How To Enjoy Montreal as a New Face

I just got back from being a New Face at the Just for Laughs Festival in Montreal! So many great shows, so many fun after parties, so many awesome people, and so much time spent in my own head. I loved it, especially when I wasn’t over analyzing everything. I learned some lessons from my experience and I thought I’d share them with the internet in the hopes that it helps someone else doing New Faces in the future. I’m not an expert, but this is an informed opinion.

1. Know that you belong there

When you walk into a room that’s filled with comedy greats like Jim Gaffigan, Bill Burr, Al Madrigal, and so many others it’s easy to get overwhelmed. It’s easy to think “What the fuck am I doing here?” I let those thoughts creep in, and then I had to forcibly remind myself that I earned to right to be in that room. I was picked for a reason. And many of those comedy greats did New Faces years ago.

2. You have to be excited about your set

I think it’s important to run your set ahead of time so you’re comfortable with it, but not to the point it becomes boring for you. If you’re over-rehearsed, you won’t have the right energy to hit that stage. There needs to be a bit of excitement coming through to grab people.

3. Go to the panels and events

There are a lot of awesome panels that happen during the day, from interviews with acclaimed directors to panels with successful tv shows. I learned a ton at those panels and got a lot of interesting knowledge nuggets that changed my perspective on writing and performing.

4. Don’t look for someone to talk to

The times I felt most in my head was when I was looking around a room trying to find someone to meet or network with. Because when you’re not talking to someone, all the negative thoughts flood in - “Does no one want to talk to me?”, “Is everyone talking to someone else”, “Am I doing something wrong?” The reality is everyone is talking to someone and not talking to someone all the time. I think it’s better to find people you enjoy and hang out with them. If the industry wants to talk to you, they’ll find you. Don’t walk around searching for them.

5. Watch shows, but also hang out with your friends

The best part of Montreal is all the amazing shows. There are so many talented comedians there, and I wanted to watch all of them. The first night I wore myself ragged going from show to show to show. I enjoyed it, but it felt lonely as I migrated around the festival by myself. Then the next night I hung out with some of my fellow New Faces. We caught a show, but we also hung out at a cafe and talked. I’m going to remember that cafe conversation for much longer.

6. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself

Everyone wants to kill it on New Faces. You’re in the wrong business if you don’t. But putting pressure on yourself to kill it is the kiss of death. I think comics really become the funniest version of themselves when they stop worrying what other people think. They stop worrying about killing and just be themselves. If you’re in New Faces, you’ve already put in the work. Now just be yourself without listening to the critic in your head, and whatever happens happens. But if you think “I have to kill it”, you won’t.

Stuart Scott has long been one of the best anchors on ESPN. He’s charming, funny, witty, charismatic, and a host of other fun qualities. His comedic timing in ESPN commercials is always spot on (check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4HBEat2H_s).

As with most public figures, we rarely get a glimpse into their sensitive side or their personal lives - with the exception of trashy reality stars. Last night at the ESPYS, Scott welcomed the world into his battle with cancer and showed a depth and presence we don’t often see on SportsCenter. It’s one of the best moments I’ve seen on television. We need more honesty in this world. 

Media Announces LeBron James’ Silence Means He Plans to Retire

The media of the Associated Press has announced LeBron James’ plans to retire from basketball this summer. For the past 10 days, LeBron has remained exceedingly quiet about where he plans to play next season. Though LeBron himself has said nothing, leaks keep coming from his camp, from potential cities, from media insiders, and from my grandmother that he plans to play in Miami, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Dallas, or the National Junior Basketball Association chapter of Redwood City. It seems every 10 minutes another report comes out that he has changed his mind and is going somewhere else to play.

After 10 days of LeBron frenzy and speculation, Chris Broussard of ESPN said today that he “expects LeBron to announce his retirement by the end of the week.” When asked for details, Broussard simply said, “Well he’s giving me nothing. I’m freaking out over here!”

It wouldn’t be the first time an athlete retired at the peak of his game. In 1999, Barry Sanders shockingly walked away from football even though he remained one of the best running backs in the sport. It brings new light to the 2007 LeBron interview when, after losing the NBA finals, he said, “I want to be the Barry Sanders of basketball.” At the time, everyone assumed that meant he wanted to be a legend in his sport, but apparently he wanted to quit while he was ahead and go out on top like Seinfeld.

When asked for comment, the entire city of Cleveland wept silently.

In honor of Independence Day, here’s a clip of me improving with an audience about fireworks. If you didn’t know, I have a firework addiction problem. Like the kind of problem where I’ve been arrested multiple times for fireworks. The handcuffed, put in cop cars, court dates, hire a lawyer kind of problem. Here’s hoping I don’t get arrested this year. Some of you might say, “Just stop doing fireworks.” To that I say, America never gave up, neither will I.

I definitely have World Cup fever! I have watched part of every game in this World Cup so far. I can’t get enough. It’s ruining my life. I’m not being productive, but my excuse is it only happens once every four years, so back off. In honor of the World Cup, here’s some video of the greatest goal I’ve ever seen at a World Cup. Thank you Mr. Bergkamp. You are forever in my dreams.

At the Venice Music and Arts Festival in Venice Beach, this creepy bald guy in a wetsuit danced his heart out, acted inappropriately with women, and then gave up. It was pretty hilarious to watch. Awkward dancing is my favorite.

Slenderman is like the Bloody Mary of my generation for kids today. When I was 8, we’d look into the mirror and say “Bloody Mary” three times fast in the hopes that she’d appear. When she didn’t appear, we’d giggle heartily and accuse other people of being wimps. We rarely heard stories of what others did to impress Bloody Mary because we didn’t have the internet. Now, the internet spreads stories like wildfire, and it can turn into a horrify game of one-upmanship. 

This is one of the coolest things any comedian has ever done. Kurt Braunohler is jet skiing the length of the Mississippi. That’s pretty cool in and of itself, but what I think is really cool is that he’s doing it to raise money for Heifer International, the non-profit aid organization that helps send animals to those in need in Africa. An animal like a chicken, goat, or cow can change an entire family’s existence by providing milk, eggs, and cheese.

I’ve long believed that comedy has the power to improve the world. It’s great that as a comedian I can brighten up someone’s bad day with some  jokes. That’s one of my favorite parts of being a comedian. But I want to do more than that to improve the world, and Kurt is showing me that it’s possible to use comedy to do more. As Uncle Ben said, “With great power, comes great responsibility.” As public figures, comics have the ability to influence how people think. We can highlight social injustice and make people think about it in a different light. We might affect the way some people think for only one second, but we might affect others for a lifetime. I’d rather use that power to support things like gay marriage than to make fun of gay people because it’s an easy life. Jet skiing the Mississippi is ridiculous and stupid, but if it gets people thinking about sending aid to Africa, then it’s the smartest thing anyone is currently doing. We can use comedy for the greater good. 

To donate to Kurt’s campaign and help send aid to Africa, please visit:

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/jet-ski-for-goats

How Can We Think So Small in a Universe So Vast?

I went to the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles last night and my brain hurts. The universe is big. Like bigger than the Pacific Ocean. Sometimes I watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean and think there’s nothing bigger than that. Turns out, that’s pretty much the smallest thing. It’s hard to wrap my brain around. The universe is unending, ever expanding, and unquantifiable. I’m so glad I wasn’t high when I went into the planetarium or my brain would have exploded.

Here’s the thing that struck me the most; in a universe so vast, our thinking is so small. How can you worry about gay marriage when everything you can imagine exists somewhere in the deep recesses of space? There’s a planet where people marry clones of themselves, and somehow you think you’ve figured it out. How can you argue you have the one right religion when you gaze at the myriad stars in the night sky? In that wide expanse, God wouldn’t be so narrow minded to create only one to enlightenment. How can you not be good to the people around you? I can’t wrap my head around the nothingness and everythingness of the universe, but I know I can impact the lives I touch by being joyful and generous.

The world of most individuals is tiny. Every day we go to the same place of work and back to the same place we sleep. We go to the same restaurants over and over because we know them and there are no surprises. We pick the same beer because we like it and it’s safe. Our place in the universe is tiny, but our existence doesn’t have to be so small.  There are billions upon billions of galaxies, and each galaxy has billions upon billions of stars. If everything is possible out there, it inspires me that anything is possible down here. Dare to try new things, dare to push your limits and test your boundaries, dare to be good to others even when you don’t feel like it, dare to be the best version of yourself. 

The actress Helen Mirren said it best when she said, “Everything is completely accidental and random. Sometimes bad things happen to very good people and sometimes good things happen to bad people. But at least if you try to do good things, then you’re spending your time doing something worthwhile.”

My flight got cancelled at the airport recently and the entire time I was waiting to get rebooked on a new flight, this girl was dancing on the moving walkway. She didn’t give a fuck who was watching, she wanted to dance. And she never stopped. I stood in line for 90 minutes and she kept going back and forth, back and forth, dancing the whole time. To be honest, I was jealous. I want to dance in public whenever I feel like it, but I don’t because then other adults think I’m a crazy person. So I say dance crazy girl, dance.