Skip to main content

Stamina, Tenacity and Craft with Eugene Mirman

Lesson 150 from: The Chase Jarvis LIVE Show

Chase Jarvis

Stamina, Tenacity and Craft with Eugene Mirman

Lesson 150 from: The Chase Jarvis LIVE Show

Chase Jarvis

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

150. Stamina, Tenacity and Craft with Eugene Mirman


Class Trailer

How to Find Your Purpose Through Grief and Loss with Tunde Oyeneyin


What is the Meaning of Life? with Tony Nader


Weirdness is the Key to Self Improvement with Marcus Buckingham


How to Unlock the Key to Continuous Innovation with Tony Fadell


Talent is Bullsh*t with Steven Pressfield


Finding Self When No One Is Looking with Jason Reynolds


Does Cold Water Exposure Really Have Scientific Backing with Dr. Mark Harper


Heal Your Past with Sheleana Aiyana


How An Unconventional Path Got Nabil Ayers To President Of One Of The Most Influential Music Labels


All the Hacks to Maximize Your Life with Chris Hutchins


Happiness is an Inside Job with Dr. Rangan Chatterjee


The Power of Regret with Daniel Pink


Data-Driven Life Decisions with Seth Stephens-Davidowitz


Escape Purgatory of the Mundane With Radical Confidence with Lisa Bilyeu


Transform the Quality of Your Life with Tony Robbins


Strengthen Your Intuition & Unlock Your Inner Wisdom with Amber Rae


Make Your Message Heard with Victoria Wellman


Susan Cain: How Sorrow and Longing Make Us Whole


Can Food Turn Us Into Geniuses with Max Lugavere


Peace Is a Practice with Morgan Harper Nichols


Creativity Hates Complacency with Maria Brito


A Love Letter to Human Potential with Kate Robinson


How to Build Confidence and Be More Social with Vanessa Van Edwards


Trauma Is Wreaking Havoc On Our Lives with Gabby Bernstein


Take The Leap, Start a Business with Payal Kadakia


What Every Creator Should Know About NFTs with Tom Bilyeu


40 Seconds To Fame Or Failure with Apolo Ohno


Unlock the Power of Nonverbal Communication with Joe Navarro


Living Shouldn't Hurt with Aaron Alexander


Ego, Disrupted. How Buddhist Wisdom Meets Western Therapy with Dr. Mark Epstein


Words Can Take You Anywhere with Arianna Davis


Master Your Inner Voice with Dr. Ethan Kross


Accelerating 10,000 Hours to Mastery with James Altucher


Transform Your Mind in 12 Minutes a Day with Dr. Amishi Jha


Powerful Habits to Ease Anxiety and Boost Productivity with Mel Robbins


The Art of Self-Reinvention with Malcolm Gladwell


Creative Acts of Curious People with Sarah Stein Greenberg


Self-Discovery, Activism, and Rock & Roll with Stevie Van Zandt


Why Design Matters with Debbie Millman


Discover Work that Makes You Come Alive with Jonathan Fields


Releasing Trauma and Mastering Your Emotions with Jason Wilson


Food Saved Me with Danielle Walker


Changing Our Relationship with Rest with Chelsea Jackson Roberts


Retracing Passion to Build Lasting Career Success with Chris Bosh


Old School Photography + Other Musings with Kai Wong


Escalate and Evolve: A Blueprint for Career and Life with Ben Uyeda


The Stories That Hold Us Back with Jon Acuff


Poetry, Vulnerability and Finding Your Voice with Jericho Brown


What Does it Take to be Backable with Suneel Gupta


Unlocking Creativity, Courage and Success with Rebecca Minkoff


How To Heal From Your Past with Dr. Nicole LePera


That Will Never Work with Marc Randolph


The Real Cost of Your Dream Life with Rachel Rodgers


Your Network is Your Insurance Policy with Jordan Harbinger


Dream First, Details Later with Ellen Bennett


We're Never Going Back with Harley Finkelstein


How to Shatter Limitations and Achieve Your Dreams with Steven Kotler


The Creative Art of Attention with Julia Cameron


The Path Back to True Self with Martha Beck


Upgrade Your Brain and Learn Anything Quickly with Jim Kwik


The Urgent Need for Stoicism with Ryan Holiday


Delicious Food Doesn't Have to be Complicated with Julia Turshen


Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention with Erin Meyer


Stop Living On Autopilot with Antonio Neves


How to Tackle Fear and Live Boldly with Luvvie Ajayi Jones


Go from Underestimated to Unstoppable with Jamie Kern Lima


Hard Work + The Evolution of Self with Priyanka Chopra Jonas


The Power of Idealism with Samantha Power


Pushing the Limits with Extreme Explorer Mike Horn


Fast This Way with Dave Asprey


Uncomfortable Conversations with Emmanuel Acho


Why Conversation Matters with Rich Roll


Elevating Humanity Through Business with John Mackey


When Preparation Meets Opportunity with Paul Ninson


The Art of Practice with Christoph Niemann


Matthew McConaughey: Embracing Resistance & Catching Greenlights


Starve the Ego, Feed the Soul with Justin Boreta


Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results with James Clear


Badass Habits and Making Them Stick with Jen Sincero


Break Free from Self-Limiting Beliefs with Dr. Benjamin Hardy


Imposter Syndrome, Getting Unstuck and The Practice with Seth Godin


The Art of Curiosity and Lifelong Wisdom with Chip Conley


The Lost Art of Breath with James Nestor


The Art of Reinvention with Sophia Amoruso


Harness Kindness as Your Hidden Super Power with Adrienne Bankert


Heal the Soul, Restore the Calm with Stephan Moccio


Finding Resilience & Possibility with Guy Raz


Truth, Fear, and How to do Better with Luvvie Ajayi Jones


The Future is Faster Than You Think with Peter Diamandis


Music, Writing, and Time For Change with Nabil Ayers


Freedom to Express Who We Are with Shantell Martin


So You Want to Talk about Race with Ijeoma Oluo


Photographing History with Pete Souza


Maybe You Should Talk to Someone with Lori Gottlieb


Never Settle with Mario Armstrong


The Science of Making Work Not Suck with Adam Grant


Street Photography + Capturing Truth with Steve John Irby


Life, Writing, and Real Talk with Roxane Gay


Steve Aoki: Creativity, Community and No Days Off


The Power of Passion and Perseverance with Angela Duckworth


Know What Drives You with Michael Gervais


The Code of the Extraordinary Mind with Vishen Lakhiani


Risk, Fear, and the Art of Chill with Jimmy Chin


Personal Growth and Understanding with Citizen Cope


Living Life on Purpose with Jay Shetty


Get Out of Your Own Way with Dave Hollis


Hope in A Sea of Endless Calamity with Mark Manson


How to Find Yourself with Glennon Doyle


Make It Til You Make It with Owen Smith


Surf, Survival, and Life on the Road with Ben Moon


Create the Change You Seek with Jonah Berger


Workplace Revolution with Amy Nelson


Rethink Impossible with Colin O'Brady


Good Enough is Never Good Enough with Corey Rich


Say Yes To What You Want with Chris Burkard


Finding Stillness In A Fast Paced World with Ryan Holiday


Everything is Figureoutable with Marie Forleo


The Art of Being Yourself with Elizabeth Gilbert


Creativity, Comedy, and Never Settling with Nate Bargatze


Personal + Career Reinvention with Jasmine Star


Stay Creative, Focused and True to Yourself with Austin Kleon


Ramit Sethi 'I Will Teach You To Be Rich' book launch with Chase Jarvis


You Don't Need to Be Rich to Live Rich with David Bach


Harnessing Your Human Nature for Success with Robert Greene


Addiction, Reinvention, and Finding Ultra with Endurance Athlete Rich Roll


Disruption, Reinvention, and Reimagining Silicon Valley with Arlan Hamilton


The Intersection of Art and Service with Rainn Wilson


Your Mind Can Transform Your Life with Tom Bilyeu


Do Something Different with Jason Mesnick


Less Phone, More Human with Dan Schawbel


Startup to $15 Billion: Finding Your Life's Work with Shopify's Harley Finkelstein


It Doesn't Have to be Crazy at Work with Jason Fried


Love, Service, and Living Your Truth with Danielle LaPorte


How to Do Work That Matters for People Who Care with Seth Godin


Happiness Through Gratitude with AJ Jacobs


You Are Your Habits with Julien Smith


Maximizing Creativity + Navigating the Messy Middle with Scott Belsky


The Most Important Conversation About Life… Death with Michael Hebb


Redemption and a Thirst for Change with Scott Harrison


Imagination and The Power of Change with Beth Comstock


Success, Community, and his cameo in Parks & Recreation with NBA All Star Detlef Schrempf


1,000 Paths to Success with Jack Conte


Unconventional Ways to Win with Rand Fishkin


How to Sell Without Selling Out with Ryan Carson


Be the Artist You Want to Work With with Nigel Barker


Your Story Is Your Power with Elle Luna


Celebrating Your Weirdness with Thomas Middleditch


Persevering Through Failure with Melissa Arnot Reid


Go Against the Grain with David Heinemeier Hansson


Stamina, Tenacity and Craft with Eugene Mirman


Create Work That Lasts with Todd Henry


Make Fear Your Friend


Tame Your Distracted Mind with Adam Gazzaley


Why Grit, Persistence, and Hard Work Matter with Daymond John


How to Launch Your Next Project with Product Hunts with Ryan Hoover


Lessons in Business and Life with Richard Branson


Embracing Your Messy Beautiful Life with Glennon Doyle


How to Create Work That Lasts with Ryan Holiday


5 Seconds to Change Your Life with Mel Robbins


Break Through Anxiety and Stress Through Play with Charlie Hoehn


The Quest For True Belonging with Brene Brown


Real Artists Don't Starve with Jeff Goins


Habits for Ultra-Productivity with Jessica Hische


Using Constraints to Fuel Your Best Work Ever with Scott Belsky


The Intersection of Art and Business with AirBnB's Joe Gebbia


Build a World-Changing Business with Reid Hoffman


How Design Drives The World's Best Companies with Robert Brunner


Why Creativity Is The Key To Leadership with Sen. Cory Booker


How To Change The Lives Of Millions with Scott Harrison


How To Build A Media Juggernaut with Piera Gelardi


Transform Your Consciousness with Jason Silva


The Formula For Peak Performance with Steven Kotler


How What You Buy Can Change The World with Leila Janah


Overcoming Fear & Self-Doubt with W. Kamau Bell


The Unfiltered Truth About Entrepreneurship with Adam Braun


Build + Sustain A Career Doing What You Love with James Mercer of The Shins


How Design Can Supercharge Your Business with Yves Béhar


Conquer Fear & Self-Doubt with Amanda Crew


Become A Master Communicator with Vanessa Van Edwards


How iJustine Built Her Digital Empire with iJustine


How To Be A World-Class Creative Pro with Joe McNally


How To Stop Waiting And Start Doing with Roman Mars


Gut, Head + Heart Alignment with Scott Dadich


If Not Now, When? with Debbie Millman


Lesson Info

Stamina, Tenacity and Craft with Eugene Mirman

Hey, everybody, how's it going? I'm Chase. Welcome to another episode of the Chase Jarvis Live Show here on Creative Live. You guys know this show. This is where I sit down with amazing humans and do everything I can to extract all the valuable stuff out of their brains to help you live your dreams, whether that's in career and hobby and in life. My guest today is an amazing standup comedian. You definitely know his voice. And he, from Bob's Burgers, my guest is Mr. Eugene Mirman. In the house. Hello. (upbeat music) Hi. Thank you so much. Hi. This has been a couple years in the making. Yeah. Finally, we're here I gotta give a shout out to Megan. Thank you for introducing us. I had the good fortune of connecting, well, it was probably in Seattle, a number of years ago but I wanna open with a little story. And this story is very simple. It is, we're sitting in Provincetown. We're having lobster rolls in the summertime, it's just-- Cape Cod. Yes, I'm in Cape Cod. It's just...

epic weather, perfect day. And we're sitting there, we're talking and someone walks over, maybe it was even a server, he's like, "One of you guys sounds just like "Gene on Bob's Burgers." Didn't put your face with your voice. Right. And we kind of each went, "Is it me? "Was it me?" And then, of course, you opened your mouth. And it was shocking to me that, I mean, I know you're human. Most people who watch you on stand up know your face. Is it weird to have a voice that (laughs), I mean? Is it your best feature? I mean, it's no odder than anything else. Meaning, some people know me from that. Some from Flight of the Chonchords or theater stand up, it's sort of all becomes a mish mosh. A blender. But yeah, definitely now a lot of people from Bob's Burgers. Epic shout. Yeah and people do hear my voice and go, "That's weird, you sound like that guy." And I'm like, "I am that guy." (Chase laughs) Does it ever happen on the phone with customer service, like Comcast? it has not, maybe it has. I feel like, occasionally, at the end somebody will go, "We're not supposed to say this," and it's more like in a store or something where they're, "My boss will kill me but I really like you." I'm, "Why would your boss be mad?" But anyway, like I would call back angrily and be like, "Your employee said they like me, (Chase laughs) "I'm furious." Let's go early career. So this is the show, you know the show we talked about before. But there's a lot of people who are aspiring. They want to live their passions and they might be locked up in a cubicle firm somewhere. Where trying to get them out of that. Or they're lifelong creators or entrepreneurs and they're trying to figure out their next move. So not only are you inspirational but I like to unpack early childhood and help people understand or what it takes to take that step into your dreams. So take me back. Well I started stand up, basically, 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, when you're piecing together a major like that, you're sort of just doing what you think might work. So I did stand up shows at random. There was a Chinese restaurant there in Hadley, Mass where I did stand up. And at, 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 wrote, and produced, and performed. And it's funny doing something like majoring in comedy because, basically, what it turned out is all the different, like I sent out press releases. I faxed press releases from whatever computer I had, which was my first computer that I 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 regular papers. And was like, "There's a kid doing a "stand up comedy show as his major, he's crazy." And then-- How'd that go? First of all, they all printed little things about it. And then there was one, the U Mass paper wrote a story about it. And then the, sort of, like daily paper of the area, sent a reporter and wrote a little 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 various radio stations. And then it started where there was a section that was, names and faces. Which was Boston Globe's celebrity section. And they would start reaching out and going, "What are you reading this summer?" And I remember saying that I was reading I think it was Wolverine and Kitty Pride. (Chase laughs) It was some comic that was probably at that time, 10 or 15 years old, a mini series. And I think they printed it. I think it just said, probably, "He's reading Anna Karenina and Wolverine "and Kitty Pride, this summer." So I did all that stuff and I would, 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 Green Street Grill. I had a weekly show there. And I would hand out 1,000 flyers for it. And eventually I had a show on the third floor of a Chinese restaurant in Harvard Square. The Comedy Studio, which had been a club there for a long time and is now moving, but me and Brendon Small, who created Home Movies and Metalocalypse and Patrick Borelli, who's now a writer at Fallon, the three of us had this weekly show. But I would just go and hand out 1,000 flyers. What I did, largely, is basically everything I thought you could do to try and become a comedian. At the time it was the mid late 90s and comedy had largely crashed in stand up. Yeah, because that was early Richard Pryor big stuff. Right or even the 80s had so much stand up. And then kind of as the early 90s approached, a lot of it, you know, there was just sort of a saturation of tons of people. I was just starting but there was all these people, wherever you could put a microphone, they'd have a show but you wouldn't have enough comics that could do stand up well. (laughs) So it just kind of became so saturated that it kind of died. And by the time I started, I didn't have a particular, other than I knew I wanted it to be a career, I didn't really have an expectation of this is what it should be or this is how it would work. 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. 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. 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? It seems like faxing was a bit part of your-- I know, it's true. I have like, what you guys need, what is it? Morse Code, anyway, telegraph. Like if you'd only done this show in you'd have, basically, Mark Wade telling you about how to telegraph newspapers. No, but you're right, I have said, "The key to success is faxing." Which is maybe, not today's lesson. But I guess I see it as the lesson being just do 20 different things. Do more of what's working. See what works and try different stuff. I think it's more about having a goal and then trying different ways to just make it happen or get closer to it. If I look at any 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 at a week or a month, then I'll see these things that I sort of did that moved a goal closer. And I think a lot of it is that it's about having a sort of slow, steady, long term thing that you're slowly working towards. As opposed to thinking, when people talk about someone's break or anything like that, that always seems weird to me. Because I think of nothing, 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. It's a little bit more of the daily drum beat. The goal plus daily drum beat. Did you have a sense while you were doing that? Plus in there are two concepts I wanna focus on for a second. One is that you sort of made your own luck. You had a goal and you, it doesn't happen if you don't promote it. So you had to find a way to promote it, whether it's faxing or smoke signals, or modern-- There's no 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 try to convince them that it was, and then people would come and they would tell their friends and then it was all that. Was it lonely and dark and slow? Or was it just a rocket ship? It wasn't lonely in the sense that there was a bunch of comics who, around the same time we all had a similar sort of ethos and goal. And when you're building something from there not being much of an audience, in a sense it only just slowly gets better. 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 and vite them up that Bobby and I did. And that also took a year and a half or something to, again this is also before social media. So even if someone was gonna stop by who was popular and people would wanna see, there was largely no way to tell anyone they were coming. I used to have a weekly AOL email-- I love it. That I would send out. And I forget, I don't know if I faxed press releases in New York. I might have emailed them. At this point I might have switched to email. Because that had probably taken over. Because your Hotmail account was just cracking? (laughs) Yeah, exactly (laughs). I think that's one thing that you need to make your own luck. And the folks at home who are just starting or hitting a road bump somewhere, the fact that you were out there promoting wasn't some fancy machine, it's you sending faxes or flyers or whatnot. I think that's a great takeaway. Also, you talked about in a sense it was iterating. You'd try something, if it's working you'd do more of it. If it's not working, you do less of it. Is that across everything? Is that the craft, is that the? I mean, yeah, I mean I guess it just depends what the goal is. Say the question again? For example, with promotion. 500 people show up, "Ah what did I do?" You're deconstructing your success at all times. Totally, but a lot of it, also, is like, I remember when I first, I did this show at the Green Street Grill. And somebody from the Boston Phoenix, which was to me, 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. "Now, finally there is a story in the paper "about this fun comedy show I'm doing." And I remember, the following week four people came, as a result of that. There was maybe eight total, but four from the paper. And then four that were friends. And it was like, "Oh I see, it's all very long, slow." So you sort of, to me it was a success which is this article, but then I photocopied that article and put it with a little flyer and would hand that out. And it all sort of, you sort of do what you can. But I definitely remember being, "Like now, this is the thing." "This is my big break." And then it's like, "Oh nothing is" Crickets. And everything, if you think of comics who are on a show that's like from 10, 15, 20 years ago, and you think of it as the biggest thing. You know, some shows stay forever with people and some don't. So it's sort of this continuous thing. I think when you freelance, you believe in the sense that everything can fall apart. And I don't know that that feeling ever leaves you. Even if it's fine. And by all observation you'd be like, "Well that's a crazy thought." I definitely have friends who I'm like, who in my head I'm like, "You're wildly successful. "How could you possibly be anxious "about something changing?" And it's like, "I guess it's just forever," that anxiety. I wonder if that's a human, is that people like that become creators and entrepreneurs or is it when you're a creator and entrepreneur and you've had the rug yanked out from under you a couple times you start living it. Right, I don't know. Observation. I don't know my comedy genre as well as I should. It's all funny to me. That's the next title of my album. (laughs) You, I think it's actually, I read this once, observational comedy, is that right? Sure, meaning my comedy? You bring in shit that you find in the world. I don't know what you'd call it. And I will say that partially it's because you know, when I was in college there wasn't a stand up scene. There was just sort of, I ran a show but I would just ask anyone I thought was funny to tell a story or do something. And so I would basically try stuff in front of whatever audience. And some of it was jokes, like a sort of straight up joke. And sometimes it would be a letter. And sometimes it would be some weird thing. And basically if it 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 a lot of my act is, "Here's a letter I wrote. "Here's a weird thing I did. "Or I recorded this." So yeah, it's become a range of everything from, "Here's an observation or here's a story, "here's an anecdote. "And then here's some weird internet, "not prank but bit, LinkedIn profile." Or I did this, but then then I really do it. Or here's 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 that escalated, like how close I was. And they had set a meeting and then it clearly fell away. They definitely did not wanna put my stuff up next to the broccoli. (laughs) But it was very close to being discussed. And I kind of was like, "Well I mostly wanted "to make the joke than,-- More than the actual-- Well I would be very happy to have had it. And I had a lot of people being, "Will you put the paintings up at our cafe or gallery?" And I was like, "No, I really just want them "at this Whole Foods." That's sort of the joke, but anyway. But what about the LinkedIn profile. Because I think I've heard that bit. So that was, basically, and it's funny once I think I did it on a special. Then LinkedIn was like, "Oh you can't actually." But I basically wrote that I was the VP of Verizon. And when you're filling it out, 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 two years or whatever it was, I would get a lot of, "Join this organization of vice presidents." And, "Here's other offers for you." And they'd all be kind of within my area of various vice president and similar roles, that they would be pitching me. And I imagine, recommending me to whatever company. Where Pfizer is like, "I don't know, "oh the vice president, VP from Verizon. "He would be perfect, to run." Give me some more examples of that. I'd heard the LinkedIn one. So I took out Facebook ads at one point. That's the one that I saw. So I took out Facebook ads because you could just target. You can go, "I want people who like "hockey and Belle and Sebastian." And then you could put some really weird ad. And here's the funny thing, you can also direct, I don't know if this is still true. Because I did this, I don't know, five years ago. So you could, at the time, direct them to any website. So you could be like, "I want this weird ad "to go to hockey fans." And then sends them to CNN or sends them to the White House. Or a page, or your website, you could put it anywhere. I don't know if that is still the case. I think it is. I guess the assumption is no one will spend their money on ads for (laughs) other people. But it also is very fun to play around with. And depending on how you do it, so you can be, either, charged with people seeing it. Or charged, I think, by clicks. And if you just do it where you just don't care if anyone clicks on it, you just want it to appear, you can really reach a lot of people. 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 wanna be fully effective with your ad. While you're paying for your ad to go to someone else. Or whoever, You can spend a lot of money. I can't remember what I sent people to. I think at times it was my site, but at times it was just whatever I thought would be funny, related to the ad. Is that your primary source of comedy? It's a mix of that and anecdotes. And yeah, things like it. Things that sort of interact with the world or also, and a lot of it, oh yeah you know what it was? 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. Or cat funeral, pet funeral stuff. And then the thing that, and it was, literally, I think it was meant that they would come to your home and I don't know. The way they presented it is that they will come to your house and burn your cat. (laughs) It's definitely how in it's confined messaging, read. And so I was like, "Okay, how does this happen? "What have I been looking up, "or has it just been overhead." This was also several years ago, when I think the idea that you're talking into your phone, you wouldn't think. Or maybe it was at the beginning of you're talking and it picks up, like you constantly going, "Oh no, my cat is dying." And then it's like, "I got something for you. "We'll come to your house and we'll burn your cat." And then LinkedIn, similarly, it's like, tons of, for whatever reason I think people I knew or something. I would constantly get these requests. I think people putting in their address book in or something. And I was like, "I don't need, "I'm not putting my resume up." And then finally I was like, "Fine, I will join LinkedIn." And I then went through and did all the stuff. And was like, "Oh, you can write 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 here. Part of comedy, of course there's the laughing part, there's the joy. I've seen you do Karaoke, it's pretty entertaining. What about the hard parts of comedy? I think there's so much comedic genius. It's a topic in our culture. That it comes from a lot of pain, a lot of struggle. What sort of connection do you have with that? And or what should the folks at home who don't understand that, help bring some insights to that. A comedy tragedy, I don't know what. I don't know, I mean-- That's kind of what I'm, help us understand it. Because I consider myself an outsider to the comedy scene. I love it, I appreciate the craft. And I see the connection between pain. I think that it comes out, I mean everyone's comedy is from some version of their experiences. And you know, how they process it. So I think that I do some stuff that's about personal things or starting to do things that come from tragedy. But also, even the angry letters I write or whatever, it's all about your frustration or whatever it is. Look, I don't know if you've seen Patton Oswald's last special, it's wonderful. And he talks about his wife dying. And a lot of it is very, very funny. And very touching and very sad. But I think that it's just, to every comic whatever inspires them. So some people are particularly good at reframing pain or processing it, through the funny parts of it. And there's funny, all of it. Like Paul Tomkins has a really funny story about his mom's funeral. And so everybody has-- The news or their thing. Yeah, their thing. And some people do more of that, some do less. I don't know that they're, 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, like Stephen Wright, or like Emo Phillips, they do these incredible one liners. And I wouldn't be, "Those guys feel no sadness." (laughs) But 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. Culturally I think that's a concept. Right, but that's because the idea that comics are sad is ironic. And the idea that firemen or lawyers are sad, would be like, nobody cares. Fireman are brave and strong. Yeah, "There's so much water around you." And yet, I don't know. That's great, this is helpful. And also, each person can consume whatever comedy they like. So, if you're someone who really likes very personal or intimate comedy, you could do that. If you like, sort of silly stuff, and some comics are a mix of it all. That's range, that's like range in acting. Yeah, some people do, like in acting, they'll do lot's of different characters. Some people are just very good at kind of a similar person but different emotions. Is it too, inside baseball to talk a little bit about when you were talking about reading for Bob's, that there's this other layer of-- Well there isn't, that's for them to animate. No, I'm happy to describe, I only saw it once but I'm happy to describe it. I'm fascinated by, and of course it makes sense now that you're talking about it but it's a thing that I hadn't ever heard before. And that's part of what I wanna do in the show is take people and they're like, "What, there's someone who thinks about "mouth shape, relative to sound?" Of course there is, right? So we go in and record. So I'm generally, actually in Boston, but sometimes in LA or New York. But we record on an ISDN line, all of us at the same time, on Wednesdays. And we record together. And we get to improvise. And then we do the scene as written. And I just saw this for the first time. They showed the breakdown. It takes about nine to 12 months to make an episode. Nine to 12 months! Yeah, so they do this very rough sketching. But they basically break down every syllable to one of the eight, or something, mouth shapes. And then they write it out. And you have every noise that's being made. And the number that correlates to the mouth shape. And they do that for the whole episode. So it's this crazy, detailed thing. I'm sure that if someone knows how animation is made they're like, "Yeah, that's how you make it." But I had not seen it. Because I mostly don't record here. We're in LA. Yeah, we're in LA as you can tell. Enjoy the city scape behind us. So you can hear the fire engines and the cop cars and ambulances. So yeah, so it's this kind of neat but very, very involved process. Again, I saw it for the first time. There is much more, but it was pretty incredible. Can you do the eight mouth shapes? I don't know, I probably have just now with what I've said. So just pause this. Other than maybe the zeeeeee. Or O. O, yeah, I hope it's eight. There's some animator being like, "It's nine." It's nine, I can't believe he-- It's eight, wow. "He's throwing me under the bus here." At one time, seems reasonable. Go back to the source of your comedy. Pop culture, you tell me. What do you consider your source? I mean I consider it experiences. And there's this certain, the thing about pop culture 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 was just for you to click on it. They didn't care what you thought about the thing. And the concept makes sense, but it's funny because Myspace has gone away. Ads? Ads have not, but meaning I'll have references to a thing. 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, even though it's really about broader advertising. So in terms of pop culture, I'm sure I have plenty of references, but I think, because there's elements of it that are fleeting, I try, offhand, not to do much. Or something that's so, in everyone's consciousness that, I mean, who could forget the A-Team? And the answer is, probably anyone born after 1998. (laughs) All right, so, process. I'm obsessed with people's process. And you talked about in college your thesis was an hour long stand up routine. Take us into your process. Like, whatever the output is. Maybe, let's not do anything about Bob's Burger's. That's just voice, you're reading someone else's lines. That's of course, a craft in and of itself. Let's talk about stand up. So what's Eugene Mirman's process for stand up? It's sort of having an idea. And then sometimes it will be, especially these bits like LinkedIn or something. Though again, that's maybe a little simpler. But like, somethings where I'll have an idea and then slowly, over a period of months I'll be like, "Oh, maybe I can try it that way, "or this way. "Or do this sort of thing with the ads." 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 trim it if it doesn't work. So first you have, "Okay, well you can "write this funny ad, you can direct it at someone. "You can have it go to a website or whatever." But then you kind of find, "Oh is that too many things?" It's more funny to read the ads than it is to have four other jokes on each one. So there's sort of this trial and error. But even to come up with it, or what you might do. You know, I-Serve also started taking I think, screen grabs of actual ads they had. To sort of set up, "This is the set up. "This is what they do." And then if there's also, do you read one, two, three. You sort of do as many as are funny and then stop and move on. So I think that a lot of my process is you have an idea, or you have the thing that you know is funny to you. And then you have to figure out how to make it funny to people. And I've certainly had jokes, where I had a joke, so a friend of mine told me, when we were in elementary school, that a teacher of ours told her to not be my friend because I was a loser. (laughs) Which is awesome. It took me a very long time. And I was like, "That's really funny." But when you stand onstage, people either kind of laugh, because it's horrifying or it's sort of, "Well what's the joke? "You just gave us what is obviously sad information." And that's also funny. But it took me a really long time to figure out how to turn this thing that I thought was a wonderful piece of sad, funny information into an actual joke. So a lot of it is time and trial and error. And you have these ideas. Are you writing these things? Yeah, I write them on my computer. But it's funny, sometimes I'll go back and see the joke written out and it'll be a little more verbose. Or it'll have four more things that are kind of funny but they don't seem as conversational. It starts to feel like a little written, or jokey, forced. But I'll try to go back and re-write it and have it all written out. So you got an idea. My fourth grade teacher told Sally to not be friends with me because I was a loser. So you write that down. That's like the kernel of the idea. And then you try to figure out, what's the joke part of that. I mean, and again LinkedIn, so there's the section where you can write in your skills. Each of these things has different little sections. And you kind of adjust it. "Here's five skills." And you read them out. Do they make people laugh? Well three of them do, two don't. Okay, let's switch two skills out. It turns out reading more than four skills in a row is too, that's the cut off. And then you can move on to, what were your previous jobs? Are you testing these on your friends? No, on an audience. You test it all on an audience. Or I don't try jokes out on my friends. Because, also, you're trying to see if it will work at a club. Right, different environment. You're saying this like it's so obvious too. So, you have to take all your crap and air it onstage, every time. I think so, sorry, when I say that, what I mean is some people definitely do try to tell their jokes to each other or comics or friends. For me that isn't, especially if I have a thing where I'm holding something up. And a lot of that stuff, also, it shows often, when I hold up the ads or whatever it is, it's mostly to just show that it's real. 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 the bit. The authenticity of, "Oh I think he really did do this "or did make these paintings." You know, you're holding up paintings. And they get that I did really make these paintings and genuinely reached out to Whole Foods and sort of thing. So, you're writing these jokes out. How do you know what 20 minutes is? Are you practicing in the mirror? Well does it matter? Meaning, so it matters if you're doing it on television. In terms of you need five minutes or 60 minutes or whatever it is. So then you need to know that everything, but also stuff's edited. In fact I think my last Netflix special was a little over 60 minutes. 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, if I have 20 minutes, great. The problem isn't I made people laugh for 20 minutes. And I only need to make them laugh for 10 minutes. You made them laugh way too long. It was too much, they really enjoyed it. Really, you try stuff. And for me, I know that I have, some of it is unconventional. But often it is basically still set up in punch line. I think people think of, I'm still going, "Here's the premise, I made a fake resume. "And here's my fake resume. "I took out ads, here are the ads." So you have this one premise. Then you have seven jokes. And some of them are the ad itself. Some of them are about it. 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. Like, you have an audience in the laundry room. And you can just walk in there. There's in most major cities, 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, is a show where the audience, one, when you're trying stuff out. It's basically, they probably paid a small amount. And you can, basically, if it's not funny they won't laugh but they won't be mean about it. There's an understanding, right? There's an understanding, like you're there to try stuff and this is fun and you can fail. 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. Then it's like, you don't want to fight drunks. You move verbally. But meaning, it can't be a room that you can't get a sense of whether your joke works or not. And so on a comedian's side, they're like, "Oh, you gotta go play 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, people will totally want to stop by and perform there. I mean, that's a thing that is good. Meaning, in the shows that I did at various times, with various friends, the goal is to build up a show where comedians would like to go and perform at. And then the audience will come. They'll each come to each other. Without faxing. Well now, now you can Instagram fax. Insta fax. Okay so let's talk in terms of some successes and some failures. Because there's a lot of fear around putting yourself out there and bombing. And I think people are already always also curious about, sometimes, what felt wildly successful to you? Or things that people didn't know or it wasn't obvious. Sometimes, you win a big award. Of course that's a big success. But talk to me a little bit. I want to cover both ends of the spectrum. Because I think that comedy is an esoteric thing relative to building a company or designing a whatever. But there's craft and that's why we're sort of trying to unpack comedy. Successes and failure. Well in terms of stand up, you can always fail. Like on stage, especially if you're trying stuff. But then also, in just environments. I've toured with bands where sometimes it's good and sometimes it's a real battle. And that's largely at the beginning of my career in New York. You do, again, what you can. So I did a tour with Modest Mouse. And some of the shows were awesome. And there was one in Miami that was just disastrous. There was a woman heckling me in really weird, specific ways. She was basically trying to convey Ayn Rand's philosophy without having known that it was that. She just kept trying to distract me, and saying that she lived a selfish life. Like she was trying to get the band on earlier. It was just super weird. And then also, the room was insanely hot. It was just chaos. And it was, terrible. But on the other hand there was other shows in Jacksonville that were really, really fun. But you 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. Is it small failures, small like having jokes completely flop on a regular basis that sort of builds up a muscle where you become inoculated against it. I think it depends. I think once you have, I've probably done stand up for 20 something years, so you, I don't know that you have a joke, you either have a joke work or not work. You can be working it out and then it repeatedly doesn't, you largely wouldn't have the same exact thing not work because you would change it. What you could have is a joke that almost always works and for whatever reason, whatever the environment is, it doesn't. But that's pretty rare. I did a tour a few years ago with Flight of the Conchords, and those are played in much bigger venues. And I remember people being, "Do you have "a different act for these shows?" As if I have one act that destroys, in front of 10,000 people and I refuse to do it for any smaller rooms. So I was, "No, I have the thing that works." And depending on the environment, if you're in a very hot place or whatever, there could be things that would throw it. And you have jokes that work better, not 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 more often than failing, what you'd have is, especially with bits where I'm holding up five things. I've had four that are funny and one or two that aren't. And then you cut those and then you switch them out. So there's that process. So is it word for word, when you walk out there? How much is, "I'm definitely doing these three things. "And I know I'm gonna do these three things." I mean obviously you're a trained professional improv comedian as well, so how much of that is? It's largely, when you have a joke that works, it is sort of word for word, with often the same pauses and ah-vic-tations, essentially. And then some things do sort of change. It depends, often, for me if I have a bit where I'm holding up things or saying a thing, sometimes the preamble to that might be different and that sort of stuff. Contextual, for Miami or something. And it might work better and worse. Meaning, that part of me is, "Oh I wish "I did have a consistent thing." But also, sometimes it makes it funnier and it makes it more organic to have a set up that's not as set in stone as the rest of the bit. So is the Miami show with Modest Mouse your worst experience ever, on stage. Talk about just dive bombing. Sorry, that was terrible. You meant, terrible, oh yes, it qualifies as terrible. No, I mean there's lots. And I know we try and not think about it too much but I'm trying to help someone say, "Yeah, it's okay to suck." No, there's lots of, meaning when you do stand up, there's years of, I had an audition that I did for Conan in 99 or 2000, 99 probably, in New York. I lived in Boston and came here and definitely bombed. And somebody heckled me. And I hadn't been on TV. And it was like, "This might be my chance to be on TV." And it went terribly. And then of course, the producer's very nice. And was, "Oh, you know that didn't go "but we'll have you back and look at you again." That's the thing about this notion of breaks. And I remember when I got Conan, it was this sort of thing where I got a call, you know, I'd been auditioning a year and 1/ for them and then I got a call, "We might need you on Friday." And it was a Monday and I lived in Boston. I was, "Sure." And they were just, "Practice your set." And then I remember they called and they were, "We do, we need you, we'll bring you down." That was like, a guy at the airport met me with a sign with my name on it. It was incredible. And I remember being, "Why do you need me?" Like now, Friday? "Why do you need a comic to come from Boston "to do this thing?" And they were sort of, "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, they're out looking for people. 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. Is there a point where you had to put yourself out there? Where you went from just being in small clubs and doing that, you had to decide to shift gears? Or was it very organic? You keep stepping up in the ranks? I had thought, originally, 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. Not that you can't but it would be unlikely. I certainly know people, that have, in fact done it. Here's another great failure. I remember getting hired to write, this would have been my first writing job ever. It was to write for some show, I think on VH1 maybe? And being so excited. It was probably 2000, 2001. Very broke and very excited. And then I went after I got the job to get sushi somewhere and it was $40, which was definitely a percentage of my net worth. Like a calculatable percentage. I was, "This is awesome." And the next day there was an article about how all these executives from, basically, MTV and VH1 had been let go. The show went away. Everything was gone. And I was, "Oh, I see." So that was a fun job that almost happened. And then you sort of realize how it's, everything can always fail. I want a little bit more on that last question. So, you have to ultimately decide that you're gonna put yourself out there. And you throw your hat in the ring for the next level. Are there a series of levels? And again, we're talking about comedy but it's really about everything in life. You have to decide that you want the thing. And how proactive have you been with that? Or are you just like, "I'm on a magic carpet, wheee!" I would say that one thing that 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 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 Hampshire graduation, now five years ago or how many. This was a thing I said, sorry, terrible storyteller. Basically somebody asked me what my backup plan was at a college event. And I said I believed a back up plan was the first step towards failure. And I think of that a little tongue in cheek. But I do think there's an element of that, that's true. For many years I didn't have any healthcare until I could eventually get it through freelance or whatever. So partially, I could do this because I happened to not get sick in my 20s. There's obviously things that will set you back or change the course of your life that can't be controlled. But shy of those sorts of things, I'd always kind of been, "I wanna 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, I lived for a long time in a studio apartment. Meaning you can really be scaled down, your life to a point where, "This is fine." You're right. And then at some point you're like, "This is madness." But then, to me, those things happen, stages where I would find work. So I would, right close to breaking, somebody would be like, "You wanna make "a bunch of web videos?" I'd be, "Yes, very much." Or getting an agent. When I first got a booking agent, that helped me go from, I didn't know exactly how to make money, to now I could make $150 a day. Not every day, but enough days that I could cover rent. So there's that. So I don't know if there's as much of a stepping up as a continued, the biggest thing to me was moving to New York City, which I was terrified of. Do think that's a requirement in this day and age now, with the web? Or is it still just absolute pockets, and again, talking about comedy but this is universally, if you wanna be in fashion, do you go to Milan? If you wanna be in show business do you go to Hollywood? I think it depends. So now, with a phone, a phone is better film equipment than I had throughout college or whatever, throughout life. Until two weeks ago. So I think it just depends, "What can you do?" So I know, early on, I made a website with an office mate of mine in Boston, Scott Barrows, who was a designer. But we took a photo of me from when I was four, in Russia. It was black and white. It looks like it's from the 1930s. And I sang and pitched a bunch of classic rock songs in a really silly way. And then he animated the mouth. And that was the late 90s and that went sort of viral to the point at which Pete Townsend from the Who emailed me. And was, "I love your Who medley." And I put it up on my site and 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 also would go around. And they were one megabyte. This was before YouTube, so it's 98, 99, 2000. And those would circulate. So I did that in Boston because 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, whatever's within your means. And if you can stay in Boston. Now I'm back in Boston. The reason I 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 17 years. 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. (laughs) Just to put a little time in. It depends what you want, but I know people who live in Texas and have a career. It just depends what you want. What you enjoy doing. But there's clearly a scene that you have to be a part of. Right, don't you think? Is there a thing or is that still? I'll call it community because a scene sounds too trendy. Yes, I think being part of a comedy community and certainly I was and remain part of a comedy community. I think that's really helpful. But again, I think it's whatever works for you. Personally, I think, in terms of comedy, if you're a comedian who can get onstage 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 have you do a show with them. And admittedly you need to be seen by people who would put you in those positions. Yeah, you have to come to LA or New York for whatever period of time, the more people you meet. But it's like any job or anything in life. You have to make inroads with people. But it's much more about being good at the thing you do, personally. 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 than craft. I feel like people talk about talent but there's people that you see who are gifted at music and impressions and all these things. And that is clearly helpful. But a lot of it is just tenacity. There's plenty of people who are huge, who were mediocre when they started and really just, they go do 10 shows a night. And they just get better, and better, and better, over years. And admittedly, that's also someone who has the time to do that. And what put them in that situation I don't know. Or they create the time for themselves to do that. Right, right, but I mean it means, the people I'm thinking of is before they have children. Ate Ramen and lived in a studio. Yeah, or like had four roommates or whatever it is. And now, also, some places like New York maybe, is particularly expensive. But I think LA and other cities, you can totally live outside of New York, in a place where you can go and do comedy shows. So I wanna talk a little bit, shift gears. This has all been about craft and about career, and career art, and managing all that stuff. So you referenced being born in Russia? Yes. And what impact do you think that has had on you personally or relative to your career. Extreme positives or negatives, how do you? I think it makes me, in certain ways, very optimistic. I think that I have a very genuine belief in the American dream. I think of it as very practical and reasonable. Which I think is also probably helpful only in that even if I'm wrong the belief that you can do a thing is probably so helpful to 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 being, the Cold War. And growing up with Russia as the enemy. Were you, overtly, the Russian kid at school? Yeah, yeah, like in sixth grade I remember being blamed for when the Russians shot down, or maybe it was third grade, the Russians shot down a Korean airliner. And definitely, kids were like, "You shot down a Korean airliner." And I was like, "I didn't but why "are you threatening me if you think "I shot down an airliner?" But yeah, there was a lot of that thing. Of people thinking I was a commie. Even though I really don't like communism. Because I'm one of the people who left. I'm here, clearly I'm here. So there was tons of that. Any detail you care to share about the leaving Russia? I was four. You were like four. "We're out of here. "Pack your bags parents." I think that my parents were, "I think we should get out of here." I think Russia is some version of antisemitic and communist. And I think it just makes for a bummer of a time. Is the feeling I get. Actually Moscow, right? Is that where you guys were from? We were from Moscow, yeah. But I don't and I haven't been back. I've wanted to and I wanna go and hopefully at some point I will. But my experience of coming here was mostly, I don't remember Russia. I mostly remember here. Do you still feel a connection there? You said you wanted to go back. But is that because of heritage or? Yeah, I feel a connection, like, I speak Russian to my parents and to some Russian friends and stuff. Mostly because I'd be curious. Because it's a country that I feel 1/2 tied to and 1/2 don't know at all. Is that material for you? I haven't really heard you use any of that material. Is there a reason you're not tapping into that? I think I've mentioned it or told stories. I don't know, there isn't a reason. Meaning the reason would be, if I thought of a funny thing I would certainly if I thought of jokes involving the Cold War, from my experience as a kid. Or obviously, Russia's in the news now. So I easily could do something. My reason for not doing anything is basically that I don't have anything particularly funny, offhand, that I thought of. You were four, right? I feel like I referenced it. I say that haven't done anything but I played a sort of goof ball Russian hit man slash stand up comic on Delocated, on Adult Swim. So that's totally a use of all that, meaning I spoke Russian on the show. And there's other things where I've done a Russian accent. So I've used it that way. But I haven't done regular stand up. Was there any particular events besides getting picked on for blaming the shooting down of an airliner? Anything else that did impact your career, you feel like? Or is it just a bunch of small, the same things we've all experienced? I think it's largely the kind, you know the way everyone feels, like junior high wasn't a great time. So I think my version of that is that there was a lot of Cold War stuff. So it was like, whatever goes into being a weird kid. And at some point, also, probably it went from, "Oh that kid is a Russian commie," to, "that's just a weird kid and I don't like him." And who knows, I may have also been annoying. It's probably a whole mix of everything. But then, I feel like as I got older and everyone got older, just like everybody's experience, most people I know things got much, much better for them around 10th, 11th, 12th grade. You start to settle in your skin a little bit. Yeah, and I think people are just a little older and like, "Wait, I shouldn't be a monster." (laughs) "Why do I keep hitting that person in the face?" Or pushing them or whatever. Clearly there's a pattern with your answers that there's a lot of different paths. 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 history. But there has to be some, what is a consistent thing that you feel like has, was it just declaring that you wanted to be a comic? Was it just relentless and ruthless effort toward the thing you cared about? Was it all of these things? None of these things? I think it's all that stuff. To me, luck is the part where you're physically able to accomplish these things. When I first lived in Boston, I worked at an ice cream parlor and I temped at Fidelity at one point. When I was temping at Fidelity 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, "Okay, I made that and I can make $ "from my comedy show. "And that's basically the money I need for a week." And so, a lot of it was just, you just had the bare minimum of what you needed and then you could do the thing. And also, I was 20 something and that seemed fine. A mattress on the ground seemed great. Great, I got a place to sleep. Who needs a frame? And then at some point I was, "Oh my God, I need a frame. "I'm 29 years old." I think box springs are overrated. Maybe that's a thing of the past. But I think that sort of thing aside, yeah, I think it's just consistently working towards a goal, 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. All while trying to, when you came to the show being like, "Oh, this is fun. "This is a great way to spend an evening." How about the people around you? Did you find that people around you were supportive? Did you have to seek those people out? Were there people that were haters and you had to avoid? Largely it's a very supportive community. And I also find the idea that comedy's competitive or something. And I imagine most fields, to me, not at all the case. Where basically, 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 if I'm doing stand up and I can do a good job, fine. But yeah, I will say that I remember meeting Bobcat Goldthwait early on and he was very nice. Through a friend Tony V, who's a comic in Boston. Who would come to this show that I did with friends. And he was really supportive. And he had been someone who, when I was in Boston, he had been on Seinfeld and stuff. And he was this very supportive figure and remains so. And there's comics, when I got to New York I toured, eventually with Stella, which is a comedy troupe of David Wain, Michael Ian Black, and Michael Showalter. And they were really instrumental in helping me, as well as Patton Oswald, and David Cross, and Todd Barry. There's a lot of comics that have been very supportive and very helpful. You know, Jon Benjamin. And he's someone that I tour with now, a lot. And you meet different people. And you find people you like collaborating with or touring with. Or people that, there's comics that I try to help. And I think it's a very warm, very supportive community, personally. I'm also guessing, on that last line of questioning that you're, it sounds to me like you're reluctant to give advice. What do you mean? I'm just, I'm picking that up from, which is good. It's in there and I'm drawing it out. What's so funny is I'm giving advice, which is, do the thing. I think to me, the advice is, whatever your goal is, if you wanna be a filmmaker find a way to make a film. If the only way you can do it is with your Iphone, do that. No one is stopping you from making a thing. And then trying 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 feel like my advice is, do everything. And then when you're running out of time or energy, you know, focus. But yeah, it's not that I'm not willing to give advice. My advice is think of the goal and then think of five ways that you could succeed at that goal. And then try them and narrow it down. And think of another goal. I think that's probably, is that helpful? It's beautiful. To me, you could put your arms around that. What I'm also trying to connect, it's the same for everything. And we make things a lot more complicated. I think you deciding you're gonna be a comic. And you basically said, "The best way "to achieve plan A is to kill plan B." There is no other plan B. I also was 18. I think if you're anywhere under the age of 23 right now, watching this, you can totally just start right now and you'll be fine. And if you're 40, you'll also be fine. I know people who started doing comedy when they were 40 and are now wildly successful. They just had to make some special concessions with their mortgage, and their family, or whatever. Or they were in New York and they had none of those things. As New York often can do. But yeah, so my advice is that you should in a thoughtful way, spend all your time trying to achieve your goal through whatever means you have access to. And I think that maybe people don't think of what their opportunities are, what's in front of them. And I know that it's a terrible slog and there's so much failure. And it's years of it. I mean, I started when I was 18, so I got to fail for five years or six years even, before I was even in a city doing stuff. That's a really important message. I do think that, vaguely, if you try to do a thing, that in 10 to 15 years you'll probably succeed. And I think that, that's true with so many of the people I know around me. Most of the comics that I started out with in Boston, who moved to either New York or LA, I think they all became professional comedians. And I don't know if it's a self selective group or what it is. But I will say that virtually everyone I know either has a TV show or tours as a successful stand up or works on a show. There's an element of stamina, clearly, right? I think it is largely, yeah, stamina, tenacity and then of course being good at your craft. I think that that is very important. But something like 90% of the people I started out with in the late 90s are all working professional comedians. 28 years later, that's the stamina part, they're still doing it. And you almost have no choice but to become good at your craft, just assuming you're putting in the time. Right, and assuming that you can do it. All right, so let's shift gears and look into the future a little bit. Married, child-- it's true. I already am already married. Child? Yes, I have a child and I'm married. You're like, "I'm just looking in the future "but you mean"-- today. You mean, like a few years ago. Yes, I am married. I have a child. He's 17 months old. Your descriptor for him was he's large. He's the size of a three year old but he's 17 months old. Size of a two and 1/2 to three year old. He's very big. Does that shape your career in a new and different way? You're out here, we're getting some sunshine in LA. It's eight degrees in Boston right now. I know, somebody was like, "Sorry, it's cold in LA." And I was like, "It's 70 degrees warmer right here." Like are you kidding me? Anyway, how's that shaping? Do you feel different about your career now? Because there's a lot of folks out there that family does take priority over their career. And I just want to know how you work those two things together. Well I mean part of it is I've tried to create a career that is adjustable. So obviously, something like Bob's Burger's, which is a cartoon that I can record once a week. And then other shows, there's other cartoons. And podcasts and various things that I do that are very conducive to being home with a family and not having to travel as much. Though I am about to also go on tour for several weeks. But the way that it's affected it is that I try to do stuff that let's me be home more. And again, that's because I have a few jobs that allow that. I have a podcast for Audible. So that let's me be home. If I wasn't, I'd probably be on tour more. Also, you do that out of intention, right? You want to be able to spend more time with the family. So what are things that don't require me to be in Tuscaloosa today? Right, I intentionally try to do more of those things. And meet with people who will facilitate that. So that's true. Well let's talk about some of those things. You got Audible. Let's talk about your tour. Let's talk about Audible. And what else is in the making right now? What do I do? I know you were this wildly passionate chef the last time we were together. I think you cooked an amazing, amazing duck. Oh, I wonder if I have that photograph? Oh, you do have a photo of me holding a duck, somewhere. Such a good picture. So, tell me about the Audible show though. Hold On is a show where basically comedians tell a story and I ask them questions throughout their story. I don't know, there's something like 50 episodes or so, that we're done, there on Itunes and wherever people get podcasts and also on the Audible app. Neil deGrasse Tyson told a story how he almost became a male stripper, when he was in college, to make money. Wow! So if you want to hear that story, I know I did. It's really funny. Wow, what episode is that? The Neal deGrasse Tyson episode. That's what it would be called. That one's just on Audible because they're really seeing them in seasons. So yeah, there's that show. There's a kid's podcast for WNYC, that I do. And stand up. Actually I had a comedy festival that me and my friend Julie Smith did for 10 years in New York. And though the festival had its' last one we're making a documentary about it. So I'm working on that now. But again, that's like a thing where we film something and now I can watch cuts at home and give feedback. And again, it let's me be home. So, you told the anecdote about Neil deGrasse Tyson. Presumably that's a story he doesn't walk around telling all the time, that you are able to extract that, brilliantly from him. He came up with that as the story he wanted to tell. So the way the podcast works is people have a story they're going to tell and I ask them questions. So he didn't suggest other stories and I was like, "How about this one?" He was like, "This is the story I'm going to tell. "I don't tell it a lot." So it was great. Do you have one of those for us today? No could be the answer but let's try find that one. Meaning I could sit and try to think of something. The way the podcast works is that people are asked beforehand. (laughs) Is there something that you have told to some friends that you would share with us today? I'm sure there is. I like that it seems like, it seems like I'm evasive. But I'm not evasive. You're like, "Do you have any stories?" "I've got many stories. "I'm a professional storyteller." Offhand, in don't know. Because also what would come to mind is not the stories I tell, but the stories I don't tell. I probably rarely talk about the Korean airliner thing. So that's the whole story. And what age was that, just to replay that for a second. I think it was 83 that happened. So I don't know, however, I guess I was 8 or 9. Which is way too young to shoot down a plane. Just to be clear. From wherever you were. Right, from Lexington Mass, the birthplace of America. A great place to come to from Russia. Came right to the heart of the American Revolution. Very hard to shoot down a Korean airliner from there. Especially with the stuff I had as a kid. Which was maybe a kickball. (laughs) All right, so there's the Audible show. Tell us a little bit about the tour. Help them find you. I think it hasn't been announced yet. So we can't talk about that, okay. But I will be doing tour dates. I've seen you in San Francisco. Last time Megan and Brian, and Kate and I were in Boston and we saw you there. Do you have a favorite place to perform? I have favorite places. Those cities are great, Seattle, The Neptune, Bell House in Brooklyn, where I've done many, many shows. We've done our festival. That's one of my favorite places. Paradise Rock Club in Boston. The Black Cat in DC and Cat's Cradle in North Carolina's great. And then Austin, as a city. I like all the places that lot's of people come to, to enjoy comedy. I could keep naming. But I've also had a wonderful time in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. There's tons of, sort of, I don't know, just smaller cities that are great. Favorite co-conspirators? Julie Smith, who I produce a lot of stuff with. We did a festival and various shows together. She's someone I adore working with. You know, comics. Jon Benjamin and Kristen Schaal, Kurt Braunohler. There's a poet who I adore, who I have open for me now, Derek Brown. He's really funny and just wonderful. He opened for you at Sketchfest in San Francisco. He probably did, yeah. He's amazing, I met him through David Cross and Amber Tamblyn. He officiated their wedding. He's just amazing. He has this, just this amazing way with words. And can convey things that, it's probably like stand up in a certain way that we can convey things that are very familiar but you never thought to look at it that way. This is a personal, I'm taking notes right now when I ask these questions for people. Like, who do you like? And now we can sort of go off and explore that. Yes, Derek Brown, really amazing. So, those are some of my favorite co-conspirators, I'd say. I love it. Thank you so much for being on the show. I hope I have helped people become photographers or ah. Literally, this applies to anything. And it's been such a treat to follow your career over a long period of time. And occasionally bump into you in random ass places with our mutual friends. Thank you for coming to LA, or thank you for being in LA at the same time we're filming. I hope you have a good one. (claps) Thank you so much. Thank you. This was really fun, bye bye Bye friends. I've hope what I've said is fair and reasonable. Fair and reasonable, balanced. (instrumental music)

Ratings and Reviews

Dream Focus Studio

By far the best classes on Creative Live!! Thanks Chase Jarvis for bringing so much greatness to the table for discussion! Just LOVE it!

René Vidal

@ChaseJarvis - love chat with Gabby about hope and the "relentless optimism" you share at the end of Creative Calling. Many thanks. -- René Vidal McKendree Tennis


Excellent interview with thoughtful questions. Thanks!!

Student Work