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.
Kary Rogers sent me an email asking why I don't have comments at this site:
I've been subscribed to your site for a while now. I enjoy reading your bits, things you've found on the web, and other comedy related experiences. Sometimes when I find a post particularly interesting, I want to follow up with a question, clarification or just a plain ol' comment.
I imagine you have a pretty decent readership and with your insightful posts about comedy, I was wondering why you don't allow comments. I feel that the reader community can increase the value of content in many instances. I know it's not always the case as there are douchebags out there intent on spreading douchebaggery.
Anyway, I like your site and was curious about your thoughts and experiences on engaging the readership.
So why no comments here? 1) I don't really think there are that many people out there who want to comment on my posts. 2) The previously mentioned douchebaggery factor: Online comments tend to be annoyingly lame/negative. 3) I haven't taken the time to figure out how to set them up.
I'd consider turning 'em on though if "the people" desire "a voice" at this site. Anyone else out there wish they could leave comments here? If so, send me an email and let me know.
According to one of the guests on this podcast, Richard Lewis and Paul Reiser got into a fistfight once. Lewis put his forearm around Reiser's throat at a club and told him to stop doing his act. That's a steel cage match I'd like to see.
Common mistake I think beginning comics make: Being a regular. Hitting the same rooms with the same people all the time. Too much comfort zone. Too much people laughing at you 'cuz you're all buddies. Mix it up instead. Getting in front of new people is the best way to stretch. Plus, you want to get seen by new people, right?
Stephen Colbert on Charlie Rose shows his improv background: "Be willing to surrender to your plan for the discovery of the moment. if you see a rabbit hole, jump in it. There are no mistakes, only discoveries."
Interesting technique for getting conversational and discovering stuff onstage: Keep speaking no matter what. Just start going and don't let silence happen. Forces you to turn to your subconscious and not overthink stuff. Surprise is funny and flowing is a great way to get it (if you're surprised by what you're saying, it's a lot more likely that other people will be too). Showalter does a good job of it in the video in this post.
The biz card for The Pit theater has a couple of quotes I like: "If you have fun, they'll have fun." And "Follow the fear, truly listen, then react."
Have you ever seen those PSAs about organ donation that mention the beloved late actor Jerry Orbach's donation of his eyes to two people and thought "I wish someone would interview those two people about what it's like to see the world through Jerry Orbach's eyes?" I have, but this animated stand-up clip by comedian Matt Ruby is much better than that idea.
It's spring! Or as we call it in Brooklyn, "lesbians on bicycles" season. You know that old saying: April showers bring May lesbians on bicycles.
It's also Passover soon. I'm a bad Jew though. I celebrate by adding some water to my liquid soap dispenser...because that’s the most Jewish thing I can think of to do.
I have a tough time with religious holidays because of all the silly stuff you're supposed to do. During Passover, you're supposed to hide the afikomen. It's like an Easter egg hunt, but with matzah instead of eggs. And there's no bunny rabbit or other cute animal attached to the process. It'd be neat if there was though. "Who hides the afikomen? Why it's the Passover Panda Bear, of course!" Everyone knows panda bears are super jewy.
The weirdest part of Passover is that you're supposed to put a glass of wine outside your house for the prophet Elijah. I'd like to meet the Jewish alcoholic who convinced everyone to go along with this plan: “Yeah, you all gotta leave wine outside your house. And tomorrow it will miraculously disappear. I don’t know how it happens. Don’t blame me. I’m just Schlomo, the Jewish town drunk...I can't believe this worked...You know what, for Yom Kippur, leave an 8-ball of coke under the welcome mat. It's for Elijah, really. Prophets need some get up and go too, ya know."
You can write good jokes. But that doesn't mean you're actually funny. Being funny means people want to laugh before you even get to the punchline.
Your look, your delivery, your rhythm, your attitude, and a bunch of other stuff are what make you funny. Think Groucho or Emo Phillips or Rodney Dangerfield. You want to laugh from the second you hear them talk.
I first felt this onstage while doing my French character, Simon Beauregard. People would laugh at the character. Just the accent and phrasing of what I said would get laughs. A light bulb went off. I was like, "Wow, this is so much easier than relying exclusively on setup/punchline to get laughs."
It's all about being a funny person, not about having funny material. Give yourself not your material...
Don't make the mistake of falling into the material trap...You should think of it in terms of you as a funny person. To the degree that you're a funny person, that's how much you'll succeed, not to the degree of the funny material that you have...
The audience wants an intimacy with the person. They want to like the person and find the person funny as a human being.
The biggest trap that new comedians fall into is trying to get by on the basis of their material. Trying to buy or write material and hiding behind it and not getting out there and just opening themselves up."
My theory: If you have to go to a seminar called "Dealing with Difficult People," then you're the difficult person. If you need to take a seminar in order to deal with the flood of obnoxious people that keep cascading into your life, maybe it's time you look in the mirror.
One of the types of people they single out for being difficult: "The 'Yes' People." Yeah, because who could be more obnoxious than someone who says yes? "Hey Bob, want to help me move on Saturday? Yes? Aw man, why are you being so difficult? I didn't even offer you pizza yet! Read the script next time."
One thing Mark and I have in common: We love to ask questions that you're not supposed to ask people. So we thought it'd be fun to base our show around that.
We'll invite our fave comics to do a set and then we'll do a post-set interview where we'll pepper 'em with inappropriate questions on topics like sex, drugs, religion, insecurities, politics, racism, or whatever.
If you like watching people who have boundary issues, it'll be right up your alley. It's ok, we're all friends here. Get it?
I'm excited to be doing the show with Mark. He's one of those people who cracks me up both onstage and off. And I think we're going to wear suits. That's how you know it's an EVENT.
The Creek is a great place to do shows too. Kingdom of Heaven and Jerk Practice have been killing it there for a while and now the place is expanding its lineup to have shows Tues-Sat nights. It's a great room to see/do comedy. Plus, there's an outdoor area that'll be most groovy for hanging now that the weather's getting nice. $2 PBRs won't hurt either.
Name of show: We're All Friends Here Cost: $5 Dates: Monthly Friday 5/16, 6/13, 7/11, 8/8 Location: The Creek and The Cave 10-93 Jackson Ave at 49th Ave Long Island City, Queens (718-706-8783) Subway: 7 to Vernon/Jackson, G to 21 St/Van Alst, E or V to 23 St/Ely Ave. Time: 8pm
A guy I know told me that when he's making love to a girl, he can't spank her on the ass because it "feels too cliché." Oh, come on dude. Does this guy really think he's such a pioneer in the bedroom? Is he the Magellan of fucking?
The bedroom is one place where you can play the Greatest Hits. You don't have to be original. No one wants an avant garde blowjob. "She took my dick out and just stared at it for 20 minutes...and then Dennis Hopper and a leprechaun started waltzing in the corner. I'm so glad it wasn't just one of those cliché blowjobs I normally get. Those are so predictable."
I think this guy wants to be the Andy Kaufman of sex. Afterwards he wants the girl to say, "I don't even know whether we had sex or not. He climbed into bed and started reading The Great Gatsby to me. And then we wrestled."
If US foreign policy could talk (using outdated movie references):
I'm US foreign policy. I'm Rambo and Rocky Balboa. Driving in a hummer. To pick up Chuck Norris and John Wayne. And we're gonna go to a pool party at Jose Canseco's place and pop some 'roids.
And then we're going to the Cobra Kai dojo. To hang out with John Kreese. And we're gonna finish a couple of handles of Canadian Club and then break some bricks with our heads and chop some wood boards with our cocks.
Why? Because if we don't do it, who will? You Lt. Caffey? You Lt. Weinberg? I don't think so. You need us up on that wall. Otherwise the world is going to be run by people who don't speak English. And you know what people who don't speak English say? Neither do I. And that's just not gonna fly.
You think I'm gonna let those Europussies tell me how many kilometers an hour I can drive? Not on my watch.
You think I'm going to let Mr. Miyagi and his bonzai tree tell me how to spend my tax dollars? Not in my backyard.
Michael Buffer is the announcer who does those "Let's get ready to rumble" introductions at sporting events. He's even trademarked the phrase. At his site, you can join the Michael Buffer "Rumble Team" and report any violations:
The Buffer Partnership now offers a financial reward to those who report a corroborated unauthorized use [resulting in an actual recovery] of the "Let's Get Ready to Rumble", "Get Ready To Rumble" or "Ready to Rumble" servicemarked phrases...
I decided to report a violation to the email address at that page:
Dear Mr. Buffer (or one of his underlings),
Let's get ready to email!
I'm a big fan of your "Let's get ready to rumble" introductions to various sporting events. When I hear your voice, my blood begins to BOIL like water in a teapot that loves boxing.
Recently, I noticed on the "Rumble Rewards" section of your website that you constantly deal with "Let's get ready to rumble" violations reported to you by fans around the world (and you even give these fans a special gift).
Well, I'd like to report a VIOLATION that I have discovered: I saw a commercial for Kraft Cheese Crumbles with the phrase "Let's get ready to crumble!"
Do you see what Kraft is trying to do here? If you take out the c from crumble, well, you see where I'm going with this.
It saddened me to see your catchphrase, which is so melodic yet still barbaric, being used to sell, of all things, cheese. Cheese! "Let's get ready to rumble" is a call to arms for GLADIATORS, not cheese that falls apart (sounds like this is the Buster Douglas of cheese).
In fact, I have my suspicions that Kraft isn't even REAL cheese. I've read that some Kraft products are created in a laboratory. Also, despite their intensity, your words have never clogged my ARTERIES.
Kraft probably thinks they need to use your slogan to "stay in the ring" with Velveeta. But this is not THE WAY to do it. I think it's time you and I team up to give Kraft a TKO. (That stands for "Technical Knockout." Though in this case we may be looking at an LKO, "Legal Knockout." Your lawyers can advise you on that.)
As for the special gift you promise, you don't have to bother. JUSTICE is reward enough for me. As Edmund Burke once said, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." This is a credo that I live by.
That and "Let's get ready to rumble."
However, the economy is tough these days. So I am willing to accept the CASH BONUS you mention at your site. I wish I could pay the rent with justice, but my LANDLORD has repeatedly stated that's a "no go." Please let me know the amount and when I can expect payment ASAP.
Together, we'll get them to throw in the towel! Matt Ruby
P.S. I will also be contacting the band EMF since Kraft is using their song "Crumbelievable" in this commercial. EMF may not hold a candle to JESUS JONES, but they have rights too.
I measure comics by how funny they are to me the fourth, fifth, or sixth time I see them. I'm more impressed by people who can generate lots of funny material instead of just nailing one eight-minute set. If I see you doing the exact same set as six months ago, I tune out. And I figure that's what you've done too.
Tired: Comedy that's based on awkwardness, uncomfortable silences, interviews between people who don't like each other, etc. Sure, we all love The Office and Curb but they preceded all these Burger King commercials and web series that cover the same territory. The genre now comes off as a photocopy of a photocopy of something that was funny.
In NYC, you spend the first few years performing for other comics. But comics suck as audience members. They're usually bitter, jaded, comedy fatigued, and/or not paying attention. I'd say each real audience member is worth about three comics in the crowd (i.e. I'd rather perform in front of five real audience members than 15 comics).
I crack up when I see comics tell one joke and then look at their notes. If you have to look at notes after only one joke, what the fuck are you doing up there? You've got to be able to remember at least two jokes. If you smoke that much weed, at least start writing notes on your hand so it's a little subtle. (Confession: I do the hand thing sometimes. But it's mostly a mental crutch since I wind up not even checking it 80% of the time.)
Overheard: The entire audience at the second round of Last Comic Standing performances in NYC was made up of soap opera actors. And Live at Gotham tapings had smoke machines to make the venue look more "clubby" on camera. Reality tv that's fake!? It's like Captain Renault in the casino in Casablanca: "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here."
Emo Phillips on Comical Radio: "You can't teach standup comedy. If you could, you would see a lot more Asians doing it. We need the live response from the audience. It's a messy, chaotic, wonderful, exciting thing."
I really like watching shows on VH1: Scott Baio is 45 and Single, Scott Baio is 46 and Pregnant, Scott Baio is 47 and Cancelled...Scott Baio is 48 and Suicidal.
I told that joke the other night and there were two guys from England in the front row. One of them shouted out, "Who's Scott Baio?" I asked them, "Did you ever have Happy Days in England?" They looked at each other and said, "Yeah."
Then I realized that they didn't get I meant Happy Days the tv show. To them, it sounded like I thought they'd never had a single happy day in their lives...because they didn't know who Scott Baio was. "You mean you've never seen Charles in Charge? You must not know the meaning of the word happiness." "All that rain and no Chachi? I'm amazed you even survived."