I know what it feels like to be a beautiful woman

See, I'm at a bar recently. A bus boy comes out from the back with a pizza. But he doesn't know who ordered it. So he just starts making eye contact with everyone in the room trying to figure out who ordered this pizza. And then he locks eyes with me. And I lock eyes with him. And he looks at his pizza and up at me hopefully. And then I realize what's going on. Uh oh. I don't want pizza. So I just shake my head, look at the ground, and shuffle off to the corner.

And I realize something. That feeling, that moment — that's how beautiful women feel all the time. Like every man in the world is trying to deliver a pizza they didn't order.

I think it's tough for guys to imagine what this is like. Think of it this way fellas: Imagine if every time you made eye contact with someone, they offered you a pizza. At first, you'd be all "Hey, that sounds great. I like pizza!" But that'd fade quickly. Soon you'd be saying, "Look, I'm just trying to get to work. And even if I was hungry, I wouldn't want your homeless man pizza!" Or you go to the club and everyone's pushing their pizza up against you. And some guy says, "Come back to VIP, we got bottles of oregano." And finally you get fed up and shout, "I don't want any pizza!" And a dude in the back goes, "Oh yeah? Then maybe you shouldn't have *dressed* like you wanted pizza!"


It was good

Thanks to everyone who came out and watched or performed at Schtick or Treat. It was a blast.


The arc of a comedy career and the difference between impersonating/being a comedian

Chatted with another comic recently about how family is often considered the best thing to focus on first for material. That's stuff that will always be unique to you, good for TV sets, etc.

Jon Stewart recently sat down with Terry Gross and offered up similar thoughts.

A comedian's first 15 minutes is typically about his life. Your first joke is usually who you are. "I'm a Jew who was raised in New Jersey" joke. And then you work through your family and you basically go through your entire history with them. And you sit and stare at them but they're not doing much. So you have to then spread out.

So your next jokes usually come from where you go on the road. So I've taken my act about being a Jew from New Jersey to Tennessee. Want to hear about Tennessee? And that's your next act. Your next act is about your life as a comedian.

And then when that's exhausted, you tend to turn your vision to the world. And that becomes your tableau for your career.

Of course, if you're an observational comic or do a character or whatever, it's a different path.

Stewart also mentioned what he learned doing the final set at 2am at The Cellar every night:

I learned the difference between impersonating a comedian and being a comedian. And that was my break, learning how to be authentic. Not to the audience, but to myself. I developed a baseline of not only confidence, but insecurity. I knew how bad I was and I knew how good I was.

Reminds me of Woody Allen's idea of being a funny person, not having funny material.


What a week...The 3rd Annual Schtick Or Treat and Hot Soup's 1 Year Anniversary Show!

Two amazing shows this week (Wed/Fri)...

Wednesday (10/27): Schtick or Treat @ Arlene’s Grocery

The 3rd Annual Schtick Or Treat
A pre-Halloween show of comedy “legends”
WED 10/27 @ Arlene’s Grocery
Doors: 7pm, showtime: 7:30pm sharp
Tickets: $8
95 Stanton Street (btwn Ludlow/Orchard), NYC
Facebook invite

Here we go again! The idea: It's a quick turnover night where 30+ NYC comics get two minutes each to do a set as a famous comic. Standing room only two years in a row – def one of the funnest shows to watch.

On the bill this year:
Me as Andrew Dice Clay
Mark Normand as Norm Macdonald
George Gordon as Eddie Murphy
Matt McCarthy as Bill Hicks
Erik Bergstrom as Lisa Lampanelli
Laura Prangley as Joan Rivers
Jared Logan as Soupy Sales
Dan Soder as Rodney Dangerfield
Nick Turner and Ariel Bitran as Tenacious D
...and lots more!

Full lineup and video from last year's show here. And now there's even an LA version of the show.

Friday (10/29): Hot Soup's 1 Year Anniversary Show @ O'Hanlons

Whoa, it's already been a year of Hot Soupness. Crazy how time flies when you're addicted to oxycontin. We're gonna celebrate with a blowout show this Friday at O'Hanlons. Four of the best comics in NYC (really) and all four Hot Soupers will be doing sets too.

Reggie Watts (opened for Conan on his tour, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon)
Hannibal Burress (30 Rock, SNL, all kinds of TV)
Sean Patton (Comedy Central, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon)
Jesse Popp (Comedy Central)

Seats will go fast so get there early. I'll be hosting.

Hot Soup
1-Year Anniversary Show!
FRI 10/29 @ O'Hanlons - 8pm
349 E 14th St (btwn 1st and 2nd Ave) in NYC


New episodes of We're All Friends Here on Breakthru Radio

The two latest episodes of We're All Friends Here on Breakthru Radio are now available. View in iTunes.

The first one is 09/21/10 featuring Tom Sibley, Calise Hawkins, and Jonathan Powley. It's antagonistic. The latest is 10/19/10 with Jason Saenz, Doug Smith, and Anthony Devito. That one's scarrific.


Judd Apatow's "most personal moment" on Freaks and Geeks

Marc Maron's been killing it on WTF lately. The Judd Apatow two-parter (one/two) was really interesting since he included clips of a teen Apatow interviewing comics like Seinfeld, Leno, and Shandling. Leno said he'd think of a joke during the day and then go on Letterman's show and do it that night.

This book edited by Apatow sounds interesting: "I Found This Funny: My Favorite Pieces of Humor and Some That May Not Be Funny At All." It's out now.

In another interview (and on WTF), Apatow talks about his "most personal moment" on Freaks and Geeks. (See clip below.)

When I was a kid I used to go home every day and my friends would play sports. While they would have football practice, I would watch the Dinah Shore show and the Mike Douglas show and the early “Love Connection,” and I would make a grilled-cheese sandwich and chocolate cake, and I would watch TV straight through until Letterman was over at 1:30 in the morning. In high school! And I did that way too often. And that’s my most personal moment on the show. There’s a little bit of that everywhere...All the writers contributed these horror stories from their youth, and we put them into the show. Most of it happened to someone on the show.

FYI, here's a clip of Shandling from around that time:

Apatow names Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Terms of Endearment as two of his fave movies. Here's Ebert's review of Terms of Endearment.

The most remarkable achievement of "Terms of Endearment," which is filled with great achievements, is its ability to find the balance between the funny and the sad, between moments of deep truth and other moments of high ridiculousness. A lesser movie would have had trouble moving between the extremes that are visited by this film, but because "Terms of Endearment" understands its characters and loves them, we never have a moment's doubt: What happens next is supposed to happen. because life's like that.

Funny/sad. Because life's like that. Watched it recently. Def seems like it influenced Apatow's Funny People.

Btw, Birbigs namechecks similar folks here when discussing his influences:

The movies of Woody Allen and James Brooks, and recently Cameron Crowe and Judd Apatow, and the books of David Sedaris and David Foster Wallace and Sarah Vowell and the plays of Kenneth Lonergan. So you get inspired by what you get inspired by. In stand-up, Pryor and Seinfeld.


Kombucha, method acting, "Let the River Run," etc.

What have I been posting about at Twitter? I'm glad you asked!

I am really into Rom Coms. Y'know, Romanian Communists.

NY Post headline writer's wet dream: A Buddhist monk caught committing armed robbery. Resulting headline = "Felonious Monk!"

Kombucha is really tasty if you like fruit juice with a nice lil' splash of aftertaste vomit.

Me to real estate agent: "Pardon me, sir, how do I get to Carnegie Hall?" His reply: "Location, location, location."

Method actor? Pshaw. Be a rhythm method actor: No acting on days 8-19 of each month. After that, act inside whatever you want!

Angelina Jolie is like a crazy cat lady, but with third world babies instead of cats.

Apparently this is a bad thing to say to a friend: "If you need a list of topics you should discuss with your therapist, let me know."

There's never been an accountant with dreadlocks.

Only young people like sweet drinks, like Absolut Raspberry. Old people don't need vodka infused with anything except broken dreams.

Watching "Working Girl." That song "Let the River Run"...is that about menstruation? After all, that is truly the sign of a working girl.

People keep telling me I look like Dexter. I need to stop murdering.

More at twitter.com/mattruby.


Recap of shows from my recent trip out west

Didn't get a chance to recap my recent trip out west yet. Here goes:

Victoria, BC
Started out in Victoria, BC. Great show at a place called Heckler's. A bit worrisome at first since ya walk in and it's a sports bar filled with people eating and big screens on all over the place. But at 9pm the lights go down, the TVs go off, and the place morphs nicely into a venue.

Of course it's a terrible name for a place but I will say they have the best pre-show announcement I've ever heard to get people to shut up and turn off cellphones. It's a pre-recorded bit that explains that even though the name is Heckler's that doesn't mean you should yell shit out. And then it explains what the rest of the crowd will think if ya do (via an act out by a good voiceover guy). The whole thing lays out, in a fun way, that you're a dick if you say anything or let your phone ring. Effective.

Crowd was probably 200-300 strong and they were into it right out of the gate. I opened by riffing on something the MC said and the Hamburger Challenge on the menu (one of those 2 lb. burger "you get a free meal if you agree to have a heart attack" deals). There was a Big Buck Hunter Pro game right next to stage so I moved my bit about that to the front of my set. Always fun when you can take an established bit and make it seem like something that just came to you.

I wound up doing 37 minutes total and it felt great. So nice to be able to do that much time in front a big crowd (in NYC, I rarely get spots longer than 15 mins). A big crowd is a different animal. It starts to feel like a single organism instead of individuals. And the long set means you can actually get a fleshed out identity across (tougher to do that in quick sets). I felt like a real performer that night which is a feeling I don't get in NYC very often.

In NYC, crowd reactions often make it feel like you're trying to take a dog on a walk when he doesn't want to go anywhere. Sure, you can get somewhere if you yank the leash hard enough. But it's a struggle. You can't use pauses and timing the way you can in other places. You need to keep slapping 'em in the face.

This was different. It was a crowd of hundreds who were out to have a good time and excited to be there. I have one joke about my mom being paralyzed in the final years of her life. It can be iffy due to the subject matter, but it got the biggest reaction it's ever gotten that night. I had to wait 10 seconds before I could even go on to the next bit. I just kept saying a single word from the punch ("never") over and over while waiting for the laughs to die down.

Anyway, nights like that make all the heavy lifting and shitty shows in NYC seem worth it.

Vancouver, BC
My next two shows were in Vancouver. Smaller gigs with shorter sets, but still fun. At first one, the comics stood in a paneled box at the front of the room. My opener: "I know you guys like hockey, but I didn't expect to be performing in a penalty box." The next night I followed a gal comic and a dude in the front row yelled out at her "show us your tits." I guess some things transcend borders.

It's interesting to perform in Canada because you have to start thinking about cultural references they may not get. Things I now know: They don't have Luna Bars. They don't know the game Fuck, Marry, Kill. They don't know what an Uncle Tom is. It's not Native Americans, it's First Nations.

And I said 6'8" in one bit and then I'm like, wait, how many centimeters is that? Some guy yells out 203. I continued on but said 203 meters instead. Then I realized that'd be one huge dude. At that point, I just segued into talking about how dumb I feel as an American sometimes.

After that, I took the bus to Seattle. First show there was a benefit show where the charity group forgot to promote it so there were just seven folks in the crowd. One thing about NYC "training": I am SO comfortable performing in front of a group of seven people. A depressing skill to have, in a way, but also nice to not be someone pushing jokes hard to folks who are like "Why is this guy pretending that what's happening isn't actually happening?"

I began with something like: "Comedy is best when the audience is unified as a group on a positive wavelength. You guys definitely feel unified...but it feels more like the unity of a group of people who have been taken hostage. It's a unity that says, 'We're going to get through this together.'" At least it was real.

Next show was a mic. Always surprises me when I do mics in other cities and there are actual audience members there. I went up last but got to do about 20 minutes and talked about some of the other comics who had performed that night (always a fun thing to do at mics since they attract, um, a fringe element).

Then went into material. At mics in NYC, I try new stuff. But there I kept to jokes that work already. It was all new to them and I wanted to make a good impression since there were a bunch of decent comics there too. One good thing about a mic is you get to meet a bunch of comics in that place. Not always doable at regular shows.

Then I did a weekend of guest sets at the Seattle Comedy Underground, four shows in all. The good about that: Shows were packed, esp on Saturday night. The not so good: I was doing quick 5 min sets, all clean, and as the first comic onstage (no host). Still fun but felt rushed. That's a great club though.

And now I've been back in NYC for a bit. Great to be back but it sure is nice to tell jokes elsewhere every once in a while.


Doug Smith added to Saturday's We're All Friends Here

Lineup change! Just added to the show on Sat: Doug Smith (hero who saved damsel in distress/the white scarface)!!!! Show details.

CC Insider on what happened...

Just a few days ago, up and coming New York comedian Doug Smith did something truly heroic. In the 2nd Avenue station, he saw a woman being accosted by a man possibly attempting to sexually assault her. Doug stepped in to help, and the attacker took a box-cutter to his face. Doug now has 25 stitches across his face.

We'll find out all about it.


This week: We're All Friends Here, Hot Soup, Holiday Cocktail Lounge

Free shows I'm doing this week:

WED 10/13 - "Our Amazing Show!" @ Holiday Cocktail Lounge - 7pm
75 St. Mark's Place (btwn 1st Ave & 2nd Ave)
Facebook invite

FRI 10/15 - Hot Soup @ O'Hanlons - 8pm
Guests: Rory Scovel, Carmen Lynch, Damien Lemon, Michael Che
I'm hosting, Cope is doing a spot
349 E 14th St (btwn 1st and 2nd Ave) in NYC
Facebook invite

SAT 10/16: We're All Friends Here @ The Creek - 8pm
Guests: Doug Smith, Jason Saenz, Anthony Devito (Damien Lemon on the next show)
10-93 Jackson Ave.
Long Island City, Queens (1 stop from Manhattan/Brooklyn)
Facebook invite


Escape hatches, showing your notebook, and how to craft an act

Chris Hardwick wrote a piece for Wired a few months back called Crafting a Joke: The Arc of an Act. It's a good/quick read with interesting quotes from other comics along the way.

B. J. Novak says comedians naturally gravitate toward the laughs. “Only say what you think is funny,” he says. “Only keep what they think is funny.”

Jim Gaffigan says he and his wife spend hours ripping apart a topic for jokes. “There can even be some that aren’t A’s, but within the context of other jokes they can survive. That’s how George Carlin did things,” Gaffigan says. “It’s about getting all the chicken off the bone.”

Bob Newhart builds “escape hatches,” he says. “If I get past the first bail-out point and the routine is still working, I go to the next.” Paul F. Tompkins says, “I let the actual phrasing of the idea come to me onstage, to keep it as conversational as possible.”

"Escape hatch" = good way to put that. Those extra tags can sing if the crowd's up for it. But if not, you're best off bailing while you still got 'em a little bit. Can totally see how Newhart would need some exit points in his one-sided phone call routines.

Hardwick also advises, "Never analyze comedy in public. It makes you look like a douche." I agree. This whole blog is one giant exercise in me looking like a douche.

Over at his Nerdist.com blog, Hardwick mentions the toughest thing for him about the piece.

The toughest thing for me with this piece was allowing my stand-up notebook to be photographed. A comic’s notebook is half Tome of Spells and half diary, but like a child’s drawing it only makes sense to the artist. I always fear that if I leave it in a hotel room, whoever finds it is going to misinterpret its disparate ramblings as those of a serial killer’s (I have the words “Grandpa Soapy Handjob” sloppily written down. I have no idea what it means.). I would almost rather have had my penis photographed than my notebook. I think the below picture is the comic’s equivalent to that first Playboy shoot for a corn-fed Midwestern girl–I’m allowing the world to see my soul’s tits.

Here's the shot of his notebook:

Here's a page from my current notebook. I usually keep set lists/stuff to try at shows on the left side and random ideas on the right.


Announcing The 3rd Annual Schtick Or Treat (WED 10/27 at Arlene's Grocery)

Matt Ruby And Mark Normand present
The 3rd Annual Schtick Or Treat
A pre-Halloween show of comedy “legends”

Wed Oct 27 - Arlene’s Grocery
Doors: 7pm, showtime: 7:30pm sharp
Tickets: $8
95 Stanton Street (btwn Ludlow/Orchard), NYC
Facebook invite

Here we go again! The idea: It's a quick turnover night where 30+ NYC comics get up to three minutes to do a set as a famous comic...and then it's on to the next performer. Standing room only two years in a row – def one of the funnest shows to watch.

Mark Normand as Norm Macdonald
Matt Ruby as Andrew Dice Clay
RG Daniels as Bill Burr
Matt McCarthy as Bill Hicks
Meg Cuppernall as Brett Butler
Adam Cozens as Brody Stevens
Selena Coppock as Kathy Griffin
Luke Cunningham as Chevy Chase
Chelsea White as David Letterman
John Knefel as David Sedaris
Alex Grubard as Doug Stanhope
George Gordon as Eddie Murphy
Jason Saenz as Freddie Prinze
Dan Cartwright as George Carlin
Ray Marshall as George Lopez
Miguel Dalmau as Hannibal Buress
Dan St Germain as Jake Lamotta
Laura Prangley as Joan Rivers
Rojo Perez as Katt Williams
Luke Thayer as Kyle Cease
Jay Welch as Kyle Kinane
Erik Bergstrom as Lisa Lampanelli
Andy Haynes as Louie Anderson
Josh Guarino as Mitch Hedberg
Sam Morril as Nick DiPaolo
Danny Solomon as Patton Oswalt
James Harris as Paul F. Tompkins
Kara Klenk as Paula Poundstone
Abbi Crutchfield as Robert Schimmel
Dan Soder as Rodney Dangerfield
Sean O'Connor as Russell Brand
Jared Logan as Soupy Sales
Eliot Glazer as Steve Harvey
David Cope as Steven Wright
Nick Turner and Ariel Bitran as Tenacious D
Adam Newman as The Amazing Johnathan
Robert Dean as Tony Clifton
Mike Lawrence as Weird Al Yankovic
Jamie Lee as Wendy Liebman
Zach Broussard as Harland Williams
...and more!

Highlights from last year's Schtick:


A producer's manifesto: "The same way a comedian brings his/her material to life, I bring life to a show"

R.G. Daniels puts on one of my fave shows to do (Sunday Night Standup at Three of Cups). And now he's got a new show called MOTHAF*@%!N' COMEDY. He wrote a kinda producer's manifesto to announce the first one (Oct 26).

I am a producer. I am constantly asked what it is I do. I'll tell you: Much the same way a comedian brings his/her material to life, I bring life to a show. To me, stand-up is about the experience for both performer and audience. It's about somebody who may or may not be familiar with the live comedy experience going to a show and walking out thinking, "That was fuckin' awesome." It's about a comedian getting booked and realizing why he/she decided to get into comedy in the first place. I feel that recently this ideology has gotten away from a lot of people.

The last thing comedy needs are new audiences getting turned off to stand-up based on a negative experience. Expensive admission. Shitty drinks. Disgruntled staff. It's not fair to the audience and it sure as hell isn't fair to the performer to feel as if they don't wanna be there. Conversely, I don't think it's fair to prop up an amp, plug in a mic, and announce to an unsuspecting bar that it's Comedy Night. This is as equally off-putting as the term "alternative comedy".

Related: If show producers told the truth, it'd sound like this...


Hot Soup with Shillue and Derosa on Friday

FRI (10/8): HOT SOUP
8:00pm - Free
O'Hanlon's Bar - 349 E 14th St between 1st and 2nd Ave.

Tom Shillue
Joe DeRosa
Nikki Glaser
Brent Sullivan
Noah Berkowitz

Andy's hosting, I'm doing a spot.

Check out who dropped in last week:

Other upcoming shows:
10/16 - We're All Friends Here @ The Creek (LIC)
10/27 - 3rd Annual Schtick or Treat @ Arlene's Grocery (NYC)


Gawker.TV features my "I Need Laughs" documentary

If you've just found this site due to the Gawker.TV piece: Welcome! If ya dig what ya see, subscribe to the site or my email list to stay in touch.

"I Need Laughs," the documentary I made about performing comedy in NYC, is featured at Gawker.TV today.

Filmed in a conspiratorial style, with low contrast, shrouded profiles, and the documentarian's face either obscured by darkness or cut off altogether in many of his solo confessional scenes, I Need Laughs blurs the line of demarcation separating performer and audience. Performance scenes shot from the backs of rooms, flanked by silhouetted audience members or from behind half-empty glasses of booze give the viewer a sense of being let in on a secret.

(Btw, R.G. Daniels once described it to me as the Serpico-ish version of Seinfeld's "Comedian." Sounds about right.)

The post also includes some kind words about this here blog too. Big thanks to Rebecca V. O'Neal for the nice writeup.


Pacific NW: Canucks, Caesars, Greyhound, Paseo, etc.

From my Twitter feed:

Headed to BC, Canada. My hotel better have rose petal turn down or I will crack some Canuck heads!
12:19 PM Sep 24th

Amazing crowd at Hecklers in Victoria BC last night. (yes, they know it's a bad name.) pic of Paul Bea headlining: http://yfrog.com/ne5txisj
5:41 PM Sep 25th

Western Canada, kudos on your Caesar drink. Clamato! Who knew!?
4:22 AM Sep 27th

Bah. Priceline put me at the Ramadan Inn. Now I need to fast for a month!
3:44 PM Sep 27th

Suggested slogan for this Vancouver pub: "To dine by your side, oh the privilege, the pleasure, is mine." http://yfrog.com/j7u62uj
7:15 PM Sep 27th

I find this Vancouver Police Department tagline VERY questionable. Why not "VPD: We are usually unavailable"?! http://yfrog.com/0rjincoj
7:31 PM Sep 27th

Japanese restaurant in Vancouver is playing a bombastic *brass band* version of YMCA. Sounds like some sort of gay national anthem.
10:30 PM Sep 27th

Every single person in Vancouver told me to avoid E. Hastings St. Either it's filled with crackheads or that's where they're killing Jews.
10:36 PM Sep 27th

On the bus to SEA. I get why they call it Greyhound. It's the only dog that's been abused as much as Greyhound passengers.
11:49 AM Sep 28th

At Comedy Underground in Seattle tonight. Here's a shot of last night's show in Vancouver at The Kingston: http://yfrog.com/eiw3tj
8:16 PM Sep 28th

Beer gut? Check. Fanny pack? Check. Stars 'n stripes shorts? Check. America, meet your new Uncle Sam! http://yfrog.com/n8uuzuj
2:03 PM Sep 29th

Seattle Hot Soup reunion! Got introduced to Paseo by @andyhaynesed. Now considering changing name of show to Fish Sandwich.
5:42 PM Sep 29th

Back in NYC. Great time in Seattle last week. Sets all wkend at Comedy Underground. Pic of @drewbarth onstage: http://yfrog.com/4bjnraj
11:21 AM Oct 5th


The two most annoying questions you hear as a comic

1) What is your comedy about?
2) Can you tell me a joke?

I love how Giraldo answers that first one here.

Greg Giraldo - Interview
Big LakeA New Comedy from Will Ferrell and Adam McKayIt's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

As for the "Can you tell me a joke?" question, my usual answer is no. If they insist, I go with: "What did the 0 say to the 8? Nice belt."

The alternative is me explaining why comedy requires an audience and that if I tell a joke here in a 1-on-1 situation it's not going to work because...blah blah blah. And then I go back to the 0/8 thing and just let them think I'm a moron.

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