Tag Archives: Hollywood

#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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#41 – Move In with My Girlfriend…On Purpose

When I love something, I recognize it immediately, and I go all in.

That’s why I am capable of eating Chipotle seven days a week.

That’s why I used to go to Las Vegas every other week.

And that’s why after dating my girlfriend Zoe after just four months we decided to move in together.

No, I am not comparing my girlfriend to Chipotle and Vegas, but she loves both things too, so I am sure she wouldn’t mind if I did.

My favorite picture of us...of course it's in Vegas.

My favorite picture of us…of course it’s in Vegas.

And yes, it sounds crazy that I’d move in with a girl after just four months, especially when you consider I typically don’t show a girl where I live until after three months.

So, this is the first time I’ve lived with a girlfriend…on purpose. Other times, they kind of just moved in because of proximity to their work and I didn’t even realize it until they had my spare key and were no longer calling me to let them in the front door of my building.

Since the first of the year I basically stayed at Zoe’s place in Sherman Oaks every night. I hate the Valley. I lived there for six years and moved into Hollywood for the past two years so that I could be closer to the studios and comedy clubs. Zoe’s living situation with a roommate was becoming less than ideal for her, and I was getting tired of feeling like I no longer had a home since I would go days and often weeks without seeing my apartment. That’s fine when I was on the road a lot, but when I’m in Los Angeles I want to feel like I have a place.

So we came to the conclusion that we should find a new place together. Neither of us is conventional. We both do things to the beat of our own Pandora stations. And we both knew the other person was in the relationship till death do us part. So why go through the typical BS of societal dating standards? It doesn’t work out for most people who follow that route anyways.

Zoe puts up with this type of behavior, so what else can I ask for?

Zoe puts up with this type of behavior, so what else can I ask for?

We knew people would probably think we were crazy. But we were ready for that. When we began telling people, to our surprise, no one thought we should be looking for a place together in a mental institution. Everyone actually thought it was a good idea. I guess they probably saw that we do everything together anyways, so it made sense.

Although, she has been known to make faces behind my back as well.

Although, she has been known to make faces behind my back as well.

My family loves Zoe and her family loves me. Before her, I never introduced a girlfriend to my family, because whomever I was dating always gave me slight hesitancy in thinking that I was in a temporary relationship and I never wanted to introduce something temporary to something permanent like family. Zoe had introduced several boyfriends to her family, but according to her family I’m the first one they’ve actually liked. So with so much support we were further entrusted in thinking we made the right choice.

Zoe and me with my Mom on Mother's Day.

Zoe and me with my Mom on Mother’s Day.

We chose the first place we visited because we knew exactly where we wanted to live. I lived off Hollywood & Gower and from the day I moved in there was a new apartment complex being built just one block west called EastownLA. The day the complex started showing apartments to be leased, I attempted to take a tour. When they told me the price of the least expensive apartment, I turned around immediately. Zoe has a similar story of wanting to live in the complex that became OURS.

We both make good money. In fact, I don’t know how my poop and fart jokes compensate me so well. But we are both extreme individuals and have got used to paying rent on our own without the help of a significant other, so before we knew each other we both didn’t think it would be smart at that time to move in to a place with such a large financial ceiling.

Our leasing guy showed us several different style units around the complex. Our non-negotiables were a balcony and a lot of closet space. We were hoping for two parking spots and a washer/dryer in the unit as well. Realistically we were sold on the complex the moment we saw the gym and how it offered more equipment and features than 24 Hour Fitness. Then we saw the pool and Jacuzzi, which rivals the W Hotel and offers weekly pool parties with alcohol, food, and live DJ’s for the residents. The other amenities like fire pits and stainless steel barbecues sprinkled throughout the complex’s four buildings are just an added bonus.

The leasing guy showed us several units with different layouts that included our non-negotiables. With the complex only at 50 percent occupancy we had a lot of options to choose from. But for various reasons we didn’t like any of them. Then he showed us OUR apartment.

We aren't done decorating, but it's a nice start.

We aren’t done decorating, but it’s a nice start.

It’s perfect. It has a large balcony with one side that overlooks the pool while the other side overlooks Hollywood Boulevard. The light just pours in from floor to ceiling windows. There’s a walk-in closet, which to my surprise fit all of our stuff in since after all Zoe is a girl. The bathroom is huge. There’s a washer/dryer. All the appliances are brand new. No one has ever lived in the apartment before. And to top it off, the complex threw in free rent for a month.

The view from our balcony.

The view from our balcony.

Just to be sure, we looked at complex’s we figured would be comparable in the area like the Hollywood Tower and Sunset & Vine, but those places were just as expensive and didn’t have anywhere near the space that OUR place offers, plus those buildings are old and didn’t have the amenities either.

I kind of don’t believe I live where I live. After a few weeks now, it feels like a home now that we’ve framed our pictures, bought a couch and organized the furniture.

The one thing that doesn’t escape me is that there’s definitely a type of person who has the lifestyle that fits a building like OURS. There are probably a total of four units leased to families with kids. There’s also A LOT of white people. I’ve seen one black person, one Asian person, and for the first week I was afraid the cleaning staff was going to tell me to get back to doing the yard work.

This was only the third time I’ve moved in my life. Zoe has moved considerably more times than that. Nothing about the move has been discomforting. Four months seems really quick, but both of us could’ve made the move after the first weekend we met. It is easily one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, because I love Chipotle…err I mean Zoe 🙂

We took a "selfie" the first night we met each other.

We took a “selfie” the first night we met each other.

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#29 – Create Sister Vlog

“Hey Josh, other than money, what’s most on your mind?”

If you were to ask me that, the answer would be simply, “Well, ladies of course.”

On Tuesday night I was going back and forth via text with a girl I used to date. The text conversation ended when she failed to respond to my last text, which deserved a response. 15 minutes after my last text I look at my phone and see that she “liked” a picture of mine on Instagram. I was dumbfounded why she didn’t respond to my text, yet had the gall to notify me that she “liked” my picture. It didn’t make sense to me that she would ignore a direct text and communicate with me via a social media platform. Basically she was letting me know that she was ignoring my text.

Later that night, amidst some work we were doing, Trevor asked a girl if she wanted to hang out later. She said, “yes.” He followed up with her hours later via text to see if she was still down to hang out. She didn’t respond. Minutes later she posted updates on Facebook and Instagram, completely ignoring him even though she knew they were friends and he would likely see those updates. Basically she was letting him know that she was ignoring his text.

In both our cases, these were not girls that we had recently met. They were both girls that we have history with. To say the least, we were pissed off. We ended up hitting a strip club, grabbing some beers, going for a run, contemplating why girls play mind games, and most importantly we developed our newest project: The Displeasure Vlog.

This is where all great ideas originate.

Just like Mark Zuckerberg and Sean Parker before us, our creativity was motivated by the displeasure women created in us.

In a totally related issue, The Discomfort Blog is something that has allowed me to showcase my ability to write. It has got me a lot of work. Trevor on the other hand hasn’t benefited as much from our joint venture, because his skill set is showcased by his talent with a camera.

Trevor and I agreed we needed to create a sister site for him to showcase his skill set, because even though my success equals his success, his success also equals my success, so why not double our potential outreach for success? That thought just so happened to coincide with our displeasure with the way our lady friends ignored our texts in favor of updating their social media presence. Thus, we created The Displeasure Vlog where we will comment on camera about common displeasures that occur in daily life. Generally speaking you will be able to relate to these common day displeasures whether you are the one committing the act or the one the act is happening to.

We decided to make our first vlog entry about our shared experience from Tuesday night. On Wednesday we met up bright and early at the crack of 2pm to search for a place to shoot. At first we thought of shooting in the cell phone department of a Best Buy store since our subject matter had to do with cell phone etiquette. A quick trip down Melrose Avenue quickly diverted that thought when we recognized the trippyness that presents itself (see picture below) on the artsy part of the blocks between Fairfax and La Brea.

I’d hit it.

For our background we settled on some mannequins leaned up against a wall in front of a clothing store. After one camera take the shop owner greeted us because he was clearly afraid that we were molesting his graphite ladies. He eventually watched all six of our takes and even loosened up with a few chuckles every now and again. After taking over Guitar Center in our last Discomfort Blog entry, an alley just off Melrose was a piece of cake.

“So, do you ladies come here often?”

While we were searching for a place to shoot I noticed a white car making some similar style rounds around the block. Perhaps the only reason I noticed the car was because of the cute ladies inside. When we returned to Trevor’s car, those girls were setting up a camera in an area we previously considered shooting in. Normally women approach and ask us what we were shooting, but this time we were intrigued by what some women were shooting. It felt discomforting to be on the other side for a change, but it immediately sparked thought in my head. I proposed to Trevor that we get the female perspective on our topic. Since Trevor wasn’t drunk and didn’t have his customary boldness that accompanies his non-sober state of mind, he made me approach them.

Christina was the girl with the camera, and her friend Chelsey was her model. They were preparing a photo shoot for their fashion blog. They were kind enough to help us out, and provided a great perspective on the topic. They actually both willingly admitted that they’ve been guilty of ignoring texts and posting on Facebook. One even admitted that she did it the previous night. Because of their willingness to help we then searched Melrose for other girls.

These girls couldn’t possibly be from LA, because they were far too nice.

Trevor saw my success with the girls so he tried his luck. He struck out with the first pair he approached, and the second pair, so I stepped in again and my success rate stayed at 100 percent when the next duo agreed to participate.

It’s not exactly the easiest thing to approach a random girl on Melrose and ask her to go on camera. I kind of felt sleezy approaching girls while Trevor held a camera, and that could be due to all the porn I’ve watched which starts with a search for random MILFs to take home. Or maybe I felt sleezy because I had to break through the wall that girls have naturally built up from being hit on all the time. Even if you’re not trying to hook up with them that wall still remains up and it’s nearly impossible to get their participation in anything.

A sturdy tripod is a necessity on any porn set.

Since we didn’t get maced by any shop owners or any ladies of Melrose we immediately shot another vlog entry for something else that bugs us. Continually check our sister vlog at www.DispleasureVlog.com for funny commentary about the pet peeves of daily life.

Here’s the first vlog entry which can be viewed at DispleasureVlog.com

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#26 – Eat Live Crickets

If it were up to me I’d eat carne asada burritos, turkey sandwiches, and sushi for every meal. I’m a simple eater. My buddy Trevor is the same way, which is why I proposed to him my latest idea to take us out of our comfort zone.

I’m not too picky, but I also don’t put garbage into my body. I haven’t eaten fast food in years. Trevor, however, eats fast food on the regular, which is probably why he wasn’t hesitant to participate in this venture, because after all, one can’t argue that crickets are pretty fast. Have you ever tried catching one? So, I typed “fried insects” into Yelp! and one of the first places that came up in the Hollywood area was Sanamluang Café, so we ventured into Thai Town.

Unfortunately, we were turned away when the waitress informed us that they don’t serve crickets. Yelp! lied to me. We tried one more Thai spot, which simply yielded confusion from our waiter.

How our waiter had never heard of crickets was beyond me. I felt sorry for him because he must’ve been depraved of a childhood.

Our waiter’s parents clearly depraved him of the pleasure of viewing Jiminy Cricket in the movie Pinocchio.

I originally wanted to try crickets at a Mexican restaurant, but Trevor convinced me to go Thai, due to his love for the Asian people. I didn’t know if there was a difference between Thai and Mexican crickets, except for maybe their accents if presented in cartoon form.

Since we were unsuccessful with his people I convinced him we’d have more luck with my people. This time around we turned to scanning the streets, because that bitch Yelp! and that asshole Google were unhelpful. Our eyes locked in on a place called Rincon Oaxaqueno on Western between Sunset & Hollywood.

Our waitress informed us that they do indeed serve crickets, but they weren’t going to have any for at least a week.

In that video Trevor was joking about dropping in on Petco, but with a cricket shortage in Hollywood we had no other choice. Trevor called Petco on Doheny in West Hollywood, and fired off a litany of questions regarding human consumption of live crickets. His first question was an obvious one: “Is it OK to eat live crickets?” Surprisingly, the woman on the other end didn’t hang up right then and there. Question two: “Are your crickets sprayed with any pesticides?” Question three: “What do crickets eat?” All were valid questions that hadn’t crossed my mind. I planned on just popping them in my mouth. Unfortunately, the woman getting paid minimum wage didn’t have the answers that only a licensed physician would know.

We approached the cashier and asked the woman behind the register where their crickets were. She informed us that she was the one we spoke with over the phone. She also told us that she was about two seconds away from hanging up on us. We informed her that’s customary reaction we get from women. She thought we were crank calling.

Trevor said we would take four crickets and the cashier’s colleague asked if we wanted big crickets or small crickets. I questioned the difference in size. Their description was substantial. Trevor said we would take two of each, and informed me that I’d be eating the big ones, since it was my idea.

Crickets are cheaper than the dollar menu at McDonalds.

I’ve done some things for this blog, which most people would deem crazy, like skydiving, participating in a scientific experiment, and even getting a mani-pedi. I am pretty even tempered and have nerves of steel, so nothing has really scared me in the final seconds leading up to each activity. When Trevor and I went skydiving I wasn’t even scared as the airplane door opened and I looked over the vast land below me. For some reason, however, when the Petco employee returned with our bag of crickets, reality set in and I was a bit frightened with the realization that I was about to eat something alive. Trevor wasn’t nervous at all, but he must have seen the look on my face, because he said, “The airplane door finally opened for you.”

I don’t know if the crickets were more afraid of me than I was of them.

Before we returned to Trevor’s domicile, we made a quick stop at a Beverly Hills sandwich shop to get some real food to immediately cleanse the digestion of our insect friends. Cruising Bedford Drive on foot we ran into Brett Ratner (humble brag) with whom we reconnected with after some time. He recognized our sandwiches and said, “What ya got there, turkey?” Yes, with a side of crickets in the car.

We took the sandwiches and crickets back to Trevor’s place and the following is the completion of our discomfort.

I contend I had it much worse than Trevor and Andrew because I ate the biggest one, which had whiskers the size of a large tiger.My little feller was quite crunchy. He didn’t taste as bad as I made it seem to be in the video. Other than the texture and furriness on my tongue, it probably wouldn’t have tasted so bad with a helping of ketchup.

Ultimately I’ve always believed in my ability to survive for a long time if I was stranded on a deserted island. That belief is mainly due to the fact that I’m not a big foodie. Now that I know I can get past the mental block of eating live bugs I am certain I could totally pull a Tom Hanks in Cast Away. Just give me a Wilson volleyball, a sandy beach, an ice skate, and I’m good.

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