get more mileage that way.

Talked about it with the comic who went before me and he said though he normally prefers to do bits, in situations like that he tries to get four quick setup/punch jokes in and then tell one bit at the end. His explanation was something like this: "Look at who gets 'Live at Gotham' and those other shows...It's the guys who tell jokey jokes, not long bits."

Then last night at Kabin, I walked out feeling almost the opposite. Had a fun set but the quick jokes I did felt flatter than the longer bits. Maybe it was my delivery. They still worked, just had to fight to get 'em over. As soon as I got into some longer bits and more personal stuff, I felt more relaxed and the crowd started to get into it more. It really all depends on time/place/crowd/mood...so many moving parts. Part of what makes standup so fascinating.

Btw, that Kabin show is really killing it, def one of the best shows going downtown right now. Everyone had a great set at it last night. And man, Dan St. Germaine had a breakout spot at the end. The crowd just loved his long act outs, which get very theatrical and keep going. He even got a standing ovation from a couple of people there. Always fun to watch people you know have a "next level" set like that.


The problem with fitting in

Was thinking about that "When Standup Stood Out" movie recently. In it, all the Boston comics were jealous of the breakout success of Steven Wright and Bobcat Goldthwait.

But when you look back, the distinctiveness of their acts set them miles apart from the rest of the pack. All the other guys blurred into a faceless mob of angry, Irish, working class dudes who tell the same kind of jokes. (Imagine the guys who work the docks in season two of The Wire, just Irish instead of Polish and comics instead of dock workers.) No wonder Carson's booker went for the weirdos instead.

More evidence why it's good to develop a unique voice — that includes material, delivery, look, etc. — that stands out from the pack. If you fit in seamlessly with all the other comics in your crew, you're just a face in the crowd.

Upcoming shows at Kabin, Chelsea Market, etc.

Shows I'll be on in the next week...
10/23 THU 9PM: Comedy as a Second Language @ Kabin
10/24 FRI 9PM: [Not comedy] Rare live performance by my band Ruby Lament (at loft party in Williamsburg, email me for details)
10/25 SAT 8PM: Shtick or Treat @ The Creek
10/26 SUN 9PM: Vince & Jesse's show @ Beauty Bar
10/27 MON 7:30PM: Comedy Night @ The Chelsea Market
10/27 MON 9PM: Comedy Dungeon @ Jazz on the Park
10/30 THU 8PM: We’re All Friends Here @ The Slipper Room


Doing 30 and visiting the junkyard

So I did a 30 minute set on Friday. That's a lot more room to stretch out than the 7-10 min sets you typically get in NYC. It was nice to be able to go deeper into some personal stuff (e.g. talking about my parents) that maybe doesn't have as many punchlines-per-minute but has more of a narrative. I also dusted off some golden oldies (a few of which proved themselves worthy of a comeback).

Actually, that's something I've been doing a lot more in the past few months: revisiting old jokes and retooling them. I used to constantly plow ahead with writing fresh material. I figured the best way to learn about creating funny was to try to keep making it from scratch.

But now that I've got more experience under my belt, it's fun to go back to the old stuff and see if there's any gold there. A lot of times there's a good premise that I didn't milk enough or didn't know how to maximize back then. (Dan refers to his old jokes as a "junkyard" that he dives into occasionally to find gems, a good analogy methinks.) It's funny how just one new tag or a slight changing to the wording can breathe new life into a bit that seemed stale.


"We're All Friends Here" podcast: play, subscribe, or share

As of November '09, the new We're All Friends Here podcast is available on BreakThru Radio, an online radio station.


BTR Episodes:

  • BTR episode 8/21/2012: Andy Hendrickson, Michelle Wolf, and Nimesh Patel
  • BTR episode 7/26/2012: Jermaine Fowler, Adam Conover, and Jessica Watkins
  • BTR episode 6/19/2012: Nate Fridson, Rojo Perez, and Taylor Ketchum
  • BTR episode 3/20/2012: Greg Stone, Tim Warner, and Luis Gomez
  • BTR episode 1/17/2012: Matt Ruby and Mark Normand interview each other (with guest co-host Neal Stastny)
  • BTR episode 12/20/2011: Adam Newman, Justy Dodge, and Chris Distefano
  • BTR episode 11/15/2011: (Encore) Tom Sibley, Calise Hawkins, and Jonathan Powley
  • BTR episode 10/18/2011: Jessimae Peluso, Andy Sandford, and Amber Nelson
  • BTR episode 09/20/2011: (Best of) Damien Lemon, Dan Carroll, and Jason Saenz
  • BTR episode 08/16/2011: Tim Dimond, Nore Davis, and Jeff Wesselschmidt
  • BTR episode 07/19/2011: (Best of) James Adomian, Michael Che, and Tom Sibley
  • BTR episode 06/21/2011: Jason Good, Rae Sanni, Thomas Dale
  • BTR episode 05/17/2011: Yannis Pappas, Jesse Popp, and Dan Soder
  • BTR episode 04/19/2011: Zach Broussard, George Gordon, and Harrison Greenbaum
  • BTR episode 03/15/2011: Nick Maritato, Phoebe Robinson, and Morgan Venticinque
  • BTR episode 02/15/2011: Michael Che, Zach Sims, and Erin Judge
  • BTR episode 01/18/2011: Damien Lemon, Selena Coppock, Chris Laker
  • BTR episode 12/21/2010: Nate Bargatze, Dan Carroll, James Adomian
  • BTR episode 11/16/2010: (Best of) Kevin Barnett, Mike Lawrence, and Ray Combs Jr.
  • BTR episode 10/19/2010: Jason Saenz, Doug Smith, and Anthony Devito
  • BTR episode 09/21/2010: Tom Sibley, Calise Hawkins, and Jonathan Powley
  • BTR episode 08/17/2010: Sarah Maywalt, Trey Galyon, and Kevin Barnett
  • BTR episode 06/15/2010: Two Year Anniversary Show with Ali Wong, Erik Bergstrom, and Brooke Van Poppelen
  • BTR episode 05/18/2010: John F. O'Donnell, Yannis Pappas, and Ray Combs Jr.
  • BTR episode 04/20/2010: Mike Lawrence, Josh Comers, and Mara Herron
  • BTR episode 03/16/2010: (Couples show) Sean O'Connor/Nicolia Demas, Luke Thayer/Abbi Crutchfield, and John/Molly Knefel
  • BTR episode 02/16/2010: Sam Morril, Mike Recine, and Mick Diflo
  • BTR episode 01/20/2010: Joe List, Nick Turner, and Neil Constantine
  • BTR episode 12/29/2009: Erik Bergstrom, Robert Dean, and Blaine Perry
  • BTR episode 11/24/2009: Roger Hailes, Giulia Rozzi, Leo Allen, and Jesse Geller

Or subscribe via iTunes or RSS feed. (Note: It will show up in your iTunes under the title "Breakthru Radio.")

How to subscribe to the show FREE on iTunes:

1. Open iTunes
2. In the top menu, click "Advanced"
3. Select "Subscribe to Podcast"
4. Copy and paste this address into the pop-up window: http://feeds.feedburner.com/wafh
5. In your "Podcasts" page, to the left side of the podcast title (the title is "Breakthru Radio Podcast"), click the little arrow to expand the contents. (Make sure you're viewing the page in "List Form." Click "View" at the top and select "as List")
6. Then click the little "Get All" button on the right of the title to download every episode of We're All Friends Here. Enjoy!

(Thanks to Citizen Radio for the iTunes instructions.)

Older episodes of We're All Friends Here: For older episodes (from June '08 to Sept. '09), you can listen via the player below, via iTunes, or RSS feed.

About the show: We're All Friends Here is a comedy chat show with boundary issues hosted by Matt Ruby and Mark Normand. The live show, which began in May '08, occurs once a month at The Creek in Long Island City, Queens (just one subway stop from Brooklyn and Manhattan). Each show is also recorded and published as a podcast too.

The format: Matt and Mark host NYC comics who do a quick set and then sit down to talk about taboo issues from their lives (sex, drugs, religion, race, etc.) Things can get a bit hairy but it's a safe place — we're all friends here.

We're All Friends Here

Smell this weed?

How come when people have really good weed they always want you to smell it first? That's not how you do that drug. It's like saying, "Man, this cocaine is amazing...you've got to listen to it!"

Schtick or Treat is this Saturday

Schtick or Treat Flyer

See the full lineup and details.


Tight ship at the Cellar

The Comedy Cellar is the best room in town (maybe the country?). Consistently good lineups and lots of big name drop ins (Rock, Chappelle, CK, etc.).

But it's interesting how they work with new comics. From what I've gathered, comics there (at least new ones anyway) need to do the exact same set each time. Throw in a new joke and the guys who run the place will ask you about it. The reason: They want you to do only A material. Want to try something new? Then do it somewhere else. Also, they give you lots of notes before and after your sets (even up to which jokes you should tell and the order to do them in).

Seems a bit controlling but they do have a great thing going so you can't really knock 'em that much. And you've gotta admire the hands on approach compared to the lackadaisical attitude at a lot of other clubs (where the people who run the place don't seem to give a shit about the actual quality of the performances).

It's good for audiences and the club but, I imagine, not the funnest situation for comics. You can see why lots of the guys who work there enjoy getting to perform in alternative rooms where experimenting is encouraged.

FYI, the Cellar's site offers free passes for Sunday to Thursday (2 item min still applies though).


My first 30

I'll be performing for 30 minutes tonight at The First Half Hour show at The Creek. Opening up: Melissa Surach and David Cope. Looking forward to stretching out.

Joe Powers benefit show on Nov. 20

Tickets now available for "The Joe Powers Healing Blowout" at Gotham Comedy Club on Thurs, Nov 20th @ 7:30pm. Ted Alexandro and Arj Barker on the bill and all proceeds go to Joe's fund. Big ups to the comics participating and Becky Donahue, Mara Herron, Meg Cupernall, JoAnn Grigioni, and everyone else who's helping to put this together.

The purity of people who can't stop themselves

Larry Charles (writer/director of Seinfeld, Curb, Borat, Religulous, etc.) on his mentor Larry David:

He is a savant. [Savants] have to do what they do. They don't have any choice. They can't make adjustments. This is what they do. This is their vision. If you accept it, great. If you don't accept it, it's not gonna change. This is what they do.

If they're sitting on a bench at a bus stop, they'll be saying the same things as they will on stage. That is who they are. They're very true to themselves. They completely trust their instincts.

And that's how Bill [Maher] is too. Bill trusts his instincts. He's willing to even alienate people that like him in order to speak the truth. And there's just very few people out there who have that kind of vision.

Who doesn't love Larry David? Maher is kinda a condescending, smug prick. But I still enjoy listening to him. He may be a prick, but he's also usually right (and impressively brave too).

It's interesting how both these "savants" come off as completely unlikable in a lot of ways yet still attract devoted audiences. Being funny obviously helps but I also think it's about what Charles mentions.

There's a compelling purity to someone who can't stop themselves. Like CK talking about wiping shit out of his daughters vagina. It's terrible and disgusting. But beautiful in its honesty. When someone's totally honest, direct, and unyielding, it's tough to turn away. Even if it's something you disagree with or hate, you respect them for being out there and willing to say it.

I think that's a big part of why audiences turn to performers: to say and do things they can't in their own lives. It's a kind of wish fulfillment. People love the idea of rock stars because they can't shoot heroin, throw TVs off of balconies, and bang groupies in their own lives. With comedy, audiences love to hear a comic say that offensive or unpopular thing that they've secretly thought all along but would never dare say aloud.

FYI, the quote above is from Charlie Rose's interview with Charles and Maher (clip below, quote is 21:36 in).


Asian people have straight pubic hair

Whoa, I just learned this the other day: Asian people have straight pubic hair. Talk about breaking the rules! These guys are pube mavericks. I'm impressed.

I know one guy who's half Asian and half white so I asked him about it. He answered, "I'm half Asian and half Jewish actually." I didn't understand how this was relevant. Are half of his pubes straight while the other half is those long curls that orthodox Jews grow? That'd be impressive.

I guess this reveals that I've never been with an Asian girl. It's not that I don't find 'em attractive, I just don't want to be one of those white guys who's into Asian girls. You know the type...They carry a messenger bag everywhere, they listen to NPR, they're scared of white women.

Actually, that does sound a lot like me. Hmm.


Madonna wants us to "respect her privacy"

Madonna is getting divorced and wants the media to "respect her privacy." You know, because she's really kept her personal life under wraps up to this point in her career.

I will go along with this if we can declare a joint media truce. I "respect her privacy" and, when her next album comes, she respects my apathy. No interviews, no PR campaign, and no ridiculously airbrushed photos = I won't give a shit about your divorce, Madge. Deal?

Me to Moby: "I'm the guy who made that video about all the different ways to kill you"

Ha, I kinda figured it would happen at some point...

The scene: The Rene Risque & the Art Lovers show at Rockwood Music Hall last night. I walk in and see Moby standing right in front of me. The following conversation ensues:

MR: Hey, are you Moby?
Moby: Yeah.
MR: Oh, I don't mean to be weird but I'm the guy who made that video about all the different ways to kill you.
Moby: [Silence...seems confused]
MR: It had 40 different ways to murder you, like with ninjas and stuff. You posted about it at your blog.
Moby: Oh yeah.
MR: I just wanted to let you know that it was a joke and I don't actually want to kill you.
Moby: Ha, yeah. I know. I thought it was a joke all along but some of the other people who saw it seemed to take it seriously.
MR: Yeah, you've got a few kooky fans.

That's kinda a weird way to start a conversation: "I'm the guy who made that video about all the different ways to kill you." (My standard opener is usually much lighter: "Hey, it's me...the guy who's been digging through your trash!")

Anyway, we actually had a brief chat that was cordial. Talked about how people can't tell the difference between fake and real videos (apparently he just made a joke video where he's trying to find 13-year-olds to be in a hardcore band but most of the people who watch it think it's legit).

Also, we talked about how YouTube comments bring out the worst in humanity (I suggested it was due to the anonymity of it all, he thought it was something about brain chemistry).

He'll be the guest on Dave Hill's show at UCB this week too. Apparently, he's Dave's backup when no other guest is available.

And then we parted ways. I always felt a bit weird that someone might take that video seriously in any way so I'm glad it's all good with the man himself at least.

If ya want the whole story, check out "Moby's #1 fan is out to get me."


Compliment the one good joke

I like telling the truth. But that's bad when you're supposed to be polite. Case in point: I'm bad at talking with another comic after they've had a bad set. Inside, I'm thinking, "Jeesh, that was pretty ugly." That won't win ya many friends though.

So lately I've been trying a technique I've seen others use effectively (sometimes on me): Pick out one joke and compliment them on that. Even in a bad set there's usually one bit that's decent (or at least has potential). Let 'em know that there was something there worth building on. Works just as well after a good set too.

Sure, it's a little bit Carnegie-esque. But hey, that's better than being a dick about the whole thing.


Nothing's more relatable than right now

When I go onstage, I usually try to start off by riffing on something in the room. Something about the venue, the audience, an earlier comic, whatever. It helps ease the way into material and makes the whole thing seem less scripted.

Some examples from recent gigs: At The Living Room, I commented on the discrepancy between the size of the audience and the number of cameramen capturing the show. At Comedyland, I talked about an earlier comic's set and how he did oddly geographically specific crowdwork with a girl from Kentucky (audio). At Comic's Inn, I made fun of the shitty PA and the bizarre shelf on the wall. At Comix, I questioned the idea of having a bathroom attendant at a free comedy show.

This sort of commentary almost always gets a laugh. People give you points for coming up with something off the cuff. Plus, a huge part of comedy is being relatable. Nothing's more relatable than that specific place at that specific time. Everyone in the room is sharing that experience and can definitely relate.

I've noticed that Jon Stewart takes this idea to the next level a lot during the beginning of The Daily Show. He'll actually start the broadcast by riffing on an inside joke that only the studio audience understands. He does it pretty often too. Curious because I've never seen any other TV broadcast do it.

For example, check out the time machine lines he uses to start off this episode of the show:

Clearly a reference to something he and the audience discussed during warmup. I guess Stewart thinks it's worth leaving us viewers on the outside in order to get the studio crowd on his side. His version of making sure "the base is energized" before starting the campaign.


Latest WAFH podcast: Jared Logan, Dan Goodman, Josh Homer, and Pete Holmes

The latest episode of the "We're All Friends Here" podcast is live. Features Jared Logan, Dan Goodman, Josh Homer, and Pete Holmes. Topics include Asian bone structure, messy blow jobs, prostitution, shower techniques, weed, and Al Pacino.


Schtick or Treat: 30+ NYC comedians perform as their favorite comedy legends

Here we go! Matt Ruby and Mark Normand present two BIG shows...

A pre-Halloween comedy tribute show
30+ NYC comedians come together to perform as their favorite comedy legends!
Sat Oct 25 @ 8pm - FREE
The Creek in Long Island City
10-93 Jackson Ave at 49th Ave
Just one subway stop from Brooklyn and Manhattan

The idea: Bands often perform special "tribute" sets on Halloween and do an entire show as a famous band. It's always a lot of fun and crowds love it. So we figured why not do the same thing with comedy? It will be a quick turnover show where each comic gets up to three minutes to do their thing. Expect mayhem.

Bernie Mac (Mike Dobbins)
Louis CK (Tom McCaffrey)
Sam Kinison (Sean Patton)
Monique (Dan St. Germain)
Jake Johannsen (Kumail Nanjiani)
Norm Macdonald (Jesse Popp)
Bobcat Goldwaith (Ben Kissel)
Mr. Mike (Matt McCarthy)
Chris Rock (Ross Hyzer)
Don Rickles (Luke Thayer)
Yakov Smirnoff (Sven Wechsler)
Paula Poundstone (Mark Normand)
Janeane Garofalo (Mara Herron)
Ellen Degeneres (Claudia Cogan)
Kevin Meaney (Jared Logan)
Eddie Izzard (Ed Murray)
Mitch Hedberg (Chelsea White)
Sinbad (Abbi Crutchfield)
Sarah Silverman (Becky Ciletti)
Steven Wright (Pat O'Shea)
Rodney Dangerfield (Matt Ruby)
Brian Regan (Joselyn Hughes)
Dave Chappelle (Dan Soder)
Jim Gaffigan (Blaine Perry)
Steve Martin (Adam Newman)
Eddie Murphy (Matt Maragno)
Tom McCaffrey (Cheslee Calloway)
George Carlin (Jason Saenz)
Woody Allen (Gilad Foss)
Dave Attell (Charlie Kasov)
Chris Tucker (Mike Drucker)
Todd Barry (Sean O'Connor)
Martin Lawrence (Mike Lawrence)
Dov Davidoff (Billy the Kid)
Maria Bamford (Jamie Lee)
Bob Saget (Margie Kment)
Freddie Prinze (Gabe Pacheco)
Bill Cosby (Nick Turner)
Joan Rivers (Brandy Barber)
Doug Stanhope (Tim Warner)
Rip Taylor (Greg Barris)
Gallagher (Pat Stango)
Carlos Mencia (Mo Diggs)

$1 baby margaritas and $1 jello shots from 11pm - 1am
DJ Matt Lament spins downstairs


The Manhattan debut of...
Hosted by Matt Ruby and Mark Normand
The Slipper Room
Thursday, Oct. 30 @ 8pm - $5
167 Orchard St. (between Stanton and Rivington)

The most inappropriate comedy chat show/podcast around makes its Manhattan debut! The past couple of shows were standing room only at The Creek so we're excited to bring it from LIC to the LES. This show will feature Victor Varnado (Conan), Myq Kaplan (Live at Gotham), Brooke Van Poppelen (UCB), Mike Lawrence (beard), and boundary issues. Lots of boundary issues.

It's a podcast too:

Dig the podcast? Subscribe to the podcast in iTunes or subscribe to the podcast's RSS feed.


Why is Todd Barry so mean to Louis CK?

A while back I posted about Todd Barry's mock feud with Louis CK. In "9 Questions with Todd Barry" [SFStandup.com], Chad Lehrman links to that post and asks Todd about it:

SF: Why do you write such mean things about Louis CK on the internet?
TB: Because he’s a red-haired piece of shit who needs to get out of the business, pronto!

Well there ya go.

Photos from The Living Room


Up close

Here I am performing at The Living Room - Show 45: The Great Debate.

I made it through without cursing. But it wasn't easy. "Turn the heck around you jerk" ain't nearly as funny as "turn the fuck around you motherfucker."


Louis CK on "brushback pitch" jokes

Louis CK on The Sound of Young America:

Around 15:20, he talks about jokes that are "brushback pitches."

I like jokes that are brushback pitches. There's a mix of laughter and people going, "Oh, Jesus!" But that turns into laughter. I like taking people to an area in their minds or their culture that they don't think they should be thinking about or laughing at, and then getting them to laugh there. That's a great thing to be able to do that. Take people to a place they're afraid of and say there's something funny here.

The joke he mentions is a 9/11 masturbation joke (it's in his latest special "Chewed Up"). Unconfirmed rumor I heard: He actually got kicked out of the Cellar once for telling it.

I watched "Chewed Up" the other night and really enjoyed it (stronger than "Shameless" I think). The fact that he's churning out a new hour every year is just incredible. It's all the buzz among comics. How funny he is + how prolific he is = he's definitely the one setting the bar right now.

If you haven't already, check out the video section of his site. Two of my faves there: Kansas City 11/05/04 and Largo 7/12/04.

The Comic's Comic has an interview and a good roundup of recent CK links around the web and Dead-Frog just published an interview too.


Norm plows through 'em at Caroline's

Saw Norm MacDonald at Caroline's the other week. Great stuff and surprisingly dark (jokes about heart attacks, shallow graves, etc.). Lots of yobos shouting out stuff during the set too. Norm's way of handling it? Ignoring 'em. He would just plow straight on through as if he couldn't hear a thing. It was pretty effective too. When one guy finally did get him to pay attention, Norm just chuckled and explained why he wasn't going to respond: "I don't really have a lot of standup skills." And then went right back into his set. A crowd like that can def make you see why people like Birbigs or CK prefer doing theaters to clubs though.

Upcoming shows at Jimmy's No. 43, TenEleven, Kabin, etc.

upcoming shows

Tonight I'll be here:

Monday (10/6)
8:30 PM
The Night Kitchen
follow the scent of bacon to:
Jimmy's No. 43
43 East 7th Street between 2nd and 3rd Aves.
6 to Astor Place/ R/W to 8th Street
F train to 2nd Avenue
1 drink minimum

Gilad Foss and Merritt Gurley host:
Dan St. Germaine
Laura Manino
Rob Cantrell
Matt Ruby
and other surprise guests!


Boston Tea Party

I heard a guy describe the Boston Tea Party this way the other day: "It's when America got a bunch of bad tea." Yeah, that's why we were so outraged...because the British were giving us bad tea. Like Nathan Hale said, "Give me chamomile or give me death!"

I'd like to see this guy teach a whole class in American history: "The Lousiana Purchase...that's when Louisiana got a really good deal on a pair of shoes at Payless. The New Deal? That's when FDR started slashing prices on stereo equipment. Good ol' Crazy Freddie."


Time slowing down

In "Born Standing Up" [Amazon], Steve Martin talks about how performing meant his mind was constantly racing ahead of whatever was coming out of his mouth.

My most persistent memory of stand-up is of my mouth being in the present and my mind being in the future: the mouth speaking the line, the body delivering the gesture, while the mind looks back, observing, analyzing, judging, worrying, and then deciding when and what to say next.

Lately I've been noticing a similar sensation: Time slowing down. The more I perform, the more things seem to be moving in slow motion while I'm onstage.

Athletes talk about this sort of thing too...how the game slows down when you're in the zone.

Basketball players, when they experience being "in the zone" report that the basket seems bigger, and feeling an almost mystical connection to it. The legendary hitter Ted Williams has said that sometimes he could see the seams on a pitched baseball. Gymnast Carol Johnson found that on some days she experienced the balance beam as wider, so "any worry of falling off disappeared."

Football quarterback star John Brodie told Michael Murphy (author of "The Psychic Side of Sports") that he found periods in every game when "time seems to slow down, in an uncanny way, as if everyone were moving in slow motion. It seems as if I had all the time in the world to watch the receivers run their patterns, and yet I know the defensive line is coming at me just as fast as ever."

I noticed a similar "time slowing down" thing at a recent show. I paused to think about what joke to tell next. Onstage, it felt like an eternity. Like some awful, 10 second-long gap. I got offstage and thought, "Fuck, what the hell was that?"

But when I listened back to it, it was just a second or two, way less than I thought. And I've noticed similar things when I listen to other sets. Onstage I feel like I'm pausing, "umm"ing, fumbling, or getting off track in some other bad way. But when I listen back it comes off as just a minor hiccup.

Hopefully this is a "muscle" that keeps growing over time. 'Cuz there are still lots of times where I get offstage only to come up with a perfect line or riff after the fact. Would be pretty amazing to get to the point where something happens in the room and it feels like there's an eternity to come up with the perfect response.

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