Tag Archives: Comedy

#46 – Start A Podcast

Everyone has a podcast.

I usually hate doing what other people do, because it’s harder to stand out amongst a group of people all doing the same thing.

But I started a podcast.

I didn’t start a podcast for the usual reasons people start a podcast. I am not trying to get attention. I am not trying to get advertisers. I don’t even care about how many people download the episodes. I mean, it would be nice if you listened to it, but really I don’t care.

My only goal: to get people jobs.

Last year I was passed up on a gig that I should’ve at least been interviewed for. I had recommendations from network executives and friends of the showrunner. Even people the showrunner reached out to said I should be considered. The gig was to book comedians for a show, something I have done before. Despite all the recommendations, I didn’t get a phone call.

I wasn’t bitter. It’s part of the game. I took my misfortune as an opportunity to examine myself. I recognize that about every four years I have to alter my career path just a bit to maintain relevance. Show business is fickle and if you stick with the same methods for too long you become stale and people stop caring. All the biggest stars recognize this. That’s why you’ve been witness to so many versions of Madonna and Bowie.

Even mega producers like Judd Apatow have a few flops in a row before switching things up. Do you remember what followed “BridesMaids” and “Get Him to the Greek?” Some stinkers like “The Five Year Engagement,” and “Anchorman 2.” Then he came out with “Trainwreck” which most people loved before Amy Schumer started her path toward becoming the next annoying Dane Cook. OK, I’m getting off track.

I was strictly a journalist from ages 18 to 21. I switched gears a bit and became a TV producer and journalist from ages 21 to 25. From ages 26 to 30 I have strictly been a TV producer and all the other things that come with that like writer and casting director.

During each of those transitions came an influencer to lead the movement in a direction. What launched my last four-year run of non-stop working on TV shows was this blog. It got me a lot of work, because it showcased my writing and that I was hustling on my own. It got me one show, which led to another show, which led me to another show. At the time, everyone had a blog. Hell, everyone still has a blog. But I didn’t care about how many readers I was getting. I have a formula to look back on that did me well.

Now back to the podcast.

I listen to only two podcasts. “WTF w/ Marc Maron” and “The Industry Standard w/ Barry Katz.” By this point, most people know “WTF,” since Maron interviewed Obama last year. His motivation for starting his podcast years ago was that he had nothing of extreme relevance going on in his career. He knew he could talk to people and that he had famous friends, so why not start something that he could control, unlike the inability to acquire a show on TV, which requires an infinite number of executives and people to say, “yes.”

For me, the gig I was passed up on was not the first, and it certainly won’t be the last, but it was the first time I got passed up when I had so many people speaking on my behalf. It got me motivated.

It was easy to come up with the concept for my podcast. I know so many comedians who make a living in comedy, but don’t get the recognition they deserve. They have so many stories to tell, so many questions unanswered about where their path is heading, and so many battles to appreciate the present while keeping an outlook for the future. Also, they all have uniquely different paths to how they got involved in comedy. I have conversations about all those topics with so many of them at the Hollywood Improv, the Comedy Store, the Laugh Factory, the Comedy Cellar, and every other comedy club that starts with “the.” Now, I just record the conversations.

The goal of the podcast is simple. I wanted to get these people work, and in turn get me work. My whole network of people is all in show business. I don’t have normal friends anymore. I believe everyone has a story to tell, and my responsibility in my career has been to find out what a person’s story is, and tell it.

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I’ve recorded some episodes in some less than ideal situations like in my old apartment on Hollywood Blvd and this hotel room in San Luis Obispo.

I also didn’t have anything to lose in starting the podcast. In today’s world, everyone tries to stay as private as possible for fear of saying something that will offend others or perhaps be portrayed in an unflattering light. I have always put myself out there and shared more than a safe amount of information about myself. You simply have to read early posts of this blog to realize that fact.

In order to be taken serious about the podcast I knew I had to get some episodes up, and not just do like 20 of them. I have seen podcasts come and go, but the ones that have an impact are the ones that stick around and produce a lot of episodes. My thinking was that if I released two a week I could get to over 100 episodes in a year, which in television is the old syndication model that 100 episodes of anything is significant.

The other aspect of television that I took when building the podcast is that I told myself I have to release every Monday and Thursday no matter what. I took that from the Maron format and decided I would release an episode on the same days at the same times of each week. People told me I was crazy to put those expectations on myself. But just like TV shows, people need to know when to find your show. You don’t see “Modern Family” changing its air date and time from week to week, but so many other people record and release their podcasts with no set schedule. I refused to be like that. Well, at first I refused to be like that.

As of this publishing date I am at episode 47. I kept up with the two episode a week model all the way until episode 43. Then I hit a wall. It wasn’t a creative wall, but rather one of time. I was producing “Hellevator” on GSN 15 hours a day, got hired by Just For Laughs for the Montreal Comedy Festival, pitching my own shows, and trying to maintain the podcast. There’s only a certain amount of hours in the day. Excuses, excuses, excuses.

I didn’t think it was insane for someone like me who is typically behind the camera to start a podcast. I know how to interview because of my prior career as a journalist and in casting you have to conduct interviews in auditions on camera all of the time. I also know how to book people and tell stories, and I have a seemingly endless pool of talent to pull from.

People started telling me that I would run out of quality people to interview at a certain point. Quality is relative. I have taken criticism in the past because I am pretty positive with comedy people. I believe there is a position for everyone in this community. Not everyone should be a stand-up comedian. Not everyone should be a writer. Not everyone should have a sitcom. Not everyone should be a producer. But I believe everyone can find a niche, so that is what I intended to do with my podcast, encourage the person in comedy to find their niche.

My next step was to figure out how to record the podcast. I am not a tech person. I sit behind cameras. I don’t shoot them. Same goes for audio equipment. I asked friends of mine what they record with, did my research online, and decided if I was going to do this then I would buy the best equipment possible. Fortunately, it was November and my birthday and Christmas were coming up, so my Mom asked me how much money I needed to get the podcast started. I told her $700 and she said Merryy BirthMas.

After that, the only things left to do was come up with a name for the show and some cover art for iTunes and the other podcast outlets. I was going to call it “The Grass is Greener Podcast” but I didn’t want people to think it was a show about weed and also that’s a really long name. I like having the medium in the title of all my projects hence why “Blog” is in the title of “The Discomfort Blog,” so “Podcast” had to be in there.

I liked the idea of talking about how everyone in show business thinks the grass is always greener. No matter who you are, you think someone else has it better, easier, or is more fortunate. It doesn’t matter how successful you are, you have that in you. I was playing around with the title and realized that “Grass is Greener” has the acronym “G.I.G.” and gigs, aka jobs, is exactly what I would be talking about with all these comics, since everyone in comedy is constantly obsessed with getting the next gig, getting to a gig, working toward the dream gig, and all of us have a different version of all of those. “The G.I.G. Podcast” just seemed to be perfect, because it could also simply be just “The G.I.G.” for short.

GIG Logo Lib

I took this picture back in 2012. Who knew back then that it would end up being useful?

With the name set, I just needed comedian guests. The first ones I wanted to sit down with were people I had conversations with all the time already so the tone would be natural and not forced. Nick Guerra was someone I always chatted with about how there is no rhyme or reason to anything we are shooting for in show business. He was essentially my muse for this. Other people I had these conversations with were Shawn Halpin, Taylor Williamson, Jesus Trejo, and Sharon Houston. I got them all in on my first few episodes.

It has been remarkable to see some of those people go on to do great things like Nick Guerra doing “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon” and Jesus Trejo getting New Faces at Montreal Just For Laughs. My podcast definitely didn’t help them get those things, but our conversations discussed their goals, and to see them go on and accomplish some of those goals is pretty special.

Some of the more recent episodes have been with comedians I didn’t know well but met at different events or venues and have since become friends with like Daniel Weingarten, Briana Hansen, and Ron Josol.

I don’t know what will come of this. I don’t know if I will get work from this or if any of my guests will. I think we all will. I wouldn’t spend my time on it if I thought it was a waste of time.

If anything, everyone who comes on the show for a conversation at least appears to leave with the sense that they’re not alone. The hour I spend with the comedian is a time for deep reflection. Some have left with some self-realizations. Others have felt like it was a therapy session. Some are just happy to find out they’re not alone with what they’re dealing with in their personal and professional life. I know they feel that way, because they tell me…

And because I feel less alone after our chat.

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#45 – Attend Montreal Just For Laughs Comedy Festival

I have done pretty much everything you can think of in comedy.

I’ve toured the country with comedians, written stand-up specials, booked comedians for competition shows, written jokes for hosts, produced short films, hosted a podcast, and even gone in front of the camera.

The one thing I had never done was go to the prestigious Montreal Just For Laughs Comedy Festival.

I’ve always wanted to go, but because I work all over the spectrum in television and not every show I work on is a comedy, no show has ever paid for me to go. And it’s super expensive to pay out of pocket.

Through luck, timing, and a recommendation, I was hired by Just For Laughs to be a set vetter for the festival.

Comedians always talk about how big Montreal is for their career, and some comics would literally kill to get in there. The same is pretty true for producers, writers, managers, and agents.

I’ve worked as a set vetter before, but in a much smaller capacity. When I worked on “America’s Got Talent” I helped comedians with their sets for auditions and tapings. I only worked with a handful at a time. In advance of Montreal I got assigned roughly 65 comedians. There was about 200 comedians in attendance at Montreal who were taping sets. I ended up working with nearly all of them.

Comedians were assigned a network they would be taping for, a set length in minutes, and a venue they’d be taping at. Each of the six networks we were filming sets for had different guidelines of standards and practices. Prior to a comedian filming a set, the comedian had a warm up set the day prior where I watched them perform their intended set to give any last minute notes. In advance of that, I worked with the comedians via phone, text, and e-mail when they provided a transcript of their intended set.

One of the venues I was set vetting at is called The Comedy Nest and it's inside the old forum where the Montreal Canadians used to play. They built a mall inside and kept center ice and some of the seats still in tact.

One of the venues I was set vetting at is called The Comedy Nest and it’s inside the old forum where the Montreal Canadians used to play. They built a mall inside and kept center ice and some of the seats still in tact.

The list of comedians I was assigned was like a Mount Rushmore of comedy living legends. Louie Anderson, Lewis Black, Bobby Slayton, Greg Proops, Tom Green, Andy Dick, Brian Posehn, Jo Koy, and many others who are just coming in to prominence like Tone Bell and Cameron Esposito.

Here is one of the amazing comedians I got to work with, Mary Lynn Rajskub.

Here is one of the amazing comedians I got to work with, Mary Lynn Rajskub.

It felt weird to get assignments like Louie Anderson, Bobby Slayton, and Lewis Black because I’m 30 years old and they have been doing comedy longer than I have been alive. Guys like that could have very easily been stand-offish, but they weren’t. They were receptive and willing to work to make their comedy even better than their already crafted brilliance.

There are always some people who are difficult to deal with, and interestingly enough it was never the legends. It was the people who THINK they are legends. Fortunately the problem children were few and far between.

I arrived in Montreal on Saturday July 23rd and came back to the United States on Sunday July 31st. Each day started with a 5pm meeting with the set vetting and programming team of JFL. My first show was at either 7:30pm or 8pm with a second show at either 9:45pm or 10:30pm. Id usually wrap up vetting sets around midnight and then head to the Roast Battle viewing party or God Damn Comedy Jam show before a 1am meeting that usually lasted until 2:30am.

The God Damn Comedy Jam took place in the backroom of a church, which was an extra special touch for the show.

The God Damn Comedy Jam took place in the backroom of a church, which was an extra special touch for the show.

Before 5pm and after 2:30am I was free to do whatever I wanted, but often that involved chasing down comedians I needed to speak with about their sets.

I did manage to try poutine one time while in Montreal. Canadians love their fries. And I love their country.

I did manage to try poutine one time while in Montreal. Canadians love their fries. And I love their country.

The 1am meeting was without a doubt the highlight of my work experience in Montreal. Six of us would gather to discuss the comics we saw that night and paced each shows gala tapings for where each comedian should perform in the lineup. Order of a lineup is something the average comedy fan might not be aware of its importance. Among other things, certain comedy styles go better when placed after other styles and vice versa.

This was a lineup from just a normal warm up show at Theatre Ste. Catherine. With normal shows this stacked, the galas had a lot to live up to.

This was a lineup from just a normal warm up show at Theatre Ste. Catherine. With normal shows this stacked, the galas had a lot to live up to.

The 1am meeting was so completely opposite of a typical meeting. Ignore the fact that it was taking place at 1am, but we also conducted the meeting over drinks, and inside a room where the only thing separating us from hundreds of the biggest names in comedy and entertainment are two doors.

When Blake Griffin asks to take a picture with you at 330am you do it. Or in this case when he doesn't ask you, you still do it. Blake was hosting shows all week and was amazingly funny.

When Blake Griffin asks to take a picture with you at 330am you do it. Or in this case when he doesn’t ask you, you still do it. Blake was hosting shows all week and was amazingly funny.

Each night a comedian wandered into our conference room. Whether it was Jimmy Carr, Elon Gold, or Jessica Kirson it was a welcome distraction that added to the fun.

The thing I loved most about the festival was getting to see international comedians on a regular basis. I had never seen Jimmy Carr before, and he’s someone I have followed for a few years because he’s huge internationally.

Russell Kane is another British comedian who stole all the laughs from the festival. Getting to see someone like that whom I had never seen before was a real treat, especially when he told me that he made a point to crush it this time around after being disappointed with his showing at the festival four years prior.

And then there was comedian Dave Hughes from Australia, who I would never have been exposed to. His style of comedy really forced me to listen to his words because of his accent and how he pronounced words. I can half listen to comedians from the States and predict where the bit is going to go. With the international acts, it’s not as easy because styles from other countries are different.

The U.S. dollar is worth so much more in Canada, which came in handy when I visited the casino.

The U.S. dollar is worth so much more in Canada, which came in handy when I visited the casino.

I didn’t do a lot of sightseeing, but I did walk through Old Montreal, which has gorgeous nostalgic architecture. And as per usual when I’m in a new city I visited the casino. Beyond that, I stuck around the three-mile radius of the festival, because there was just so much going on in the immediate area.

One of the few venues I went to that wasn't a place of comedy. The Marche Bonsecour in Old Montreal.

One of the few venues I went to that wasn’t a place of comedy. The Marche Bonsecour in Old Montreal.

I didn’t have many moments of discomfort in the 8 days I was there. Comedy is my third language. Unfortunately French isn’t my first or second. I really only had a few instances of feeling awkward when someone in the city didn’t speak English and only spoke French. For the most part, everyone in Montreal speaks both languages. My most profound emotion was without a doubt pride. It felt great to be experiencing Montreal with a number of friends who were doing big things during the festival.

Watching my buddy Jamar Neighbors perform each night as part of The Wave on Roast Battle for Comedy Central was pretty dope. Seeing Jesus Trejo attend the festival as part of the 2016 New Faces group was really special. And seeing Gina Brillon perform each night as part of the Ethnic Show and work with her to tape a set for the Howie Mandel Gala filming for the CW was remarkable. Gina and I started out together nearly a decade ago back in the SiTV days when I produced a show called “Latino 101.” To think we came from doing Latino shows to working together at Montreal was a pretty epic experience.

The look on my face in this picture is pretty much how I looked the whole week, big eyed.

The look on my face in this picture is pretty much how I looked the whole week, big eyed.

I could write 10,000 more words on my experience at Montreal, but I’ll save that for another time, because other career things happened in Montreal, which I will share in future blogs. There really was a magical feeling over those eight days. I am writing this over a week after I have returned from the festival and I barely feel like I have recovered, not only because I barely slept but because it’s hard to come back to reality after non stop excitement nearly every moment I was there. Now as for those other career things that happened while at Montreal…I know, cliff hanger…

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#40 – Attend Comedy Festival

Perception is reality.

Despite growing up in comedy clubs, and all the work I do in comedy I had never been to a comedy festival. I’ve been invited to several of them, but I’m not a typical comedy producer. I completely disregard videos, I never tell comics I’m going to be in the audience, and I believe I can book any comic for some sort of project someday. With that said, I never took up an offer for a comedy festival, because I always believed it was relatively cliche for a comedy person to go to one, until my buddy Devin Roessler invited me to the San Luis Obispo Comedy Festival, which he helps operate.

Here's Devin and I at the festival making unintentional duck faces.

Here’s Devin and I at the festival making unintentional duck faces.

In years past I heard great things about the festival, mainly that it was a party-filled four-day weekend in a picturesque small town. The festival is only five years old but Devin would always talk about it with such passion that this year once February rolled around I told him I wanted to go. I think what appealed to me is that it wasn’t mainstream yet. Rarely do I enjoy mainstream things. He spoke to Eric Shantz, the comedian and founder of the festival, and they gave me a room and a festival pass.

I asked my girlfriend Zoe if she wanted to go. Our relationship is only a few months old so it was going to be our first trip somewhere together. Even though we spend literally every day together, it’s different when you’re on vacation.

Zoe and I sped up the 101 on Thursday night, missed the welcome party but got there just in time for the after-party. Miller Lite sponsored the festival, so a limitless supply of beer got me hammered that first night and each and every night thereafter. I don’t recall the sequential order in which things happened, because of all the alcohol, but here are some of the highlights.

That contraption is called a "Shotski" for obvious reasons.

That contraption is called a “Shotski” for obvious reasons.

Ended the four-day weekend even more in love with my girlfriend – In relationships past I tested the women I dated by seeing if they could hang with me at the Hollywood Improv. Since I met Zoe at the Improv, and she spends multiple nights a week there with me, this festival was a true test of how much comedy she could bare since we saw multiple shows a night and we were surrounded by 40 comedians staying in the same hotel as us. She’s also a great judge of character and we had a blast hanging with some of my favorite comedian friends that she also took a liking to like Flip Schultz, Allison Weber, Brett Riley, and Shawn Halpin. Comedians are not easy people to be around, but she probably fits in better than me.

Zoe is the real comedian

Zoe is the real comedian

Scouted some new talent – I am working on a pilot for CMT and an executive at the network asked me to recommend comedians that they might not know about which should be on their radar. I got to see Chris Cope and Mary Patterson Broome perform, both of whom I had never seen before, and promptly recommended them to the network for future consideration. Both seemed genuinely appreciative and it’s always cool to see that on the face of young comedians. Moments like that remind me of why I do what I do. Comedians often ask me why I don’t do stand-up, and I explain that they get a high off entertaining people where as I get a high off of putting them in a situation where they can get a high.

Spent time hanging with a peer – There’s not a lot of people who have a similar place in the comedy world as me. My buddy Michael is definitely one of those people. In fact, he has probably done more for comedians than I have. He’s a comedy festival veteran, has booked numerous shows including “Chelsea Lately” and “Funniest Fails,” and he’s one of the few people whose opinion on comedians I trust. It was fun hanging with him all weekend, because him being there meant comedians wouldn’t just be kissing my ass all weekend. But most of all it was good to sit through shows and get a perspective from someone who does similar work as me.

Michael and I had many debates that weekend including who's the best comedian of all time. I say Carrot Top. He says Gallagher.

Michael and I had many debates that weekend including who’s the best comedian of all time. I say Carrot Top. He says Gallagher.

Met Rawle D. Lewis – Many of you are probably like, “who?” He played Junior in “Cool Runnings.” At this point in my career, I don’t get star struck. That movie, however, had a huge impact on my childhood. If you don’t know, it’s the movie about the Jamaican bobsled team. John Candy was in it and he was a huge comedy influence on me. It was also probably the first sports movie I can remember watching over and over as a kid, which led to me becoming a sports writer. And finally, my sister’s name is Jamaica so my family has always had quite the obsession with things related to Jamaica. I was pretty drunk on the Friday of the festival and didn’t want to approach him that night. Zoe and Michael teased me about how I really wanted a picture with him. The following night I spent some time chatting with him. He told me about what it was like working with John Candy, and about how he initially started as a stand-up comedian back in Trinidad and Tobago before acting became the path that was chosen for him. Eight-year-old Josh was living a dream.

I get excited over meeting the most random people.

I get excited over meeting the most random people.

Escaped Los Angeles – I love LA, but also hate it when I don’t leave it at least once a month. The people of SLO are so much nicer, as is customary of small towns. For Gods sake, that town is so small they still have coin operated parking meters.

This post is relatively late, because of how busy I’ve been in the month after the festival, but I wanted to make sure people, and especially the comedy community, start to recognize how great of a festival it is. It was run amazingly well, every show was sold out, the caliber of comics were exceptional, and I left impressed and ready to go back next year.

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#24 – Start Fire With Two Sticks

I spent most of May away from Los Angeles, and when I was in town I was pretty much just working. Last Monday, however, on a rare occasion I made it home during the daylight hours. And this is how my roommate Jason Hadley greeted me.

Look at that focus

Hadley had a bow, some sticks, a rock, and a fire pit with the intention of trying to start a fire, caveman style. Hadley is a comedian, so I immediately thought he was considering a transformation into a prop comic. Most of the time I don’t question the motives of people in my life, because I have a pretty strange cast of characters orbiting around me. Hadley is no different.

I had no intention of questioning why he was trying to start a fire with two sticks, which is why he offered up the fact that he was just cast in an upcoming reality show titled, “Are You Smarter Than a Boy Scout?” I’m not even kidding.

In order to not look like a fool on TV he was practicing to defeat some 10-year-old boys. Fortunately for me, attempting to start a fire with two sticks was on my Discomfort List of things to do. I say “fortunately” because his casting meant my lazy ass didn’t have to compile the necessary supplies.

My first question for Hadley was how long he had been working at it before I arrived. He said it had been three hours and counting, which meant I had enough time to go workout and not be concerned that I’d miss a bonfire.

When I returned from my workout I examined the set up and noticed that Hadley grabbed some dryer lint and dry grass to use as an igniter underneath his sticks. I don’t know too many deer or owls that utilize a washer and dryer in the wilderness so I think that finding some lint out there may be problem number one if placed in the wilderness and expected to perform the same function. So, the authenticity of any fire we may have garnered could have an asterisk adorning it, simply because of the dryer lint.

After watching Hadley work up a considerable pool of sweat, I tried my luck. I got just about as far as he did. We were both able to garner smoke, but never a flame. Your arms get quite the workout in the process. My attempt was fruitless other than strengthening my jerk-off arm.

I kind of already figured my eventual Cause Of Death would be freezing to death in the wilderness, but this experiment certainly proved that accurate.

In concept, it seems pretty simple to think a fire can be started with two sticks. I’m here to tell you that it is not. In order to create some friction you have to pull and push on the bow with a nice rhythm and you have to keep the stick in place as much as possible. Then when you see smoke rising from your efforts you tend to get a little excited because you think you are close, so you start pushing and pulling harder on the bow, which causes you to lose rhythm which forces the stick to break loose.

I need to shave around my neck.

I gave up after spending about two hours outside. After Hadley attempted for a couple more hours he gave up as well, to be continued at a later date. I thought the endeavor would have ended in one of two ways. We either would have set the block on fire or not even a spark would be generated. I’m not shocked, however, that it ended in the latter.

I contend that our efforts weren’t successful simply because we had nothing on the line. Tom Hanks was able to create fire when he was abandoned on a lonely island because he needed it for survival. All he had was a volleyball and some ice skates. We were in the comfort of our backyard with full stomachs and beverages in hand. For God’s sake, Hadley took a few smoking breaks. I believe we could have created fire if our lives were on the line.

Hadley seems optimistic about his efforts to beat a boy scout, so much so that during the practice session he set up a water hose next to the fire pit, in the chance that he created a scene reminiscent of “Backdraft.” I on the other hand will now always be carrying a lighter with me in the off chance that I end up lost in the wilderness or on a deserted island one day…and knowing my luck, that will happen one day.

To follow Jason on Twitter, click here.

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#21 – 6am Workout

I am not a morning person. Just ask anyone who has ever had to deal with me before 9am.

I am a workout fanatic, however, just as long as the workout doesn’t take place in the morning.

When I was devising new things to accomplish for this blog one of the ideas that popped into my head was to run a half marathon. I optioned against that, because I really don’t have a couple hours to spare in my day.

Given my hectic schedule I also haven’t been able to work out as often as I’d like, which has made me feel out of shape even though I’m only at 154 as opposed to the 150 I like to be at. I know I sound like a real bitch right now.

Normally I go running at night, and bust out 3-8 miles depending on how much time I have. Lately my only free time has been in the morning, and since I generally don’t sleep very well I noticed that I could move my regimen to the morning if I wasn’t like one of those Snickers commercials where the young man turns into Abe Vigoda or the young lady turns into Betty White.

On Sunday I found myself awake at 6am. And yes, I did find myself, because if you’ve ever been awake at 6am you feel like you are outside of your own body. Four years ago if I was awake at 6am it would’ve been because I was just about to go to sleep. Now it’s because I am contemplating a workout. That means I’m maturing, right?

So, I lied in bed and watched the clock on my phone reach 6:15am before I picked up my body, grabbed drink of water, and headed outside in the 48-degree weather.

I put my earphones in and turned on the latest episode of Marc Maron’s WTF Podcast. The coldness was piercing, my hair was messy, the crust in my eyes was crispy, and my muscles were tight. Regardless, I started kicking my legs. I felt like a cartoon character running in place for the first few steps. I immediately regretted my decision to go for a run.

That's what "regret" looks like.

I very easily could’ve turned around and went back to bed. After all, the streets were empty, so there was no one around to witness my failure. That’s not what I did, however, as I continued to push through.

Eventually I got lost in the discussion between Marc Maron and David Cross, allowing me to forget that I was running in a pool of pain. For the first time in my life I understood why people go to comedy shows. Because I grew up in comedy, and spend so much time in it now I’ve never understood why people would pay to see a show, since it’s something I experience on a daily basis. I take its effects for granted. It felt nice being an audience member.

I was so lost that the only thing that reminded me I was running was the mile marker signifier app I use on my iPhone to keep track of my distance. When all was said and done I only knocked out 2.53 miles because I had other things to do and I didn’t want to put my body in too much shock.

I feel a bit ashamed for only running 2.53 miles, but I don't have morning legs yet.

It was really peaceful running so early in the morning. I didn’t have to dodge moving cars or deal with people walking their dogs, or old people walking side by side on the sidewalk toward me.

I thought maybe I was dying as I ran into the light.

I will definitely work morning runs into my regimen, and as time progresses I am sure my body will adjust to the early morning.

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#5 – Bake Cookies From Scratch

I am an excellent cook…if you count microwaving canned soup as fine cuisine.

What else would you expect from a 26-year-old bachelor?

I haven’t really tried to make too much food from scratch, because I don’t have patience. Plus, it’s so much easier to purchase food from people who are professionally trained to make it.

There are excellent cooks in my family, however, like my Mom who is extremely adept when it comes to baking. Every Christmas when I was younger, she used to make an assortment of different types of cookies, cakes, and desserts. People from around the neighborhood would visit to indulge in her artistry.

I never learned from her how to bake, simply just taking the time to slip into the kitchen to lick the leftover frosting on the spoons. Despite my rogue expeditions for frosting-laden spoons, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth. Last week, however, I felt a bit of a craving for chocolate chip cookies.

Because my car was having battery issues at the time, I walked to the grocery store with the gumption that I could bake cookies from scratch. I just as easily could have purchased the standard plastic wrapped Chips Ahoy, or the pre-made dough that you simply pop into the oven, but instead, I showed some patience and texted my Mom for her recipe with the necessary ingredients. She texted back saying chocolate chip bags usually have a recipe for chocolate chip cookies on the back. Who knew? Since I utilized all my patience in not buying already made cookies, I didn’t wait for her recipe.

Nestle is quite presumptuous that I will be using their chips in their recipe.

(On a side note, I’m still not used to my Mom utilizing text messages more than actual calls. I find it miraculous when the elder generation adapts to the times. It’s quite awkward, however, when I’m texting a chick and a message from my Mom pops on my iPhone. It’s like the technological equivalent of your Mom walking into your childhood room when you’re with a girl.)

Check out my unfinished countertops.

Upon my return home I realized I didn’t consider that I didn’t have a mixer. So, I grabbed a wooden spoon and by hand I mixed 2 sticks of butter, ¾ cup of granulated sugar, ¾ cup of brown sugar, and 1 tsp of vanilla extract until it was creamy. Since the butter was relatively hard my right arm got quite the workout. I then added two eggs, and mixed those in.

If you like cookies, you probably shouldn't know what goes into making them.

I then added 2 ¼ cups of flour, 1 tsp of baking soda, and 1 tsp of salt and mixed it with the appetizing image from before.

It's starting to take the form of dough...I think.

After that, I added a bag of chocolate chips, which equals 2 cups, and also 1 cup of chopped nuts.

I think I invented a new form of trail mix.

From there, I put chunks of the dough on the trays. The fat kid in me was very tempted to just stop and eat the dough out of the bowl.

This looks appetizing...No wonder I used to weigh 300 lbs.

10 minutes later…voila. About half of the cookies came out slightly burned on the bottom, but the ones that came out right, were absolutely delicious. I had no idea they only needed 10 minutes in the oven. For some reason I figured it would take longer to transform from larva into butterfly form, but it took longer to mix the ingredients.

Masterpieces.

I guess my Mom did pass her baking genes on to me. I’m now curious what else I can cook or bake from scratch and actually make it edible.

It actually does taste better when you make it yourself.

Before I started this experiment I expected a scene straight out of I Love Lucy, where flour would end up all over me and the kitchen, but that wasn’t the case. I don’t know how often I’ll bake in the future, considering I don’t see many circumstances which will call for it, but it’s good to know I have the capability to do so.

Cleaning is what will prevent me from baking in the future.

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#4 – Fix Car Battery

Since I got my license on December 2, 2001 I’ve been pretty fortunate in my life when it’s come to my vehicles:

  1. 1985 white Ford Ranger – My first car that I owned for a week before trading it for my second car.
  2. 1995 red Ford Escort – Owned from December 2001 until April 2004 when my Grandparents bought me my current car.
  3. 2004 silver Nissan Xterra.

This was a smart car to buy when gas wasn't $4 a gallon.

The week I got my Xterra was one of the greatest weeks of my life. I earned a college scholarship, and drove my brand new car to my first paying writing gig. It has been with me for every non 9-5 job I’ve had over the past eight years. Given my heavy driving schedule of over 20,000 miles per year, I’m quite lucky it hasn’t required major repairs. I should probably knock on wood.

On Friday of last week I visited my friend and colleague Trevor Wayne in North Hollywood to discuss our yearly business goals. Before I left his place, my car battery had a slight hesitation when I turned the ignition. The next morning, I tried to start my car and the battery was dead. I knew I should have knocked on wood.

It shouldn’t have been dead after purchasing it in May 2009. I replaced the factory battery then just to be safe before I went on tour from Los Angeles to Portland with professional wrestlers. That’s an entirely different story, which you can read here if interested.

To this point in my life I’ve never had battery trouble, so I opened the hood with no idea how to fix the problem. Going under the hood for the first time by myself is not much different than going under a girl’s shirt for the first time. Both involve a lot of fumbling around. But after only trying three new things for this blog, I’ve already felt the inspiring effects, because I felt I believed I could solve the problem.

I opened up the hood and went back into my memory bank to think of how I witnessed my Grandfather and Uncle fix car battery problems in the past. The first thing I noticed was acid corrosion on the battery’s nipples.

I forgot to take a picture of the acid corrosion, but trust that there was so much green foamy stuff coming from the battery that I looked something like this.

I'm still waiting for Flubber 2.

I grabbed some baking soda, water, and some assorted tools to clean off the residue. My Mani Pedi from two days prior was immediately ruined. Once the residue was cleaned, I tried to start the car. No response, just more clicks than a tap dancer on speed.

I asked my Uncle for advice and he said it could be the alternator, which would mean something if I knew what an alternator was, but that most likely the battery just needed to be charged. He allowed me to borrow his battery charger, and an extension chord.

Once the charger was plugged in I grabbed the black and red clasps attached to it, and rather than guessing which one was for the + and – I asked my roommate. He came outside to call 911 if I electrocuted myself. I attached the nipple clamps correctly and let it charge for a couple hours.

If I was kinky, I might have alternate use for those clasps

The car started right up and I thought that was going to be the end of the story. My confidence was high, but just like the water heater, my victory was short lived.

Later that night I got ready to go to Beso in Hollywood for Trevor’s birthday. I was going to drive the crew, since I don’t drink at all anymore. But the clicks of the tap dancing speed addict paid another visit to my battery, and my car wouldn’t start. I couldn’t help but feel that my Mom was back home in San Diego with a pin needle and a Hot Wheels car, preventing my departure through voodoo, since even though I’m an adult she still worries about me in the Los Angeles nightlife.

Since it was too dark to work on the car, I said “screw it” and waited until morning. Around 8:30AM I put the key in the ignition and the engine immediately turned over. My car didn’t start the night prior, but immediately started the following morning. It was more passive aggressive than my ex-girlfriend. Nonetheless, I charged the battery for the next nine hours just to be safe. Since that time, the car hesitates for half a second and then turns over…also not unlike my ex-girlfriend.

I am thoroughly shocked I didn't electrocute myself.

The fact that the car runs is victory in itself, but I do need to get a mechanic to look at it, since that half a second hesitation frightens me and we all know there is no such thing as public transportation in Los Angeles.

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#3 – Get a Mani Pedi

My fingers and toes are pretty jacked up.

As a child I had severe problems with ingrown toenails on my big toes. It got so bad that I needed multiple surgeries on both sides of each big toe where the whole nail was removed more times than I can remember. Eventually the roots were burned on each side so the nail can’t grow on the sides, resulting in extremely narrow toenails. On top of that, I’ve run 20 miles a week since November 2011, which has callused my feet. If feet disgust you then my size 13’s are your worst nightmare.

Soak 'em in.

As for my fingers, in addition to 14 years of being a type 1 diabetic and pricking my fingers 3-5 times a day with a needle, I have also broken the majority of my digits through playing sports as a youth. I have a lot of scar tissue on my fingertips.

Look how crooked my fingers are.

After all those years of damage to my appendages I figured it’s time I take better care of them. I’ve heard a therapeutic procedure for hands and feet is the notorious manicure-pedicure. The only problem with that treatment is that it’s a practice associated mostly with women, so I have shied away from ever getting one.

I am quite comfortable with my manhood, but I can barely say Mani Pedi without feeling a bit awkward. It’s a hard thing to say without sounding effeminate. Plus it’s especially foreign in the Latino male community, like my comedian friend Alex Reymundo jokes, “Mani-Pedi sounds like a Mexican NASCAR driver.” Regardless, I set out to get my first ever Mani Pedi. I knew I would need some assistance getting through this new thing, so I enlisted the help of my friend Samia Khan.

Quite frankly, Samia was not surprised to hear I had never got a Mani Pedi before, so last Thursday she invited me to get one with her.

Prior to our adventure, I told her I didn’t know if my fingernails were long enough to get it done. Part of me was probably trying to back out at the last moment by finding an excuse not to test my manhood. She told me to send her a picture. After examination, she said they were short but they could work with it. That was definitely the first time I “sext” messaged a girl a picture of my fingers.

When Samia and I arrived at the whole-in-the-wall nail salon in Culver City she told the head lady that we had an appointment for two. With Samia’s statement I noticed a wave of heads lifting from the steady position to examine what I was doing in a nail salon.

You could really hurt someone with those nails

The head lady sat me down and got to work on my fingernails while another lady grabbed my feet and plopped them in a bucket filled with warm water and got to work on my toenails.

If you read the definition in my calves it says "manly."

Before Samia sat at a station across from me she picked out a nail polish color. I know you’re probably wondering what color I chose. To answer your thoughts, I got a fluorescent pink. Not really. I didn’t go that far with the Mani Pedi.

It was hard to get comfortable in the open room. I couldn’t escape the thought that all the lady employees were talking about me, since they were speaking a language I couldn’t understand. It’s usually every man’s fantasy to have a room filled with women all staring and talking about him, but their looks were out of curiosity rather than infatuation. I tried my best to ignore the older white lady sitting diagonally from me who stared with an obvious look that said I was intruding in a club reserved just for women.

Samia’s presence definitely made it feel less awkward for me, and as I turned to my right I relaxed even more because I saw a woman who resembled and sounded just like my old friend, comedian Marilyn Martinez, who passed away in 2007. We eventually struck up a conversation with Marilyn’s twin. She couldn’t have been nicer with a wonderful sense of humor, just like Marilyn. I don’t think Marilyn would’ve came down from heaven just to get her nails did, but it certainly felt like one last hang out sesh with an old friend.

Marilyn's twin and I getting photo bombed by the lady in the window

I was getting comfortable with the somewhat flamboyant body positioning a Mani Pedi requires when I heard Samia giggling. I asked her, “what’s so funny?” totally thinking she realized me getting lost in the enjoyment of the hand and feet massage I was receiving. Turns out she is quite ticklish and the lady was scrubbing the bottom of her feet with a sponge type thing.

My paranoia was just Samia being ticklish.

The stares from ladies continued, but they eventually got better. One cute blonde girl even gave me a smile like, “how you doin?” I returned her glance with a smile and she blushed a little. Good to know I still exude some masculinity while participating in an act associated with females.

Clearly I am the definition of a man.

I finished before Samia so I approached her station while the lady painted French tips on her toenails. She asked me what I thought of the experience. I could notice the major difference in how much cleaner my finger and toenails looked.

Can you see the difference in "Palmela?" That's what I call my left hand.

My hands and feet unquestionably felt healthier. Incorporating a Mani Pedi into my lifestyle probably won’t happen, but I can see getting one again in the future, even though it still feels awkward to say Mani Pedi. Most importantly, the experience allowed me to develop a newfound respect for what women do to look good.

Ladies, I appreciate what you do.

While I was giving the post-mortem, however, my eyes must’ve wandered because Samia told me to stop looking at her feet. I by no means have a foot fetish, and was just trying to see what was going on. But if I ever develop a foot fetish I now know the perfect place to hang out.

To see Samia’s manicured nails you can check out the adventures of her on-camera career via her wonderful blog KHANversation Pieces or follow her on Twitter.

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