Jordan Peele: "Your truth is more powerful than your mask"

Loved this Jordan Peele profile.

I’ve noticed that the truth works. People can feel the truth. If you’re being yourself and you’re just using your own emotions, they can feel it. If you’re doing fake, they can feel it. It took me a while in comedy to realize that your truth is more powerful than your mask.

The whole thing is worth a read.


How Todd Barry jokes about Alabama

All this Alabama talk's got me thinking about one of my fave Todd Barry bits:

I tour the South, though, I do. I love touring the South. Some people up North are afraid of the South, it's weird. I'll do a show in, like, Alabama. I'll tell someone I did a show in Alabama and they'll be like, "Oh my God! What was that like?" Oh, you know, chairs, a microphone. Oh, I'm sorry, I know what you're looking for. I'll tell you what it was like. Well, I flew into Birmingham. The Imperial Wizard from the Klan picked me up at the airport. Rode to the club on the back of an old mule. Tried to get a joke out over the shouts of "jewboy go home." At the end of the night I go "Where's my check?" They go, "You're not gettin' a check. You're gettin' this bag of porkrinds." Is that the answer you were looking for, you narrow-minded fake-liberal fuck?

He’s so good at tagging bits. And part of why I love it is because it goes the exact opposite direction you expect it to go. It's easy to be a NYC liberal who writes a bit attacking Alabama. Todd flips that. And I'd much rather hear a bit that ends with "you narrow-minded fake-liberal fuck" than one that just reinforces what I already think. I like when jokes make me question my own views and challenge my expectations. That's what the best comedy (and the best art in general) does.


Thoughts on Louis CK, Chris Rock, harassment, and comedy

Two things I wrote about recent news in the comedy world:

The Cesspool of Comedy
Standup comedy attracts weirdos who want amplification.

How Chris Rock Finds Funny
Developing comedy means being comfortable in a zone of discomfort.


Exploring dozens of choices until you come up with right punchline

10 Screenwriting Tips You Can Learn from The Breakfast Club offers this advice on dialogue.

There are very few movies as quotable as The Breakfast Club. Part of that is because Hughes was an insanely talented dialogue writer. But I’ve read some of Hughes’ unproduced scripts, and believe it or not, he doesn’t always come up with the goods. That tells me he worked extra hard on Club. One of the keys to coming up with great lines and sharp dialogue is to challenge yourself, to not go with the easy first choice, but to keep digging until you find something original. Your initial idea for a line may be “What an asshole.” But with a little work, you could come up with “That man…is a brownie hound.” Instead of “Nice outfit buddy,” how about exploring 20 more choices until you come up with, “Does Barry Manilow know that you raid his wardrobe?” Dialogue is about challenging yourself. It’s about not taking the easy way out. Clearly, Hughes practiced this philosophy in Club.

Reminds me of coming up with punchlines. How you have to come up with 20 choices before you get that perfect line. I wrestle with that a lot. The first thing that occurs to me feels like the irght choice but a lot of times it's too obvious. Once I really push is when things get weirder/surprising/funnier.


When Jerry Seinfeld drops in on your show...

"Jerry's going on so we're cutting you down to 10 minutes." Yeah, uh, that's cool. And then you get to watch Seinfeld work out some new. My fave part was how annoyed he gets at cheap applause lines. "I have three kids" and everyone applauds. "I'm 63 now" and everyone applauds. And Seinfeld can't stand it. He starts muttering with disdain under his breath, "I really wish you didn't feel like you have to do that but, fine, let's get it out of the way. Okay, very good." It was the exact same look of disgust he gave when Keisha tried to hug him. (Here's Gary Gulman watching from the back. Photo credit: Elon Gold.)


"Life as a comedian" interview

Interview: "Matt Ruby on recording his comedy album, life as a comedian, and how to get people to notice you." Excerpt: "There’s a whole art to structuring an hour set. In NYC, you’re usually limited to shorter sets. So for me, it was very helpful to go on the road before taping and do longer sets so I could figure out how to make it all work as a cohesive piece instead of a series of random jokes. One thing I learned: Split up your Jew material when you’re doing shows in Canada."


Video: The truth about catcalling, race, and that creepy dude in your office

Hey, Beautiful! Springtime is here which means it's street harassment season. I explore the different ways dudes harass ladies in this brand new animated clip from my new album HOT FLASHES (download/stream here).

Please share if you dig it! Also, it's great for sending to that creepy dude in your office.

Animation by Joe Karg and he did a swell job – love the Alien bit at the end especially.

Also: Can I get a smile?


My Q&A with The Comic's Comic


When and where was the first time you performed comedy?

When I was a little kid, my family flew somewhere and I went to the bathroom and took a dump but couldn’t reach the toilet paper. So I exited, walked up the aisle, and went to tell my dad that I needed help. Only thing is I didn’t pull my pants back up. The entire plane burst out laughing at the site of a toddler waddling up the aisle with his pants down. It wasn’t intentional but I got big laughs so I’m counting it. And FYI, I try not to work blue anymore.

Read the rest.

P.S. I tried to rewrite the intro but Sean wasn't having it. ; )

What do they say about introductions: No one really reads them. It is a fact, though, that America’s biggest city, NYC, has no alleys. That’s why we pile garbage up on the streets. Thus, the rats. So don’t blame us for all the rats. Blame the city planners. Anyway. Hollywood may be Hollywood, but maybe it’s had some Botox and plastic surgery, so can we even really say that it’s still the same Hollywood? It’s like Steven Tyler or George Foreman. Can we even really say that either one of them is really Steven Tyler or George Foreman anymore? Anyway, New York City is where comedians are born funny, become funny or decide to become sober. I think we should meet some of these people. Well, meet them in print. Comedians are kinda weird in person. Even in print, sometimes. Sometimes, they’ll rewrite your entire intro for you to make their own Meet Me In New York feature seem more unique. This is an example of that. So, other than being hilarious, charming, and good looking, who does this Matt Ruby think he is? Let’s find out.

How comedy/NYC/life has made me feel more Jewish

"Honestly, I’ve spent most of my life running away from being Jewish. I read Richard Dawkins. I watch Bill Maher. I date Catholic girls. I listen to rock ’n roll. Who needs the Torah when you’ve got Tom Petty?"

I wrote an essay for Paste Magazine about how comedy/NYC/life has made me feel more Jewish.


Help me welcome little HOT FLASHES, my debut standup comedy album, into the world!

The Bump Watch is over!
My little bundle of joy has arrived!
800 Pound Gorilla Records and I are ecstatic to welcome little HOT FLASHES, my debut standup comedy album, into the world!
Born on the 31st of March, 2017
23 tracks, 58 minutes
We invite you and your friends to join us in celebrating at the release show on Sun, Apr 9 at NY Comedy Club at 9:15pm ($5 tix with code HOTFLASHES here)
To listen/download, click this link
And be sure to tell your friends/spread the word too
The Ruby Family
(Look, this might be as close as I get to one of these announcements so please just give this to me.)

A Q&A with me (Matt Ruby) about important rules, avoiding despair, and cartoons

An interview I did via email.

What do you wish someone had told you about show business before you entered it?

The the reason anyone wants to be in show business is based on psychological scars from childhood and/or an inability to get laid.

Where do you get your material?

I carry a notebook around and when I have an interesting thought, I write it down. I don't like sitting in front of a blank screen. I like to live my life and then catch ideas like a fisherman on Deadliest Catch will catch crabs. (Note: I do not have crabs. I have ideas. I swear!)

What happens if they don’t laugh?

You feel a tiny little puncture wound in your soul. Then you remember: They might be idiots. So you try it again. Then you realize they were not idiots. They were right.

How often do you perform comedy per week?

Plenty, but not enough.

What are you favorite comedy clubs that you perform at?

I really love New York Comedy Club. To me, it's the perfect size/energy for a show and feels like "real New York." And I love our show at Irish Exit because it's a real, back-of-the-bar, knife fight show.

How often do you write jokes?

I'm writing a little bit, all the time. Then I go through all my notes every week or two and refine. I write a lot onstage too. This is because I like ideas that come out in flow and also because I am lazy.

When did you feel like you were a pro comedian?

Words I don't like: professional, artist, genius, brilliant. I don't really know what they mean or where the line is. In life, I frequently don't know where the line is. Also, I don't think I should have ended those sentences with "is." There, I did it again. See, I don't understand lines!

How did you know you wanted to be a comedian or did it just happen?

I wanted to tell the truth. And I realized comedians get away with that more than anyone else. So I decided to figure out how they did that. Then I tried it and I fell into a rabbit hole.

Who would you say are your influences in the comedy world?

Louis, Rock, Stanhope, Carlin, Giraldo, Patrice, Norm.

What is one of your more embarrassing memories from childhood?

Once as a kid, I was on an airplane and took a dump and couldn't reach the toilet paper so I went back to the cabin to tell my father. The only problem: I never pulled my pants back up. The whole plane laughed at me. It's probably the cause of a lot of my emotional damage.

What are the most important rules you live by?

1) Everything in moderation, including moderation.
2) 80% of life is showing up.

What was your favorite book as a kid, and what does that say about you?

I loved Peanuts. Had tons of books with Snoopy and the crew. I love how Woodstock speaks in lines, I thrive on emotional melancholy, and I like when adults are inaudible.

What's the best advice you've ever gotten?

Stop reading the comments.

Given your feelings about the state of our culture, how do you avoid despair?

I don't think anything's really changed. We're just actually coming face to face with the sores and wounds that our culture's been good at hiding for so long. I see it as an opportunity to learn and grow as a society. Also: Weed.

What three things would you take with you to a deserted island?

Tom Petty's Greatest Hits, the Torah, and Bear Grylls.

Do you have any quotes that you live your life by or think of often?”

"Youth is wasted on the young."
-George Bernard Shaw

"A family is a dictatorship ruled over by its sickest member."
-Moss Hart

"If your photographs aren't good enough, you're not close enough."
-Robert Capa

How to handle hecklers from the stage?

First: Ignore. Second: Talk to them. They'll usually hang themselves.

“What advice would you give your younger self?”

Be kinder to yourself and others. Also, enjoy your luscious head of hair.

What most important lesson you learned in comedy?

That people want you to be vulnerable and confident at the same time – but not too much of either.

Advice to your younger self just starting in comedy career?

The more it's art, the less it pays.

How long do you spend developing new material?

3 hours, 16 minutes, and 23 seconds per joke. No more, no less.

What’s your drink of choice?

The Yachtsman: Ketel, Soda, Grapefruit in a pint glass.

Greatest cartoon of all time?

Woody Woodpecker. The Captain Haddock ep: "If Woody had gone right to the police, this would never have happened."

Who are your favorite comedians to watch?

In NYC, I love getting to see comics like Louis CK, Gary Gulman, Ted Alexandro, and Nick Griffin perform a lot. Great to see how they evolve over time and from set to set.

Do you have any heckler stories?

Actually, this intro from a host (totally real) was worse than any heckler:

The first rule of comedy is to not dig a hole, when you're the MC, is to not dig a hole for the comic who's coming up. Ya wanna bring it up. But we're all friends, we've all sort of bonded. So I wanna bring it up and everything like that.

I haven't done comedy in a while. I took like six months off. [To show producer in the back] Remember what happened? [Show producer yells out: "Yeah, your friend died."]

Yeah, my buddy, I don't know if you heard about it. Lt. Col. [his name], a good friend of mine, was killed in Afghanistan by an IED and he's the husband of my really good friend [gives her name]. Killed in Afghanistan. [Long pause.]

Coming to the stage now from New York City. [Laughs] Wouldn't that be great? Wouldn't that be awesome? I'm kidding. Stop it. [Looks at me.] He's like, "No, no, no. No!" [Makes stretching sign with hands.]

[Note: He was NOT kidding about the dead friend. He was kidding about bringing me up after saying that. But then he did it anyway!]

This guy's funny. You guys are gonna love him. Matt Ruby.

Let’s say you could live the life of any animal in the wilderness for one day: What would it be?

I dig alligators. They seem smooth. Not their skin, their behavior. Also, koalas seem like they're having a good time.

So the stereotype of comedians being horribly depressed and neurotic is true?

Yes. But everyone is depressed and neurotic, we're just open about it.

Do you ever get tired of being a comedian?

You get tired doing anything over and over. But I get less tired of being a comedian than I do anything else.

So at the end of your day, what’s your ultimate goal?

Make stuff I'm proud of, work with people I admire, and get FAT STACKS OF CASH (alternatively, I will accept enlightenment).

What would you say troubles you the most about the world today?

The way random people on the internet can email you and get you to answer a bunch of personal questions. Scary!


My debut standup album "Hot Flashes" comes out on March 31

News! My debut standup album will be released by 800 Pound Gorilla Records and comes out on Friday, March 31. I think you'll like it. Trying to get the word out so If anyone has a podcast and wants me as a guest around that time, hit me up. Also, I'll be having an album release show Sunday, April 9 at NY Comedy Club. If you want me to tell you when the album drops, you can sign up for my email list.


Tips on comedy album recording, selling, track lengths, etc.

Good reddit post on How to Release a Comedy Album:

Physical albums sell well at shows because people want a physical souvenir. I’ve looked into dozens of technologies to replace physical albums, and finally found one that works. SD cards and USB sticks are cost-prohibitive – but dropcards are not. Dropcards are credit-card sized thick plastic imprinted with unique download codes that cost between 25 and 50 cents a piece (depending on the size of your order) and are much easier to carry than CDs. You can design them however you’d like, they can hold video and images, and people still get a tangible souvenir. Also, you’re able to collect the email addresses of those downloading the album. I’ve started selling them at shows and I’m back up to the same pace I was for albums a decade ago. I reached out to the people at DropCards.com and got a discount code for all Pro-Tip readers. Enter comedyprotips at checkout (we don’t make anything on the referrals, but you save 10%).

And re: track length, "The sweet spot of track length is two to four minutes."


Doc's Lab booker: "The best and most important moment I witnessed in comedy this year was Matt Ruby"

I got mentioned twice (!) at The Interrobang's The Best Stand Up Comedy Moments of 2016! (As Decided by the Club Owners, Bookers and People Who Produce Comedy).

Doc’s Lab, San Francisco, CA
Jeff Zamaria, Comedy Booker/Manager

The best and most important moment I witnessed in comedy this year was Matt Ruby closing out his show at Doc’s Lab on the day after the election. It was a night I won’t forget. November 9th was a hard day for a lot of people. Including myself and the 39 people in the room that night. It was the first day in such a long time, that I didn’t want to see comedy. I almost felt like cancelling the show. Fortunately, I had a great chat with Matt before, and the show went on. He did a great heading set without mentioning the elephant in the room. When he finally did for his closing few moments, he turned it completely honest, talked about the youth said somethings that have really stuck with me since...Everyone in the room that night witnessed something really special. Matt gave us a much needed dose of positivity, and to be honest, I’m still living off it today. Thanks, Matt.

And another shoutout...

Independent Producer, New York, NY and National
Luisa Diez, Producer

This year I was very lucky to be a part of many amazing comedy festivals across the country, to judge numerous stand-up competitions, and to meet a whole new wave of talented comics, both in New York and elsewhere. My favorite comedy moment of the year, though, was actually three shows: In 2016, for the first time, we produced not one but three Schtick or Treat shows. The show, usually an annual Halloween event in New York, was created (and is hosted) by Mark Normand and Matt Ruby, and features comics performing as their favorite comedy legends—living, dead, real, and fictional! This year, in addition to the 9th Annual Schtick in New York, we produced one for Seeso, and held one in Los Angeles, too. Each show featured approximately 40 acts (114 total!), and everything from perfect impressions to hilarious parodies, music, and dancing, to prop comedy, exploding fruit, and fake blood.

What is truly special about this show is that it has something for everyone. For one night, comics get to play outside of their comfort zones and do things that aren’t like their regular acts. They get to pay homage to their favorites (or even lovingly mock them a little!), and to show off skills outside of their usual act, like singing, acting, and the ability to write sketches or for a voice that is not their own. Industry gets a chance to see more performers than anyone thought one show could hold, and comedy fans get a glimpse into the world of comedians and into each city’s respective comedy communities. Obviously, there were too many individual performances to single anyone out here, but the great thing is anyone you ask will have a different favorite, and you can’t get around the ‘you had to be there feeling.’ It’s an intimate and wonderful show crafted by, and for, comedy lovers.

Thanks so much Jeff and Luisa. Truly honored by the kind words!

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