Comedy, Coke Habits, And Barbara Walters

So I talk about Marc Maron a lot and I realized that not many people really know what he does. Even though he’s getting to be more of a household name, I bet that most people, when they heard that he interviewed Obama, went, “who?!”

Maron is a podcaster. And he’s a comic. And he’s been around forever but never really got a “big break” until WTF Podcast, which isn’t so much a “break” so much as it is something he made happen himself.

Marc is a self-described “angry dude” who somehow became the most successful comedy podcaster out there. His style is different. When I first started listening to him, I couldn’t help but find him loud, narcissistic, and yeah – angry. But the more I listened, the more I liked him. I realized that he’s a phenomenal interviewer and he has a great story. He’s “the underdog” and people like to see the underdog succeed.

This awesome article came out yesterday about how Maron rose to where he is today, and it’s a really cool read. For all the work that Maron does showcasing other people, it’s great that The Washington Post would feature his life’s work. You can read How an angry comic who had a coke habit became the Barbara Walters of podcasts here.

Contagious Laughter

Have you ever been with a bunch of friends when one of them starts to laugh? And then she keeps laughing and laughing…and laughing. Until someone else begins to laugh at how ridiculous she is…and then suddenly everyone is starting to laugh uncontrollably?

Well that’s what happened in Tanzania in 1962, but it wasn’t just a group of friends. It was entire towns. And it didn’t stop for several months. I’m serious.

You might have heard about the Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic (yes, epidemic) before, but you might not know that outbreaks of “mass hysteria” still happen there today. In fact, Radiolab did a story on contagious laughter that detailed another more recent outbreak, where one girl was actually hospitalized and repeatedly administered Valium until she finally stopped laughing when she woke up.

I first heard about contagious laughter when I was doing humor research on puns and I was like “No wayy – that’s impossible.” But, It’ real! Check it out.

I think it’s a fascinating concept and it kind of explains why stand up comedy works. If you ever ask a comic to tell you a joke one-on-one, he probably won’t do it. Why? Well, no one says, “Oh, you’re a dentist?! Pull out someone’s tooth right here at this dinner party!” Also, it’s just different performing to one person than it is performing to a crowd. Have you ever had a creepy girlfriend or boyfriend who sang love ballads to you one-on-one? It’s awkward! It’s like singing a love ballad, but with humor. Which sounds funny, but in person not so much.

Besides that, it’s just too risky. Telling a joke one-on-one, anything can happen. But I’ll tell you what usually happens: nothing. People just stand there and don’t say anything. Or worse, they say, “That was funny.” Rarely do they actually laugh, even if it’s your best joke that kills every time on stage.

Why? Well, there’s no other people around to laugh at the thing together! I think contagious laughter definitely comes into play when you’re doing a set for a crowd. And, the very best crowds are the ones who are laughing uncontrollably…one might say “bordering on mass hysteria.” Maybe I just need to play some venues in Tanzania and then I’ll be really funny.

Judd Apatow Is Returning To Stand Up

Hey, remember that summer blockbuster Trainwreck that Amy Schumer wrote and starred in? That happened because Judd Apatow went up to Amy Schumer and was all, “We should do a movie together” and she was like, “Yeah defs, Judd.” That’s the kind of power Apatow has.

For people who don’t really care about behind-the-camera stuff much are probably like “I don’t know who that guy is,” but you should. Before I knew anything about movies or television (now I know a few things, maybe), I never really thought too much about writers or directors. Most people, me included, only focus on the actors because that’s who is there. That’s who you see. They’re usually the ones credited with the roles rather than the people who really invented the parts.

Apatow is one of the best comedy screenwriter/producer/directors out there and he came from comedy. Which means that he started by doing stand up. I think that’s a really unique point that most people don’t notice or pick up on. A lot of “humor” screenwriters have never actually done stand up before: they’re just writers. Apatow is also a performer, so it’s cool to see him come back to stand up again and come full circle, in a way.

This reminds me of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedian documentary, which was about his comeback to stand up after Seinfeld. Maybe it’s not quite the same thing, but it has reminded me to post about that documentary at some point, so that’s good!

I got roped into this Apatow stuff by listening to the Todd Barry Podcast, on which Apatow was a guest this week. You can read about Apatow’s comeback here and listen to the podcast episode here (Ep. 111).

One other side thing that I heard about in the podcast was a pilot that Apatow is working on with Pete Holmes. It’s called Crashing and it’s a semi-autobiographical, single-camera comedy that has Holmes crashing on the couches of NYC comics. It sounds awesome and I’m hoping that it gets picked up by HBO because I want to see it. Who is Pete Holmes? He hosted The Pete Holmes Show, which ran on TBS from 2013 to 2014. Also, he purchased like 5 breakfast bars in front of me at the Denver airport once. You can find out more about that project here.


Marc Maron Chats With Aaron Draplin

Here’s what I’ve been listening to recently…

I’ve been prowling the WTF Podcast waiting in anticipation for the release of Marc Maron’s interview with Lorne Michaels of SNL. This particular episode with Aaron Draplin I found really interesting. Why? Well, I find the intersection of comedians and stuff that isn’t comedy very interesting.

Who is Aaron Draplin? Well, he’s a designer who works with a lot of different brands (perhaps most notably, Field Notes) and also tours the country giving speeches. He has a fascinating back story about moving from Michigan to the mountains out west and eventually to Portland. But, even more captivating is Draplin’s enthusiasm for…well, whatever he happens to be talking about. I don’t care what he’s saying: it sounds good.

Maron has an ability to find really interesting people to talk to. I like that he doesn’t just talk to comedians any more.

Listen to this podcast episode, it’s pretty cool.

If You Appreciate Sports and Comedy…

Check out Bill Simmons’ old podcast, The B.S. Report. Bill Simmons is the former ESPN analyst, journalist, and founder of Grantland who was fired from ESPN last spring for “no one really knows why.”

I’m a huge fan of his, mostly because he’s interested in a lot of the same things I’m interested in: sports, film, and comedy.

His old podcast is mostly interviews with sports figures, but it’s also many other things. My favorite interviews are those with comedians, of which he has a decent number. And they’re all top notch comedians and writers who he invites on the show because he personally likes them, not because they’re promoting something. Bill Burr, Louis C.K., Jimmy Kimmel, Lena Dunham, etc. He also knows a surprising amount about comedy for not being a comedian and does a lot of great research for the show. He asks interesting questions that aren’t always about comedy, which is also a nice change of pace from the typical comedian interview.

You can find The B.S. Report on Youtube here and his new podcast, which I have not had the pleasure of hearing yet, here. I particularly like Simmons’ interview with Larry David, head writer of Seinfeld.

Joe Rogan’s Thoughts on P.C. and Caitlyn Jenner

Joe Rogan is not only a great comic, but he strikes me as a great guy. If you don’t know, he’s the guy who first confronted Carlos Mencia for joke stealing before joke stealing was ever talked about.

I just saw this video on Reddit and I can’t help but agree with him on his views about how we currently treat transgender people in society. His views are very similar to my own views on P.C.. A fascinating listen whether you agree with him or not.

The Comedy on Vinyl Podcast is Great

I’ve been trying to get more and more into podcasts lately, listening to them on the go whenever i can remember to bring my headphones. As popular as podcasts are nowadays, it always surprises me how some people have absolutely no idea what they are or why you would ever listen to something like that.

I found the Comedy on Vinyl podcast on iTunes and I really like the concept. Basically, the guy (Jason Klamm) invites a guest who chooses a favorite or most influential comedy album to talk about for an entire episode. Klamm is an actor/writer, not a comic, but he can still have an opinion! He also brings in all types of guests, including comedians.

I appreciate that the podcast exists, but I also hate that it exists because I think it’s such a great idea. I’m a huge fan of old comedy albums and sometimes the only real way to get a good hold of the old albums is on vinyl. Talking old comedy is fun. Humor definitely changes over time and so a lot of the stuff might be funny in a different kind of way.

You can find out more about the podcast on its website. I’ve placed the first episode about Weird Al’s album In 3D here. If you don’t “get” podcasts…this might be a bad place to start. But if you like comedy albums it is not.