Tag Archives: Podcast

#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.

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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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#43 – 2015 Year in Review

I don’t really know how I feel about 2015. I experienced several big life events, both positive and negative, which only occur once in a lifetime that give me mixed feelings. It was definitely the most emotional year of my life, and the most balanced year. In previous posts I expressed that I wanted to find more of a personal and professional balance. I think I found it after a very taxing and rewarding year. Below is my annual list of “Stupid Shit I Did” and “Things I’m Proud Of” from the year past.

Stupid Shit I Did

  • Turned down an opportunity to work with Scooter Braun

For some reason I have had the opportunity to work with some notable people in the music industry. I never seeked the opportunities, but there is a crossover between music and television, so it makes sense. But this past April I was approached by Dick Clark Productions to work on a project with Scooter Braun and his artist Tori Kelly at the Billboard Music Awards. At the time, her singles were all over the radio. I turned down the gig for a few reasons. The money was crap and I wanted to get some of my own projects off the ground. I felt it was better if I didn’t go to Las Vegas for a couple weeks, because I had just spent a week out there working on a project with Floyd Mayweather. Looking back now, I probably should’ve just sucked it up, because it was only a four week gig and it’s not often you get to work with a guy who shapes musical trends like Scooter Braun. The fact that Tori Kelly was nominated for Best New Artist at the upcoming 2016 Grammy’s makes it sting a little bit more as well. Who knew I was dumber than Justin Bieber?

  • Spent a week in Las Vegas with the Mayweather family

This was actually one of the coolest things I did this year. Someone associated with the Mayweather family invited me to Las Vegas because they wanted to develop a TV show idea for them. Their invitation just so happened to coincide with the boxing match of the century, Mayweather versus Pacquiao. I spent the first week of training camp with Floyd Mayweather Jr. I was in his corner while he first got in the ring with sparring partners. I stood literally inches away with Sisqo and Richard Sherman as we watched Mayweather knock fools out and then do a jump rope floor routine to the songs of Neil Diamond. It was majical. It was like being behind the batting cage while Babe Ruth took batting practice before the World Series or being under the basket while Michael Jordan took part in a shoot-around before the NBA Finals. I was lucky to be granted access into the inner circle, but I did nothing with the opportunity. It wasn’t their fault and it wasn’t my fault why the show idea didn’t have any traction, but I am sure disappointed that nothing resulted from it other than just a fun week.

 

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Ring side in the Mayweather gym.

  • Didn’t travel more

I made seven trips to Las Vegas, one trip to San Luis Obispo, and numerous trips to San Diego, but other than that I was in Los Angeles the rest of the time. I felt like I lived in airports in 2014, so this was quite a different year. I had plans to go to Atlanta, New York and Hawaii, all of which fell through because of work priorities. And I turned down jobs that would’ve taken me to Miami and New Orleans for long periods of time, so it’s really my fault that I didn’t see more of the world. I am already attempting to remedy this by scheduling Hawaii in March 2016.

Things I’m Proud Of

  • Met my future wife

I never thought I would meet a woman who understands my peculiarities, makes me a better person, and shares similar interests to the point where she is also my best friend. We met on December 2, 2014 and it took us until January 6 to come to terms with the connection we both felt. Since then we have spent pretty much every day with each other. In March we decided to move in together and on May 9 that’s exactly what we did. Finding the person you want to spend the rest of your life with is one of those things that you only experience once in life and I am beyond belief that it happened this year, and that I wasn’t afraid to pursue love.

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My favorite picture of us.

  • Got a development deal for a TV show

I spent the good portion of 2014 creating and developing an idea with my comedian buddies Josh Nasar and Jamar Neighbors. We pitched a few production companies and networks and then I put the idea out of my mind to move on to creating more. One of the production companies came back to us and offered us a deal. I am thrilled to see what this deal will bring us, because this company is one that I never imagined would want to work with me on an original idea. I owe much of this success to Josh and Jamar because we all bring our own crazy that wouldn’t have led to success if one of us wasn’t a part of the process.

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Josh, Joshua, Jamar, Jon, and Jake. We ran into Jon & Jake at Viacom when we were pitching MTV and they were pitching Comedy Central.

  • Helped my Mom mourn

My Mom lost her husband to cancer while she was also dealing with her own cancer diagnosis. She dealt with loss, sadness and so many other things. She dealt with it all like a champion while she tried to find some sort of peace. I was there for her when I could be and I don’t know anyone who deserves a more fruitful 2016 than what 2015 brought her.

 

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There were many trips to SD this year to spend time with family.

  • Worked on 5 TV shows

I am simply amazed that I continue to work on multiple shows every year. I know I have talent, but it is truly difficult to have a sustainable career in television, because it’s such a fickle business. It’s extremely validating every time someone recognizes the belief I have in myself. Here are the five shows I worked on this year. All of which were either pilots or first year shows.

  1. I Can Do That (NBC)

I started this show at the end of 2014 and it led into 2015. The show premiered well and did wonders for comedian and friend Jeff Dye who you will be seeing again later on this year on another fun NBC show.

  1. Love At First Kiss (VH1)

This was a pilot for VH1. It was my second dating show after “Baggage on the Road” in 2014. Baggage was more of a game show and this had more emphasis on the relationship. I worked with the producers of “The Bachelor/Bachelorette” and got to experience how that monstrosity of a show operates. This experience most definitely expanded my knowledge base and I was happy to see that the show got picked up for series.

  1. Eat It To Beat It (CMT)

After a 2014-filled year of working on game shows, this was the only one I did in 2015. I got to experience what it’s like to work on a show from the ground up literally by creating the format, developing the challenges, working with the host, writing the script, and casting the contestants. It was a pilot, so who knows if it will get picked up? But I definitely learned some things by working with some people who have been in the business twice as long as me.

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Oh you know, just a typical day at work testing out challenges.

  1. The Commune (NBC)

I spent just a few weeks on this pilot that was contingent upon a cast. I think it’s supposed to shoot in early 2016, so I can’t wait to see if the vision came through.

  1. My Lottery Dream Home (HGTV)

In May this show came to me out of necessity. I turned down moving to Miami for three months to work on “Storage Wars Miami,” because my stepdad’s cancer came back and his prognosis was not good. I felt I needed to stay in Los Angeles, which is significantly closer than Miami to San Diego where my family is located. My stepdad died fourth of July weekend, one month into this job. I originally got this job because the Line Producer from “Storage Wars” recommended me to her friend on this show even though she had never worked with me. She felt bad when I explained to her why I couldn’t take her job offer. I couldn’t believe she was so nice to do that. This show ended up teaching me things I never imagined. It taught me that sometimes the simplest act can result in the biggest reward. This show allowed me to see how much patience I truly do have. And this show allowed me to revisit some of my journalistic research skills, because I was in search of some very sharp needles in the biggest haystack imaginable. I also got to work with some very smart people I had never worked with before and in turn give opportunity to some old friends I hadn’t worked with in a while. The show premieres January 1, 2016 on HGTV, and I will definitely be watching the results of my blood, sweat, and tears.

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Some of the team that made MLDH a success.

  • Building my brand

I bought a bunch of equipment to start a podcast in 2016. I am not a tech wizard when it comes to equipment. I’m a writer and producer and work with thoughts and vision. I know what I am good at. But I know that if I want to reach new levels I have to learn how to do stuff that makes me uncomfortable, so I researched podcast equipment, purchased the domain, and have been developing my format so that I can continue to showcase my passion in new and creative ways. I am proud of what I have done thus far, and in asking others for help, which I hate to do, I have learned that I have a large support system of people willing to help me out. I can’t wait to showcase this idea, the other things I’m proud of and even all the stupid shit I do in 2016.

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