Karma Twins among Comics and/or Podcasters

Lenny Bruce Fillmore


Used to be lawyers
J-L Cauvin, Al Lubel, Greg Giraldo

Overcame extreme fear of flying
Jen Kirkman, Bert Kreischer

Hate Steely Dan
James Adomian, Marc Maron

Both parents deaf
Moshe Kasher, Craig Gass

Love to take their shirts off
Bert Kreischer, Ari Shaffir

Allergic to peanuts
Demetri Martin, Steve Agee

Natasha Leggero’s significant other
Ari Shaffir, Duncan Trussell, Moshe Kasher

Acted in “Breaking Bad”
Tait Fletcher, Bill Burr

Mother ran a bookmaking operation
Joey Diaz, Tony Hinchcliffe

Loved Kiss when young
Cassius Morris, Joe Rogan

Worry that neighbors will think they are seriously yelling at their wives
Bill Burr, Doug Stanhope

Love baseball
Steven Brody Stevens, Greg Proops, Jon Hamm

Heroic substance abuse recovery
Craig Ferguson, Marc Maron, Russell Brand, Moshe Kasher

Play piano brilliantly while making up songs
Owen Benjamin, Bo Burnham

Outrageous laughs
Josh Wolf, Esther Ku, Bert Kreischer

Totally content to be child-free
Aisha Tyler, Jen Kirkman, Janeane Garafalo

Instinctively trusted by me because of their voices
Daniel Quantz, Kurt Metzger, Greg Chaille, Sam Tripoli

As adults, met their long-gone absentee fathers
Gabriel Iglesias, Eddie Bravo

Cook at least one thing very well
Tom Papa, Joe Rogan, Bill Burr, Marc Maron

Candy addicts
Ari Shaffir, Dean Del Rey

White comics who did a lotta lotta black shows
Bill Burr, Kurt Metzger, Big Jay Oakerson

Long estrangement from very difficult mothers
Kira Soltanovich, Christina Pazsitzky

Listen to podcasts while falling asleep
Jeff Fox, Bert Kreischer

Amazing work based on their mothers’ deaths
Duncan Trussell, Doug Stanhope, Eddie Bravo (in his case, grandmother)

Love professional wrestling
Tony Hinchcliffe, Ron Funches, Mat Edgar, Earl Skakel, Mike Lawrence

Friends you might not expect of them
Steve Martin/Dalton Trumbo, Patton Oswalt/Harlan Ellison

Were foster kids
Kareem Green, Tiffany Haddish, Jamar Neighbors

Hate shopping
Aisha Tyler, Christina Pazsitzky

Have mined material from frustrating and emasculating doctor visits
Louis C.K., Tom Segura

Preoccupied with home repair issues
Bill Burr, Marc Maron, Kevin Christy

Intensely religious when young
Ari Shaffir, Pete Holmes, Kurt Metzger

Keep chickens in yard
Joe Rogan, Bert Kreischer

Read/discussed David Foster Wallace
Alison Rosen, Duncan Trussell, Bryan Callen

Have performed at club owner Jamie Masada’s Thanksgiving dinner
Ian Edwards, Bill Burr

Spiritual seekers
Duncan Trussell, Pete Holmes, Gary Shandling

Born and raised in show biz families but never drank
Chris D’Elia, Earl Skakel

Play drums
Bill Burr, Steven Brody Stevens, Alison Rosen

Feature their mother and/or father on podcasts
Tom Segura, Jen Kirkman, Tony Hinchcliffe, Bryan Callen

Against routine neonatal circumcision for boys
Joe Rogan, Stephanie Simbari, Jack Henry Faust

Rides motorcycle
Dean Delray, Bill Burr, Bert Kreischer

Snake hips
Chris D’Elia, Russell Brand

Hockey players
Earl Skakel, Bill Burr, Paul Gilmartin

Loves Dylan
Tim Heidecker, Marc Maron

Have featured their brothers on podcasts
Josh Wolf, Owen Benjamin

Have the same Lenny Bruce Fillmore Auditorium poster I used to have
Louis C.K., Joe Rogan

Studied psychology in college
Joe Rogan, Duncan Trussell, Sam Tripoli

Cerebral palsy
Josh Blue, Jack Carroll

Train in mixed martial arts
Kevin James, Joe Rogan, Raf Esparza, Kevin Phillips, Brendan Schaub, Joey Diaz

Recommend The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
Steve Simone, Owen Benjamin

Love amusement park thrill rides
Doug Benson, Bert Kreischer

Used to be in a band
Alison Rosen, Carrie Brownstein

Multiple cats including strays
Marc Maron, Joey Diaz

Turned into activists by childhood sexual assault
Andy Andrist, Barry Crimmins

Big fan of shrooms
Pete Holmes, Ari Shaffir

Morbidly obese
Gabriel Iglesias, Ms. Pat, John Pinette, Ralphie May, Joey Diaz, Patrice O’Neal, John Candy, Chris Farley

Beatles fans
Don Barris, Joe Rogan

Lived in a car
Don Barris, Joey Diaz, Tiffany Haddish, Dustin Martian, Doug Stanhope, Tony Hinchcliffe

Can recount their dreams non-boringly
Daniele Bolelli, Bert Kreischer

God is a lesbian
Greg Proops, Sam Tripoli

Love the music of Edith Piaf
Bryan Callen, Christina Pazsitzky

Hunt with bow and arrows
Joe Rogan, Jeff Foxworthy

Often bring their wives on podcasts
Bert Kreischer, Bill Burr

Babysat Josh Wolf’s kids
Joey Diaz, Chelsea Handler

Used to be overweight/obese
Owen Benjamin, Jen Kirkman

Politically savvy
Greg Proops, Jen Kirkman, Dan Savage, Joe Rogan

Same voice
John Heffron, Marc Maron

Had prisoner penpals
Doug Stanhope, Jen Kirkman

Single dads who raised kids
Daniele Bolelli, Ian McCall, Josh Wolf

Characterized by Dave Atell as “fearless”
Doug Stanhope, Jim Norton, Artie Lange

Went to Groundlings school
Tom Segura, Sam Tripoli

Loves the Black Keys
Joey Diaz, Joe Rogan

Father was a doctor
Marc Maron, Alison Rosen, Mike Birbiglia

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Memes I made

I'm trying to be a poster child for just making weed work in your life, and not being caught with it, looking like an asshole. Doug Benson

I'm allergic to crystals (picture of jewel-encrusted crown) Joe Rogan

There's almost no reason to ever eat cheese. It gives you nothing. It's all only bad. Ari Shaffir

I'm tellin' ya, the secret of life is quadriceps mushrooms and the epileptical machine.

Disclaimer: While Joey Diaz has said  these words, there is no guarantee that he said them in this exact order.

Human beings are basically just God's finger being slammed in the door of time. Duncan TrussellIf you say, "Hey, someone's talking shit about you," I don't give a fuck. I assume everyone is. Doug Stanhope

People want you to get honest, until you start getting honest. Sam TripoliThinks porn is synonymous with sex. Picture of raucous kid with blue hoodie and star-shaped sunglasses.

Who needs beer AND an ashtray? Steven Brody Stevens

The party is based on ignoring that our costumes are slowly dissolving in front of us. Duncan Trussell

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An Open Letter to Dustin Martian

For the benefit of the search engines, I’ll say Hi Dustin Marshall, and I heard you on the Duncan Trussell Family Hour podcast (6/29/15), talking about your road rage incident, and here’s what it stirred up:

My first year in California – the Pomona year – I was broke as hell. I’d already sold my mother’s engagement ring, and a diamond watch that some fool gave me (and it served him right for being so clueless about my personal wish list). But I had a car and needed a bookcase, and bought one at a used stuff store. The guy who worked there brought it outside and put it in the trunk and tied the lid with my rope.

At the apartment I unloaded the bookcase, disturbed by the discovery that the guy had run the rope through the trunk latch. Sure enough, it was fucked up. I burned precious gas driving back to the store, explained the problem, and asked the man what he would do for me. He generously gave me a bunch of attitude. I didn’t give up, and he said he was in the middle of something, but if I would wait in the car he would come out and have a look at the latch. If he couldn’t fix it, neither he nor the business would pay for a professional to do it.

Parked near the trash cans, waiting, I got madder and madder, and decided to channel the energy into getting rid of the crap on the floor of the car, front and back, and even dragged the junk out from under the seats. I had the glove box in order, too, by the time the guy showed up. Regarding the trunk latch, I honestly don’t remember the outcome.

Here’s the part I do remember. A couple of days later, I was looking for the shark tooth necklaces. There were about 20, and I’d made them, and they were the only tangible and potentially valuable thing to survive a hideously twisted (for lack of a better word) relationship.

I meant to take them around to some places, to see if they could be transformed into actual money. I’d put them in a lunch sack, not very elegant, but the options were limited. And besides, a crumpled brown paper bag might elude the attention of a potential purse-grabber or car burglar.

Perhaps you can see where this is going. That’s right, the jewelry had been in the car, and at some point, because it wasn’t convenient to carry on some other errand, I had stowed it under the front seat and forgotten to retrieve it. Then, on the bookcase/trunk mission, when blind rage took over, I didn’t even realize that the bag of shark tooth necklaces was part of the junk that I so zealously scooped up and threw away.

The loss was stunning and bitter, and I decided not to do that again. It was almost 40 years ago, and I’m pretty sure I’ve only been crazy mad 3 times since then, and certain that I regretted it every time. If I make it to the end without letting that particular beast slip its leash again, I’ll be grateful.

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Strong Words, Joe Rogan! — How to Do Life on Earth

They'll only
“You should aspire to be the person that you pretend you are when you’re trying to get laid.”

“I try to keep as much compassion as possible while still avoiding douchebags.”

“I don’t like me when I don’t work out, so I make me work out so I can be sane.”

“If you’re famous, and being tricked by the very magic trick that makes other people think you’re special, then you’re a fucking idiot. If you’re famous and you don’t step aside and go, ‘Well, this is ridiculous,’ than you’re an idiot.”

“I gotta do things that other people aren’t doing, ’cause that way I’ll win.”

“You don’t have to be an asshole to survive. You can be the cool, smart people that get together and fight off the assholes.”

“There’s always good stuff. You just got to find it.”

“The comic’s function is to look at stuff other people accept and say What the Fuck Is This?”

“All the most fun people are crazy. You just got to figure out what their crazy is, and maneuver around it.”

(the comedy scene, Deathsquad, podcasting)
“We found a hole in the fence. What I’m trying to do is bring as many cool people through the hole as possible.”

“If it falls out of the sky and hits you on the head, is the only time you should ever worry about it. Until then, carry on.”

“I manage my psychosis better than you.”

“All the work I’ve done was just to become a good antenna.”

“I’m obsessed with anything nutty like this, that I don’t think anybody’s paying attention to.”

“I don’t want to be on the show with these guys just because we share some patch of dirt where our grandparents fucked.”

“We can all surround ourselves with people that are cool, and be cool to the people that are around us all the time, and don’t take anything less.”

“If you don’t want to miss your plane, pack before you go to bed. In other words, get your shit together!”

“I listen to nutty people.”

About nootropics
“Tell you what, folks – I’m in this shit for results, placebo or not.”

“I’m a professional me.”

(about the tendency to think “if only this happens or that happens, then things will be fine, I’ll finally get time to write my book” – that sort of thing)
“You’ve got to find a balance in the ride itself. You can’t wait for the rest stops.”

“It’s a lesson that we all know but some of us need to learn first-hand – You fuck with the bull, you get the horns.”

“The universe doesn’t create diamonds by pillows smashing together.”

“We are some sort of a monkey that creates things”

“There’s certain times when you say ‘What the fuck?’ where, if you were expecting an answer, you asked the wrong question.”

(in reply to someone who asked if he had read the Santa Barbara mass murderer manifesto)
“I don’t want to get that guy’s juice in my head.”

“If you can get that good at ju jitsu, you can get good at a lot of things.”

“It’s your job to figure out how to get past this part of the game”

“The worst thing you could ever feel is that you didn’t do your best when you were raising your kids”

“If I didn’t know me, I’d swear I was a douchebag.”

“I’m the bridge between the meatheads and the potheads.”

“You can’t let other motherfuckers define you.”

“The only way to win is, you gotta be crazy. Are you willing to put in the amount of work that a crazy person is going to put in?”

“They’ll only love you for who you are if you are who you are.”

(reported by someone who was in a car on the freeway with Rogan during rush hour, and Rogan said something like…)
“Wouldn’t it suck to be on this slave ship twice a day for the rest of your life?”

“It doesn’t mean you have to be a fuckin’ asshole to be successful.”

“Comedy is tuning in to the retardedness of the universe. It’s all there for you.”

“There’s certain people that you meet them and you go ‘Wow, you’re fuckin’ cool. Like, where did you come from? I love talking to you.’ You could run into five hundred people and not feel that, and then run into one where you just can’t stop talking to them. What makes that…that magic, compelling charm?”

(how the universe is all one thing)
“You don’t get away from the Big Soup.”

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Ari Shaffir’s Skeptic Tank #13 – Losing Faith

Skeptic Tank 13Are we just bags of water and electricity?

IMFO one of the best episodes ever, of any podcast, with Ari Shaffir, Pete Holmes and Brian Redban – a former religious Jew, a former religious Christian, and a former somewhat less doctrinaire Christian.

Holmes explains the usefulness of public prayer. In the blessing before a meal, you can be as sappy as you like, thanking God for family and friends, without the embarrassment of telling them directly how much you love them. In the church youth group, someone can ask the Lord to “Help us to focus,” when it’s actually Pete Holmes who is screwing around.

My take on it – So, it’s like a subtweet. You want to convey a message to a specific person among those who read your tweets, so you phrase it in a general way. Others will think it’s just a general observation about life, but that one person will realize who is being addressed. At least, that’s how the theory goes.

In the Twitter context, if the remark is mean, it definitely qualifies as passive-aggressive, because you preserve plausible deniability. “Hey, it was just a general observation about life!”

Poets have done this for centuries, inserting secret messages to individuals amongst their lines. “Of course I wasn’t talking about you!” Carly Simon did it: “You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you.”

Also, a significant and inextricably entwined theme of this episode: comparison of shrooms and salvia.

Bonus – Another paggot’s very smart page about Ari Shaffir

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True Crime Revisionism: The Kitty Genovese Legend

The crime was one of the events that shaped my vulnerable years. I was 16, for chrissake, the same age when I discovered Lenny Bruce, and got laid for the first time. Of course it made an impression. And not just on me. Phil Ochs wrote “Outside of a Small Circle of Friends,” an eerily bouncy song that begins,Ochs

Oh, look outside the window
There’s a woman being grabbed
They’ve dragged her to the bushes
And now she’s being stabbed

The point being, of course, that America had become callous, and this sort of atrocity was commonplace, and unremarkable – to anyone, that is, but the awakened few. The circumstances of this murder upset the revolutionaries, the stoners, the folksingers. The freaks, in the best possible sense of the word. They were the harbingers of the Age of Aquarius. Nowadays we call them comedians and podcasters.A Small Circle of Friends

The Phil Ochs song inspired the 1980 film A Small Circle of Friends (about the awakening of political consciousness in some college students, and also a love triangle, and nothing to do with Kitty Genovese). But Harlan Ellison published a short story collection that included a piece called “The Whimper of Whipped Dogs.” His introduction confirms that it was based on the Genovese homicide, which had obsessed him for 11 years. Ellison writes,

Woman knifed to death in the streets of New York’s Kew Gardens section while thirty-eight people watched from their windows, heard her screams for help, did nothing, turned up their tv sets so the screams wouldn’t penetrate. It took the rapist-killer over half an hour to slice her up as she dragged herself around almost a full city block.No Doors No Windows

Here is his fictionalized version of the watchers:

The women stood with their nails biting into the upper arms of their men, their tongues edging from the corners of their mouths: the men were wild-eyed and smiling. They all looked as though they were at cock fights. Breathing deeply. Drawing some sustenance from the grisly scene below…

It gets worse. At the end of the story, Ellison appends a quotation from Love and Will by Rollo May:

When inward life dries up, when feeling decreases and apathy increases, when one cannot affect or even genuinely touch another person,violence flares up as a daimonic necessity for contact, a mad drive forcing touch in the most direct way possible.

A person who feels too shamed to attempt one kind of intimacy, will try for and settle for another kind. This was Kate Millet’s thesis in The Basement, a novel inspired by another real case, in which a woman imprisons and tortures a girl to whom she really just wants to make love.Kitty Genovese by Kevin Cook

Anyway, the Kitty Genovese murder is one of those “everything you know is wrong” situations. Apparently, the number of eyewitnesses was not even close to 38, and somebody did call the police early on. At the moment when when the victim actually expired, a neighbor was comforting her. This is according to a book that is on my want list for sure, Kevin Cook’s Kitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime that Changed America. If you can’t get to the book right away, absorb the gist from Larry Getlen’s article, “Debunking the myth of Kitty Genovese.”

In the Introduction to No Doors, No Windows, Harlan Ellison also says,

I was never satisfied with the intellectual theories about why no one had aided her. It’s not the kind of dehumanized behavior that can be explained with phrases like “disinvolvement” or “alienation” or “inurement to the reality of violence from seeing so much death on nightly newscasts.” It was the kind of mythic situation that could only be explained in terms of magic realism, fantasy.Harlan Ellison

Ellison’s sensitivity to cognitive dissonance is one of the characteristics that make him a great writer. I propose that the reason for his inability to mentally reconcile his thoughts, is that he intuited how once again, received wisdom was wrong. On some level, the whole thing sounded fishy to him, and it turns out he was right. The story we grew up with was from the realm of fantasy.

An interesting sidebar:

The creation of a national 911 hotline for emergencies that would streamline calls and make it far easier for individuals to get help was a direct result of the publicity surrounding the Kitty Genovese case.

And one more digression. Neither Kitty Genovese nor Trayvon Martin would have chosen to become iconic figures in quite this way. But it wasn’t in vain, it was not a total waste. They were both unwitting and unwilling heroes. Partly because of how Genovese died, we have 911. Partly because of how Martin died, significant changes have taken place in the world.

I got no problem with newly discovered sources. I dig all those books about how history class was bogus, and Columbus was a mass murderer, and hemp was outlawed so the dead tree market could thrive. I’m happy that Cook did actual research and brought the facts to light after all this time. I’m willing to have my understanding of the story revised. Mostly I’m happy for Kitty Genovese, whose final moments were slightly less grim than we previously believed, and that’s a beautiful thing.Sheet Music

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Hey Podcasters – Thanks for the Sanity!

“There’s certain people that you meet them and you go ‘Wow, you’re fuckin’ cool. Like, where did you come from? I love talking to you.’ You could run into five hundred people and not feel that, and then run into one where you just can’t stop talking to them. What makes that… that magic, compelling charm?”
— Joe Rogan

I used to be addicted to audiobooks, fiction and nonfiction, played on CDs and yes, even cassette tapes. Eventually I got an iPod and figured out how to transfer CD books to it. Then a terrible thing happened. The public library closed for lengthy remodeling. My source dried up.

Meanwhile, the word “podcast” had entered my consciousness, thanks to iTunes. I gravitated to the comedy category, and the only current name I could think of to search for was Seth Rogen. But somehow that led to the Joe Rogan Experience, which I was moved to download instead (and never got around to Rogen).

So I started with a show sponsored by a masturbation aid, not knowing who was who, or anything about anybody. But Joe Rogan’s voice enthralled me because he almost could be Marc. Intonation, delivery, vocabulary, nuance, cadence, it was like they were voice twins.

Realer than real

I never met Marc IRL, but he was more real to me than the meatspace people. At first we bonded over nostalgia for Venice, California, but quickly discovered a trove of shared dudgeon about the same outrages. We did hundreds of phone hours and thousands of emails, and created some things that kicked ass. Other ideas, we put a lot of time into, but they never went anywhere.

For years, every life decision was based on how it would affect connecting and working with Marc. He was my mentor, confidant, fan, exploiter, collaborator, patron, comedy audience, cheerleader, seducer, tormentor, rabbi, muse, and Ideal Reader. I was his rant audience, promoter, enabler, kool-ade drinker, ghostwriter, fan, dupe, disciple, pro bono intern, metaphorical attack dog, loyal opposition, collaborator, minion, and pain in the ass.

We had some issues, and explored them, and finally the thing that pissed us both off the most was each other. Except for a few unavoidable project-related communications, we cut each other off and stayed estranged for more than a year. Meanwhile, there were new developments in an ongoing real-world drama we had been involved with. Nobody else, unless they absorbed an impossible mountain of backstory, could possibly grasp the implications of all the twists and turns. That was painful.

I finally achieved a state of “he’s dead to me.” But not really. Even then, 90% of my creative activity was in reaction to him. As in, “Look at all the treasures I could be heaping on your altar and strewing at your feet, if only you weren’t such a dick.” Meanwhile, I discovered podcasts, and binged on old JRE episodes, and branched out to other Death Squad-related comics, and derived a strange comfort from listening to Rogan.

An overriding concern

Then Marc took on a passion project that was compelling enough for him to contact me, and for me to get on board. We shelved our differences and he was instantly reinstated as the most important person in my world.

A few weeks later, he was diagnosed with cancer, and everything shifted into a different gear. The first treatments almost killed him, but then the doctors ordered up a batch of new-fangled miracle medicine. Between going to appointments and being too sick to do anything, there were interludes when he felt well enough to work on the project. In what turned out to be his final month, I was stockpiling wisecracks for the future when we would look back and laugh about those crazy days when he couldn’t walk or breathe.

The last time he went into the hospital, I had a draft email full of links I was waiting to send him when he got out. There was never even a chance to update him on the old case, which is almost the saddest part, because he would have really dug it. Especially a theory I’d been chasing down, that came to naught. It should have been spectacular, and Marc was the only one equipped to appreciate the joke of how wrong I was.

When he died, I’d already mourned him once, but of course it wasn’t the same. Now he was really gone – the last person I’d have willingly parted with, the one I was least prepared to get along without. Plus, if I caught some kind of hell for being his literary goon squad, no help was forthcoming. Any blowback would be mine alone to deal with. And no amount of social connection compensated for his absence. Personally, artistically, and professionally, I felt like a garden slug with salt poured on it.

The cure

So I stepped up my podcast consumption game. There was a lot to catch up on – in some cases, years worth of recordings. I fell asleep to the murmur of an earbud, and in the morning cranked up the iPod before setting foot on the floor. Listening to those freaks was like overhearing transmissions from my home planet. It kept one brain track busy, and there was just enough attention left over for cleaning myself, cooking, going from place to place, earning the daily bread, etc. The j-o-b was going okay and the passion project I inherited was on track. Occasionally I blanked out and couldn’t account for the previous minutes, or figure out what to do next. For a while, I ate and slept too much.

All that reminded me of Marc was everything. Objects I fiddled with while we argued. Paintings I sent him photos of. Books we talked about. Weird items he sent me. My own computer keyboard. The telephone. When the phone rang, it was never going to be him. However many times I hit “get mail,” his return address would never appear on the screen. Like a two-year-old lost at the mall, I was deeply and irrevocably forsaken. “Abandonment issue,” my ass – this was the real deal. I needed him and he was nowhere to be found. If that isn’t abandonment, what is?

Every so often a crying fit surprised me, but mundane life was mostly all right. Usually, I remembered not to think “I’ve got to tell Marc…” whatever. Before, it was hard enough to make it through a day, wondering when I’d hear from him. Now, I was surviving days and days and more days, knowing that I wouldn’t hear from him. Whole different ball game.

With earholes full of podcasts, I hardly ever listened to music any more. That was a genuine plus, because so many songs in the playlist were associated with Marc for one reason or another. Especially, I didn’t want to hear the Indigo Girls singing about “the last truce we ever came to,” or “of all my demon spirits I need you the most,” or “there’s not enough room in this world for my pain,” or any of that.

Six weeks in, I was still measuring time by how long since he died, and still letting podcasts flow into my head nonstop. And enjoying life, pretty much. Now, it’s been a year and a half. I still enjoy life, and still listen full-time to podcasts, and Marc is still dead.

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