Frank Zappa defends freedom of speech

They're just words.

(via SvN)


Wired UK profiles Vooza: "'Spinal Tap for startups' Vooza uses satire to smuggle advertising"

Wired UK wrote a big piece on Vooza: 'Spinal Tap for startups' Vooza uses satire to smuggle advertising. (Does "smuggle" mean something different in the UK!?)

Ruby admits that Vooza's real journey was not dissimilar to the journey of the very startups it mocks. "Although we make fun of startups, there are a lot of principles we embody: we make something, put it out in the world, see if the audience is there, see if we get traction and then pivot a little," he says, adding, "I can't use these words with a straight face any more."

Here'a a recent episode:

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I'm learning about feminism from Jezebel


HOT SOUP tonight (8/27) with Hanley, Branum, and more

HOT SOUP is at Irish Exit again tonight (8/27) and every Tuesday at 8pm. The lineup:

Phil Hanley
John Flynn
Jon Rineman
Guy Branum
Tommy Pope
Gary Vider
Matt Ruby

Full event details at Facebook.

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What Jackson Browne taught Glenn Frey about songwriting

Bill Simmons wrote a crazy long piece about The History of the Eagles documentary.

In the doc, Glenn Frey explains how living above Jackson Browne taught him about the hard work required to write a song.

Around nine in the morning. I’d hear Jackson Browne’s teapot going off with this whistle in the distance, and then I’d hear him playing piano. I didn’t really know how to write songs. I knew I wanted to write songs, but I didn’t know exactly, did you just wait around for inspiration, you know, what was the deal? I learned through Jackson’s ceiling and my floor exactly how to write songs, ‘cause Jackson would get up, and he’d play the first verse and first course, and he’d play it 20 times, until he had it just the way he wanted it. And then there’d be silence, and then I’d hear the teapot going off again, and it would be quiet for 20 minutes, and then I’d hear him start to play again … and I’m up there going, so that’s how you do it? Elbow grease. Time. Thought. Persistence.

Sounds like what it takes to put together a great comedy set. Or anything else really. Elbow grease. Time. Thought. Persistence. If it was easy, everyone would do it.

Another part of the doc I loved was Frey yelling at the Eagles' bass player for not wanting to sing "Take It to the Limit" in concert.

I confronted him. I said, ‘Randy, there’s thousands of people waiting for you to sing that song. You just can’t say “Fuck ‘em, I don’t feel like it.” Do you think I like singing “Take It Easy” and “Peaceful Easy Feeling” every night? I’m tired of those songs. But there’s people in the audience who’ve been waiting YEARS to see us do those songs.’ We just got fed up with that. ‘OK, don’t sing it. Why don’t you just quit?’”

I just love the idea of a coked up Frey BITCHING about having to sing songs with laid-back titles like “Take It Easy” and “Peaceful Easy Feeling” and then yelling at his bass player to quit. Talk about unintentional comedy. "You think I like singing Peaceful Easy Fucking Feeling every night!? No, But I goddamn do it! I hope you quit! OK, now I'm gonna sing 'Take It Easy'..." So great.


Nate Fernald's "Crush City Setlist"

Nate knows how to kill it. I like the last item on the initial list too.


HOT SOUP comedy with Finnegan/Lawrence/Donnelly/more

Every TUESDAY night at IRISH EXIT, get your fix of HOT SOUP comedy. The show is FREE and there's a great drink special: an OPTIONAL open bar from 8-10pm during the show for only $15.

Michael Lawrence
Ahmed Bharoocha
Sean Donnelly
Christian Finnegan
Jennie Sutton
Mark Normand

Hosted by Matt Ruby

RSVP to confirm your spot:

Seating: 8pm
Show: 8:30pm

Irish Exit @ 978 2nd Ave (at corner of 52nd St)

Produced by Mark Normand, Matt Ruby, & Gary Vider

Sign up for Hot Soup email list:
"Like" Hot Soup on Facebook:

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Tips for finding your voice

Comedy folks are always talking about "finding your voice" but it's a fuzzy topic. Connected Comedy offers some interesting advice in this “How do I find my voice?” piece. One of the tips: "Your Voice Needs To Be Consistent."

In order for your voice to really connect with people you need for it to be consistent. You can’t have an anti-establishment outlook on the world in one bit and then suddenly be pro-establishment in the next or else your voice will seem disjointed and nobody will be quite sure what to think of you. For example, if your comedic voice is that of a “nerd,” then it’s unlikely that bits about how you were a cool kid in high school are really going to fit your voice. This is another reason why it’s important when considering what your comedic voice is to choose carefully because it will ultimately impact your material and every other decision you make about your career.

I've learned a similar lesson when doing characters onstage. Play a certain role and it becomes much easier for the audience to know exactly who you are, where you're coming from, and the "filter" that all your jokes go through. The bad part: Being a fully, fleshed out human being with nuanced views doesn't fit this mode that well.

You may be tempted to give an audience all your different sides, but a caricature is easier for 'em to figure out. Especially in a short set.


Gary Vider, Joe List, Thomas Dale, and Andy Sandford on We're All Friends Here podcast

We're All Friends Here podcast has been going strong! (Btw, next live one is Aug 30 at The Creek.) Recent episodes:

Episode: 24
Gary Vider
Comedian Gary Vider is one of Mark and Matt's favorite people--and his father was a con man! Gary lays down all the nutty stories of helping his old man, and what it takes to be a businessman in comedy.

Episode: 23
Joe List
Comedian Joe List is straight from the heart of Boston--so he obviously has an STD or two. Mark and Matt get the backstory from one of America's funniest guys!

Episode: 22
Thomas Dale
Comedian Thomas Dale is having a great year. A writer and featured performer on CHELSEA LATELY, he also crushed it on THE LATE LATE SHOW WITH CRAIG FERGUSON back in November. Thomas talks to Mark and Matt about the darker, more difficult aspects of growing up gay in a straight society, and how he dealt with his own coming out in a tough, New York family.

Episode: 21
Andy Sandford
Comedian Andy Sandford hails from Atlanta, where apparently you can get held up at a backroom poker game and can live to tell the tale. Andy shares the crazy stories from the dirty south on this week's episode!

Download here via iTunes or stream it at Cave Comedy Radio.

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Why I'm ok with more Americans dying from terrorism

Wanted: A petition that says, "I'm ok with the possibility of more deaths from terrorism if it means we stop restricting our lives and liberties." I'd sign it.

I'll take more us dying if it means 1) America stops spying on its own citizens, 2) we don't have secret courts, 3) we never torture people, and 4) we get to hold onto all the other things that make (made?) America better than the people who hate us.

It's such a bummer to see Obama doing the ol' 4pm-on-a-Friday-in-August press conference – the best way to bury news you don't actually want people to talk about – explaining what's up with our internal spying. "Because the safety of the country depends on it...blah blah blah...America’s war on terrorism MAY one day end...blah blah blah."

C'mon. This is a war that will NEVER end because the enemy is a FEELING. We can not defeat terror just as we can not defeat fear as we can not defeat jealousy. Terror will be with us forever. This is a forever war and those are wars you are guaranteed to lose.

Our politicians think they must do anything possible to prevent another attack. And no one ever disagrees. That's on us. We need to stand up and say we're ok with more deaths. Of course people dying sucks. But a country that sacrifices all the liberties that made it great in the first place sucks even more.

And us New Yorkers especially need to stand up on this. Why are people in Utah and Nebraska deciding what we should do about terrorism anyway? Al Qaeda ain't going after 'em. Here's how voting on terrorism issues should go:

Work at embassy abroad = 3 votes
Live in NYC = 2 votes
Live in other major US city = 1 vote
Other = stay out of it

And I loved this headline: "President Obama orders intelligence chief accused of lying to Congress to lead NSA review." Sweet. After that, let's appoint the CEO of Goldman Sachs to lead a review on what's wrong with Wall Street. And after that, we can have a husband appoint his mistress to find out whether or not he's having an affair.

As a nation, we're losing our minds. We're acting like a bunch of hysterical, whiny babies that are scared of everything. When did we become such pussies? This formula is actually being sold to us...

Problem: Terrorists hate us for our freedoms.
Solution: Take away our own freedoms.

…and we're buying it. It'd be hilarious if it wasn't so sad.

For the past 12 years, we've watched what America stands for slowly erode. And all this is EXACTLY what Osama Bin Laden dreamed would happen after 9/11. His plan has worked perfectly. We've invaded a country under false pretenses, gotten American troops mired endlessly in Afghanistan and Iraq (cost: 4,500 American soldiers dead, 32,000, over a trillion dollars), restricted our own liberties, and are now irrationally living lives based on fear. We shouldn't be worried about what happens IF the terrorists win. We should start realizing they've already won.


Woody Allen on the power of the unconscious mind

Woody Allen Interview in Esquire. [via YP] Woody talks about how a good writer surprises himself along the way...

What people who don't write don't understand is that they think you make up the line consciously — but you don't. It proceeds from your unconscious. So it's the same surprise to you when it emerges as it is to the audience when the comic says it. I don't think of the joke and then say it. I say it and then realize what I've said. And I laugh at it, because I'm hearing it for the first time myself.

...and then he says, "The best you can do to get through life is distraction."

It's just an accident that we happen to be on earth, enjoying our silly little moments, distracting ourselves as often as possible so we don't have to really face up to the fact that, you know, we're just temporary people with a very short time in a universe that will eventually be completely gone. And everything that you value, whether it's Shakespeare, Beethoven, da Vinci, or whatever, will be gone. The earth will be gone. The sun will be gone. There'll be nothing. The best you can do to get through life is distraction. Love works as a distraction. And work works as a distraction. You can distract yourself a billion different ways. But the key is to distract yourself.

FYI, Blue Jasmine is great. Blanchett is something else in it.


"I didn't even get an audition"/thinking about jealousy

Andy Sandford wrote a nice piece on What Jealousy And Bitterness Can Do For Your Comedy Career.

There is very little value in everyone knowing what level you deserve to be on as soon as you have reached that level. You shouldn’t want to get seen by industry people just because you “can” hold your own with the big dogs…it is much better to get as good as you possibly can under the radar so that when you do get seen, you blow everyone’s mind and are more than ready for whatever big break that might come your way. No one owes you anything for your hard work. The only benefit of your hard work is how good it has made you. This is why “years” in stand up almost means nothing. People progress at different rates, and sometimes someone has a breakthrough many years in; or maybe it just took a while for people to be able to appreciate their style. If you have the time to make a note of every thing that some undeserving peer got, then you have the time to put a little more effort into your act, which is the only thing that speaks for you, or should speak for you.

Well said. I think jealousy is a normal feeling. It's what you do with it that matters. You can bitch about stuff and let it bring you down and turn it into negative energy. Or you can use it as motivational fuel to fight harder. Once you're undeniably good, it'll all work out.


HOT SOUP on 8/6 with Soder/Gethard/Skinner/St. Germaine

Standing room only at HOT SOUP last week! We're back at Irish Exit again on Tuesday (8/6) and every Tuesday. The lineup:

Dan Soder (Comedy Central)
Dan St. Germaine (Conan)
Eliza Skinner (Fashion Police with Joan Rivers)
Chris Gethard (Comedy Central)

I'm hosting. Full event details at Facebook.

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Comedian bios always suck but this one doesn't

I enjoyed Joe Zimmerman's bio at the Comedy Central site.

Joe Zimmerman is a comedian who has worked with the likes of every other comedian, including the ones who passed away before he was born. You may have seen Joe on every television show, with the painful exception of Alf, and you may recognize his voice as the stand-in voice-over for Morgan Freeman on National Geographic's March of the Penguins and Sigourney Weaver on the BBC’s Planet Earth.

"Electrifying!" - The Rolling Stone (in reference to a 1994 U2 concert)

"Hilarious!" -Joe Zimmerman, talking about the movie Kung Fu Panda

"Hands down the best live show I've ever seen." -Joe again, on Kung Fu Panda

"Well I don't care if it wasn't live, it FELT live!" -Joe (still talking about Kung Fu Panda)

Well done, Joe.

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Oscar Wilde on fashion, etc.

Oscar Wilde quotes. Like this: "And, after all, what is a fashion? From the artistic point of view, it is usually a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months." Or: "Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast." I like people who did standup before standup was a thing.

Related: Thinking like a comic: Fran Lebowitz, Steve Albini, Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, etc.

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