Say Yes…but not to everything and everyone!

1 06 2015


I was always one of those kids who was never quite satisfied. I wasn’t much of a watcher and always wanted to be doing the things that looked interesting to me – music, travel, drawing. Then, as I got older, the list just grew longer and wider – learning to play the violin, scuba diving, mountain climbing, cooking, on and on and on.

I’d see a show on underwater sea excavation and I’d think “man, what would that be like – I wish I could try it” and then read about someone who overcame a major adversity and think “what is my purpose in life? I need to learn to speak Spanish way better.”

I am restless by nature and every time I would have one of these epiphanies, my wife would say “I’ll add it to the list”. Who can really blame her, I guess. It’s hard to be around someone who seems so unfocused.

Truth is that I am very focused which is where the restlessness comes in. I don’t just want to try new things but learn to master them. It’s just not possible.

The two things I have always done – writing and music – took a back seat during my marriage, and for the most part, for a good reason – my kids were young and between being a husband, father, employee, homeowner and at one point, returning student – it just wasn’t feasible. But there were other reasons, too, and as my marriage was, shall we say, “expiring it’s contract”, I started to more passionately return to those things that made me not only feel good about myself but were inherently a part of who I am. I took it to another level when I convinced myself to open up to new experiences and start by saying “yes” rather than finding reasons why it might not be a good idea.

I still do that today and if it were not for that, I would not have had some of the amazing experiences and friends that I do today. For that, I am eternally grateful. However, and in my comedy world, in particular, I have said “yes” perhaps to too many things. The truth is when you say “yes” to something, you are usually saying “yes” to someone (at least one person) and that is not to be taken lightly because, at some point, you will be dependent on that person or vice versa.

With limited time, limited energy and unlimited ambition, it has occurred to me that I have to find the balance between who I became as married person – just a reflection of who I was – and being a “renaissance man” of sorts who can dabble in may different endeavors at once.

It’s a difficult thing to do for someone like me because, if I am going to be honest, I always had this fear of “missing out”. This is crazy making. If you’re living – really living and not always planning – you are not missing out. Good or bad, you are experiencing life in all its messiness. These past two years have been messy, too. They have also been transformational – or are in the process of being transformational. But, to be valuable, I have to start to really identify not only who I want to be but also what I am willing to put my efforts behind because being all things to all people and putting your all into everything – it’s both not possible and it is also a shortchanging to you and others.

Some people have the opposite problem – committing. I try to keep my word when I say something. However, given time constraints and just life in general, there is only so much that one can expect to squeeze in to a day without succumbing to the inevitable letdown.

There’s probably a reason the famous Nike phrase is “Just Do It” and not “Just Do Them”.

Until next time,


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Fill your Comedy Prescription!

2 03 2015


“No that’s ok, I’ll just stay in and watch my favorite program “Apathy.”

I was really fortunate to be part of two great shows this past week. One was a new show I produced and the second was a show I was invited to be on. They were both great.

Each had about 30 people in the audience, which depending on your frame of reference, could be either impressive or not. Trust me, it is.

It always amazes me the disconnect between attendance at these shows with just amazing comics – the audience was laughing hysterically at both, for example – and the difficulty in getting people out to shows. You get 4 to 6 comedians for anywhere from the price of a drink to $15 and it feels like pulling teeth.

I have had several discussions about this and the reasons behind it, what happened since the heyday of comedy in the 80s, how the internet may have “killed” live comedy, etc. etc., but none of that really matters. What matters is that there is a pool of talent that is just unreal. I guarantee, that for most of you, you can find a great show within a 30 minute ride, if not closer.

It keeps occurring to me that, in the same way Uber has “disrupted” the traditional way in which taxi services are purchased and managed, there is a business model for comedy that is also waiting to be developed and executed. The only big difference in my mind is with respect to demand. City dwellers will always need a cab ride to somewhere. Comedy as a demand? Unfortunately, not so much.

The demand is ready, though. Here’s the thing that people are missing: seeing a good comedian is one of the healthiest and rejuvenating things you can do because laughter is a drug. Like music, sex and yes, real drugs, laughter actually impacts your brain and the way you feel. If I could somehow reach out to the medical associations around the world and actually help write and implement guidelines for “laughter prescriptions”, I would do it.

This is not self serving. It is a real thing and yet we choose to sit at home and watch YouTube, which is not the same thing! In fact, the social aspects of laughing together, or listening to music or other things you can imagine doing “together”, have benefits far greater than doing them alone.

A little research on the scientific and health benefits of laughter reveals the following:

  • Dr. Lee Berk at Loma Linda University found, in the 1980s, that laughter helps in the regulation of stress hormones and were linked to the production of antibodies and endorphins, natural pain killers in the body.
  • In 2003 in the journal Neuron, it was found that humor can help regulate the brain’s dopamine levels associated with mood, motivation, attention and learning.

This is a real thing and I ask each of you – if there is one blog post that you forward on to the 1,000 people in your email distribution list or Facebook, let it be this one.

Go see a comedian! It costs less than a co-pay, it is incredibly good for you, there is no pain involved (sometimes just for the comics) and we have a chance to be part of a comedy resurgence when the talent pool is ripe for the plucking.

And, it last’s longer than sex (or that’s what I hear).

Until next time,


Searching for the Funny

22 01 2015


Today started out pretty good. I even got to exercise.

It didn’t end so well.

I’ll spare you the details. It wasn’t an “Unbroken”, “Precious” or “Schindler’s List” bad day – I mean, I have some perspective.

But it hit me hard personally in a way that some of those moments do where you look out in the horizon and you can’t really see much further than your own face. I want so badly to be balanced and yet, when these things happen, despite my best efforts, I fail miserably.

As a comedian, I try to find the funny in moments that are anything but. You know the whole Mark Twain “comedy = tragedy + time” or something similar to that. It’s not so easy when it’s recent and raw. So, it made me think about what do comedians do when they have to “be on” but might not feel funny?

As it turns out, they do the same thing any professional does who has a task at hand and may not feel into it – they get the job done (at least the good ones do). For someone who has his own struggles with anxiety, it is interesting that I would even consider trying to do stand-up, that is until I learned that some of the most anxious people are best in crises, because it causes them to focus on the task at hand and immediately get out of their own head.

I think this is how I have dealt with comedy when I might not feel so funny. Rarely do I find myself just going through the motions – my mouth saying one thing while my head is someplace else – at least when doing comedy. In life? Well, that’s another story.

Fake it till you make it. Make yourself laugh. You can do it and you don’t need to be a comic. In fact, it’s easier if you aren’t. It’s the best form of cognitive behavior therapy, in my opinion (he says as if it is an actual form of CBT, which he doesn’t know). Here’s how: think of something funny or a funny thought/take on something or better yet, experience it by telling the story to a friend (or your imaginary blog friend). It works.

A rule of stage comedians  – don’t just tell your story or joke on stage; actually experience it. So, sometimes, rather than searching and waiting, you have to fake and make. It’s better than the alternative: coping and moping.

Until next time,


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