Please enjoy this transcript of my second episode featuring Los Angeles-based comedian, actor, writer, and producer Whitney Cummings where she answers your questions. It was transcribed and therefore might contain a few typos. When interviews last 2+ hours, it’s difficult to catch some minor errors. Enjoy!
Listen to the episode here or by selecting any of the options below.
Tim Ferriss: Hello, boys and girls, this is Tim Ferriss, and welcome to another episode of the Tim Ferriss show. Usually it is my job to deconstruct world-class performers of different types from the military to entertainment, sports, and beyond. This time around, you are actually doing the job for me. This is a format that is often requested, and it is round two with Whitney Cummings in this case, the hilarious Whitney Cummings, @WhitneyCummings on Twitter, and WhitneyCummings.Com. She’s back, and you have selected the questions that you would most like her to ask. Her first episode was a smash hit. And for those who don’t have the context, Whitney is a comedian, actor, writer, and producer.
She is executive producer and along with Michael Patrick King, co-creator of the Emmy-nominated CBS comedy, 2 Broke Girls. She has headlined with comics including Sarah Silverman, Louis C.K., Amy Schumer, Aziz Ansari, and many others. Her first one-hour standup special, Whitney Cummings: Money Shot, premiered on Comedy Central in 2010 and was nominated for an American Comedy Award. Her second standup special, Whitney Cummings: I Love You, debuted on Comedy Central in 2014. And her latest special, Whitney Cummings: I’m Your Girlfriend, premiered on HBO. She will also be publishing her first book later this fall titled – and I do like this – I’m Fine… And Other Lies.
In this episode, she answers a number of your most popular questions including how to overcome codependency, her updated thoughts on marriage, the art and luck of creating something funny, and she’s very process driven. I enjoyed digging into creativity and art and in general just production with her of various types. The benefits of having dogs, or animals in general. How to maximize your creative energy. Tips for more effective writing, and much, much more. So, please enjoy this conversation with – or I should say rather monologue that answers your questions by Whitney Cummings.
Whitney Cummings: There we go. Hi, everyone. I’m Whitney Cummings. This is my solo podcast for Tim Ferriss. I am not going to say anything about myself. I’m sure that Tim just gave me a very embarrassing intro that if I heard, I would be consumed with shame over. And I know that his listeners are very into using their time wisely, rightly so, and all about productivity. So, I’m going to try to be as expeditious as possible here. I printed out your questions, so, you’re going to hear some papers flapping. Please forgive me. I’m not as polished and slick as Tim is. So, hopefully that’s not too distracting. I know that when I hear bad sound quality I have a panic attack, so, don’t be mad. I tried to pick the most kind of meaty questions.
My biggest fear in life is to be redundant and boring on a podcast. So, I’m going to try to be expeditious and not repeat myself. All right, let’s dig in.
Becca. Becca Catty – sorry if I mispronounce your guys’ name – asks, like a few people on here:
I’d like to understand more about Whitney’s revelations when it comes to codependency. Some of her admissions on the last podcast prompted big changes for me. I’d like to find out more about her journey. Has she overcome codependency challenges? Will they always be there? Maybe some practical tips on identifying codependent patterns.
I’m not mocking you, Becca, I’m just trying to get through your question quickly; it’s a long one. So, codependence is such a huge sort of piece to break off, but let’s just dig in. If you don’t know what codependency is, it’s not your fault. This, in colloquial terms, I think codependency is used, thrown around in a very casual way, kind of like words like genius and hilarious. I think we’ve kind of forgot what it even means at this point. But the, for lack of a better word, clinical definition of codependence, or my working definition is basically the inability to tolerate the discomfort of others.
A preoccupation with what other people think, how other people feel. A concern, a pathological concern, rather, for other people, their problems. Putting other people’s needs before your own. I’ve heard it referred to as being pathologically thoughtful. It’s almost like nice gone wrong. You’re so nice that you’re mean essentially because when you are preoccupied with other people’s issues and try to take care of their feelings and take care of them, rescue them, martyr yourself on them, you end up ultimately being resentful. We say codependence breeds resentment. Let me be more specific. Just real quick, I am in a 12-step program. I’m in Al-Anon, and I’m in CODA, which is a 12-step program for recovering codependents. So, it is no joke.
It can be debilitating. People can have a couple of codependent traits, or all-consuming codependent neural brain wiring, which is sort of my deal. It is not something – there’s no panacea. It’s not something you can just fix with a pill or a shot. It’s a sort of process of recovery. You never beat it, you just kind of can maintain it. Let me come back to that in a second, because this all sounds really vague, even to me. Codependence can be developed from a myriad of childhood circumstances, everything from growing up in an alcoholic home to being raised by a narcicisstic or being the youngest child of a lot of kids so you didn’t get a lot of attention. Essentially, it’s a survival mechanism developed in order to get attention and feel safe, or it’s the only thing you know because you were – your childhood circumstances were conducive to you thinking this was the only way to survive.
I was raised in an alcoholic home. I think it’s important to note that in order for alcoholism to be present, alcohol does not have to be present. If you grew up in a home that was hectic, that was rushed, that was a lot of drama. If there was a person in the home that was an energy vacuum, this doesn’t mean that they had to be done drugs or drinking whiskey at noon. Alcoholism is a very what we call cunning and baffling disease. You don’t have to see booze out, you don’t have to see drugs. You just know something is wrong or you’re not getting the attention and care that you need as a child. Maybe you developed an adrenaline addiction as a kid.
I believe that I had something called epigenetic imprinting, which I actually read about in a book called The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine. Not to self-promote too much, but I loved it so much I wrote a movie with a brilliant comedian named Neil Brennan and made the move this year. That’s how profoundly it changed my life, because I believe that the more we know about our neural brain wiring, the more freedom we have and the more patience we have with ourselves.
That’s another story, we’ll get to that. But I’m trying to be concise about this. But if you grew up in a chaotic environment, inconsistent environment, were rewarded for one thing on Tuesday and punished for the same thing the next day, you know, children get confused by stuff like that. Any kind of mental disorders, distractions growing up. A divorce, a trauma. Or, you grew up in a relatively copacetic environment and still have a preoccupation with other people’s needs because it gives you meaning. You know, codependence can manifest from anything from exhausting yourself worrying about other people, finding yourself in relationships or attracted to people who you can rescue or fix.
I find myself – I think my codependent bottom was, you know, being in a relationship with somebody who I had to take care of, you know, financially, emotionally.
Caused me a tremendous amount of stress. Oh, I didn’t – jumping around. I didn’t finish my thought on epigenetic imprinting. That’s when in utero, a child becomes addicted to stress chemicals in the womb because the mother is stressed out. So, if you grew up around a tense marriage, tension in general, any kind of anxiety. Low-income homes are particularly susceptible to this, because of the constant financial stress. So, if your mother, in utero, in producing adrenaline, cortisol, norepinephrine, phenylethylamine, all these chemicals, the fetus then becomes addicted to it the same way a crack baby would – a lot of crack babies are born with an addiction to crack. Tragic, obviously.
But I had a predisposition to be addicted to adrenaline. And I, as an adult, recreated my childhood circumstances by seeking out relationships that caused me stress and adrenaline. That’s what was familiar to me.
It felt safe. It’s all I knew. You know, a lot of people I know who have a lot of anxiety in their life and stress and drama, you know, and me, before I was in recovery, we lament it and hate it, but yet we find ourselves over and over again subconsciously gravitating towards those kinds of relationships, jobs, circumstances. So, codependence more specifically can manifest in everything from going to dinners you don’t want to go to, going to baby showers. You know, when someone asks me if they’re codependent – and I’m self-diagnosed, I can’t tell you – I usually say, look at your calendar and look at your verbiage, the way that you talk. Do you say, “I have to go to this thing next week. I have to go to this wedding. I have to pick my friend up from the airport.”
You don’t have to do any of those things. Codependence tells us that we do, that we can’t say no. Maybe we grew up in a situation where we had to do things that we didn’t want to do, or had to walk on eggshells around other people’s feelings.
Our parents. Maybe our parents were fragile or very sensitive, and as a result, we think it’s appropriate or necessary to constantly go through life doing things that we don’t want to do. I also – if you have a hard time receiving, it’s very easy for you to give but hard for you to receive. Used to receiving gifts or help made me really uncomfortable. My comfort zone was helping other people and focusing on their needs. I never admitted to having needs before I was in recovery for codependence. I couldn’t ask for help. I couldn’t say Uncle. There was no amount of work I wouldn’t take on. I didn’t know how to put my health first. I gave more than I had.
I’m feeling myself being very vague, which is also a codependent thought. We beat ourselves up. We obsess over what other people think about us. We worry that other people don’t like us.
And it’s draining. You know? People always say, like, but I like that about myself. And don’t you need that to be successful? And, what if I’m just nice and I help other people and I go to baby showers even though I don’t want to. Isn’t that just being nice? Yes, there is, you know, the reason this is such a nefarious condition is because it’s so socially acceptable, and you can kind of file it under being nice. Being in recovery for codependence doesn’t mean you can’t be nice anymore and do nice things. You just, your mode has changed, because being nice for the wrong reasons actually isn’t nice. It’s selfish.
If I’m doing something nice for you because I want you to think I’m nice, that’s like borderline sociopathic, right? That’s manipulative. That’s not a pure intention. If I’m doing something nice for you because I want to be of service with no strings attached, you know, that is admirable. So, you know, I hope that this is a sufficient answer. I don’t want to spend the whole time talking about codependence. There’s so much to cover in it.
But I do think it might be pertinent to Tim’s listeners, because codependents often have a paralyzing issue with perfectionism. I suffer from this, and it sounds like maybe being dramatic, but I really struggle with perfectionism. I can’t turn things in on time, staying up until four in the morning, changing the font on a document. You know, I’ve made a lot of progress, but before recording this podcast, I started it – I tried it four times, and I was like, “Hi, I’m Whitney.” That was stupid. “Hi, I’m Whitney.” That was even dumber. You’re an idiot. You know? That’s a waste of time.
So, what I would say is that codependence, ultimately, it’s stressful, it’s exhausting, it ages you. It ultimately makes people resent you. It makes you resent people. It’s dishonest. But it’s also unproductive. So, I feel like it might be helpful to some listeners. If you find yourself wasting time going to events you don’t want to go to, being friends with people that you don’t like.
I mean, before I was in recovery for codependence, I didn’t think I had a choice in the kind of people I was friends with. Of course, Tim says you’re the average of the four people you spend time with. And before program, I just was friends with anyone who asked because I didn’t know I was allowed to say no to people. You know, and I took on work that I shouldn’t, that was a waste of time, just because I was like, if I don’t do this, then they’re not going to hire me for this, and what if they don’t like me, and what if they’re mad at me? Like, this inner monologue is really a giant waste of time, and self-flagellating, ultimately. And you know, something we say in codependence recovery is that perfectionism leads to procrastination, which leads to paralysis.
So, when we have perfectionism, we can’t get work done. We can’t be creative. We can’t work from our energy source or from our heart because we’re so stuck in a self-critical state of, that was stupid, that sucked, that wasn’t good enough, no one’s going to like this, you’re going to fail.
That inner monologue is – rewriting that inner monologue has been a big part of my codependent recovery. If you want to know more about codependence I would say read a book called Codependent No More by Melanie Beatty. I hope I’m pronouncing her last name right. You might not relate to everything. You might just relate to some things. But I find that you know, this has been a huge part of me sort of breaking the cycle of codependence, which I think has been passed on from generation to generation in this country, because alcoholism has been passed on. Learning about alcoholism also has really helped me. Alcohol used to be in water before the 1900s as an antiseptic. People couldn’t drink water without alcohol.
I mean, alcohol is just such a big part of the fabric of this country, and I think we’re sort of paying the emotional price now. We’re kind of the first generation kind of trying to rectify the, you know, repercussions of this disease. And it sort of reaches far and wide.
Let me move on, because I could talk about that forever.
Tiffany Savin. Oh, she’s asking about codependency as well. She’s asking:
How you know if you’re codependent?
I feel like I sort of covered that. You know, something else I’ll just say really quick is, codependents tend to not have fun and hobbies in their life. This is embarrassing to admit, but before I was in recovery for codependence, I didn’t have fun. That sounds weird. Like, I would go to a party, and I would be like – I felt like I was performing fun or just trying to get it over with. I had a hard time being present because I was so in my head about having fun perfectly. And it’s like having a – you know what? Codependency is like having a sports announcer constantly weighing in on your performance in life, you know? Whitney walked into the party. She said hi to that guy.
That didn’t go well. She just embarrassed herself. Why did she bring that up? That was weird. Now she has food in her teeth. Like, it’s a constant sort of negative underpinning, and shaming. I mean, I used to have the inner monologue of, you should be home, you should be working, you’re falling behind, and you should be working harder. You know, for codependents, it’s never enough. For me, I think the last thing I’ll say is, you know, especially for Tim’s listeners, which I know you guys are all very sort of ambitious people with a lot of goals, it’s finding that balance between overworking and codependently working. I think my codependence has been an engine for me to get a lot done, but it has backfired.
There’s a certain point where I have burnt out and wasted a lot of time worrying about what other people think or spending that extra hour making something perfect in my brain, which no one cares if it’s double-spaced or single-spaced.
I could have gotten an hour of sleep instead. Recovery from codependence helps me to prioritize my health so that I don’t burn out. Before recovery and being in a 12-step program, I worked so hard that I got pneumonia. So, you know, it’s I guess diminishing marginal returns. Would that be the concept? I don’t know where I got that from. But there’s a certain point where you work so hard that you actually become unproductive or you make yourself sick or you’re tired or your friendships suffer or your hobbies suffer, or, you know, you need a personal life in order to be, I think, a good artist, or a good businessperson.
I believe in order for art to imitate life, you have to have a life. And if you’re a businessperson, you have to know what people want. If you’re selling a product to people, you have to know people. So, that’s all I will say, because I’m very concerned that I’m being a broken record.
Francisco Israel asks:
I would like to see a deconstruction of what makes stuff funny. What is the fabric of humor? Like a quick, to be funny, manual. Cheers, from Chile.
I hope I pronounced that right. Chile. Sorry, I was really trying to sound sexy, and it didn’t go well. Francisco, I have been doing standup, I would say about 12 years. I still can’t tell you the Y = mx + b of why something is funny, which I think is why I love doing this so much. It’s mysterious, it’s elusive. Different things are funny on different people. I could do George Carlin’s act and bomb, you know? Louis C.K. could do my act – well, I mean, he’s a guy, so, that would sound very weird. That might actually be funnier than the way I do it. But if that makes any sense.
What makes somebody funny is, I think, a combination of the truth, high-stakes, and their essence. You know, Sebastian Maniscalco, I know I brought him up on the last broadcast, but he’s fascinating to me because if you were to transcribe his act, for the most part, there’s not a lot of jokes in it if you were to look at a piece of paper.
It’s in his performance and it’s in his eyes, it’s in his timing. It’s kind of intangible. I know Sebastian’s a friend of mine, and you know, as a person, he’s funny as well, but something happens when he goes on stage that it’s an intersection between him and the audience, so, the energy of the audience plays a really big role, which is, you know, changes every night. The audience is different every night, which means why something’s funny is different every night. It’s fascinating to me. You know, I think that I do know that if you want to do comedy or be a writer, you know, even if you want to be a businessperson, I think this probably matters.
I think Apple does a good job with this and understands the role of surprise. Surprise is, I think, one some level the most important part of comedy, at least the kind that I do. If you surprise someone, they will usually laugh, either it’s a negative surprise or a positive surprise.
You’ve seen people watch horror movies. You’ve seen a surprise party. Surprise is important, and it’s really hard to surprise people these days. It seems like everybody’s become so desensitized. So, if you can do that, I think you’re going to get everything you want in life. You know, and there’s also some funny stuff that I can’t explain. I remember specifically like, maybe like, eight years ago, there was this comedian. His name was Fadem. Really funny guy. Sort of alternative comedian. And he was on stage at the Improv, and I remember I was waiting to go up, and I was just a young, you know, kid. I had no idea what I was doing. Waiting to go on.
And he – he’s very – it’s almost like performance art what he does, and he does sort of an impression, like a post-modern impression of a comedian, and lot of levels to what he does. But he started running in place like, in a really dramatic way. Like, flailing and gesticulating, like, out of breath.
Like, [panting]. You can’t see me, so, it’s ridiculous that I’m trying to – that I’m actually doing this alone in my house. But he started running in place, and it was really funny at the beginning, because he was like, exhausting himself, and everyone’s kind of laughing. And then like, 30 seconds past, and I remember being like, okay. What’s next? Let’s go. Let’s move. Like, you’re milking this, Josh. And then a minute past, and he’s running. And no one’s laughing at this point. People are just like, what is he doing? This person’s having like, a manic break. He commits to it so hard he goes for like, another 30 seconds.
And I remember at this point just being like, angry. Like, what is he doing up there? Like, this is crazy. He’s taking stage time from other comedians. Like, a lot of Tim Ferriss listeners, I’m very obsessed with using my time wisely, and I’m like, this guy is wasting valuable stage time. Two minutes. About 30 seconds later, he’s still running in place. The audience starts laughing again.
Fifteen, 20 seconds later, we’re laughing so hard I’m crying. I’m crying laughing. Deepest depths of my gut. My muscles are killing me. I had to leave the room I was laughing so hard. I don’t know what he did. It was some magical bell curve of funny where he committed so hard to something that we all just – I still can’t explain it. I can’t explain it. And it was one of the funniest things I had ever seen. You know, he kind of got past the stage of bombing and turned it into this other level of – I can’t even explain it. Performance art. But it was surprising. You know? The audacity that he had and the bravery. And it was just – it was really amazing to see.
And I remember going like, oh, I’ll never understand how comedy works, because this is amazing. And let’s see, I think things are also funny at different times all the time. That’s something else that’s kind of amazing about comedy, is something that was funny a month ago might not be funny in two months, you know?
Trump jokes were really funny six months ago. Not so funny anymore, you know? It got real. You know? So, that’s something else that is – you know, you listen to old comedy, and some stuff holds up, but other stuff you’re like, that was funny 20 years ago? And people are dying in the audience, just crying, you know? I think it’s definitely harder to be dirty funny, is that makes any sense, because, you know, everybody has seen ite all these days in the age of porn. How do you say anything dirty anymore? I think what’s becoming shocking changes, you know?
I think when I started doing standup, you know, this is going to sound gross, but it was a lot of like, AIDS jokes. That was like, the edgiest thing you could say. Now that’s not funny, to me at least, personally. Racial jokes are less funny now that, you know, Black Lives Matter, and it’s, you know, ubiquitous on the news, sort of all the racial injustices.
Race jokes aren’t that funny to me. When a white person does a race joke, not as funny. When a black person does it, you’re like, oh, I have permission – you know, something different happens. You know, so, it’s such a case-by-case basis. So, I guess what I would say is that if you’re trying to be a comedian, don’t worry about what other people are doing. Do your thing. Whatever your essence is, whatever your truth is, I promise you, you are funny in a specific, original way. Talk about your most embarrassing thoughts and your personal experience, because you know, you’re not going to be funny doing Daniel Tosh’s act. That’s – Daniel Tosh is funny because of his cellular makeup and his DNA. So, I would say just stay specific, and be yourself. That’s such weird cliché advice, but I guess there’s a reason people say it so much.
Okay, next question. I don’t know who asked this. I deleted his name. Sorry. Not codependent anymore. I don’t even care what your name is, sir.
Just kidding. I’m really sorry. Please don’t be mad.
Has Whitney’s view on relationships changed since the Howard Stern interview back in January? What is her take on marriage?
Well, anonymous man – I assume it’s a man for some reason. I, first of all, do not remember what my take was on Howard Stern, because when I go on his show, I completely black out and have an out-of-body experience and look down at my shell of a body from above just yelling, please stop saying what you’re saying, because I’m just embarrassing myself at six in the morning, mind you. So, I’m usually half asleep and in a melatonin hangover. So, I presume I was relatively negative about it.
I think publicly I have been somewhat cynical about marriage. A few of you might know this, but I saw three divorces by the time I was 15. Very acrimonious, expensive, court-casey marriages.
So, I think it was inculcated in my brain that marriage just was a giant waste of time and immense source of anxiety and stress. I now have a little more mature take on it. I think on some level I wanted to make sure that my beliefs about marriage were at least my own and not a result or core beliefs because of the blueprint I saw growing up. I, you know, don’t want to be a puppet of the mistakes that my family made. And if I don’t believe in marriage, I at least want it to be for original reasons. So, I definitely had a lot of fear around it until recently.
I would say that my opinion has changed on marriage, and the reason that I included this question is because my reasons for thinking that I think might appeal to Tim Ferriss’ listeners, because I have a little bit of a casual theory going about how the most successful people and the people whose careers I admire are happily married people.
I think it probably is no surprise to anyone that being single is very time consuming, exhausting, and distracting. It’s a full-time job, especially if you’re online dating like I am. And I see a lot of value in finding somebody who can be a teammate, and if the person supports your goals, I think it’s a risk that is worth taking, even if it doesn’t pan out. I believe in marriage. I also believe strongly in divorce if something isn’t working. I think the stigma on divorce is obsolete and frankly kind of ridiculous given our recent scientific discoveries about neurology. Yo know, marriage was invented when the life expectancy was 30 years old. We’re now living to 80.
It’s an unrealistic and unfair pressure and expectation to put on people that a marriage should last forever. If it does, that’s awesome. Congratulations. You’re an anomaly. But if it doesn’t, that’s okay. I hope to have a couple marriages in my lifetime. I just recently kind of learned the value of teamwork in a relationship and being in a relationship, this is new to me, and I’m not sure if I’ve actually ever been in one of these yet, but it is my goal to be in a relationship that energizes you instead of depletes you. I have historically been in depleting relationships, and an energizing relationship with somebody who kind of takes you off the market and out of the incredibly distracting single scene I think is really conducive to productivity and achieving your goals.
I think it’s tricky, because the kind of people I think who listen to this podcast and who want to win in life and accomplish all their goals are highly motivated and always looking for an upgrade and to achieve highly in their professional lives.
But, I think the people who are really successful and get to the most admirable echelon in their field have very high standards – standards probably isn’t the word. Very ambitious professional goals, but in their personal life are not always looking for the upgrade, or looking to achieve highly. Not that marrying someone that, you know, I’m not judging this abstract metaphor, but, you know, I think it’s part human nature and part a type-A personality to always be looking for something better, improving yourself. I have suffered from debilitating perfectionism. Every time I’m in a relationship, I’m like, should I be with someone smarter, you know, funnier, this, that. And it’s exhausting.
And I think that a healthy level of acceptance of this person is awesome, I should commit to them, and yes, I could, I’m sure, scour the world for the upgrade, but that’s all relative, and that’s all energy better used to, I think, upgrade yourself, and whatever you’re doing in your work.
So, I’m personally striving to – the word’s not complacent, but or to settle, but I am personally looking in my personal life to find someone who doesn’t make my life harder, and if I, you know, marriage made sense, I would totally do it if I planned on being with that person. My expectations, however, I think, have become more realistic. I don’t expect my personal life to be 50 Shades of Grey every day. That’s a form of perfectionism in relationships, to have the best marriage with the most interesting person with the most successful person.
I mean, that’s all – those are standards that I would like to reserve for my professional life and maybe in my parenting in the future instead of in my partner-seeking, because if someone were to judge me based on the way I judge others, I would never measure up. So, I’m trying to just kind of have not low expectations, but realistic expectations given what I know about neurology and monogamy and the history of marriage and what it was intended for. I think I have a much more mature take. I recently looked into selling my house, and learned that if you’re married, you get to keep a lot more of the money. So, that’s a very mercenary take, but if I’m with somebody, I’m not going to – it makes no sense to be with someone for ten years and not marry them just for a stubborn, you know, fake qualm with the institution of marriage.
You know, I no longer think it’s cool or hip to be negative about marriage. But I do have realistic expectations. I think I said before, I believe in divorce. I believe strongly in prenups. I don’t think that means you anticipate it ending. I think it’s just a really smart safety net. I think they’re on LegalZoom. You don’t have to have money to have a prenup. It just makes things – I just think it’s a smart decision. I would do that even if you never use it. When you ask for a prenup or have that discussion you find out who the other person is, so, you can also use talking about a prenup to find out what kind of person the other person you might be marring is. And I also would never marry someone that I don’t think would handle a divorce with grace and class. I think to expect a relationship to last forever I think is slightly unfair because hopefully I want to be the kind of person who’s growing so much and changing and learning and evolving so much that there’s a strong chance that whoever I marry in two years, I won’t get along with in ten, because I’ve grown so much, or, I’ve outgrown them.
That could happen. Or, they could outgrow me. Who knows? Hopefully I marry the kind of person who would outgrow me, someone who is better than I am. So, anyway, I feel like I might be rambling. But I do think that – I hope this doesn’t come off too psychopathic – that being in a good marriage can be very productive and conducive to professional success because stability, finding stability in other parts of my life is energizing and calming, and the last thing you need if you’re trying to take over the world or start a business or write a book or start an app is to be having petty arguments with an immature person all day. You know, it would be ridiculous that we spend all this time on life hacks and conserving our energy and four-hour body and four-hour week and then being in a 400-hour relationship, right?
So, I think Tim needs to write the four-hour relationship. That would be – the four-hour marriage? That would be amazing. Only have to see the person four hours a week? Please, someone, patent that.
And yeah, so, all right. Let’s move on to the next question, because I fear I’m already revealing too much about my damaged psyche. Let’s move on, because I’m feeling like this answer is going to make me be single forever.
Tom Vemont – I hope I’m pronouncing that right:
She has multiple dogs in her house. Do they ever fight, and if so, how does she handle it?
Dog people. I know that Tim just got a dog, so, maybe you guys are all dog training information-ed out. But if you have dogs, I highly recommend them. They’re very therapeutic. They’re energizing. They have taught me a tremendous amount about discipline, helped with my codependent recovery, because you can’t be codependent and train a dog, especially not a really big, strong dog.
I have pit bulls that are just kind of walking lawsuits because everyone is just so litigious these days, and you have to have incredibly well-trained dogs if they’re stronger than you, which mine are. Discipline training with a dog is, I think, great practice for being a boss, for running a company, for being an artist, for being in a healthy relationship, healthy marriage, if you will, if I didn’t just completely talk you out of getting married. Introducing dogs. A couple of things. Know the dog. If it’s a rescue, which I highly encourage, know the dog’s triggers. Spend some time with the dog alone first. Don’t introduce them right away.
If you have a dog that already lives in your home, do not just bring the new dog in. Dogs are incredibly territorial, especially if it’s a female. I would also say make sure you spay and neuter your dogs, always. Makes them more confrontational and aggressive if a dog is not neutered. It makes the dog – puts the dog in danger, because it makes other dogs threatened by them. Spay and neuter your dogs.
Please. That is going to greatly reduce the chances that they’re going to get in an altercation or get attacked or attack. First things first, take all – if you’re going to bring a new dog in the house, take all the food off the floor, any toys, anything your dog might be possessive over. Make sure you crate-train your dogs. Always put them in crates next to each other first. Only feed them in crates next to each other at first. The new dog, make sure you always give less attention than the dog you’ve had longer. You know, when you come in, pet the new dog first, the other dog second. Treat the new dog like a red-headed stepchild, basically. Make sure you are the alpha of the house. Your dogs are not going to fight with each other if you’re the alpha and if they respect you. I’m going to try to make this shorter, because I could talk about this forever. Yeah, I would say just be the alpha. If any dogs show aggression, I instantly put them down on the ground and hold them by their front and back legs, hold them down until they exhale and have acquiesced to you being dominant.
If you know your dog well, I would, you know, I bite them on the back of the neck and emulate being the alpha dog. It’s very weird to watch and not sexy. I try to only do it in private. Those things work for me. I have submissive dogs. I’ve had them since puppies. I have been in experiences with dogs that are not submissive who I have not had since they were puppies. That is much harder. And I recommend that you get a professional trainer if it’s a big dog. Dogs are animals. We can’t forget that. They have evolved to read our faces and to be domesticated and to serve us, but they also want to protect us, and that can be confusing to dogs and can often cause fights.
So, if your dog is fighting, probably is just trying to protect you or thinks you want it to. But the key is to just be the alpha and to make sure that your dog has really strong recall.
If your dog does fight with another dog, if it doesn’t respect you, it’s not going to stop. And if you’re just yelling and screaming, it’s going to think that you’re participating in the fight and encouraging it. It doesn’t know. So, look at yourself. There’s a great documentary called Buck that I highly recommend, about the horse whisperer guy, and he talks about training horses. Or, it’s a documentary on him training horses. And essentially it’s about, you know, your dog is a reflection of you. Whatever is going on with you is what’s going on with your dog. So, whenever you’re training – you know, I have this amazing trainer who came in when I was training my first dog, Ramona, and she was a tricky dog.
She had some brain damage as a baby, abused pit bull puppy. I was really scared. I didn’t know that much about pit bulls, and she was going to get really big, and there’s so much propaganda and myths about pit bulls. But, they do have, you know, a row of great white shark teeth, and they can hurt you even by accident if you’re stupid. So, you know, my trainer comes in.
Her name is Julie Illes if you are in the California area. She’s great. Does impulse control. You send your dog for like, three weeks, and but she comes in, and I was like, hi, nice to meet you. Do you want to go outside and meet Ramona? And she was like, I’m not here to meet Ramona, I’m here to meet you. I was like, what? I mean, the first training session she was training me, because any problems that you have psychologically your dog is going to have. If you’re impatient, your dog’s going to be impatient. If you have anger issues, your dog is going to have anger issues. If you have anxiety, your dog is going to have anxiety. They’re very empathic. And they mirror their owners.
So, if you’ve got an issue with your dog, you might want to look in the mirror. I’ve had to do that many times. It’s painful, it’s frustrating. But training my dogs has been one of the most growth-inducing edification experiences of my life because if you’re a dangerous person, you’re going to have a dangerous dog. And it’s really powerful. Really poignant. And really frustrating. And lots of crying and lots of anger.
But it really made me realize how outrageously inappropriate my expectations were for other people as well as dogs. You get a dog and you’re like, why aren’t you doing what I want you to do? Why would they? You haven’t told them. You know, it teaches – taught me how to set boundaries, how to have realistic expectations, to ask for what I need, to enforce my boundaries, to be consistent. You can’t be inconsistent with a dog. If you say no to going on the couch five times but you let them go on the sixth time, dogs are gamblers. They’re always going to try to play for that one time that they won. So, you have to be consistent, which is a skill. You can’t be lazy. You can’t cut corners.
So, you know, training dogs, I think, is a metaphor for life and for work, relationships, all of it. It’s powerful. Cats I don’t know as much about. If you’re a cat person, I’m sorry that I don’t have more to say about them, but they scare me and make me feel insecure. Also, this is probably going to be polarizing.
Purebred dogs, I think that there’s too much breeding and inbreeding. I have more luck with mutts. In my experience, they tend to be a little bit healthier. This is a total judgement and not a real statistic. This is just what I’ve seen. Is that this pure-breeding dogs, they tend to be a little more intractable. I’ve seen some things go wrong, I guess is what I will say. So, my other little piece of propaganda, I think you guys probably know by this point, that I’m super into dog rescue and adoption. So, if you don’t have a dog, my recommendation is adopt them. I find that mixed dogs – I’ve had a little more luck with them.
Okay, Dave Ware asks:
Ways to maintain creative energy during overwhelming workload.
Great question. You know, I am a sort of type-A workaholic, and until very recently, I did not know how to maintain my creative energy.
I was, you know, like the horse boxer from Animal Farm. I just thought, keep working and keep working and white-knuckle through it. And I don’t live that way anymore. If you’re having writer’s block, business development block, whatever you do, I would say you have to chase inspiration like a rabid hunter. You have to be constitutionally dedicated to protecting your energy, your brain, and your inner child. Inner child. Sounds weird, I know.
If you do relate to codependency at all, or think you grew up in some kind of dysfunctional home, The Big Book of Adult Children of Alcoholics, there is – I don’t know the page number, but there is a description of inner child work, which is all about nurturing your inner child.
I do believe that we’re all just five-year-olds who happen to be very tall and have nice clothes and cars. But I believe that we’re all essentially five years old, and we forget that sometimes. And I feel like I’ve spent, you know, a lot of money and time trying to get back to my five-year-old self who was focused on play and creativity and the sky was the limit and colored outside the box, you know? I’m not slamming our education system, but I think we go through this conforming process in school where we’re taught what to think, not how to think. And then we get out of college, and we made all the grades and developed discipline and maybe developed an Adderall addiction, but we’re robots.
And then all of a sudden, the most successful people are always the most creative ones, not the robot zombies who, you know, punch numbers. So, I think it’s really important to nurture that inner child part of yourself.
I’ll get more specific. When I feel blocked when I’m writing, I watch cartoons. I’m not even kidding. I watched, recently, the old Bambi with that beautiful animation that looks like paintings. I couldn’t watch the part where the mom died, because it makes me cry. I do use adult coloring books. I think those are kind of in-vogue at the moment. I have one over there. I don’t know the name of it, but you can get them on Amazon. There’s one that’s like, serenity, meditation, there’s one that’s kind of funny. It’s like, inappropriate and dirty. I try to color things opposite of what they should be. I try to color, but not perfectly, because as you know, I have perfection issues.
So, I got this one that was like, New York icons, and there was a cab. Instead of coloring the taxicab yellow and the sky blue, I made the cab blue and the sky yellow, trying to work the part of my brain of thinking outside the box.
And that’s a muscle to me. And that’s something that I can use when I’m working so that I’m not doing the same thing over and over again. I don’t want to become a bad – do a bad impression of myself. I don’t want to repeat myself. I watch people that inspire me. Marina Abramović, I’m a fan. I watched her documentary. Whenever I’m blocked, I’ll watch her videos. I just read her autobiography. She inspired me. She’s fearless, and it’s just a brave – it’s humbling. She’s a performance artist, if you don’t know. Marina Abramović. A-b-r-a-m-o-v-i-ć. It’s kind of my dream for her to be on the Tim Ferriss show. I’ll just let you look her up. I don’t think I can describe her. She’s a really powerful incisive performance artist who involves the audience as sort of part of the show.
And, you know, I was reading about how she lived with the aborigines in Australia for six months and was eating bugs, and I’m complaining because I can’t finish the last chapter of my book because I’m tired.
You know? It helps me to have perspective and gratitude, and reminds me what it takes to be great. I think that’s important. Gratitude. I watch things that I’m a fan of. The Black Mirror, the English version, is, I believe, I mean, one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever seen. And so, I’ll go back and watch it. It inspires me. I go back and watch a movie I’ve already seen that’s brilliant to look for moments and details. The Shining is, I think, unbelievable. Every time I watch it I see something new, and I’m like, you know, it reminds me that the best artists, the best businessmen are – people, not men – all of them are relentlessly dedicated to detail, tireless, all the things that I need to find within myself to push myself over the finish line of whatever I’m doing.
I meditate. I know Tim talks about this a lot. I was doing transcendental meditation for a while. You know, I feel like I plateaued. I started kind of just falling asleep when I did it. I now have a teacher named George Haas at a place called Against the Stream in Los Angeles. He teaches an online class, it’s called the Meaningful Life. It’s like a ten-month course that I think you can take from anywhere. He puts the videos on Vimeo and posts the readings and stuff on Dropbox, and it’s very specific to target, you know, forgiveness meditations, meta-compassion meditations.
That’s really worked for me. I think I need specific things to work on, and he helps you identify your attachment strategy based on what happened to you in the first three years of your life based on John Bowlby’s theory of attachment. Very interesting stuff.
That’s really helped me. Again, I’m a science dork. I watch TED Talks. That’s kind of unoriginal, but I just will watch it about something I know nothing about to sort of awaken a part of my brain that’s asleep. I recently watched one on a girl who animates light for Pixar. I know nothing about animation, and it – you know, when I watch a TED Talk or read a book about something of which I know nothing, it gives me that childlike feeling of learning something new, and that energizes me in my creativity. I believe very strongly in brain rest. I know we all want to work, you know, 18-hour days, Saturday, Sundays.
It’s really important to take time off and play. This isn’t my advice or my idea. You know, studies, statistic, science supports that our brains do need to rest, you know, in order to be productive. You guys have probably all read the four-hour work week. I don’t need to tell you to take time off.
I believe very strongly in rituals. Michael Patrick King, who made Sex & The City, The Comeback, which I think is one of the top three greatest comedy shows of all time with Lisa Kudrow on HBO. Brilliant, brilliant stuff. I go back and watch that sometimes when I’m feeling like I need some inspiration. He told me I need to have a ritual. Always have a ritual. I often work from home, which is hard, because I’m distracted and it’s easy to procrastinate, and, oh, I need to clean that, and oh, I should go make another sandwich. Rituals are important. So, now – this is going to be embarrassing – but if I’m working from home, I don’t get to wake up and just be in pajamas and go online and you work in pajamas.
I wake up, I brush my teeth, I put on a bra – it’s important to wear a bra. Keeps you awake. If you’re a woman, that underwire gives you that extra kick. You have to have good posture when you’re being impaled by a rusty wire.
I put shoes on. I wash my face. I put makeup on as if I’m going to the office. If you work from home, it’s really important not to be a slob. I light a candle. I have flowers in my house. It’s really important I have fresh flowers. There’s just something about it that is a Pavlovian reaction. I’m serious. This is happening. I have sage. Michael gave it to me. I sage in the morning. I do around the whole house. I do a little meditation. I kind of ask for what I want. You know, please give me the creative energy to get through this day. Help me to be truthful.
Like, whatever. I set an intention for the day, whether it’s – I’m writing a book at the moment, which I’ve never written a book before, and it’s a totally new challenge for me. And you know, my intention yesterday was, help me to be honest today. Help me to tell the truth, relentlessly tell the truth today and not hide behind jokes and inauthenticity and be funny and cute in this chapter.
Just help me to channel the truth instead of trying to impress critics that don’t even have the book yet, you know? So, setting a really specific intention for what you want to accomplish for the day. I’ll move on to something else, because that’s embarrassing to admit. This sounds silly perhaps to some people. I’ve been reading a lot about color therapy recently, and we all have different reactions to color. But I went to a place called Miraval in Arizona with my friend Neil Brennan, who I’ve brought up already, and I went to a color therapist, and he helps you kind of find out what are your power colors. You don’t have to have money to do this. You can figure it out yourself based on what you gravitate towards.
And red for most people, and me, I’m not exception – red was very energizing for me. So, in my office, I try to have red things. I have a red candle, I sort of have this beautiful vintage book, it’s The Scarlet Letter, which was one of my favorite old books.
I have it on my desk. It just gives me strength. Whether it’s psychosomatic or not, the placebo effect is an effect, so, I will take it. Green is kind of a more soothing color for me. If I want to meditate, I go in my room. Everything is white or moss green. It might just be a fake, crazy Hollywood religion thing, but it works for me. Find out what colors activate you, trigger you, and soothe you. Wear them to the meeting you’re going to. Put them on. If I want to sort of create a new concept I’ll only wear white, because that sort of feels like symbolically a fresh start for me. I’m sure this sounds very crazy to you guys, but if it works, it works, right?
Playing with dogs helps me to reenergize and to entertain and awaken the inner child, which I think is important to make sure that your inner child is honored in order to come up with new ideas and creative ideas.
I don’t know why I pronounced creative that way. I’m obviously getting tired. Okay. That feels like enough.
Chris Brown – I don’t think the singer – texted:
How does it feel to be in an industry dominated by men?
I don’t know. Chris, you seem really nice, but I feel like I’ve answered the question for ten years, and I still don’t have a good answer. I guess what I would say is, I don’t think about it. I see a lot of really powerful, awesome, strong women in this business. I love men, too, so, all the men I work with are awesome for the most part.
But I do think that, you know, know yourself. If men are triggering to you because you grew up in a home where, you know, you’ve got dad issues, figure it out. It used to be more triggering to me. I guess the most interesting way I can answer this question is, it used to bother me more before I got into therapy and got my shit together.
Any issues I had with my dad that made men triggering I healed. I’m still in the process of healing. I’m sure there are a lot of wounds I haven’t even gotten to yet that have yet to present themselves to me. But I would say, you know, I would actual argue that women are even more triggering to me. I actually had more complicated relationships with women growing up, which is where my codependence gestated. So, I actually had a harder time working with women in the beginning.
I had trouble with authority figures. Women triggered a me feeling like, you know, without getting too specific about my family of origin, you know, my mother, I felt like I had to walk on eggshells around my mom. She was a very sensitive person. And she worked really hard. She had a day job, which I really respect and admire about her.
She is a really big part of my work ethic. But she was working a full-time job, raising two kids in an acrimonious marriage, going through a divorce later, balancing a codependent overwhelming social life, and being a mom and cooking and cleaning and all of it. And she had a lot on her plate. And as a result, I found that it was hard for me to get attention. I didn’t want to add stress to her life. I didn’t want to make things more difficult to her, for her. And so, I minimized my own needs. I walked on eggshells. I tried to anticipate her needs, solve her problems, and I became very obsessed with making sure she was okay.
So, that’s where a lot of my codependence comes from and my preoccupation with other people’s needs. I project that, or projected that onto people as adults. But I found that I did it more with women than with men. But in a professional environment, if I had a female boss or employee, I tend to recreate those circumstances and was very worried that all women were fragile and you had to take care of them, and that they could – they were going to cry at any second.
And that I couldn’t tell them no. I couldn’t fire them. I couldn’t give them notes on a script, they would just fall apart the way I saw as a kid. So, I guess my answer to this question is figure out your triggers. If working for a man is hard for you, figure out why. You know, your boss is not your dad, and your boss is not your mom. Your boyfriend is not your dad. Your husband is not your mom. You know, figure out what you’re projecting onto people that’s getting in your way.
Figure out what old baggage you’re bringing into a current situation, because a lot of times we have – we don’t have a right-sized reaction to a situation. If something hurts your feelings too much in a workplace environment, it’s probably not about your workplace environment. There’s something else going on that you need to fix that has nothing to do with work.
And that’s draining, and it’s old, old stuff that you need to heal. I’m really trying not to curse. It’s very hard for me. Anyway, I also – you know, this is going to sound, if you don’t live in L.A. or New York, probably annoying. But like, I’m kind of at the point where gender is not – you know, I don’t really think about it. I know a lot of men with a lot of traditionally stereotypically female qualities, which is awesome, and I know a lot of women with a lot of traditionally stereotypical masculine qualities. You know, a lot of people think I have a lot of masculine qualities, at least in my work environment. Certainly not in my personal life.. But yeah, so, I don’t know. I don’t say, like, I need to hire a man for this job, or, I need to hire a woman for this job.
You know, I know a lot of guys that are artists that are incredibly sensitive, and I know a lot of women who are, you know, business – in business. That’s such a vague, weird, ‘80s way to describe it – who are really calculated and unemotional in all the things that you would maybe think of a man as having.
So, we live in a cool time, don’t we?
Next question. Chip Franks. What a name. Feels like the male stripped from the ’70s in Houston. Chip Franks asks:
If you had to start all over again, no fans, few resources other than your amazing mind – thanks, Chip – what exactly would you do? What’s the process, assuming you’d even want to get back to where you are now?
Ooh, that was ominous. I don’t know how useful this question is to you guys. I guess I would say, you know, for anyone who wants to be in entertainment, I mean, the internet is totally different now. You know, this makes me feel very old, but when I started, you know, YouTube, people weren’t getting famous off of YouTube. I guess if I were to start now, I’d want to do it the right way. I’d want to get good. I’m glad that I started right before people were getting famous off YouTube, because I had to work for it. I went on the road and I got good.
I got really good advice from Gary Shandling once, the late Gary Shandling who I am a huge fan of. One of my other favorite shows besides The Comeback is The Larry Sanders Show. Brilliant. Not sandals. Not Larry Sandals. Little plug for Sandals Resort. The Larry Sanders Show. Am I losing my mind? Gary Shandling and The Larry Sanders Show. Tweet it, blog it, Google it. He said to me once, “It can never happen too late,” which was profound for me, because I think I thought – and I don’t know where I got this; maybe it’s my codependence, maybe it’s my perfectionism, maybe it’s specifically American capitalism, maybe it’s my type-A ambition, I don’t know – but I thought that I had to get success fast. It was all about being as quick as possible. And so, if I were to do it over again, I would have done it slower. I think that I got things a little too fast for a myriad of reasons.
One was me wanting it fast. You know, I did need money. I was broke. So, I did need to get income quickly. But in terms of getting exposure quickly, standup quicker is very rarely better. You know, it’s like being a bodybuilder, an athlete. You know, that’s probably a bad example, because most athletes are very young. But, you know, you have to get good first. If you get exposure before you’re good, it only hurts you, especially with the internet now, because you can’t have a bad set and have it disappear. It’s online forever and will haunt you. So, I guess what I would say is faster is not necessarily better. That’s all I will say on that. In terms of having, you know, staff and hiring people, I would have asked for help. You know, I think I made a lot of mistakes pretending I knew more than I did, which was part of my codependence.
I thought that asking for help would make me seem weak. I pretended to know answers to questions that I didn’t know, which is interesting, because now I always think the smartest people are the ones that ask the most questions. I’m always so impressed when someone’s like, “I don’t understand. Can you explain that better?” I never – I’m never like, “That moron.” I’m always like, “Good for him.” It’s impressive to me when someone asks for help or admits that they don’t know something. I think that’s a really admirable quality. I wish I had known that sooner. I would have asked for more help. I would have fired people sooner. If you guys have employees, it’s like a relationship. If you have doubts, just get out. That’s my philosophy. I mean, not once you’re married. I mean, you can’t just leave whenever you want. There’s also something to be said for fighting and having perspective and figuring out what’s going on with you first. That’s another story. But, I did not trust my gut with people in terms of firing them. I wish I would have saved a lot of time and energy.
I think I would have made better work. You know, I did a TV show on NBC, and I think I made a mistake of not firing people sooner, because I didn’t want people to be mad at me. I wanted to give people chances. My codependence was before recovery. I didn’t want to hurt people’s feelings. A lot of that stuff got in the way of the work being good. I regret that. I would not have wasted time in my personal life on people that I should not have been dating. You know, I was really preoccupied in – I wasted a lot of time, let’s just say, in bad relationships, because I hadn’t gotten my shit together, basically. So, I would have gone to therapy sooner. Go to therapy. I mean, there’s ways – you know, 12-step meetings are free. It’s free medicine. These days, there’s no excuse. You can go online, there are therapists that give talks on YouTube. Tons of great ones. There are incredible books out there.
If you can’t afford to go to therapy, if your insurance doesn’t cover it, there’s group therapy that’s cheaper. Anything you can get to know yourself and to figure out who you are and what your obstacles are and what your emotional blocks or limitations are. The sooner you can do it, the better. You know, I think in this country at least, everyone goes to the gym. People are going to CrossFit three times a day, but you know, going to therapy is like going to the gym for your brain. Same thing with meditation. I think it’s a mistake for anybody who wants to be successful to not be in therapy or some kind of game plan to edify your brains. That wasn’t a very eloquent way to say it, but that’s it.
I would have gone into codependence recovery sooner. I would have put myself first. I think I was so afraid, especially with what I do for a living, I think I was so afraid of coming off like I was like a self-involved narcissist that I didn’t put myself first. I think I would have had more faith.
I think I had this mentality of, you know, it’s never going to happen. I’ve got to get it now. And I said yes to things that I shouldn’t have said yes to because I was so worried – I had a scarcity complex with, you know, if I say no to this, I’m never going to get the opportunity again. And I wish I had said no more, because if I’ve learned anything, it’s that saying no just makes people want you more. I don’t have a, you know, proof of that. There’s no statistics. That’s just my experience. But I would have said no a lot more to people, to relationships, to commitments, to jobs, to even lucrative money opportunities that ended up taking up too much of my time. Because we can always make more money; we can never make more time. I think that’s it. I don’t have a ton of regrets, because I don’t think it’s fair to self-flagellate and to live in the past. You know, I once heard, “Look at the past, but don’t stare.” Right? Look back. What can I glean from my mistakes, but I’m not going to wallow in my mistakes.
It’s not productive or helpful. Oh, this is a small thing. If you’re young, I would not have cared about what I wore. I definitely spent – wasted a lot of time with clothes. What am I going to wear to this meeting? What am I going to wear to this audition? What am I going to wear to this pitch? Nobody cares. I’ve interviewed hundreds of people, held hundreds of auditions. I have never once hired someone because of what they were wearing or not wearing. If anything, I’ve lost respect for them because they looked like they were trying too hard. So, stop obsessing about what you wear. Get three black turtlenecks, four white shirts, couple pairs of nice pants, and timeless, classic shoes, and call it a day. Unless you’re in the fashion business, and maybe that matters. I can’t speak to that, sorry.
Eight. Question number eight. Charlotte – sorry, Charlotte Chapman asks:
With equine therapy, what has been the most challenging thing to accept and overcome about yourself as horses are mirrors of your current state of being?
On the last podcast, I did mention equine therapy. There is a place that I go to called The Reflective Horse. It does have a website. Cassandra is my equine therapist. She’s brilliant. And Beth Behrs, who is on the show 2 Broke Girls, one of my favorite shows that I created with Michael Patrick King on CBS, she – they have formed a charity for sexual abuse victims doing equine therapy with them. A lot of rehabs go there. But it’s not just for people who have been through that kind of pain. Equine therapy for me was a game changer, because this is so embarrassing to admit – people were triggering for me. I mean, I was the person who would go to therapists and lie and cajole them and try to make them laugh and manipulate them, and I was more concerned with my therapist liking me than getting help.
I mean, there’s a lot of things I wouldn’t admit to my therapist, much less myself. I was resentful towards therapists. I was sitting there like, gee, looking at their degrees on the wall like, oh, you went to Harvard? You don’t know what I’ve been through. Like, it was too triggering for me. Driving to a therapist’s office and then their stupid chairs and their dumb coffee tables. Like, it was too triggering for me. It was too frustrating. I had too much judgement. I had too much self-righteous indignation. I had overachiever’s perfectionism. I shouldn’t be here, this is a waste of time. I should be working. It was before I knew that, you know, therapy actually makes you more productive and efficient and effective and creative in your work. And yeah, so, therapy didn’t work for me at first as much as I’m encouraging everybody to try it. Horse – I grew up around horses, so, I already felt safe and a kinship with them. But, you know, horses are prey animals, so, they are incredibly in tuned – they can read a bobcat’s face and tell if it’s hungry or not.
You know? So, they’re like a litmus test. They’re a mirror, really, to what’s going on with you. And horses don’t understand lies. They don’t understand manipulation of beguiling, charm – all the things that we’ve developed in order to make people like us. That’s all rendered useless with a horse. Horses, you know, you can be scared of a horse, and the horse understands and will attune to you. You can not be scared of a horse, and a horse will understand and be attuned to you. But if you are scared and you’re pretending you’re not, horses get very confused, because they don’t know what lying is. Animals don’t lie. They don’t have that capacity, which I’m very jealous of. So, you have to be constitutionally honest with yourself around a horse or they won’t respond to you. So, that, to me, is just – have been a bulletproof way to work the muscle of being present and shedding all of my what in a 12-step program we call character defects, which sounds negative, but it’s really just kind of all of the survival mechanisms that we develop to succeed in our childhood, our family of origin circumstances.
So, some of us got funny. Some of us got smart. Some of us got manipulative. Some of us got negative. Some of us got, you know, addicted to drugs. Whatever you did to fit into your family of origin’s dysfunctional system the horses don’t care about. So, that’s really been how I have been able to acquiesce and work on not pulling out all the stops. You know, I’m trying to think of a new way to explain it that’s not redundant with last time I was on. But I’m kind of at the point now when, you know – well, the first thing you do when you go in is she introduces you to four horses, and they’re all from different pasts, abused in some way.
This is Chief. Chief was a work horse and no one ever paid attention to him. This is so-and-so, he was abused by this person. And she then – whatever their backstory is. And then she says, which one would you like to work with today? And the one that you choose already is like a Rorschach test. It already says everything about you, what you’re attracted to, right? And so then you get to sort of look into why you chose that horse and what’s going on with you. And then now, you know, I’ll just be in the corral with one of the horses and for about an hour, which is my nightmare, because it feels so unproductive, and I drove all the way out here, and I’m just sitting in a corral, and I’m not even getting Instagram photos out of it, and I need to take a selfie for snapchat to get followers, you know? It’s just – you know, it’s like our hyperactive, you know, productivity-obsessed brains.
And when I’m thinking positive thoughts – this sounds so hippy – but when I’m thinking positive thoughts and am full of gratitude, the horse, Chief, will come up to me and hang out with me, and I’ll be petting him, and we’ll be having kind of this amazing moment.
And then of course, the negative thoughts creep in, and I’m like, I should be working harder. I need to go home. I need to do this and this and this this week, da, da, da, da. And I’m falling behind, and I’m never going to make it. Blah blah blah. And the horse will just walk to the other side of the corral. She wants nothing to do with my negativity. And Cassandra will just be like, what’s going on? What just happened? And I’m like, my inner monologue just started screaming bloody murder. So, it’s kind of an immediate way to ascertain your negativity. Horses are just really attuned to it, and they don’t like it. Most animals don’t. But it also makes you realize what your energy is, what you’re giving off, you know? I think humans, when we’re not on our phones and hyper-distracted, we have that, too. And if you want to be a leader, if you want to be a boss, if you want to be a creator, whatever your goal is, you know, if you have bad energy, you’re not going to get what you want.
You know, you’re not going to get the employees you want, you’re not going to get the boyfriend you want or the wife you want or the investor that you want. You know, I think for the most part maybe I’m wrong. People tend to invest in higher and work with people that have good energy, that they want to be around. You know, most of – if you work at a job – we spend more time with people we work with than our spouses, right? So, you know, I think that it’s really important that if you want to accomplish your goals, you need to have good energy and be the kind of person that someone wants to be around that’s not like, negative and depleting. You know when someone just has bad energy. It’s toxic, and it suffocates a creative environment. It’s exhausting. And, you know, for me, it took – therapists could not do it for me. I had to go to horses first in order to get some self-awareness.
So, that’s that. If you don’t live in California, which I’m sure most of you don’t, I’m sure you can find equine therapy in your area. Hopefully. I think it’s a miracle.
Let’s see. Aspen Janae Mole-Kiahi. Is that French, or am I literate? Aspen asks:
More on therapy outside traditional talk therapy. I resonated with her speaking about her therapeutic experiences and realizing she was responding inappropriately to present circumstances.
I feel like I probably literally beat a dead horse on therapy so far. One thing I would say is if you have trauma in your past, EMDR is great. Eye-movement reprogramming and desensitization. Look it up. I won’t waste your time talking about it. Again, EMDR. I’ve also had some success with hypnosis. When I’m having like, a block or, you know, trying to get through something, that has worked for me.
My therapist does hypnosis. I don’t know if all of them do. I’m sure you can find it in your area. I have some great books that I also recommend. If you feel like you’re recreating your childhood circumstances in professional environments, there’s a great book called The Drama of the Gifted Child. Love that. There’s a book called The Tools by Phil Stutz and Barry Michels maybe. This book I’m going to just, full disclosure, I think it’s a little amateur in places. I’m a big fan of Phil Stutz. He did a great podcast with Marc Maron. He’s sort of a gangster old-school therapist in L.A. I’ve never met him. He has very fancy sort of people. But super cool dude. And they wrote a book called The Tools. And it’s all of the devices I guess you would call it, tools, that they have developed to help people get through blocks and have breakthroughs.
For example, they have one that’s called reversal of desire where if you’re afraid of something, the best way to get over the fear is to start to crave what you fear. Pretty fascinating. To basically live the worst-case scenario of your fear. So, if your worst fear is getting fired, for example, or losing your money, or whatever it is, or not getting that job, or not selling your app or whatever it is, you essentially have to live through what that would be like. You know, it’s kind of like, jumping through a glass wall. The hardest part is just getting through it, and then you realize you’re going to survive whatever it is. That’s probably a terrible way of explaining it.
And another one is, I think it’s called deathbed where when you’re having trouble making a decision, you imagine and visualize yourself on your deathbed and basically what you’re going to regret and not regret and what decision you wish you had made. There’s another one called jeopardy, I think, where you picture yourself being, I think, in extreme jeopardy, and the choices you would make.
There’s another really good one that I don’t remember. But it has all these little anecdotes and stories that kind of bored me as a type-A person who just wants the solution now. But I highly recommend that book. Let’s see. I wrote some other stuff down that I think is probably – we’ve covered. There’s a great book called Sapiens. A book by Yuval Noah Harari. I hope I’m not mispronouncing that. You know, that really helped me, because I think that knowing about your neurology, all of our neurology and sort of our primitive chemical reactions is very liberating in order to, not change them or harness them, but understand them. It helps me have patience with myself and other people. The Female Brain by Louann Brizendine. There’s a male brain as well. I think that both genders reading both are important, again, even though gender lines I think are becoming blurred.
I think if you’re having trouble with someone at work and you understand, like, oh, that’s just testosterone, you’re going to waste less time obsessing over other people’s behavior if you sort of understand how they’re operating. Back to Sapiens. Sapiens is a great book about sort of how we’ve evolved and why we have anxiety, you know? You know, I think anxiety is – I feel everyone has got anxiety these days. And I think there are a lot of reasons. I think a lot of it is our phone, our computer. You know, our primordial brain apparently, from what I gather. I’m not a scientist – thinks that’s the sun. It’s very adrenalizing. It makes us release cortisol, which is a stress hormone. We’re constantly in a bent over position, which I actually on Tim’s podcast with Gabby Reece and Laird Hamilton, she was talking about how when we’re bent over that’s a defensive posture, when we’re on our computers and on our phones, which is what signals our brain that we’re in trouble and puts us in a fight or flight response.
I think it was in Sapiens he talks about how humans are superficially at the top of the food chain. We don’t deserve to be there. It’s only because we developed weapons and alarm systems and doors that we’re safe. But if you put me with a lion in a room without a gun, I’m going to lose. We’re really at the bottom of the food chain. I mean, bees can kill us. That’s how vulnerable we are. So, there is this anxiety that comes from our subconscious knowing that we’re actually superficially at the top of the food chain and could be killed by a bee at any minute. I don’t know. You know, take what you like, and leave the rest, if any of that is helpful to you.
And the question was, oh, other therapy. Yeah, so, for me also, learning about neurology has been a type of therapy for me to help me to be more productive, to be more patient, less anxious, or when I am anxious to have a better understanding why.
Ten, question ten. Zack Edward Dolan wants to know:
I want to do standup in addition to my normal day job, but open mic night is only three minutes per performer at our local club. I have hours of material I want to try out.
Well, Zack, tough shit. You know, that’s very normal. I started that way. You know, the Comedy Store open mic was – you know, you wait around three hours to go up for three minutes. What I would say is that although that sounds like a, you know, a comically small amount of time, the first couple of years you’re doing standup, you’re really just getting comfortable on stage. It’s not about the material. I’m sure you’re brilliant, Zack, but I highly doubt any of the material you have is going to be in your Netflix special in five years when you do make it. You know, I don’t even remember the material I was doing the first couple of years. The material’s just an excuse to get on stage and get comfortable in front of drunk strangers in a very weird, creepy, seedy environment.
If you get on stage and you already feel comfortable, congratulations. You have had something terrible happen to you that that is your comfort zone. But most people don’t feel comfortable talking to strangers. Public speaking I think is one of the biggest fears, if not the biggest fear. So, I would say don’t worry about the amount of time you’re doing. Just get on stage as much as you can. You know, when I started, I was doing standup at bowling alleys and coffee shops, and I mean, anywhere I could get – sushi places. You know, look on Facebook. There’s a website called Chuckle Monkey I think it’s called. There might be better ones that have lists of open mics in your area. I mean, I used to have to drive 40 minutes to this place called Canoga Park, and it was a bowling alley, and I waited forever to do two minutes. I mean, it’s not easy. It’s hard. There’s a reason so few people do standup. It’s exhausting. It’s time-consuming. It’s depleting. I’m not telling you it’s easy.
But it is worth it if this is really your passion. Another suggestion I have is start your own show. That’s something that I did when I started, because I was frustrated by not getting stage time, because number one, I wasn’t good. No one was going to give me stage time. I didn’t deserve it yet. And the places that I could, the open mics were only three minutes. So, I started my own show, which is a way to give other comics time, but also to ensure every week that you’re going to have stage time. So, I hosted a show. It was a lot of work. I’m not pretending it’s not. To book comics and schedule them and do a lineup and get an audience. But with Facebook and stuff, I mean, I’m sure you can get an audience, even if it’s five people. That’s an audience. I did standup in the basement of the Ramada in Los Feliz every Sunday for two people, or sometimes just for other comics. You might just be doing standup for the comics that are coming that want stage time themselves. If you can make a comic laugh, you’re in good shape. So, that’s actually pretty good practice. And you know, so, I would say start your own show at a restaurant, at a church, at a – you know, room, at a gym.
It doesn’t matter. It’s just about getting on stage. Actually, the less people see you probably the better, because in the beginning, at least I was a disgrace. I don’t have any books. He also is asking if I recommend standup books. No. I don’t know any. I’m sure there are some good ones out there, but I would actually recommend instead of reading how to write jokes books I would just watch specials. Watch people you admire. Watch Bill Burr. Watch Louis C.K. Watch George Carlin. Watch the greats. Watch Dave Attell. Not to copy them, but to, you know, sort of figure out why you’re laughing. Write it down. When you make your friends laugh, write down what they laugh at. Read books that interest you that you could use as a starting off point for jokes. You know, I read a book – I brought it up many times. I read The Female Brain, and I couldn’t stop writing jokes. It wasn’t a joke book. It’s a neurology book.
But it sparked creativity in me, and became a lot of the premises that I wrote jokes about. So, I would – my suggestion would be don’t go buy – spend a bunch of money on joke books. Spend a bunch of money on interesting books that will inspire you to write material.
Okay. What is next? Gosh, I am winded. Doing a podcast, it’s a lot of core. Lot of ab work. Oh, another thing I would say, I wrote this down to remind myself. I mean, it’s 2017, and you could also start like a funny Twitter feed to try jokes out. It’s obviously a very different kind of reaction. It’s not an involuntary laugh. But, you know, Rob Delaney and a lot of people got funny Twitter feeds. You can do that from any city. You know, try that.
I don’t know. Could work. A lot of people are getting book deals and shows off of funny Twitter feeds, and that’s something you can do from your own home and not have to drive to go do three minutes on stage. I don’t know. Maybe.
Next one. Chris Unera asks:
With the rise of relatable identity-based storytelling, comedic content across social platforms, and media publishers, is it more difficult to write sets without being perceived as a hack comedian?
I felt the need to put this question in. It’s redundant, so, I’m not going to answer the first part. But in terms of the being perceived as a hack comedian, I just thought that was interesting, because Chris, you might be codependent, FYI. Let’s date. I think one of the most important parts of anything you do is not giving a shit how you’re perceived. I promise you, that is not how good work gets done. I promise you.
This is a lesson I still have to teach myself every day. It is not something that comes naturally to me. But you will never be able to control how people perceive you. And if you think you can, I mean, write a book, because you will become very rich. You know, we all see things through our own lens, right? And everyone is going to perceive what I do differently. I might trigger them. I might remind them of their ex-wife. I might remind them of their mom. I might – they might love me because I remind them of their best friend, and I don’t deserve as much credit as they’re giving me. It doesn’t matter.
Stay in your lane, and don’t worry about what other people think. You know, doing what we do, if you’re an artist, if you’re a writer, if you’re a businessperson, everything we do, everything that I think everyone listening to this is trying to achieve, the hardest thing to do, but I think the most important skill, is to make people like you for a living without giving a shit if they like you.
It’s a tricky one to turn on and off. I realize it is my job to make people like me, but I can’t care if they do. It’s a hard thing to delineate, and I’m confusing myself as I say it. But I believe the skill is detachment. You have to care how people receive your product, but be completely detached about how they receive your product. If you’re in a customer service-related business, maybe this is terrible advice. But I believe that when you care too much about what someone thinks, it’s a desperate energy that actually backfires on you and gives them too much power, and they then start not to like you.
I used to be very consumed by if people liked me or not, and it was very unattractive. And I felt like I was doing too much. And everyone that we like – actors, comedians – they’re not begging you to like them, because they have a confidence in who they are and what they’re doing. And they like themselves. So, what I would say is, figure out – this sounds so, you know, Marianne Williamson Oprah – but liking yourself is way more likeable than needing people to like you, if that makes any sense. Maybe it doesn’t. You know, and it also helped me to understand neurology and codependence and all this stuff, because I was able to develop the skill of detachment because I realized that whether people liked me or not, or what someone’s reaction to me is a lot of times has nothing to do with me, because they could be projecting all their own stuff onto me.
I’ve already said that. I’m saying it again in a different way. But that was a little bit of a cheat for me, and I stopped thinking about it and obsessing about it so much because it’s out of my control. Obsessing about something you can’t control is a form of insanity. Something that I feel like might be good advice that a guy named Byron Allen gave me this advice. I don’t know if you know Byron Allen. He I think was the youngest person to ever host The Tonight Show. I don’t need to give you statistics. You can Google him, you’re an adult. But he’s got a lot of shows. He randomly has syndicated shows on local networks that come on at sort of two in the morning. I don’t – I just know because I get Tweets of a show I hosted of his eight years ago that’s still running in random markets at four a.m. Very embarrassing. Sorry about my haircut. Weird bangs back then. But he is incredibly successful.
And one time he called me into his office to talk about something, and he gave me really great advice, which was, don’t worry about getting new fans. Just satisfy the fans that you already have. Which was like, blindsided me, because I thought it was get as many people to like you as possible. His thing is more, be loyal to the people who already support you instead of hording a bunch of people who kind of like you. Getting a tribe of – and now I’m improvising. This isn’t all what he said. But what I would say is find your tribe of people who really get you and honor them, because if you start trying to please everybody, you please nobody. I’m plagiarizing that from someone, obviously. We’ve heard that a million times. But you know, you’ll never make everyone like you. It’s not going to happen, unless you’re Beyoncé. So, don’t bother. And in terms of the hack thing, you know, I guess what I would say is for the most part, usually when people call you a hack, it’s a compliment, because it just means you’re really popular.
[You know, something happens in the entertainment business where if you get too much success, people all of a sudden think you suck, which I think is kind of funny, because no other field does that happen. No one’s like, this George Foreman grill must suck, because everyone has one. This is sort of anathema to logic. But you know, I think that also understanding that humans have a sort of – we are predisposed to have kind of a primordial need to judge and be negative. I think it’s just our tribal us against them. It’s why if you’re a Redskins fan you hate Dallas. It’s why if you’re a Stern fan you hate Opie and Anthony, or vice versa. I think we have a predisposition to be us versus them. So, you know, when people want to pit me against other female comedians or podcasters against podcasters or compare, it’s a natural human nature thing that I try not to take too personally.
I’m just grateful to be in the ring and being able to do what I love. So, I just try to stay in gratitude, because for my personality, that’s the only place that I can find sanity. And if someone is judging me to feel better about themselves, I want to send them compassion, because I do that, and when I do it, it usually means I feel insufficient or jealous or insecure. So, but that’s just me. Maybe I’m being delusional. But guess what? It’s working. Anyway, so, Byron’s thing. You know, he also had this – he said in order to be like a huge success, you really only need about a million people to like you. He was pointing out a really successful comedian who was like a household name at the time, and you know, making a million dollars a night selling out these huge arenas, and he did the math on how many people were seeing his shows.
I’m awful at math, so, I’m not going to pretend I know how to do this. But he kind of broke it down for me, and he was like, you know, 20,000 seats – if you’re selling 20,000 seats a night times 50 cities and you know, selling $60.00 tickets, you know, you really only need a million people out of 380 million people in America? So, you don’t even need one percent of people to know who you are in order to be a household name and really successful. So, stop trying to get ten million. Just don’t lose the one million who like you by selling out trying to get the other 300 million. I thought that was good advice.
Jamie Leblanc-Sur. Leblanc-Sur. Are you French? I hope so.
Given the cons of each facet, what keeps her motivated, and which is her favorite? Writing, standup, acting, etcetera.
I don’t know. I believe in order to be good at one thing you have to do a lot of things. Maybe that’s just how my brain works. I get bored, and I think that all of these things reinforce each other.
I think in order to be a good boss, you need to know what it’s like to be an employee. I think in order to, you know, sell an app you have to know what it’s like to need that app. You have to get into the head of, you know, your consumer or your – you know, I think in order to be a good standup, you have to know what it’s like to be in the audience, you know? I’ll go see standup shows as a patron, you know? I think it’s important. I recently directed a movie, and it made me a better actor. How weird is that? Because I learned about, you know, continuity. Like, when you’re acting and you’re picking up props and stuff, you have to do it the same way every time or else in editing we can’t cut it together.
So, if an actor has bad continuity, like for example, on each line, they’re supposed to pick up the coffee cup at the same time. If they pick it up at a different time each take, we can’t edit them together. So, they may have a brilliant performance, but they picked up the coffee cup at the wrong time, so, I can’t use it. So, I’ve done jobs before where I’m like, why did they use that take? That wasn’t my best take.
That wasn’t my best performance. How dare they. But I probably made a continuity mistake, which rendered my good take useless. So, I think for me, being a writer, being an actor, being a standup, being a writer and director makes me better at everything. I also think it’s a skill to know what belongs where. So, if you’re a writer, for example, or creative person, you know, I had a lot of sort of stories that weren’t funny enough to be in standup, but I’m trying to make it a standup joke, and I realize, oh, this is a movie idea. This isn’t a standup joke. Or, this should be in a book.
Or, I’m writing a book right now, and I’m like, this should be a standup joke. I’m not going to put this – you know? It’s too jokey to put in a chapter. It feels desperate. I should do this on stage. You know? So, I think having a lot of different outlets is good. You know, if you’re a really creative person and you have a podcast and you have a blog and you have an app and you have a book, you know, knowing what goes where I think is a strong skill to have.
One that I’m still honing. But I kind of like all of it, because I think, you know, it’s like going to the gym. You have to do legs, arms. I don’t go to the gym that much, obviously. But you’ve got to do every part of the body. I also think you’ve got to work every part of the brain. Anyway. That’s that. I hope that made some sense. Standup, however, is probably my favorite thing to do. It’s the most thrilling. It’s like walking on a tightrope. I think everyone should do it, even if, you know, I hope Tim decides to jump off that cliff at some point. I think that standup is like skydiving or something. I think everyone should do it at some point.
Actually, I take that back. I don’t think anyone should skydive. I think it’s ridiculous. I’ve never done it, never plan on doing it. I’m just saying the feel of standup is that thrilling, and I think you really find out who you are when you do standup. It’s a truth serum. And I think everyone should do it at least once just to try it as a life experience.
I highly encourage it. But it makes me feel very awake, alive. It makes me tell the truth, because the audience only responds to the truth. And as somebody who, you know, as a performer, sometimes I want to perform, and the audience doesn’t let you. The audience is a litmus test in a lot of ways, and like horses, forces you to be honest. And as someone who, you know, as a kid developed the skill of being dishonest in order to be liked and to maintain equilibrium in a hectic home, I need that. I need a reminder to be honest all the time, which sounds sad and dark. But I think a lot of us are taught as kids, man up. Don’t cry. It’s fine. Calm down.
And you know, we are constantly inculcated with those messages as children, and as a result, I think a lot of us develop these – we pretend. We pretend we’re fine when we’re not. We pretend things are funny when we’re not laughing.
We pretend to be interested in boring conversations. We lie all day, every day, and it’s exhausting. So, I am trying to deactivate that superpower, which worked really well as a kid, because I got good grades, and my parents, I didn’t get grounded, and I got into a college because of all of this sort of pretending I was fine and pretending I was this and that. And pretending is draining and unoriginal, and it feels like you’re sleepwalking through life and acting through life. This is getting very personal, isn’t it?
Next one. Jen Bales says:
What steps or advice would she give someone who wants to get their TV script in front of the right people? How do you get people to read your work, especially for those who aren’t living in L.A.?
Jen, I don’t know. I felt like I needed to include a question with an answer I didn’t know the answer to, because I’m sure a lot of people have that question.
I am sorry to say this, but I do think you have to live in L.A. or New York and hustle. You know, I started doing standup, and I became a writer on a late-night show and started writing scripts, and I had a manager who – you know, I kind of – I had an oblique angle. I mean, I was doing standup. But I don’t know how people do that. I have to be really honest with you. I don’t think you can just blind send it to agencies. I would say get – what I see success in now is people having successful funny Twitter feeds, successful YouTube videos, blogs, podcasts. They come out to L.A. or New York. They do shows at comedy clubs in UCB and, you know, that’s how it happens. You know, there’s Chicago, there’s Portland has a comedy scene. Denver has a big comedy. You know, I do think you might have to be in a metropolitan city. So, as annoying and as expensive as that sounds, I do think that that’s a big part of it.
From what I have seen statistically, that seems to be what works. But I would say you can’t have someone read your script until you write it, so, write a script, read scripts, watch episodes of great shows. Cheers, Mad About You, Pilot. Watch great shows. Watch shows that you like. Write specs for those shows. A spec is an example, like, an episode of a show that you’d want to write for. You can write a spec for The Office, for example. You’re not going to get a job on The Office, because it’s not on anymore, but people then read that spec, and they go, oh, this person can write for this show. They can write for – they have a voice. But they also can conform to the voice of a show they didn’t create. So, if I’m hiring a TV writer, I read a spec script. They write a spec for How I Met Your Mother, or Modern Family, or whatever it is. You cannot submit a spec to a show that is the show. So, if you want to write on 2 Broke Girls, I can’t read a 2 Broke Girls spec, because it’s a legal nightmare, and you’ll sue me, and, you know.
It’s happened, and continues to happen. So, if you want to write for Big Bang Theory, don’t write a Big Bang Theory spec. Write a Mike & Molly spec, or something else that’s currently on. And try to get it to an agent and get to a metropolitan city, as savage and cold-blooded as that sounds.
Okay, we have to wrap this up soon. I feel like this is going on really long. Addy Seagull:
Where do most of your ideas and jokes come from? Do they jump to your mind while you’re doing other things? Shower, gym, etcetera, or is there a specific thinking process?
A little bit of both. You know, again, I think you have to be relentless in your pursuit of inspiration. I read the news every morning. I read books. You know, I ask people questions. I’m really annoying to have dinner with, because all I do is ask questions about your personal life and your sex life and your – do you believe in religion, and who are you, trying to mine for jokes and spark of something.
Or, I’m always kind of subconsciously or consciously building a case for material I have. So, if I decide, you know, a thesis of – which I mentioned earlier, which again, I believe sounds slightly mentally ill – that married people are more successful. Happily married, let’s say that. But people in stable relationships. If I’m with a successful person, I’ll ask them about their marriage and how is it and do you fight and what do you fight about and how often do you fight and do they support your career? I’m building a case, trying to – it’s – being a comedian, for me at least, is kind of like being a scientist. You have to come up with – Chris Rock said this. That you have to come up with a ridiculous theory and then prove it. So, you know, for example, cars are like women. Ridiculous theory. Right? That’s not that ridiculous, but you know what I mean. Something no one’s ever heard before, like a big comparison or simile. Cars are like women. And then you prove it. The jokes, you have to get a new one every three years.
They come in six colors. Whatever the funny proof is, right? They lose their value as soon as you take them off the lot. Etcetera, etcetera. Insert funny joke here. So, I guess I’m always sort of looking for a ridiculous theory to prove or something common or annoying. Usually when something annoys me or keeps me up at night, I want to write about it. Anything that’s – you know, Neil Brennan, I just feel the need to credit everybody I’m quoting – says, you know, comedians are obsessed with justice. I think that’s true. Louis C.K. says if you think about something more than three times a week, you need to write a joke about it. So, that’s that.
Let’s see. Oh, I also would like to say that in the first podcast I did with Tim, I feel like I want to do a redo on my billboard, when he says, if you could have a billboard anywhere, what would it say? I don’t remember what I said, but I remember panicking. I listen to Tim’s show, but I remember being like, I’m not going to listen. I’m just going to go on, and I’m going to be authentic, and I’m just going to tell my truth and channel whatever the viewers need to hear. And then I got on there, and I was like, I should have prepared for this, because the billboard question really stumped me, and I felt very dumb and like I bombed it.
And I now have a better answer that I would like to say, which is I’m plagiarizing from Peter Burg, the director who is, you know, brilliant man. He did Friday Night Lights and he’s great and is a dear friend and has taught me a lot. Really smart dude. He once sent me an email or whatever it was just with the word – I was going through a hard professional time, and I was struggling, and he just wrote in capital letters, “Finish.” The word finish. F-i-n-i-s-h. Finish. This sounds really simple and obvious, but it is something that was – that I needed to hear, because I think anyone listening to this podcast, myself included, I want to do so many things.
I have so many ideas. Anyone can have ideas. But the ones that succeed are the ones that execute and push it across the finish line. And for me, those last three steps, that last sprint, is always the hardest for me, because I’m tired and I lose enthusiasm, and I feel resentful and entitled that I’ve worked this hard, and blah blah blah. Finish. You have to finish what you start. You know? I was the person who had five books by my bed, and I’d read only chapter one. I’m the person that started four scripts and finished zero. Do one thing at a time, and finish it, instead of doing five things and not completing them. That formula I believe, having done both, I’ve had more success with this one. The starting thing doesn’t count. No one wins awards for starting a script. No one’s going to read a script that’s twelve pages.
It’s got to be 100 pages. You can start things all day long, but if you can’t finish them, you’re wasting everybody’s time. So, that would be my billboard. I just felt the need to – my ego felt the need to improve upon my answer. And I’m sure you’ve all done it. We’ve all been like, oh, I thought of that. I thought of Uber. I thought of Tinder. Ugh. But some other guy finished it, right? And executed it. So, you know, I think that committing to one thing is admirable. I have a very hard time with it. I’m not saying I know how to do it well. But if you do, I will be working for you one day.
As another quote, I’ll close with this quote. Vince Lombardi, a quote that I really love. He said, “Inches make champions. Inches.” I tend to think in miles and feet. But sometimes it comes down to inches, and that’s something that I used to have on my computer on a little Post-It note. I don’t really know how to dismount on this.
I hope that this was helpful. I hope that I wasn’t blathering too much and boring you guys. I wish it was funnier, but I don’t think that that’s what this was supposed to be, so, I’m just going to release my self-criticism. Okay, I have to log in to undo this. Okay, I hope you guys are happy, and thank you for listening, if you’ve even gotten this far. I hope this was useful in any way. I’m on Twitter, @WhitneyCummings. I’m on Snapchat. I’m on all of it. I try to engage as much as I can with people on social media. Tim I think, all the books and stuff that I talked about I’m sure will put on his site. I’m actually writing a book at the moment, which is going to come out in the fall, and I hope to include a lot of this stuff because people seem to be responding to, you know, kind of healing our brains in order to be better at what we do and more productive and effective and live for fulfilling lives. So, I hope that you guys – I can finish this book, which is why I have to get off, stop recording this podcast, because I have to write the God-damned book and finish it.
Look at us. Okay, thank you. This feels anticlimactic. Love you. Bye!
Posted on: June 21, 2018.
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