Vooza's a unicorn (i.e. worth over $1 billion)

Vooza’s now worth over $1 billion dollars which means it’s a “unicorn” which means it’s time to celebrate. Also, everything on the internet is true.


Lupe Fiasco on art vs. commerce and the Drake/Meek Mill beef

Ok, I admit it: Nothing is whiter than Wikipedia-ing "drake meek mill beef." Yet here we are. I found these thoughts from Lupe Fiasco about commercialism, craft, and the struggle for success to be resonant for comics and other artists too.

The Haunting. A Letter Part 1 of 2 To rappers from a rapper...simply write your own rhymes as much as you can if you are able. Ghostwriting, or borrowing lines, or taking suggestions from the room has always been in rap and will always be in rap. It is nothing to go crazy over or be offended about unless you are someone who postures him or herself on the importance of authenticity and tries to portray that quality to your fans or the public at large. Then we might have a problem. Some of the most pivotal moments in rap have been ghostwritten verses. This leads to a bigger point. Rapping is not an easy thing to do. It's takes years of work and trial and error to master some of its finer points. Respect from other MC's comes in many formats. Sales, live performances, realness etc but the one thing that is the most important is the raps themselves at least in the eyes of other serious rappers. The phrase "I'm not a rapper" gets thrown around as if it's a badge of honor. And that's fine. If rap is a side hustle for you or just a come up then by all means may the force be with you. But I know a lot of MC's where rap is the first love and the first thing they think about when they wake up and the last thing they think about when they go to sleep. Rappers who pursue the art form with this level of intention may not become rich and famous off selling their raps to a wide audience but that has never been an accepted metric to begin with in terms of quality or level of skill. The vast majority of rappers will never sell 100 records in their lifetimes let alone millions. But that's not the point, the point is that what pursuing the craft gives us in terms of the intangibles is something that record sales or fame could never represent. We achieve a mastery of language and poetics that competes on the highest levels of discourse across the entirety of human history. We express ourselves creatively and attain a sense of liberation and self-esteem via this sacred mode of creation and communication.

A photo posted by Lupe Fiasco - Bogglin' Giblets (@lupefiasco) on

Part 2 Of 2 Modern Radio and the commercial realm of music has injured rap. It set up ambiguous rules and systems for success that don't take into consideration the quality and skill of the rappers craft. It redefined rap as just being a beat driven hook with some words in between and an entire generation has surrendered to chasing the format instead of chasing the art form. While mastering any format should be the pursuit of any self-respecting rapper including the commercial format it must be kept clear that it is just one of many formats and that you should strive to master all of them. The art form is kept alive and progressive in the activities of the tens of thousands of rappers around the world who are everyday trying to think of that next witty bar. Trying to put that crazy verse together while at work. Trying to find that word that rhymes with catapult so they can finish off that vivid story rap about their childhood. Meek Mill struck a nerve accusing Drake of having a ghostwriter and the entire rap world reacted on all sides of the fence because rap is alive. It's active and it feels. Its rules and traditions are vibrant and responsive. I enjoy both these brothers music and find inspiration and appreciation from both of them. I remember being in Toronto at Goodfoot years ago and it was a stack of CD's on the counter and the guy behind the counter was like "Lupe you gotta take this CD. It's my mans mixtape." I didn't really pay it any mind I took it to the car and looked it over and just kind of set it aside focused on other things. I vividly remember saying "what kind of rap name is Drake?" The rest is history. Once while in Philly I went to do an interview in a shabby and very hood basement studio complex. I peeked into one of the rooms and it was this tall kid with his shirt off bouncing up and down in the booth with an energy that was electric. I gave him my regards. He gave them back. I think I mentioned something about him cutting his dreads. As I left I remember him rapping something about being a boss. The rest is history. At the end of the day, for better or worse, rap is alive even if some of its greatest moments are written by ghosts.

A photo posted by Lupe Fiasco - Bogglin' Giblets (@lupefiasco) on


Do you want to see my Grandma’s lingerie?

“Do you want to see my Grandma’s lingerie?” is a question I ask surprisingly often. Read this if you want to find out why. It's a story I wrote about family, love, forgiveness, psychedelics, and evening wear.


An open letter to red state governors that don't want any Syrian refugees

No one wants to blow up your damn grain silos. ISIS isn't sitting around saying, "We could blow up the Capitol building...orrrrrrr we could target this water tower an hour outside of Des Moines." Your targets are vulnerable for a reason: No one cares about them. If we get attacked again, it's gonna be in NYC, DC, or LA, so just settle down because us blue staters are the ones who are actually in danger and we're not getting all hysterical about letting in a few people who are trying to escape a tyrant. NYC has tons of Arabs and the only time it scares me is when I eat at a Halal stand that's been letting raw meat just sit there all day because I'm pretty sure that dirty kebabs are a more legitimate threat to my health than dirty bombs.

This is the theme to Garry Shandling's Show


This is the theme to Garry's Show,
The theme to Garry's show.
Garry called me up and asked if I would write his theme song.
I'm almost halfway finished,
How do you like it so far,
How do you like the theme to Garry's Show.

This is the theme to Garry's Show,
The opening theme to Garry's show.
This is the music that you hear as you watch the credits.
We're almost to the part of where I start to whistle.
Then we'll watch "It's Garry Shandling's Show".


This was the theme to Garry Shandling's show.


Presentation: "Laugh it up: how to use humor & native advertising to get noticed"

Me ➜ at a marketing conference in Nashville ➜ "Laugh it up: how to use humor & native advertising to get noticed". Description:

Laugh it up: how to use humor and native advertising to get noticed

CAUTION: Drinking beverages of any kind while watching Matt Ruby’s session may result in liquid spewing all over your screen due to uncontrolled laughter. In one of the most popular sessions at Marketing United, Matt shares tips for adding humor to your marketing to grab attention and personalize your brand. He also plays clips from Vooza, his video comic strip that spoofs tech startups. They’re awesome, smart and hilarious – you’ve been warned.

Geared toward marketing folks who want to learn how to make stuff that doesn't suck.


Anthony Bourdain advice on filming and mojo

Anthony Bourdain profile in GQ offers up some good advice for filming comedy stuff too.

“Bourdain calls his crew — three producers and two cameramen in mobile E-Z Rigs — his Quick Reaction Force, and they’re excellent at capturing the feel of a location while remaining respectful and unobtrusive.

“I’ve said a million times that I’d rather miss the shot than disturb the mojo,” Bourdain says. “If you’re stopping people to move a light, it fucks up the dynamic and the spontaneity. You end up with a show that looks like everybody else’s.”

The mojo is more important than the quality of the shot. Funny trumps all so don't sweat the visuals so much.


I'll be doing shows in Providence and Boston this weekend

Let's eat some chowder. Click links for tickets.

FRI 11/6 (Providence)
SAT 11/7 (Boston)
SUN 11/8 (Boston)

Giving terrible advice as the founder of Vooza

Couple of recent Vooza videos starring ME. First one filmed live in front of 2k people in Amsterdam...

Next Generation Marketing
Millenials? Been there. Generation Z? Done that. In this conference talk, Vooza’s CEO explains how to reach the next generation with your marketing.

Founder Tips: Innorupt
Vooza’s founder gives a crazy email tip, explains how to write a mission statement, and shows how to combine innovation and disruption. #innorupt


What Neil deGrasse Tyson has learned from standup comedians

Jay Welch writes in: "I was reading an interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson on Vox where he talks about handheld vs lavalier mics, and I thought it was an interesting snippet that might fit well on Sandpaper Suit. Thought I'd pass it along. Interesting way to think about the mic that we don't hear often."

Todd VanDerWerff: What have you learned in working with stand-up comedians that you've taken into your own speaking gigs?

Neil deGrasse Tyson: [...] [W]hat I get from comedians are things like timing and how we know that one word is funnier than another word. It could be simple things like, does the word rhyme with some other word you just used or little things that I see them invoke in their craft.

At a minimum, for example, the host might say, "Would you like a lavalier mic?" [a small microphone usually clipped to one's clothing] and I say, "No, I want a handheld mic." Have you ever offered a lavalier mic to a stand-up comedian? No, they want the handheld mic. The handheld mic is a prop, it's a tool, it's a device. Your imagination can make it something in the moment.

Related: I think it's weird that late night spots are often the first time a comic tells jokes without holding a mic.


On Jews, Buddhists, faith, and source code

I've been thinking a lot about soul, faith, mindfulness, meditation, psychedelics, and ego lately. Maybe residue from my ayahuasca adventures, maybe not.

This has led me to examine my relationship to Judaism more than I ever did in the past. I've always been in the "I'm a cultural Jew but not a religious Jew" camp. But I've been thinking about the artists I love and how many of them are Jewish. Comedians: Larry David, Woody Allen, Howard Stern, Garry Shandling. Non-comedians: Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Mark Rothko, Marc Chagall, etc. Seems like I really enjoy the "app" of Jewishness, so I've been wondering if I should look more at the source code.

Along those lines, I've been reading up and found some of this to be interesting stuff for a curious but non-believing Jew who's got a hankering for some spirituality.

1) Letters to a Buddhist Jew

Their year-long correspondence resulted in Letters to a Buddhist Jew, a lively, rigorous conversation on spirituality seasoned with humor.

This is an important book on many levels, but for secular Jews with a spiritual yearning, it illuminates realms of Judaism they may never have known existed, some of which have much in common with aspects of Buddhism. Whatever choices they make, this book will engross readers and advance their understanding of both religions.

2) Next Year in Jerusalem

In the spring of 1975, my brother Michael, then 24, was on his way home from his third trip through Asia when he arrived in Israel, planning to stay a few weeks before heading back to New York. On April 28th, he wrote to our parents: “I’ve been staying at, of all things, an Orthodox Jewish yeshiva — when I got to Jerusalem I went to visit the Wailing Wall and got invited - they hang around there looking for unsuspecting tourists to proselytize. It’s sort of a Jewish Jesus-freak type outfit - dedicated to bringing real Judaism to backsliding Jews. I haven’t been especially impressed by the message, but it’s been a really interesting week.” On June 4th, he wrote me, “I’ve had my lack of faith shaken.”

I enjoyed both those greatly and found overlap in my questions about zen, psychedelics, judaism, faith, etc. Reading that book now too.

Oh, and this podcast has been touching on spirituality and occasionally on Jew stuff in a way i've found intriguing…

3) On Being: The Refreshing Practice of Repentance

The High Holy Days create an annual ritual of repentance, both individual and collective. Louis Newman, who has explored repentance as an ethicist and a person in recovery, opens this up as a refreshing practice for every life, even beyond the lifetime of those to whom we would make amends.

And lastly, celebrities…they're just like us!

4) David Gregory's Search for God


Lee Daniels on white vs. black crowds

Why Lee Daniels Thinks Shows Without Diversity Are “Bullshit”:

Daniels said that, in every level of the film and TV worlds, he’s found people who aren’t quite picking up what he’s putting down and chalks that up to a fundamental difference between the black and white perspective. Daniels’s harrowing Oscar contender, Precious, played as a comedy to “a group of 800 black people” during an early screening. But when the film played at Sundance, Daniels said, “It was a lily-white audience. And you could hear a pin drop. It was ‘art.’

Interesting perspective.


People don't like the smartest guy in the room

In The Psyche on Automatic, Amy Cuddy talks about why trying to seem smart won't always get people on your side. Seems relevant to standup also. Talking about how dumb you are (see Regan or Burr) is a better way to get people to go with ya then coming out with facts and figures.

Leaders often see themselves as separate from their audiences, says Cuddy. “They want to stake out a position and then try to move audiences toward them. That’s not effective.” At the business school, she notes, many students tend “to overemphasize the importance of projecting high competence--they want to be the smartest guy in the room. They’re trying to be dominant. Clearly there are advantages to feeling and seeing yourself as powerful and competent--you’ll be more confident, more willing to take risks. And it’s important for others to perceive you as strong and competent. That said, you don’t have to prove that you’re the most dominant, most competent person there. In fact, it’s rarely a good idea to strive to show everyone that you’re the smartest guy in the room: that person tends to be less creative, and less cognitively open to other ideas and people.”

(via APYSK)



All these fertility drugs are leading to tons of twins being born and I wonder why we aren't talking about this more. What happens when a significant portion of the population are twins? They'll all be reading each other's minds, marrying women with the same names, and doing Danny Devito and Arnold Schwarzenegger stuff. And then in 20 years, we won't even notice that people are having lots of triplets and then eventually women will just give birth to an entire tribe and there will be self-driving Tesla minivans to take them to Space Diving practice and the future scares me.


Those who can, do. Those who can't, hold meetings.

New Vooza video.

Reminds me of how comedy industry folks constantly are taking meetings that never go anywhere. They get to say they've done their job. "I had five meetings today." Meanwhile, it's just a waste of the other person's time. Beware of folks who make a living by wasting your time on the slight chance it MIGHT wind up one day being a fruitful relationship.


Planned Parenthood and dudes

Hey fellas, Planned Parenthood has been really, really good to your dick. Y'all need to speak up too. Birth control and abortions are two of your best friends unless you really dig condoms and giving up on your dreams. I know they mostly do cancer screenings and other lady parts stuff but I wish it was just 100% birth control and abortions so I could scream, "HELL YEAH GIVE ME MORE, you goddamn pussy angels." ‪#‎StandwithPP‬


“New York’s Funniest Stand Up” open call

From Caroline's:

The search is on for New York’s funniest comedians and comedic performers! Launched in 2008 as part of the annual New York Comedy Festival, the “New York’s Funniest Stand Up” competition is open to any and all performers who think that have what it takes to be called “New York’s Funniest.”

There will be an open call audition at Carolines on Broadway (1626 Broadway between 49th and 50th Streets) on Tuesday, October 6 starting at 9:00 AM. Participants will perform up to 2 minutes of their original material before a panel of industry judges.

20 performers from the open call will be selected to advance to 2 semi-final rounds on Tuesday, October 20 at Carolines on Broadway. 10 performers from the semi-final rounds will be selected to advance and perform in the final round, which will be held on November 15 at 4:00 PM at Carolines on Broadway as part of the 2015 New York Comedy Festival.


10 things I’ve been thinking about life, love, and relationships lately

High holidays time and I was asked to write a short piece on relationships for a Jew publication. What I came up with:


Here are 10 things I’ve been thinking about life, love, and relationships lately...

1) There’s a book a palliative care doctor wrote explaining what people actually care about when they’re dying. And there are four things that matter: Please forgive me. I forgive you. Thank you. I love you. Those are the things we actually care about with the people we love. Probably wise to keep that in mind every day.

2) Tinder is just another video game. It is Angry Birds but with people.

3) I think that trilogy of movies that Richard Linklater/Ethan Hawke/Julie Delpy did reveal more about the reality of relationships than any of the silly rom coms Hollywood puts out..“Before Sunset” is my fave.

4) Dance more. People who dance a lot never seem that sad. They have a way to let it go. And if you don’t dance, find another way to let it go. Because it’s building up in there..Also, if you’re a dude: Twirl your woman. Gals love to be twirled.

5) Every time a woman posts a photo of an engagement ring on Facebook, a feminist loses her wings.

6) A good relationship is like cooking with a cast iron pan. You keep building up the seasoning in there and then you are cooking in your past and all the flavors from your previous experiences seep into your current experience and things get more complex and deeper and delicious in a way that teflon can’t reproduce. That’s the sweet part about being with someone for the long haul. When you make love, you wind up making love to every other time you’ve made love.

7) Our culture overemphasizes happiness as the ultimate goal. It’s all Pharell songs and self-help books and that’s cool and all but if you never experience sadness than you never experience joy. You need dynamics, otherwise it’s all the same. If all the type on a page is bold, then nothing really stands out. So try to find the right balance of happy/sad instead of relentlessly pursuing some plastic version of joy.

8) You keep looking for the answer but you already know.

9) Get into nature more. The problem with the city is we’ve traded trees for therapists and trees are much better listeners.

10) Text messaging is creating a lot of frustration in our relationships. It is a very low bandwidth form of communication compared to actually looking someone in the eyes and speaking to them. I wonder how much psychic pain is caused by the illusion of connectedness we get from [bzzzzz]...hang on, just got a text...


High kicks forever

My buddy Jake died last week. In Chicago, he used to play drums and I'd play guitar and he was sloppy but good and hit the drums hard and danced around the beat but never lost it. He reminded me of a cross between Keith Moon and Peter Sellers. Then he moved to NYC shortly after me and we used to listen to records and see rock shows and watch football together.

He had a light about him. Everybody loved Jake. He flowed through the room. He had long hair and, often, a mustache. Something about him glowed. He could really seduce you with that.

He introduced me to a ton of great music. Weird avant garde German instrumental shit from the sixties and underground psychedelic stoner rock. He had vinyl flowing through his blood. He told me about Wooden Shjips and Cave and Cluster and other bands I never would have found and wound up on repeat in my life.

He once ordered a bunch of Russian wooden crates off the internet and then spent the next year trying to sell these crates to everyone he knew. You could use them as a table. Or a bookshelf. Or whatever. And they had Russian printed on the side. He never sold ya hard. But if you needed a crate, he was your man.

He also would sell other stuff. He had a store on Amazon. Books that were signed and promo CDs and other random crap. He was always buying and selling stuff and working the angles. He couldn't handle working a real job. He had to carve out his own groove.

And we'd watch football together. He liked the Bears and the Jets. It'd be the middle of winter and we'd be watching the games and he'd fire up the grill and make pizzas on it and roast shrimp kebabs and give us some of his home brewed beer that he made under his bed. One time I had people over on my roof and he brought a neon Jets sign to light up the roof. For the next three years, we talked about that neon Jets sign every time I saw him.

And he dated and lived with Gina, one of my best friends and someone I knew even before Jake. They showed me what it's like to be a resilient couple who goes for it over the long haul while I spent years bouncing around relationships. I remember the first night she emailed me about him after their first date and how she referred to him as "the young turk." It's one of the best emails I've ever read and I'm sad I don't have a copy of it. I just remember grinning the entire time. Jake had a way of making everyone around him grin.

I think about The Beach Boys song "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times" when I think of Jake. He belonged in the sixties or seventies, not now. Same thing geographically. He loved the city but I think it was too much for him. He should have been on a tractor somewhere. He was so sensitive. I think he wanted to swim under the current so it was tough for him to deal with a world full of waves.

He took drugs. Lots of 'em. He said he had back problems and so he needed something for the pain. I never really knew what he was doing. We'd smoke weed but the rest of it he hid from me. Later on, I'd hear about trips to the methadone clinic and trying to kick stuff and most of the time he seemed fine but once in a while I felt like he wasn't all there. He died of a heroin overdose. I wasn't too shocked. He had been spinning out for a while there at the end. He moved back to Chicago. I hadn't talked to him in a while.

He used to do high kicks. Everyone had to back off and give him space. And then he'd launch into the air and kick his leg over his head. Total seventies rocker move and it seemed like the world would freeze for a split second when he did it. Then he'd land and we'd all laugh. It was a joke but it wasn't. That high kick was as beautiful as any dance move I've ever seen. I love you Jake. Rock on.

Comedy questions about fear, mistakes, and books

From a reader:

Hi Matt, do you have checklists or techniques you use as a reference in the creation process?
Nah, I mostly have an organic writing process now. I keep notes in a notebook and in a web app and then I sometimes will talk ‘em out at home but mostly I’ll try to do ‘em onstage and see if the crowd responds and then hone and tweak from there. I think I was a little bit more meticulous about developing bits when I was greener though.

Your favorite comedians?
Bill Burr, Doug Stanhope, Norm Macdonald, Nate Bargatze, John Mulaney, Chris Rock, Patrice Oneal, Greg Giraldo, and Paul F. Tompkins.

Books you recommend to learn comedy techniques?
Born Standing Up is good. And those Mike Sacks interview books are good reads. But you gotta do it to learn I think.

2-3 mistakes to avoid?
Don’t go for clapter. Laughs are better than applause.
Stop talking so much. Cut words. Go from A to B as quickly as you can.
Don’t take rejection personally. It’s usually apathy, not antipathy. Part of this game is not getting what you want.

How did you deal with fear on stage.
I like fear. It makes me feel alive. You’re not in Afghanistan. It’s just a stage and the worst thing that can happen is they start checking their phones. We’re all gonna die anyway so wheeeeeeeeeeeee…


Profile of me in Splitsider: "Comedy as a Startup"

Comedy as a Startup is a Splitsider profile on yours truly and the shows I produce. Well researched piece! Excerpt:

So it was with great joy and a few droplets of pain that I devoured the web series Vooza in more or less the afternoon I discovered it. Here is the startup world in all its sleek hubris and ridiculous jargon, its mosaic of turtlenecks and button-downs, its insistent self-congratulatory self-congratulation...

Like Vooza, Club Scale is directed by (Jesse) Scaturro with a sleekness befitting of the world it skewers. (Joe) List and (Dan) Soder bring a disorienting honesty that speaks to Ruby’s love for Christopher Guest; they’re almost adorable, in fact, once you overlook their characters’ unabashed dickery. This is sort of true of the series as a whole, though: behind the flashing lights and dancing bodies is the distinct feel of just some buddies hanging out.

The piece also says I am birthing "a bizarre new model for indie comedy." Well, that explains these cramps.


Paul F. Tompkins: "The ladder never ends because you’re always building the fucking ladder."

When Paul F. Tompkins Powerfully Opened Up on ‘The Mental Illness Happy Hour’ [Splitsider] led me to listen to the interview and I agree that it's great. I found this exchange about the "you don’t have this yet" mentality that pervades comedy to be noteworthy.

Tompkins: There’s always something more that you’re gonna want. There’s never—because, there’s—I think especially—I think this is true for everybody, but I think especially in our business, because we have these, um, there’s, there’s, um, there’s always a carrot a-and the stick always gets longer, you know. It’s always like, well, OK, you got this, but what about this, you don’t have this yet. You know, and we keep thinking, like, you know, right now, what I would love more than anything, uh, is to get a steady gig on television, you know, where I go to the same place every day, Monday through Friday, um, and I get to come home and have dinner with my wife, you know, at the end of the day. I would love that, absolutely. And (laughs) in my mind, I conditioned myself to think that is a modest goal. You know what I mean? Like, I don’t want to be a global superstar, all I want is my own television show. Is that asking for so much?

Gilmartin: Financially and creatively rewarding, right near my home.

Tompkins: Exactly. Now the thing is, that is, that is a somewhat attainable goal. It’s possible that that can happen. It’s not probably, you know what I mean? I-i-it’s—nothing i-in a weird world like this is probable, it’s only possible...

Tompkins: It’s like, look, I, I, uh, I went through a period of bitterness not that long ago, where I was in a, I was in a really dark place. I-i-it was all about, um, you know, uh, entering into middle age, turning—getting into my 40s. And getting, like, I’m 43 now. So, realizing, like, well that’s just going to continue happening. That’s—there’s not—I’m not gonna wake up and, like, “Oh, you’re 38 again.” What? Fantastic! I didn’t know it could go the other way! Um, you get, like, a reset of a couple years. Um, so, I, I, I got into this, this place where I was just overwhelmed. And it, it was, like, it was so much, like, what I bet my mother experience where it’s like, holy shit. Time is going by so fast, so fast, that all I can think about it, ‘I’m almost dead. I am almost dead and where am I and what am I doing?’ You know, I did not realize how great my life was. I couldn’t see it. And I tried—I was trying to see it. You know what I mean? Like, at this point, I am a married man, I’m a professional standup comedian, uh, I’m having, like, a really good year financially, from all these different things. I’m working on, um, all these other projects that are towards my goal, but I was still at this point where everybody else was doing better than I was. I was, I was not any closer to achieving this goal that I wanted to achieve. It was never going to happen. And, but really what it was about was mortality. It’s that time is too short. It’s never gonna happen. And, uh, I-I-I—it’s embarrassing, that I can’t, um, uh, provide for my wife better. It’s uh, it’s embarrassing that I have, I have fucked up my career with this dumb behavior in the past, that now I’m never gonna be where I wanna be, not even what I want to be, but to a point where, uh, I can breathe, you know. It’s always gonna be like this. I’m always gonna be on the fucking hustle. I’m always gonna be traveling around, I’m gonna be packing that goddamned suitcase.

Gilmartin: That’s so crazy.

Tompkins: It was terrible. It was terrible.

Gilmartin: Because I can tell you, Paul, from—you’re—as a peer of yours, and I know there are tons of other peers that feel the same way, we look at you and think, “If I could only get to where, where ….” And that ladder, I think, never ends. Unless you can say I’m happy to just be on this journey—

Tompkins: The ladder never ends because you’re always building the fucking ladder.

Gilmartin: Yeah.

Tompkins: You’re always adding the rungs on there. It’s always you, you know. Nobody else was telling me, “Paul, you know you’re a failure, right? You know that, uh, you should be a lot farther along.” I was the only one telling myself that.

Gilmartin: Do you ever stop sometimes, uh—

Tompkins: Paul, I’m sorry, I do wanna say this. The life that I’m leading now is the exact same life that I was leading when I was in that horrible place, except now I see it all totally differently. And I see how great it is.

I admire his openness and think this is a good perspective to keep in mind. It's easy to look up at the mountaintop and see how far you have to go. But it's also worthwhile to stop and look behind you and see how far you've come.

Another interesting bit from this talk is when he explains talking about his personal crisis onstage, even if it doesn't bring laughs:

I feel like the, the difference between the entertainer and the artist is that, that the entertainer, the first duty of the entertainer is to entertain. But the first duty of the artist is truth. And I like to consider myself an artist. And I feel like my evolution as an artist has not come all this way to just stop at merely entertaining people. I’m not trying to shut anybody out, I’m not alienate anyone, but I do feel like it is pointless for me to not explore these things.

Related: I previously wrote about PFT discussing the bad of cursing and the good of being conversational.


Key & Peele = Masculinity > Race

A Farewell to “Key & Peele” from the K&P showrunner in The New Yorker.

If people talked or wrote about the show, it was usually with a focus on race. Personally, I’ve always thought our primary subject matter was masculinity: what it means to be a man, what we can and can’t say. The scared husbands whispering “Bitch,” the vain slaves on the auction block, the hit man crapping his pants, Lil Wayne rapping in the cellblock, the two businessmen competing to eat the most disgusting soul food—they’re all fronting, trying desperately to be braver, cooler, smarter, and stronger than they really are. Fronting continued to be our meat and potatoes for the next four seasons.

That Soul Food sketch may still be my fave:

He also mentions they typically wrote five times as many sketches as they needed. Then "a process of mercilessly winnowing down the material: cutting sketches, rewriting the ones that survived, and, later, editing each scene until we felt that what remained was the essence of what had intrigued us in the first place. And, of course, the dick jokes."

Artists and marketing and Hugh MacLeod

In this interview, cartoonist Hugh MacLeod talks about marketing yourself.

2. A lot of artists and creative types see marketing as an evil necessity – or just plain evil. What would you say to them?

“Artists cannot market” is complete crap. Warhol was GREAT at marketing. As was Picasso and countless other “Blue Chips”. Of course, they’d often take the “anti-marketing” stance as a form of marketing themselves. And their patrons lapped it up.

The way artists market themselves is by having a great story, by having a “Myth”. Telling anecdotal stories about Warhol, Pollack, Basquiat, Van Gogh is both (A) fun and (B) has a mythical dimension… if they didn’t, they wouldn’t have had movies made about them. The art feeds the myth. The myth feeds the art.

The worst thing an artist can do is see marketing as “The Other”, i.e. something outside of themselves. It’s not.

For a counter-opinion, here's Bill Hicks:


Wayne Dyer

Sad to hear of the passing of Dr. Wayne Dyer. I remember watching him on PBS as a kid and thinking he was some weird, barefoot, bald, hippie dude spouting new agey crap to a bunch of old folks. Yet I couldn't turn it off because he'd be talking about ancient Chinese texts, Persian poets, Lao Tzu, being connected to source, dying while you're alive, and by the end of the whole thing I felt like I'd brushed up against something deeper and more important than anything else that was on TV.

And given our current outrage culture, I often recall his advice to stop looking for opportunities to be offended. He wrote, "When you feel offended, you're practicing judgment. You judge someone else to be stupid, insensitive, rude, arrogant, inconsiderate, or foolish, and then you find yourself upset and offended by their conduct. What you may not realize is that when you judge another person, you do not define them. You define yourself as someone who needs to judge others."


Trigger words and audiences that shut down

Audiences are starting to just shut down at certain words more and more. Just say the word "rape" or "vagina" or "black" and a segment of people shut down. "That's not funny." Not all of 'em, but more of 'em. As another comic I know put it: "It's the same way some audiences don't listen on a joke that has a trigger word and normally crushes and they look at u like a racist..... Like you idiots this joke crushes and black people laugh at it 99% of the time."

The Coddling of the American Mind in The Atlantic touches on trigger words and this attitude. "In the name of emotional well-being, college students are increasingly demanding protection from words and ideas they don’t like. Here’s why that’s disastrous for education—and mental health." (via NB)

However, there is a deeper problem with trigger warnings. According to the most-basic tenets of psychology, the very idea of helping people with anxiety disorders avoid the things they fear is misguided. A person who is trapped in an elevator during a power outage may panic and think she is going to die. That frightening experience can change neural connections in her amygdala, leading to an elevator phobia. If you want this woman to retain her fear for life, you should help her avoid elevators.

But if you want to help her return to normalcy, you should take your cues from Ivan Pavlov and guide her through a process known as exposure therapy. You might start by asking the woman to merely look at an elevator from a distance—standing in a building lobby, perhaps—until her apprehension begins to subside. If nothing bad happens while she’s standing in the lobby—if the fear is not “reinforced”—then she will begin to learn a new association: elevators are not dangerous. (This reduction in fear during exposure is called habituation.) Then, on subsequent days, you might ask her to get closer, and on later days to push the call button, and eventually to step in and go up one floor. This is how the amygdala can get rewired again to associate a previously feared situation with safety or normalcy.

Students who call for trigger warnings may be correct that some of their peers are harboring memories of trauma that could be reactivated by course readings. But they are wrong to try to prevent such reactivations. Students with PTSD should of course get treatment, but they should not try to avoid normal life, with its many opportunities for habituation. Classroom discussions are safe places to be exposed to incidental reminders of trauma (such as the word violate). A discussion of violence is unlikely to be followed by actual violence, so it is a good way to help students change the associations that are causing them discomfort. And they’d better get their habituation done in college, because the world beyond college will be far less willing to accommodate requests for trigger warnings and opt-outs.

The expansive use of trigger warnings may also foster unhealthy mental habits in the vastly larger group of students who do not suffer from PTSD or other anxiety disorders. People acquire their fears not just from their own past experiences, but from social learning as well. If everyone around you acts as though something is dangerous—elevators, certain neighborhoods, novels depicting racism—then you are at risk of acquiring that fear too. The psychiatrist Sarah Roff pointed this out last year in an online article for The Chronicle of Higher Education. “One of my biggest concerns about trigger warnings,” Roff wrote, “is that they will apply not just to those who have experienced trauma, but to all students, creating an atmosphere in which they are encouraged to believe that there is something dangerous or damaging about discussing difficult aspects of our history.”

What I love about comedy is that we can dive into these topics and fears and bring out deeper insights. If we can't even talk about this stuff, we're all going to just get more scared to "go there" and that can't be good. We should be able to discuss racism, sexism, violence or whatever on stage. That's how we can all get to a better place with dealing with these realities. If it's dangerous or damaging, that's great for comedy and for healing and it's a bummer that sorta thing is getting squeezed out of the standup game.


Obama and the good fight

I'm sick of people shitting on Obama. He’s a good man. Doesn’t that matter anymore? I want kids to see him and think, “I should act like that.” Because they are right. We all should act like that. He behaves like a grown up. He's been given an impossible task. Our government is completely dysfunctional and bought off. No one can fix it. So he does what he can and he carries himself with grace and dignity and tries to teach through his actions. And he laughs and makes jokes and sings Al Green and Amazing Grace and shoots hoops and he is a good father and behaves honorably and all of that is nothing to sneeze at. He’s making the best of a fucked up situation and he's putting up a fight in a gallant way. And if nothing else, there's a generation of children that have witnessed how a grown man is supposed to behave and there's incredible value to that. I love him and what he stands for. What he's doing is bigger than politics, it's about humanity.


Does comedy have to come from a place of pain? Jerry Seinfeld and Garry Shandling discuss...

Garry: I think that getting into show business comes from some core dysfunction where you say, "I want to be seen."

Jerry: Or god forbid maybe you have some talent. God forbid maybe it's not all yawning chasms of human insecurity. Is it possible someone out there has some talent? And maybe they want to express that for the betterment of mankind!?

Garry: I think I hear rage.

Shandling's response (at :35) is just so goddamn perfect. Comedy, life, and the whole shebang. Shandling's WTF is amazing too btw.

In Sick in the Head: Conversations About Life and Comedy, Judd Apatow discusses this exchange (via MK) like this:

Judd: In personality, it’s different. There are some guys who are kind of smart and witty and funny, and there are some guys who are just a little bit off, and there’s some guys who clearly got a beat-down at some point during their young life and that made them feel the need to get attention.

Charlie: And so which one is he?

Adam: So many of those.

Charlie: All of the above.

Judd: There is a moment on Garry Shandling’s DVD commentary for The Larry Sanders Show where he talks about this with Jerry Seinfeld and Jerry Seinfeld says to Garry, “Why can’t you be a comedian just because you’re talented and you’re smart and that’s why you’re a comedian?”

Charlie: That’s what I would ask, yes.

Judd: And Garry just goes, “Why so angry, Jerry?” I think that captures it.

Ya can also check out "The 12 Best Stories, From Stephen Colbert to Amy Schumer, in Judd Apatow’s Book Sick in the Head" [Vulture].

And here's the Phil Hartman acting coach sketch that Seinfeld raves about later in that video.


Watch me on MTV's Girl Code

I was just on MTV's Girl Code giving menstruation tips. J/K, I was talking about diiiiiiicks. πŸ† Also, I wear an ugly suit and make fun of a guy with abs so, y'know, BIG STRETCH.


What we can learn from the Fat Jew debacle

Re: Fat Jew, there's a lesson here for folks who hope the industry will help them "make it" in show business. Increasingly, the industry is just looking for someone who has a "platform." If you've got 5 million followers, they will give you a deal. Execs care about numbers more than talent or originality. They chase more than they create. They say things like, "If ‘Ghostbusters’ is still shooting, they should find a way to put in Amy Schumer." (That's an actual quote from Variety.) It's annoying but also liberating. You can lament the decisions of the gatekeepers or you can realize the gate is wide open already and make something that people dig and follow. Then, the gatekeepers will come to you and ask you if they can build a gate around the land you already own.

Update: Posted this stuff in replies at Facebook version of this post.

I don't think the quality of the content matters at all to these people. If you have the followers, they'll give you a deal. Figure out how to do that making stuff you're proud of...or be a butt model. The choice is yours!

Other than the whole stealing content thing (which is obvs terrible) this guy has done a brilliant job of building a platform and gaining followers though. Most comedians are terrible at doing this. We throw up occasional funny tweets and hope that they will magically turn into gold. This guy took a methodical, businesslike approach to building a platform and that is why the industry is interested in him. Comics could learn something from that aspect of the story. Josh Spector at Connected Comedy writes about this frequently. Comics would be wise to heed the advice being given there rather than just complaining about the injustice of joke thievery.

Too often, comics romanticize the industry as some sort of comedy guardian angel that will swoop down and turn them from a pumpkin into Cinderella. Truth is 90% of 'em are dudes looking at spreadsheets who say things like "We need to put Amy Schumer in a Ghostbusters reboot because LOOK AT THESE NUMBERS."

OK, hope this post goes VIRAL so I can say LOOK AT THESE NUMBERS. Also, I'm currently listening to The Smiths. "In my life, why do I give valuable time to people who don't care if I live or die?" Morrissey knows all.


The problem is your body

I used to watch the Dog Whisperer and was always amazed at how 80% of the time the problem with the dog wasn't mental, it was physical. The dog was a sheepherding dog or something and wanted to run around all day but his owner didn't let him so he started attacking skateboarders and shitting on the rug. I always felt the real lesson there was for humans, not for dogs.

I mean, I get it. We feel sad or depressed. So we blame our brains. But so often the problem is our bodies. We keep neglecting them. We keep repressing the things they want to let go. Our bodies want to laugh and cry and dance and fuck and sweat and create and take care of something and instead of letting it do these things, we are putting it in front of a screen and then putting it in front of a smaller screen and then putting it in front of a bigger screen and then getting in a taxi with a screen and then riding an elevator with a screen and then going to bar with a screen and all these screens are making us want to scream but capitalism convinces us that our own brains are the problem because it's easier to make money from selling pills than meditation or a hike in the woods or laughter or anything else that truly feeds one's soul.

All that sadness, anxiety, and depression we feel is a totally normal response to the environment we live in. That pain is our brains rioting against the oppression of our bodies. Pills may stop the riot, but the underlying cause will remain. And the thing about riots is they keep happening until you address the root cause.


Being emotionally connected to the words you’re saying

Radio/podcast guru Alex Blumberg gets interviewed.

There’s sometimes psychological reasons people tell stories badly. One element of good storying is being emotionally connected to the words you’re saying, but if people are in denial about something, or suppressing the emotions involved, the story can sound somehow flat and affectless.

Resonated with me about how jokes start to slowly die once they get codified. As soon as the words are locked in, I can feel the juice slip out of a bit and crowds slowly start to detect that and then you're back to a bit that doesn't work. For me, constantly tweaking or trying new tags is one solution to staying connected to the bit. Another is to just change the words. Keeps from going into that autopilot mode. Also, putting it on hiatus for a bit can help rejuvenate it later.


Inc. magazine interviews me about Vooza and making funny videos

In "Content May Be King, But Branded Video Content Rules Marketing Tactics," Inc. magazine interviews me about Vooza and how we make funny videos for companies. I offer some tips for creating video content at the end of the piece:

Looking to reach consumers on mobile? Then look to creating and consistently distributing valuable, relevant video content - and make it funny.

As for tips or tactical advice for content creators looking to connect with a targeted consumer audience on mobile, Ruby offers this guidance:

Start with the audience. Figure out who you’re trying to reach with your content and then reverse engineer from there. For example, we like going after Apple because Apple fans are so insane about their products.

Expect to roll out a lot of content consistently over time. It takes a while to build up an audience.
Get an email list going--it’s still the best way to reach fans.

Answer this question: “Why would people want to share this?” Because if people don’t share it organically, it probably won’t go far. For example, designers love sharing this CEO video with each other because they can all relate to the know-it-all CEO who thinks he/she knows best how to design a logo.

The more heavy-handed you are with the sales pitch, the less likely people are to share it. Let the funny lead the way whenever possible.

Don't be so fearful to push people's buttons. Have some edge. Make fun of people. HBO is great because there are no advertisers who say, “Don’t say that.”

Find your intersection. What's the thing that you can make that no one else can? That's your island. For Vooza, it's funny plus tech.

Make it findable. Think about how people search for things online and get into that stream with the right headlines, keywords, etc.

More press coverage on Vooza.

New from the guy who brought you Vooza (aka me): Club Scale

Club Scale is the hottest nightclub in the world and you need to meet the doormen who look a lot like Dan Soder and Joe List and there's more to come so sign up for the email list to get updates and that's it. (Directed by Jesse Scaturro and written/produced by me.)


Camille Paglia explains why Donald Trump is a great stand-up comedian

Over at Salon, Camille Paglia takes on Jon Stewart, Trump, Cosby, Sanders, feminism, and more in three different pieces. She's super interesting and thinks like a comic in her premises. You hate at least some of what she's saying but you're fascinated by all of it and damn, she sure is smart in her arguments. Here's her take on Trump as carnival barker/comedian and how she brought her own improv/comedy experience to the stage when dealing with hecklers.

Comedy, to me, is one of the major modern genres, and the big influences on my generation were Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl. Then Joan Rivers had an enormous impact on me–she’s one of my major role models. It’s the old caustic, confrontational style of Jewish comedy. It was Jewish comedians who turned stand-up from the old gag-meister shtick of vaudeville into a biting analysis of current social issues, and they really pushed the envelope. Lenny Bruce used stand-up to produce gasps and silence from the audience. And that’s my standard–a comedy of personal risk...

[Trump] takes hits like a comedian–and to me he’s more of a comedian than Jon Stewart is! Like claiming John McCain isn’t a war hero, because his kind of war hero doesn’t get captured–that’s hilarious! That’s like something crass that Lenny Bruce might have said! It’s so startling and entertaining.

It’s as if the stars have suddenly shifted–because we’re getting a mix-up in the other party too, as in that recent disruption of the NetRoots convention, with all that raw emotion and chaos in the air. To me, it feels very 1960s. These sudden disruptions, as when the Yippies would appear to do a stunt–like when they invaded Wall Street and threw dollar bills down on the stock exchange and did pig-calls! I’m enjoying this, but it’s throwing both campaigns off. None of the candidates on either side know how to respond to this kind of wild spontaneity, because we haven’t seen it in so long.

Politics has always been performance art. So we’ll see who the candidates are who can think on their feet. That’s certainly how I succeeded in the early 1990s. Before that, the campus thought police could easily disrupt visiting speakers who came with a prepared speech to read. But they couldn’t disrupt me, because I had studied comedy and did improv! The great comedians knew how to deal with hecklers in the audience. I loved to counterattack! Protestors were helpless when the audiences laughed.

So what I’m saying is that the authentic 1960s were about street theater–chaos, spontaneity, caustic humor. And Trump actually has it! He does better comedy than most professional comedians right now, because we’re in this terrible period where the comedians do their tours with canned jokes. They go from place to place, saying the same list of jokes in the same way. But the old vaudevillians had 5,000 jokes stored in their heads. They went out there and responded to that particular audience on that particular night. They had to read the crowd and try out what worked or didn’t work.

Our politicians, like our comedians, have been boring us with their canned formulas for way too long. So that’s why Donald Trump has suddenly leapt in the polls. He’s a great stand-up comedian. He’s anti-PC–he’s not afraid to say things that are rude and mean. I think he’s doing a great service for comedy as well as for politics!

Her no-shits-given/I-make-my-own-feminism perspective reminds me of Fran Lebowitz a bit. (Thx JF)

Btw, I'm amazed when anyone takes Trump seriously. He doesn't actually want to be President. He wants to get his name in the news as much as possible so his awareness increases of the Trump brand and then he can license it for more to the shitty vodka, golf course, condo building, suit manufacturer, or whatever else that wants to pay him for it. Everyone who mentions him just makes him richer. So Donald, you're welcome.


Film school in a day

Three of the best avenues online that I've found to learn about filmmaking:

1) In the AV Club's Scenic Routes, Mike D’Angelo looks at key scenes, explaining how they work and what they mean.

2) Every Frame a Painting is dedicated to the analysis of film form. "My name is Tony Zhou. I am a filmmaker and freelance editor based in San Francisco. I make video essays that run from 3 to 9 minutes. Each one focuses on one filmmaker or one aspect of film form. So far I've tackled topics as diverse as Akira Kurosawa's use of movement, Satoshi Kon's unique editing style, and how movies depict texting and the internet."

3) The Story of Film: An Odyssey on Netflix. Award-winning film-maker Mark Cousins' documentary about the history of film, presented in 15 one-hour chapters.

Some cool excerpts from an AMA with Tony Zhou of Every Frame a Painting:

Funny story about China and filmmaking:
In 2007, I was traveling in Tibet and walked into a small teahouse in the middle of nowhere. The proprietor didn't speak Mandarin and neither did any of the patrons, so I ordered by gesturing.
Jaws was on TV, horribly subtitled in big white Chinese characters and dubbed in Mandarin. Everyone was watching. So I stuck around and watched, too.
Here's the crazy thing: the TV sucked, the image was obscured, the patrons couldn't understand the dialogue. And yet they were still scared of the shark. Tibet is a high-altitude desert, nowhere near the ocean. But man, there was one lady freaking out that the shark was going to eat Brody's kid.
I didn't think much of it at the time, but honestly, that viewing of Jaws is one of the most memorable experiences of my life. To this day, I refer to the "Tibet Test" when I think about filmmaking. Is this movie still comprehensible after bad dubbing, shitty subtitles, a crappy TV, and an audience who doesn't understand the context?
Jaws is a masterpiece of visual storytelling, and I can prove it because I saw some Tibetans scared of the shark.


I think this is a huge problem in filmmaking today too: the myth of the perfect first feature.
I am going to (at some point) make a video essay called "Everybody Used to Suck" comprised entirely of footage from everyone's earliest directorial work.
Scorsese's first feature was actually called Bring On the Dancing Girls and it bombed so bad at NYFF that he didn't do anything for a few years, before repurposing it into Who's That Knocking. Tarantino never finished his first feature, My Best Friend's Birthday. Kubrick hated Fear and Desire so much he destroyed every copy. The list goes on and on, but the myth of the "first feature" is exactly that: a myth. Everybody used to suck, it's just that everybody also hides their earliest work from the public.


Honestly, the #1 thing I look for when I'm watching a movie is the feeling that there's a human being on the other side talking to me.
Like, it can be the crappiest, most poorly made film in the world, but if it feels like a human being desperately trying to tell me something, I stick around and watch.


Editing ah my scourge.
1) Try editing standing up. I cut like this. Walter Murch cuts like this. We're gonna start a club. You may not end up doing it, but you'd be surprised how different your body feels. Just remember that you need to take care of your body because editing is very stationary. Even if you end up sitting, take breaks.
2) Always sleep 8 hours. Nobody edits well on lack of sleep, and it is a stupid belief in this industry that editors want to lose rest. No, we don't.
3) Trust your emotional instincts. If you watch a piece of footage and it gives you an emotional reaction (whether a laugh, a feeling of disgust, happiness), save that clip and mark it down.
4) Get to the rough edit as quickly as possible. The assembly is always brutal. Get to rough so that you have something passable to show people.
5) Show it to people. Do not trust what they tell you to change. People are extremely good at feeling when something is wrong, but not always at articulating it. Your best guide is to watch their reaction during the film. Wherever you see attention flag, or a laugh, mark it down. If they write up their notes afterwards, you can read em, but never trust those notes more than their actual reactions while watching.
6) Editing is largely mental and mostly about patience. Basically, there's you and there's the footage, and you're going to wrestle. You will eventually come out on top, but the footage will not make it easy for you. Subdue it. Kill it. Drink its blood. Mentally, of course.
7) Every once in a while, test yourself by doing a speed edit. Basically, knock out something in 8 hours. You will fly on instinct and get to the end and realize that hey, your instincts aren't half bad. Now go back and overthink everything.

I dig the Tibet Test.


The evolution of love letters

1815: "My happiness is to be near you. Incessantly I live over in my memory your caresses, your tears, your affectionate solicitude. The charms of you kindle continually a burning and a glowing flame in my heart. I thought that I loved you months ago, but since my separation from you I feel that I love you a thousand fold more. Each day since I knew you, have I adored you more and more."

2015: "you up? send me some n00dz 😎"


Chicago shows this week

I'm coming to Chitown...

Jul 1, 2015
8:30pm CYSK @ Timothy O'Toole's
9pm The Blind Bet @ the Pony Inn

Jul 2, 2015
7pm Congrats @ Uncharted Book
9pm Parlour Car @ Bar DeVille


How to be that guy with the Apple Watch who everyone hates

More at Vooza.com.

I guest it up on "It's Not You, It's Us" podcast

"This week on It's Not You, It's Us our guest is Matt Ruby! We learn what it means to be 'thirsty,' why it may be to your advantage to have a poor sense of smell, & discuss why we may attract what we are attracted to. Also, Matt helps us break down some break up guidelines and we find out there may be another reason to see your gynecologist, plus an all new Love Machine segment with Andy. Get to it..."


Jokes that need narrative and emotional undergirding

Deep dive on Comedy Central and how it's "in the middle of a creative renaissance — and a business-model crisis." Interesting bit: This discussion about how comics who are good at getting laughs still need help with narrative and character development.

Gifted comedians might excel at creating tone and finding novel laughs, but they often need a hand reconciling these skills with the mechanical and structural demands of a traditional series...“We had never written anything” for television, Abbi Jacobson said, “so Comedy Central needed someone there with us in the writers’ room.” She added, “They wanted us to focus more on the characters’ drives, and to learn how to work within the structure of act breaks.”

Jokes land most satisfyingly when they’re supported by narrative and emotional undergirding, Alterman says...Jargowsky, characterizing Comedy Central’s priorities and proclivities from the producer’s end, explained that “when I go to pitch them on a workplace comedy, they’ll ask really specific questions, like, What is the characters’ relationship to their work? Are they successful? Why do they hang out with each other?” There’s good reason for this, he said: “When you pitch a movie, you’re telling a story, but when you pitch a TV show, you’re kind of describing a game like chess, where the characters are the pieces. Let’s have a rook that moves this way and a bishop who moves that way — but what if a knight showed up? You’re creating this interlocked network of gears that you can wind up and, if you’ve done it right, you have a comedic perpetual-motion machine.”

Read the full article.


Colin Quinn, Kurt Metzger, and punching up vs. punching down

I find most of the dialogue about outrage culture tiresome. But Colin Quinn and Kurt Metzger? I'll listen to those two.

Colin Quinn on race, comedy and political correctness is a solid interview.

And punching up, punching down! Once again, these terms were not created by humorous people. Activists are activists. They are great and a big part of American society. Humorists and activists don’t very often meld. Humorists and activists have two very different mentalities. Activists are very sincere, very positive. That’s how activists should be. Humorists are supposed to look at everything and see the bullshit in all sides. This is my opinion. We are not supposed to see 100 percent right and wrong. Everything is middle ground. Everything is hypocrisy in all people and all situations.

And you hear Metzger on WTF? Good stuff. He has an interesting exchange with Maron (around 15:30in) about how people who talk about “punching up” are actually condescending.

Jokes, to me, there's no moral component whatsoever. It's merely funny and that's its own force. I know for a fact that something that's absolutely not funny and terribly wrong can be the most hysterical thing in the world in the right context. That's just a fact.

So people who don't get funny, there's a lot of people who feel punching up and punching down comedy and all that shit. It's a very telling thing to say. You hear that "punching down comedy." That's the most elitist [thing], that's saying, "There's a caste system and I'm on top of it and I will not deign to punch downward at the people lower than me." You think people are lower than you and you think that makes you more moral than me? I thought we were all equal so I'm punching straight ahead. But it turns out that I'm supposed to buy into that I'm on top of someone.

My reaction to the recent discussions around offended audiences...

Comedians: I'm annoyed at uptight crowds too. I get it. But my .02: You're not entitled to get laughs on your jokes. No one's banning you from saying stuff. They're just not laughing. If that bugs you, start performing in front of different crowds. If you want to be edgy and offensive, don't perform for liberal twenty-year-olds. This idea that every audience needs to dig your set is a weird comedy-centric thing. A punk band doesn't get mad when an opera crowd doesn't enjoy their music. They play a dive bar instead of an opera house. The internet is turning us into a bunch of niche cultures and insisting on a one-size-fits-all approach to comedy seems antiquated. I love Dave Attell. I listen to NPR all the time. But Dave Attell probably shouldn't perform at an NPR fundraiser. That doesn't mean anyone is wrong. It's ok for us to enjoy different things.

Joe Derosa had some smart tweets about all this...

Also, the "it's a free speech issue" and "people shouldn't get fired" comments seem a bit hysterical. No one's passing laws against these jokes and it seems pretty rare that anyone's actually lost a job due to Twitter outrage. There are drama queens on both sides here.

Minority groups: A lot of minority groups are making great strides lately. That's awesome. If you buy that punching up/down does matter: Part of the deal of gaining a more powerful position in society is that people are entitled to make fun of you more. You gain power, you become a legit target for comedy. If legit comedians wanna try to make good natured jokes about your group, it's a sign that y'all are coming up. Gaining power but claiming immunity from mockery doesn't add up. You can't have it both ways. If I'm gonna have to say L.G.B.T.Q. instead of gay, you may have to deal with some jokes about that being too many syllables.

People on either side who get outraged: Here's how the internet works...

1) You think something is terrible.
2) You blog/tweet/whatever about it.
3) People click on it.
4) Clicks means ad revenues for the publisher.
5) So they publish more like it.
6) Voila, the internet gets more terrible.

By publicly hating on something, you are ensuring it will happen more often. Congrats!

Also, if you're gonna summarize a Seinfeld episode, at least be in the goddamn ballpark with your summary.

The big story here isn't rape culture, it's social media culture
I don't understand being offended


The Jenner hype

this entire Jenner thing is so ridic. it’s all self-promotion by Jenner and rubbernecking by the rest of us in the disguise of “transgender awareness.” carnival sideshow turned into faux political cause. the ultimate Kardashian checkmate...until one of them commits suicide to promote their final project. now if you'll excuse me, i'm gonna go watch "Network" again.


A weekend on Ayahuasca

I recently spent a weekend on Ayahuasca (hallucinogenic brew from the Amazon) and it was the most significant spiritual experience of my life. (No joke!) Here's what happened.


"Look at this fish I caught" photos

Run your online dating profile photos past someone of the opposite gender. Because dudes, no girl wants to see your "look at this fish I caught" photo. And ladies, no guy wants to peep your "look at me with a fake mustache" shot. Either of those is basically just screaming, "I don't understand the opposite sex!"


The best comedy on TV is the Wendy Williams show

Wendy basically reads Us Weekly and the whole crowd boos or cheers like it's a church sermon. Now Wendy is telling the crowd she needs silence in the airport bathroom when she's trying to do her business. *wild applause* She can tell us that because we KNOW EACH OTHER. *more applause* Lesson: Do NOT ask for Wendy's autograph when she is on the toilet. Time for a commercial break... *dancing* Wendy audience is getting 50 Shades of Grey box set. *standing ovation* Guess what? Wendy loves chocolate! *nods all around* Also, she does NOT think Eva should get back together with Tony Parker. *crowd agrees* Now Wendy is giving advice to the crowd. An audience member found another girl sending her man photos! Red low cut v-neck top & red lipstick. *shocked gasps* And that's it. Now it's time for some show called The Real. I'm sad Wendy is over, but The Real also features an audience that is *dancing* so I'm pretty sure it's gonna be a good time.

You can't say that on television

John Oliver going after Bud Light, HBO moneymakers, and Time Warner in same episode was cool: Why John Oliver Is Even More Badass Than You Might Realize.

Part of it is not worrying about advertisers. It's why shit on HBO is so much more interesting than other networks.

Thought of that while reading this too: Asking "who's the customer?"

It turns out asking "who's the customer?" is a great way of thinking about when certain companies or industries do things that aren't aligned with good customer service or user experience.

The customer for network TV shows isn't viewers. The customer is the advertisers. The viewer is just a means to an end. AKA "if you're not paying for the product, you are the product."


I spoke at a marketing conference about Vooza, humor, and native advertising

Here are some photos of me onstage at the Country Music Hall of Fame. I sang Jolene along with Dolly...er, not really. The real deal: Last week, I gave a talk at the Marketing United conference in Nashville. I showed some of our Vooza videos, made some jokes, and then gave a legit presentation on how we work with advertisers at Vooza and how brands can make stuff that doesn't suck. Here's some of the crowd response on Twitter (and some related links at the end):

Some of the stuff I talked about in case you're interested in more info:

1,000 True Fans [Kevin Kelley]
The Economics of Internet Comedy Videos [Splitsider]
Jerry Seinfeld Aces Product Placement [Brand Channel]
12 video sharing triggers [Econsultancy]
How Publishers and Brands Can Measure the Value of Native Advertising [Content Standard]
Brands as publishers [Curve]
Brands as Publishers [Huge]


Editing tip: "Matching is for sissies"

The Man Who Makes the World’s Funniest People Even Funnier is a look at the man who edits Apatow/Feig movies.

One of White’s mentors at Sundance was Dede Allen, who cut “Dog Day Afternoon” and “Bonnie and Clyde.” Allen instilled in White an unfussy approach. “You run into editors who say, ‘I can’t make that cut, the glass of water is in the wrong place in that take,’ ” White said. “But I’ll say: ‘Who cares? The performance is strongest in that cut!’ Why would you match the glass and take on that worse performance? ‘Matching is for sissies’ — that’s one of the things Dede would say all the time.” White argues that as audience members, we “look at actors’ eyes most of the time, so as long as they’re engaging, you’re going to be connected to that person, and whatever happens elsewhere in the frame is less important.”

Reminds me of one of Airplane creators David Zucker's rules:

That didn`t happen: Completely defying logic is bad, but something that is on and off the screen so fast that we can get away with it is OK. Example: Robert Stack in ``Airplane!`` yells to Lloyd Bridges, ``He can`t land; they`re on instruments!`` And of course we cut to the cockpit and four of the actors are playing musical instruments. Seconds later, in the next scene, the saxophone and clarinets have disappeared. If it`s done right, no one in the audience will ask where the instruments went.

We used that as a guiding rule during edit of this Vooza episode...

...At 1:20, Steve's gums get all bloody. In the next shot, they're all clean again. "That didn't happen."


"How do I market to your fetus?" and other bits from my Vooza talk at The Next Web Europe conference

Yesterday I spoke at The Next Web conference in Amsterdam in character as an idiot startup CEO (spinoff from our Vooza show). It was fun. The venue looked like a combination of a spaceship and Qbert. Video coming soon.

Here's a clip from my talk last year:

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