The following is a conversation with Mark Normand,
a New York comedian who has a way with words
that is often both dark and hilarious.
Let there be a warning, dear friends,
to proceed with caution and to wear protection.
You may, in fact, need it.
He has a special on his YouTube called Out to Lunch
and a new special on Netflix
as part of the standup season three series
I recommend you watch.
This is the Lex Friedman podcast.
To support it, please check out our sponsors
in the description.
And now, here’s my conversation with Mark Normand.
I asked Tim Dillon about Bukowski first,
so let me continue on that tradition
and ask you about something
that Charles Bukowski said about love.
Wait, are we rolling?
Yes. Oh, geez.
No hello, no nothing.
Nope. I thought I was robotic.
Bukowski said, love is a fog that burns away
with the first daylight of reality.
So Mark Normand, let me first ask you about love.
What are your thoughts about love?
You talk about your relationships quite a bit.
Do you think love can last?
I do, but I think it’s work.
Everybody wants love to be this prepackaged,
perfect euphoric thing, but you gotta,
it’s like a good body, you know?
We’re all born with a good body,
but you gotta keep it in shape.
And it’s the same with a loving relationship.
I think you.
Nobody wants to do the work, that’s the problem.
You talked about, I think you told a story
about being unfaithful to a previous girlfriend
or something like that.
I think the story goes that you were like drifting apart.
Who were you talking to?
Burt Kreischer maybe or something like that?
Oh yeah, we were high school sweethearts,
dated for like 12 years and then.
So that wasn’t love anymore.
That was more like relationship, that was like.
It was comfort, it was routine.
And we just slipped into that married life autopilot world.
And I tried to break up, I think, and it didn’t take.
It was one of those things.
Our lives are just so baked in.
And then I think I cheated and she caught me
and it was ugly.
And then we went to therapy to try to work it out,
but it’s much like a car that gets into a wreck.
The door just never closed the same.
You know what I mean?
Yeah, so what are your thoughts about then commitment
like outside of love marriage?
I think it’s an antiquated idea.
I think it’s kind of silly and unrealistic.
And I think we’re coming out of that
as we get all polyamorous and non binary
and queefy and all this stuff.
I think we’re slowly moving away from that.
But I think a lot of the ladies,
more majority women like marriage, like the idea of it.
Like I’m a fiance now or whatever you call it.
And I mean, she is just woo wee going hog wild.
She’s loving it.
She’s got the dress thing, pick a venue flower
and she’s deep in whereas I feel guilty
because I’m just like, ah, geez.
Is it planned already?
When’s the wedding?
You see Squid Game, I’m just living life.
Yeah, it’s planned.
It’s in New Orleans.
I’m from there and it’s next year.
Are you married?
Of course, yeah.
I can’t imagine.
I bet you’d be great in bed.
Best hairline in podcasting.
Yeah, I don’t know.
I haven’t tried yet.
So we’ll have to see.
All right, well, let me know.
Pretty big hog on you?
Yeah, I could see you packing a crazy, crazy tool downtown.
That matters to girls?
Apparently, yeah, that’s all I hear about.
Okay, New Orleans.
You grew up in New Orleans?
Yeah, born and raised.
Treme outside the French Quarter.
Have you ever been?
Yeah, don’t remember it.
Oh, you drink?
Yeah, I drink.
Of course I drink.
I don’t know, I can’t tell if you have fun.
No, not really.
But in Russia, of course I drink vodka,
all that kind of stuff.
Oh, right, in Russia.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Beer was just labeled an alcoholic beverage in 2011.
What do you mean?
It was just drinks.
It was just like apple juice before.
It finally got declared legally as an alcoholic beverage.
Which means you can regulate it, that kind of thing.
I guess so.
See, that’s where your brain goes.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
I just go, oh, these fucking Ruskies are.
I didn’t even know there was rules about drinking.
This is good, I’m learning about Russia from you.
So what’s the difficult memory, experience from childhood
in New Orleans that made you the man you are today?
I don’t know if it made me the man,
but jeez, I had a lot of scuffles in the neighborhood.
I was the white kid in the neighborhood.
So I was automatically the odd man out, the minority,
the weirdo, the dork, the dweeb, the honky.
So just a lot of memories of like getting slapped
in the face by guys and just having to take it
because there’s like five guys there.
And they’d be like, oh, look, you didn’t even fight back.
And you’re like, what am I going to do?
Hit you and then get beat up by these guys?
So a lot of that stuff was a big bummer growing up.
Got robbed all the time, lost a lot of bicycles,
had a bicycle taken from under me, that was pretty brutal.
These kids pulled up, you know, they’re like 17
and I was 13 and I had a face paint on.
Like I had a, not black face, but I was at a summer camp
and I had a rainbow face painted on me.
We were helping kids that day.
So I let them put paint on me.
And so now I’m riding home.
What a mark, what a goober I am.
I’m riding home and these guys see me a mile away.
I’m a sitting duck and they go, we can take his bike.
He’s got a fucking rainbow on his cheek.
So they just go, hey, you know, like cut in front of you.
They go, let me try your bike.
I go, I’m good, I’m good.
I knew what they wanted.
And they go, let me try the bike.
And then they just pushed me and took the bike.
So stuff like that was really shaping the insecurity,
the self worth.
Did it, cause I’ve been mugged when I was younger too.
Yeah, it changes your view of human nature a little bit.
You go, wow, I didn’t know people could be this mean.
I’m always worried about it.
Did I fart too much?
Am I annoying?
Am I pissing this guy off?
But what a way to live.
Just, I want the bike, I’m taking it.
Fuck his feelings.
For me, that quickly turned into realizing
that that’s just a temporary phase that those folks are in.
Like they have a capacity to be good.
For some reason, for me, that was a motivation to see,
can we discover, can we incentivize them
to find like a better path in life?
Like I wasn’t like all like, I don’t know, Gandhi about it.
Of course I was pissed and all those kinds of things,
but I don’t know, it seemed like just the kind of thing
you might do when you’re younger.
But this is adult crime, obviously.
Yeah, I know, but yeah, exactly.
And then it solidifies and then you’re beyond saving
at some point, but it’s like, there’s always,
there’s always an opportunity to make a better life
for yourself, to become a better version of yourself.
Yeah, and I remember coming home crying with no bike
and my mom, my parents are like liberal to a fault.
You know, where they were like, oh, well they need it.
They’re poor kids in the neighborhood.
And you’re like, all right, but I also like have a bicycle
that I ride around, you know, and I also like to live
in an area that’s not just, you know, riddled with theft
and vandalism, but they were just like, oh, they need it.
And then it was a moot point, we just moved on.
So I remember very young being like, all right,
I gotta figure my shit out.
Okay, so you said you were beat up quite a bit,
like bullying and stuff.
Pushed around, I was never hospitalized or anything,
but you know, you get a black guy here and there
and a bloody nose, stuff like that.
And it was just the outnumbered thing.
The violence didn’t really bother me
because you’re just kids, you’re boys.
But it was the predatory, let’s get him.
You know, we can take him down.
He’s, you know, he’s an easy target.
That’s what kills you, the mental part.
Yeah, you know, until you actually said I didn’t realize,
I’ve been in, what do you call them, scuffles.
And there was just one that stands out to me where, yeah.
Let’s hear it, Faddy, bring it on.
And you do jujitsu and all that stuff, right?
Yeah, I can see the guns through the suit,
you’re like John Wick.
All right, well, I used to have,
now you’re gonna start making fun of me,
I used to have long hair for like a couple of years.
I was in a band playing music and stuff like that.
And there was, like most of the fights I’ve been in
were basically one on one, maybe a little bit like,
a little extra stuff, but not outnumbered.
And this one particular time,
I’ve learned a lot of lessons,
but one of them was, there was a fight started
between me and this other person.
And then his buddies, I guess, were there.
And they, as opposed to like breaking it up
or letting it happen, one of them grabbed my hair.
It’s the first time anybody grabbed,
like used my hair in a fight,
which I haven’t since then realized that that’s actually
a really powerful grip and a powerful weapon.
Oh, very vulnerable of you.
And then my head got pulled back
and they pulled me down to the ground.
Like I couldn’t do anything, it was so,
I remember being exceptionally frustrated.
That was the feeling like, I can’t do anything here.
I’m like trapped.
And then they were just like kicking me and hitting me
and stuff like that.
And the outnumbered part of it,
because I always kind of remember the trapped part
because I just hated from a fighting grappling perspective,
how like, the feeling was this isn’t fair.
Yes, that’s what it is.
It’s a deep, deep unfairness that you just can’t win.
The mob wins.
Yeah, the mob wins.
But it makes a man out of you in a weird way
that builds character, you realize life isn’t fair early
and you go on from there.
So there’s something there.
And look at you today.
They’re probably eating out of a dumpster
at a Krispy Kreme and you’re here,
got eight podcasts, you’re doing great,
talking to giant titans of the industry.
No, I do remember returning home that night.
I mean that you said you were crying.
That’s really formative.
Like that’s the point in which you get to decide
what do I make of this moment?
I mean, especially when you’re younger,
maybe it’s not presented to you that way,
but like some of the greatest people in history
were bullied in these kinds of ways.
And they made something of themselves in this moment,
like bullied by life in some kind of way.
It’s like an opportunity for growth.
It’s weird, but like hardship even in small doses
is like an opportunity for growth.
Totally, I mean, look at Richard Pryor.
They say he’s labeled as the best comedian of all time.
Grew up in a whorehouse,
watch his mom get plowed by these guys
in the middle of Indiana, I wanna say.
And just who had a harder life?
He would suck dick for drugs,
all this stuff growing up, beat up.
And then the weird thing is, oops, sorry,
that’s my birth control alarm.
And then the whole world is like trying
to get rid of bullying, but we still do bullying,
but now it’s accepted bullying.
It’s very strange.
So you’re a proponent of beating kids up,
is that what you’re saying?
Yes, and sex with them.
But no, I just think it’s part of life
and it’s horrible, it’s like rain, you gotta have it.
Look, a rainy day is a bummer, but you need it.
And I think it’s similar to that.
What was your relationship like with your mom, your dad?
What are some memorable moments with them?
What did you learn from them?
Good parents, they’re giving, thoughtful.
A little out to lunch, they were workaholics,
so it was hard to get a lot out of them.
And my dad was kind of an angry dad.
I think he just had like a weird childhood
and he’s just trying to make it
and he’s trying to provide, but it’s hard.
And we live in this horrible neighborhood
and we’re getting robbed all the time.
So life was kind of coming down on him all the time.
So then he’ll take it out on you or whoever, he would snap.
But great parents, they cared, they put us first,
but there wasn’t a lot of, you ever go to a friend’s house
as a kid and there’s like a picture of a ski trip
and you’re like, ski trip?
What the hell is that about?
It wasn’t a lot of that and smart, very smart people,
but I don’t know how well they were at socializing.
So you never like bonded with them
like on a deep human level?
Some bonding, but rarely deep.
Yeah, it was just almost coworker.
Hey, cold out, huh?
It’s cold out, huh?
Oh yeah, like that kind of stuff.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Yeah, yeah, I got you.
Get there a little bit, but my parents are done.
I hope they never saw this, but they would do a thing
where my dad especially would do a thing
where he would, he knew how to cut you down
right to the bone and so after a while you’re like,
I’m not even gonna interact with this guy
because he can get you so well.
One time we were at like a Thanksgiving,
some kind of family event and all the cousins are there
and I remember I was holding court.
I was a young boy finding my comedic legs
in this weird tumultuous sea we call a family
and I was killing and my dad comes out and he goes,
what are you holding court?
And I was like, ah, and I felt like I was this big.
I just whoo, shrunk down.
He just nailed it because in my head I’m like,
I’m holding court, look at me, I got the whole room
and he goes, what are you, what are you holding court here?
And I’m like, who the hell do you think you are?
And I was like, he’s right, I shouldn’t be holding court,
who the fuck am I, I’m nobody.
So stuff like that.
Was he aware of that you think?
He wasn’t, he wasn’t, I don’t think he was, but.
Do you give parents a pass when they’re unaware
of the destructive, like is it better when they’re unaware?
Because it seems like that’s the way.
That’s the way parents often fail
is they’re not intentionally malevolent,
they’re just like clueless.
Yeah, it’s a bittersweet thing
because you’re like, well, okay, he’s not malicious,
he’s not trying to hurt me,
but also he doesn’t know he hurt me.
I don’t know, it’s tough
because if he was trying to hurt you,
I guess that would be worse.
So you’re the fully baked Mark Norman cake at this point
Yeah, it’s a shitty cake.
You know, the sense of self worth you mentioned.
I think in your comedy,
there’s a sense like you hate yourself.
I didn’t know if that came through.
Shit, I was trying to hide that part.
God damn it.
I mean, when you like in the privacy of your own mind,
are you able to love yourself or is it mostly self hate?
Jeez, what happened to this podcast?
I didn’t know I was on Dr. Phil.
I thought we were gonna talk about engineering
and climate change and rockets.
We’ll get there.
Starts with love, goes to rockets.
All right, I like that.
I like that’s a t shirt.
I mean, like.
What’s the question?
Do I feel love?
No, no, like.
Do I love myself?
Yeah, yeah, so are you like this engine
of being self critical
of just being constantly anxious
about how the world perceives you, these kinds of things?
Is this something that you just go to for comedy
or is this who you are as a human being?
I think I don’t wanna explore it.
I think I get around it.
You know, I tap dance around it,
but I get it out a little with my act maybe,
because I can’t do it.
I’m not doing it in real life.
So I’ll get out this no love, not loving myself.
I don’t know who wants to love themself.
Everybody always like you gotta love yourself.
And then when you meet somebody who does love yourself,
you’re like, I fucking hate this guy.
Don’t you hate the guy who’s upset?
I’m great, I’m awesome.
Life is good.
You’re like, ah, this guy sucks.
I’d rather an insecure guy.
So maybe I wanna stay insecure.
Maybe I don’t wanna find this love for myself.
So self love, like just appreciating who you are,
or like appreciating the moment of being grateful
doesn’t have to express itself
by the guy saying I’m awesome.
It’s more just like humility.
It’s just like walking calmly through the world
and just being grateful to be alive,
that kind of thing.
And like, oh, being appreciative
of all the accomplishments you’ve made so far.
I say all this because mostly I’m extremely self critical
in everything I do.
And so, and I kind of enjoy it.
I think it’s a nice little engine that it makes it fun.
It makes life fun,
because it’s like if you hate everything you do,
like you’ve done in the past,
that gives you like, all right, we can do better.
Yes, but that’s the key is making yourself critical.
Always trying to get better.
I could change this, I could tweak this,
I could improve this.
When you just go, I hate that I do this, I suck,
you just shut down.
So that’s the key is always being productive
with the criticism.
Yeah, and the basics of life,
I’m just like grateful for it, to be alive.
That’s nice to be coupled that with self criticism.
Two legs, again, the hairline, the hog,
the muscles, the world.
You got a good brain on you.
I mean, you’re lucky.
You’re in the top,
most people are fat as shit at Burger King right now,
hitting their kids.
You’re in a Ramada hotel,
sitting with a low level comedian.
For the record, I ate McDonald’s last night.
Oh, all right, well, you’re human.
Well, just so you know, this is not me defending,
I’m not sponsored by McDonald’s,
but I mostly eat meat,
and there’s nothing wrong with the beef they have.
It’s actually one of the easiest ways late at night.
I think it’s worse.
I don’t know if it’s actually cow.
It’s actually rats.
Yeah, you’re right.
But hey, it’s just meat.
I’m a meat guy myself.
They say in 20 years, we’re gonna look back
and go, can you believe people ate meat?
It’s gonna look like somebody like slavery.
Yeah, there’s some ethical,
difficult things with factory farming.
Yeah, so let’s ride it out now while we still got it.
And now it’s on record.
Tom Waits says something about New York.
You like Tom Waits?
I think he’s underrated.
I think he’s got great,
he’s got a great, he’s great at quips and quotes.
Check him out on YouTube.
He’s got some montages and super cuts
of him being hilarious.
What does he say about,
I’d rather have a bottle in front of me
than a frontal lobotomy.
That was the one.
That was the one that sold me.
I was like, this guy’s awesome.
Yeah, but his music,
cause he’s just a genius musician.
Anyway, he was talking about New York.
I was walking around, I’m in New York right now.
We’re in New York right now.
It’s still a magical city to me.
A lot of people are quite cynical about it,
about the state of things, but.
Not like Michael Malice, like a lot of friends of mine,
they’re just a lot of folks in San Francisco and New York,
there’s something about the pandemic
where people have become quite cynical
about the place they are and they try to escape.
I mean, they’re asking some difficult questions
about what they are in life.
They’re having like a self imposed midlife crisis.
It’s good, I think, for everybody to go through this process.
But I think, I hope New York reemerges.
As the flourishing place for the weirdos.
Anyway, Tom Waits said,
New York, of course, is to be in endless surreal situations
where a $50,000 gun metal Mercedes
pulls up in a puddle of blood
and out steps a 25 carat blonde with a $2 wristwatch.
And he goes, he keeps going on.
So like, it’s like a.
That’s like bars, he’s like a rapper.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, he’s good.
But basically, just the absurdity of it all.
Lots of money, lots of weirdos, degenerates,
and dreamers, and the whole mix of it.
Do you think that’s an accurate description
of what New York is today?
Like, is there still place for the weirdos
and just the interesting artists,
the edgy, the comedians, the creators,
the entrepreneurs, as opposed to like Wall Street,
as opposed to like rich folk,
and then like hopeless folk?
Yeah, I think it’s definitely changed a lot.
There’s a tiny corner for us weirdo artists.
New York used to be where you went to make it
as a painter or whatever, a comedian or a singer.
And there were all these dives and shit boxes
and all these places you could go.
And now it’s more Pink Berries
and Subway Sandwiches and Chase Banks.
So it’s definitely lost a lot of its creative edge.
It’s just money, money keeps coming in.
And now you see all these comedians move to Nashville,
Austin, Denver, whatever.
So it doesn’t have the power it used to have
of like, you gotta be here if you wanna make it.
That’s definitely gone.
So that hurt the city a lot.
The city is way more soulless.
When I moved here in 07,
I mean, not only did I get mugged three times
in the first year, but it was a hub of like,
it felt like things were happening here.
It was an energy, it was electricity.
And we still have the electricity,
but it’s also maybe just cause there’s Times Square,
there’s Soho, there’s Wall Street.
So we got the staples, but there is a little bit of that.
It’s almost like a marriage.
Like, yeah, we’re in love,
but it’s not as passionate as it once was.
That’s how I would equate New York.
What gives you hope?
You’re pretty hopeful about it though.
I’m hopeful just cause I know it’s magical
and I think it has to be.
I mean, it’s the epicenter of America.
Like this is where the immigrants came
and this is where the stock market is
and the entertainment industry, a lot of it is here.
So I think it’s gonna happen,
but something like the bottom has to fall out
and then people have to move back here and all that.
So something, the corporations are kind of fucking us.
They’re just buying everything.
Well, that’s true for everything.
That’s true for everything.
This is true for Austin probably as well.
People are just buying out land and all that kind of stuff.
You always hear a Hemingway and Dali
and all these guys went to Paris in the 20s
or whatever that was.
I get it now.
I used to be like, why do these guys go to Paris?
Why do these artists?
And now I get it.
Cause it’s like, it’s freer there.
That’s why Austin became like that Paris
where everybody’s like, I gotta get out of LA.
I’m going there.
And maybe, but we came back from that.
70s were wild and 90s were cool.
So maybe it’ll come back.
Might just take a decade.
Well, there’s always, that’s how stories are told.
There’s always pockets of like Paris within New York.
There’s just an opportunity to let your weird flourish
is there in New York, I’m sure.
There, I mean.
You gotta find it.
Before it was front and center.
What’s your favorite thing about New York?
Like what kind of things just like.
I mean, how long is this pod?
I could go on.
It’s just, it’s too much to put into one hour.
We’ve got other questions, but I love that one neighborhood
is wildly different than the next.
I’m in Little Italy and then you take four steps.
Now I’m in Chinatown.
I mean, and then the history there and then the stories
and the food and the culture and all that.
And then you go 10 feet over here.
Now you’re in Brooklyn.
And this is insane as a whole nother world.
And it’s almost like a little America in one,
you know, city and it’s great.
And just the fact that they pulled it off
like Fifth Avenue goes way up.
And you’re like, there’s a billionaire’s house
next to a hobo.
And then this is a black guy who’s fighting with a Cuban guy
and an Asian guy is trying to get in the middle of them.
And the cabbie’s from the Middle East.
And there’s so many beautiful women here.
And there’s so many brilliant minds here.
And the pace is great.
It keeps people moving.
I mean, it just, you can’t beat it.
And the city will fuck you in the ass too.
Don’t get me wrong.
You landed JFK and you’re like, oh God, I got mugged.
My Uber driver called me a homo.
I stepped in human shit.
Where the fuck am I?
So yeah, it’s bad news.
But that bad news, it’s almost like the bullying.
It kills you in a weird way, but it makes you stronger.
And you build more layers and layers and layers.
That’s why some new guys,
some hayseed from Milwaukee shows up.
You’ve been here 10 years and you go,
let me help you out.
Cause you gotta adjust.
You’re gonna get your ass kicked for like six months.
But I know the ropes a little,
and I think you need a little of that.
If the treadmill’s not on, you’re not gonna run.
New York, the treadmill’s on.
So it just makes you run and it makes you better.
And look, it wears on you.
You probably lose 10 years of your life
living in New York versus Indianapolis,
but it’s a better life.
Have you seen 25th Hour?
Yeah, it’s been a while.
Spike Lee joint.
Yeah, Spike Lee joint.
I mean, at Norton, there’s a whole monologue there
about New York.
Oh, that’s right.
They’re talking about just, he has like a mix.
There’s like melancholy music, I think,
or just a melancholy feel to the whole thing.
But there’s an anger and a disgust with the city.
But through the anger and the disgust
comes out like a love for the city.
Same with, was Taxi Driver in New York?
Oh yeah, it’s going crazy.
Yeah, so like that, there’s something about, what is that?
What is that grit of the city that like pushes you down?
Well, that’s the beauty of this city
is it’s this tribal human nature,
like the sex shops and fistfights and racism
and all this tension,
but yet it’s the epicenter of technology and finance
and sophistication on Fifth Avenue.
So you get that juxtaposition.
It’s kind of like in Boston.
You go to Boston, they got MIT, they got Harvard,
they got all this shit.
And then they got the fishermen, the blue collar douchebags,
the Irish guys, the immigrants,
and you get that mix of like insanely smart
with wicked pisser and these two worlds.
And that’s a good thing.
It’s like when a black guy fucks an Asian lady,
that’s a good looking kid.
You get a mix.
We’re mixing two totally different things
are coming together and it makes it,
it’s like peanut butter and chocolate.
Peanut butter and chocolate, I’ve never tried that.
Peanut butter, maybe I have.
You’re talking about Reese’s, man.
Like Reese’s, yeah, yeah, yeah.
Oh, it’s the best candy.
Yeah, without the fakeness of LA,
without the kind of, with the facade.
Yeah, LA’s tough.
What’s the difference between LA comedy
and New York comedy to you?
I think one place you kind of go to make it
and be discovered and be loved,
and one place you go, you can get all that in New York too,
but I think in New York, it’s more of a school,
a bootcamp of comedy.
Let’s make great comedy.
Let’s make original comedy.
Let’s watch the other guys and gals
who are at the show at the clubs and learn from them
and try to hang out with them and absorb some of them.
And in LA, it’s like, when am I on?
I’m next, get out of my way.
I’m the star here.
I’m a bigger star than you.
Oh, this guy’s actually a big star.
I got to outwork, you know, it’s just a lot of that
instead of like, damn, that was funny.
I got to be that funny.
Damn, I wish I had a joke.
And look, I don’t want to speak for LA comics
because there’s, you know, Bill Burr, Anthony Jeslenek,
brilliant LA comic, but they all cut their teeth
in New York, just saying.
Then they moved to LA.
That’s a good point.
You know, Ali Wong, all these people, killer comics,
but New York, started in New York, moved to New York.
There is something about comics that stay in New York
for a long time though, like Dave Attell.
Ah, you know about Dave?
Yeah, yeah, he wants to do this podcast.
Yeah, I’m a huge fan of Dave Attell.
But it’s like, he almost like he doesn’t want to make it.
I don’t know.
I mean, you probably know him, but like,
it feels like you just, maybe it’s romanticizing it,
but you’re like, you almost just love the art of comedy,
like becoming funnier, crafting the jokes,
becoming funnier than the other comics,
like competing with each other kind of thing,
not over like money or fame or any of that,
just purely the comedy of it.
Totally, that’s Dave.
That’s him in a nutshell.
He’s like that guy in the movies in the 80s,
action movies, where they’re like,
they go up to a creek in Montana,
and some guy’s living in a cabin,
and he’s sharpening a stick, and they go,
the Russians are coming, they’re invading.
We need you, you’re the best commando.
And he’s like, I gave that up, man.
I’m done with that lifestyle.
They’re like, but you’re the best, we need you.
And he has to suit up eventually.
You know, he looks at a picture of his dead wife,
and he goes, fuck it, I’m going.
And then they, you know, fight the Ruskies.
But he’s that guy.
He just is gifted.
He’s like got a gift from Allah, and he’s the best.
Yeah, a lot of comics give him props.
That’s always surprising to me.
Because it’s surprising to me
because he hasn’t really made it, like big.
Well, he did.
In the 90s, he was huge.
He had his own TV show.
Yeah, yeah, that show was awesome.
But I mean, like as big as I think he deserves to be.
Well, that’s art.
The mainstream shit is always the worst.
It’s like McDonald’s versus some hole in the wall.
I know I’m shitting on McDonald’s again, but it’s good.
And you know, certain comics we could name are good,
but the delicacy is going to be less talked about
and less household namey than the mainstream hacky shit.
Yeah, it’s funny because he hasn’t,
I think it was on Joe Rogan’s show once, maybe.
Yeah, once or twice.
And he was with somebody else.
Yeah, he might have known Jeff Ross.
Oh yeah, because they did that like two mics thing,
Oh, big mics, yeah.
But he’s the quickest guy.
There’s no one funnier.
Yeah, him and you, you’re super quick.
Your appearance on, recent appearance on Rogan’s hilarious.
Just so fast.
You’re on with Ari and…
Yeah, that was fun.
We’re going back in January.
I don’t know when this comes out.
This has never come out.
Neither will you.
We’re having fun.
All right, so what does it feel like to bomb
in standup comedy, like to fail?
Maybe the psychology of it first,
like just take me through it.
Cause we’re talking about being outnumbered in a fight,
just being beat up.
By the way, this is like a no eye contact off.
Yeah, we’re both uncomfortable with it.
Yeah, it’s great.
It’s kind of nice to be with my people, but yeah.
Do you need a sheet of paper to look at it?
I’m going, I got a good sweet spot right there.
Yeah, it’s a nightmare, but it’s part of it.
It’s the validation too is the worst part.
Cause you know, whenever you do comedy and kill,
you can be a great comic,
but even David Tell, these brilliant guys,
they feel like they’re getting,
you feel like you’re getting away with something.
I don’t have a day job.
I’m telling jokes for a living.
I’m talking about my dick up here
and they’re fucking loving me.
And they call me a genius and all this.
I’m talking about my sack, you know?
And it’s great.
It makes people happy and it’s funny,
but that bombing, when you bomb,
your first thought is like, yeah, you’re right.
At first you’re like, fuck you guys.
What, you don’t like this shit?
And then you just start going in.
You’re like, man, maybe it isn’t that good.
Maybe they’re right.
I do suck.
I knew I sucked.
I should become a mailman, you know?
And it stinks and you feel alone.
And you feel like you wasted their time.
And then you’re like, what was I thinking?
I could be a comedian.
What the fuck, who am I?
You know, Eddie Murphy, what am I doing here?
So it’s a lot of just spiraling out of horrible thoughts.
But I also love that it hurts so bad.
Bombing fucking hurts because now everybody doesn’t do it.
I think a lot more people could do comedy probably
and figure it out.
But the bombing is so brutal
that it keeps, one time I went to Minneapolis.
I was like, this is a great city.
I mean, it’s a sun is shining.
Why isn’t this city like packed?
And they’re like, cause the winters are so bad
and we love it because it keeps everybody out.
And I feel like the same about comedy.
The bombs are so brutal.
I’ve had bombs where I’m in bed.
I’m just staring at the ceiling like, what the fuck was that?
Like you have PTSD.
I bombed at an arena once, 20,000 people.
I did 30 minutes to silence.
So it’s not just like one joke fails.
It’s like they start piling on like it’s irrecoverable.
And one joke failing is very common.
Like a lot of audience don’t even notice like that bomb.
Cause you get, you know, you’ve got so many jokes in a row.
You can sandwich a good one, then a bad one,
then a good one.
But when you bomb, it’s almost like they chose,
we don’t like you.
Nothing you say will redeem yourself.
And it’s hard to get out of.
It’s like being pulled down by your hair.
You can’t get back.
I can’t win this fight no matter what.
Can you like get them back by acknowledging
like the elephant in the room that like.
That helps, but they’re still gonna go,
that was funny when he made fun of it, but he sucks.
He still sucks.
That’s the worst part.
You’re going, no, this is good.
You guys just don’t like me.
Just cause you don’t like me doesn’t mean I’m bad.
Yeah, I like going to open mics a lot.
Just listening because first of all,
I think the audience in open mic,
at least the ones I’ve been to,
is mostly I guess other comedians
or like at least people who don’t seem
to want to laugh at anything.
And so I just love it because it’s human nature
and perseverance that is best.
That here’s comedians, like clearly,
this is mostly in Austin.
They have a dream.
Like why would you get up there?
Right, maybe some weird, you know,
New Year’s resolution bullshit,
but for the most part, it’s people who want to be comedians.
Like a lot of the open micers are people
who clearly have done this for quite a long time already.
Like at least a year or two, maybe five years.
And they’re often not very funny.
And just bombing in front of an audience of like 20
where they’re just sitting there,
like almost like mocking them with their eyes
or maybe, and I don’t know, and they still push through.
They still like, as if they’re doing an arena
and everybody’s laughing.
They still got that energy trying.
Almost like to an audience that doesn’t exist.
Like an audience of their dreams.
Cause I guess that you have to do that
to keep the energy of the act going.
And it’s just so beautiful to watch them try it.
And also what happens, open mic,
I don’t know, five minutes, whatever they do,
they walk off and then walk back off stage.
And like, you can’t, who do they look at?
Like what do you look at, do you make eye contact
with people, do you?
You look at your phone, you look at your feet,
you just zone out.
You kind of kind of go white, you know,
you just hear white noise and go out.
It’s tough, but you got it.
You need a little delusion to be a comedian.
To get into it, it takes a little bit of delusion.
Like you think you can do this, you know,
you got 10 years ahead of you of hell
and you’re up for this.
And you know, most comics, we see a horrible crowd
and we see our friend bomb and we go,
yeah, he’s bombing, but I’ll get him.
I’ll get him.
And then you don’t get him, but that’s human nature too.
It’s like, they don’t like him, but they’ll like me.
And you need a little of that to keep going as a comedian.
But you don’t want too much delusion
because then you’re a psycho, but you need a little.
Well, the psycho could be good for a comedy.
That’s true too, love psychos.
I mentioned to you offline that I talked to Elon
and we talked about doing standup,
but he’s thinking maybe do a few minutes of standup.
I was gonna say, if you need a coach, Elon, I gotcha.
Well, maybe you should move to Austin
to coach him full time.
Ah, hopefully he can fly me in.
So what advice would you give to somebody
who wants to try to do five minutes,
like the early steps of trying to go to an open mic
and say something funny?
Well, that’s the irony of comedy is,
I don’t know if it’s irony,
but it’s like the beginning is the hardest part.
Usually the beginning is easy part.
Hey, I’m playing this level of Mario.
I start, I jump over one Koopa Troopa, whatever.
And then the end is like, Jesus Christ,
I got 30 guys coming at me.
Comedy is the opposite.
The beginning is like, it’s a gauntlet.
It’s just obstacles.
And it’s like you said, open mics.
I watched these famous comedians on Netflix and you go,
this would all bomb at an open mic.
They’re killing in Radio City.
This would bomb at an open mic.
That’s the weird part.
So it’s almost like you have to go through hell
just to get to the promised land.
And I would say, rehearse the shit out of it
because you’re gonna get frazzled up there.
Everybody thinks, oh, this is good material.
But you also forget about the other part of delivering it,
having confidence, being likable,
having timing, having a cadence,
figuring out who you are,
figuring out what the audience thinks you are
or how they perceive you.
Cause you can go up there and say all this,
but they go, why is the guy, he’s clearly gay.
Why is he acting like he’s not gay?
That’s all, now they’re not listening to the joke.
So like, you gotta know how you look.
And it’s just repetition, repetition.
And bombing is not failure.
That’s what you gotta remember.
I mean, look, if you do a killer hour
and then you take it to Netflix and bomb, you fucked up.
But bombing is not failure.
It’s just data.
It’s going, oh, okay, I gotta retool that.
That didn’t work.
Something’s wrong there.
I missed a word there.
So you gotta treat the act
almost like ingredients in a cooking, in a dish.
You know, like, oh, I put too many eggs in.
Take an egg out.
You gotta treat it like that.
And look, when you pull a bad cake out of an oven,
you go, I fucked up.
But it doesn’t hurt your feelings.
But when you bomb and fuck up, it hurts your feelings.
So you gotta factor that in too.
Your feelings gonna be hurt
and just almost be a robot
and just keep going towards that open mic.
You know how scary an open mic is?
Bombing sucks, but bombing in front of other comedians
is way worse.
Cause they know what just happened
and they could have saved you and they didn’t.
So it’s way worse.
And they’re gonna be your quote unquote friends
for this journey.
Yeah, no, these are evil people.
Twisted, fucked up, hurt people.
Can you tell, like in those early days,
let’s just talk about that,
like at the open mic level
that a joke is gonna be good on paper.
Like I’ll give you my experience
cause maybe you could be my coach
in this particular moment.
Like Larry Nassar.
That’s fun, huh?
I hope nobody takes it seriously.
I now have an amazing team of folks
who help me with editing
and they’re now currently sweating.
We gotta leave that one in.
That was quick.
Yeah, that was pretty good.
I’ll leave that one.
That was good.
So going in front of an audience,
just even to give a lecture terrifies me,
which I’ve done.
But open mic, I mean, that to me,
perhaps that’s why I like going to open mics and listening
is cause I just, it terrifies me so much,
that idea of going up there and bombing.
I mean, it’s scary.
And to do even like one minute, to be honest, is scary.
And five minutes, I’m also watched enough open mics
to realize that five minutes is a long time.
I mean, it depends on your comedy,
but if you’re doing fast stuff,
five minutes is a really long time.
Oh, it’s eternity.
I guess with a long story, too, is a long time
because if the story’s not working,
you’re building up to something.
If the story’s gonna fail,
you just spent all that time telling the story
that completely went flat.
Completely. Got nothing.
I guess if you have a series of jokes,
you can at least try to recover
and like do the Mitch Hedberg thing
where like, all right, I’ll cross that off.
Well, I’m able to, like I’ve tried to write a few things
and I’m able to tell that it’s really bad.
Ah, ha, ha, ha, ha, well, that’s better than most.
Most people’s egos kick in, they go, no, this is good.
No, see, I’m able to introspect that.
Like it seems funny.
I mean, I guess the thing I’m looking for is original.
Like there’s easy stuff that you think is funny,
but to me, originality is the thing
you should be looking for because then,
because then that’s what’s actually becomes funny.
Like, or rather, if it’s original,
even if it bombs, that feels like more
a beautiful art creation that you did.
Like at least you swung for it.
Like you did something unique.
Cause like even with open mic, your first five minutes,
there’s so many, just go to enough open mics,
you’ll hear like all the, there’s like a list of jokes
that you can just go to.
First of all, you can make fun of the fact
that you’re at open mic, that you’re like doing this
for the first time and so on.
You could do a lot of stuff where you make fun
of your appearance in some way and so on.
But like, yeah, you could do that.
You know, that takes actually, that’s way harder
than people realize to do it in an original way.
You have to present who you are as a person very quickly,
enough to then put that person down
in front of everybody else.
So you have to reveal the.
The audience is like that,
cause they go, he knows what we’re thinking.
But do it again in an original way.
And so like when I’m trying to write stuff,
when I, not that I’ve tried long, it’s like 30 minutes,
but as enough to see like, oh shit,
to write something original is really difficult.
It is, but do you got a bit, anything?
You didn’t write any one line or anything?
Well, just in general, ever in your life,
ever written a joke?
Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
No, but I don’t have anything in my mind popped up.
So the jokes that I’ve written have more,
like for some reason my mind goes to like dark places.
So, you know, like, and not actually dark
in the Mark Norman dark, because you go really dark
to where it’s like almost absurd.
My natural inclination is to go to like
a dark historical like place, like Hitler and Stalin.
And almost, so go to that place
and then talk about something absurd there.
So like, don’t go like all the way, I don’t know.
I don’t want to give examples because it’d be clipped,
but the Mark Norman style, look it up.
He has a special on his YouTube, that kind.
I want to almost explore the dark aspects
of human nature more kind of connected
to actual historical figures.
That’s the inclination.
Like, I don’t know, Nature’s Metal,
the Instagram channel that explores
like the darkness of nature, like something there.
See, that’s good that you already know
that you’ve kind of gotten to the core
of your comedy already.
And that’s interesting, that’s a step ahead.
Yeah, I can hear, with most things that I do in life,
I can like hear the music from a distance,
like in myself, like, okay, if you have anything,
this is the direction it’ll be
without actually knowing exactly all the steps.
And that’s a nice motivation to be like, all right,
well, if you do this for a long time,
maybe you’ll have a chance to get there.
But you have to, that’s where it’s a feature
to be super self critical, I think.
But then that’s why it’s fucking terrifying
to walk up to a stage, stand there,
and probably forget everything.
Yeah, that’s the other part nobody thinks about.
Just goes right out of your head.
You go fight or flight, it’s ugly.
My first years were horrific bombing, horrific stammering,
horrific not remembering the punchline.
Like, you got to, maybe you got a set up going
and they’re kind of on board and you’re like,
ah, how’s that, ah, camera, camera out it goes.
And you just hate yourself, it’s a nightmare.
But you’ve already kind of,
maybe if you haven’t done standup or whatever,
but you kind of know your voice and that’s pretty advanced.
So you’re not trying to be somebody else, I guess.
Yeah, just for having done like podcasts
and lecture and so on.
I’ve embarrassed, I’ve already done some of the work
of the standups do, which is embarrass yourself
in front of others for prolonged periods of time.
Yeah, so I’ve done that without actually developing
Right, right, right.
But maybe the funny just is not that difficult to develop.
No, it’s super difficult, of course,
but I mean, maybe the essential work
of a standup comedian is just the embarrassment
of like finding who you are.
Yeah, that’s a part of it for sure.
You know, in the beginning you’re like,
water bottle, what’s funny about water bottle?
Hmm, I’m a funny guy, I can make this funny,
but that ain’t, that’s not it, you know?
It’s your shit, your shit, like your dark stuff.
For me, I tend to gravitate towards dark,
but in a weird way where, you know,
people will say like, hey, don’t objectify women.
But then they go, Caitlyn Jenner’s beautiful.
And you’re like, well, wait, I know something’s off here.
Why can you objectify her, but not the supermodel?
So what’s going on there?
And I like to play with that.
So I have this joke where I say, Caitlyn Jenner,
oh, women go, Caitlyn Jenner’s beautiful, beautiful woman.
I go, well, you look like her, and they go, fuck you.
And you’re like, there’s a lot of truth there.
But I like exploring that kind of,
oh, you’re trying to get one over on me,
or you’re lying to yourself, or what are we doing here?
And I like that kind of comedy.
I don’t see color, well, I’m black.
No, you’re not.
Ah, you know, that’s fun, because you’re lying.
Yeah, okay, so like big time comedians such as yourself
don’t like to think of yourself in this way, but.
There we go.
Yeah, this is like where you over philosophize comedy, but.
It seems like comedians.
Don’t say important.
Nothing worse than a comedian who thinks they’re important.
Yeah, so I was going, I was trying to find,
as I was trying to say these words,
I realized how cliche it is and how uninteresting it is.
So I’m going to just, but there is something.
I’m worried this whole thing is uninteresting.
I’m like, who cares about comedy?
There’s like six comics on the planet.
That nobody cares.
Okay, I trust you in the pilot seat.
You know what you’re doing.
You got listeners.
They’ve tuned out long ago.
Oh, you got Dan Carlin on here, huh?
Is he around?
Yeah, we’re just going back and forth on Twitter just now.
He’s a huge fan.
He was on here before.
He’ll be back.
I’ve been actually really trying to volunteer myself
aggressively with Dan Carlin for like a Russian episode
where I can speak Russian.
There’s certain documents.
I talked with Jaco about this too.
Certain things, I mean, I just love the challenge
of bringing Russian documents that I can read in Russian
and then can translate and can try to capture
the depth of the writing in the Russian language
and communicate to the American audience.
So much is lost in translation.
Like there’s so much pain and poetry in the Russian language.
It’s just connected to the culture.
Every language, not every language,
but many languages are uniquely able to capture
the culture of the people.
I mean, in some way they’re the representation
of the culture of the people.
And so Russian is definitely that,
like represents the full history and culture
of the 20th century with all the atrocities,
all the broken promises, all those kinds of things.
Norm says Russian literature is,
it’s the most tapped into human existence than anything else.
The Russian literature guy.
Dostoevsky, all that shit.
It’s funny that there is a gap with comedians too.
There’s a culture of Russian comedy,
like standup comedians that are totally.
Is that right?
I don’t know these Russians.
I mean, I don’t know today.
I mean, more from the 80s and 90s and there’s a.
That’s all I know.
That’s not, so there’s like a force, that’s.
I’ve never seen you that offended.
No, no, no, it’s not offended.
There’s a different, there’s like the kinesins
and there’s the edgy.
Is that Russian?
What do you mean?
Wait, I thought you said there was Russian comics.
Yeah, Russian, I mean, I’m comparing them.
I’m giving you like a style of darkness,
like that’s the kind of people that kind of challenge.
They give, again, this is to how important comedians are,
is they give a voice to people where in the Soviet Union,
you really can’t like express your opposition
to the government.
And so comedians are exceptionally important there
for just, I don’t know, channeling the anger,
even when sometimes it’s not the actual opposition
to the government, they’re just channeling the anger,
the frustration with the absurdity of life.
Like, you know, when there’s a shortage of food,
shortage of jobs, the absurdity of the bureaucracy,
like the top heavy government,
just all of that can only sometimes be expressed
with like dark, absurd humor.
And that actually, why there’s a culture
of that kind of humor, you know,
you gather around the table with vodka
and all you can do is just talk shit and just.
Be offensive, say horrible shit, ball bust.
I mean, I make school shooting jokes
and people go, how do you do that?
I’m like, well, maybe that’s how I deal with it.
You know, like how come I gotta empathize the way you do?
Maybe we’re different.
All right, so now let’s skip the whole open mic thing
and crafting jokes.
Oh yeah, that’s tough.
Kerouac said, one day I will find the right words
and they will be simple.
When do you know the joke is done, it’s perfect.
You’re somebody that does like really sharp,
like fast jokes.
Wow. Oh, thanks.
So like there’s somebody, I don’t know,
I don’t know who you see yourself in the same school as,
like you’re darker and faster than Hedberg, I think,
in terms of like, just, I don’t know,
the turns you take are very fast.
Thanks, I appreciate it.
I think I got some Norm Macdonald and maybe.
Oh, Norm, that’s right.
You know, obviously Norm,
but Chris Rock was huge for me.
Chris Rock, old like 90s Chris Rock was like,
I didn’t know you could do jokes like that.
I always loved George Carlin and Groucho Marx
and Bill Murray, there’s so many different types of comedy.
But when I saw the bigger and blacker bring the pain,
I was like, oh my God, this is like, it hit me.
So that was big.
And then Norm’s just like the funniest guy on the planet.
So him being the smartest guy in the room,
but acting dumb was great.
So yeah, Chris Rock has that way of cutting to the bullshit,
which I mentioned earlier.
I liked that cutting through the bullshit
kind of style of comedy, because you kind of go,
oh, I’m not crazy.
That’s what I thought too.
I was too scared to say it, but I thought that.
And he’s saying it in a room of people are laughing.
Maybe I’m not an idiot.
So that helped me.
So it’s observational, but not Jerry Seinfeld
observational, it’s like going to the darker thing.
To like within society.
But I like him too, but seeing it,
doing it about stuff like in your life, society.
Yeah, race, gender, government, politics,
all that kind of stuff.
Exactly, exactly, sex, human emotions,
jealousy, whatever it is, that’s the good stuff.
How’d you feel when Norm passed away?
Ah, that was a bummer because he was, you know what, 61.
And I just didn’t see it coming.
And I just, I’ve watched so many hours of his stuff
and I’ve met him and he’s like,
he was like this comedic bar, like, hey, we got Norm.
You know, there’s so much shit comedy.
Then you see Norm and you’re like, this is next level.
This is savant type shit.
And then to lose him is like, ah, Norm had 20 more years
at least of just content and content and thoughts
and his point of view.
And that’s, we’ll never get that and that sucks.
Yeah, there is something about artists
like Jimi Hendrix dying too early.
It’s like, you wonder.
What was next?
Yeah, what was next?
But then part of it is like, you know,
it all ends for all of us and it’s like walking away early
is kind of admirable.
It’s almost like I did a pretty good job.
I’m good with that.
And especially the way he did, which is not telling anybody.
I know, nine years, his best friends didn’t even know.
And in this world of like victimhood
and I need clicks and I need people to love me,
he could have, he got, you know, canceled
and yelled at and in trouble
and he could have pulled that cancer card and he never did.
I mean, the integrity on this motherfucker.
Did you get a chance to interact with him?
Like what, how often did you meet him?
I met him once at the Comedy Cellar
and we chatted for five minutes
and then he went on and did the Letterman set that he did.
He was running the Letterman set.
And sweet guy, nice guy, didn’t know him that well,
but I mean, he’s just brilliant.
And I also love a brilliant guy who does stupid stuff.
That’s a fun, fun little combo there.
Like silly guys who are actually brilliant also.
You know, like Louis CK is a brilliant comic
and he’ll do a joke about farting on a kid.
And you’re like, that’s great
that he still finds farts funny
and he’s also this comedic genius guy.
I like that.
And doesn’t really acknowledge the genius.
Yeah, I like smart people, they’re silly.
Yes, that’s a good combo.
Like you said, Elon is silly.
Yeah, yeah, super silly. Yeah, that’s great.
Cause we taught, we teach kids like,
hey, put that down, stop that,
quit cutting up, quit horsing around.
But maybe that’s some kind of sign of brilliance there.
Yeah, being like childlike and silly is a kind of wisdom.
I feel like those people are way wiser
than the people that, no offense to me,
wear a suit and take themselves way too seriously.
No, but you got a spark in you.
A little bit.
You got a little, what’s the word?
Not elf, imp.
Little imp in you.
Give that a go.
You know what imp?
Little mischievous, it’s like a little.
Is that a Tolkien character, imp?
Yeah, might be.
An imp is a European mythological being
similar to a fairy or a demon.
Are you calling me a fairy?
Frequently, no, okay.
Similar to a fairy or a demon.
I feel like that’s a big leap.
Big leap, yeah, that’s not a great info bio there.
Frequently described in folklore and superstition,
the word may perhaps derive from the term imps,
but with a Y, used to denote a young grafted tree.
It’s a little mischievous.
You got a twinkle.
You’re the serious buttoned up guy,
but there’s a twinkle.
There’s a twinkle.
And the audience can see the twinkle,
and that’s why you resonate, I think.
Deep Analysis by Mark Norman, Psychological Analysis.
Okay, but then back to the crafting of the joke.
You said Chris Rock and Norm Macdonald.
What for you, how do you know when the joke is done?
Are there some jokes that you’re proud of?
Wow, that’s well done.
Yeah, the joke is done.
It’s a tough question
because there’s so many different kinds of jokes.
There’s what we call a chunk, which is a big idea
with a bunch of jokes in the middle of it,
and then a big crescendo at the end.
Or there’s a one liner,
or there’s a tag of a joke that’s also a joke.
So the jokes come in different,
like I have a joke where I say,
I met my girl in that Jewish app.
What’s that Jewish app called?
That’s the hell, that’s what they’re asking you
to want from the crowd, but it’s a fun turn
because you say your thing
and then I hit you with a misdirect
and that’s what a joke is.
A joke is basically me saying something that makes sense,
but you didn’t see it coming.
And that’s a perfect example of that.
So that joke took forever to figure out, by the way.
You have to go to different services like PayPal.
Exactly, and I figured PayPal is funny
because it has the word pay in it.
Venmo, it’s also not really a good word, Venmo, PayPal.
It just hits better.
Yeah, PayPal is funnier somehow.
It’s funnier somehow,
and that’s the beauty of comedy.
There’s a weird little magic into it.
You can get technical all day and formulaic,
but there’s still that little bit of fairy dust
that you don’t know why this is funnier.
Or imp dust.
Imp dust, yes.
With a Y, okay.
So you know what joke is done when it kills,
and this is a roundness to a joke
when you feel like this is buttoned up.
This is done here.
Is simplicity the right word there?
Is it like you’re chopping stuff away
or are you adding stuff?
Like what does it feel like?
Simplicity is always the best angle.
I mean, you can get real high concept with a joke
and still make it work, but the simpler the better.
I saw Dave Chappelle on stage once,
and Chris Rock and Demetri Martin were in the back
watching in awe, and Dave Chappelle,
I can’t remember the joke,
but he said something about sex or women,
and Demetri Martin goes, eh, it’s a little easy.
And Chris Rock goes, that’s why it’s good.
And I remember hearing that as some young comic,
like ah, I’m getting this comedy lesson right here
for these two titans.
And so that was fun.
Simple is key.
So the easy is okay.
That’s such a weird, I think I remember reading
or hearing Eminem say something about
maybe the song Slim Shade.
One of the songs, he’s like, I knew it was gonna be good
because it got really repetitive
and annoying very quickly or something like that.
I mean, that’s the sort of the music equivalent
of it’s too easy.
Like if it’s like super catchy, as a musician,
you might get very quickly bored of it.
Or like as you’re creating it, no, it’s too easy.
It’s like there needs to be some more complexity to it.
I like complexity, but the best guys
who are the ones who make complex shit look simple.
Like you ever heard that Ben Franklin story
where he’s talking to his friend,
his friend’s like, I’m gonna start a hat store.
So he puts a sign out, says, hats for sale, $12.
And Ben Franklin looks at it, he goes,
well, you don’t need the $12
because all they need to know is that you got hats for sale.
He’s like, all right.
So he loses the $12, makes a new sign, hats for sale.
And he goes, you don’t really need for sale
because it’s a business.
People can put that together.
So he just goes, all right.
He makes a new sign, it says hats.
And then Ben Franklin’s like, you know,
you don’t really need the word hat.
You can just put a picture of a hat.
And he made a new sign, which is a picture of a hat
and it like helped the business or something.
That’s like some old wives tale or whatever.
But I think about that all the time when I’m writing.
I thought this was going to like, there was no sign.
It went like super like nihilistic.
Oh, maybe, maybe, that could work too.
What, like as a comedian, so I’m a fan of yours.
I enjoy, I really enjoy you in conversations.
Now I’m getting nothing out of it.
This is like emotion.
You’re tough not to read.
I mean, just the quickness you have,
obviously you’re also a great stand up comedian.
What’s your favorite medium to shine in?
So you have a podcast yourself, an excellent podcast.
You’re often a podcast guest.
Which is always fun to listen to,
how you’re going to deal with the different people.
You’re great on Rogan.
What do you enjoy most?
Podcasts are great because you can stretch out a little more.
You can breathe a little.
You know, with a stand up set,
I like to be like boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.
But podcasts are great because it’s conversational.
So you can be, it’s almost like you’re being funny
with your friends.
Whereas a stage is like a, this is a piece.
This is a presentation.
But I think the podcast is great,
but you don’t get the reaction.
Unless the host is laughing, you can’t hear the guy
in his car in New Jersey driving to work going, ah!
Every now and then I’ll read a comment like,
I spit out my coffee when you said this.
And I’m like, but it’s not immediate.
You want the immediate.
So stand up will always be number one,
but there’s no better feeling than killing in a room
of people who don’t know who you are.
Strangers, you’re in the middle of nowhere.
You left your wife at home.
You left your kids.
You left your house.
You’re in the middle of bumfucked Dickville
and murdering for these hillbilly nobody, whatever it is.
And they’re slinging their beers and cheering you on.
And they carry out and you fuck some fat lady
and you leave and you get back to your hotel
and you go, holy shit, what was that?
No one will ever know about it.
Just lost in the ether.
That’s the best feeling.
Killing an obscurity as Bill Burr would say.
Yeah, this is one of the things that sucks
about giving lectures.
Like at universities or giving lectures in general
is when you look at the audience, you know,
several hundred students,
they all have a bored look on their face.
Yeah, of course.
Like my face now probably looks bored,
but I’m actually excited to be talking to you.
But there’s something about just,
there’s something about a comedy called,
maybe this is the contingent of laughter,
but like it gives people the freedom to just laugh,
to like, to remove that facade of like,
you don’t have to pretend like you don’t care.
Like if you care, you can show it
and you can have fun with it a lot.
Probably liquor helps out too.
Yeah, it helps for sure.
But there is a, especially,
and that’s why comedy I think is so popular right now
because HR is up our ass.
We’re scared of old tweets that might come back to haunt us.
What did I say on that interview?
Even people at offices are like,
I put something on Facebook in 1999
that was about fat tits that I liked.
Should I get rid of that?
Even people say like, there’s no cancel, whatever.
There is something in the air right now
that wasn’t there before.
It’s the video, I’m a Karen,
I got caught at Trader Joe, whatever it is.
People rat on each other now,
everybody’s tattletaling because they want the clicks.
It’s a horrible society we’ve crafted.
But standup comedy gets you to come out,
and now people do it at standup shows too.
Sadly, but it gets you to come out
and let that inhibition down.
Because we’re all human,
we’ve all had the fucked up thoughts like,
man, that guy’s fat as shit.
It doesn’t mean you hate the guy,
it doesn’t mean you hate fat people,
it doesn’t mean you’re fat shaming.
But you can’t say that at the office.
You can’t go, Bob, you’re fat as shit.
You’ll get fired for body shaming.
But at the club, you go, that guy’s fat as shit.
The crowd goes, he is fat as shit.
And it’s this weird cathartic thing
because all we do is tamp shit down.
It’s kind of like you ever meet a girl
who’s like all prim and proper in the bedroom.
She’s like, put a lamp up my ass.
Ah, you know, whatever it is.
It’s because we gotta get it out.
We’re all repressed in some way.
So I guess what you’re saying is comedy’s important.
Well played, sir.
What do you think about Austin?
What do you think about the comedy scene in Austin?
We talk about LA and New York.
What do you think about what Joe’s trying to create there?
So I should say that the reason I moved to Austin,
I have this dream of, it wouldn’t be funny
if I said this dream of becoming a comedian.
It’s an audience, at least.
Yeah, that’s true.
You know, I always said you can hear
the music in the distance.
I have this dream around robotics
and artificial intelligence, whether it’s a company,
whether it’s something else that I was just pulling me to.
I actually wanted to move to San Francisco,
and then all my friends in San Francisco said,
no, it’s the wrong place.
At this time, the cynicism there
is just not conducive to taking big leaps
into the unknown, excited about the future kind of thing.
And Austin was that, for me in particular with Elon Musk,
but also just the energy that everybody had,
including Joe, the excitement about the future.
I don’t care if Austin burns to the ground
and it actually is a complete failure.
Being excited about the future seems to be,
like optimism about the future,
seems to be the thing that actually
makes that future happen, makes a great future happen.
So it’s always cool for me to see Joe
super excited about creating a culture in Austin,
like making it a comedy hub.
I don’t want to overstate it,
but I think he really believes it’ll be
a very big place for comedy in the United States
and generally in the world.
And so just even believing that, that’s powerful.
You start to make it happen, that energy is there.
Anyway, so, but that’s for me from just an outsider
watching the fun of it.
I should also mention for less of an outsider,
more insider in the martial arts world,
partially probably because of Joe, I’m not sure,
like John Donahar, Gordon Ryan, the B Team,
all of those folks, those are, that might be gibberish
to you, but those are like some of the greatest grapplers
in martial artists of all time.
So it’s also becoming this hub of martial arts.
So the whole thing is just beautiful.
Anyway, what are your thoughts about that scene?
Well, there’s a lot here, a lot of things to mention.
One, I think Joe did do that to a degree,
like all these people, Segura lives there now,
a lot of comics live there.
He’s opening clubs, other clubs are opening.
I think it’s happening.
That’s the other thing is people go,
everybody’s moving to Austin, Austin’s the new hub.
And then they look at their watch and they go,
five minutes went by, nothing changed.
It’s gonna take years, but everybody wants it now, now, now.
What, Austin, there’s no industry there.
There’s no Netflix, whatever.
And you’re like, yeah, I know, but it needs a minute.
You can’t just do this overnight.
So people forget that.
So it could happen huge, just give it some time.
I mean, he’s opening a club, I went and saw it.
It’s incredible, like it’s so perfect for comedy.
It’s every detail, it’s incredible.
But so it could happen still.
I do think there’s a little biting off more
than they can chew with Austin because it’s not that big.
And it’s spread out.
I mean, yeah, it’s not big.
And the infrastructure is not quite there to support it.
But it has a lot of, comparing from the tech side,
it has a lot of land to expand into.
So it might become this. That helps.
Like you’re basically establishing,
it’s kind of like when you’re in New York,
you’re establishing these whole neighborhoods.
And you have the freedom to do that
because there’s a lot of space on all sides.
Yes, okay, so that helps.
So again, maybe some time.
I do agree with that new hope
that’s kind of built into human beings of like,
let’s go to America, let’s go to the utopia.
We even have it with space.
Let’s go to Mars.
We gotta see what’s over there.
And it’s just red, dusty bullshit, but you still gotta go.
So I’m with you on that about this new hope, this new land.
And I think that is beautiful.
And I think there’s a lot of haters.
I think there’s a lot of naysayers who hate change,
who hate anything new.
And then I think you gotta go, hey, that hurts, that sucks,
but blow me dickless.
I’m trying something.
You’re a loser.
Stop hating on me.
I mean, how many people hate Elon Musk?
Yeah, it’s hilarious.
I mean, there’s some of the criticism on Austin.
It’s like a fad.
Like a lot of people are really, people are excited
about Austin and somehow that’s like,
it’s like when Green Day became famous,
you no longer want to be a fan of Green Day.
But to me, like that’s…
Well, Austin was already a cool town.
Like every comic five years ago, it’s like,
oh, I got Austin this weekend, I can’t wait.
So it already had a buzz,
but some people think maybe the buzz was the cool part.
The fact that it was like this off the beaten path city
and now I get to visit it and then leave.
But I think it could still be
this comedy tech booming place.
It just will take some time and people want it right now.
Well, on the tech side, it’s…
It’s already there?
It’s getting there very fast.
So, I mean, Elon’s really pushing that with the factory.
It’s just a huge number of people are moving there with jobs.
Like you’re already starting.
And then the opportunities to launch new companies
is just incredible.
I guess it’s not right now.
It’s like within months, within a year, that kind of thing.
But like, it’s an opportunity to just
start to build shit in a new place.
And it’s cool.
It’s kind of like going to Mars.
It’s like you get to start over.
Yeah, and I like the hope aspect.
I think that’s huge for people.
And I’m all for it.
I hope it works out.
I don’t know if it will,
but I don’t know anything about economies
and city planning and all that shit.
So it might be too early to say, but I hope it works.
Are you still talking about Austin or Mars?
Mars is, eh, there’s nothing there.
There’s no vagina there.
There’s no food there.
There’s no water there.
I don’t know.
It seems, I get space travel.
I think it’s important.
But I don’t know Mars is really gonna move the needle.
So what are your thoughts about Elon Musk and SpaceX
and launching rockets into space?
I think it’s all good because you could say,
hey, we could just feed everybody.
And I was like, yeah, that’s true.
By the way, these guys give a ton of money
to philanthropy shit that nobody cares about.
By the way, it’s weird.
He could feed Nigeria with pocket change of his.
And you’re like, well, maybe he has.
I heard Bill Gates gave back so much money
he saved 6 million lives.
But that’s a reverse Holocaust, by the way.
That’s pretty good.
What have you done?
You’re a barista.
So I just think space travel is good
because you learn about the place you’re living in
from going to space.
It kind of helps you learn about this more.
You could say, what’s the point of going to this other there?
But it does help, I think.
Yeah, doing difficult things in the engineering space
seems to be a way to develop as almost like an accident,
as a side effect of doing a really difficult thing
in a team of brilliant people.
You develop things like the internet.
And you could argue that the internet
maybe is not so good for society.
No, I’m just kidding.
It’s good and bad.
But it’s like a pull up.
You’re trying to get your bicep going,
but hey, before you know it, you got decent forearms.
But you weren’t working on the forearms,
you wanted to buy, but you got the fore.
And I think that’s kind of what space travel is.
I like how this pivoted into a workout routine advice.
I’m trying to get an analogy going here.
All right, they work pretty well.
I’ll take it.
What are your thoughts about, since I’m a robotics person,
I’d be curious to see, do you think about the space at all?
About, first of all, autonomous vehicles
with Tesla Autopilot and Waymo self driving car.
I’m not sure if you’re familiar
with all the autonomous vehicles and so on.
So those are robots on wheels.
And then there’s also legged robots.
So next time you’re in Austin,
you get to meet some of the legged robots.
That’s what I’ve been working on.
And I find those kind of a fascinating way
to explore the nature of intelligence in our computers,
but also explore our own intelligence
and also explore our own,
like what makes us connect to other living beings,
whether it’s dogs, cats, or other humans.
Like there’s some magic there
that’s beyond just intelligence.
And I, like when I have the robot dog,
there’s some aspect to it that, I don’t know,
brings me joy in a way that a dog does,
in a way that a good friend does.
Yeah, that’s interesting.
And I’m not sure if that’s some kind of anthropomorphism,
like where I’m projecting my hopes for this,
what this thing is, but it’s kind of built in.
I mean, it’s just a source of joy.
Maybe it’s connected to the fact
that there’s just like a loneliness
within all of us, within me.
And it’s just nice to have other things in your life
that move, that recognize you, that kind of thing.
I mean, I suppose it’s nice to even just have a plant.
Yeah, it is.
Plant goes a long way.
You see a guy with plants in his apartment,
it changes the apartment because they’re alive.
You gotta water them.
You gotta put sun on them.
So yeah, I think there’s something there.
And I think you can see people’s reactions
when you show them advanced technology,
like these dog robots or these robots that dance and shit.
People are like, what the fuck?
Like it hits home in some way, whether it’s fear
or you wanna fuck them clearly, whatever it is,
but it does connect with you in some way.
So I’m with you.
And I think this is why I don’t think robots will take over.
You always hear that robot, they’re making them too advanced.
They’re gonna wipe us out, blah, blah, blah.
If robots get at human emotions, that is scary
because they could get mad at us and kill us
and they’re stronger and they don’t need sleep.
They don’t need food.
They don’t need water.
They don’t get jealous.
But if they have emotions,
then I think we can dominate them
because who knows emotions better than us?
We’ve got thousands of years
of evolutionary emotional bullshit.
We can go, hey robot, I heard your wife
fucked that black and Decker, huh?
They’re gonna crumble.
We can bully them.
Emotionally manipulate robots.
Yes, that’s when we’ll win.
Right now, they could kill us.
They could just, we’d all die.
Then we shoot them back, bing, bing, bing, bing.
That’s no good.
But if they do get emotions, then we can go,
hey, you look like hell.
What is that, a rusty bolt?
Hey, you’re dropping some oil there, you loser.
I think we can win if they do get emotions.
This goes back to your father being able
to undercut you with a single word.
Yeah, so we’re the creators of the robots
and then the robots will just,
you would say the exact thing
where the robot would be like, that son of a bitch.
And then it goes back to his hole
and just sits there miserable.
Right, yeah, hardware looks more like software to me.
You can’t get it up, yada, yada, yada.
But I’m not worried about robots
and I think self, what do you think
about the self driving cars?
Is that just wiping out the horse and buggy?
Isn’t that just progression of technology?
Yeah, so I don’t know if you’ve driven in a Tesla,
I have, I rode in the passenger, I just drive it.
Yeah, there’s several stages in that.
I think it’s the problem is way harder than people realize.
And for quite a while,
it’ll just make driving more pleasant.
It’ll make it less stressful.
It’ll take over some of the boring bits for you
and make it easier.
Like there’s something that happens actually
when the car is driving for you in the following way.
Like it’s staying in the lane,
it’s keeping distance to the car in front of you.
Maybe it’s changing lanes.
It allows you to relax a little bit.
Like you become, you still have to be alert,
but you become like a passenger
and you get to like take in the world.
I mean, somehow that’s more relaxing
without making you necessarily like bored more.
It’s energizing more.
So I just think it makes the driving experience
But when you actually fully automate cars,
when you can just completely tune out
and start reading a book or go to sleep,
that might change society like in ways
we don’t even understand.
Because you’ll have, I mean the,
it’ll probably change the nature of roads
because the cars, because now you can be super productive.
And so no longer quite matters to you
as much how long it takes to get from point A to point B
because you’re not wasting that time.
You just continue working.
It’s like public transit that comes to you.
And so there will be maybe less roads and bigger roads
and it will just change the nature of how we get
from point A to point B.
I think you’re right.
But then couple that also with the fact
that we seem to be more and more comfortable
existing in the digital world.
So like maybe we won’t want to go outside more and more.
We will just interact with each other virtually.
And I don’t mean Zoom meetings.
I mean, just in other ways that’s more fulfilling
than a Zoom meeting, but then maybe not
because like there’s something deeply uncompelling
about Zoom meetings.
Like podcasts that are remote,
unless they’re super information dense,
at least to me as a podcast fan, kind of suck.
There’s no connection.
It goes back to the dog thing.
With the Zoom, there’s no connection.
And we’re not, you know, I don’t understand why
we’re not even making eye contact.
But it’s something there.
It’s in the room.
And that’s like out of our understanding probably.
It’s just some kind of weird biological,
you know, you ever have Cheerios in a bowl?
The Cheerios tend to, they tend to go together.
You see a cluster of Cheerios.
They’re never really hanging out on the other side.
And that’s kind of how people are in real life.
I wonder what the physics of that is.
So they come together and they stick.
There’s so many with molecules.
I don’t know, I can’t remember what it was,
but it was fascinating.
And I think that’s how people are.
And I think you try to write a TV show
or craft a movie with your team, Zoom, nothing there.
It’s like phone sex versus penetration.
One day you’ll learn that.
I know nothing of either of the,
I look forward,
because I think there’s a phone sex Netflix documentary
that there’s a show or something like that
that is really popular that I want to go watch.
So at least I can learn about that.
I could send you some links.
Oh, on the internet?
But yeah, self driving car.
I think it’s just inevitable.
It’s coming and these truckers
are going to have to figure something out.
I mean, that’s an under understood industry actually,
because there’s not,
there’s a lot of trucking jobs and people don’t want to,
well, people don’t want to actually take them anymore
because it’s such a difficult job.
So it won’t have,
or a lot of people believe it won’t have
as big of a negative impact as folks anticipate.
There’ll be other automation.
I think they’ll have a huge impact.
Yeah, for sure.
I mean, you already see it in McDonald’s.
You go to the beep, beep, beep.
Why do you want to get yelled at
by the heavyset woman of color,
you know, for making a bad order
when you can just, you know, hit the screen?
But those interactions I think are human.
I mean, that’s part of life.
So it is scary taking away everything.
How long till we’re not fucking?
That’s coming too.
Then there’s going to have two types of people.
Are you a fuck in real life?
Are you a digital fuck person?
Oh, I’m a digital.
Oh, I like real fucking.
Sorry, we can’t date.
Well, there’s also the reproduction side of sex,
which is like with genetic engineering,
you’ll be able to specify a little bit of details.
I talked to Jamie Mertzel about that.
Like where you can specify like,
it’ll start with like,
I want my child not to have like a high likelihood
of diabetes or something like that.
And then you just get to specify like intelligence.
You just get to specify those kinds of parameters
until you’re like basically trying to create a perfect human
and you lose some of the magic of the flaws
that make us who we are.
And you know, I’m pretty sure in the full lineup of humans,
like, so let me give you some information.
Lay it off me, buddy.
Break it down.
I’m sure you researched this thoroughly,
but a male of the human species,
the homo sapien produces 500 billion sperm cells
in a lifetime.
So that’s all, some more than others.
That’s all uniquely, genetically unique humans
that you could produce.
So even across those 500 billion, you can select.
What do you mean, like abort some or?
No, you can choose which of them you want.
I mean, just imagine all the genetic possibilities
that are there, like all of the possible,
like you won the race.
Yeah, this is the winner.
Which one out of all the 500 billion?
You have to imagine what the competition was.
Oh, just tarts all day long.
Well, so it’s not actually the fastest sperm
or like it’s, I think a lot of it is timing and luck.
That’s what it seems like.
There’s actual papers on this
and I’ve actually been reading them.
I hope so.
So it’s not just like the fastest sperm to the egg.
There’s a timing thing.
So you were just lucky.
I believe that.
So it’s interesting to think about like,
once you’re able to specify some parameters
of what your child is like,
how that changes the nature of
even just like the intimacy of two humans getting together
and making, creating together a child.
I mean, it changes it.
It’s almost like, I don’t know,
it becomes like a factory line of some kind.
If you don’t meet naturally.
Yeah, if you don’t meet naturally and then you don’t
and you get to optimize your child,
then it’s some like you have to consider
utilitarian type of things,
like what’s good for society
and it’ll probably be regulation about what kind of children
you can have or not.
Like your child can not have an IQ below this
or above this or something like that.
Or your child can not.
We already kind of do that with VIP clubs.
Like, ah, you’re kind of ugly
or women go, hey, he’s not tall enough.
We kind of do it a little.
Yeah, we do.
Can’t get on the roller coaster
if you’re this short, whatever it is.
You know, we do it in some capacity.
But here, this would be like fully transparent
and to a degree that it’s hard to imagine.
Like the way we currently do it,
you can at least get around it.
You can at least trick your way onto the roller coaster
even if you’re short.
Or the fat guy can get rich so he can get laid.
You know, there’s other ways.
At the risk of asking the totally wrong person
this question, what advice would you give
to young people today in high school and college
about how to have a successful career
or career they’re proud of
or maybe have a life that they’re proud of?
Well, first of all, you gotta be,
you gotta want a life you’re proud of.
Not everybody has any integrity.
A lot of people just want short money.
I wanna feel good, look good right now.
I wanna do Molly, boom, I’ll feel good, you know?
But you should space it out.
You should, it’s almost like saving money
so you can use it later.
Nobody wants to save money.
What do they say, like 11% of America
actually has money saved, $1,000 or some shit?
It’s wildly low.
Everybody wants it now, now, what do you call it?
I think the key to happiness and satisfaction
is working for something.
Even if it’s, it’s like a baby.
If you could have a baby in five minutes,
if a woman, you got a, you jizzed in her
and she had a baby, oop, five minutes, boom.
I think you’d be more likely to throw it away
if you could make it that quick.
It’s the fact that you spent nine months backbreaking
the labor, the lactating, the ripped placenta
and the hymen or whatever the fuck.
That’s what makes you love it.
And I think it’s the same with comedy
or making money or whatever.
Look at these kids who like child stars.
They all become heroin addicts at like 22
because they’ve just, their sensors are burned out.
Their pleasure sensors.
You didn’t have to earn it.
I think earning it is a big part of life
and always try to do better, try to do more,
try to learn new things.
Hey, I’m bored.
Play the piano then you chooch.
But you won’t do it because it takes effort
and failure and all that.
But that’s the good part.
And I know it’s hard to see.
So I think that’s a good key to life
is work hard at something you care about
and then love the result.
The hard work, the journey is actually way more important
than just getting something.
Everybody wants to go on Amazon.
I got a package.
Then you feel good for 10 seconds
and all right, let’s go on Amazon again.
And then it’s just a dumb cycle
of you being disgusting and gluttonous.
So work for it.
Everybody wants to take steroids and just boop, I’m buff.
Why’d you point at me?
Well, I’m just saying.
Because I’m Russian or what?
Well, I saw the Icarus.
But no, I’m not saying you’re on roids.
I’m just, you’d be way bigger.
But I’m just saying, you know, work for something.
And then I would also, young people eat shit early.
Eat shit early.
I know a guy who kind of got canceled or whatever
and he had an out early, but he tried to get by
and he tried to ride it and it all came crumbling down.
But if he had eaten it early, like, yeah, I fucked up.
I did that.
Whatever it was, he would’ve just kind of been shit on
for a month and then it would’ve gone away.
But now it’s his whole identity and that sucks.
So eat shit early.
And I know it’s hard to see, what do you mean early?
I’m in the present.
But look ahead, look back, this time will pass.
I mean, look at high school.
High school was the biggest thing in our lives.
Oh my God, this exam, Susie Q hates me.
The football player beat me up.
Oh, I’ll never recover.
Now you don’t even think about high school.
It’s just a blip in your dumb life, you know?
And that’s what this is now.
This will just be a blip.
So remember that and work towards something
and work hard and care about the result.
If the result isn’t good, try it again.
And failure is not always bad.
Failure, we look at failure as this end all, be all.
My life’s over, I failed.
But failure is really just learning.
So that’s something.
So in summary, eat shit early and eat shit often.
All right, Mark Norman.
That’s escalated quickly.
All right, I have a list of random questions for you.
What activities make you lose track of time?
Have that go into that zone.
You have this happiness, contentment about you
that you just truly enjoy.
Yeah, I think a good conversation.
Like I’ll sit at the comedy cellar with friends,
maybe a little whiskey’s flowing.
And when you’re really just vibing
You can do it.
What is it?
When you’re just vibing and you’re uninhibited
and you’re saying crazy shit and you’re laughing
and you’re not worried, am I seeming cool right now?
Am I seeming likable?
When you’re just you 100% and it’s all coming out of you
and then they’re saying stuff and you go back and forth
and you feel that excitement.
Oh, they’re talking, but I wanna say my thing.
And you get all peed up.
I love that.
And I look at my watch, I’m like, fuck,
it’s three in the morning.
We’ve been talking for five hours.
So I love that.
That makes the time fly by.
Also, I bought a, speaking of self driving cars,
I bought a 1973 BMW car and it’s classic
and it’s stick shift and it’s grizzly and gritty and rusty
and it’s a bucket of bolts, but I love driving it.
Bucket of bolts.
You and Tom Waits are poets.
Have you taken like a long trip anywhere,
like road trip in your life or with this BMW?
Not with it, it’s pretty new,
but I will.
It’s a new 97.
Yeah, it’s new to me.
And it goes in the phase of everything we’re doing now.
Everything is digital, everything is automated,
everything is hands off, everything is delivered.
And this is the most hands on thing in the world.
And I am dialed in, man.
I got the tachometer, I keep an eye on that.
Oh, I put the wrong gear in, shit.
Oh, it’s about to stall, put some gas, put some clutch.
And it’s all just brain power and staying in focus
and all that, and it’s the opposite of tweeting
and texting and watching porn or whatever.
So I almost needed that in my life,
so I bought this car just to have this little exercise.
I hope you don’t mind that I’m just trying out
random questions I wrote on you that are completely insane.
I’m a guinea pig, jizz in my face.
Bring it on, baby.
This would be edited down to five minutes.
If everyone on earth disappeared
and it was just you left, what would your days look like?
What would you do?
That’s tough, because I’m already an introvert
and I try to avoid people mostly.
Like I like a one on one, but crowds and all that is tough.
So basically unchanged?
Yeah, that’s what I was gonna say,
but then that’s the irony is I would be so sad
to not talk to anybody.
So it’s this weird, bittersweet thing,
but I don’t know what I would do, man.
I guess it’s kind of like when you’re hung over,
you just go into the primal survival mode.
I gotta get food, I need water, I’m horny, jerk off.
You just go, you’re not like playing the piano
or painting or at the gym.
So I think I would just go into urges, man, primal urges.
Find food, store food, am I safe?
Make weapons, build a shelter that I can’t get attacked in.
I would go all survival mode.
And then once I maybe realized if I was safe or not,
there’s no wild roaming dogs, I would start exploring.
And maybe somehow get a vehicle and I would try to expand
and that would be it.
And maybe I’d journal.
Exploring to what, to try to find new experiences?
New life, if there’s other,
maybe there is another guy out there.
Oh, so always there’s a possibility.
And then maybe there’s a better place I could live.
Let’s find that and then moving on.
Maybe there’s more food over here.
So yeah, the hope would drive me.
But it would be bleak and sad and horrible also.
So what you’re saying is you really want other people
to be there so you can hide from them, isn’t it?
Yes, yes, well said.
All right, what’s an item on your bucket list
that you haven’t done yet?
Think about something you’d be very upset if you died
and you haven’t done.
Well, I’m terrified of having kids,
just because I’m a child myself
and I’m selfish and lazy in a way.
So kids are like, this is your whole life now, this is it.
You gotta not let this thing die.
You gotta love it, you gotta raise it.
So kids scare the shit out of me,
but I also feel like if I don’t have them, I’ll regret it.
Well, you’ve seen so many people like you
who are fundamentally changed by kids.
Like it’s a source, it’s a source of,
like a deep source of happiness,
even though you didn’t anticipate it.
So you like, you penciled it into your bucket list.
You’re, it might be on there.
You want kids?
Yeah, well, I want kids.
I wanna get married, I wanna have kids.
I kind of, I don’t like choice.
So in the following way,
like I appreciate the value of scarcity
and the power of scarcity.
Like I don’t like the modern dating culture.
It’s not some religious thing or whatever.
I just like one girl for a long time
or at least swinging for that always,
like swinging for the fences.
You could be swinging right now.
I mean, you’re.
There’s a different use of the word swinging.
What I’m saying, you could be clear.
You look great, you’re handsome.
Yeah, thank you.
You get the job done.
So I feel like you wouldn’t leave without an orgasm on her.
Yeah, but I just like to, you know, about furries.
I like to dress up as animals
and I just have trouble finding others who like the same.
They’re up there.
I could show you some chat rooms.
You’re also my coach for the internet.
What are you most afraid of?
I guess on Unlived Life.
I was a big fan growing up of like wild guys, you know,
like these Teddy Roosevelt’s who would go out
and hunt lions and like bar fighting guys.
I was obsessed with the Hunter S. Thompson types.
And look, this is what I love about guys like,
who’s a good example?
Hemingway was the manliest guy.
He had the rifle and the elephant gun and the whiskey
and the writing and the women and the fist fights.
But people forget that the other side of that coin
is I’m sure he was in a lot of hotel rooms weeping.
I’m sure he was lonely as fuck.
I’m sure he had some wicked hangovers.
I mean, he killed himself for Christ’s sake.
So obviously he was dealing with something.
So the key to me is having this adventurous life,
living to the fullest, doing crazy shit, scaring yourself,
but also not killing yourself.
Like also not hating,
because I used to party a lot hard.
I used to bang a lot of gals.
And the flip side is like, this girl hates you now,
or you got herpes or you’re hungover,
or your mom is like, where are you?
You never call me anymore.
You’re like, oh, my mom, let ties go with my mom.
I gotta connect.
So there’s a horrible side to the party animal.
The Keith Richards we don’t see is not pretty.
I mean, he’s already weird looking,
but he’s partying, he’s smoking, he’s living.
But there’s another side of that coin.
And I think the key to life
is living that fucking crazy, awesome, badass life,
and also having some meaning
and a little bit of, what’s the word?
Not just not killing yourself,
not going sad, not being depressed.
There’s a medium there, a sweet spot.
Does that make sense?
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
So taking big leaps and Hemingway,
grabbing life by the balls,
but at the same time, not crushing the balls,
does that metaphor work at all?
Perfect, like Evel Knievel, we all know him.
What a badass, fearless, oh, man, what a cool dude.
He’s got balls of steel.
But he also lived the back half of his life
in a fucking barka lounger
where his legs were made of steel
and he couldn’t see straight and his dick didn’t work.
So you know what I mean?
You gotta have a balance, but you still want the balance.
I’m willing to take a little bit of shit
for a little bit of fun,
but you don’t want to go too hard.
Well, you gotta still risk it.
I mean, Hunter S. Thompson, it didn’t end well.
But it was quite a ride.
Quite a ride.
What small act of kindness were you once shown
that you will never forget?
Wow, that’s a great question.
I just wrote these for the guinea pig.
You’re the guinea pig.
That’s great, that’s a keeper.
Keep that question. Okay, that’s a keeper?
This is where we’re like workshopping questions here.
All right, I’ll take it.
Now you’re open biking.
This is your version.
Let’s see, there’s a couple ladies in high school
who were kind enough to hand job me.
That was nice, which I really appreciate.
I don’t think women know how much that means to us.
You know, women are like,
oh, I’m not a piece of meat or whatever.
And you’re like, I know, but if you just gave me a hand job,
it would make my world.
It’s like telling a kid he’s smart or loved.
See, most people mention like a math teacher,
middle school, that would inspire them to get into science.
You give a shout out to the thing.
Well, that’s part of it, that’s not the nicest,
but I’m just saying that goes a long way.
Let’s see, kindness.
That’s a great question.
I wanna give you a good answer.
I got lost when I was like six.
I was walking around my dad and I zoned out and went away.
And next thing you know, I don’t know where I am.
I’m in a neighborhood.
This old guy finds me crying on a lawn somewhere
and he goes, come inside.
And he tried to call my parents and nothing came of it.
Eventually they found me after like nine hours,
cops were there, the FBI is out there, fucking helicopters.
And I guess, you know, that’s nice.
This old guy took me in for a couple of hours
and just sat me down and kept me safe.
Oh, how about Enis?
My transvestite nanny, very kind.
He, did you hear about this?
We had this transvestite nanny who was like a drag queen,
but it was in the 90s.
So it was weird.
It was new.
And my bike got stolen and he, you know,
my parents were like, eh, what are you gonna do?
They’re poor kids, you know?
And he was like, fuck it, we’re gonna go get that bike.
And I was like, this guy’s in a wig and high heels,
big black guy.
And I’m like, ah, what are you gonna do?
You know, it’s gone.
And he’s like, nah, we’re gonna go get it.
So we got in the van and drove around my neighborhood,
saw the kids, fuck with the bike, you know,
five street tufts.
And he goes, all right, you want to come out
or should I just do this?
And I was like, you do it.
What are you, crazy?
And he got out of the van in full, you know,
heels and wig.
And he went up to these guys and they went off.
Oh my God, look at this fucking guy,
homo faggot, all this shit.
You know, it’s the 90s.
And he just stared at them long enough
to where they were kind of like, all right,
well, I guess we’re gonna fight you now.
And he goes, that’s not your bike.
And they go, what are you gonna do about it?
And he puts his hand on the middle of the bike
and they didn’t do anything.
And he just picked it up and said, that’s what I thought.
Put the bike over his shoulder, slid the van door open,
threw the bike in and we drove off.
Somebody stuck up for you.
Yeah, and you know, I mean, he could have got,
I mean, they had tools.
They could have fucking tuned him up, two seconds.
That actually like takes courage.
Oh yeah, real courage.
And then that, the reason you do an act like that
is that makes a kid like you feel like
there’s somebody on your side, that’s powerful.
Someone on your side is big.
That goes a long way.
Especially when they have the risk
of getting their ass kicked or their job taken away
or whatever it is.
Now we’re gonna get philosophical,
maybe a little bit emotional.
Oh, would you rather lose all your old memories
or never be able to make new ones?
It’s a tough one, but I’d go easy answer, make new ones.
But don’t you think all the shitty things
that happen to you?
Oh, so my hard drive is wiped clean.
It’s not, is it memories
or is it how every memory affected me too?
I mean, this is a very.
Or do they go hand in hand?
I think the reality about memories
is you replay them often.
You go back to them even when you’re not aware of it.
You really go, you go back often like that.
And they change.
You change them too.
Yeah, you change them to suit your understanding
of the world.
And so the dark view you have,
both the hope and the cynicism you have about the world
is so deeply grounded in the memories
that you’re basically, I would say,
if you erase all memories,
I think you’re really starting over
with maybe the wisdom of how the world works,
but not so much of your personality is gone.
You would really,
it’d be interesting how your comedy would change.
Maybe you would have a good sense of timing.
You have a good sense of the writing process maybe.
Now you’re making some good points,
but let me ask you this.
Let’s say I go to Lake Cuomo with my girlfriend.
Now, like I wipe the memory or I keep my old memories.
Let’s say I go to the Tuscany with the lady.
I just won’t remember that?
Yeah, but you get to experience it in the moment.
You’ll get to enjoy it.
Can I look at a photo of it?
But I would, what the hell is this?
The rules are pretty simple.
I think everyone knows how the rules go.
So you would, yeah, so what?
Well, I was gonna say start new ones,
but then I realized I wouldn’t be who I was without them.
That’s what you’re saying.
So I guess I’d keep them.
Cause I am 38, so I’ve gotten a good chunk out of life.
And let’s be honest, how many years do you have left?
I know, right?
I got AIDS.
Is it better to have loved,
okay, this question is ridiculous.
Is it better to have loved than lost
or to have never loved at all?
It sounds cliche, but there’s a question.
Definitely better to loss.
So you enjoy the ups and downs.
Yeah, that’s life.
We’re sun and rain, baby.
I kind of like both, the whole thing.
The loss, every time you lose something,
it really makes you distinctly realize
how much you valued it.
Like when I’m feeling alone and I’m sitting there alone
at home and I wish I could hang out with somebody,
that’s like a realization how awesome people are.
So it’s like the missing, yeah.
We don’t have a lot of that in life anymore
because we can have anything we want immediately.
So the missing has gone away,
which again drives down the joy of having it.
So I think you’re right, you need both.
So like you said, you have a terminal condition,
not many years left.
Do you think about your mortality?
You think about that?
All day, every day.
Are you afraid?
Not afraid, because it’s inevitable.
So it’s more like, how are we gonna handle this?
It’s like the winter is coming,
let’s stock up on some fucking nuts.
But the existential nature of it,
like the fact that this ride ends,
like what the hell are you doing any of this for?
Like, is it your?
Short term, but like there is a presumption there
that it kind of goes on forever.
I think if you truly think about the fact that it ends.
Your brain almost shuts it down.
Yeah, there’s some kind of like protective like switch
that just goes off.
I mean, that’s why the Stoics encourage people
to meditate on death,
because it somehow reorganizes your priorities.
It helps you like, holy shit,
this ends, make the most of the day.
It’s just a nice thing,
but still you can’t quite comprehend that the thing ends.
Little things too.
People go like, oh, we got a layover between our flights.
It’s an hour, what are we gonna do for an hour?
It’s like, what do you mean,
what are you gonna do for an hour?
You’re gonna kill an hour.
How are we gonna kill this hour?
This is part of your life.
You’re just trying to get rid of it,
you’re just trying to kill it.
That always blew my mind.
Like, hey, fuck it, let’s go hit the airport bar.
Let’s get a candy bar or something, anything with bar.
But it’s just, you’ve gotta live.
I hate this like, how are we gonna burn?
Oh, the bar didn’t open for 15 minutes.
What are we gonna do?
Well, we got 15 minutes.
The world is our oyster.
Yeah, make the most of it.
And like you said, in modern day,
actually the boredom is a gift.
Like when you’re waiting for something, that’s a gift.
You get to be with your thoughts.
Those are the same thoughts you’ll have
when you’re on your deathbed.
There won’t be a, you won’t be scrolling TikTok
on your deathbed.
I hope not, Jesus.
You’d be a lot more, actually maybe you would be.
What a sad existence.
Because it would be a good,
like content creators would be like,
ooh, I’m dying, this would be good content.
Yeah, I wanna be able to sure,
film the exact moment it goes, beep.
Like last words, I wonder what my last words will be.
It’d be a good way to like end the account with a bang.
Yep, I like that.
Well, you know that you ever seen that meme
where the old guy in bed, he goes,
I wish I had tweeted more, you know, and then he dies.
It’s so true.
Could be the future.
What do you think is the meaning of life?
I don’t think there is one.
Everybody always throws that out there.
There isn’t a meaning.
I think we’re here, we’re lucky to be here.
I think there’s no afterlife, there’s no heaven.
That’s all shit we tell ourselves to feel better.
And I think you gotta just, it’s like saying,
what is the meaning of this food I made?
Well, it’s just you enjoy the food,
you try to get the most out of it.
You built the food, you prepared it.
So just get what you can out of it.
Don’t die and try to make it last as long as possible.
Yeah, but you look at Earth,
it’s like 4 billion years old.
And life started early on, like simple cell bacteria life,
like 1 billion years in.
And then it started like having lots
of aggressive interaction.
Eventually there’s predator and prey and there’s sex,
lots of sex, lots of sex, lots of violence.
And then, you know, through natural selection,
there’s just the whole evolutionary process of animals
that have loved and lost and murdered and gotten murdered
and all that kind of stuff.
And it’s somehow led to human civilization.
We’re super busy trying to create things
and creating beautiful art, creating beautiful comedy.
Just always creating something new.
It feels like it’s tending towards something, like.
It’s not dying.
If you die tomorrow, you still have all these hours of pods.
So it’s kind of, you think you’re cheating death
in a subconscious way, I think.
Right, you know who Ernest Becker is and?
I’ve heard the name.
It’s a book called Denial of Death,
this idea that if you don’t acknowledge.
Books on my shelf.
Girls love it.
No, I’m just, I’m saying.
You want to bring Tolstoy, Dostoevsky?
Russian literature, it’s back to norm.
It’s good to bring to,
because no American has read any Russian literature,
but they all appreciate it if you bring it.
And it’s not like they’re going to ask you
any legitimate questions because they haven’t read it.
So you can always pretend like you’ve read it, so.
It’s a little dense.
Can we get a shortened version?
Yes, or make a movie with, you know, Ben Stiller
that I can just go, oh, this is based on,
what is it, life and death?
No, what’s the one?
War and peace.
War and peace, yeah.
Yeah, so Ernest Becker’s theory,
and there’s this whole terror management theory
that basically says that like our terror of death,
our fear of death is one of the central creative forces
of the human condition.
It’s the reason we’re trying to, yeah, cheat death.
We’re trying to dilute ourself
that somehow we can become immortal through our art.
That’s why you’ve uploaded your special to YouTube
because you think your special
will outlive all of human civilization.
You think YouTube will outlive all of human civilization.
That could go away tomorrow.
That can go away tomorrow.
All of this can go away.
So I’m truly grateful.
Mr. Mark Norman, that you would spend
your very valuable time with me today
even though it could all go away.
This could be the last day of our lives,
and won’t you be quite upset that this is how you spent it?
Ah, yeah, in your hotel room, what am I?
You’re like Harvey Weinstein here.
You poured me up, and now I feel fucked.
Just wait, what we have ready for you
after the podcast is over.
All right, brother, thanks so much for talking today.
Thank you, it was great.
Thanks for listening to this conversation with Mark Norman.
To support this podcast,
please check out our sponsors in the description.
And now let me leave you with some words
from Mark Norman himself on his Twitter,
which you should definitely follow because it’s hilarious.
The worst thing about getting Omicron for Christmas
is you know it was regifted.
Thank you for listening, and hope to see you next time.