Bryan Callen on Eating Corgis (Yes, The Dogs) and Improving Creativity (#47)

Tim Ferriss and Bryan Callen discuss craft, comedy and achievement

“There are three things you can’t fake: 1. Fighting, 2. Sex, and 3. Comedy.” (Tweet It)

– Bryan Callen

Ep 47: Bryan Callen on Eating Corgis (Yes, The Dogs) and Improving Creativity

Alright, this may be the funniest episode yet.

Bryan Callen is a world-class comic and prolific actor. He travels the globe performing stand-up comedy for sold-out audiences, and — in his spare time — regularly appears on shows like Frasier, Entourage, Law & Order, CSI, Sex and the City, Oz, The King of Queens, and How I Met Your Mother.

Bryan is also INCREDIBLY well read.  Don’t miss the show notes and links below.

In this episode, we delve into the craft of comedy, fixing education (or shortcuts within it), habits and tricks for boosting creativity, writing, and the general pursuit of excellence.

And, of course, eating corgis…

You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

Eat a Corgie - Bryan Callen on the Tim Ferriss Show

This podcast is brought to you by 99Designs, the world’s largest marketplace of graphic designers. Did you know I used 99Designs to rapid prototype the cover for The 4-Hour Body? Here are some of the impressive results.

This episode is also brought to you by ExOfficio, which I’ve personally used since 2005 or so. They make ultra-lightweight, quick drying, antimicrobial clothing for men and women. Here’s my own ultra-light packing list (scroll down for video), which went viral.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: Who are your 2-3 favorite comedians? What style or traits make them memorable? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…


And PLEASE — Do you enjoy this podcast? If so, please leave a short review here. They’re very important and keep me going.

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Selected Links from the Episode

Show Notes

  • How Bryan Callen and Tim Ferriss started dating [9:45]
  • On fighting, sex, and comedy [10:50]
  • How to create a long-term career in comedy [11:45]
  • On public education [15:45]
  • Bryan Callen’s creative process [23:45]
  • Comics who inspire Bryan [34:05]
  • Bryan’s first great performance [36:50]
  • How Bryan Callen developed his appetite for reading [42:05]
  • Bryan Callen’s first paid gig [47:30]
  • Rapid fire questions: Pilsner, aged wine, politics, pit bulls, hunting, originality, and eating corgis [01:04:45]

People Mentioned

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 900 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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76 Replies to “Bryan Callen on Eating Corgis (Yes, The Dogs) and Improving Creativity (#47)”

  1. Hi Tim,

    My absolute favorite comedian is Stephen Colbert. I love him because his comedy doesn’t need to be vulgar or exaggerated to be funny. It’s smart comedy. It’s like he’s winking at you when he says something like he’s telling you “You know what I’m saying is BS right?”

    Extremely talented, hope you invite him on the show one day!


  2. Looking forward listening to this one after work Tim! For one of your future podcast I would love to hear Penn Jillette (Penn and Teller) or maybe even both of them together on the show! Penn is an entertainer at heart and I think someone worth “brain picking” as he has made a career as an illusionist, comedian, musician, inventor, actor, and best-selling author (I love the show Bull$hit!)

  3. Enjoyed this podcast, I was introduced to Bryan Callen on the JRE and have looked up to him ever since for his open mind and thirst for truth and knowledge. Although I’m in shallow water in terms of exploring the world of comedy, a couple comedians that have caught my attention are Bill Hicks and Dave Chappelle. Hicks because he was a pioneer at getting in people’s heads (somewhat similar to Rogan’s style) and exposing the idiocracy of some aspects of American society. Chappelle because he is just a funny motherfucker, without a doubt the funniest person I have ever encountered. With his laid back personality it seems like comedy is instinctive to him. Even shit he says in casual interviews cracks me up.

  4. Louis C.K. – He’s not afraid to go too far, he’s a self made man, and he’s not afraid to do things his way (writes, produces, and directs most of his work)

  5. Jim Gaffigan…. Hilarious….does his own crowd reaction after he tells jokes. His takes on eating, parenting and camping are fantastic.

    Louis C.K….

  6. Aziz Ansari because I identify with his upbringing and so a lot of the the things he talks about I’ve seen, Chris Rock because his social commentary is spot on, and Hannibal Buress because I like his laid back delivery and understated hilariousness.

  7. Tim..

    I’m looking forward to listening to this podcast.

    It’s hard to narrow my favorites list of comedians down to three, but right now they would be:

    -Jerry Seinfeld

    -The Sklar Brothers

    -Gary Gulman

    Seinfeld and Gulman have great material that pulls from everyday life. They are both able to deliver it in such a hilarious way.

    The Sklar Brothers are so quick and play off each other so well. I’ve always enjoyed their connection to sports dating back to when they hosted the show Cheap Seats. I’ve also really enjoyed their podcast Sklarbrough Country.

  8. Eddie Izzard, Bill Bailey and Harry Hill. They’re all totally off the wall, very intelligent and take you places you could never anticipate.

    Btw, Tim, thank you so much for the podcasts. I love them. They also go to some fairly unexpected places! …and I hope you’re on the mend.

  9. JIM GAFFIGAN! That guy is THE funniest comedian I know. What makes him unique is that whereas a lot of other comedians are pretty crass and use a lot of foul language to get their point across, Jim Gaffigan doesn’t need to have a potty mouth in order to get more laughs. He is pure hilarity.

  10. Stewart Lee. While most comedians try to raise the audience’s energy, he’s happy to let it drop. Often part of his act is commenting on how parts of his act don’t work. He can go on for five minutes just varying a single line. Basically he does things that would be unfunny with most comedians but he’s great at it

  11. Adam Carolla. Great humor with alot of common sense ways to get things done. I get a great deal of motivation from listening to his podcast. Your visit to promote the 4 hour body is how I first learned about it and subsequently lost the weight.

  12. Maria Bamford, her comedy is impossibly unique and hilarious. I think interviewing her would challenge you, and potentially create something really special.

  13. How about listing Friedrich Hayek under people mentioned Tim? How about posting a link to “The Road to Serfdom”?

    Btw, are you visiting Panama again anytime soon?


  14. Billy Connolly, Dice, Harrie Jekkers (dutch guy, sorry). Tim, Did you say you are looking for a hang, the instrument? My friend wants to sell, I asked him as I heard somewhere you were looking for one. This is a very good one I understand.

  15. bit of a slow start into the cast, I was probably expecting something like a comedy show. It’s not, but there were some awesome moments on the way…Bryan getting emotional, that’s worth listening to….Loved it. Thanks Tim.

  16. QUESTION: Is it simply auto-responders gone wild?

    I have been receiving your magnificent emails. Thank you. Today, after my following “read more” link to your blog, there is a new confirmation, “Thank you for signing up for my updates!” I can delete a second transmission, but I really do not need a second transmission, even though your emails (and blog posts) are incredibly (and enviably) well done.

    1. Thank you for the comment, Robert. Not to worry! That was just a tech glitch and shouldn’t happen again. You shouldn’t receive any duplicates.

      Thanks for reading and listening!


      1. Just received another notification for the second day in a row… been subscribed for a long time so something is still glitchy!

  17. Bill Hicks : The man is just a legend, some incredibly deep, dark and hilarious moments from his career.

    Chris Morris: His 90’s stuff here in the UK was groundbreaking, ridiculously funny and was the forerunner to Jon Stewart, Colbert and other comedians who mock the very media they work in.

  18. The thinking person’s comics who don’t require profuse vomiting of profanity and f-bombs to get laughs,while using relate-able topics : Bob Newhart, Jay Leno (stand up), Jerry Seinfeld, Steven Wright.

  19. Tim, thanks for the great podcast! I would love to see you interview

    Phil Hendrie. He is a genius, surely a bit insane and incredible character.

  20. This was a really fun podcast. Thanks for all of these–very inspiring and entertaining. Also, although the movie felt like 1000 years, the Garcia Marquez book is only 100 Years of Solitude. Would love an interview with author Haruki Murakami…

      1. SPEAKING of ‘1000’ — you omitted two very important books in your show notes- both highly emphasised by your guest- The Hero of a 1000 faces, and The Power of Myth. Joseph Campbell. But yeah- this interview kicked ass. (And in doing so, really ‘sat into’ it). You can’t sit into a kick, can you? OK. Good talk!

  21. Michael McIntyre – hilarious for those in the UK. Presuming you would find him funny too, I don’t know. Check him out on YouTube and see what you think.

    Jeff Dunham. [and friends.]

    Hugh Laurie.

  22. Solid podcast. I always enjoy your podcasts and Random shows. Makes me want to request that you make yourself a guinea pig on “how to become a more polished speaker” or something along those lines. To my ears, Tim, it seems that you come off as timid or uncertain sometimes as you search for the right question or a response back to your guest…seems to lack a crispness that you could improve upon. Interestingly, I don’t really pick up on that as much when you are doing your Random show. And, I make the request because I want to be better speaker/communicator, too. I hate those instances in my life where I say to myself, “Oh, I wish I said that better,” or, “I wish I just said ANYTHING.”

    Really enjoyed Bryan. I remember him as the Cabana Boy from the MadTv years!

    Joe Rogan. His tell-it-like-it-is style is amazing. His podcast is awesome.

    Jake Johannsen’s album I Love You. Real life stories that are hilarious; delivered in a deadpan, easy-going style like your buddy is just talking to you.

    Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee is absolutely worth the listen. Jerry is solid and you get a peek into all these people’s lives just for a second and what you see is fascinating.

    Thanks for all that you do!

  23. Have yet to listen, but the copy headline was a mindblower.. literally. Well done my friend, can’t wait to find some time to listen.



  24. George Carlin and Bill Hicks. In addition to being very smart and very funny, both were fearless… speaking truth to power in a way that few comedians, journalists, or other public figures would ever dare. Intelligence, humor, and courage… powerful combo!

  25. “..Show Notes –

    How Bryan Callen and Tim Ferriss started dating [9:45] ..”

    Serious or just clowning apart hanging out?

  26. I would love for you to interview Kayvan Novak, the man behind “Fonejacker” and “Facejacker”.

    He is SO good at improvising on the spot and under pressure not to mention an insanely good impressionist.

    Watch some of his episodes on YouTube if you want a run down.

    Keep up the amazing work with the blog!

  27. To answer both this question and your general one of who would be interesting guests, Aziz Ansari and Tig Notaro are two of my favourites of the moment – clever, thoughtful and hilarious. From what I’ve heard him say in interviews, Aziz Ansari likes to delve deep into researching a chosen theme to write his shows, so it’d be cool to hear you dissect ideas with him. And Tig Notaro – what a fascinating, tumultuous backstory she has, and her unique comedic style is just a marvel to me.

    Speaking of comedy, I really enjoyed this episode and the Margaret Cho one too. Love your podcast and your work in general – thanks for generating so much fascinating, enjoyable stuff.

  28. Wow, another great show, and hilarious. The best was his soap box on how to live life and get the most out of it. Great stuff there. He could quit comedy and start a motivational speaking career if he wanted.

  29. An other amazing guess- unforgetable interview.

    BUT in your show notes, I feel like there could also be (/there *really should be*) a link to the 2 Joseph Campbell books mentionned by Bryan — The Hero of a thousand faces, and The Power of Myth. (Especially since your guest was so adamant about it– and then brought it up again to conclude the interview with ‘Follow your bliss’ — famous joseph campbell saying!

    I loved this interview. Thanks again and as always–


  30. Hi Tim,

    I enjoy getting the updates, but for a few days in a row I’ve getting “confirmation” emails from signing up for the update email… even though I signed up a while ago.

    Any ideas why this is happening?



  31. I really enjoyed this and the Cho show! I love comedy and anything that concerns creativity. Thank you for focusing on process and best practices. While I do believe in inspiration, its only half the battle. I’d love a show with Lewis Black, TJ & Dave, and Carol Burnett. I think the length is fine. The world is full of sound bites and it’s making us stupid.

  32. Hi Tim,

    Kudos to highlighting Goldacre’s Bad Pharma in your recent podcast. It’s troubling how poor/deceptive the “peer-reviewed” evidence is many available/widely prescribed drugs. (Statins, for instance…probably one of the biggest cons even perpetuated by pharma on the public, as you must know. To accurately interpret studies, distinguishing relative risk vs absolute risk reduction is essential. See Erik Rifkin’s book The Illusion of Certainty.)

    Speaking of pharma/biotech, I’m very surprised, having read 4-Hour Body and knowing your interest in the field, that your blog hasn’t touched on any of the new medical paradigms that are emerging along with the ebola epidemic.

    Have you done any reading on the use of lectin agents to remove cancer exosomes and other pathogens (viral, bacterial, etc.) from blood ex vivo? Or Aethlon’s Humopurifier tech? Little in mainstream news about it currently, which is kind of disappointing, and puzzling, given that it’s already purportedly been used in Germany to successfully treat ebola. Like a month ago. Tricky thing, the diffusion of innovation.

  33. Tim Tim, what an incredible show. The last little nugget from Bryan (80m) was priceless… a tear jerker to say the least. Copy was amazing, guest was amazing, and your questions were beyond perfect. Well done my friend. Please keep up the fantastic work.



  34. Jim Gaffigan! He is soooo funny. I especially love it when he uses his high voice, & talks like he’s an audience member.

  35. Norm Macdonald makes me laugh more than any other comic, still haven’t seen him live. Check out his special- me doing comedy.

    Callen is awesome I saw him slayyyy in Vancouver at the comedy mix.

  36. Great podcast as usual. Sounds like you are going to try some standup Tim. Go for it. It is good practice for grasping at incremental progress. I think the point that comics under sell is the development of what some call the “comic voice.” You kinda touched on the subject when you talked about on-stage persona. One way to look at it is that there are two aspects of comedy. There is the materials (a joke that would be funny if you read it on paper) and there is the performance. The comic voice is the performance where for example one could tell a story and the humor is in how the story is told. My main point here is that the performance includes some subtle non-verbal cueing and communication that communicates funny to people. When Byran said it takes 10 years to master comedy this is what he is talking about. If one is good at acting then it is easier to dial in the “being funny” or comic voice. For me, I really only began to dial in some slight comic voice before I quit. My performance anxiety interfered with my comic voice. The comic voice is a very individual thing. Many comics get there by having a performance with a lot of attitude or sarcasm. Lewis Black is example of all attitude. Chris Rock has a lot of attitude, but he like Richard Pryor has range of voices for different material. There is a real tonal element to it and since we don’t really hear our own tonal sounds it is something that is the product of trial and error.

  37. Hi Tim, I’ve been checking on the Nutritional Science Initiative since it began and am really interested in the research that’s being done, but I haven’t seen any of the results of the studies that they’re conducting. Specifically I noticed that the Energy Balance Consortium Study finished in June. Do you know when or if the results of these studies will be published?

    Thank you,

    David Wheeler

  38. Really enjoyed this talk. Was put off initially with the eating dogs reference but listened anyways and found the talk hilarious and inspiring…especially how he rationalizes boxing ….anyways another comedy great although not known for stand up ….Rowan Atkinson

  39. Hi Tim – great post thank you.

    Comedians I would recommend:

    Eddie Izzard – he is the polar opposite of Bryan Callen but his equivalent in comedy, acting, political opinion, bravery. He also ran 43 marathons in 51 days!

    Frankie Boyle – because he is a noble Scottish Man.



  40. I love any comedy that makes me laugh at myself and teaches me about my biases. Making fun of stereotypes also has this effect.

    I rarely like angry comics, or sad ones.

    For example: The questions Bryan callen asked himself in this episode, really made me lower my guard and laugh at myself.

    Trying on Comedy Tim?

    Just give it a try, a la Plimpton.

    Even if it wasn’t funny, it would be funny. You have nothing to lose.

    1. Recipe or method:

      Disarmingly make fun of your own biases and compulsions (which ofc other people share).

      (Add to above post if possible.)

  41. #1 – Chris Porter – He was a runner up on Last Comic Standing. My room mates and I found his stand up special on Netflix. It’s absolutely hilarious! The way he delivers jokes is what makes him so funny. He does not crack a smile the whole time, so the seriousness takes it to another level.

    #2 – Katt Williams – He is still funny as hell to me.

  42. Absolutely loved this show.

    I’ve been a fan of Bryan since his MAD TV days (and then OZ a little later). I never knew what an intelligent, well read individual he was.

    He’s like an Adam Carolla who can read, do REAL stand up, can do REAL fighting and doesn’t whinge about the traffic in LA for hours on end.

    Upon hearing this show, I’ve unsubscribed from Carollas’ show and have downloaded the entire back catalog of Callens’ show.

    I mean why eat dog food when you can have prime rib right?

    Thank you Tim for putting together such a great show. Looking forward to many more if this caliber.

  43. Hey Tim. You vaguely mention a quote in this episode to the effect of “the one who says ‘everything will be fine’ and the one who says ‘everything is going to hell’ are both wrong because neither lead to action.” Can you post the actual quote in the show notes? THANKS.

  44. Mr. Ferris, could you please include some readers who’ve created small businesses on your podcast? I’d like to hear their stories rather than billionaires. Also, as much as I love comedians, there are a million comedy podcasts out there and there isn’t a need for someone with your interests to bother interviewing them.

    1. Could not disagree more. One- these are specifically TIm’s interests, otherwise he wouldn’t be interviewing these people, and two, I don’t know of any other podcasts where you can have a successful hedge fund manager interviewed one week, and a comic / actor the next. I like that. And in fact being a kaizen-ing actor writer producer and business person, I would like to see more successful ‘creatives’ on the show! But let’s be real- anyone who gtes to the level to be on this show is very creative- wether they work in ‘creative industries’ or not. Anyway, my two cents.

  45. Bill Burr, Louie CK, Greg Proops. I guess what makes them memorable is their witty critique of cultural norms that we take for granted. However, this is not unique to these three. There are many other comedians about whom this could be said.

  46. I remember a specific quote in the podcast about the difference between x and y is that x read books.

    I cannot find the quote or remember what x and y are. If someone can drop the time of the quote it would be much appreciated!

  47. As always you leave me wanting more. Your method of thinking is truly unique and uplifting – it shows in your ways of doing. If ever you feel your work is worthless or no one is listening, I will personally round up a 1000 people whose lives you’ve changed to carry you to Cairo and wash you in the Nile. I don’t know why I’m posting this since I’ve wanted to ask and tell you so many things since 2009, I just felt like you needed a reminder that your impact on society is on a global scale. Baie dankie vir al jou moeite.

  48. Tim, I’d like to nominate Tim Anderson and Geoff Neuport from the Original Strength system for your podcast! I’m just a big fan of your work and of the OS system and would love to see you guys link up and chat.

  49. Did an Actor’s showcase with Bryan years ago. He is not only a funny smart dude, but also a very talented dramatic actor. He did a piece he wrote and killed it! Also very nice down to earth guy. Dug the interview.

  50. Kids in the Hall sketches were gems. I also recommend Bruce McCulloch’s writing as he employs interesting descriptors. I miss Louis C.K.’s “balls-out” style, and am still mad Eastbound and Down was canceled. I feel like Paul Rudd’s best script hasn’t found him yet. And, I’m

    sure I’m not alone here… Vince Vaughn is the hottest thing on two legs.