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.
Norm Macdonald comes to Greg’s garage for possibly the funniest podcast in the history of mankind. Norm gives his thoughts on Oprah, he announces women are not throwing, and have never thrown themselves at him, and tells what happens when Alan King mouthed off to Don Rickles. Norm gives comedy lessons with the help of Steve Allen, Greg premieres the new game Talk Your Way Out of It, they play Liar’s Poker, and they write a joke for Greg’s Jimmy Kimmel Live appearance.
One last thing about that Seinfeld/Conan post, specifically this idea that "Jews do not celebrate martyrdom." Um, tell that to my Grandma. If complaining was an Olympic event*, that woman woulda been its Michael Phelps.
The poor lady considered herself the victim of, well, pretty much everyone/everything in the world. Even when watching TV. I still have vivid memories of being a kid and being amazed by her disgusted reactions to two commercials.
Whenever these commercials came on the air, she would go, "Oish, oish, oish. It's disgusting. How can they do this to me?" As if there was a boardroom somewhere with the goal of trying to outrage her elderly Jewish sensibilities.
And I'm still not so sure what was so offensive to her about them. Here's one. It's with the Dunkin' Donuts guy dressed up in drag:
I guess maybe the drag element of the donut dude was the problem? Or the way he fails to hide his mustache? Whatever it was, she was not having it.
The other featured a talking finger plugging Ziploc bags:
I don't even know what's up with the finger thing. Why is that offensive? Is there something sexual about a talking finger? I truly have no idea what the problem was.
Anyway, she also smoked More cigarettes, made a mean babaganoush, and bragged about stealing ashtrays from hotels around the world. Go figure.
* Speaking of strange Olympic events, I was talking to an Indian friend the other day. I asked what sports they're good at in India. He said, "None, really. But if spiritual enlightenment was an Olympic event, they'd win every year." Hmm, turning enlightenment into a sporting event might be slightly missing the point.
But let's go with it. First we need a name for this enlightenment competition. Instead of March Madness, I suggest March Mindfulness. To measure the winner, I'm thinking a "yo mamma" type contest between competitors. The twist: You win by complimenting your opponent's mother instead of insulting her. Bonus aura points if you get extra Zen with it. "Yo momma is so thin that when she sits around the house, she moves quietly and gently from one room to another — leaving no trace, like the path of birds in the sky."
Dan Goodman is a funny comic. GhettoMyspace is his pet project that explores the underbelly of MySpace. It's pretty hilarious.
GhettoMyspace.net, recently featured on Tosh.0, is a site dedicated to real photos from people’s myspace profiles. On this site you will find kids with guns, drug dealing, ghetto booty, hood funerals, and in general people having a great time. May we all have as much fun as the people in the pictures.
Now he's selling merch that uses images from the site. His room is filled with boxes of GhettoMyspace clothes. I asked him what it's like to go into the merch biz. Here's his answer:
Welcome to the Adult Learning Annex:
Below is a picture of the room I sleep in. It is now full of boxes of GhettoMyspace clothes. There's something really funny about sleeping next to your debt. I think it would be harder to get deep in debt if you actually had to sleep next to large heavy boxes. Like for every thousand bucks you owe the credit card company they would send you a giant box full of weights. Every time you send in a payment you would send it in with a proportionate amount of weight. That's actually where I'm at living with these boxes of clothes. Every shirt I sell gives me more room.
This all started innocently enough. Like everyone else I'm trying to figure out how to make money off the internet. After GhettoMyspace.net started to get some national attention (Tosh.0, Bossip, Death and Taxes Mag), I asked around and everyone else who I knew making internet money was doing it with merchandise.
Here's where my own business failings step in. I get it in my head, I don't just want to make crappy promo merch, I want to make nice clothes. Great idea, but nice clothes are expensive, and I know nothing about starting a fashion line. The whole thing cost me way more than I thought in my obsession to get it just how I wanted it. If I sell all those these clothes I can do another run where I'll actually make money. Until then I am selling clothes just to get out of the hole and make room in my apartment. The attached picture is how I wake up, in sheer terror. The only saving grace is the clothes are awesome.
My whole time in comedy has been spent trying to be successful doing only what I think is funny. When I finally made a compromise I still fucked it up. I decided to get crazy high standards for something nobody has standards for, after show merchandise. I don't know how it's going to turnout, but at least my name with be on something really funny which is worth more than a couple grand.
Buy a GhettoMyspace shirt and support a hairbrained scheme. If we all supported more clueless dreamers and their goofy ideas the world would be a lot less dull. Besides where else are you gonna get a tshirt that has a baby with a gun on it.
First he drinks incredible amounts of coffee. So he's really wildly stimulated. Then he sits down and right before he starts the show, he unwraps four Hershey bars and he breaks the squares up and he builds a tower, a huge tower of Hershey bars, and then he wolfs them down one by one right before he goes on the air. And so when he hits the air, the guy is flying on sugar. Absolutely flying on sugar. Maybe this is why he had a heart problem. Occasionally when he's on the air, he will say, "There's nothing better than a Hershey bar."
Never seen Letterman live but I mentioned this to someone and he told me that Letterman can't even sit down between guests and paces around when the cameras are off.
And speaking of getting amped up for the stage, I've seen Kindler down Red Bulls before going onstage. And a NYC comic you may know, in a revealing "In The Tank" interview a while back, discussed doing blow before performing.
The biggest part of writing successfully is being talented, and in the context of marketing, the only bad writer is one who doesn't get paid. If you're not talented, you won't succeed. And if you're not succeeding, you should know when to quit.
When is that? I don't know. It's different for each writer. Not after six rejection slips, certainly, nor after sixty. But after six hundred? Maybe. After six thousand? My friend, after six thousand pinks, it's time you tried painting or computer programming.
Further, almost every aspiring writer knows when he is getting warmer - you start getting little jotted notes on your rejection slips, or personal letters . . . maybe a commiserating phone call. It's lonely out there in the cold, but there are encouraging voices ... unless there is nothing in your words which warrants encouragement. I think you owe it to yourself to skip as much of the self-illusion as possible. If your eyes are open, you'll know which way to go ... or when to turn back.
Then again, economist David Galenson has studied creative output and found there are different paths for successful artists. If you judge by the current value of their artwork, some artists burn bright early and then fade away (Andy Warhol peaked at 33, Frank Stella at 24, Jasper Johns at 27), while others grow over the long-term and do their best work later in life (Willem de Kooning at 43, Mark Rothko at 54, Robert Motherwell at 72). The same split is seen in writers too.
Conceptual poets like T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, and Sylvia Plath, each of whom made sudden breaks from convention and emphasized abstract ideas over visual observations, were early achievers. Eliot wrote “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” at 23 and “The Wasteland” at 34. Pound published five volumes of poetry before he turned 30. On the other hand, experimental poets like Wallace Stevens, Robert Frost, and William Carlos Williams, whose work is grounded in concrete images and everyday language, took years to mature. For example, both Pound and Frost lived into their eighties. But by the time Pound turned 40, he had essentially exhausted his creative output. Of his anthologized poems, 85 percent are from his twenties and thirties. By comparison, Frost got a late start. He has more poems in anthologies than any other American poet, but he wrote 92 percent of them after his 40th birthday.
On and on it goes. Conceptualist F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote The Great Gatsby – light on character development, heavy on symbolism – when he was 29. Experimentalist Mark Twain frobbed around with different writing styles and formats and wrote The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn at 50. Conceptualist Maya Lin redefined our notion of national monuments while still a college student; experimentalist Frank Lloyd Wright created Fallingwater when he was 70...
We should also leave room for those of us who have, er, avoided peaking too early, whose most innovative days may lie ahead. Nobody would have heard of Jackson Pollock had he died at 31. But the same would be true had Pollock given up at 31. He didn’t. He kept at it. We need to look at that more halting, less certain fellow and perhaps not write him off too early, give him a chance to ride the upward curve of middle age.
So even if you suck now, maybe you're a comedy Rothko who will bloom later in life. Maybe.
Carter says Seinfeld took Leno's side because he felt "[Conan's] youth movement thing was against the old time comics." He summarizes Seinfeld's view this way:
You don't take the #1 guy off the air. You don't do it. I took myself off the air. That's one thing. You don't go to a guy who is #1 and tell him: "That's it. You're off the air." Who does that?
We're in show business. This is what we do. We're supposed to look for the best jobs. We're supposed to get them. We're supposed to pursue them. It's not right for Jay to walk off the stage and say, "It's all yours Conan, take it." You just don't do that in show business.
Here's the Google Books excerpt where Seinfeld gives his .02. Basically, he feels The Tonight Show is a meaningless concept since people never say "I'm doing The Tonight Show" and instead say "I'm doing Jay; I'm doing Dave; I'm doing Conan."
Carter ends the section by describing Seinfeld's frame of reference this way: "Jews do not celebrate martyrdom."
Louis CK, still so great. Even when he's clearly doing material, because the way Louis CK does material is so conversational already.
Sometimes people ask me "What do you talk about when you do standup?" The real answer I'd like to give: the same things I talk about when I'm not doing standup. I'm not all the way there but that to me is the pinnacle — to talk about the same things onstage that I talk about when offstage, when I'm hanging out with a friend or someone who I find interesting. If those things are what I talk about with someone I like and respect, but then I go and talk about meaningless bullshit in front of an audience it shows either 1) I don't respect the audience or 2) I'm not good enough to get laughs out of the stuff I truly want to talk about. Either way = kinda shitty.
Also, I think hitting that level of conversationality (?) comes from how you write. When you manufacture jokes like they're math problems, they come out sounding like jokey jokes. When you go onstage with an idea and just talk it out and find the laughs organically, it winds up sounding like a real conversation.
Or, when a bit is based off a real conversation with someone, that has a similar effect. Sometimes I find the best way to write material is to go get drunk with a friend I think is smart/interesting and carry along a notebook for anything standup-ish that pops up.
Happy Hanukkah! Burn that midnight oil! That phrase is about Hanukkah, right? Or is it a quote from that bald Australian dude who is worried about our beds burning? I can never remember.
(Have you ever tried to spellcheck Hanukkah? I just did and my Mac responded with "whatever"...hmm.)
Hanukkah is a weird holiday because it kinda reinforces some negative stereotypes about Jews. What shape do we like our chocolate? In the shape of gold coins! If only I could have all my food shaped like cash. And waiter, bring me a slice of that cake that's in the shape of controlling the media.
Also, the whole holiday is based on the idea that we got a great deal. We paid for one night of oil yet it lasted for eight nights. What a value. It's like Uncle Morty going, "These slacks? I got them for 70% off at a Macy's. A real bargain. We should turn this into a holiday!"
Speaking of relatives, did you know my dad used to inspect my hands before I could eat dinner every night? True story. He would smell them in order to make sure I had washed them. That's a father's way of saying, "I've got this problem. And now I'm passing it on to you."
Needless to say, I now wash my hands all the time. And I have issues with grabbing that pole on the subway. Have you ever seen someone do that and then bite their nails? Blech. I'd rather lick a SARS popsicle.
Anyway, back to Jew stuff: I remember the first time I heard the word "jewed" used as a verb. I was in college and it was said by a guy from Iowa who had a mullet and drove a lowrider and whose nickname was "The Duder." That was on his license plate too. Also, everyone would go to his dorm room every day to watch him feed a mouse to his snake.
I consider this the perfect person to deliver the word "jewed" for the first time. See, people talk a lot about who they lose their virginity to, but who you lose your slurginity to can be just as important. Like the first time you hear the n-word, it should be from a guy wearing a Celtics jersey. Preferably one named Sully who has strong opinions about which House of Pain album is the best one.