You MUST find time to shower, change clothes, and sleep. If you’re smart, you’ll find a way to do all three at the same time.
It’s impossible to see everything. Pick out a few shows you don’t want to miss and then keep an open mind about the rest.
Speaking of: See out-of-town groups and don’t judge an entire city of improvisers based on one group’s show. Rarely does the “Best Show of All Time” happen at DCM. (Except for Baby Wants Candy in 2005. HOLY SHIT.)
See No Posers.
Be cool to other performers. They love improv as much as you do, so don’t be a snob!
Be warm to the volunteers and staff. They are doing literally the most thankless jobs of the Marathon.
It is not necessary to use drugs or alcohol to enjoy DCM.
It does not hurt to (responsibly) use drugs or alcohol to enjoy DCM.
Make your life easier: Download the DCM16 app. Follow @DCM_lines on Twitter.
If you are a performer, don’t put any pressure on yourself to have the “Best Show of All Time.” Improv isn’t about dwelling — it’s about being in the moment and enjoying what other people do. Do your shows, have fun, be nice. Repeat.
The other day I posted a photo on Twitter and Instagram of Dolph Ziggler doing stand-up at the UCB. He reposted it without my permission and without crediting me. I’m no longer angry, because what a fuckin waste of energy. But I’m still a little sore about it.
Here’s me as Mark Twain and Matt Gourley as Carl Sagan. Before the Dead Authors Podcast concludes its monthly run in September, I wanted to see what it was like to be the guest. Having hosted this show for years, I knew that as challenging as my job can be, I suspected it was a much bigger challenge to sit in that other chair. And I was RIGHT. My hat is off to all the brilliant improvisers I’ve had on this show over the years, who always always always made it look effortless. Turns out it isn’t! And thanks to my pal Matt Gourley for playing Carl Sagan for the second time on the DAP– it had to be him; no one else would have made sense to me. And no one could have taken better care of me. And biggest thanks of all to our audience– if they were at all disappointed by this non-advertised switcheroo, they very politely and skillfully hid it from me. I have never ever not enjoyed myself at a Dead Authors show, and I can’t say that about everything. HG Wells will be back on Monday for round two with L. Ron Hubbard! AND DONATE YOUR TIME AND/OR MONEY TO YOUR LOCAL 826 CHAPTER!
Last week we had a couple of awesome book launch events for Man Vs Child. At the first one, Dave Hill interviewed me at @powerhousearena in DUMBO for a packed crowd. That was a lot of fun. I think that I helped Dave realize how ready he is to start a family - pretty heroic of me.
Then on Thursday, I had a Book Release Show Ruined by Jerks. This was a show where hilarious pals of mine from the UCB Theatre continually interrupted me to ruin my show. Everyone was so hilarious - hopefully I’ll have some video of that to show soon.
“When I was in high school I was a really huge ‘SNL’ fan. I remember the cast around the time I started watching it - Will Ferrell, Ana Gasteyer, Molly Shannon, Cheri O'Teri, Tracy Morgan. I did research to find out how people got on the show. Their bios always said they came from an improv team, so I started taking classes.” - Aubrey Plaza
Donald Trump (Anthony Atamanuik) and Bernie Sanders (James Adomian) hold an unsanctioned bipartisan exhibition debate at Whiplash Comedy, October 12th, 2015 LIVE at UCB Theatre NY! It’s Republican Billionaire vs. Democratic Socialist fighting over the issues a year before the 2016 presidential election. The gloves are off in this Queens vs. Brooklyn showdown!
I was bicycling along Sunset Blvd today, going from my apartment in Los Feliz to UCB Sunset when I suddenly missed New York City so deeply I had to pull over and stop for a moment.
I’ve been in LA for a year and a half and I love it. I wasn’t having regrets. It was just a surprise moment when the chemicals in my brain combined and I could suddenly remember very distinctly what it felt like to be walking along the avenue in Manhattan, feeling like the most interesting person in the world just for having the goddamn guts to live there.
I lived in NYC for (gulp) 17 years and had several lifetimes while I was there. Most of my memories are attached to the UCB theatre, which I was involved with for the final 13 years. But oddly when I’m missing NYC my brain takes me back to the very first two years, when living there was such an exciting novelty that I would sometimes just run down the street as fast as I could, overcome with the reality that I had actually moved to New York.
My first job in NY was for a finance company in midtown. I had to be there by 6:30am, and I would take Microsoft Word documents containing financial predictions for the stock market, and I would have to format them as text documents which would accepted by then-new online financial news services. I was done by 3pm. All for a decent salary and generous benefits package. This job, although boring, made me feel safe enough to come to the city from rural New England and so I was grateful for it.
I’d get out of the subway at 6:15 am at the 50th street stop on the 1/9. The streets were still quiet at this time. You could smell all the coffee being brewed in the bagel carts, and sometimes see the newsstands opening up. I’d buy a coffee from the same guy and walk across 50th street.
The only people up were either finance people in their suits and big thick coats OR service industry people going to work their shift cleaning/cooking etc.
I’d see Letterman’s studio to 2 blocks up to my left, and Times Square 7 blocks down to my right. I knew where DC Comics’ and Mad Magazines’ offices were and I’d look up at them, too (they had Superman logos and thing in their windows). I also walked by Rolling Stone’s offices (2nd floor of a building on Sixth Avenue) and you could see guitars and magazine covers on the walls through their windows.
I was so excited just to know how to get around in the city. How the subway worked, where my restaurants were, where to buy clothes, etc. I was for REAL and everyone else in the world were COWARDS.
At my job, the finance jerks were jerks, which thrilled me in that they were fulfilling their stereotype. Lots of dumb dirty jokes, lots of impressively tailored suits. They were all crude (men and women) but they were also smart and capable which for me made them easy to work with. It was my first job that more than covered my rent and so I felt like the richest man in the world, even though I was the poorest guy in the building.
I’d sit at my desk and start editing the Word Docs. I had a “squawk box” which meant I could hear the morning meeting of the finance guys going over what they thought the market would do. I remember hearing the meeting the day after a big plane crash from a discount airlines Valu-Jet. The airlines guy was so mad because the company had been poised to really turn a big profit but this “one, OUTLIER of a STUPID accident” had thrown those plans into chaos.
Every time the Dow broke another 1000 points, there would be a champagne toast by the reception desk.
One of the researchers was a brassy chick from Hoboken who’d tell me about the idiots she’d met in bars the past weekend. Another guy, the youngest researcher in the company, grew up on the Upper East Side, was obssesed with the Foo Fighters and would tell me about his family’s insanely opulent vacations. One of the temps was getting her doctorate in sociology and was dating an editor from The Nation and she invited me to their joint birthday party at which I met Lemony Snickett (whatever his real name is). A woman in my department was from China, and it turns out lived in my apartment building, splitting a room with her older sister. She told me a crazy story about how on her deathbed her Mandarin Chinese mom had given her a list of ethnic preferences from which to choose a husband. First: Mandarin Chinese. Second: NYC Jewish. Third: Cantonese Chinese. In last place was Vietnamese! She once surprised me at my apartment with some Chinese meal where some rice is wrapped up in what looks like corn husks, and I feel like she was flirting with me but I was at least a personality change and a half from being bold enough to do anything about that.
I got out in time to do an open mike at FOUR O CLOCK PM up near Columbia University. I started taking an improv class at Chicago City Limits because a guy on the Real Estate Trust desks had let slip that he took one. I was funnier than HIM, I knew, so that emboldened me.
I subscribed to the New York Times. I dropped off my clothes to be washed and they got delivered to my door. I fell in love ten times a day with people I’d see on the street for five seconds. I saw Allen Ginsburg do Buddhist chants in Central Park. I saw Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon do a (ridiculous) concert. I went to CBGBs and saw insane bands including Hellvis and Fly Ashtray. I bought the final issue of the initial run of Love and Rockets Comics at St. Marks Bookstore. I attended a taping of a They Might Be Giants live album in my first month there. I walked by Woody Allen directing a scene. I passed Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson going into the Union Square movie theatre. I visited Jack Kirby’s birthplace, as well as Spider-Man’s. One Saturday morning, I walked the entire length of Broadway from 218th street down to Battery Park. I saw the Red Sox when they came to Yankee Stadium. I met a cool journalist from Columbia who looked as hot as Jodie Foster and had gotten a 4.0 from UC-Berkeley and we dated a few years. I went running in Riverside Park – from Grant’s Tomb all the way down to the statue of Eleanor Roosevelt. I read the Village Voice and the NY Press and I’d scour the comedy listings to see what was good. I got stand-by tickets and saw a taping of SNL (Teri Hatcher hosting, Dave Matthews Band musical guest). I saw Dave Chapelle and Ray Romano do a show at the Comedy Cellar. I was watching a show at Gotham Comedy Club when David Brenner dropped in and did a set. I saw the U-C-fucking-B before they had a theatre.
Everyone wants that comparison: New York vs LA? Which do you like better? I was asked that when I had lived here in Los Angeles for three days! We humans, we do love to rate and list and compare.
The real answer is that it doesn’t matter, that it’s comparing apples and oranges. NYC is ten million people and is probably the oldest Real City in American. LA has four million, perfect weather and was founded ten years ago. They’re on different scales. Your life is more about your internal mindset, and whether or not you have 3 or 4 closest friends to connect with.
I don’t regret leaving NY at all! I’m so happy here it’s crazy. But it still hits me hard now and then, how cool it was.
It’s based on a rune, it’s a useless substitute for the “th” sound, and it’s why you don’t understand the medieval era.
THIS WEEK: To get a grasp at the enormity of the English language and its bizarreness, host Jack O'Brien is joined on the phone by Susan Bennett, the original voice of Siri, to talk about her time recording every sound in the English language and how programmers put it all together.
Later, Jack is joined onstage at the UCB Sunset Theatre in Los Angeles by Dan O'Brien, Carmen Angelica and Alex Schmidt. They talk about the history of English, how it combines the best of French and the worst of German, the grammar’s endless nonsensical rules, and some simple things other languages do that we wish we had.
[Improv] makes you work with people better, just in general. And I don’t mean like work like at a job—just interact with people better. I keep going back to the same word “listening,” but it really is just that.
Watching movies like ‘Speed’ and 'The Negotiator,’ you get the sense that talking a bad guy out of a hostage situation is a lot like being a Jedi. A little, “these aren’t the droids your looking for,” here, a little (insert witty line) there, and bam, you’re making out with the foxy bank teller back at HQ by happy hour.
Now if that were true, we’d all be hostage negotiators, right? But the job isn’t that simple. It’s much more passive than we think and involves a lot more teamwork than just one man walking into a building with only a bullhorn and his gut instinct.
THIS WEEK: To learn what we all get wrong about hostage negotiators, Jack is joined by Chris Voss; author, professor and former lead international kidnapping negotiator for the FBI. (His book, Never Split the Difference, is available from @harpercollins.) They discuss how teamwork and active listening are two of the most important parts of the job, and then Chris explains how hostage negotiation skills can be used in business and in real life.
Also! Make sure to buy tickets to our next live podcast taping where we get heavy and talk about the afterlife, maaan! What if there’s no heaven and hell and we’re all just a hologram inside the mind of an ancient computer simulation? What if the Zoroastrians were right and it doesn’t matter how good you are in your life, you just have to cross a rickety bridge guarded by two four-eyed dogs to reach eternal salvation?Join Jack, Dan, and Michael on Saturday, July 16th at 7pm at the UCB Sunset Theatre in Los Angeles as they try to figure out what it all means. They’ll be joined by comedians Casey Jane Ellison and Ramin Nazer to discuss their favorite afterlife scenarios from movies, sci-fi and lesser-known religions.