Stamina, Tenacity and Craft with Eugene Mirman
Hey everybody how's it going on chase welcome, to another episode of the chase dermis live show here on creativeLIVE you, guys know this show this is where I sat down with amazing humans, and do everything I can't extract, all the valuable, stuff out of their brains to help you live your dreams whether, that's in career in hobby and in life my, guest today is an amazing stand-up, comedian, you definitely, know his voice and he, from. Bob's, Burgers my guest is mr. Eugene Mirman in hope. Hi. Hi, so, much this, has been a couple years in the making yeah yeah, only. Worries I got to give a shout out to Megan thank you for introducing us I, had, the good fortune of connecting. Well probably, at Seattle a number of years ago but, I want to open with a little story and the story is very simple it is we're, sitting in Provincetown. Yeah, we're having lobster. Rolls in the summertime is just it just it's, Cape. Cod yes I'm on Cape Cod it's just epic weather a perfect day and we're sitting there talking and someone. Walks over if Lee was even a servers like one. Of you guys, sounds. Just, like, Jean on Bob's Burgers. Didn't. Put your face with your voice right and we. Kind of eat when I was like was it me was it me and then of course you open your mouth and right it's just it was shocking to me that I mean I know you're you're human right, people who watch you on stand-up know your face but how. Is it weird to have a voice, that is, like I mean I. Mean. It's no water than anything else meaning, some, people know me from that some, from. You, know Flight of the Conchords your dealer new door stand-up and it's sort of all, it. Becomes a mish mosh the blender but yeah I mean definitely now a lot of people from from Bob's Burgers and Macau, India, and people do, hear, my voice and then you're like no that's weird you sound like that guy and. I'm like I am that guy. Does. It ever happen on the phone with customer, service like. Maybe. I. Feel, like occasionally. At the end maybe somebody, will go like we're, not supposed to say this it's. More like in a store, or something where they're like my. Boss will kill me but I really like you like why would your boss be mad. Like. I would call back angrily and be like your, boy, said, they like me. Ureas. Let's. Go early, career yeah, so this is the show you, know the show we talked about before but it's, a lot of you who are aspiring you. Know they want to live their passions, and they might be locked up in a cubicle farm somewhere we're trying to out of that or their, their lifelong creators, or entrepreneurs, and they're trying to figure out their next move and so sure, not only are you inspirational, but I like to unpack, early, childhood. And help people, understand. Or what it takes to take that step in your dreams so right, take me back so. Well. I started stand-up. Basically. You. Know the summer after high school and, then I went to Hampshire College where, you can design your own major, and so, I majored in comedy, and. Did. You. Know I mean when, you're piecing together a major, like. That you're sort of just doing what you think might, work so. You. Know I did stand-up shows at random, there was like a Chinese restaurant there. In. Hadley, mass where I did stand-up and it sort of coffee houses on campus, and eventually. I ran a weekly show because, my thesis, my, final. Project was a one-hour stand-up act that I sort of wrote and produced and, performed and. It's. Funny doing something like major in comedy because basically what it turned out is all the different like I sent out press releases like I fax press releases from. Whatever. Like, computer, I had which was my first computer that I'd ever had like, my senior year and I. Didn't know if it would work and I just faxed. Every. Newspaper. In the area college papers whatever and and and, regular papers, and was like there's. A kid doing a stand-up, comedy, show is his major he's crazy. And then. I, know. Well first thing like have they all printed, little like, little things about, it like they ought like and then, you.
Know There was one the. UMass paper wrote a story about it and then the like sort of like weekly. Paper not weekly daily. Paper of the area I'd like sent a reporter, and like wrote a little like. Article about it and, then. I was like oh my god you can tell the press about things and they'll come and write about it but. Note to self yeah, and so when I moved to Boston I would, constantly. Fax. Things to the Boston, Globe and, to. You. Know various, radio stations and, I remember, what and like and then it started, like there was like a section, that was like names and faces which was like they're kind of like Boston, Globe's like celebrity, section and they, would start like reaching. Out and going like what are you reading this summer and I remember, saying that I was reading I think it was like I forget. Like Wolverine and Kitty Pryde it was like some like comic, that was like probably like at that time 10 or 15 years old a, miniseries. And I think they printed it I think it just said probably like he's reading like Anna Karenina and, over, even Kitty Pryde this summer. But. It was. But. So. I did so I did all that stuff and I would you know I had I always. Found it easier to start a thing than to become part, of something, so, I had a weekly show for a while in. Cambridge, at a place called the Greene Street Grill I had, a weekly show there and I would hand out you. Know like a thousand, fliers for, it and eventually I had a show on the third floor of a Chinese restaurant in. Harvard. Square the. Comedy studio which had you, know been a club, there for a long time and is now moving but, me and Brendan small, who. Created, home movies at Metalocalypse and Patrick. Pirelli who's now a writer at Fallon, the, three of us had this you, know weekly, show but, I would hand out I would just go and hand out like you. Know a thousand, fliers I sort of what. I did largely was basically like everything, I thought you could do to try to become, a comedian you. Know at the time it was the mid late, 90s, and, comedy. Had largely crashed, in, it like stand up late because that was like early Richard, Pryor big stuff right or even like the 80s, had so much stand-up and then kind of as the early 90s, approached a lot of it like you. Know there. Was just sort of a saturation, of tons of people do, it you know I was just starting but but, there was like all these people kind of you. Know wherever you could put a microphone they'd have a show but you often wouldn't have enough, comics, that could do stand-up, well so. It just kind of became so. Saturated, I, think that it kind of died and. By. The time I started that I didn't have a particular, other that I knew I wanted it to be a career I didn't really have an expectation of. This is what it should be er this is how it would work you. Know and the, thing about Hampshire that was great, was that you would basically set, a goal and then, you would just do all the stuff you thought, you. Could try to make it work and then you would do more of what worked, you, know I would send out more. Press releases because it turns out that's a thing you can do and that people would write about you and then they'd send a reporter, to write about a show, you. Know and. You. Know so that was sort of the early days and I did that for a while in Boston, until, eventually. Moving to New York, are, you still faxing people I. Seems. Like everything was a big part of it I know it's true of like I am I am like what you guys need is like what's. Uh, what. Is it Morse code anyway. Telegraph, like, if you were that if you had only done this show in like 1898. You'd have basically, Mark Twain telling you about, how to telegraph newspapers. So. I know but, you're right I have I have said like the key to success is faxing, which, is maybe not today's. Lesson but I just, like to see it as the lesson, being just, you. All do like 20, different things do. More of what's working and, then, ya see what works and try different stuff I think it's more about having a goal and then, trying different ways to six to, just make it happen or get closer to it I think that if you look at or for me like if, I look at any like. Day. Or something I'll, be like oh I maybe, didn't do anything or it feels like I didn't do anything but if I look like a week or a month then. I'll see these things that I sort of did, that moved, a gold.
Closer, And. I think a lot of it is that, it's this sort of like. It's. About just having a sort of slow, steady, long-term. Kind. Of thing that you're slowly working towards as opposed to thinking like when people talk about like. Someone's. Break or anything like that that always seems weird to me because I think of nothing as like. I mean there's things that you can do that are helpful to you but without. It there's probably 20 other things that could have been or, might be so, it's a little bit more of the daily drumbeat the, gold plus daily drumbeat yeah. Did. You have a sense while you were doing that I think, their implicit. In there are two concept I want to focus on first like one is that you, sort of made your own luck that you you were yeah you. Had a goal and you shit. Doesn't happen if you don't promote it they had to find a way to promote it where there's anything or smoke signals or like, modern, reason. For someone to come to a comedy show of some guy that they don't know about or a group of people, that, you don't really know about so you'd try to convince. Them that it was you know, and then people, would come and then they tell their friends and you know then it was all that was, it lonely, in dark and slow or. Was a rocket, ship wasn't lonely in the sense that there was a, bunch of comics, who you, know around, the same time we all had you, know a similar sort of ethos, and goal and you. Know when you're building something. From. There not being like much of an audience in a, sense it only just slowly gets better you, know and this and I did the same thing when I was in New York you know me and Bobby Tisdale, and Holly Schlesinger, who is a, writer, for Bob's now and. I knew from Boston she booked the show invite, them up that Bobby and I did and, that. Also took you, know a year and a half or something to like you, know you again. You you know this is also sort of before social media so even. If like someone was gonna stop. By who was popular in people would want to see there, was largely, no way to tell anyone, that they were coming, you know I used to have like a weekly, AOL, email then, I would said no. And. I. Forget. If I I'm, like I don't know if I fax press releases in New York, I might. Have emailed them at this point I might have I might have switched to email because. That that had probably taken over, because your hotmail account was, just cracking yeah. Exactly yeah. So, I. Think, that's one thing that you need to make your own luck and. You, know the folks at home were just starting or hitting, a road bump somewhere like the fact that you were out there promoting there, wasn't some fancy machine it's you sending faxes or rail or flyers or whatnot I think, that's a great takeaway also.
You. Talked about in a sense it was iterating, like you try something, if it's working you do more of it if it's not working you do less of it yeah. Russ. Everything's, that the the craft is that the yeah, I mean yeah. I, mean, more are you I guess. It just depends what the goal is. Meaning. Say. The question, again say you want to. For. Example with promotion, yeah 500 people show up like what did I do your deconstructing. Your success, totally, but a lot of it also is like you, know I remember when I first so, I did. This show at the Greene Street Grill and, the. Somebody, from the Boston Phoenix which was you, know to me like the paper I grew up with as a kid it was like The Village Voice of Boston and somebody. Came and they, wrote a story about it and, I was like oh my god here we go this is now. Finally. There is a story, in the paper about this. Fun comedy, show that I'm doing and I, remember the following week you. Know four people came as a result of that there was maybe like eight, total but four from the paper and then, four that were friends and I. Was. Like oh I see, this is not, it's. All very long slow so so you sort of like you, know you have what or to me like was, a success, which is this, you. Know article. Right now but then I you know photocopied. That article and put it with like a little flyer and like it would hand that out and you know it all sort of you, you. Sort, of do what you can. But. But but but I definitely remember being, like now this, is the thing this is my big break and then it's like oh nothing is okay and and and everything like you, know if you think of whatever like comics, were on a show that's like, you. Know from 10, 15 20, years ago and you think of it as the biggest thing and then like it's you know some shows stay forever with people in some don't so it's sort of this continuous. Thing I think, when you freelance you believe in a sense that everything can fall apart and, I don't know that I feel like ever leaves you even. If it's like fine. If I all like. Observations, a. Like. I definitely have friends who I'm like who. In my head I'm like you're wildly successful like, how could you possibly, be, anxious about something changing, and, then it's like oh I guess it's just forever that anxiety wonder. That's a human is that it is that, people like that become. Sort, of creators. And entrepreneurs, or is it when, you're a crater entrepreneur and you've had the rug yanked out from under you a couple times you start looking right I don't yet I don't know observation. Yeah. You're. Know, I think. I, don't, know my comedy. Genre as, well as I should I just it's all funny to me but, you. The next title, of my own you. You. I, think, it's it's actually I, read, this once. Observational. Comedy is that right sure. My comedy, you bring in shit that you find in the world oh that's yeah I mean I do yeah. I don't know what you'd call it I mean and I will say that partially it's because, you.
Know When I was in college. You. Know there wasn't like a stand-up, scene there was just sort of like I ran a show but I would just ask anyone I thought was funny to like tell a story or do something yeah and so. I. Would. Basically try, stuff in front of you know whatever audience and, some of it was jokes like a sort of straight-up joke and sometimes it would be a letter or sometimes would be some weird thing and basically, if it you, know made people laugh I. Would, keep it and if, it didn't I would try to change, it or get, rid of it and so, it was that sort of trial and error thing but then as a result you, know a lot of my act is, like you, know here's a letter I wrote or here's like a weird, thing I did or I recorded, this. Sorry. That's okay. So. So so, yeah it's it's become, you. Know a range, of everything from here's an observation or, here's a story here's, an anecdote, and then here's some weird, sort of like internet, from. Not prank but like, sort of bit like my LinkedIn, profile, or I made did this but then I really. Do it or like here's like a calendar, I made of paintings, or I tried at some point to get paintings, into a Whole Foods near my house because they said they were gonna partner with local artists and so I made a bunch of paintings and, the. Closest I got was when I got to perform that bit on Seth Meyers and then, like escalated. By like, how close I was and they like, had set a meeting and then a clack clearly fell away like they definitely did not want to put my stuff up next to the broccoli but. It was very. Close. To being discussed. And, I kind of was like well I mostly, wanted to make the, joke been, more, than that well, I would, be very happy to have had it and I had a lot of people being like will you put the paintings up at like our cafe. Or gallery and I was like no no I really just want them at this Whole Foods that's. Sort of the joke but, anyway. Well what about the LinkedIn profiles, I think I've heard that bit yeah, so that was basically, and. It's funny once I think I did it on. Done. Like a special, then lengthen was like oh you can't actually it's what I basically wrote that I was the VP. Of PP, of Verizon, and it like when, you're filling it out it. Like you know like a little drop-down things like do you mean this Verizon, like the official Verizon and I was like yes and so, as a result for, you. Know two years or whatever it was like I would get a lot of like you know join this organization of, vice presidents and, like here's other offers, for you and they'd all be kind of within, my area various. Vice president, and similar. Roles that, they would be pitching me and I imagine recommending, me to, whatever. Company, where. Like Pfizer is, like I don't know oh the vice president DP, from Verizon, he, would be perfect, to. Run. So. Yeah. Other. Like. Give me some more examples of that so that link though I had heard the LinkedIn one so I took out Facebook, ads at one point yeah. So, I took out Facebook, ads. Because. You could just target, like, you could you can go like I want people who like hockey, and Belle and Sebastian, and then. You could put some, really weird ad and then here's the funny thing you can also direct, I don't know if this is still true this is you know I did this what five years ago so. You could at the time direct, them to any website so you could be. Like I want this, weird ad, go. Hockey fans and then sends them to CNN, or sends them to the White House or a, page, or like your website whatever you you could put it anywhere. I don't know if that is still the case I think it is but I. Guess. The the assumption is no one will spend. Maybe spend, their money on ads or, for. Other people, but I but, it. Also is very fun to play around with and. Depending. On how you do it like so. So you, can be either charged, with, people seeing it or charged and I think by clicks and if you just do it where you just you don't care if I do it clicks on it you just want it to appear you can really reach a lot of people you. Know it's, very easy to reach thousands, of people as long as clicking isn't what you're going for, as. Long as you don't want to be fully effective with your ad while. You're paying for the ad to go to someone else yeah yeah you kind of are or I, mean I can't remember what I sent, people to I. Think, at times it, was my say but at times it was just whatever I thought would be funny related, to the ad is that your primary. Source of comedy like I don't know it's it's a mix of that and anecdotes, and you know yeah, things things like it things that are that sort of interact with the world or also. You. Know I mean a lot of it oh yeah. You know what it was so the the. Reason I did the Facebook thing so a lot of it is triggered by something so the reason I did a Facebook, thing is because.
I, I. Can't, remember if this was when. My cat had died or before my cat had died but, basically, ads. Possibly. Before started popping, up for cat cremation, service at your home, and. And, it was sort of like cat like funeral, pet, funeral stuff and. I, was like and. Then the thing that made, and it was literally I, think. It was meant that they would come to your home and take I don't know the way they presented it is that they will come to your house and burn your cat is. Definitely, how. Its. Confined. Messaging. Read. And so I was like okay how does this happen what. Have I been looking up or, it has it just overheard, you know this is also several years ago when I think the idea that you're. Talking into your phone, you. Didn't you wouldn't think and I always maybe is at the beginning of your talking and, picks up like, you constantly going oh no my cat is dying and then it's like I got something for you will come to your house and burn your cat and. So that and then LinkedIn similarly, it was like tons. Of for. Whatever reason, I think either people, I knew or something or it constantly get these, lights. Like I think probably people putting it in their address book in or something yeah I was, like I don't need, like I'm not putting. My resume out and then finally I was like fine I'm gonna pry really I will join LinkedIn and I then went through and did all the stuff and was like oh you can read anything you want this, is a lot more fun than I thought because. I'm not trying to get a job. So. We're. Gonna 90-degree. Turn yeah. Part. Of comedy. You, know of course there's the laughing, part there's enjoy, that, I mean I've, seen, you do karaoke it's pretty it's pretty entertaining. What. About the. Hard parts I, think there's, so much comedic, genius that. Comes you know it's it's a topic. In our culture moving that it comes from a lot of pain a lot of struggle. What. What sort of connection, do. You have with that and or what, what. Should the folks at home who don't understand, that or what help bring some insight I. Mean I think that it's a, comedy. Tragedy or I don't know yeah I don't know I mean that's. Comedy I'm like what help us understand it because I'm I consider. Myself an outsider to the comedy scene I love it I appreciate, the, craft and I, see the connection between like. Well. I think that it it comes out I mean. Everyone's. Comedy, is from some, version, of their experiences. And. You. Know how they sort of process it so I think that's, you, know I do some stuff that's sort of like but. Personal things or you, know starting. To do things that yeah, that it like come from sort of I guess tragedy. But. Also, you. Know even the like sort of angry letters I write or whatever like it's all about like your. Frustration, or whatever it is and there's some comics who are. Like like I don't know if you've seen Patton, Oswalt's last special it's. Wonderful, and he talks about like his you. Know wife dying and and it's, a lot, of it is very very funny and very touching and very sad. But. I think that it's just to every comic there's whatever, inspires them so some people are particularly, good at sort. Of reframing, you, know pain or. Processing. It through the funny parts of it and there's you know funny. All. Of it like lots of like. Paw pumpkins, has a really. Funny story about his mom's funeral. And. You. Know so everybody has, the. News or the thing yeah their thing and some people do more of that some do less it's you know I don't, know that there, I don't.
Know That everyone's, tortured, per se I mean everyone has tons of sad things and some people turn that into comedy but some people you, know a lot like. Steven. Wright or like you know felt they do these sort of incredible, one-liners, and it's not like. Those. Guys feel no sad yes that's. Why I'm asking right because it seems like I don't, know if comedy, over indexes. On. Tragedy. Or over indexes on pain and I'm hearing you don't think it does I mean I culturally. I think that's a concept right but that's because no one like but that's like because, the. Idea that like comics, are sad is ironic, and the idea that like firemen, or lawyers are sad know but be like nobody cares like. Nobody, really. There's. So much water around you and yet like I don't know so. I think that the that's, I. Mean I yeah. So III, think that it's and also each person can consume whatever, comedy, they like so if, you're someone who really likes sort, of like. Very. Personal, or intimate comedy. That you know you could do that if you like sort of silly stuff you can you. Know and in some, comics are a mix of it all you, know um, range. That's like range and acting or range right but, yeah and some people do you know they like an acting they'll do lots of different characters and some people are just very good at you. Know a kind of a similar, person. But emulate, different emotions, is, it two, inside. Baseball to, talk a little bit about, when. You're talking about reading for, bob's yeah, that there's this other layer, of like. Now. Well that isn't it's that's for them to animate no I'm happy to describe, I mean I only saw it once but I'm happy to describe it yeah I'm fascinated. Okay. Of. Course didn't make sense now that you're talking about but it's that's a thing that I hadn't ever heard, before and that's part of what I want to do in the show is take people into like what. There's someone who thinks about mouth, shape, right really, to sound so. We're usually yes, so we go in and record so, I'm generally, actually in Boston but sometimes. In LA, or New York but we've, recorded on an ISDN, line all of us at the same time you, know on Wednesdays, and. You. Know we record together and we get to improvise and then we do the scene is written but, then you. Know and I, just saw this for the first time they sort of showed the breakdown it takes about nine to twelve months to make an episode and they. Have months. And they have so yeah so they, have. Something I think do like this, very rough sketching, and then. But. Like but. They break down they, basically break down every syllable this, is to the like one of the like eight or something like mouth shapes and then, they write it out and you kind of have every noise that's being made and and, it's, like in. The number that correlates to the mouth shape and they do that for you. Know the whole episode so it's this, crazy. Detailed. Thing I, mean I'm sure that if like someone knows how animation is made they're like yeah that's I go when, I haven't. Had not seen it and I was here at the like you, know because I moto I mostly don't record here so then, yeah. We're in LA as. You can tell yes. Enjoy, the cityscape behind, us so you can hear the fire engines and the yeah cars yeah, yeah. So. Yeah so it's this kind, of meet but, very very involved process that, there.
Was Like mole I mean again I saw it for the first time there was much more but, it was pretty incredible on. The 8/8 mouth shape I I, don't, know I probably have, just now with what I've said so just pause this, other. Than maybe the Z. Or, oh oh. Yeah. I I, hope it's eight there's some animator being like it's doing it's nine I can't believe yeah but it is a. Remembered. That from that one time, seems. Reasonable. Yeah go, back to this source yep, of your comedy yeah, pop. Culture. You. Know yeah yeah you tell, me what do you what do you consider your source I mean. I consider it experiences. And there's a certain. You. Know the, thing about pop culture, which. You. Know which I'm sure I reference. I. Think. It's more like I had a bit about. Banner. Ads, on MySpace. And it was basically that they would create. These very divisive ads but the goal is just for you to click on it they didn't care what. Like what you thought about the thing of course yeah and, you. Know I remember thinking like well this is any of the concept, like makes sense but it's funny because myspace, has gone away so I think that enemy, ads. Have not but meaning sorry, but. Meaning like I'll have references, to a thing like you know that. You're like oh that's not a, thing. Anymore but. I mean not that you can't get it but me I probably wouldn't be doing a bit about MySpace now, um. Even. Though it was it's really about broader, advertising. So, in terms of pop culture, I am, sure I have plenty of references. But. I think because there's elements of it that are fleeting. You, know I, try. Often not too too much yeah or something that's like so in everyone's consciousness that, you. Know I mean who could forget the a-team and the answer is probably anyone born after 1998. So. Alright. So process. I'm obsessed, with people's process, and, you, talked, about in college your, thesis was an hour-long stand-up, routine yeah. Tell. Me take us in your process like oh I don't like whatever the output is maybe it's not do anything about Bob's Burgers, sure that's just voice your readings yeah yes those lines that's, of course a craft in and of itself let's talk about stand up sure so what's you. Process. First and I mean it's, sort. Of having an idea and then sometimes it'll be you. Know like especially these bits like LinkedIn or something though. Again that's maybe a little simpler, but like. Some. Things where I'll have an idea and then slowly over a period of months I'll, be like oh maybe I could try it that way or this way or like do this sort of thing with the ads I mean with like the Facebook ads I think I tried different versions, of and. You try to pack as many jokes in so it's sort of like, and. Then, trim it if it doesn't work so at first you have like okay. Well you can write. This funny ad you can direct, it at someone, you, can you, know have it go to a website or whatever but then you kind of find like oh is that too many things like is more, funny to read the ads than, it is to have like four. Other jokes on each one but you can you, know so there's sort of this trial and error but even to come up with it or like what you might do or you, know I sort of also started.
Taking. I think screen grabs of actual, ads they had to, sort of set up like this is the setup this is what they do and then if those also like do, you read one two three like you sort of do as many as are funny and then, stop and then move on so I think that a lot of my process is, you. Know you have an idea or you have the thing that you know is funny to. You and then you've you, know have to figure out how to make it funny to people and I've certainly had jokes where like you. Know I had a joke, that. A. Teacher. So. A friend of mine told me that when I was in elementary school, when we were in elementary school, that, a teacher of ours, told her, to, not be my friend because I was a loser which. Is, awesome. And so. Like it took so that's like so it took me a very long time, and I was like that's really funny but when you say in onstage people either kind of laugh because it's horrifying. Or. Or. It's sort of like well, what's the joke like you just gave us what is obviously, sad information. Yes but it's. Also funny and, and, but it took me a really long time to figure out how to turn this, like, thing, that, I thought was a wonderful, piece, of sad. Funny, information, into, like an actual joke so a lot of it is, sort. Of time and trial and error and you have these sort of ideas and then are. You writing, these things yeah I mean I write them on my computer but but it's funny sometimes I'll go back and see the joke written out and it'll you. Know be a little more like verbose or it'll have like four. More things that are like kind of funny but like they. Don't seem as conversational. Or it, because it starts, to feel, like. A. Little written. Or jokey, or forced so. But. I'll try to go back and rewrite it and have it all written out and then and then how prescriptive. Sorry getting yeah yes you don't have to you like yeah so you, got an idea you see you know my fourth-grade. Teacher told, Sally. To not be friends with me because I was a loser yeah yeah so you write, that down that's like the kernel of the idea and, then are, you just like and then you try to figure out like what's the joke part, of that like how do you turn it or like the I mean, and again LinkedIn, like so.
There's, The, section where you can write in your skills and there's, like the set you know each. Of these things has different, little sections and, things. And you kind of you adjust, it here's five skills and then you read them out do they make people laugh well three. Of them do - don't okay let's switch to skills, up oh it turns out you. Know more like reading more than four skills in. A row is - you know that's that's the cutoff and then I can move on to like what were your previous job are you testing these on your friends no no, on your audience you test it all on an audience or like I don't, try. Jokes. That on my, friends, because also that's not the. You're. Trying to see if it'll work at a club right, you know some government yeah, you're trying this and also you're saying this like it's so obvious - and I love it is it like I knew I knew I think if. You have to you have to take all your crap, and air it onstage every, time I think so I mean some people sorry, what I say that what I mean is some people definitely do try there Joe tell their jokes to each other, or comics, or. Friends. I just for, me that is an especially, if I have like a thing where i'm like holding. Something up and a lot of that stuff also like you. Know it shows often like when I hold up the ads or whatever it is it's, mostly to just show that it's real like I know that people can't really see it per se but. They get that it's. A real thing I did and so I think that that helps, yeah the bit yeah, you know the authenticity, of like oh I think you really like, this, or make these paintings you know you're holding up paintings and they, get that I really did, make these paintings and genuinely. Reached out to Whole Foods and that. Sort of thing. Yeah. So so, you're you're writing these jokes out yeah and then you, like. How do you know what 20 minutes is are you practicing, in the mirror this is it matter meaning. If. You're like. So. It matters if you're doing it on television. In. Terms of like, you. Know you need you know yeah, five minutes or 60. Minutes or whatever it is so then you need to know that everything but but also stuffs edited so like if, for whatever reason, you. Know in fact I think my last Netflix, special was a little over 60 minutes you, know so. You. Can do whatever especially. Now that it's changing, but. Mostly. What you try to do is make it continuously. Funny more than like, if I have 20 minutes great the problem isn't I made people laugh for 20 minutes and, I need to only make them laugh for 10 minutes you, may laugh wait yeah yeah that was too much they really, enjoyed it yeah so you I, mean really you try stuff and for. Me you. Know I know that I have like some of it is sort, of unconventional but often it is basically, still setup and punchline like I think people think of, you. Know be like, I'm, still going like here's the premise I made a fake resume and here's my fake resume you know I took out ads here the ads and then you have you. Know so you have this one premise and then you have seven, jokes and some, of them are the ad itself some of them are about it you know so it's sort of it's. Just like a dense bit and, you're talking about being able to practice in front of audiences, yeah, like, you have an audience in the laundry, room and you can just walk in there there's, in, most. Major, cities or you know I mean certainly. In New York and Boston and, LA, or wherever, are. Lots of comedy, shows that.
Happen In the back, rooms of, various places and some are better than others and you can find. Them the ideal show to me as a show where the. Audience, one. Like when, you're trying stuff out it's, basically like. They. You. Know that they probably paid a small, amount and they, can, and. You can basically that. If it's, not funny they won't laugh but they won't be mean about it basically and understanding, there's an understanding like you're in there to try stuff and this. Is sort of you, know it's fun. You. Know and you can fail you know and they won't, they'll. Basically you, know you. Don't want to perform in a room where people are just kind of laughing which. Is rare people will generally not laugh at a thing that's not funny but some places they'll be very mean about it where, you can't or then it's like this sort of like you don't know fight drunks, you. Move verbally, I don't, mean with, meaning like you don't want like yeah, you can't be a room that like you can't get a sense of whether. Your joke works and so on the comedy, on the comedian, side they're like oh you got to go play it at. Frank's, Club because it's a great audience, yeah oh really oh, yeah if you have a very fun show, in whatever, city. Yet. People will totally want to stop by and perform there I mean that's the, thing that is good meaning like in the shows that I you did, various. Times with various friends like you, the goal is to build up a show where, comedians would, like to go and perform at that's, and then the audience will come or both they'll each come to each other without factors, you. Don't even have to fat well now there. You can mean stuff Instagram, facts it is defects, okay so, let's. Talk in terms. Of. Sort. Of some successes, and some failures sure. Because I think there's, a lot of fear. I'll put yourself out there and bombing, right. And I. Think people already care always also curious about what sometimes. What felt wildly successful to, you or things that people didn't, know or wasn't obvious sometimes, like you win a big award of course that's a big thing or a big right yes but talk, to me a little bit and I want to cover both ends of the spectrum because I think that right. Comedy, is an esoteric thing, relative to. Building, a company or designing. A whatever but. There's craft and there's and that's why we're sort of trying to unpack comedy. Successes. In fact right well, in terms of stand-up, you know you. Can always fail, like. Like on stage meaning and. Especially. If you're trying stuff. But. Then also in, just environments, you know I've toured with bands where sometimes. It's good, and sometimes it's, it's a real sort, of battle. And. That's, you know largely at the big you know sort. Of at the beginning of my career in New York, when. I would you know you you sort of do again what you can so I, you.
Know I did a tour with modest mouse and that, was some. Of the shows were awesome, and then some there was one in Miami that was just, disastrous. And it was like a woman sort. Of heckling me in really weird specific, ways. Where. It. Was someone trying to convey to him if she was basically trying to convey Iran's, philosophy. Without having, known. That it was that she, just kept trying to distract me and saying that she was like lived a selfish life of like. Like. She was trying to get the band on earlier, it was really but it was just super weird, and then, also the room was insanely hot and it was just chaos. And. It. Was you know and it's it's sort, of it's terrible, but on the other hand there was other shows in like, Jacksonville. That were, really really fun so, you, know but you kind, of put yourself in whatever you. Just have to do whatever it is that. Will get you to the place where you're a comedian, or you're whatever you want to be. You. Know small, failures, like small, having. Jokes, completely, flop on a regular basis that sort of builds up a muscle where you become you can't regulate it against it or well, I don't know that you, I. Mean, it depends I think once you have some now like or if you do it like I've probably been stated for 20-something, years so you, you. Know I. I. Don't know that you have a joke you. Either have a joke were kind of are not work you you can be working it out and then, repeatedly, sort of. Dozen. You would never have not, never you largely, would have the, same exact thing not work because you would change it, and what. You could have as a joke that almost always works and for whatever reason, you know whatever the environment is it, doesn't but that's pretty rare like people like. I did, a tour a, few years, ago of, lay with flight of the conchords and those, are playing like much bigger venues and I, remember people being like oh do you have like a different act for. Like, these shows as if I have like one. Act that destroys in front of 10,000, people and I refuse to do it in, any smaller. Rooms. So. Is like no I have the thing that works and like you know depending, on you. Know the environment, and if you're in a very hot place or whatever there could be things that will kind of throw it and you have jokes that work better and, that worse but largely if. A thing works it kind of works but to get it to that place you definitely, go to these various other shows and you try stuff and you completely, might, fail or what. More often than failing what you'd have is you. Know especially with like bits where I'm like holding up five things I'd have like four, they're funny and one or two that aren't and then you kind of you. Know you you, cut, those and then you switch them out and you know. So. That there's, that process, so, is it word-for-word like. Wouldn't, you when you walk out there how. Much how, much is like, I'm definitely doing these three things and I know I'm gonna do these three things versus, I mean obviously you're a trained professional improv, comedian, as well so like what yeah. How much of that is it's, largely, I. Mean, when you have a joke that works it is sort of word-for-word, I know with.
Often, The, same pauses, and you. Know avocations. Essentially. And. Then. And then some other and then some things do. Sort of change or you know it depends like often if, you, have a for me like if I have a bit where I'm holding a thing or saying a thing sometimes, the preamble, for that might, be different you know and that sort of stuff and in a show Miami, here and it might work better and worse like meeting like that part of me is like oh I wish I Farkle is like oh I wish I did have a consistent, thing but. But. Also sometimes, it makes it funnier. And it, makes it more organic, to have sort of just like a. Setup. That's not you know as set in stone as the rest of the bit yeah so. This. Is the Miami, show with - Mouse your your worst, experience. Ever onstage you know I, could talk about just just. Like time bomb I mean meaning sorry that was terrible uh how. Do you mean only you meant arrabal, oh yes I mean, there's lots there's. A. And. I know we try and not think about too much but I just I'm trying to help okay yeah. That's okay - no. No there's not lots, of meaning. When you're did when you do stand-up, I mean there's years, this I mean there's an eraser that I did for, Conan. In like. 99. Or 2099. Probably, in New York like I lived in Boston and came here and definitely. Bombed and someone heckled me and it was like I hadn't, been on TV and it was sort of like this might be my chance to, be on TV yeah, and. You. Know when terribly, and then of course the producer, is very nice was like oh you, know that didn't go but like we'll have you back and look at you again like that's, the thing about sort of this notion of breaks yeah, it's like no, there and I remember when I got Conan, asking, the producer. Like like why like it. Was the sort of thing where I got a call that was like you, know I've been auditioning for maybe a year and a half or something for them and then I got a call it was like we might need you on Friday and, a, and it was a Monday and I was like and I lived in Boston I was like sure, and they were just like practice your set and, then. I remember I they called they're like we do we need you we'll bring you down and that was like you know it's like a guy at the airport met me with a sign with my name on it it was incredible.
And I. Remember being like why like, why you need me like why do you like this right, or like why, do you need a comic, to come from Boston to do this thing and they were sort of like we're. Just as excited to find you as you are to, be, on the show, and, it made me sort of realize that it was like oh yeah that like, you, know they're out looking for people and they, will like if you have five, minutes, that, are funny that, you can do on television you'll, probably, be, on television to do those five minutes it, makes, sense for everyone involved. Was there a point where you had to put yourself out there where you went from just being in small clubs and doing that like you had to decide to shift gears or was a very organic you keep stepping up I had, to I had thought. Originally, like that I was gonna live in Boston and I would move to New York once I got a job in New York and then, it became increasingly clear, that that's not a thing, that you, can't, get, a job in comedy. For. Are you not you can't but it would be unlikely I certainly know people who have in fact on it, but. It's not really so, so yeah so I think at some point and. Then. The truth is when I got to I mean here's here's another great failure. I remember. Getting. Hired to write the, zoomit would have would have been my first writing job ever it was to write for some show I think on on vh1, maybe. And. Being, so excited you know it was probably 2000, 2001. Very. Broken very excited, and then I went like you, know after I got the job to. Like get sushi, somewhere, and it was like you know $40.00 which was like definitely, a percentage, of my net worth like. A like calculate. Able percentage, as like, this is awesome and then the next day there. Was an article. About how, all. These executives. From, basically. MTV and vh1 had been let go show. Went away everything. Was gone and, I was like oh I see no that was well, that was a fun job that almost happened and then you sort of realized how it's like, everything. Can always fail, and. Is, there, some, to. Go back to the I want a little bit more on that last question so. You. Have to ultimately decide, that you're gonna put yourself out there you have to throw you out in the ring for the next level other series, of levels and what do you and. Again we're talking about comedy but it's really about levels. Yeah but everything, in life like you have to decide, that you want the thing and how proactive have, you built at that and well, so I just I decided. Oh I, see, I mean I would say that I guess, like one, thing that it was probably convenient, for me is that since. I was a kid I, decided. That I wanted to do comedy so, I've always basically. Slowly. Worked, towards that. But. I if I hadn't, had that I don't know maybe it would be very hard so for me I, at. Some point I, spoke. At my. College at Hampshire graduation, you know now five years ago or however many and. And. This was actually from I think like, I did some interview this was the thing I said were people. Sorry. Terrible, storyteller. Basically. Somebody asked, me what. What, my back-up plan was, at. That like a college event and I said that I believed a back-up plan was the first step towards failure. And. And. I think of that you know a little tongue-in-cheek but, I do think that there's an element of that that's.
True. And. Again, it accounts. For you you know like you, know for many years I didn't have any health care until. Eventually I could get it through freelance or whatever so like partially. I could do this because I happen to not get sick in my 20s. But. There's obviously things that like will set you back or change the course of your life that can't, be controlled but, shy. Of those sorts of things I had. Always kind of, been. Like I want to do comedy so in terms of stepping, up to the next level I didn't. Have another thing I could, do or wanted, to do and I, think at each age I, was. Fine with whatever, I had so like I lived. For a long time in a studio apartment or, you know had you, know like, meaning, you you can you, can really scale, down. Your. Life to a point where you're like this is fine you're, right and then at some point you're like this is madness, but then to. Me those things happened, at stages. Where I would find work so. I would, like right close, to breaking somebody, would be like you want to make a bunch of web videos like. Yes very. Much you. Know or like getting an agent when I first got a booking agent that helped me go from I, didn't. Know exactly how I could make money to like now I could make a hundred and fifty dollars you know a day, not, not every day but enough days that I could cover rent, you. Know so there's that so I don't know if there's as much of a stepping up yeah as it continued. This. Is the biggest thing to me was moving to New York City which I was terrified of yeah and is, that do you think that's a requirement, in ass day and age no with. The web and there's there's still just absolute, pockets. That if you're trying to and again this is talking, about comedy, but it's like universally. If you want to be in fashion you go to Milan, if you want to be in show business do at a Hollywood, if you know I think it depends, so, you. Know now with the phone of like, a phone is better, you. Know film, equipment than I had. Throughout. College or whatever throughout life. Pinto. Yeah. So it's sort of. So. I think it just depends like what can you do so I you, know early. On I made a website with. An. Office mate of mine in Boston Scott, Bowers he was a designer and he. Made, he. We took a photo, of me, from, when I was four in Russia and. And. It was black and white it looks like it's from the 1930s and, I. Sang, and pitched a bunch of like classic rock songs in a really silly way and then he animated, the mouth and that. Was like you know that was the late 90s and that went sort of viral to the point at which. He. Pounds. And from the who emailed me and was like I love, your who medley and I. Put it up on my site and I sort of was like I don't know what I was trying to do with this website but it definitely worked and I, also, had made these little videos. That. You. Know also, would go around and they were like 1 megabyte, they were like this is before YouTube so it's like 98. 99 2000. And those. Would sort of circulate, so I did that you. Know in Boston. Because. That that's what was within my means a lot of it was literally, me talking into a camera saying, silly stuff as different characters, making.
This Website, so in that sense. You. Can do whatever and. You can whatever. Is within your means and if you can stay in Boston you know now I'm, back in Boston the reason I'm can. Be back home is because, now, I've created a career where I don't have to be in a specific location and that's my. Situation. I definitely, couldn't have done it without living in New York for you know 17, years but. So. I don't know so you don't so you do, or don't have to go to New York or LA I think if you want to be a comedian. It, would help to move to New York or LA for, 10. To 20 years but. Just. To put a little time just I. Mean it depends what you want but I knew people who you, know live in Texas and have a career and you know there it just depends what you want. What. You enjoy do it is clearly a theme that you have to be a part of right, don't you think is there a thing or is that still I mean it just depends community, because the scene sounds too, trendy. Yes I think I think being part of a comedy community and certainly I was and in. Remain part of a comedy community yeah. I think that that's really helpful but again I think it's. Whatever, works for you so if, you, have a way I think, personally, I think like in terms of comedy if, you're a comedian who can get on stage and kill, for 45 minutes you're just going to be a professional comedian someone, will. Want to, put you on television, they will want to. You. Know have, you do a show with them or whatever you, know and admittedly. You need to, be seen by people who would put you in those positions. But, that. Isn't you know. If. You become you then yeah you have to come to LA or New York for whatever a period of time the more people you meet but it's like any job or anything in life sort of you know you yeah. You have to make inroads with people but it's much more about being. Good at the thing you do personally, yeah um. Where. You, know you fight like and, you can meet a lot of people but if you don't got the craft it's not gonna stick right, and I think it is much more about tenacity, and craft like I feel like people. Sort of talk about talent, but I think that though, there's, people like you see who are like oh that person is like. Gifted, at music. And impressions, and all these things and that is clearly, helpful, but, a lot of it I think is really just tenacity, and. There's. Plenty of people who, are, huge. Who were like you, know mediocre. When they started and then like really, just they. Go do ten shows a night and they just get better and better and, better over, years. And. And. Admittedly, that's also someone who has the time to. Do, that and what put them in that situation I, don't know you know or they create the time, right. Right but I mean it means like they you know the people I'm thinking of like is before they have children you know it's like ramen, and lived in it yeah. It would like yeah, or or, like had four roommates or whatever it is you know I mean and now also some places like New York maybe it's particularly expensive but. I think LA, and other cities like you can totally live a, soft. Side of New York in a place that you can go do comedy shows yeah so, I want to talk a little bit shift gears just a little bit about craft and about sort. Of career and career arc and managing a lot of stuff talk, about personal, so. You referenced, being. Born in Russia yes, and what. Impact, you think that has had on you personally, relative, to your career anything, that's you know extreme pop positives, or negatives how do you I mean I think it makes me. You. Know, in certain ways very optimistic. I, think, that I. Have. A very genuine, belief. In the American Dream I, you. Know I think, of it as very. Practical. And reasonable. Which, I think also is probably.
You. Know it. Is helpful, only in that even, if I'm wrong the, belief that you can do a thing is probably so, helpful. To doing doing, the thing so. I think it's had that kind of impact and, then, also it created. For a traumatized. Childhood in, terms of vague like the Cold War yeah you know and growing up with like Russia as the enemy. In. The, were, you overtly, or, the Russian kid at school yeah, I like in sixth grade I remember being, blamed for. When. The Russians shot down a Korean, or maybe it's third grade the Russians, shot down a Korean airliner. And. Definitely, kids were like you shot down in a Korean airliner it was like I didn't. But why are you threatening me if you think I shot down an airliner. But. Yeah there was like a lot of that kind of, thing. Of people thinking I was a commie even though I really don't like communism, because. When, I'm people you'll laugh yeah clearly I'm here yeah yeah but that's not what you know yeah, so there was tons of that any deal any detail, you care share about the the, leaving. Comedy. Air leaving Russia I mean my dear you know I hear. Like, for you like we're having your guys pack your bag parents, were yeah I mean I think that yeah my parents were. Like we should get out of here, you. Know I think Russia is is a you. Know some. Version, of anti-semitic, and communist and, and, I think it just makes for a bummer, of a time, it's the feeling I get exile, Moscow right is that where you get we work for Moscow yeah but I don't you know and, I, haven't, been back and I know when I've you. Know I've, wanted to and I want to go and hopefully at some point I will you. Know. Yeah. This, is but. You. Know my experience of coming here was mostly that I you know I I don't remember Russia I mostly. Remember here yeah. Distel. Fill the connection there you said you wanted to go back but is that like the interest, danger, yeah, I mean I feel, a connection like I speak Russian to my parents and you know to some, Russian friends and stuff but. Yeah. I don't know I mean I mostly because I'd be curious yeah because it it's a country, that I you, know feel, half tied, to an F don't know at all and. Has. That in any way is that material, for you the I haven't, really heard you use any of that material is it is there a reason that you're not tapping. Into that it is not well no I mean there a meaning I I, think I've maybe. Mentioned, or told stories or I don't know there. Isn't a reason meaning like the reason would be, if. I thought of a funny thing I could, certainly if, I thought of a jokes, involving the Cold War like. From my you know from my experience as a kid, or you. Know obviously Russia's in the news now. So, it's like I could. Do something but my reason for not doing anything isn't is basically, that I don't have anything particularly funny offhand, that I thought oh you were four right, yeah and I have. Probably I, mean I feel like I've referenced it, and, I've certainly actually like on her mood or actually, like I say, that I haven't, done anything but I played. A you, know a sort of goofball, Russian hitman slash stand-up comic on Delocated on. The belt swim so that's totally. A use of all that like meaning I spoke Russian on the show and. And. And. There's other things where I've done like it's sort of like Russian accent so yeah so so I've used it that way. But. I haven't like, you. Know done, I guess regular stand, I was there a any. Particular. Events, besides. Getting. Picked on for blaming. The. Shooting, down of of an airplane er like anything, else that really did impact your career you feel like or is it just a bunch of small like the, same things that we've all experienced, I think it's like largely the kind of like that way you know the way that everyone feels, like junior high wasn't a great time so I think like my version of that is that, there.
Was Like a lot of Cold War stuff, so. It was like whatever goes into like, being, a weird kid and, at, some point also probably it went from like oh that kid is like they're like a Russian. Commie too like that's just a weird kid I don't, like him. And. Who knows I might have also been annoying like it's probably a whole mix of everything. And. You. Know but. Then is I, feel. Like in you, know as I got older and everyone, got older it yeah just like everybody's, experience, most people I know like things, got much much better for the Maranda 10th 11th, 12th grade, and, so, I'm just getting a little bit yeah and I think people are just like, just. A little older and like wait like, I shouldn't be a monster, I think, why. Why do I keep hitting that person in the face. Pushing. Stead of them or whatever and so if. All. Right I think. Clearly, there's a pattern with your answers that there's. A lot of different paths right, right and I think you're probably. Wisely. Reluctant, to ascribe any amount. Of success, to a particular. Set of behaviors there's. A lot of luck involved there's your past right tree but, there has to be some. Like. What is a consistent. Thing that you feel like has it was, it's just declaring, that you wanted to be a comment was it you just. Relentless. And ruthless effort toward the thing you cared about was it all of these things and none of these things I, think, it's all that stuff I mean I think that. The. The to, me luck is the, part. Where like you're like physically. Able sort, of to accomplish. These things and, you have also. You. Know you you, know when I first lived in Boston I. You. Know worked at an ice cream parlor and I. You know attempted fidelity at one point but I like when I was temping at fidelity you know, I I was, answering phones and, I would basically do, it for two or three days and then call in sick the other days because my rent was, $262, and so I was kind of like alright, well I made that, and. You. Know I can make like $80. From my comedy show and that's basically the money I need for you know for whatever a week or something and so. A. Lot. Of it was just like yeah, you would have you. Just had the bare minimum, of what you needed and then you could do the thing and also I was like 20-something and that seemed fine like a mattress on the ground seemed great, you, know yeah. Who needs a frame and. Then it somewhere I was like oh my god I need a frame I'm 29. Years old. I think box springs are overrated I don't yeah maybe that's the thing in the past but but. Yeah I think that you know that sort of thing aside like, yeah. I think it's just. You. Just consistently, doing working, towards a goal basically. Within, whatever. Is within your means so that included for me making. A weird website making. Videos putting them online handing, out flowers sending, out press releases all. While trying to be good at comedy you, know all while trying to when. You came to the show being like oh this is fun. Is a great way to spend an evening you. Know how. About the people around you did you find, that people are any were supportive, did you have to seek those people out were there people that were haters. And you had to avoid like. Largely. I, mean largely it's a very supportive community and, I also find the idea that like. Comedies competitor, or something like, and. I. Imagine most fields to me like. Not. Like not. At all the. Case where basically, like I'm not up for the same thing and certainly if you're making your own thing no one's up for your stand-up so, like if I'm doing stand-up, and I can do a good job then, that's what it fine, but. Yeah I will say that like I remember meeting you know. Bobcat. Goldthwait, early on and he was very nice through. A friend Tony V who, was a comic in Boston, who would. Come to this show. That, that, I did with friends and he. Was really supportive and he had been someone who like when I was in Boston like he had been on Seinfeld and stuff and he was sort of this like very. Supportive. Figure and, remains. So, and then, there's comics, you know when I got to New York I toured. Eventually. With the with, Stella which is a you. Know comedy troupe of David, Wain Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter and they, were really. You. Know instrumental, in helping me as well as Patton Oswalt and David Cross and Todd berry you. Know there's a lot of comics. That you, know. That. You know that will, that that have been very supportive and very helpful and you, kind of like you know John Benjamin and he's someone who I tour with now a lot and you. Know you sort, of meet.
Different. People then you find people you like collaborating, with or touring with or people that you know there's comics that, that. You that. Like I try, to help you know and, I think it's a very warm very supportive, community personally. Yeah yeah, I'm also guessing on that last line of questioning, that your but, it sounds, to me like you're reluctant, to give advice what, do you mean I'm just done picking that up from that from just, like I think your get yours I guess, like. I'm. Trying to dump I'm, like what that's, what's so funny is I'm like no giving advice which is do the thing like, like I I think to me the advice is. You. Whatever your goal is I don't know if you want to be a filmmaker. Find. A way to make a film if the only way you can do it is with your iPhone do. That if you, you. Know I think no no one, is stopping you from making a thing and then try to figure out how to get that thing out there submit, it to 25 festivals, if that doesn't work make another film write a script take a script. Writing class I don't know I feel like my advice, is do. Everything and then when. You'r