Episode Seven - Kevin Morris (Managing Director of OCAD U CO)

Saul Colt: [00:00:06] Kevin it's got to make you crazy when people prescribe to a very firm five step process for design thinking.


Kevin Morris: [00:00:15] Yeah I mean listen I think there's like a good news bad news situation with the whole five step process in design thinking I'm going to start with the good news because I tend to think I'm an optimist. The good news is the three step and five step process of design thinking that has become so popular has made this whole area of design thinking super accessible to people. And so what used to be mystified is this sort of blackbox art innovation was this thing we're super creative people went into a room and they emerged a week later and a puff of white smoke came out of the room and the big idea was ready. People always thought that was something you were sort of you were born with or only certain people had the ability to do that. And I think that sort of codification of the design process has made it easier for people to sort of engage with and grab on to. At the same time I think what's happened with that five step process is we sort of become overreliant on it. We look at the five step process as an easy way to engage with as a starting point. And we never really continue down the journey of figuring out what sort of is behind the five step process or what can happen if you went like really deep in each of those steps in a really rigorous way. Sort of what we call around here like deep design. And so what happens in that in the five step process we kind of get locked in to the process. We feel like the process is sort of the only way to go through it. It's very linear thing where we can only move on to Step Two once we've done it Step One We can only move on. Step three once we're done step two. And the reality is. For designers who practice this innovation stuff for highly creative people who are solving problems. There's really no set way to do it. And what you actually find is there's kind of just this neat group of sensibilities or intuition which come from experience and actually practice and discipline to know how to deal with ambiguity. My former colleague and mentor Larry Keely who is the president of Doblin group used to talk about the hard and discipline of innovation is being able to cut cubes from fog. And there is no real dedicated process to do that. But over time as you practiced innovation and maybe you started with a three step or five step process you sort of learn the ins and outs. You sort of learn where there's a fork in the road where you can for example go back and talk to more of your users or customers to get more research or you sort of learn that hey maybe it's time to start building. We need to start making something or prototyping. And what happens with designers who have practiced for a long time is they generally figure out how to make those decisions about which fork in the road they're going to take. Beyond that process. There's one more thing that drives me crazy about the five step process and that is they tend to drastically over simplify the hard work that needs to get done and to do really meaningful design research and innovation work. And I'm specifically talking about the steps around analysis and synthesis. So if you read a lot of the popular material that's out there about design thinking it looks as easy as doing a five day design Sprint where we can quickly ideate test something get it have to market figure out if it works and all that stuff is great and how its place has its place but so often what we're talking about like big meaty like what some would call wicked problems big things facing society like climate change or inequality or inclusion. Those things actually take time in deep meaningful analysis and synthesis of your research to find the opportunities. We did a project just a few weeks ago with the City of Toronto. And what that meant is like for an entire week in a room and we were sifting through 1400 pieces of data from talking to 80 users and citizens across the city to sort of tease out the patterns and the white space if you will from where there's real opportunity for innovation. If we didn't do that we would have just jumped to what may have been the obvious or novel solutions. And so a lot of the rhetoric you hear lately around design thinking just getting us to the status quo. I kind of agree with because it's done in a bit of a superficial lightweight way and the real opportunity I think is going deep when the situation calls for it and bringing these advanced skill sets around design research simply on analysis and synthesis.


Saul Colt: [00:04:52] Now I see you mentioned a couple of things there and I want to know one thing. And I think it may be interesting give your definition of design thinking why you were talking your time of 1400 points of data your time with all these things. It sounds super hard. So is this something that you can actually teach people. So give me the definition. Give me your opinion if you can actually teach design thinking because I've got a bunch of opinions on this and you know when you talk about you know cutting a cube at a smoker...out of fog. It's like. It's interesting it's like. I basically sell ideas for a living and ideas come easy to me. You know so I always tell people that the ideas the easy part the execution is the hard part and I just like I'm good at both the executions the discipline the ideas the easy part. And you know I joke in for a long time people didn't think it was a joke like I had to stop taking my medication and the voices give me the ideas that sort of became longer and I stopped saying that because I didn't want them people think it's true but. But you know like I'm going on a tangent here but I would love to hear it kind of your definition of design thinking fits the conventional one because you seem to think a little differently but it isn't. And can you teach this because it definitely is a skill that I want to get to that I want to get to the point that this is a skill more people should be embracing.


Kevin Morris: [00:06:20] Yeah sure. I mean let's talk about the traditional way of solving problems that we see in business because that might be a good starting point to sort of set up. Traditional. Folks who might come out of an MBA background or work in strategy. And I you know I did one of those people before we we tend to lead with a hypothesis. And so when a problem or opportunity is presented to us we're very quick to sort of form hypotheses about what a potential solution or answer to that opportunity could be and then analyze our way to what the best option is out of that list of hypotheses that we generated and that's been an effective way of sort of dealing with management type problems or strategy type problems for a long way for a long time. And then a few decades ago what some really smart people realized is that. Actually if you thought about the problem solving processes starting before even solving the problem but actually finding the right problems to solve. You kind of needed a different toolkit. And what they found is that designers were kind of naturally equipped to do things like problem finding to generate more and better hypotheses before going you just testing a shortlist of hypotheses that we might generate today. And so lots of them you know is so to speak magic the design thinking process was instead of converging instead of starting with what we think is the exhaustive list and then working our way to the best option from that list. Let's actually divert first and there are lots of ways that we can diverged through creative ideation methods but more importantly really good research about stakeholders and users that are involved. So when you say you're really good at ideas Saul, I think you probably haven't thought about it in this way before but you're likely just doing a really good divergence all the time you're talking to lots of interesting people. You work with lots of interesting companies across sizes and sectors you notice and pick up on a lot of interesting trends that are just starting to emerge. Probably more so than and sooner than the average person would. You're kind of naturally divergent just in your life all the time. And then when it comes time to you're seeing a problem put in front of you in generating ideas or hypotheses into those you kind of already have this bag full of like dots that you can connect against that. The design thinking framework is really a discipline structure around how to do that on a more repeatable reliable basis. And so what it does is it gives you the tools for where a lot of people would call problem framing. Let's figure out what is the boundary of the problem that we're actually interested in before we go and solve it. And then what are the different sources of like discovery that we used to go and cover to get all the information we knew to generate. First the long list of those ideas. So if you're big bank and you look at your customer adoption rates and you're finding like hey millennials are just not coming to the bank anymore. They could to a branch branch to sign up. Their parents are forcing them to get debit cards at an age like I used to get when I got my first debit card. You know the traditional problem solving that they would say and we need to make branches way more attractive to young people or oh we need to do a better job of getting our messaging in front of millennials. The desired thing are my step back and say like actually what does affective like financial support services like in the life of a teenager today you can see how just that simple spin on what the problem is you're trying to solve can drastically change the list of hypotheses you generate and actually implementing your strategy. So a quick exercise that we do with people all the time to demonstrate this point the difference between just hypothesis based problem solving and doing good home framing. Consider these two innovation challenges I might give you the first one is your bedframe manufacturer Innovation Challenge. Number one is design a better bet. In workshops people sketching all kinds of features and functions into their bad like us be plugs everywhere. One time in a workshop a guy embedded a fish tank in the bottom of his bed. There's always one person who says something inappropriate in that exercise. But they consider the second division challenge which is reimagining way for people to experience sleep The difference in those two things in terms of the type of solutions they offer the hypotheses is drastic and designers are really good at is making sure that the question you're asking is one that's going to be fruitful to actually solving the sort of underlying problems that you're facing. And so design thinking is really just this method for doing better divergence. Before you start to converge on an answer. So I think that's the that's the answer to your first question. Remind me of your second question.


Saul Colt: [00:11:27] Is this something you can teach people like you know you had all those nice things to say about me telling me how brilliant I am how I have got this gift. But yeah yeah. A banker or somebody who you know like you know and I agree with a lot of the things you said. I think the reason that some things you know I notice things that are there. I have made it my life's goal to expose myself to so many different things and you know some a lot of the stuff that I'm more curious about is the off the beaten path stuff. So I don't find my ideas derivative whereas if everyone's reading the same book everyone's watching the same TV show. It's just it's just the way or I believe our brains work our ideas are going to be similar and so that's why I try to you know expand what I'm exposed to but someone who hasn't made this their life goal someone who you know later in their career looking for an opportunity to you know maybe better themselves is this something that you can learn or. Or is it you know if you haven't got an early it's too late.


Kevin Morris: [00:12:32] Yeah I know it's a great question and it comes. It pops up against. You know some of that controversial conversation that happens in the world around design thinking only belong to sort of true designers who are trained and practiced in design. We think that anybody can learn to be a really good design thinker or innovator and it takes practice and discipline. And so we've seen that time and time again with a lot of that organizations that were training. You always have a bunch of skeptics who come at you even if they're not willing to engage. At the beginning there there's always a little bit of magic that happens. When people get to something unexpected or they get to a solution that then gets put in front of a user or someone that they're designing for a customer a colleague and all of a sudden that surprising thing that user sees it in their eyes light up because it actually solves the problem that they're facing. So the skill set that goes behind that we think is totally teachable. It takes a level of excitement at being immersed in the process to sort of get your head around it and get comfortable with it. But that comes with time and we kind of think this is a craft that has to be developed over time. It's not as easy unfortunately as you know doing a three day quickset training camp and then being an expert design thinker. But it's a really good start. And so on top of just sort of acquiring the skills at the individual level. You know I think there were lots of things that organizations need to be doing to make sure that people are actually given the opportunity to learn this stuff. So as much as you might have an appetite to go over design thinking sometimes the incentives might not be a place in your company do it. Sometimes you know there just isn't the appetite for taking on the risks or the perceived risk of sort of doing something unorthodox. So there's an individual total appetite and ability to learn the stuff we think. I think the enabler of that is organizations that start to configure themselves in ways that allow people to learn and use these skills.


Saul Colt: [00:14:37] So I'm paraphrasing what you said aren't ready. So this isn't my original thought but I'm simplifying it so I am. Two questions go. Essentially what you said was that designers start with questions. Businesses start with answers. If that's the case like why are businesses so hesitant to embrace this or why are you so where's the fear like you think this should be a no brainer.


Kevin Morris: [00:15:06] It's a wildly new way of working for a lot of people. And what can seem like giving up control. Oh we're going to let users tell us what they want. We're going to let customers design the bank of the future. That seems wildly uncertain. We don't know what might come out the other hand. It's hard to plan for. It's hard to predict but the results can often be so surprising and so effective that the flip on that is that this is actually a way to de-risk a lot of those new things that you might do as an organization. So when you look at the corporate failure rates on innovation they're stunningly high and we think design thinking is actually the way to de-risk a lot of the new stuff that big organizations are facing. And so if you took all the data that you had about all of your customers and banking across the history of those customers and use that historical data. To make the assumptions about what those users want in the future. Given all the change that's happening around consumer preferences how people engage with brands how people want to be welcomed when they walk into a bank branch or not a bank branch at all. It would be really hard to draw effective hypotheses from all that data that you have historically and the idea of moving forward with a sort of design led view on this opening yourself up to big questions that ultimately lead to more uncertainty but bigger and surprising and probably better solutions for your customers. It's a different way of working feel uncomfortable. It can be hard to budget for that. Sometimes those are things that were starting to think about. It can be hard to put a project plan together when you don't know what the solution is that's going to come out of the other end. Unlike a traditional sort of tech implementation and so there's a little bit of education we think to be tied around how this actually de-risks a lot of the innovation that organizations doing instead of introducing risk. And that gives you a method for sort of taking that risk and turning it into opportunity by letting yourself generate those new hypotheses but also really cool ways to go and test those and minimal ways before you over invest in something that may or may not have traction. Once it gets in the hands of customers.


Saul Colt: [00:17:29] So use the word inclusive earlier in the conversation and thats, I hate to call it a buzz word and I don't think that does any justice but it's certainly a word on top of most people's minds and they they're either thinking about it in many different ways. How does it or why does design thinking need to be inclusive.


Kevin Morris: [00:17:53] Yeah it's a great question and super topical right now. There are two levels of inclusion that you know we've been thinking about a lot. The first is you know we hear a lot about well if designers takeover of designers do this have designers start making decisions here or they won't make the best decisions. Answer The first layer of inclusion is actually you know we don't necessarily see designers as sort of like world dominating taking over the way that we make decisions in organizations. But actually the role of designers increasingly to make sure that the right people are at the table that counts in two ways. The first is making sure that the right levels of expertise are there. So designers are design thinkers working in a vacuum never recommended design thinkers who are able to bring in the right folks who represent social science people who understand humans and the connection between humans and all of the ways that we interact as society people understand technology who can actually build things people understand business strategy and numbers. The designer's job increasingly from what we're seeing is about curating the right set of disciplines not just counting on designers to be this are all my problem solvers. That's one level inclusion. The next level of inclusion arguably more important is actually a discussion of power in who has power in the design process. The old school way of thinking about the designer as sitting in the creative studio alone generating the big bucks ideas and then unveiling that idea to the world and have it sort of taken and adopted is rapidly changing. And thank God for that because what we're finding is that designers are increasingly aware of their responsibility and their role to take that power. That designers once held in the creative studio and handed over to the people who really need a say in the decisions about what's being designed and what used to be designed for them. Now designing with them. So we use a word here that's becoming more and more popular code design which effectively means instead of us taking the sort of top down view and going in and asking customers what they want. We go away we sort of think about all our clever and brilliant design really things that can solve those problems. Those people are actually in the room with us now being in the room with us doesn't necessarily mean that those people are in optimal Kimmett conditions to contribute in a meaningful way. So you know diversity might mean that we have the right representation in the room. Inclusion means are we creating the conditions where people actually feel welcome and encouraged and able to access the conversation we're having about what we're designing. And so for a huge project we did the city recently we had 80 people from across the city come together from across sectors across socioeconomic status across political leanings. They were invited into the conversation. And not necessarily to answer the questions that we thought really important questions to ask like a really strict interview guide. We're were already sort of determining the priorities of what to design against and how to design that thing but actually more to just sort of like listen. To what's important. And it seems so simple it's so obvious that yeah of course we need the right people. Of course we need to just listen. But as humans we are hard wired to have certain conscious and unconscious bias that sometimes when there are structural barriers to those people being included in those conversations. As a university it OK. We're doing a ton to sort of figure out those things. We are decolonizing our curriculum which means we are integrating indigenous ways of working in no way into the things that we're teaching in art and design and strategy and innovation in our master's programs because what we're finding is those things are getting more and better reviews into the room when we are doing the work of design. And what's really interesting about that is when we started designing for the people who traditionally have not been at the table when design decisions are being made the thing we're finding out and other people are finding this team across the design sector is the ultimate solution. Not only is it better for those people who are now at the table it's better for everybody. The famous story about oxidant they met kitchen utensils and a lot of the work that they did in the early days of figuring out what people actually needed in a good kitchen utensil even from like a human factor standpoint is study sort of extreme users services. You had arthritis or chronic. And what they discovered is that if well if you made the handles of the kitchen utensils like really big and clunky almost awkward looking to us and really soft and squishy it was a lot easier to like grab that can opener and repeat around the can or grab that pair of scissors or grab that spatula. And what was really interesting about that is not only did it make it better for people with arthritis. Everybody love that hand more. Microsoft is doing the same thing right now. They're sort of go to mode of design thinking that they're talking about is actually just inclusive design. They're going to the edges. In talking to people who have certain disabilities or extreme perspectives on things because of the position that they have and they're finding that when they design for those things the customer experience is becoming better for everybody. And finally we have a startup here in our incubator fabled tech labs. They are a really great user testing platform that allows companies who are designing an app or a website to test it with users with disabilities and what they are tracking to is that customers who achieve the highest scores on the scorecard for accessibility overall all their customers having WAY better experiences. And so what you're finding on the inclusion front is designers are getting better and bringing the right people to the table in the right disciplines. They're also getting better at fighting the right users and stakeholders to the table who have a stake in what's being designed to design with them and not for them in the output of that is we're getting better design for everybody which is super cool. And so this you know math subs article and I think is in Fast Company recently that you know design thinking is not inclusive design we kind of think it can't be further from the truth. If you're doing really good design thinking you are doing inclusive design. Because the more and better perspectives you have in that divergent process we were talking about earlier the better and stronger hypotheses you're going to have to choose from when you're thinking about the solutions that you want to go prototype. And so we think those two things go hand in hand.


Saul Colt: [00:25:11] So you mentioned use of the term co-design. You mentioned you know OCAD university and you know we're sitting in the offices of OCAD university CO. maybe explain a little bit about Co at the end of that. I want to know you know to our listeners they can hear the construction that's going on with a design thinking was used to plan this renovation project and explain what CO is for people who aren't familiar.


Kevin Morris: [00:25:40] Yeah great question. OCAD U Co is a new venture that's being spun out of OCAD University of course having 150 years history of being Canada's largest in this art and design institution. The mission of CO is really to enable leaders of change in these big organizations to drive transformation using the tools of design and creative problem solving and where that came from is over the last decade or so. OCAD U started to notice a pattern. More and more organizations were knocking on the door saying hey we're recognizing that the problems that we're solving as a company or as a government or as a nonprofit are traditional tools hypothesis generation or whatever those tools that might be there not coming out. And we know that this design thinking set of methods around innovation are more and more important. Can you help us get some of what you have and at OCAD U CO is the way that we're starting to do that. So where we're sitting right now and you mentioned we're all this construction is happening. Is that your Daniels City of the Arts Building right on Toronto's waterfront it's right at the foot of Jarvis in Queens Quay. We opened a new 14000 square foot studio just for the purposes of bringing industry partners in to work with them to scale up their teams their leaders and their organizations on the methods of design thinking creative problem solving. So that can look like a number of different ways. The first is really cool and more immersive boot camps where your team is coming and rolling up their sleeves and they're going deep into the design process. Beyond the three step or the five step process to really get a feel for the hard work of design. Not just not just to say hey this is really hard but to say if you put in the hard work over and above those three steps here's what's possible because you come out the other end of that boot camp with something really cool to show about what those insights guy you let's say you've done that and now you have a sort of 101 level knowledge. The next thing that clients started asking for is like what can you help us practice this. Because we've learned. But now like we're kind of on our own and it's a little bit scary to try us and to your point about why organizations might not go do it. It is kind of scary because you're sort of setting on your own with this new tool box. You don't know how to use all those tools in there and in what order. And so we offer through a ton of our amazing faculty and students and alumni here. This really awesome program that over a number of weeks will allow you to bring a real organizational problem through a creative problem solving process. Your team does the work we provide sort of just in time training and coaching and feedback. So we are sort of guardrails around that and we take off you know some of the edge or the rest of what it's like to go through this for the first time. And then finally we have some clients who are like super advanced you know they've been doing that three step process. They know it's not a three step process but now they kind of want to sharpen the saw and get really good at specific skill sets. And so we offer these deep dives. We're basically in the span of two to three days. We will go super deep on these 16 or so areas that we see as being really critical to your organization's competencies redesign mission.  Things like better storytelling for change. Building better prototypes inclusive design and how to make sure that we're actually Co-designing in a way that is inclusive for more senior leaders and organizations how to lead innovation and build a mindset for transformation. And so we have this curriculum of sorts that we're starting to build out that organizations are going through and it's been really cool to see them sort of build up that skill set and take on the bigger and bolder challenges. With more confidence that they're going to get to the right solution because they have the right users of the table the right tools to help them do that. So CO is just out of the gate. We've started in the last few months we've got an awesome roster of sort of founding clients that we're working with and over the coming months we're going to start to roll those things out to a broader group of companies who want to come and work with us on those areas of building skills from designing creative innovation.


Saul Colt: [00:30:06] Cool. You're a busy guy and you get around I get two more quick lightning round questions and then give your day back to one. I think that the most interesting thing about what you just said about what CO does is that that second piece of the three offerings the fact that a brand can bring a real problem and you know leave with a real solution as opposed to being in a classroom setting and own theory and going through. Yeah. Does that make it actually harder. Because like you guys are working for curriculum. You really have to prove like every week that you guys know your business you know you're talking about. Is that exciting or scary.


Kevin Morris: [00:30:48] It depends who you ask. We are super biased and think that's an amazingly exciting and oftentimes that's where that eye opening moments happen with clients in that you know they have to veer off from the rulebook. But we were still able to figure it out together and that is one of the most important moments when we look at this sort of path of learning the set of tools that first moment where you can with confidence say that you can sort of stray from the rulebook but still figure out how to find your way home is super special moment and you see clients kind of light up when they figure out that that's possible. Sometimes clients get so excited about that that they just want to break all the rules and you know go crazy. And that's that's it's a really really good moment. And this idea of sort of I joke it's BYOP Bring a problem and you can take it through our curriculum. Clients really love that because it's letting them see no real context what's possible. We're super focused on the learning outcomes so that means we're building in these moments and ways of making sure that people are adopting the tools and the skills that they need. But for the organization to see their teams learning and practicing new skills and then seeing the impact of those on the product is really cool. And we think really unique.


Saul Colt: [00:32:11] Okay last question how we've talked about is design thinking in things that nobody even knows anything but you you you did a talk recently at TEDX Talk and it was about the opposite of what we target announced more of your photographic sort of passions and pursuits. Talk a little bit about the theme of your TEDX Talk and you know why you went in that direction.


Kevin Morris: [00:32:35] Yeah I mean you know outside of design thinking which shockingly I don't do 24 hours a day. I'm also a huge photography nut and have been for a long time and I think photography is like one of my own unique gifts that makes me you know have some special skill around design. Think your innovation. And you know part of that I realized was you know holding a camera up in front of my face actually gave gives you this really cool excuse to kind of like notice things and be curious to frame things in certain ways quite literally but also figuratively. And I realized there were a bunch of really important lessons that I had learned personally probably subconsciously over the years in taking photos that apply to all the great innovation work that we get to do. So what my TED talk actually talked to of three bodies of photography work done the first was for a period of two years. Every day when I would commute to and from work I would try to go a different route through the city. And I became obsessed with taking photos of houses I called them House portraits and I ended up over that couple of years taking almost a thousand photos of Tron. I was as you know but the lesson I drew from that was like there's always so much value in taking the unexplored route asking the big questions that he's asking because I learned so much about the city but also so much about it like all of these amazing houses and architecture around the city. And when we're working with clients here you know we're straying from the three step process or the five step process. Sometimes that means taking a route to a research or prototype that we wouldn't otherwise take. And it's so cool to take that leap sometimes. Then the second story I shared was about a body of work I did called The Architecture of committee where I used this camera from the 30 it's called Graph flex it's huge like large format film camera. Every photo took like 20 bucks of film because it was so expensive and so rare to find. And you know the lesson learned there was really like the value of slowing down when I have my iPhone and I'm taking pictures I do this for my dog all the time. I will take like a thousand photos and then it's like in five minutes find the best one. We didn't have that luxury when it was like 20 bucks. And when I was doing this project 20 bucks with a lot to be said it meant really slowing down and thinking really hard about what was going to be in the photo. What was the photo what was the wind like. Was going to knock the camera off. And I think there's a lesson there particularly in an era of like design sprains and start ups and move fast and break things. And all of these mantras which I think are great and have their place but there's value in slowing down and really like deeply understanding understanding people what's happening in the world. New Tech the implications of that tech because I think that depth. You know this comes back to a three step process again is where a lot of the magic happens. But when we sort of speed our way through we don't really give ourselves time to understand what's actually possible and then the final story I shared in the TED talk was actually more of a personal one. It was when my grandfather was in the hospital a few years ago. I was lucky enough that hospital is really close to where I was working during grad school and about the time that I started hanging out the hospital with him after school every day. And sure enough I had my camera one day and I actually started taking photos in the hospital. But like from the perspective of a patients. So I took photos of like the wall that you stare at all day if you're in that hospital that took photos of like how hard it was to do some simple things that you take for granted. But you know that the design of that thing had really taken to kill the context of being in a hospital. So an example was you taking a sip of water out of a Styrofoam cup when you were in a horizontal down position is really hard and it seems like a basic thing but that has such a dramatic effect not only on the patient but my family like it was really hard for my family to see that and I ended up producing this photo essay of all these photos I took in my hospital sort of with you know the punch line that's it takes a lot of notice. And curiosity and you know storytelling in terms of how I put these photos together to really understand like the complexity or nuance of a situation that you're designing for. You know if we just sat in this room and talked about ways to make the hospital experience better I'm sure we could come up with a bunch of good ideas probably some terrible ones too if we went in deeply studied what it's like to be in that hospital. The things you get to are dramatically different in that photo essay create it. Funny enough ended up getting in the hands of executive team at one of the largest hospitals in Toronto. They ended up looping me into this thread. Eventually I got to see all these comments of people reading the photo essay and you know the coolest comment for me and it kind of made me really appreciate like my photography skills a lot was. Yeah we knew we had to improve the and experience to do innovation in the hospital but it never really hit us until we saw the photos. That was from the CEO of one of the hospitals and I'll never forget reading that and that email because for me the idea of noticing her taking photos was such a simple thing. It's so powerful and getting other people to come along with the idea that something could be better which really comes back to you. Why would you decide to gang innovation the first place it's always because we think better as possible. And so the TED talk was really like hear these lessons that you can have from photography. Whether you take photos or not. You know they were really cool inside they were like that were worth sharing.


Saul Colt: [00:38:41] I don't now what it is about hospitals but Ilene Gottfried is quite a famous New York City photographer documenting a lot of New York City from street level in the 70s and 80s it just happens to be Gilbert Gottfried's sister. She did a whole series of photographs of them as a book documenting really a year of their mother being in the hospital and it's heartbreaking. I just wonder. Maybe it's just the quiet sitting around hospitals for a lot of creativity can you ever go tell people who you are where you work and all that.


Kevin Morris: [00:39:23] Yeah. Kevin Morris managing director of those awesome new company we're spinning out of OCAD university it's called OCAD U CO and we are sitting right now live in our new 14000 square foot design thinking innovation studio for our industry clients and partners. So you can find us at the foot of Jarvis where the new Daniel's City of the Arts building. And you can find me on Twitter at @Kmorr. Reach out let me know what you're doing with design thinking because I would love to have a good conversation about how you're approaching the same thing.


Saul Colt: [00:39:53] Thank you.


saul colt
Episode Six - Rabbi Yossi Sapirman talks about the Pittsburgh shooting.

Saul Colt: [00:00:00] You know like it's you know young people aren't aren't really embracing Judaism the same way. You know it seems like it's you know it's it's getting harder and harder to get people interested in the faith. And right now with everything that happened I think there's a tie into that Israel is to hear your thoughts on what's going on in Pittsburgh and you know even you know I saw on the news last night the you know there was a synagogue in Brooklyn that people defaced and you know it's just curious about your thoughts and like we can just sort of roll from there but it doesn't have to be that long it could be short long you know. But now just sort of let you go and ask you a few questions here and there if that's cool.


Rabbi Yossi Saperman: [00:00:43] Ok for sure. Now the quality on your end is not great. How was it a Mike are you recording me. Later. OK good. We're Where are you. Are you in town now. Are you in trouble. Yeah. OK. I'm coming to school tomorrow. We have a memorial service. So are you going. Yeah. OK. So. What is your audience by the way. Who's who.


[00:01:17] It's a whole you know it's a very assorted group of people is about 5000 people listen. And it's you know it's people who either follow me. You know it's like you know we've had people on the show so far from entertainment to sports to. So it isn't defined by anything except for who that weekly guest is. But it's you know it's probably people you know 25 to 55 and you know probably know me from the business world or things like that. But it's it's a real you know hodgepodge of people.


Rabbi Yossi Saperman: [00:01:53] Ok. So I don't have to talk about it from a strictly Jewish land like apart from really see the world kind of thing of course. Ok. All right so let's start.


Saul Colt: [00:02:04] Ok so I'll just I'll just throw this out and say you know everything that's going on in the world and specially you know just let people know or recording this. The Friday after the the Pittsburgh shooting and it will air the Wednesday after the first shabbat but you know after the shooting you're a rabbi. Tell me what's going through your mind like the world seems to be going crazy. Right now.


Rabbi Yossi Saperman: [00:02:33] It is it feels like like it's crazy but it doesn't feel more crazy it just feels like it's looking for us. There is this notion that because you're a vegetarian the bull won't charge you. In other words if we espouse peace and love and tolerance and integration and compassion and empathy and we support all different kinds of groups interfaith people who are poor impoverished we do better for society then society doesn't turn on us. That's the bull. As the vegetarians were saying to the bull. We have nothing against your will. But the bull charges and humans are in their target and the bull chooses its target based on perhaps an unknown pattern or because of some kind of incitement. And here we are asking the bull why are you charging me because I would never hurt you. And that is really sadly true that it's turned on us. We feel the weight of it on the Jewish community but it's not the Jewish community itself. It's the targeting of a place of worship and the innocence of religion that religion itself asks for the freedom to have a sacred island in which we're free from the necessity of guns and violence. Murder and death and beyond the horror of all of the 11 murdered. The the the thought that so many people had lived through their whole lives some had survived the Holocaust ended up in terror. It's beyond shocking but it's not surprising because there have been churches attacked and mosques attacked and houses of parliament attack and there are attacks regularly that we barely hear about and are all kinds of places it's just that it's come home to roost and it's close now when it's close we really feel it and that is part one. It's close. We feel it. We need to express it. We need to not be afraid to go to our houses of worship whichever whichever religion denomination but especially now I want to be safe in my synagogue. I want to improve security. I want to know that I take taken seriously. But I want people to stop saying to me I'm afraid to go to shul I'm afraid to go to the synagogue. Although to be completely blunt people have said to me they're always afraid. But they go anyhow. And I think that's the point we're getting to is we're going any say sorry. I want. OK. So that was part one is this idea that we're we may be afraid. We have the right to be afraid. We're not we're not alone in our fear. Others have been targeted too. And it's not surprising unexpected it's horrific. What we're going to synagogue on this Saturday stand in solidarity with everybody in the world who has suffered in the same way to say we're with you but also to say we're not afraid to be here and to teach our children that the best way to overcome fear is to choose to fight back and ignore it or focus on something greater than the possibility of fear. And that's that's part one of the zeitgeist of what's going on. So why was he getting far too out. I was going to say part two is part two is the general sense that something is amiss and something is wrong and there's without getting into the political debate in a significant way. There's been a call for leadership and I could not tell you that there's a credible leader on either side already non-credible leader on either side what we are seeing is as ordinary citizens looking primarily to the U.S. but also we have to consider what we've done here in Canada but if we look towards the US there's a call for action even a call for action is unclear. And it seems like the calling for action used to mean there's a moral standard please uphold it. Please enforce it. Please make sure that these things don't happen and now it seems that that very same call for action is in itself either a dog whistle or it's an opportunity to bash whatever positivity comes out of it. It's almost as though the very dialogue saying Help me help me is a way of either placing blame or placing obligation but no one is reaching out to help. And by that I mean there is no clearly defined bipartisan way in which we can change the dynamic of society whether it be guns whether it be supremacy whether it be political fracture whether it be the inability to express anything without fear of being exposed docs etc. Those are all the things that have that that are really scaring people and that is because there's no 9/11 for society or civilization anymore. That's really the problem. When they answer the call they tell you it's your fault or they tell you that it's someone else's fault or they tell you that you're living proof that there's a problem but they don't solve or there's no solution in place.


Saul Colt: [00:08:02] So it's it's it's interesting you talk about you know call to action because that's one of the things that I've been struggling with this last week. So when I heard the news of everything is going on I was in Little Rock Arkansas speaking at a conference and being in the south. You can make all the sort of you know stereotypes you want to make. I actually found it a very warm community and these people were very upset with what was going on. There was no joking there was no you know belittleing it or thing but the one thing that stuck with me is nobody was surprised. You know whether it be a school shooting or a synagogue shooting or whatever. It's become so commonplace and in you know in people's minds maybe a little bit more in the U.S. and in certain pockets of the U.S. But you know nobody was outraged or maybe they outraged but nobody was you know like caught off guard by this and as you know myself Canadian you know travels all around North America. It's interesting. I sort of see people's different viewpoints and stuff but it has me personally. I want to do something and I don't know what to do and you know I didn't put the badge on my Facebook wall because for some reason that just didn't seem like it was anything or you know. I don't know. Like I think that you know I would like to have a stronger voice and try to do something. I just have no idea what to do.


Rabbi Yossi Saperman: [00:09:28] Well Saul, the real question is exactly what you're asking and that is beyond slacktivism or beyond wallpapers or beyond twitters. What can we do. What can we actually do. Part of this is the reason that we go stand in a synagogue is because the first thing we need to do is declare fear alive and we have to wrestle with the fear because fear is the anxiety that will keep us away which inevitably will allow will allow for disconnection from our community which will create further opportunities for hate or resentment if we're not strong together. And I don't mean as a Jewish community I mean as a human community we're not strong knowing that there's no surprise that this is going to happen or has happened if we're not strong in the face of it then we lose immediately. So the first step is to get together with other people and say we're here and once we're here we can say what can we do and what we can do. I'm not an expert on what we can do but I know that we have to do is twofold. We have to change our security procedures so that we prepare for the worst case scenario and we have to keep our value systems open and keep dialoguing and keep talking and connecting with other communities that have been through this or other communities that could be good cause of this. It is critical that we reach out to interfaith communities and connect with them because they're all subject to this tide of hate intolerance whether they be Muslim Jews Christians. To some degree everybody suffers to some degree. So the first real answer is wrestle with our fear. Let's not run away from it. Let's talk about in a second. Let's talk to other people who share similar fears and then we together we can look at can we create a solution based on many different points that seem to be awry and unfortunately they seem incredibly banal and each one in its own right is worth exploring but it becomes overwhelming. We have to look at the mental health crisis we have to look at the amount of guns being smuggled through a border. We have to look at access to weaponry. We have to look at better surveillance. We have to look at government maybe government support for faith based institutions to provide them with infrastructure grants. We have to start looking at the way we the way we dialogue publicly we have to talk about what things should be off limits is free speech. Automatic is right to bear arms automatic. What are we willing to do. And the answer is there's 100 things that people can come up with that we can talk to. And still I don't think after 100 things we're going to get to the we're not going to be able to solve every single shooting or every single attack or every single act of hatred. And what's shocking to me really is there isn't even an attempt to create a strategy. Wouldn't it make sense that we have a strategy or group who's been supported by the citizenry and government that says we are explicitly getting together to deal with human on human violence in our society and that's what we want to talk about. And there's many many many different pieces of it. I mean we can talk about the drug crisis and how drugs often fuel you know violence we could talk about what women go through. We can talk about the abuse of children. All this is part of a big circle of human on human violence that really requires a serious like a white ribbon task force where they can produce a full inquiry almost no different than a coroner who's inspecting the corpse of human dignity. What went wrong and we'll come up with hundreds hundreds of answers. All we have to do is look at every one of these examples of human on human violence and say what went wrong. What do we know. Slowly a picture will start to emerge that a society that has abandoned the abandoned the dignity of the mentally ill that's abandoned the the border controls that are authentically dignified and still stop guns. The weakness of our law that allows people who have guns who commit gun crimes to continue to commit them the easy access to weaponry maybe not so much here but in the states that certainly here we've had the same thing where you know we shouldn't imagine that we're immune. What about all the all the victims who suffer post-traumatic stress disorder what about our veterans who are not being treated properly when they return from war. What about all these pieces that come into and all we need to do is a forensic analysis of what's gone wrong. We'll have that white paper that will tell us these thousand recommendations need to happen. No one's doing that at all. There's nobody out there that has been authorized or should be an intergovernmental conversation there should be a bipartisan committee or a standing committee on how to prevent human violence on human violence and we can we can. The problem is that will reach every aspect of our society. And instead of seeing the problems we have in society is piecemeal they are all part of a single major commitment to replacing the polity or politics with governments who actually fundamentally agree their primary purpose is not just to manage the finance and security of the country but to also manage the dignity and health of the country. I'm not talking about nanny state I'm talking about solving problems that everybody could agree are issues and we could struggle with how but let's start dealing with.


Saul Colt: [00:15:43] So I have like a love hate relationship with social media. One I wouldn't have a career if it wasn't for social media I can completely turn my back on it. But you know when I do see now that the dream of social media was bringing you know the universe smaller and be able to maintain relationships with people you know faraway places and connect and intertwine and you know. And it's done that to a great extent but it's also really allowed people of all you know either right minded or or wrong minded to rally troops and motive. You know I don't want the word militarise but really gather people together. Like minded whatever that topic be whether it's you know onside or off side. And a lot of these like and I think it's proliferated hate in a lot of ways like just that last night I believe or maybe just two nights ago a an event at a Brooklyn synagogue was canceled is just you know a social event not not anything religious based but it was canceled because somebody wrote kill all the Jews in front of the building and you know and so you're all about the Two-Step so I'm going to go two steps here. One the fact that they did it is awful but two it was trending on Twitter as like the second or third highest. You know hash tag or whatever. Kill all the Jews. And like there is such a responsibility from these these platforms to you know not be a hate agnostic or not be agnostic. You know they can't just put their arms in the air anymore and say hey we're just you know we're it's a platform that you know there has to be some checks and balances and yes we don't want them to be thought police we don't want them to tell us you know what's right and what's wrong. But I don't think anybody would argue that there shouldn't be something so blatantly hateful on any of these things no matter who it's directed to.


Rabbi Yossi Saperman: [00:17:47] So Gabb dot com or that the Web site that was the home of the Pittsburgh shooter. Basically where he where directly spoke to his hatred for Jews HIAS and various things eventually shut down. I think I believe that was closed down. I believe that whoever was running it sort of said you know we're either at risk or we can't do this anymore or maybe they had a chance.


Saul Colt: [00:18:12] I don't know. I don't believe they did it. I believe it was. Go Daddy that said you can't host on our platform anymore.


Rabbi Yossi Saperman: [00:18:21] Ok. Right. So what I what I do agree with you is that social media plays a huge role in this. What I don't agree with is the idea that everybody agrees on what is considered right and wrong. And part of this is what I'm talking about were government and government is essentially the people not talking about rogue government here. We have the right to talk about what are the limits to free speech and over time we've started to realize in social media like anything else is relatively new. We started to realize is it can be argued a direct link between what goes on on it in the verse it goes on and in the ether and what happens on the street. Initially it was just seen as well whatever it is people talking what do you care like people can talk all they want but not anymore. We're starting to realize people post their you know their commitments to the terrorist groups then go out and commit acts. There's a space in which there's a direct link and ignoring it is no different than the argument about whether guns kill people or people kill people. So social media has a whole different story because there's a lot of money to be made and there's a lot of vested interest in bringing people to it and the delicate balance between what you can and cannot say and the idea of government regulation whereas the Internet was a fundamentally free space. Yeah that's fine. But we also have farmers who have rights to put up fences around their farms and keep their livestock in and keep people out. Yeah it used to be the prairie and you could roam as far as far as you could. Not anymore. There's a reason that fences are permitted around properties and there has to be safeguards. And this will only happen not when the majority speak up but the minority speak up because the minority are also the ones who drive change. And I mean everyone's worried about what happens when you speak out on social media how you get abused and beaten whatever that's the least of our worries. The biggest worry is that it reaches out to the to the actors who then go out and perpetuate what they're being told. But they're being told in a forum that is entirely legal and therefore has within its within its reach some framework some nugget of legitimacy because if it was illegal or was immoral or was it appropriate or didn't conform to speech permission with regards to whatever country's laws we're talking about it wouldn't be there but it's there and it's open. Well then it does have a certain legitimacy. In other words it's part of the it's part of the legitimate dialogue and legitimacy and dialogue breeds people who act on legitimacy and dialogue. And this is just one little corner of this of the issues we're talking about. But I'm not an expert in how to resolve social media. First Amendment free speech debate. I don't know how to do that. I know that we probably have people that do and we're not talking about it because there's a chill on dealing with rights and freedoms and most people and this is my opinion most people I think would trade some rights and freedoms for security and safety and there are all kinds of freedoms we give up to be part of society. So at what point to the human beings get the freedom to speak. Absolutely undeniably freely. And we know there are limitations. You can't yell fire in a theater right. You can't you're certain things you can't do. It might be time for us to look at that no different than gun control or ending drunk driving after knowledge of the carnage. So social media has a huge role to play and the model that exists right now I think is not likely to be its own its own censor. It's not likely to do it although you did see what happened when with the Google walkout. It's not exactly social media monitoring social media but social media is starting to look at how its power and changing society which in a sense was a huge step toward saying no to violence on women by creating a physical human exit from the Corporation for a few hours or a day in using the social media technique to gather all the employees and they all spoke in a common voice and they took common action and that is really kind of a model of what has to happen. There was an attempt to do that after the school shooting where the school kids went up to Washington and there was a strike essentially against school that will be unsafe. Kid feeling I'm feeling fearful. That is exactly I think the transition we're looking for comes off the pages of the screen and comes into human action and comes into a reaction. And hopefully the same the very same tool that is used for hate can be turned into a tool for change by mobilizing people on a grand scale unheard of before. I mean ideally what you'd want is you'd want people to log off their accounts and not use them and therefore people are not making money anymore in a show of force of displeasure with what happened. So if if this posting happened through Facebook let's say which it didn't. But if it did and people all logged off of Facebook didn't use it for two days or three days in memory of the victims. I think you'd start to see the corporation say whoa we're at risk of human human response to cyber business. I think it's a huge change that would be a kind of campaign. You can do which is how to take our online feelings and transfer them into real feelings. There was there was a little while ago there was a campaign I think against Mike Pence who was pro abortion or something where people were asked to donate to to a pro-life pro-life a not a pro-life or women's shelter or clinic in in honor of Mike Pence just to show how displeased they were with his values not not taking a stand on that but what I'm saying is there is this need to start translating the protest from the screen to the to the to the human human engagement.


Saul Colt: [00:25:40] So I agree to two things that one made me angry and one made me you know you know optimistic for society that came directly after you know the awful things that happened in Pittsburgh the shooting was you know the thing that made me very optimistic was the Muslim community basically said you know look we're we're we're standing with you we're raising money we don't want this to happen. We've we've seen where you are right now and we know you know exactly what you're going through we're not going to turn a blind eye towards that and I thought that was really amazing and I wish more people would would talk about that. And the thing that made me really angry and you don't have to comment on this if you don't want to but the fact that and I don't want this to you know degrade into a political conversation. But the fact that Donald Trump one of his first statements were that he thought that that the Jewish community planned this whole thing just to you know put a spotlight on them again. So when you when you have such different ends of the spectrum of you know kind of like you know people who are standing up and trying to trying to act and trying to be good and then you have somebody who you know however you want to free as it is you know not push anything forward maybe not preventing anything but certainly not making anything better. You know it really shows just how broken we are right now as as a society.


Rabbi Yossi Saperman: [00:27:14] So I'll respond to the second one. First I'm not familiar with the statement in which it sounded like he was blaming blaming the victim for playing the card like the race card or the religion card and maybe even creating this event as a sort of like a 9/11 type you know a false flag type of thing. I just don't know. I don't know about that. But what I do know and going back to the first thing you said we started our conversation talking about leadership talked about the dearth of leadership the impossibility of dialogue. But you're right. What's happened is Muslims. Was an Iranian student also who raised a huge amount of money a lot of interfaith groups have done this. They've stepped up and they've said if the leadership won't come from where leaders are supposed to be leadership will come from next door leadership will come from us the Muslim community while people were very busy worrying about Muslim terrorism which is there's a legitimate threat ignored that most of the Muslims in North America and around the world are not are not the terrorists most of them are kind of very much like us and feel and have the same fears and anxieties. And it's extraordinary that this community helped out. But you know when asked about what motivated them to help out in this way nobody should be surprised because one of the great underpinnings of Islamic society is charity justice for all it's not that different than Judaism in its worldview. There are sects who don't agree to that. But generally speaking that's the general sense of what Muslims place in the world is when they were asked why they did this they said because when we had the shooting in Quebec City you were there for us when we had the shootings or the hate crimes various places you were therefore you found a ring around our mosque you were there for us when 9/11 happened. We were under attack just because we looked sounded or felt Muslim. You were there for us. You're sheltered us. You gave us the support that we so desperately needed. And now we're just giving back to you. So this is actually part of the answer is this is a long go along an ongoing cycle of caring and giving this is not new. Neither is the hatred but also neither is the love and that unfortunately seems to be the cycle we're doomed to repeat unless we have an anomaly called leadership. True large leadership that looks at the entirety of the issue and makes real changes even though society will never go along with them entirely. Even though you will have pushed back even though any kind of gun control will cause challenges any kind of changes to mental health support will be difficult. It will cost money. Any kind of support for the abused or the diminished people in our society will be expensive even if all that is true at the end of the day. If that's what we really want we really want a different society we have to go make it otherwise we're going to have a same society we have now which doesn't just include violence. It includes a lot of love but it's a cycle and it would be great if we could have loved prevail or the true nature of humanity prevail when humanity is at peace with each other. I'm not pollyannish and I don't think it's ever possible that a purely violent free society. But there are so many things we could look at to question whether we really have to depend on love after the blood as opposed to love before.


Saul Colt: [00:31:12] So I mentioned the top we're recording this the day before the first shabbat but after the shooting what do you have planned for tomorrow either to talk about I know that and like I'll be there and tell like I don't imagine it's just going to be a typical Saturday service.


Rabbi Yossi Saperman: [00:31:36] So it's really interesting. Saw that I feel it's a massive undertaking. Not only to memorialize and send solidarity Shabat but also not to trample on the family who's having a bar mitzvah tomorrow. It would be easy to have a somber service from moment one. No no smiling. We sing different tunes as we cry we share we hug we know we all feel bad that we feel a little better than we eat and we go home. We don't have that option. We have a child's life in our hands who we have to make his day special and keep it special and we don't want him to have a memory of my day was a day of mourning. So I have that dual challenge tomorrow which actually is fundamentally what we're all about we carry on in the face of deep mourning by giving life primacy. So that is that is the undertone of tomorrow it's going to be a dual message which is stand in solidarity love each other and fight the stranger. We'll have all kinds of faiths backgrounds all kinds of people here tomorrow. But at the same time you have to make sure that a young man who's entering the covenant and being part of the Jewish world walks away with a sense of pride and happiness and joy. And that cannot be diminished no matter what is happening in the world because otherwise we risk ruining our ability to carry on. So that is part of what's happening tomorrow. I have something that's happened tomorrow that you can't repeat.


Saul Colt: [00:33:10] When is this going to be broadcast like Wednesday. Five six days from now.


Rabbi Yossi Saperman: [00:33:15] Purrfect so don't repeat this until you see it. We're going to do something tomorrow I don't know of any other synagogue that's done it or we'll do it. But we are going to parade 11 tours around the sanctuary in memory of the 11 victims and we will actually use the Torah as a representation of their of their of their presence and that will put them away and that will be sort of the tribute to the 11 victims who gave their lives and we will carry them in our hearts like sacred Torah scrolls and let everybody in the synagogue be a participant in sort of the Lavanya which means Levi as a word for a funeral but it also means to accompany we're going to accompany them in passage and acknowledge them. It should be very powerful. There's going to be special music there it's going to be a few speeches not a lot. I think the moment speaks for itself. I think this standing shoulder to shoulder is what really is what's necessary. People just need to feel some human warmth and end the isolation and get their their eyes off the TV or the ears away from the radio or just hear some something familiar and be with people that are familiar with or an environment that speaks to them and allows them to transition from grief to commitment to carry on. That's what's so that's what you can expect tomorrow or something very powerful but also very electrifying.


Saul Colt: [00:34:44] Two more questions and I let you get back to your day. And like I may come off as a jerk asking this question. I hope I don't. But I think it's something that I think about. I mentioned that I heard about the shooting when I was in Little Rock Arkansas and it was interesting how very different kind of discussions and there's a stand up comedian named Kyle Kanane who brilliant very edgy comedian not blue edgy but more like you know poking the bear about what's going on in the world. And he did a Netflix special recently and his opening joke was about a school shooting. And the joke basically was you know he made a joke. He made like a you know a comment about a school shooting in the crowd sort of groans. And he says no no no. Not the most recent school shooting. That would be inappropriate. I'm talking about the one before that and obviously the joke is that it's become so commonplace in our lives that that you know you're only sensitive about the most recent thing. And my question and this is where I may sound like a jerk. Are we still going to be talking about this in two weeks or are we going to forget about this.


Rabbi Yossi Saperman: [00:36:01] Saul, you might be a jerk but that this question won't do it. This is a good question and we're we're we're sitting here staff were looking through you know what's going on what's been posted all the articles being written and for some people some people have really made it trite somebody over already over politicized it some people have turned this into a continuation of the Democrat versus Republican war some people have done that have tried to reach so far that the overload is is almost almost unbearable and some people have been very sensitive and very caring. And I think that the comedian is right. He's telling us something which is really true which is what have you killed for me lately. And what have you killed for me lately is a real thing. It's also part of human nature. We try to move on but the moving on it sounds trite after you spoke for weeks and months about the story and then the moment there's another story or you're out of out when you forget the last one there has to be a way which we retain the values or the loss or the essence of a story before we move on. I think media has a lot of responsibility in this because once they move on it's almost as though the other story didn't happen. And I always finish. I remember the the episode in the Simpsons where I forgot his name Kent Brockman I think is broadcasting about a huge fire. The fire goes out and he just drops the hype of a fire and goes on to something else as though the fire didn't even happen anymore. And that's really the truth. So I always urge people don't overdo the response because that is a guarantee that were burnt out and we'll will forget this will tritely remember it. But you're right. The next thing will be the next thing and then we won't go backwards. Humanity may have a flaw and which needs to do this but it's also the truth. And if instead of talking about every little gory detail of a story we talk about the essence and teach people how to help and how to heal and how to be responders and how to upgrade security and all that and the lessons of it will not be forgotten. And I think the humor. The sad morbid humor comes out of the fact that we just don't learn anything from the stories they just become stories and until they hurt us directly we're willing to forget them or engage them that will just turn on or off the TV. And it's sad. It's not a jerky thing at all it's actually very sad how trite even tragedy can become and how unfortunate people exploit tragedy. And then of course they move on because it's no longer case they've squeezed every ounce of possibility out of it.


Saul Colt: [00:38:59] Now I'm going to I'm not going to ask the last question it's sort of silly. We've had a really nice conversation. I do on and you know. Before I let you go and pay you a compliment. You know like when I think of my own faith I sort of describe myself as like Mel Brooks Jewish I you know I I maybe go to synagogue five six times a year I'm certainly not a regular I keep kosher in my home. I know all the prayers I know all the you know the stories and I'm like. But I like to say there's no one more Jewish than me because I really you know I identify by it even though you know I don't follow everything by the letter of the line. You know I'm not not doing all that stuff but you know like you know you and I have had a relationship I don't know how long you've been in the synagogue it's got to be 15 18 years now 20 years so you are kind of my faith. Like when I look to you because there are times where I I I wonder you know do I believe this or I believe that. But you know it's like I'll listen to one of your high holiday sermons and it cuts right through. And so like you know even though I'm not there very often and maybe I'm not the most you know religious but like you've had an enormous impact on me my family like a lot of people so I don't I know you probably get Coblentz all the time but it's still really you know it's worth mentioning that you've had an enormous impact on the way I think about certain things because you are so thoughtful and you know you're very non-traditional and you know sort of the premise of the show you know for people who are maybe listening the first time it's called you know now join the program already in progress and we just jump in. We don't do the formal introductions but you really are a very you know I think at the beginning people called non-traditional I think you've made your style you know traditional or or you've made it more commonplace and people don't scratch their heads and wonder Who is this maverick anymore. Because it's just it is. But but you know in a lot of respects you've made me more interested in causes about you know Judaism in Israel and things like that because you've made them interesting and made them more palatable so I don't know if people still compliment you or you've just become part of the world. You know the furniture that I hope you realize that you have had a huge impact on a lot of people.


Rabbi Yossi Saperman: [00:41:25] Saul thank you. It's great to get a compliment from you because I spent the whole show talking about how much I admire you but what I can say is thank you. And first of all sometimes when you've been around long enough they call you traditional did you mean your own missions have become traditional which is good because you're right initially everything I was doing was untraditional but now some of it is traditional and you're thinking about what I started on the other hand I've also become better at blending traditional and modern but most importantly I see this all the time and I mean it so you bring you bring yourself as your phone you bring it to me. My job is to charge you. It's not to tell you what to do with your phone. You can download any apps you can play any games you can write anything you want. If that is your life my job is to help energize the why not the what. And that's what I try to do. I really try hard sounds like I've succeeded with you and your family. It's a blessing for me to be able to have 20 years of continuous engagement and watch the progress both in myself and in our community and it's wonderful to hear that from you. So thank you for the opportunity.


Saul Colt: [00:42:37] To introduce yourself tell people who you are.


Rabbi Yossi Saperman: [00:42:42] I'm Rabbi Yossi Saperston. I grew up super ultra orthodox. I left home at 15. I found my way to the Beth Torah which was synagogue on the fringes of Toronto and very much at its last legs. And I have the gift and opportunity to rebuild it. And here I am 20 years later. Extremely fortunate to have a wonderful warm community around me. Our synagogues been very successful. I've recently founded Living Jewishly dot org. The place where people can go to engage in Jewish non-political non-religious experiences and it's thrilling to be able to add that layer to an already great synagogue. And I speak my mind. I tell it like it is. I grew up with the smartest and wisest rabbis on the planet. They give me great gifts and I try to use them well every day.


Saul Colt: [00:43:31] Awesome thank you so much for doing this.


Rabbi Yossi Saperman: [00:43:33] Thanks Saul Shabbat Shalom.


saul colt
Episode Five - Whitney Matheson (USA Today Pop Candy - Freelance Writer)

Saul Colt: [00:00:01] Ok. So I have something that I want your opinion on. You know binge watching and you know consuming a whole show in a day or however you want to describe it. What's your opinion on binge watching him and mine is that I think it's ruined fandom for a lot of people because you know it's like we're all so afraid to spoil anything but I'd love to hear your opinion on binge watching yet.


Whitney Matheson: [00:00:26] Oh well I love binge watching. I love doing it. But in terms of like thats interesting in terms of fandom because you know like when Lost was on. I wrote a ton about that show and I think some of the most popular things that I ever wrote or like were lost related like in terms of people wanting to talk about it as soon as I remember like as soon as that episode aired like we'd have big discussions and all that stuff. And you're right. That would be very hard to do now because everybody just consumes stuff at their own pace. I think like binge watching it definitely affected the conversation in that way like the timeliness of it and stuff that I don't know another thing that might just be affecting fandom too is that there are so many shows. I mean I I cannot. I feel like I did a great job. Also you know like when I was younger before I had a kid I just like keeping up with everything that people were talking about. And now there are so just so many shows like I'm totally behind on and I'm trying to insert whatever show they're like. I mean even though I may think that I'm all caught up on like everything people are talking about. There's still probably a dozen shows that I'm totally not so I don't know I think like that the volume may be affecting fandom as much as like the act of binge watching something. I don't know what do you think.


Saul Colt: [00:01:58] Well that stuff still bubbles to the top like everyone's Crazy Game of Thrones her is crazy about you know Breaking Bad that went in when it was on and stuff like that. But even people like even if there's the one show and whatever that show might be that that you know seems to have caught everyone's imagination and attention. We're still all watching at a different time so to to really sit down and like I don't know how old you are you don't say that. You mean I'm I'm you know just a couple of years over 40 and I remember like must see TV was like appointment television and the next day it was all you spoke about you know at school at work or whatever you would would have Rachel and Ross do or whatever the scenario was and now it's you know if you pay attention to you know Twitter or Facebook really like them on a Sunday night game of thrones you know there's tons of Game of Thrones conversation but it seems like the conversation is mostly around "oh my god" or "can you believe that" and it's not you know specific minutia of this person did this or this person did that. I can't believe you know this or that it's it's it's we speak in vagueatries if that's even a word.


Whitney Matheson: [00:03:13] Yeah yeah that's true. Yeah I think we're around the same age and even just like from a writer's perspective that is also a challenge too because I feel like well for sure before I started working like I remember and USA today they used to joke about how like you know when like Empire came out or Return of the Jedi came out like you know the big headline on the front page like the Monday after they came out would be like Darth Vader is Luke's father like that. There were no discussions of like spoiling beings or you know you didn't act like tiptoe around certain stuff. And now it is true. Now if you're writing about something like that you are kind of obligated to put like a spoiler warning there or like in the first two paragraphs. Talk about it and like vague text that is that's a challenge too. But yeah a lot a lot of things concerning like how we talk about culture have changed.


Saul Colt: [00:04:11] I see you brought it up so me being you know in astute interview or in a transition now. So you're at USA Today. You wrote pop candy for if I had to guess I'd say for five years and you were the pop culture person at USA Today there's like you know you were you were the person that thousands if not hundreds of thousands of people look to you to like almost be told what was cool. Yeah. How did you even get that gig. That's kind of like the dream job. There's there's nothing better.


Whitney Matheson: [00:04:46] It was a good gig. So I'm going to blow your mind because I actually did it for 15 years. Wow. Yeah. If you don't like it started as a weekly column like in 1999. Yes started it it ran from 1999 to 2014. So yeah pretty crazy I guess the way it started. I started working at USA TODAY right after I graduated college. So I was 21 when I started working there. And when I was in college I've always kind of done the same stuff but when I was in college I had I wrote about entertainment and I also had a column that did pretty well you know for our college newspaper and when I started I started there was doing like you know pretty based like I was working the overnight news shift it was very different. And I was there you know until like 2:00 in the morning but kind of my dream was to move in to entertainment and to kind of great entertainment stuff. So yeah I started doing like a column kind of similar to what I did in college for the Web site. And it did really well and you know over the years it just kind of exploded into this thing that was you know all I did all day every day.


Saul Colt: [00:06:13] I remember like I'm a big fan even to this day and that to blow your mind. So I got the years wrong because I guess you know you remember when it was most important to you have internalized your column. But I actually appeared in your column twice. And it wasn't that you know I was on your radar I don't expect you to remember expected to I am. But I sent you e-mails of links every now and then and twice you were gracious enough may have been a slow news day or what to include you know my nonsense in your column. So so I have to know it was a big day to see something in in USA Today with your name beside it. And I'm sure you know that you know the sentiment was shared by so many people because you know the thing I loved most about you know Pop Candy you covered all the major stuff but you spent a lot of time on the independent stuff and the you know the the. Off the beaten path stuff that you were one of the few people that really gave a spotlight to people who you know I'm going to say deserved it but had no other outlets so you are doing the lord's work there.


Whitney Matheson: [00:07:25] Now that is an arm thank you that's all very nice. And yes that is that is what I'd like to do more than anything. And that was kind of my secret mission while I was there was to you know cause yesterday. It is a very mainstream publication and you know they cover all of those big popular things. But my interests have always been a little bit more independent and fringe and stuff. And so I was very lucky that I was given the space to to write about that stuff. But yeah I was always my intention was to try. I have a platform and people are going to read what I write it wasn't what I have to say. And I was not going to use it to write about you know gossipy be stuck for. Or you know negative stuff or you know it just made sense to me like OK then i am going to use it to kind of spotlight stuff I love. And maybe something that nobody else is really is really writing about because also when I started there. I mean everything is very you know I mean there weren't like now there are websites there are platforms for everything like there are sites for not only just movies or sites for independent movies there are sites just for comic book movies like everything is so fractured and stuff but. You know when I started that didn't really exist there weren't even really. There was no you know Nerdist there was no like a geek Web site. There was there none of that. So I also just kind of thought there was a real need for people to write about that sort of stuff. And you know


Saul Colt: [00:09:07] Our personalities are probably different. And just to ever have an introspective moment where you realize that you kind of were the the person that you knew you were the foundation of all these new Web sites whether whether you look at it that way they look at it that way. But you know you can make a clear tie too. You know when when you know pop candy was was you know shut down and I want to hear you know sort of that story but you know there was no where else for this. So all these other Web sites you know came to be and I'm sure over time they would have happened anyways. But there was a real whole him in sort of the the space when you think of so I came to know you most from from the comic book world. You know the the reason I was in Pop Candy I used to I used to have an indie comic publishing company and we had a bunch of books you covered it a few times. One of our books got you know put in a CBS sitcom that was the link you sort of shared and you said nice things about us. But you know there was you know there's always been places that covered independent comics but not bringing it to such a large audience and so I'm sure other people either picked up the mantle or decided that it was approachable. But have you ever in a quiet moment realized like you know you were kind of Chris Hardwick before Chris Hardwick or whatever you know whatever person you want to describe yourself as.


Whitney Matheson: [00:10:32] Oh I mean now I don't know. I don't really know. I don't think that I mean maybe when you know I'm still hustling for freelance jobs have had that sense. And yeah. I don't know how to respond, that is a very flattering thing that you've said. Although I do want to know so what is the comic that you had. Tell me what did you publish that I wrote about.


Saul Colt: [00:11:00] And so had a publishing company called triple S comics. It was like we just made superhero parody comic books are sort of thesis was if you know Marvel or DC book killed somebody and they returned you know 25 episodes later we would kill people in page 2 and they'd be back by page 13. So we published a bunch of different titles. One was a clip's and Vega. We did danger comics which were kind of a spoof on the old pulps and say you know we revived a couple of books like Zen the bounty hunter which was an old title we tried to sort of bring that back wasn't as successful as we would have liked and you know he did some some work with a Chris Yambar with Mr. Beat show and stuff. So I was you know I was trying to build a business and my goal and obviously this is you know not the right motives. My goal was always to not be a comic publisher but I wanted to be like V.P. of marketing for DC Comics. This was my way of sort of getting in front of them and sort of fell into you know a reasonably successful business. When I look at you know a lot of the you know the other people who are doing indie books at the time just because I grew up in a family business I think I I approached the the business side of it a little bit savvier than maybe some people. And you know perhaps the quality of our books were up to the same level of people who are way better than us. But you know like I was I was always looking for deals like I said you know if you remember the episode of Entourage where they did the Viking Quest episode and they created a San Diego Comic Con in a hotel ballroom and it looked like the most ridiculous thing you've ever seen. But you know like my little company was front and center in that episode because you know I I made sure I was a comic con. I was you know as much as I was trying to move product I was trying to like. Make stuff happen and talk to everybody and you know we were in an episode of CBS Yes Dear. You know Tim Conway was a comic fan. They went to a comic convention and the thing went to my publishing companies booth because you know like we hustled like crazy to make sure that every film producer knew who we were every product placement agent knew who we were like You know we didn't make money like crazy being on these shows we made nothing for being on the shows but like we were on the shows and we were part of the publicity you know vehicle we were on a 30 second the CBS TV commercial where they showed us front and center and you know we saw traffic spike like crazy so indirectly we got paid through you know selling books and stuff like that. But I think I was always just more interested in making this a thing than becoming like the next Frank Miller or something like that.


Whitney Matheson: [00:13:53] Yeah oh wow great for you but it's not around anymore.


Saul Colt: [00:13:57] Now I just you know like like all things you burnout thing I actually end up selling the company so again who's ever heard of selling an independent comic company. We sold the book the characters the you know sort of everything we did. Nothing ever went from there. But you know and we say sell you here of here. You know tech companies now sell for zillions of dollars. You know made like you know 10 15 grand or something. Barely barely. You know beautiful vacation money but to be able to say you know did something sold it didn't dissolve it in nothing. That's kind of interesting. And I don't know. I think it's burned out of comics after a while as like you know you would probably know as well as anybody from being around you know the scene so much it you know it was the best time of my life. The most fun time in life. But it was also really difficult because to have as an independent comic the publisher you're basically like part of the circus so every Thursday I was in a different town had my bridge table at a different comic book convention and you know you're hoping you sell enough books to cover the weekend and hoping that you meet somebody that could maybe like lead to something was like 25 30 weeks of the year in somewhere else. It was always the same people you know you see everybody on Thursday you have dinner you spend the weekend together you say goodbye on Sunday and you say I'll see you next Thursday. So most of my closest friends still to this day are the people I became friends with during the you know my time in comic books but you know it's it's it's so far in my rear rear view window I have barely barely even talk about it anymore. It's it was definitely like a fun time. I have amazing stories and actually I will bore you with the story but I'll transition into something I remember from my days in comic books. People like Frank Miller and Stan Lee and Jimmy Palmiotti and you know like all these people they were the you know the the top of the industry they would give time and they would like teach you and they would know not not you know a ton of time but amount of time that you'd never expect from some of the real leaders of of the craft. And I've always you know share that with people because as I said when people ask me what was the thing that I loved most. Both comic industry and it was really the community because I can't imagine if you're a young actor someone like Ben Affleck is going to give you two seconds and actually encourage you to do better work or or teach you how to do better work. But you know people like oh I can't believe I'm blanking on his name is like one of the greatest artists ever he's passed away. Darwin Cook you know Darwin Cook for like three hours with me one day at a comic convention and he showed me like everything that you know like little tips and tricks to make things easier and better and look you know richer and stuff like that. That's the thing that I love most about the comic industry besides the you know the people who are you know telling great stories and doing cool things. It's the people behind the books were some of the nicest most welcoming open people that I've ever experienced in any of the industries I've worked in before during or after.


Whitney Matheson: [00:17:20] Yes I totally I absolutely agree with you. I was. That's why I was with someone who I met through comics and now I greatly admire a lot. Yeah all I back community. I guess I never read comics when I was a kid. Honestly I kind of came to comics. I got seriously into comics when I lived in Chicago. That was from like 2002 2003. And it's a great town for comics you know like Chris Ware in Chicago and Lynda Barry in Evanston and Jeffrey Brown like there are so many so many great Quimbys is like a great place to go and find like Indy comics and stuff but and yeah the more I got into it you know the more people you meet. And I agree some of the the kindest most hard working most generous funny people are in the comics industry I love. Oh I'm doing any writing anything down and I feel good. You know when I can write about today I was writing about a comic and I left but when I can write about them and you know hopefully maybe make their work known just another people.


Saul Colt: [00:18:37] So I am doing too much talking here. We've got to get back to you. Tell me tell me. You know the end of the column. How did that come to be and you know sort of I remember huge reaction. I'd love to hear your side of it but how you know. Why did the column end.


Whitney Matheson: [00:18:56] Well yeah it ended in 2014. So you know I was working for. A very of a large media company. And so. And a legacy media company so you know predates the internet and USA Today of course is a print newspaper. So for years leading up to that of course like every other publication or advance rounds of layoffs there had been furloughs and you know. It's tough. It still is very tough. It's time so so yeah. In 2014 I was laid off. And I mean I guess it was it was surprising that at the same time so many of my friends and people I worked with experienced didn't get it. It wasn't altogether shocking. I think that day that I lost my job. So many other people there I want to say it was like 70 something people lost their jobs too. So so yeah that that's what happened. And then it kind of I don't know. And I was able to kind of think about what and I had been thinking about that that I would be able to think about OK what what's next for me what's my next step going to be. Because I had been in you know I'd worked for one place ever since I had gotten out of college.


Saul Colt: [00:20:30] Do you recall what the reaction was when you know the announcement was about the column at least I'm like you know the pop culture world that I saw people were like rioting in the streets this was important to them.


Whitney Matheson: [00:20:45] Yes I do remember that and a lot of that my husband told me because I was not really looking at that stuff. But it was very surprising and very moving to me. The number of people who said things and sent me messages and posted things and friends of mine who offered me like freelance work like you know the next day after like it was it was a very emotional time. I also had a baby at home my daughter was like a year and a half to get it. But yeah it was very overwhelming. And honestly like I still get I'm still very touched like I still get emails and I still get messages and stuff. All these years later which is crazy and wonderful.


Saul Colt: [00:21:44] So it's funny. And I I heard some speak the other day and they say that, i am going to butcher the quote so I'm paraphrasing but essentially it was. You remember people at whatever age you met or whatever age they made an impression of you so like you know to me Your bigger than life figure who has her finger on the pulse of pop culture. So like you know years past you've done so many other things and you know you've you've sort of you've moved on. But like I will always think of you as like that. That place and time and the impact you had on me and so many people around me. So it's not surprising that you still get letters like you know when when I was sat down and drew up you know my dream list of people I wanted to interview on the show and really the only barometer to the bar to get on the show is like either I love you or I find you fascinating and you know it's not going to say I love you because I don't know you that well. But man you're fascinating. So you were on that list from like really the earliest kind of days because you know like you were such a bigger than life figure to a subculture and. And you know and you don't see that many people sort of penetrate through to subcultures. No I'm fascinated by subcultures I love you know sort of being a part of them and thing. But I think that you know if you can really make a dent in the subculture they're usually like depends obviously what the subculture is I can't speak for you know some of the edgier ones but definitely comic books or pop culture these people are going to be loyal forever to you and if you really have shown you know a fair amount of kindness and fairness to them they they don't tend to turn on you unless you know you kill off their favorite character or something like that. So I had and I'm rambling but it's not surprising that people still hold you in such a high regard because I certainly do.


Whitney Matheson: [00:23:50] Yeah yeah. It's so nice yeah. I recently started just a couple of weeks ago. I was like well I'm going to start I'm back. I would. Well we'll probably get to aspire lived in Tennessee for a little while now I'm back in New York and so he's like well I'm here I might as well start something so I just started it's like e-mail newsletter. I was like I don't know if he Petric really care or whatever but it was going to make me feel good to like write every week and do that. And I've been amazed at the number of people who have been interested in it and given like you know sent me nice messages about it and yeah because yeah you won at least I wondered you know are people even going to remember who I am because it's been a little while since then in the middle of things. But yeah everybody's been super nice.


Saul Colt: [00:24:41] I asked myself Are people like I remember who I am day. So it's I think it's normal. You're doing something cool with your new with your new sort of newsletter you set up a phone line. And it reminds me and I do and ask you if you were inspired by this remind me of. They might be giants dial a song service.


Whitney Matheson: [00:25:01] Oh my god. Yeah. Yeah. I laughed. Loved. I was saying it still exists too which is amazing. Yeah I just started I don't know I I got to a point I guess after I came back to New York I thought well I'm just going to throw a bunch of stuff at the wall and see what sticks and I'm just going to put a ton of stuff out there because if I don't I'll just sit in my apartment and worry will people like this and not put anything up there. So one of the things I did was I started a phone line and every day I record a different voicemail on it with some sort of it's usually like a recommendation like a good movie I've seen or a good comic book I've read or whatever. Sometimes it's weirder than that. And then people can leave me messages and they can say you know you can say whatever you want you can leave me a recommendation you can whatever. So yeah. And what people are calling from all over and it's yeah they're great messages and some of them are really touching and others are super funny. So it was just just an experiment because really I don't how often do we talk on the phone these days and not enough I say I agree.


Saul Colt: [00:26:19] I agree, One of the things that I said. We're Facebook friends. Whatever that means. But so I I voyeuristically know what's going on with you. Really one of the things I've always really found super cool that you know you've kind of documented like your childhood or you know at least from a pop culture standpoint you know kind of remember when you posted this it might have been recent or might have been like a year ago I'm really bad with like timelines but it was almost like you found a whole bunch of things from like there were concert tickets and you were going through your diary and you're talking about things like Robert Smith and all these things and Morrissey and stuff. So one like you what. What sort of compelled you to document the stuff or that was just you know what you were as a kid but you know like the sharing I think is so cool and I'm curious what sort of comments you get back from it.


Whitney Matheson: [00:27:17] Yeah. Well most of that came out of the fact that over the summer I moved from a large home in Tennessee where I had all of my stuff out and accessible to this tiny apartment that I currently live in Brooklyn. So in that process like I put a bunch of stuff in storage and I was so I was going through like my whole life essentially trying to figure out what was going to come of what I was going to stay. And so yeah in that process when I come across like my movie ticket stubs from reality bites or you know stuff like that if it makes it make me happy. So I was thinking why not. Share and see what other people have to say. And yeah usually people react really well some people are stunned that I've kept all of that stuff. And I haven't kept everything but honestly yeah I did keep all I have most of my concert tickets and movie stubs and all of that. All that stuff. All right I have obsessive diaries from when I was little. And yeah I held on to all of it and it is of value although right now a lot of it's in storage.


Saul Colt: [00:28:34] You said I'm sure you're familiar of like a museum of ice cream and all these sort of like pop up museums that have become kind of in vogue in the last little while. We need you the curator museum of like the late 80s early 90s.


Whitney Matheson: [00:28:50] I would totally do that although I mean ive got some thoughts all knows now some of me and I know what you think. There are no real live musicians like that museum and then you get out of there and it's like what I learned I learned nothing but I've taken many healthy life.


Saul Colt: [00:29:11] Their instagram like locations they're there. I don't know what the word I'm looking for but it's their validation devices of some kind that you got in. You took your pictures like I haven't been on. So I'm I'm sort of giving my little get off my lawn sort of view of it. I think it's genius. The people behind them. I've I've read everything I could find on the museum of ice cream because the the the process they went through to basically you know they've made a million dollars off this thing. And it's you know they put very little money into it. It's it's almost a disposable item because like it's literally three rooms and it's just they invite people to come take pictures they take pictures that you know creates the desire for more people to come and spend their 30 dollars to get in and take pictures and it's it's really the purpose to go is to be seen and take pictures which you know I think it's a commentary it's a larger discussion on sort of where we are a society that these things are doing as well as they are. But you know it's like I find that you know as I get older I'm not getting grumpier but I just find less things are designed for me. So I search harder to find the things that make me happy and go out and like the idea of going to one of these things it's not for me and that's OK because I think I am sane enough are grounded enough to know that life doesn't need to be for me it's just like. But I do scratch my head at a lot of the stuff and like wonder just how they are as successful as they are as I was in New York last Friday and I walked by a museum of illusion and it's literally the same thing it's three rooms a couple sight gags and you know just you know basically take picture take pictures take pictures and when your business model is just have people take pictures to make other people jealous to come and take more pictures. You got to wonder how long these things can last. But you know I don't think that think long term that things can get in get out and come up with the next idea.


Whitney Matheson: [00:31:22] I mean it blows my mind because it's not like I mean the those places are in New York City like there is there are so many places where you for free can walk around and take the most the coolest most interesting photograph. Well I don't I don't know why anything is like to pay that much money like you're in New York. Like look around just walk around New York.


Saul Colt: [00:31:50] Ok. Where else can you get a picture of yourself in dirty sprinkles like that.


Whitney Matheson: [00:32:00] All right. I know bad it but oh man. I mean museum. No real reason to go anywhere.


Saul Colt: [00:32:08] So we kind of glossed over it but what have you been up to the last little while like what were you doing in Tennessee.


Whitney Matheson: [00:32:17] Well I guess so after after I lost my job I got I had no time to think about what do I want to do next. And I met with a bunch of people and yeah there were a lot of possibilities and and one thing that came up was that there was an opportunity to be a journalist in residence at in Tennessee down in Tennessee at Middle Tennessee State University which is just outside Nashville in Murfreesboro Tennessee. And everything about it sounded really exciting and perfect to me because the last thing I wanted to do you honestly was to go back and do the same thing like you know I didn't really want to go back to sitting in a cubicle all day and cranking out like 10 stories and you know that whole thing. And not to mention No I had a small child that I would love to see more of. So yeah we move down there and talk. It was great. And just for three years great experience taught journalism. They gave me the freedom to develop courses. So you know I created stuff like freelancing course and a pop when I did reporting a pop culture course. And the dean of the college dean of the College of Media and Entertainment it's very kind of unique place there is Ken Paulson who is the former editor of USA Today I worked with him years ago. And we he also loves comics by the way. We worked together really well. So the whole thing it was just like the perfect experience not to mention bonus. My husband's originally from that area. And so when we were down there you know my daughter's grandparents are there all of her cousins are there. So it was it was great and it gave me two things that I had never had in my adult life before really which were space so I had a house I had space to walk around and then I had time. So you know I had the bonus of you know a lot more time to spend with my daughter. Time to write on my own time. So yeah can't and can't complain about it a bit it


Saul Colt: [00:34:41] Was. And you're back in New York now. And you mentioned that you're looking for freelance stuff like what. What's kind of the dream job right now.


Whitney Matheson: [00:34:51] I don't know Saul. That's it I'm trying to figure out yes or freelancing now I'm not teaching I'm although I'm. Possibly open to doing some teaching. So yeah I want to get back. To to writing more and so I feel it's a bunch of different places. Some of it is you know published stuff for different sites and then some of it is more like an like a PR or even like consulting type position. So I don't know and then I also started some stuff myself so I don't know what like the I guess the ultimate dream is just to make it work financially because it is pretty hard. My cost of living is I'm no longer at a Tennessee cost of living space. But yeah I don't know I guess what I've started it would be nice if I could kind of expand what I'm doing on my own which currently in that newsletter all that stuff that I'm I'm doing on my own is it's free so at some point. If I could you know turn that into not I don't expect to make a ton of money but if I could turn it into doing something. Where I spend the majority of time my time doing that I would be amazing.


Saul Colt: [00:36:12] This cool thing is I am going to give you some stuff that I'm really digging right now. And I'm curious if they're on your radar and what you think. And then I'd love to hear get some recommendations from you of some stuff we should be listening to watching or reading any of that stuff because I I still believe that you know you're the barometer of good taste if that's the right word. So think of this as a speed round we'll start with television. Did you watch the leftovers.


Whitney Matheson: [00:36:47] Oh my gosh yes. I love the leftovers. That was incredible.


Saul Colt: [00:36:52] Yeah is so so different and so unique it was brilliant. Ok. Better Call Saul or Breaking Bad. Which Side Are You On.


Whitney Matheson: [00:37:04] What do I have to pick one that I prefer. I don't. Oh my goodness.


Saul Colt: [00:37:08] Have you been watching Better Call Saul?


Whitney Matheson: [00:37:10] Yes of course.


Saul Colt: [00:37:12] I mean I think it's better you think it.


Whitney Matheson: [00:37:15] Thats so funny somebody else the other night was telling me was also making me today and was telling me a better call Saul was better. Oh it's really tough because they're both so good that they're both so. Different.


Saul Colt: [00:37:30] But I think that's probably why I'm I think better call saul is better is it like both are you know they're almost like both once in a in a generation. Television shows and it's fascinating to see that they're the same characters and the quality is just so high. But there's something about taking the violence out of Better Call Saul the violence of Breaking Bad and really letting the characters run the story as opposed to you know having this thing that you could always fall back on if you needed to kill 10 minutes and I don't know I just maybe it's the fact that I know where it's going. And I have to pay way more attention to see when you know the ending already. You can really like watch everything come together. But I'm I'm big and I'm digging better call saul like more than Breaking Bad and I was all in on Breaking Bad. It's it's it's kind of an interesting thing.


Whitney Matheson: [00:38:32] Oh yeah I do. And I will say there are so few shows now that like because I don't you know cable I just Netfilx and You know a million other like many different form that Better Call Saul the the very few that like immediately the next morning I am dying. You know I'm not going to like Wait Till The End the season and binge all that I want to see it right then.


Saul Colt: [00:38:58] And a throw throw a lesser known one. Have you seen the show the imposters.


Whitney Matheson: [00:39:05] No. No. What is the imposters.


Saul Colt: [00:39:08] Highly highly recommend it. It's I don't know what network is on. I watched it off of netflix so I don't know where it originated from. It's done now but it's in know one of these is probably basic cable because the budget wasn't enormous on this but great show. So essentially what it is is there's this woman who's a con man a con woman or a con person whatever you call people nowadays. This woman would go in basically marry people and steal all their money and it was just a rinse and repeat thing. And the premise of the show was you know the first two episodes she's doing her thing. She gets all her money out and then the last three people that she's like basically ruined their lives all find each other and they're determined to find her. And she's already on to her next thing and basically get all their money back. So it's this weird. Like really well done. I wouldn't call it a buddy roadtrip thing but it's like three misfits trying to outsmart the brilliant you know con person. And I don't know for some reason I was all in on this thing. It connected with me.


Whitney Matheson: [00:40:22] Ok. Oh good. All right. I'm writing it down. All right good tips.


Saul Colt: [00:40:27] Did you watch Claus.


Whitney Matheson: [00:40:30] No. What is that.


Saul Colt: [00:40:32] Claus is Claus is crazy. This is. This is not for everybody but I liked it. It has a breaking bad tie in. What was the FBI guy breaking bad I can think it was name. But anyways Claus's basically these all these women who run a nail salon in in like you know low low income part of Florida. They're they're laundering money for the Dixie Mafia through their nail salon. And it's you know it's like what you could imagine it's high jinks it's crazy it's it's you know like every stereotype about Florida thrown into one you know for women sort of taking control of situations it's it's ridiculous but deliciously watchable and when I say it's ridiculous to set the bar on this show. There was a guy in the hospital who who like you know life support the whole deal his wife has sex with him in the hospital it's not gratuitous. I think it ran on on A&E or something like originally or TNT. There's no nudity or anything like that. But you know simulated sex and she brings him back to life. So that's the level of maturity of the show but likely as a guilty pleasure. I I was into that one as well.


Whitney Matheson: [00:41:55] Good point. OK. Yeah I like shows like that that are kind of like Candy you know from what I present to an ex like I do you watch her. I'm really into Riverdale a lot. Deal had having that right. Do you like my current you know guilty pleasure. Like I really should not be thinking about Jughead that much.


Saul Colt: [00:42:18] Seen them the season three I think just like started a few weeks ago when I was all in on the first two and I think it's great. It's Yeah. Specially as someone who you know spend some time in comics and kind of like like I'm meet George Ghadeer who you know wrote for Archie forever and created Sabrina the Teenage Witch. And he almost worked for my comic companies so you know Archie and all that stuff you know is a special sort of like spot for me seeing it as it's depicted where every dude has washboard abs nobody wears shirts and everybody's like Someone dies every 20 minutes. It's delicious. I don't know there's any other word for it because it's such a departure from you know what I guess the tried and true perception of it is that yeah I agree it's great.


Whitney Matheson: [00:43:13] Ok tell me tell me some other stuff I want. Yeah I want more recommendations.


Saul Colt: [00:43:17] I've got some music here for you. So one of my favorite bands right now if Pop Candy still existed I would be emailing you saying you should be spreading a spotlight on these guys. You should check out a band called the kickback. I don't know if you've heard of them so great and I don't even know how to describe it. But indie band you know they're kind of like you know one break away from having a break if that makes any sense out of Chicago. They toured they opened for Bush for a little while so they've had like a little bit of commercial success but really really great band. They might be giants. But you know who I am. I've been listening to a lot of. And it's it's more comedy than music. But you know Bridget Everett. Oh yeah I'm like I'm all in on Bridget ever right now. She she makes me laugh like she's great. Do you know the band tuxedo. Have you heard tuxedo.


Whitney Matheson: [00:44:25] Now tell me.


Saul Colt: [00:44:26] So it's Meyer Hawthorne and Myra Hawthorne and Jake one I think is his name so it's basically mine. Hawthorne is no longer doing Meyer Hawthorne music or maybe does both but they started like an electric boogie disco like band and they've put two albums and I love it it's like this. It reminds me of of Niles Rodgers chic where every song only has like seven lyrics and they repeated over and over and over but it's completely it's it's bubblegum like you. I think there's just really good and I should check it Tuxedo.


Whitney Matheson: [00:45:06] I'm great. OK. Well you got comics reading pony comics. Here the first guest who's ever ask me anything. I'm finally in my element. Yeah. You know what I don't read that many comic books anymore it's kind of sad. I don't know if it's it's like I was chewed up and spit out or anything. I really only read stuff from like friends of mine so one of my closest friends is a guy named Josh Fialkov enough you know I love Josh with every pore of my body so I read anything he puts out bunker you know Elks run you know. What did he put out a little while ago. That was really great. I'm blanking on it to do now. I feel awful but I read anything Josh puts out. I know I I pretty much stick to like the stuff of my friends.


Whitney Matheson: [00:46:10] Yeah you've got like that seems cool because you know some good people you've got you've got friends you're putting out amazing stuff.


Saul Colt: [00:46:18] Josh is super talented.


Whitney Matheson: [00:46:22] Yeah I feel like I'm trying like I'm getting back into comics just because now I'm around and there's simply amazing like stories and com bookshops here where I can find stuff that I couldn't hide in Middle of Tennessee. But yeah I feel like music might be that for me like I fell into mostly I still looking like mostly the stuff I listen to when I was 15 years old how to like a lot of it. Like yeah because I don't know like OK why I don't want to listen to a band that's trying to be like REM I just want to listen to REM you know to introduce my because my daughter sticks so you know I can introduce my 6 year old to all sorts of stuff. So yeah. Mind you that's the one thing that I've fallen off the cliff and I listen to pod. And that's one of my goals. I listen to podcasts like ten times more than i listen to music. Like if I'm walking rap I'm usually listening to a podcast.


Saul Colt: [00:47:24] Me too. So it will tell me some podcasts. I feel like I'm in a rut with podcasts. I go like I listen to maybe like six or seven and I've listened like everything. But like I'd love some new podcasts.


Whitney Matheson: [00:47:40] Well I noticed that like the 30 for 30 part has just started its new season do you ever. I am not a sporty person whatsoever but I devour those. But the podcast is great and its all different stuff than the 30 for 30 documentaries. Over the summer. Yeah. Like have you listened to that very very podcast.


Saul Colt: [00:48:01] I havent and Ive seen every one of the documentaries but I haven't checked out the piko so I'm writing that down yet.


Whitney Matheson: [00:48:09] So that they just start a new season and like over the summer they presented the multipart podcast called Bikram about Bikram  yoga and kind of the controversy behind it which is a very good.


Saul Colt: [00:48:24] Also I was going to say like I don't do big career have. I've read a lot of lot of stuff. Tell me about the controversy the dude who created it like has either like sexually assaulted or made him crazy like nefarious situations with like all these trainers or something like what. What's the deal with Bikram.


Whitney Matheson: [00:48:44] Yeah that's pretty much it. So you hear you know interviews with people who it interacted with him. It is fascinating and creepy and is kind of weird because I listen to it not too long after I watched while world country that the documentary series on Netflix. And their interesting companion as far as your creepy creepy docs go. But yeah that rain over the summer. So 30 for 30 good podcasts. Somehow listening to I mean there's I also getting there are some of the same ones that are like I have to listen to every week. I love who charted is like my all time favorite podcast. Probably always will be a I listen to that every week as I was. Sometimes I listen to like the heavyweight podcast hosted by Jonathan Goldstein and gimlet podcast that's back with the new season. I also like podcasts that kind of have seasons and can give you a little bit of a break from listening. What else I should look online. I use stitcher to listen to stuff and I forget how many thousands I get when you pull it a bit shows you how many thousands of hours I've listened to. Hush I don't know what to say. What else do you think. I wasn't at the best show every week. I usually listen to a podcast incentive for live on. Oh I noticed like A24 has a pod cast where they like they're actors in their films. . There's a recent one with Fred Armisen and Jason Schwartzman that sounds kind of cool. Anyway yeah not too many too many.


Saul Colt: [00:50:41] So yeah I'll trigger a trade for that. Their logo tends to pop up on a lot of the stuff that I'm interested in. Hey you know I forgot to ask who you are. You're in Tennessee for a while. I could be getting my American geography completely wrong and is going to sound ridiculous when I ask. But I can ask it anyways. Did you ever see Wayne White walking around.


Whitney Matheson: [00:51:04] Oh I well he lives in California. It's interesting when I was there. He had that year long chat. He's from well he he's from Chattanooga and we already see from BELBUCKLE I can't it's been years since I've seen the documentary. But there was a huge like a yearlong exhibit happening white exhibit happening in Chattanooga Tennessee which is like about 90 minutes from where I was living so it was amazing at the Art Museum the hunter museum they have down there. There is a fantastic exhibit with like you know drawings of Conkey and like. I mean it was. It had everything it had Peewee stuff it had music video stuff it had like his paintings and it was it was super cool so I did see a lot of Wayne White while I was down there. Yeah but not him personally.


Saul Colt: [00:52:01] That's cool. I say I'm I'm I'm out of questions. You have been incredibly generous with your time and amazing. This was really neat. I appreciate you doing this.


Whitney Matheson: [00:52:13] Now this is so fun. Thank you for asking me to do it. I really appreciate it. I mean there's nothing i'd rather talk about and like comic books and podcasts.


Saul Colt: [00:52:23] So we end every show and I know this is backwards. Tell people who you are and how to get in touch with you and how to follow you and all that good stuff.


Whitney Matheson: [00:52:33] Oh OK. So I'm Whitney Matheson and please yes get in touch with me. I'm on Twitter at Whitney Matheson. I'm on Instagram at THEWhitneyMatheson because there's another Whitney Matheson who is  a Canadian man we won't talk about. And then my website is Whitney Matheson dot com. If you go there you can sign up for my free newsletter which goes out every Friday.


Saul Colt: [00:53:00] Awesome. Thank you so much for doing this and I appreciate it.


Whitney Matheson: [00:53:03] Oh yeah. Anytime.


saul colt
Episode Four - Jay Baer (Co-Author of Talk Triggers, Hall of Fame Speaker and Content marketing expert.

Saul Colt: [00:01:45] So Jay had one of the things I love about you know your ideas and stuff. You've talked about I've always thought this was really interesting and I have used it a couple times. Can you explain you know your philosophy behind content creation as a TV schedule.


Jay Baer: [00:02:01] I think the biggest challenge that most marketers have today is random acts of content people have good ideas I got that be fun and then they do it once on a Thursday and they maybe do it a second time four weeks later Tuesday morning and they're changing channels and changing modalities and there's too much noise out there. People can't can't keep track of what you're working on. So our philosophy convince and convert is that every brand should operate like a TV network and you have three types of shows we actually call them shows you have binge worthy shows which are a series of content executions not unlike this podcast that you allow your audience to digest over and over and over you always do it you know you're going to do it it's the tent pole of your content calendar. Then you have special programming which might be your content version of I don't know the Grammys or something. It's a bigger thing that you do maybe a quarterly basis or six times a year and then you have your regularly scheduled program which is the sort of regular you know 830 on ABC is whatever a mediocre sitcom it's your version of that content. Hopefully with less mediocrity it's that it's the flotsam and jetsam right it's the daily blog post it's that it's the Instagram whatever the things that that sort of fill out your content calendar it's the down in the pillow. But you need all three of those types of programs and when you put them all on one content calendar and you say we know we have to have access to all these three different types of shows. It really unlocks the tumblers right. It makes everything you like oh I get it. Now it makes sense it just a lot easier for for at least our clients to understand what they need to bring to the table on a regular basis.


Saul Colt: [00:03:37] That's awesome. So hey you just released your newest book. Talk triggers and I got to tell you it's exciting. I got my copy in the mail yesterday. I thumb through it through it furiously last night. Between you and me I'm in the book five times one. There's a picture of me and the other four times are kind of like NDA in the background client work so you have to have it.


Saul Colt: [00:04:02] Well that's the thing that's why it's so great to talk to you. Because as somebody who has been a not only a proponent but a propellant of great word of mouth. It's an absolute honor and a privilege to talk to you about this. I mean you know the world didn't need Daniel Lemin my co-author and I to say that word of mouth is important. I think what we provide that maybe we haven't had out there is a system for doing word of mouth on purpose where too many people as you well know try to do word of mouth on accident. That doesn't usually work.


Saul Colt: [00:04:30] Yes that's actually my question. Why do brands and not everybody because obviously you've got a full book of amazing examples of companies who were very thoughtful about word of mouth. But why do some brands just leave word of mouth to chance.


Jay Baer: [00:04:45] There's a number of reasons for it. I think one we don't fully understand the power of word of mouth I think. Anecdotally we do. Nobody is going to say not word of mouth as on important like nobody says that. But I don't think we fully understand how important it is that the data in the book indicates that depending on the type of business you are. Word of mouth influences between 50 and 91 percent of all sales between 50 and 91 percent of all sales. That's a fairly significant part of your business end and however it is less easy to measure in some cases than other forms of customer acquisition and it feels a little bit like witchcraft like alchemy. And I think the biggest mistake that brands make and we talked about this at length in the book is that we oftentimes believe that competency creates conversation that if you just run a good business and I'm throwing up my metaphorical air quotes. Now if you just run a good business that people will talk about you. But will they. And if so what will they say. Because I don't know everybody listening to the show but I probably know some of you. I do know this though. Nobody listening has ever said let me tell you about this perfectly adequate experience I just had. We are physiologically wired as human beings to discuss things that are different and ignore things that are average but to purposefully do something different to create word of mouth requires you to break out of the modern business sensibility of follow the leader of best practices of of who can we mimic an ape in our category. We all operate on a low risk trajectory most of the time and that's what robs us of word of mouth.


Saul Colt: [00:06:25] So you know I've read every word of mouth book out there and you know it's something and you know I mentioned I just got the book last night. I've been traveling so it's been sitting in my mailbox. What I read was bang on so you know back in one of the things that I I really appreciated about the book and maybe the third of it I haven't finished it completely nullifies a statement one of the things I preach all the time is that word of mouth has to start in the real world and drive people to social and I think a lot of times people 100 percent do it backwards and you know in some of your examples were just incredible. What did the couple of your favorite you know case studies in the book.


Jay Baer: [00:07:08] Let me just touch on that comment real quick. We interviewed and sort of it's in the book who wrote that the book Word of Mouth Marketing and he makes a really interesting point that word of mouth as a business discipline was doing pretty well. And then all of a sudden social media came along and wrongfully convinced many people that social media equals word of mouth. And it's not. Social media is just a convenient mechanism for the stories that you give your customers to tell one another. Social media isn't word of mouth social media is a way that word of mouth travels and I hope that one of our contributions in this book is to sort of move that focus back where it belongs. A number of people have asked me all because I've written books and do a lot of work in social and content marketing and those kind of things. Jay how come you're writing a book about word of mouth that seems that seems really analog and off line for your career and I know you've got it backwards. Like everything that we do online has to come from a wellspring of an actual story that resonates with people some sort of differentiator that they notice. So I don't find it to be weird at all and I'm really glad that you picked up on that because I think it's really important and I hope I certainly wouldn't suggest that our book alone can do that. But I hope we we enter a new era. Word of mouth renaissance if you will. I think that's it would be good for all of us wasn't it isn't.


Saul Colt: [00:08:31] And I asked you for some your favorite case I come back. But isn't that kind of interesting that you had to write this book at all and what I mean by his word. He is the first you know marketing word of mouth and prostitution were the thing that lasted the test of time. And you know somebody painted on a cave wall it was the only marketing we had. Right. Exactly. And it's still a ways. It's it's it's it's an afterthought and you know it's it's you know you think of all the shiny tools out there and word of mouth is a discipline as opposed to a tool and maybe that's the thing that's going against it because you know one of the things I talk about all the time is you know it's like I and I loved the book so you know please read into what I'm saying and take it as a compliment. Not the other way but a lot of the books that I read that are you know contemporary books they're way too tool focused and I zone out on them because yeah you know if you're only learning who's sweet you know maybe who's sweet is still relevant in 20 years. Maybe it isn't. You know how many people became Pinterest experts knew as bags of interest is still alive and kicking but you know there was Friendster experts in there. You know all these people that you know.


Jay Baer: [00:09:43] Hey there's books on the shelf about Google Plus which just closed this week. So you know you never know. I mean what I like to say is a word of mouth is the most important thing in business for which nobody has an actual strategy. And I think that's really really true. Right. You've got a desk full of strategies but the one strategy you don't have. You're the exception that proves the rule saul. But the one strategy that fundamentally nobody has is a word of mouth strategy. We just were so laissez faire about something that's so important and it's it's a bit of a conundrum to me which is one of the reasons why we wrote the book I'm like I don't understand why nobody pays attention to this considering the fact that I think it's safe to say that the best way to grow any business regardless of size or circumstance is for the customers to grow it for you like isn't that really what we're all trying to do here. I mean you obviously are familiar with this with this saying and it's not entirely true but it's true enough that advertising is a tax on the unremarkable and there is certainly a kernel of truth there. And so I feel like if you don't have to advertise that many the case studies in the book are of organizations that really don't advertise very much because they're talk trigger serves that role for them. Isn't that what we're all shooting for. But sometimes it feels like maybe we're not.


Saul Colt: [00:10:55] No I agree 100 percent. So yes. Here's one of the things that stood out for me and this is just me internalizing you know what you've written. You know one of the themes of the book is to be different. And you know in an earlier episode of this podcast I talked with Andy Nulman and Andy if you're not aware of any he's the co-founder of the Just For Laughs Festival you know arguably the world's largest comedian the Stand Up Comedy Festival in the world and you know now he's you know he's he's moved on from just for laughs he did it for 30 years and he's got his hands on a bunch of different things but Andy's is very similar to yourself very similar to me. He's one of these guys who just loves to be different and stand out. And you know do sort of crazy things in and get him and I have gone in and pitch brands together and he doesn't stuff individually. I just haven't visually. And you know one of the the thought tracks of our conversation was how hard it is to actually pitch crazy or different to brands. You know it's like it should be that like a complete no no brainer it's like let's take some small calculated risk. Let's see. You know if there's any magic in this thing. But the man you know it's like you know like I've done a bunch of crazy things for brands. But it's you know it's it's the the amount of brands that are willing to make a leap of faith at least maybe it's just me and maybe I'm just griping are getting smaller and smaller. Sure the ones that are into it are into it and they'll do amazing stuff. And when you find someone you've got to hold onto them forever and be good to them and never let go of them. But but like why. Why is this still and I sort of I'm probably asking the same question thing. But but. So let me change the question how do you pitches into companies.


Jay Baer: [00:12:46] So here's how we do it in our organization to convince and convert also how we talked about doing it in the book we contextualize her talk trigger and let me just to find that real quick talk trigger in our world is a strategic operational decision. That compels word of mouth. So the way we like to explain it is that a trigger isn't marketing. It's an operational choice that produces a marketing advantage. It's not a contest it's not a coupon it's not a campaign it's not an initiative it is something that you do different every day not something that you say different temporarily. And when you contextualize it that way and you say oh this isn't a marketing stunt this isn't surprise and delight. This isn't a lottery ticket. This is something that we're going to do every day in the operations of our business and so who really has to be in charge of this. Yeah yeah. Marketings got a seat at the table. But sales and customer service and ops are all doing this together. It makes it so much less scary. And leaders like oh so we just change the way we deliver the service. We're not doing some kind of rent an elephant a walk to the conference room. Like yeah. Like oh it has been one of the greatest somewhat accidental discoveries in the last ten years of my career. Is is explaining a word of mouth through the lens of Operation disorder through the lens of marketing. It really helps in my estimation.


Saul Colt: [00:14:05] I just wrote down walk an elephant through a conference thing and do that and then they go.


Jay Baer: [00:14:09] That's the new one. There you go. That's my gift to you and your listeners.


Saul Colt: [00:14:13] I guess it's paid for itself.


Jay Baer: [00:14:16] So good to have you got a whole team.


Saul Colt: [00:14:19] That's right. See you. That's really interesting. So like you know word of mouth has to be you know for lack of a better term a lifestyle brand and not. Yes. Yes.


Jay Baer: [00:14:30] One or two departments in the book we talk about the four requirements of a trigger are the four ingredients we call them the four R's because you see they all start with the letter R and the four ingredients are. It has to be remarkable which I think stands to reason has to be worthy of conversation. It has to be repeatable which is the point that we're making right now in our world that talk triggered is something that is offered to every customer every day every time. It's not only on your birthday it's not only first you know if you buy enough stuff it's not an introductory thing. It's how you do business in fact I was in Las Vegas this week speaking to a group of casino owners and I made this point. I said look you guys are putting hundreds of millions of dollars a year on loyalty programs and loyalty programs of that type. You get the card and now you're plutonium level and you get an extra hash browns or whatever the hell it is that doesn't create any word of mouth at all. No it probably creates customer retention and that's a different issue and that's fine. But to think that this players Club card tiered experience program is going to create word of mouth that does it and the research shows that. So we believe that talk triggers have to be available to all. So give an example to answer your question before about a case study. One of my favorite examples in the book because it is perhaps the simplest is a restaurant in Sacramento California it's called Skip's kitchen. It's a very simple premise. It's a counter service restaurant. You walk to the front and you say I'd like to Patty belts and I'd like onion rings and a chocolate shake. And when your food is ready they bring the food your table. However there are talk trigger works like this before you pay cashcard what have you. They say Saul let's try something. Okay. What the counter person whips out a deck of cards from underneath the counter and fans them out face down in front of you and says pick a card. And you select a card and if you get a joker your entire meal is free whether you've ordered for yourself or 10 friends. Now Skip's kitchen has been in business for ten years. They have spent a grand total of zero dollars and zero cents on advertising in that entire businesses life. They were just named the 29th best hamburger restaurant in America by USA Today newspaper. There's a line to get in almost every day about three times a day three point five is the actual average three point five times a day somebody wins this joker game. And when they win they go bat shit crazy right. They're taken patty melt selfies and they're calling their mom and they're putting stuff on Instagram and Facebook live at a high school marching band shows up it's really quite spectacular. It's so powerful that in Sacramento despite the fact that they have a giant neon sign out front that says Skip's kitchen quite clearly in Sacramento. Most people call it that Joker restaurant. Now that's not a talk triggered that you only get if it's Thursday or only at lunch or only on your anniversary or only if you're it's every single customer gets a crack at it. And we make a whole distinction in the book about the delineation between a trigger which is an operational choice that happens every day and surprise and delight which is something that you do in one particular circumstance in order to create word of mouth in in a in a specific moment. That last however long it lasts. And I'm not suggesting that surprising delight is a bad idea or it doesn't work. It's great but it's not a repeatable word of mouth strategy in arms.


Saul Colt: [00:17:56] So it's interesting you mention the birthday thing or anniversary thing some companies you can really get yourself into a weird corner if that's your strategy. Because if all the same you missed the birthday they were like your level of expectation that you know it's transactional as opposed to you know like we said earlier lifestyle and you know it can actually work against you because for whatever reasons a you know your e-mail service is down or a million different reasons people can actually say Oh like you know I got to three years in a row I guess they don't like me anymore or something. That's right. When you do that the little breadcrumbs all the time and stuff and it's funny. You know another thing that I noticed in the book which I really you know connected to was you know I've been saying this forever. I'd rather do 20 small dollar you know fun interactions than have someone give me a hundred thousand dollars to do one crazy thing because one you know smaller amounts smaller budgets force you to be more creative there. I'd rather do a bunch of things because not everything is going to connect you. You mentioned Andy Sernovitz and you know I've known Andy for years. Meyer and respect him something he said to me really really early sort of on my career journey and he didn't say it to me directly he said like at a conference I was in attendance but we had become friendly. And it really stuck with me as you know the when when something word of mouth doesn't hit it just means nobody really heard about it. And you know that's I use that to pitch people all the time and say you know like this isn't going to blow up in your face. This isn't going to be you know the Pepsi. Kendall Jenner ad where you know the King's daughter is tweeting that you know this is sort of her family name and stuff like that. You know like little tiny things have such a lasting impression. So like I'll use you as an example. I've known you or known of you for probably nine years now. As far as I remember I think we've only met once in person and the reason I know that we've met in person and I'm not imagining it. I don't expect you to remember it because that could have been like eight or nine years ago. But on my desk I have your business card which is the bottle opener. And I've never actually used it as a bottle opener but it's just you know something that I didn't want to throw away because it has value or perceived value and it was so you know you're going to go to the lengths to do something different. I'm going to reward you at least you know in some strange way by not throwing it out put it on my desk I've got yeah I've got this crazy big desk that I work from and I've got tons of things on it that you know some people would look at is maybe trinkets or stuff but is there like all constant reminders to like you said be different stand out you know go that extra mile. And you know I'm sure I don't know if you still have the business cards I don't know if I do them.


Jay Baer: [00:20:53] All right. Every single day ten years now.


Jay Baer: [00:20:56] But that's so you know it's so clever and it's so great that you do stuff like that because people come up to me all the time all the time and say hey I got your business card just like this you know years ago and I still have this event. I was in Vegas this week. The lady who runs AV for the Las Vegas Convention Center is working the show comes up to me at soundcheck. This just happened yesterday and says Mr. Baer It's great to have you back. I still have your business card from five years ago and I was like whoa. I mean I she did not remember her from five years ago or from that convention center. But she's like immediately knew who I was knew that my business card was a metal bottle opener mentioned me that she still has it, man. This really works. I started writing about that and this whole talk triggers idea in 2011 and it took me you know multiple books in many years to be like Oh that is a book. So I kind of I don't know why it took me so long to piece it together but it did and.


Saul Colt: [00:21:56] Some noise in the background here we'll work through it. Do you think that there is going to be a time where you know a big brand has a job title that you know either has the word talk triggers in it or just word of mouth in it because it's still.


Jay Baer: [00:22:11] No I don't think so. I don't think so. I think it's still too. I think it's it's too fuzzy. What I do think will happen as a practical matter is CXO's will start to think more along these lines right your chief customer experience officers those kind of folks. CCXO I should say that those kind of folks who are in charge of CX will be like all right. It's not just about delivering a customer experience that is inoffensive. It's about delivering a customer experience. That's talkable and that can be that can be one job right. Right now all of those people and I do a lot of work in the CX community and really focus on how do we avoid mistakes how do we how do we make sure that if we are going to send somebody an email on their birthday they actually get it. How do we make sure that when they log into the app it recognizes their previous purchase history all that kind of stuff that that if you don't do it right feels like a burr under the saddle. There's a lot of focus on that but I hope that the next kind of wave of customer experience thinking is alright. We've spent a lot of time figuring out how to make CxG better. Now how can we make it talkable.


Saul Colt: [00:23:19] So just use the word the word is used in something inoffensive and inoffensive.


Jay Baer: [00:23:27] Yeah.


Saul Colt: [00:23:28] Do you think some people you know sort of they still equate word of mouth with shock and they equate words yes with being more different but being outrageous maybe just by crossing the line in them I think does a disservice to everybody because you know for me my brand is a little bold in some of the stunts they do or could be construed as you know whatever not offensive but somewhere close to offensive. But those are calculated decisions based on the brand personality. And and I wonder if some people just think that you have to offend and shock when no like you know just the example of your business card the example of the deck of cards at the restaurant it's not about shocking it's about literally getting somebody to turn to somebody next to them and say You'll never believe what I just say.


Jay Baer: [00:24:20] Not only that what we have discovered and or have data on them. But I certainly have plenty of anecdotes not only from cases but our own clients that in many cases when you take something that is massively perfunctory and you put a twist on that thing the impact can be greater than if you do the big bold gesture because people are so used to that one little thing being so boring and so insignificant. Business cards are a good example. There are trillions of business cards and ninety nine point nine percent of them are completely perfunctory and boring. So if you do something different it actually has greater abilities because you're taking something that is usually wallpaper and doing something with it. We talk about in the book The Case Study of the graduate hotel chain graphics hotels is about 28 locations. Now they're all in college towns in the US. Ann Arbor Michigan University Michigan is Athens Georgia University Georgia here in Bloomington Indiana Indiana University etc. and at each hotel all the the decor is all in on the university and it's nostalgia in its history. The colors of the school and famous athletes and objects that are evocative of the history of that institution etc. They want a lot of design award. It's a very thoughtful brand. But this concept of theming extends all the way to things that we would typically consider to be very very boring and perfunctory. So every hotel in the world other than really old timey ones that saw the metal key now have the plastic key cards right. But in every case the plastic keycard either a has the logo of the hotel or b if you're a loyalty member has like it says you're platinum or whatever I just you know just lame what the graduate does is all of the room keys for all their hotels are the student identification cards of famous graduates of that hotel. So the Lincoln Nebraska location the room key one of them is Gabrielle Union the actress who went to school at the University of Nebraska. People now collect these hotel room key cards like baseball cards. And they're trying to complete the whole set. This costs them like half a penny more per room key. But they've taken something that is incredibly boring and mundane and turned it into a talk. Trigger just by saying all right what do people find lame. How can we just put a tiny little twist on that.


Saul Colt: [00:26:45] Well that not only is it something that's boring and lame and they made a green. You know you travel more than I do but I'm on a plane every week you know doing a talk or project or client work. And I I just always forget to give back the room key and rolling them out at the airport because the US has no reason to keep them. But this you know like you mentioned this actually makes it a reason to. Like I said turn to the person next to you and say you'll never imagine what I just saw.


Jay Baer: [00:27:17] Well there's tons of social media about these cards to people take pictures of them there so you know obviously it's it's photo worthy and so you see it on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter all the time in fact one of the case studies we talk about in the book is The Athens Georgia location the room keys are Dominique Wilkins who's an NBA hall of fame. And Ernie Johnson who's the host of the NBA on TNT which is the most popular basketball related show and Sports Illustrated was in town doing a feature about something else. And they stayed at the graduate and then illustrated took a bunch of pictures and tweeted out the room. It's like you know you can't buy that kind to that kind of recommendation.


Saul Colt: [00:27:54] Couple more questions and give your day back but so you do a lot of speaking and you're all over the place. You know I think probably and this is my my own lazy math from following you on social media. Gotta do 200 talks a year or something crazy like that.


Jay Baer: [00:28:12] It feels like it feels like that it's I of 70 this year which is still a lot but not as many a some but.


Saul Colt: [00:28:18] But yeah I'm out there a bit because I do want to ask you about your speaking career. But again just to make this about me think I am in Keyvan on the topic of the book for a man. I am I do you know about half as many talks as you maybe about 25 or 30 this year. And you know one of the things that resonates. You know I talk about three things creative marketing. Word of mouth that's sort of one bucket talk about influencers and how kind of everyone's doing wrong. That's another buck at them and they talk about this thing called marketing a risk that you know sort of the early days of fresh books and how we went from 240000 users to over a million in 11 months. But you know when I talk about the word of mouth and the creative marketing the thing that resonates so much with people and you can always see the light bulbs going off and and I assume this is exactly why you wrote the book. But I'm just you know freezing in a different way. Whenever I talk about know like and trust and dad you know you know when you say that 90 percent of all decisions are influenced by you know someone else. And you know what. I forget the exact quote you used but it was something like I don't know what it did you know word of mouth. The stat I use is that you know sixty three I forget. I've got to slide it was from Keller fairy. You know those people. But when you talk to know like and trust and how you know I break it down very simple for people and say if if me standing on stage who you don't know and you know just you know I know of me through social or whatever if I tell you that I had this great meal at a restaurant last night and you should go probably a 50/50 chance you may or you may not go. But if a best friend tells you to go you know that goes up by about you know 80 or 90 percent. And you know this is so simple and so common sense and it's amazing that people still don't like tune into that. So when your time to talk triggers you know it's not only getting people to talk and tell their friends and some of them but it's also you know one of the ways that I build customer acquisition you know strategies for people is bring their friends bring their like minded people you know if you've got a product that you can't you know you don't have the money to target every single person but you can target her you know. Good example fresh books as a company have an 11 year relationship with them. I would always say you know it's like 2 percent of the population can use our product but 90 percent of the population talk about it. So through all of our talk triggers and all of our sort of activities were never about the product. It was about you know the benefits of the products and it was you know less features more benefits and you know some people would say that's fuzzy or whatever but you know I can't deny that that it work. I'm just bragging even of a question here. But why is it still like people ignore the most common sense and like why are people surprised when they hear of know like and trust when this should be ingrained in everybody by name.


Jay Baer: [00:31:32] It's one of the great mysteries of business in that once we put on our business hat and look at problems through a business prism we forget that we are all consumers first like we know how we buy stuff but yet we assume that once we're looking at it from the other side that that's not how people make decisions. I think it comes down to and Jonah Berger is talked about this a lot and he told us more about this when we interviewed him. Talk triggers. You know one of the big problems with with word of mouth is that you can't press a button and run a report. Right. It's you know it you have to do real work to determine the actual impact. And at some level it suffers from some of the same challenges that public relations does where you know it works but you're not exactly sure how without doing some some real research. Now we break down for people in the book How to do that research and how to measure and test the efficacy of talk triggers because we're trying to bridge that gap for people. But as I said at the outset it still feels like witchcraft and not everybody wants to be a witch.


Saul Colt: [00:32:39] So let's let's talk about use speaker for a few minutes. Sure. I still want to hear like one or two more case studies and that's how closes down as speakers so you know hall of fame speaker. You know when I think people who are on the road all the time everywhere I think of you got Stratton Mitch Joel you guys you know are everywhere and obviously it's earned and deserved and everything. How does somebody even start as a speaker nowadays because it seems like it's hyper competitive. Like you know I'm there grinding away and do my talks and I love speaking like I don't do drugs and drink. This is really like where I get my endorphin rush in and being on the stage and you know for 90 minutes people think I'm the smartest guy in the world. But you know there's two questions. How do you get started today. And is the bar like lowered a little bit. Because it's interesting I'm finding that you know in a lot of people who don't have the practical experience are able to study and research and just go in and give a compelling like talk. But I'd always rather hear from people who were in the trenches and actually doing it so you know they can talk about real world experiences as opposed to they read your book and created their own word of mouth presentation.


Jay Baer: [00:34:01] Yeah there's certainly a lot of that out there and that's one of the things that that we really hang our hat on convincing confront not just myself but the other seven or eight folks who who are in my organization who also speak you know we do a tremendous amount of first person research we did four separate research projects for talk triggers. I mean we spent a ton of time and a significant amount of money just on research for this book. Not to mention the fact that we actually do this kind of work so we're speaking out about it from a perspective of firsthand knowledge. So that is true that there are certainly a number of speakers out there and I think it's to us it's probably more obvious in the marketing speaker category but it's just as true if not more so in leadership and sales and. You know the great speaker truism is you hear something once and you say you know I heard from Jay bear. And the second time you mention it you say I've heard it said and the third time you don't say anything. Right. To claim it as your own and that happens a lot. And it can be frustrating when you know that people are are kind of speaking about the same things but they don't actually do that work they just talk about that work. But my philosophy has always been you know what the audience can tell the difference at some level. And and that at least allows me to to to not worry about it too much. But by the same token it is an artform that is full of information and there are people out there who are really really really good speakers and they are better at the art form part then than I am and maybe you as well. And that's okay too because they're bring into it something that maybe we don't have it kind of cuts both ways right. I mean it's sort of like it's like being a comedian right. You can't have the performance side and the material and the best comedians are those that have both and I think that's probably true for a lot of speakers too. They can can I combined some of those things and some speakers are stronger on what we've called the content and others are stronger on what they call in the business the platform skills. And I guess that I guess that in the end that's fair.


Saul Colt: [00:36:08] Ok. Let's wind this down. Give you your day back but give me like one or two more like amazing examples of textures.


Jay Baer: [00:36:18] And I'm going to give you. I'm going to give you one that's not in the book that I heard or heard about. After the book was put to bed and that's the thing about this topic right now that I'm out there speaking about it all the time people come up to me you know after a presentation and say hey have you heard about this one I don't know and they tell me to story. No that's amazing I wish I could rewrite the book right. So this one was in Seattle about a month ago. Interpenetration Seattle after the event guy comes at me. Jay love to talk. Have you heard about this talk trigram. I don't know I don't think so I don't have any Seattle examples. Well there's a there's a doctor here in town. He only does vasectomy surgeries. And his name is Dr. snip. I thought OK. That's awesome. And you said you have but that's not the trigger. I'm like No no no no. It gets better every patient on the way out the door is presented with an engraved silver pocketknife that says Dr. snip vasectomy surgeon. Now you can imagine saw that you're hanging with your fellows right. You're watching sports you're fishing you're playing golf whatever. You open a beer or trim off a piece of string. And guys like bro. That's a sweet knife were it. You get it like where did I get it. I got it from Dr. snip the vasectomies Herge and I mean that is a solid trigger. I like that. I like that one very much.


Saul Colt: [00:37:44] I thought you were going to say give him a bag of peas frozen. He's a man.


Jay Baer: [00:37:49] I'll tell you what. Fun fact probably you probably trim this part out. But I was one of the one percent with a complication when I had that surgery. So I had that bag for about a week for a procedure that's supposed to be like a two hour recovery. For me it was definitely not sorry to hear that I had Deko. So I got that going for me.


Saul Colt: [00:38:09] It's kind of a shame you know I mentioned earlier that you know I'm constantly pitching ideas to brands. And you know some good and some down all of my favorite ideas were the stuff that people laughed me out of the room and it just sort of reminded me I was on plane yesterday and the flight was delayed because of you know Hurricane Michael and I pitched. I won't say which airline. It's not fair to throw people under the bus just because they don't see the wisdom of my genius but I push an airline and said you know like you guys are downgrading all your services. You know it's it's it's becoming the greyhound of the sky. What if you made you know the the awful parts of it just a little bit better if a flight is delayed or you know or cancel whatever. Like everyone's angry getting angry or sitting in the gate entertain them in the gate. And I pitched them everything from you know like like do you like a wheel of fortune have someone roll out a wheel do all sorts of crazy things. Let let get stand up comedians do all sorts of crazy things and make that environment just so much more interesting and I still to this day think that that would be amazing and I like it a lot. Crazy opportunity for an airline to do something interesting as opposed to just you know like JetBlue in the early days of Twitter was considered so cutting edge just because they excuse me they announced that you know flight was cancel on Twitter or something or they responded to things. OK sir we always end the show with the introductions so tell people who you are where being in touch with you where they can buy the book. I can't recommend it enough. I really really enjoyed it. Thank you. Audible is our new sponsor of the podcast so write to record a whole you know get the get the download through audible because I really wouldn't say it if I didn't appreciate it because I I actually take like recommendations seriously. But please tell people who you are and where they can touch you.


Jay Baer: [00:40:04] Two of the things real quick. The book is available on Audible read by myself my co-author the brilliant Daniel Lemmon and I will also say that you can't write a book about word of mouth talk triggers without having to read the book. So two things are true. One the book itself has cover has a cover that features alpaca's. So if you are in a bookstore and you see a business book with alpaca's on the cover I'm almost sure that it's going to be talk triggers. Second you may not know the assault on the back of the book. It says these words and this is kind of our trigger for the project. Big words Satisfaction Guaranteed if you buy this book and don't like it. Go to talk trickers dot com and leave the author's note and they will buy you any other book of your choosing. And that's true. If you buy the book you don't like it will buy you whatever you want. You want a first edition bible. We'll track one down somewhere. We believe in the book and you have absolutely no risk. Speaking of talk triggers if you go to talk figures Scott com. There's a ton ton ton of free stuff there. There's all kinds of infographics there's research projects there's group book discussion guides there's a PowerPoint presentation so you can talk to your boss or your coworkers about these themes. There's literally dozens maybe hundreds of pages of free stuff at Trigger stop. So obviously we hope you buy the book but you can go to the site and get a bunch of stuff for free. Q My introduction my name is Jay Baer. I am the founder of convince and convert a boutique consultancy that works with the world's most iconic brands on customer acquisition and talk ability. The New York Times best selling author of six books a Hall of Fame keynote speaker and MC also an avid a tequila collector and a certified barbecue judge.


Saul Colt: [00:41:41] That's awesome. I don't expect too many people are going to take you up on your money back guarantee but it's very cool to throw it out there. Thank you so much for give me your time. I know this is a crazy time view but I really appreciate it.


Jay Baer: [00:41:55] It was a blast, lets do it again. And let's let's do it let's let's make it happen again. Was a really really fun one of my favorite conversations I've had in a long long time so I appreciate that.


[00:42:02] Thank you


saul colt
Episode Three - David Feldman (Comedy Central Roasts, The Oscars, Bill Maher and The David Feldman Show)

Saul Colt: [00:00:00] Why is that important. Or is it important to make fun of the Holocaust.


David Feldman: [00:00:12] Because it's our victory isn't it. I mean it's ours to make fun of it. And by ours I mean Nazis. No. It's a it's important to make fun of the Holocaust because it keeps the memory alive and it trivializes it. And it makes it easier to digest. I'm kidding. Now it's terrible to make fun of the Holocaust. That's what makes it so funny. I never supposed you're never supposed to make fun of the Holocaust and you shouldn't do it.


Saul Colt: [00:00:49] Unless that's funny.


David Feldman: [00:00:51] Well you shouldn't do that. I do it all the time. But I but I it's I'm obsessed with Holocaust and it's a horror show and horror shows are funny but you can't. But you can't do it it's not right. And I think as we move forward and try to figure out how to communicate with one another and not offend anybody we are not going to stop telling tasteless jokes. We just have to remember that they're tasteless and they're offensive.


Saul Colt: [00:01:26] Is it ever going to be possible to not offend people. It seems like we've gone so far on the other end of the spectrum of political correctness where everything is offensive to somebody. And it's almost you know in some respects it's almost like you know you're you're on to something when people are offended. At least that's the goal.


David Feldman: [00:01:48] Well do you want to offend or do you want to make them think. And I think it's intellectually lazy to complain about the politically correct movement because You need to watch what you say. Not for legal reasons not because the government is going to crackdown on you. You need to measure your words. There's too many people opining but not enough people reading. Everybody has a voice but they don't vote. At least here in America. So yeah you should measure your words. There are a lot of comedians who get by on charisma as opposed to their language. They run into trouble because they get up on stage and they don't pay attention to what they say. They pay more attention to their at tricks. The audience is paying attention to their words. And you know Plato in the Republic says music should be banned poetry should be banned because the words are cryptic. People aren't saying what they mean. You have to figure it out. I'm not saying to ban poetry I'm not saying the banned music but I am saying that we have an entire nation listening to music and not knowing what the words mean. I grew up listening to The Beatles and it was cryptic. And you know John Mellencamp says when you write a song the lyrics should suggest just enough so that the listener can apply whatever meaning they want to it. And you read interviews with Billy Joel and he says these lyrics mean absolutely nothing. The song means absolutely nothing you can read into it whatever you want. I don't think that's necessarily good. I think we have there's there's something narcissistic about people listening to a song and making it their own. As opposed to trying to figure out what what the lyricist means it's lazy on the part of the lyricist the politically correct movement is demanding that if you say something don't be cryptic say what you mean. We're parsing your words forces people to think. I mean this is a really stupid country we're languages breaking down and people don't apologize for hurting one another. So now I support the politically correct. And I've been victimized by them that victimized I've been forced to re-evaluate my words measure my words. I've been forced to think Who am I hurting here. And I know my stand up is pretty vicious.


Saul Colt: [00:04:57] So. So in light of that do you find yourself second guessing a lot of times or are you much more measured at the beginning. So you don't have to second guess in the moment


David Feldman: [00:05:09] I check with certain you know mind the police. I have certain people my wife who are overly sensitive. Yeah it's a pain in the neck but you know what. Life is a pain in the neck and not offending people not hurting people's feelings is one of the most important things we can do as humans is talk to one another and then take their struggle into consideration. It's lazy not to. It's you know almost sinful not to worry that what you're saying is hurting somebody's feelings unless they're doing something where you need to stand up and criticize them. But a a. You know John Kerry for example was on the Bill Maher show and he said something to the effect that Donald Trump hates like an insecure teenage girl. And my. Immediate reaction when the teenage girl lobby spoke up was Oh come on. Please. This is what you're worried about. And I still feel that. But but it's good to discuss it. It's good to say to somebody. Is that really offensive that what John Kerry said he'll find Some women who will say yes to demean teenage girls as sexist as part of a pattern it's dismissive. And you think to yourself. OK. All right. I won't do that again or I will do it again because I'm not hurting anybody really in the scheme of things. Of all the things that are going on in the world. Calling teenage girls insecure is. Like a.  parking ticket


Saul Colt: [00:07:06] Here too. And everybody knows if you're going to make a teenage girl joke it's about cutting


David Feldman: [00:07:15] Yep now. Now that. Is offensive and offensive is funny and you're dismissing the. The women who lack control and need to bleed So that they feel alive. Yes.


Saul Colt: [00:07:36] So I'm going to play devil's advocate and I think you play devil's advocate on your part by the way.


David Feldman: [00:07:41] Choose me for one second. But by the way once I get. I would do a cutting show. Years ago. I used to do anorexia jokes and then find out that anorexia isn't So funny. And. That's a serious problem. There is some value to pushing back. On. Cutting and anorexia and saying no no this is unacceptable and we're going to make fun of it because what you're doing Is kind of wrong. And they'll say but you need to understand why. Well you know what. I'm not making fun of why you are doing it. I'm making fun of what you're doing and what you're doing is sad and seems pretty stupid but you need to understand why I'm not making fun of why you're cutting yourself or making fun of the act of cutting yourself. Which by all measures is unacceptable. So if your behavior is unacceptable so I'm going to make fun of it and you're going to push back and some people are going to hate me for making fun of people who cut themselves and nobody's going to lock me up. And maybe I'll be kept off certain television shows and lose some audience members. It's the free market of ideas. And if you're cutting yourself you need to stop. Go ahead. I'm sorry.


Saul Colt: [00:09:12] No no I don't. I want you to do this. I want to play devil's advocate and say and first of all I agree with everything you've said so far and I agree about politically correctness and all that stuff but I'm going to play devil's advocate and say like isn't comedy an art form or is that just an excuse an art is subjective an artist supposed to push limits and art is supposed to make people uncomfortable or or like again is I just an excuse for laziness.


David Feldman: [00:09:41] Well I don't know what art really is and I think bread making is an art. Anything can be an art. So we make a live it's a craft. You sell your wares. You try to imagine that it's a free market and if people don't like what you're saying if enough people don't like what you're saying change what you're saying or stand up for what you think is right. Like Bill Hicks did. And let the chips fall where they may. So if you complain about the politically correct movement you're just being lazy. You either stand up to it which is a noble fight. I love taking on the politically correct. I been doing it since San Francisco when I worked in San Francisco. Bobby Slayton has been taking on the politically correct and he'll fight them to his death. That's art. But to complain about the politically correct and not change either go into the skid and address it and the audience right in front of you challenge them but to hide behind your jokes is cowardly. So it's it's fantastic that we have this politically correct movement because I worked for HBO for about I don't know 18 years. I don't know where did these live shows HBO with Bill Maher and Dennis Miller early years of HBO we were doing live television you could say anything On HBO that was the selling point for HBO. You know he can say whatever you want. It's uncensored in fact that's what makes it more appealing than broadcast television is that you can say the f word. The problem is when you have too much freedom comedy dies you can say if he can say anything about what was you bouncing off so I can remember we had a limit the number of forwards to create the tension too much freedom in language and discourse is boring. It's good to have to have taboos. It's you know that's what comedy is you need to break down taboos and find out and explore why there are taboos and mock the taboos and pay the price. Part of what's funny is when you pay the price on stage for attempting to shatter some idea and failing at it is funny so it's cowardly to complain about college audiences.


Saul Colt: [00:12:35] And you're not a big fan of using profanity and stand up As it is.


David Feldman: [00:12:41] Right because that's lazy. Go you. I've lowered my standards since Trump Took the Oval Office stole the Oval Office. Because at this point it's the least of my concerns. Vulgarity when language breaks down Meaning breaks down society breaks down. That's what's happening in America. Everybody's talking language has broken down words no longer have meaning. We don't know what the truth is when people. Don't measure their words when they use vulgarity to punch up weak cheese on stage. Why are we laughing at. What are you laughing at when you walk into a comedy club and somebody. Is just saying the F word over and over again because they don't have the courage Of their material. When you ask a comedian. Why he used the. Word. They lie to you and they lie to themselves and they say I want to be edgy. When the truth is they know this joke won't work unless they add the F word. So. You know I don't respect people. Who rely on the f-word you want you know. A lot of my friends who are comics use the F word and it's funny. But. You get them drunk. They'll admit. Strategically placing the effort here because I don't believe This sentence is funny. So I need to. Pepper it. Spice it up with the F word. But don't lie to me and tell me you're being edgy by using the f-word you're being coward. Stand up there like a. Man or like a woman or. A Vais. And. Tell the joke and let it fail. Die with your material go down you know go down with the ship it's funny. To die on stage.


Saul Colt: [00:14:40] See you sort of touched on this but I think it's worth coming back to them. I got a whole other line of conversation by asides like political correctness and some of that but like do you filter yourself or do you find yourself filtering yourself more like. So I don't have the same you know audience or soapbox or platform that you do. And you know I don't have you know I'm not not as smart as you are as thoughtful as you are but I do have a small amount of attention thrown my way every day. And I've found that I'm filtering myself more and more and in some ways it really eats me up inside because that's who I am as a person. I wanted like you know say silly things not are not offensive things but you know like all comedy has like a place and it's always appropriate. And I've found that I'm filtering myself more as bothering me. Do you ever filter yourself or you know you sort of touched on it but maybe what's the definitive answer and we'll move on.


David Feldman: [00:15:41] Of course. But you know I wear pants. I keep the door shut when I go to the bathroom. I. Make love well like candlelight supposed to stark lighting. We were you know we yes we have skin to cover up our insides so we filter everything. Of course are we being lazy by not watching what we say. Yes there are jokes my kids are in their 20s. They saw Lisa Lampanelli when they were 7 10 years old. They saw you name it they saw in South Park Family Guy, not pornography. You know but I don't really limit their exposure to sexism racism homophobia because of a song.


Saul Colt: [00:16:42] Isn't it better to explain it and be there and have a conversation instead of like you know make it this forbidden thing.


David Feldman: [00:16:50] It's only a forbidden thing. There's a time and a place for everything. So you started you said to me earlier you know the Holocaust being funny. There's a time and a place for Holocaust jokes. It's limited. It's a very small space. There's a time and a place for homophobic jokes.


Saul Colt: [00:17:17] But so but. So just to close the loop on the Holocaust stuff you know back to your car your thoughts on cutting like one of the funniest things that I think you've done or at least it was one of my favorite things about the early days of the podcast and I have a bunch of questions about that. But like how long have you been doing your podcast for its got to like five or six years now right. Yeah I guess the longer you know. Oh yes so I was in a day like I was going on like episode 6 or 7 and it's literally been my favorite podcast for the entire run and I've seen all the different reinventions of it or not seen but listened and in the early days the podcast was about you know radio plays and radio sketches. And one of the things used to do all the time which like it killed me because I think you did it every week with a different person was the.


David Feldman: [00:18:09] Jew or nazi.


Saul Colt: [00:18:11] I thought that was hilarious. So you were not making fun of people being killed you were not making fun of the atrocities or concentration camps but you're making fun of you know elements of it and of of you know the Holocaust and Nazi Germany and things like that. And you know it was it was smart and it was clever and it was funny and I don't think anybody well there's always somebody but you could. Most people could listen to this and see the humor in it it wasn't. You know right on the nose. Making fun of the Holocaust it was kind of making fun of like the peripheral periphery of the Holocaust. So you know.


David Feldman: [00:18:49] The reason I love that it was written the Steve Rosenfeld Very funny comedy writer wrote a bit and we used to do a sketch Comedy Show on my podcast it's morphed over the years. You know we don't do sketches right now. Jim Earl and I and Eddie Pepitone were the performers and we were sitting backstage at the fake gallery and somebody said my father died in a concentration camp. He fell off a tower. It's one of the oldest holocaust jokes around. And so Jim and I and Steve started playing with the joke saying because it was it's such a tired joke. So I said you know my my one of my relatives died at Auschwitz. He fell off a tower. And then Jim would say Oh so he was a Nazi and I'd say no no he was climbing up the tower. Oh so he was a Jew. Well he was climbing up the tower to relieve the person who was standing at the top of the tower. Oh so he was a Nazi. Well he was relieving somebody who was keeping watch over people trying to escape. Oh so it was a jew. So the joke was this fermentation of mis direction where you just don't know whether or not the guy is a Jew or a Nazi.


Saul Colt: [00:20:38] Who's on first.


David Feldman: [00:20:39] It was are who's on first. And yes it was one of my favorite bits. Steve Rosenfeld really wrote it and it just never stopped. You could do you know what it was it was Pac member Pat on SNL. JULIA SWEENEY Yeah. Would never reveal. What they're not. He was a man or a woman. Hey how about that. Is that offensive.


Saul Colt: [00:21:06] Nowadays a weird thing. It's like I was just isn't I think a lot of people would you know have a hard time with Pat. Now like I I watched I watch 48 hours the other night the Eddie Murphy McNulty 48 hours as to the the the news program and Man that movie could not get made today. It's brilliant. It holds up it's still funny. But you know like Nick Nolte he never calls Eddie Murphy by a name at all he uses every single racial slur for black person throughout the whole movie and there's no way we could make that move. That movie will get remade today.


David Feldman: [00:21:45] Well we've seen Blazing Saddles. I went to see blazing sales at Radio City Music Hall. The Mel Brooks was the audiences was.


Saul Colt: [00:21:53] One of my favorite movies of all time.


David Feldman: [00:21:56] Ok. I don't think I've laughed that hard in years. It is as offensive as it gets.


Saul Colt: [00:22:06] It's not angry or offensive and I know like a lot like Michael and I'm splitting hairs.


David Feldman: [00:22:14] Well you know what is the intent. What is the intent. I don't know I have to go back and watch 48 hours. I would assume I would assume it could be remade word for word. So.


Saul Colt: [00:22:31] I think it's very dated it looks like an 80s action movie. The fight scenes are way too long like buildings are getting destroyed and stuff but it still has a lot of charm to it it's still a good movie.


David Feldman: [00:22:45] Yes. Well yeah I mean everybody we're going to move eventually eventually. If you're if you don't have any skin in the game if you're not suffering really suffering this is good it's good for our culture it's good for society to have this back and forth because eventually we will evolve to a place where everybody recognizes their own struggle. Anybody who's born has a struggle anybody who decides not to kill themselves has a struggle. Life is a struggle. The Buddha says life is struggle and our struggle is sacred. You have to recognize everybody's struggle. You don't have to point out their struggle but you have to. Just go with the premise that everybody is struggling and respect their struggle. And maybe we can move on from that. Maybe the politically correct movement will die off when people treat each other a little more gently and check. You know they say check your privilege. Well you know remember your struggle and then project whatever struggle you have and to others. And it's the golden rule you know project your struggle on to others and then respect them as though they had your struggle. I think the politically correct movement is fantastic. You know I'm not I don't mean to be glib and arrogant. I've paid a price. I pay a price every time I step on stage. For the politically correct movement it's funny it is funny. Embrace it. Don't complain don't say I'm playing cop. Hey you know what. I don't play college as they don't have me. I don't have the privilege of certain people like you know Chris Rock or Jerry Seinfeld or say I refuse to play colleges because they're so politically. You know what if they were paying me to play colleges I would play them and let the chips fall where they may. But comic shouldn't even be on college campuses they should be paying professors more money. Adjunct professors in America make nothing. Why are they giving 50 thousand dollars to a magician.


Saul Colt: [00:25:29] That's that. That's the basis of one of your jokes. You're my favorite comedian. I've got a bunch. I love Neil Hamburger. Love you know you know Robert Schimmel and when he was alive and Sarah Silverman and Norm and all these people were like I something about your stuff really connects with me and like you know one of your your your routines is about you know how prostitutes make more money than teachers and I won't ruin the joke because it'll get lost in translation from me. But you know that is the basis of what you're talking about and it's you know everything kind of you do is bringing you know social commentary into the forefront that I assume that's intentional. But as it has it always been your focus.


[00:26:17] Well you know well thank you. And you know I think you're wrong I think for liking me. But thank you. I appreciate that. You know I I'm I you get to a certain age or a point in life where you realize this is why I'm funny. And then you realize well what makes me funny is not being likable not being particularly appealing to the audience so you have two choices you can change and try to appeal to the audience. But then you stop being funny or you can just be so appalling that you appeal. So I just decided I was in San Francisco. I was about seven years into it. And thought, they just hate me they hate me. They hate the way I look. They hate what I represent. I look like their boss. I sound like their boss or the teacher who gave them bad grades or the guy who turned them down for a loan. I mean I'm just like everything I represent everything. I'm an authority figure. For some reason. So how do I work with that. And I just I decided well why do I think of authority figures they're all full of it so why don't I speak with an authoritative voice on stage and then undermine whatever I'm saying let it reveal that everything I say and do is hypocritical and that I'm a sociopath. I really developed that doing Conan's show a lot. So I would focus my sets were I really started writing for you know writing my jokes so they would work on Conan because he got what I was doing so what I would do is I decided anything I say on stage has to have the word I or me and it has to be stated as so. It's an absolute truth and anybody who disagrees with me is a fool and then the punchline somehow has to reveal that you would never leave your child your wife your grandmother alone with me. And I don't sexually I mean this guy cannot be trusted. There are things crawling underneath his floorboards at home. And that's how I read kind of rewrote my act. So it was very liberating for me because I got to say I realize I have my political beliefs when I'm on stage. I was more concerned about the emotion saying something with emotional impact about politics and then undermining it. And I just love that I love undermining my authority. I just think it's so much fun to just be and it's it's a way of being a fool without my being aware that I'm a fool.


Saul Colt: [00:29:45] So it's interesting we talk about emotions because so your podcast that David Feldman comedy podcast or comedy show. You know it's the majority of them are over three three and a half hours long.


David Feldman: [00:30:00] They always seem that way. They just seem to have actually very short eye.


Saul Colt: [00:30:05] So I I find them like to be sometimes a bit of an emotional roller coaster. And I and I tend to listen to the show in chunks over a few days because you know like occasion I need to digest or process you know you know an opinion or are things and it really does go like and I know if you've blocked it out and formats and like Jackie the joke man's usually on the end sort of tie everything that's going to me.


David Feldman: [00:30:29] Oh and there's a reason I put Jackie on the thing and we'll go ahead.


David Feldman: [00:30:32] Well just like you know when you're when you're going deep with somebody at the beginning of the show or talking about you know recently I really enjoyed the Serena Williams conversation and The US Open and and so when you're going deep on something and then you sort of you know bring in a little levity and then you know it's it's almost like the shows are in sometimes two or three or four parts and you really do take people on an up and down sort of journey as opposed to just you know it just it feels like there's thought going into it. And maybe there is and maybe it's just whoever you could book that week.


David Feldman: [00:31:08] Well I do think the podcast is pretty remarkable. I do think we're doing something that nobody else is doing. It's. I think that if you listen to this show and it goes anywhere between two to five hours depending on what's going on in my life. But I like to cover the news and I like to discuss. And I like to make sure we're discussing stuff that is either so in the news that it has to be discussed or things that are on the front page but not visible over. I was going say the right cop you know in journalism the far right column is the lead story in a newspaper. But that's over. People don't read newspapers anymore. But you know on today's show we talked about the Chinese trade tariffs. I know that sounds dry but it's really interesting and nobody's talking about trade tariffs with China I kind of view it as dreamwork in terms of how it gets assembled because you're given what the world offers you. So ideally I would have Norm MacDonald on my show once a week. You know what I'm getting or Norm on my show once a week so it's in the end it's better to have a stable of really brilliant comics comedy writers who can talk about what's going on and process it and especially because it's audio very satisfying to listen to be you're not paying attention to anything other than the words. So it's great. I love it it's it's the thing that makes me so happy and it's like it's a pure connection it's not. People say why is she doing it on YouTube with visuals. And I say have you seen what I look like. But I think I have a very specific audience. I'm trying to reach it's people who have insomnia truckers. People with long commutes. People who are cleaning doing their dishes. People who are accountants where you have this type of job where you can. Pay attention to your work. But you can also listen to something else while you're doing it. I like to cultivate that kind of audience and there's a slower pace to it. You've got to get used to it. So that's who my listeners tend to be they tend to be people who.


Saul Colt: [00:34:09] Don't own dishwasher's.


David Feldman: [00:34:11] Yet who are doing. Being mindful. Who are doing to thing what They're doing to separate things at the same time. It's almost like a cognitive dissonance. So they're intellectuals that are able to do. You know chew gum and walk at the same time but you don't need To focus entirely on my show. And that's when an intellectual. So I think it opens itself to intellectual. I like to think that you know somebody is driving in the woods paying attention to nature and listening to the show like that's what I imagine somebody is on a drive im the soundtrack to their drive and I'm not overwhelming them with my opinion. They've just just seeping in slowly nothing too loud. That's how I approach the podcast.


Saul Colt: [00:35:11] But the podcast is full of strong opinions but you know it's I think that the thing that I like most about the podcast is when you discover a lot of stuff that either isn't on my radar nobody's talking to in my circles so it is really informative and interesting to me too. You found this really interesting balance of speaking. You know I'll use the term academia or academic like you know with you. It covers both spectrums like in one breath you could be talking about something at such a high level and then you'll you'll make a funny joke. Did you sort of cut the tension and you know for the most part most shows are either you know on one side or the other. It's either you know very high brow and there's no humor or all humor and there's no you know there's no intellectualism to it. And I think that like if when I sell your show to people and I've introduced it to a lot of people. And you know I even have a question from a friend who's a big fan of yours so we'll get to that in a second. But I think the charm of the show you know forget the length forget you know the people you bring in. It's the fact that you can have really serious conversations but you seem to know when to break the tension at every like you just always know when them when it's getting a little too much. And it's like he's sort of you know burst the balloon and create a little fun for 30 seconds and then just dive right back into the seriousness.


David Feldman: [00:36:42] Well thank you for saying that. Yeah I don't you know I don't want I don't want to reveal too much about my personal life. You know I want to reveal what I'm thinking but I don't want people to know. Everything about my personal life I don't think it's their business. I think it's interesting. And I don't want to know. I don't want to know. I don't like to gossip unless it's a you know important conservative i'll trash them. But if you're a guest on my show I don't need to know about your father and your mother and psychoanalyze you. So when it gets to personal I I like to move away from from that topic and I don't want. If somebody is I disagree with somebody And I see their rope I don't want them to hang themselves. I want them to come back. I don't want anybody. I've had a couple of guests who are abusive. And I've had them back on the show over and over again and I've run it. So people. Can hear how abusive they are. And I hope the people who are abusive on my show listen to it and then. Mend their ways. They tend not to. But I feel guilty doing that. I try to kind of stop doing it putting abusive people on the show because. They don't change. They continue to be abusive.


Saul Colt: [00:38:40] So I don't think this person falls in that category. And if there's gossip around this I don't want you to share it. I don't care about gossip like professor Jody Armour haven't heard on in years like when the two of you were talking about Bill Cosby. And a lot of what's going on in black America I found that so powerful. I thought the two of you played really well off each other. Will he be coming back anytime soon.


David Feldman: [00:39:10] I have post nasal drip and some pretty nasal do it.


Saul Colt: [00:39:14] I thought you didn't like to share personal stuff.


David Feldman: [00:39:16] I know. I know I will. I've reached out to him you know. He was on all the time when I lived in Los Angeles and he would come to the studios. Some people have had trouble getting him back on the show. So But I love Professor armer. I mean he's a brilliant guy a brilliant guy and yeah I don't. I've reached out to him and then people are very busy and there are so many podcasts now and it's hard to get people on your show. That's why I'm very grateful to the stable of people who do it. I have men and women who do the show every week and they treated you know a do they do their homework they play read for it they prepare for it. That's I couldn't do it without the regular guests to keep coming back. So you know ideally you want you know Steve Martin Marty Short. OBAMA You know Woody Allen or letterman or whatever you know. But in the end if you can have an interesting guest that's funny inform or it's funny and informative it's satisfying. It can be even more satisfying my fawning over Obama is probably not going to be as entertaining as my getting into it with Dave Cyrus or Joe DeVito or Aaron Burke the Canadian no Aren berg.


Saul Colt: [00:41:06] He's hilarious like.


David Feldman: [00:41:08] He's dangerous. So I will put it in terms of political career like Jackie the joke. Nobody makes me laugh harder Jackie joke man Martling. But the jokes. Are. Not politically correct. In fact every joke he tells Is not politically correct. So I put them on a and Aaron Berg is one of the funniest people on the planet. He is free and he challenges the politically correct. And I put him on near the end because. It's. It's on the margins of what my audience will accept politically. So I move him to the end because I'm trying To. I think the I think you know when you listen to the show I think I need to establish my liberal bona fetus my progressive my socialist Bona fetus. Let people know this is what I believe. This is what I stand for this is who I am but this is why I laugh at them. I put that to the end. The stuff that I really laugh at. Is Jackie The Joke Man and Aaron Berg. I am politically correct but if you want to make me laugh you've got to be offensive.


Saul Colt: [00:42:46] Are they your favorite comedians right now. Like who else. Like really. Are you in love with right now.


David Feldman: [00:42:52] Well that's not fair because I haven't really been Watching that much. I like anybody pissed. I like Hannah Gadsby the fact that she's pissing people off. I just love the fact that she does a special with you know not too many laughs. I think white men are going insane. Anything that forces you to re-evaluate what you're looking at and what you do for a living is great. I mean you know I'm ashamed to tell you this but. Because I work really hard so I'm at the end of the day I'm tired and I just want to I don't eat sugar. I don't drink I don't smoke pot. So what I what I really love doing is finding Don Rickles on YouTube and it just been going on for two years. I there's nothing more relaxing nothing makes me laugh harder than watching Don Rickles with Johnny Carson Tonight show. I think Don Rickles. It's jaw dropping how brilliant he is and wrong and so in the moment and he has nothing he comes out with no jokes and he makes fun of the The unseen. There Are there's some elephant in the room that you can see and he addresses it. And it's unlike anything that's ever been done on television. Don Rickles is or is it another week and I don't think people Sinatra got him. Sinatra got them.


David Feldman: [00:44:41] I'm sure you saw the documentary Mr. Warmth.


David Feldman: [00:44:44] Yeah sure and prime. So. I.


Saul Colt: [00:44:49] Lost my train of thought sir. Back pedaling a little bit. You mentioned that your kind of dream guests you'd love to have Norm on every week or President Obama or a few people just to show where our heads are at and how different we are. My dream guest is like you and Bobcat Goldthwait.


David Feldman: [00:45:15] He and I cross paths but you know he didn't I just think he'd got to live it up. He's a genius. You know he's just he's a jaw dropping genius kind of like there's a reason Robin love bobcat. You know he recognized Bobcat's genius Bobcat's one of the most underrated comedy minds this season. I would love to have him on the show listening. I'm begging you please show. And he will he should be a visionary visionary.


Saul Colt: [00:45:52] He should get way more recognition for his films like every single one of them has been more brilliant than the one before. Like he he really is like no one else. Yeah. So what. You mentioned Steve Martin's name came up and so you've written for the Oscars and you wrote on your part of the writing team the year Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin hosted the oscars and I'm watching the show because I'm a fan of yours and love Steve Martin and stuff like that. And I'm watching the show and Steve Martin makes a Meryl Streep Nazi collection joke. And I turn to my friend and I say bet David wrote that joke. I'm curious if you did.


David Feldman: [00:46:48] It's a strange thing. So I've been writing jokes for a long time and I don't. Pay it. I'm giving you a long winded answer. In a time in my life in my life. As a comedy writer. I never take credit for jokes because. It's a fool's errand to say I wrote that joke I wrote it's a team effort and. People punch up jokes and they fix jokes and you're part of a writing team. And. It. Really is unseemly. To. Take credit for. A joke That's been on a television show. But. In my. Career. I have never. Ever had. A joke that I wrote. Where. Everybody knew I wrote it. And. It doesn't stop it just for years. It's. The joke was and I told Steve not to do it. Because I thought it was offensive. But. There's kind of like an obligation to make fun of Meryl Streep at every award ceremony because she's perfect you know and my joke was anybody who works with Meryl Streep. Always has the same reaction. They can't believe how warm she is as a human being. How professional she is how considerate she is and what's up with all the Nazi memorabilia. And you know I said Don't worry about joke it's offensive it's offensive. Steve did it anyway. And anyway it's one of those jokes that You you write you know 100 Meryl Streep jokes. And so one of them is funny and it for some reason that joke everybody remembers. I know everybody brings that up. It's like the one joke that I go yeah that was that was mine.


Saul Colt: [00:49:01] But it stood out like like just so large because like it was just it's the edgiest joke I've heard on the Oscars like in the last decade or so like there's been some great jokes but like that's that's it's brilliant on so many levels. Like it's edgy but it's safe it's not you know you're not offending anybody you're not you know calling somebody a bad name or picking on them for any particular reason like it works on so many levels. And just like how you know comedy is about timing it's also a time and place and part of the Granger of that joke if I'm even using the word correctly was where it was said like I don't think it would have actually I don't think it would have the same punch if it was told in a comedy club or something like right.


David Feldman: [00:49:51] Right. And it's Steve Martin saying it and it's Steve Martin saying the word Nazi. And he measures every word. So that's the shock of Steve Martin saying Nazi which is I'm not diminishing the joke. I'm just saying it's apt. It's the context. And there's an innocence to it. You know it's it's like how do you say the word Nazi and not have it be I don't want to part with this it's pretentious and trying to figure out why something is funny. I'd like to not publicly but privately it's all I think about why something is funny.


Saul Colt: [00:50:34] It's funny you say that because literally I have written on a paper like I don't have actual questions I've got like six bullet points of things that I want to make sure it gets you. And one of them is what makes a joke funny.


David Feldman: [00:50:45] Well that's you know to me that's what it never stops being interesting. Why are they so to me in my life. There have been two types of laughs. That is the joke you like I have Jackie the joke man Maher when he comes on he tells me jokes and they are like here is a joke. And now you. Now you were supposed to laugh. And. Then there's the joke you write like those like Jackie the joke man tells you jokes that are called Street jokes they've been around for years and nobody knows who wrote them The job nobody likes. And people dismiss them. Because of Jackie the Joke Man. I have fallen in love. With jokes because. Joe jokes jokes we tell one other jokes anybody can tell. Are perfectly written because anybody can. It doesn't matter. That. It doesn't have to be context a jokey joke joke from a joke book. Can be. Read it can be told. And. Anybody can tell it. So it's. The best written. Joke. So it's fascinating. And nobody knows who wrote the effing thing. You can't. There are miracles. They just come out of the ether. There are gifts from God. Where did this come from. Where did this joke come from. Nobody knows. Those are just incredible. And I've rediscovered them through Jackie because he is the expert on jokes. Then there's the joke you write as a standup there's the joke you think of and you jotted down on a napkin and say oh I'm going to tell that I can't wait to tell that I'll see if that works. Usually it's something you say to somebody in conversation and you're a shark. You're always thinking well you know what will be funny and then oh I'm going to try that out. That would work. And that for me his standup is always the best joke that I have to offer something I've said to somebody and then repeated on stage will work. And then there's the. The joke. You write that you know the joke you try it on Twitter or Facebook or something and it's clever but it's not as great as the joke that you stumble upon on stage and you can only find that joke by doing it every night. And those are the miracles those go back to what Jackie a joke man tells. There are jokes that you stumble into on stage and it makes no sense. You can't explain why they're laughing. But they are so things Jackie. So I mean a catch. I just want to finish that show that and that's where you get into the miracle of comedy to me is there laughing. And I have no idea why it's funny but I know that when I get to this line they're going to laugh and I have no idea what what that's about that to me is what's really satisfying. Then again it doesn't lend itself to television. There's a lot of magic when you're on stage and you're getting laughs. Because there's something on scene that's mysterious for some reason on television it may not. The magic disappears. So the same joke but the same line the same moves won't work. Tell us go ahead I'm sorry.


Saul Colt: [00:54:58] Well just two thoughts apart from one just about Jackie. The thing that makes Jackie so brilliant is like one that Joke is funny too. His delivery is incredible. And when he's on your show the thing that I think is the funniest is you know the the banter between the two. You're laughing he's just doing like you know machine gun jokes and he doesn't even you get the plugs and you'll be like that. And he just like he cuts you off and goes and the next jokes like it says there's something so beautiful about like the whole interaction that makes it like work on so many levels. And you know it's interesting when you talk about TV and remember where I heard this it was Norm MacDonald was on a podcast or an interview of some kind and he was talking about you know his first job was a Roseanne and then you worked to answer and I was there.


David Feldman: [00:55:48] Yeah I was there with him.


Saul Colt: [00:55:49] So he talked about how his first day. Roseanne or first week or whatever they give him the script to look at and I don't know if he was a writer or a punch up or what his role was there but they gave him a script and he basically said well none of this is funny. And they basically just brushed it off and said Don't worry we'll just sweeten it with a laugh track. And he was trying to explain this in this interview and he was saying like he couldn't get his head around the fact that they knew it wasn't funny and they were OK with it or just they were trying to tell him that TV humor in TV is very different or works different. But I don't think they described it and I probably just didn't catch it the way he did.


David Feldman: [00:56:28] I think you know I either he misspoke or misremembered or maybe what we were told and it's kind of interesting is write it as a drama first. You can always put the jokes in but make sure there are truths in the script first. So Roseanne was rude kind of You know it was my first job and that's an I'm a successful screenwriter by any stretch of the imagination. Nor you know I'm not good at it. I'm not a good. You know. You know I can write with somebody but I'm not by any stretch of the imagination. Paddy Chayefsky going off and. But. One of the things I learned on Roseanne was Don't worry about the jokes. Worry about the truth. The characters the arc. Then when you said it you do a first draft where you just know what every character wants and what the story is. Then you get to work on the funny jokes and it's hard because you have to write jokes that are in character and move the story along. And you you then you begin to see oh I don't want to. Well sex and the City for example they would often build a scene around a pun or there would be these clunkers of jokes that were planted in there. And I. Remember thinking. Well We're letting the jokes wag the story and that's not good writing. And Roseanne was all about the story all about the characters all about the motivation and the jokes flow out of that. And that's the most satisfying meal you can have. So I think maybe that's what Norm was saying possibly to.


Saul Colt: [00:58:38] I know you said you don't like to take credit for jokes that are written in a room with like you know team group people. So this isn't doesnt have to be your joke but just you know you've written for the Oscars you were in for the Emmys. You've written for probably a dozen comedy central roasts or however many there have been. I think you've written for them all except for one or two. What is the funniest joke or what's your favorite joke that didn't make it out into the world.


David Feldman: [00:59:06] Yeah I can't remember it. You know it bothers me so I can't remember the punchline but I remember writing like a perfect joke For the roast. Mike Tyson who did just bitten Holyfield's ear. Member that it was like 20 years ago.


Saul Colt: [00:59:29] I have a Hollyfield story I'll tell you after you are.


David Feldman: [00:59:31] Ok. And Marlee Maitland were on the dais and I. I wrote like a perfect joke. Something where why don't you bite Marley Maitland's or she's not using her some something about her. You know these are gross and they have to be brutal. But I had some talk about politically correct it's somehow. I don't remember but somehow it incorporated it was a joke that was wrong on every level it was making fun of deaf women and violence towards women. Mike Tyson I don't remember the. Yeah. So I mean it was a person. It didn't make it to the good pick but I remember thinking Oh this is perfect because it's racist sexist. It trivializes domestic violence and it makes fun of black people and the deaf like it.


Saul Colt: [01:00:42] hit all the boxes.


David Feldman: [01:00:44] Up the boxes and I went oh wow. You know that's the thing about it. You know it's by the way there's a time and a place for those kind of jokes. Comedy Central roasts you know. But. You know a lot of times when people make a racist sexist joke they're just doing the mass and trying to be funny. They don't care who's going to get hurt. And you know you get to give them a gentle nudge and say you know the math is right. You know the math is right on this it's but it's really it's I love that kind of stuff. Not quizzes you're not supposed to know. It's mischievous you and it's dangerous. You're you're touching that there. That can lead to the Holocaust.


Saul Colt: [01:01:35] So this is a true story not exaggerating it like one bit. I mean the Atlanta airport probably. Eight or nine months ago I go in the bathroom to make a number one as the kids would say and I'm standing next to Evander Holyfield at the urinals. Mind my own business. Don't say anything. I'm not one to like and I don't think public bathrooms are awful so I don't talk to anybody in public bathrooms. I don't know 90 seconds that I'm standing beside him. Four people come out of the stalls or finish at the urinal beside them and they all patt them on the back and they say good to see a champ because he's a legend Atlanta and I'm thinking to myself How awful is is like your existence when people feel it's ok like Patt on the back when you're peeing in a public space just because you're a public figure. There isn't actually a punchline. I think it's more than just bragging that I Peed next event Hollyfield.


David Feldman: [01:02:33] Oh wait till you're 40 years older and you'll get pats on the back for playing. Yeah. Good job there. So I would think it wouldn't really stand next to you while he's playing. I would think.


Saul Colt: [01:02:46] He'd be a bad foot behind it. Hey. So. I tell everybody I know about your podcast because I do think it's special and I do think it's important. And actually I think important is better than special. I have converted my best friend. Her name is Jenny Gershon and she is she's a bit of a Feldman super fan. She submitted two questions for me and.


David Feldman: [01:03:15] Gina are not Gina Gershon Nona.


Saul Colt: [01:03:17] I wish. And hear her question. Say you're ready to tackle these with the vista or whatever cliche I'm looking for when you're interviewing people on your podcast you ask questions that are more like commentaries. Is this you being intentionally subversive.


David Feldman: [01:03:44] I don't know. I wish I let me. I mean. I Think for a second. Of course. I like. Yeah yeah yeah. I like to ask questions that smack you around a little. Yeah. And it's not always respectful. I just interviewed Congressman Alan Grayson and I was kind of catching myself trying to get him off. Hey I love Alan Grayson he's you know very liberal who was against the war in Iraq and really against the war in Iraq. But for some reason I get him on the show and maybe you know it's kind of like yeah it is intentionally subversive. Yeah.


Saul Colt: [01:04:33] Question number two. Do you take the devil's advocate position on purpose to help the interview move forward or are you really that cynical.


David Feldman: [01:04:45] Well I think playing the devil's advocate is dangerous. I try. I've learned that when when you one of the things I've learned about playing the devil's advocate is sometimes you turn into the devil because once you articulate those words it starts to make sense sometimes. And so it's dangerous to play the devil's advocate. And I've been. Because. Oftentimes it's disingenuous sometimes you can claim to be playing the devil's advocate but really saying what you're thinking or the fact that you're not sure and you're articulating something which you may You're not sure whether or not you believe so. I don't have an absolute answer to that. I am trying  Yeah. I'm troubled by playing the devil's advocate because when you say something. The fact that you're saying it means you're thinking And why are you thinking why are you bringing this up some trouble by playing the devil. The problem I have on the show is I won't have conservatives. I don't want to give them any oxygen. And they're not honest interlocutors it's really hard to find a conservative who will have a discussion. I just don't. I've given up I'm not going to have any conservatives on my show. They're intellectually bankrupt. So what I do is I will sometimes say you know the Republicans will say this or the Conservatives will say that that I'm okay with To be better at doing that instead of playing the devil's advocate. I need to say look you know that we claim this. I need better at that. I sell.


Saul Colt: [01:07:26] I know I mentioned before that I think you know one of the things you do that are really brilliant is find the balance between you know really really you know high intellectual ism and almost you know sometimes some subversive or absurdist comedy and put them in the exact same conversation. One of the podcasts that I think is maybe one of the best ones you've ever done or not not the podcast as a whole but one of the segments was when you took. You know when you really explain the METOO movement right after the disease and sorry incident and like it was just so it was intellectual it was ridiculous and absurdist and. And but it was like you hit all the points in there and you know you took a really really serious issue and you made it digestible or you know maybe a little easier digestible. Did you get comments or grief about it. And do you do you ever get grief or comments about adding humor to you know really serious events.


David Feldman: [01:08:36] Well I don't. The Ansari story was a tragedy. Well it was a bad writer. It was a bad journalist relating another woman's bad day. So there were so many things wrong with it. So there were and with Aziz Ansari I mean on every level. What was great about that story is. Aziz Ansari is unsympathetic. He's a pig in that story. He's a pig. But The girl who came up to his apartment was not the most likable victim in this. The bottom line though is If you have if you have a convert a rational I always say like why would you talk to your 14 year old kid about it. How would you discuss this with your 14 year old and it's very simple. Aziz is famous. He's got power. He's 10 years older than this woman. He's got money and success and she's just starting out. So she's confused she's 10 years younger. She meets him at the Emmys. She doesn't know whether or not she's attracted to him because of his money his fame or because he can help her with her career. It's confusing. She's new to this game. She has her own agency but she doesn't really know too much about how that game is played. She's young. She's like in her early 20s she doesn't have a show business works. She doesn't really know how sex works. Dating works what the power dynamics are. She's new to this game. She's easily manipulated because he's 10 years older. So he has an obligation. Act his age. Then again you know he's got sexual desires he's famous. It's really hard to be famous and have a real relationship with somebody. He's the more powerful person in that relationship. So did he commit a crime. No. Should his career be destroyed. Absolutely not. The only person whose career should be destroyed is the woman who writes for babe the woman who wrote that heart call just like an idiot. So and he didn't serve that young woman well. So what would you tell a 14 year old man to tell you your 14 year old son what he told a 14 year old daughter. You know what to tell them they may not listen. But you know what. You know. You know it goes back to Mike Tyson. You have every right to be stupid and say. But. You can't. It's like driving. Always assume that everybody on the road is going to kill you and stay away from them. Don't go into Mike Tyson. Hotel room at 3:00 in the morning. If he calls you up now you should be able to go to Mike Tyson's hotel room at 3:00 in the morning and leave untouched. And it's not your fault that yours. You know you made. A bad decision and went to his hotel room at 3:00 in the morning. It's his fault. But. If you're my daughter. I'm going to tell you go to Mike Tyson's room with three of them. Don't go up to these Ansari's room if he's pressuring you to come in. If I have a 21 year old daughter and she would listen to me. Which she wouldn't. I'd say don't go up to his apartment.


Saul Colt: [01:13:03] And if you do go up to his apartment if he shows two fingers in your throat that's the cue to leave.


David Feldman: [01:13:10] Unless you're confused and you're not sure whether or not I mean you know. If Consent is pretty easy. I don't understand what's so hard about going. May I kiss you. Is it OK if I kiss you. Is it OK if I take a dump on you. That's very it's baby I've jumped 10 steps ahead but there is no freedom it's fine. You know what's so hard about consent. May I kiss you. Why is that. Why do people mock that. I mean I don't know.


Saul Colt: [01:13:47] Well I got like a handful of more questions. Two or three more questions I'll let you get back to your day. What is your dream project right now like if you can work on anything.


[01:14:00] I guess I mean ideally if I could somehow build the podcast that where it's a I mean ideally I would like to do it five days a week. Like a newsroom. You know I'd like somebody to write me a check and combine real news with real comedy and do it the right way where you are. Five days a week telling people what's going on in the world. Fact based kind of like the way Spy magazine used to be. And I'd like to have a big staff and be able to build that podcasts out. But it would require. You know a partner who's willing to put up. Money because you have to pay people lots of money to do these things it's time consuming. But that would be my dream to to build the podcast out as a kind of comedy newsroom.


Saul Colt: [01:15:13] To something like a model similar to like the Young Turks or.


David Feldman: [01:15:18] Yeah I don't want to do. I don't want it to be TV. I'm not interested in a. I don't want to. Well when it's TV it becomes about me.


Saul Colt: [01:15:47] Tell me about Ralph Nader and working with him.


David Feldman: [01:15:51] Yeah I mean I do a radio show with Ralph Nader. Ideally if I were a really successful if I had any of my sit but you know if I had sold a sitcom that actually got to 100 episodes and I owned it and I could I would build out of you know I'd invest in a Ralph Nader university you know where it's just you know I don't even want to get into it. If we start going down the Ralph Nader path we'll never wrap up. All I can tell you is if you want to learn how to live the right life do what Ralph Nader says and you will live a healthy happy good life. That's the key to these what every you know it's unfair to have heroes and stuff like that. It's unfair to the hero. But read Ralph Nader read his books. And he's you know he's right about everything I did.


Saul Colt: [01:16:47] Do you think you should be more famous. I mean they like you like not in a condescending way. Like. Like. Do you think you should we were famous and would you be happier if you're more famous.


David Feldman: [01:16:58] Yeah yeah. I just think actually more famous. I've set fire to so many buildings in New York City. No but I cannot tell you the number of burnt out skyscrapers on right now. Yeah I have like. I would. I would like a lot of what I'd like to be patted on the back while I'm trying to take a week in public. I'm not in a restaurant not in a restroom just in public. Now of course I'd want to be famous but I also know it's a sin you know to be famous because it it it takes you away from people. It's a lot. It's unhealthy to be famous. It really is unhealthy. And that's kind of like why. I'm not interested in doing my show visually. I'm walking into a room and everybody's head turning to you because they recognize you. I don't. I like that. You know I would like it. I also know that it's I think it doesn't make for a happy life. I think it is. I don't think you have. I think it makes it hard to have real relationships. And I think it makes it tough for intimacy to be that famous. But I'll take it you know it really is. The South Stream embargo isn't it. Yeah but I would take it.


Saul Colt: [01:18:48] Last thing our last theme maybe there's a couple questions here like what do you what do you think of social media and what I mean by that it's like I know you tweet and know you you share a lot of stuff but you know Sarah Silverman it seems it's become like fashionable that make her a punching bag. People attack her all the time and you know she yeah yeah. Is she like on Twitter. Like the last couple days I've seen like a couple things where she has to remind people she's a comedian and you know she's trying to like you know she that there was a tweet. Actually have it. Let me find it here because I took a screen grab on my phone because I thought it was it was cruel to go after.


David Feldman: [01:19:31] Who who would go after Sarah Silverman.


Saul Colt: [01:19:33] I think I think she's like one of the most brilliant people in the world. Here it is. She wrote Frankenstein stuff I say if you want to. But no I'm a comedian. You know I'm a comedian right. These are jokes. I mean comedy is subjective and I'm clearly not your cup of tea. But like why do you care about me. Am I a threat in some way. Because that's silly. There's some real shit going on out there my friend like so I don't know the context of like who she's talking to. It's a bit of like a blind item. But you know it seems like social media for all the good it's done it's given people you know a voice and amplification and able to speak their mind. But it's also allowed people to forget that people are human and at least that's my opinion. Where do you kind of fall on social media.


David Feldman: [01:20:23] You know I have I fight for every follower I get you know because I'm not famous. I build my following joke by joke. And when people attack me I ignore them because I find no there's no virtue to it there's no value to responding to the trolls. And I don't get off on trolling. So what do I think of social media. I use it. I hope it doesn't use me. It does. You know I don't gamble but it does feel like a slot machine. It lights up. I can feel it lighting up parts of my brain. So it does cheer me up sometimes. So it's addictive. I can you know if I write something and the people respond to it I do get a smile. It does give me. There have been some days where I've gone on social media and seen something or read something and it's made me happy temporarily. But it's made me happy. I've made connections I've found friends from 30 40 years ago. But you got to be careful with this stuff.


Saul Colt: [01:21:59] All right. Last thing you were the for the fourth guest ever on Mark Maron's WITF podcast and he's gone on to like it seems like he's OK. Can you promise the same will happen for me.


David Feldman: [01:22:14] Who am I your fourth guest. Well it could be. I hope I. Yeah sure. I was with Mark I remember being in Montreal with Mark and he was doing a one man show and he hit rock bottom just broke when he did this one man show and it was great. And he was walking with me. I think it was like 2009. So almost ten years ago and I had already started my podcast. I remember saying to him I think he'll do the podcast. I think you'll enjoy it. I think you'll enjoy the freedom and yeah he's pretty remarkable you know and he doesn't try to be likable but he is at the same time. Well yeah that's that's the brilliance of Mark is he figured out he's problematic and he worked with it instead of changing. He's he's inhabits his problematic personality and that's honest. So you got to give him credit for that. People want honesty.


Saul Colt: [01:23:31] Thank you so much for doing.


Saul Colt: [01:23:33] Thank you for your kind words over the years I love you. I really do miss you. You're a good friend and you're loyal. And you know I will send money for the legal. You know I know it's expensive. I know being charged with the crime that you've been charged with. It's I know you're guilty but I still think you deserve a day in court. And I will I will contribute to your defense fund.


Saul Colt: [01:24:03] Please tell people who you are. Here's your ear. 30 seconds to to plug yourself and get people to listen to the five counts.


David Feldman: [01:24:12] I'm David Feldman. I do a podcast. Please listen to it and then if you have any criticism go to David Feldman show dot com hit the contact button and tell me what you're thinking. And if you like it hit the contact button and tell me what you're thinking and if you enjoy this conversation please. Sign up for my newsletter and I answer all my emails.


Saul Colt: [01:24:41] Thank you so much.


Aspiring Voice over Actor Jenny Gershon: [01:24:43] Thank you. You've been listening to the we now join the program already in progress show hosted by my best friend Saul Colt. A new episode drops every week. So if you like what you heard please describe the podcast on iTunes or any of your favorite podcasts right now if you like what you heard. Please leave a review on iTunes or say hello to Saul on Twitter Instagram or Facebook so easily. Just look up Saul Colt.S-A-U-L-C-O-L-T. Or you can email saul at Saul@Saul.is I am Jenny Gershon, Saul's best friend and aspiring voiceover actor reminding you to follow your dreams.


saul colt
Episode Two - Steve Simmons (Sports Reporter for the Toronto Sun)

Saul Colt: [00:00:01] Does Cito Gaston still hate you?


Steve Simmons: [00:00:10] No, It's funny because years ago he called me out as a racist in a column that Heather Bird wrote for The Sun. He he referred to Bob McCowan and myself and a guy named Dave Langford and he tapped us as racists and that's pretty upsetting to be tapped that way into. And so what happened was and I'm I was pretty close at the time with Paul Beeston who was president of the bluejays and Paul phoned me that day and basically said I'll fix this. And so this is how we fix it he called me to a meeting at the dome you know in a board room in one of the boxes. And I walk in and there's one of those long boardroom tables and sitting at the end is Cito. And so me being me I sit at the other end. So there's two of us one at each end. And in that room Gord Ash who was the general manager at the time and Paul and they said Cito Steve and the two of them left him and it was like Here we are in this room. This has happened. We weren't getting along before this. Now it's gotten worse. And I like what I had done I prepared for the meeting. And I had gotten copies through our library of every reference I had made to him in the past ten years in writing. And and I highlight penned all of the references so I had a file about you know two feet thick. And I walked down to the end of the table I dropped the file in front of him. I went back sat down at the table and said find me where I'm racist. Show me where I am racist and what happened over the next hour or two in a conversation. And it was a conversation of how I do my job and how he does his job and what he grew up with and how he views whites in the world and how he's very how explain it. Paranoid might not be the right word but how he grew up at a time in baseball where blacks and whites did not share hotel rooms where where he couldn't go to the same restaurants were all that was happening at the time in America. And so he's leery of black white man from his upbringing. And what we decided in our conversation. Well what he took is what I wrote as criticism he took his racism and and I said to him once in a conversation I referenced Don Baylor who was at the time was one of the better players in baseball I think. And I said if you'd like to have Don Baylor on your team wouldn't you. And he said yeah and I said Well I'm kind of Don Baylor of newspaper columnists. I go hard into second base. I run the bases very hard. I don't take any days off. If I was a player for you you would love me but because I do it in the venue that I do it. You don't like me at all. And we had this really you know got to know each other conversation and at the end of that one or two hours our relationship was repaired. And it's funny because McCowan went in with lawyers and other people and the meeting was a disaster I'm told. Nothing got accomplished and nothing happened at all. I just went by myself and talked and Cito talked. And from then to the end of his time managing the bluejays and to today we have a reasonably good relationship in fact. When Jose Bautista was playing his last games for the Jays last time about this year I called Cito who lives in Michigan a lot of the year. I called him when we had probably an hour conversation on the phone talking about Battista and how he changed his career around him the part that Jose part CEO played in it all. And every time I see him I get a hello how are you and a nice handshake.


Saul Colt: [00:04:03] So you're the Don Baylor of reporters and.


Steve Simmons: [00:04:06] I mean you can use you can use a million different you can use it. Josh Donaldson does more than the people who go hard. Go hard sell.


Saul Colt: [00:04:14] So you're very opinionated in you. You know there's been controversies around your opinion. Yeah. You've been doing this a long time. Have you always sort of been very strongly opinionated or was there a time where you realize that this was beneficial for your career.


Steve Simmons: [00:04:29] I think it's who I am. And it's funny. I covered the Calgary Flames was my first beat when they moved from Atlanta to Calgary in 1980 and in the second season in Calgary the flames just had one of those seasons from hell. Everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. The team was a disaster the coach was a disaster. All the stuff was happening and I had just started. I didn't like a year at the Calgary Sun. And I'm 25 years old at the time, and I wrote a piece about November of the second season. And the premise of the piece was everything's going wrong. The Calgary Sun being a some paper being a tabloid you know going for it. So to speak runs a headline across Page 1 of the paper with thick thick. Typed that says fire the coach. Well I didn't exactly say that in the story but I kind of hinted around it and meant it. So I get up the next morning and I see this headline and I realize oh my god this is my first moment of professional controversy and I'm feeling a little insecure about it even though I really believed in the piece I wrote and and the Toronto Maple Leafs are playing in Calgary that night. So I'm at the rink for the pregame meal and Frank Gore of the Toronto Star and longtime Hall of Fame hockey writer. Now you know it was one of the icons of the industry. I never met him before. And he walked over to the table where we're sitting and he puts his hand on my shoulder and he said Great story kid. And it was like you know hearing from God that you had well. And for me at that moment you know Frank but in many ways I can say changed my career or changed my life because he showed me at that moment it was OK to be bold and different. And. I wrote opinionated stuff when I wrote for the Western Gazette in University. But it was it was a university paper so it didn't really play that way. And and but just since then I've always if I believed in something and it was and it was what I wanted to say and how I wanted to say it. I think it's a it's distinguished me in many ways. And B it's hurt me at times depending on you know the circumstances.


Saul Colt: [00:06:54] Going back to the Cito thing I to be all over the place that this just popped in my head you know wasn't part of my research was the timeline of the Cito stuff around the same time. I could be getting it wrong with vaguely remember Toronto star had a big story about the Bluejays being too white. At the same time.


Steve Simmons: [00:07:13] I don't think I think a completely different times. This was almost at the end of the CEO's managerial time in Toronto. So he had. And again I can't remember the comeback. I think he came back after this a second time but this was at  at the end of his post World Series time. And and and so you know unfortunately years don't pop in my head very well anymore they all kind of blend. You know when you've been doing this you know almost 40 years it kind of things just flow into other things. But it had nothing to do with that at all.


Saul Colt: [00:07:51] So your career. How is how a sports journalism changed and we can talk about it from you know access to the players to all sorts of things. But I think the thing that I'm I'm most curious about is how does change for the writer from being able to write something maybe getting a little criticism or maybe having you know some people write a letter to the paper or something to people having you know a computer in their pocket and basically saying like you should die hard things like that.


Steve Simmons: [00:08:23] The biggest change for me has been has been access. When I started in the business and I again I was working in a smaller market. So it was different. But if I wanted to talk to someone I talked to them if I wanted a long interview I had a long interview if I wanted to explore things about their lives I could explore things about their lives. If you're doing all I'll use the Maple Leafs as the best if you're doing the Maple Leafs today and you're down at practice this morning there's probably 50 other reporters. Some reporters some TV people some online people social media people did very various degrees. You can't get any one on one time unless you're just privately arranged and go around people's backs together. So on a day to day basis you show up. Your access is limited. Not only is it limited you're in a group doing the interview. It's almost always a scrum. It's very difficult to get you know anything that someone else doesn't have. So if you try and write original things and what's happened over time because of this is writing has become far more important. And interviewing has become far less important. And so how well you write what is your take on something. What is your view on something. How do you approach it. That's that's changed dramatically where some of my favorite stories I've ever written were sitting down one on one with a guy and getting him to tell me about a really important thing that happened in his life or something that happened to a family member or things like that.


Saul Colt: [00:09:57] So how did the access change is that the players as a team as a league.


Steve Simmons: [00:10:01] No I think first of all there's a preponderance. There's way more media than there's ever been before in terms of numbers. I think the blogs and online and Web sites and teams covering themselves in all of this has increased over time. When I started there were no sports television networks there were no sports radio stations there were not. So now if you go to a practice the sports radio stations are there and the sports television networks are there. I don't know how many was it 15 cameras that only practice on a daily basis. So to sit there and try and get out one on one that's going to. Set your story apart is quite different. So you have to approach a little bit differently and sometimes you have to arrange to meet somebody somewhere else or you know if you want to do something that kind of thing. But it's the it's funny media has shrunk. I mean there's Bell there in Canada there's Bell and there's Rogers owning so much of it. But numbers in terms of. People at events. Now again from block you know from bloggers from websites from newspapers this is still a four newspaper town. It's about the only one left. I think anywhere that it's a four newspaper town. And so there's for. You know four newspapers a wire service probably French reporters. Now you've got you're got into all of the different online websites. Now you're into guys who do blogs. Now you're into like it's just it's just so many people.


Saul Colt: [00:11:37] Does anyone have an original like does anyone actually break news anymore. Oh yes. At the same like it's so one person comes up to something and everyone piles on.


Steve Simmons: [00:11:46] Well what's happened over time and I think it's happened in all sports is the quote the big time insider guy has become now that convenient news breaker. So if I'm in the NBA and I want to break a story and I'm a general manager in Memphis I'm probably going to call Adrian Wodgenowski and he's going to break the story for ESPN and it's going to go online and everybody's going to follow up because they know that everything that Adrian Wodgenowski writes is true. Ninety nine percent of it is true. It's Bob McKenzie and Aaron Drager and Eliot Friedman and those kind of people in Hockey. So every once in a while all of us are going to get our own story or a scoop or something. But the majority of the big story Eric Karlson gets traded off. This guy signed a contract. Here or Tavares coming to Toronto. That's almost always broken by the insiders because their entire job is to just do that. It's a miserable job. I mean there are some of them are my friends and I know the life they live in. And are they living on their cell phone in their living texting in their living checking their e-mails and golf with me. I golf regularly with one of them. And and he sits there and when they were playing golf he broke four stories on the golf course just because his phone kept telling him things. And it's amazing to watch that kind of thing in my world because I'm. I'm kind of the one of the last of the Mohicans. I'm a general sports columnist. I write about the Leafs I write about the Raptors I write about the Blue Jays. I read about the Argos or write about Toronto FC I write about international sport or what's happening around the world or or any Olympics or anything like that. So you can't possibly be spending 24 hours a day on one subject when you have all these other things to write about and interview people about and and talk to people about. And so you know it's it's it's just not feasible to be that high and nor would I want to frankly.


Saul Colt: [00:13:42] But taking Josh Donaldson trade as an example. I felt like everybody was just sort of sharing the same opinion. And then you came out and you wrote the comparison between Doug Gilmore Josh Donaldson and that was so refreshing because everyone was basically saying the exact same thing over and over and over. You know the one interesting thing that I saw that you know the fact that we gave away three million dollars for him as well or the that the cardinals offered a shortstop but besides that everyone was just kind of saying you know it's like oh the Indians get another bluejay or thing like that. You came from a completely different angle.


Steve Simmons: [00:14:20] Well I think that's one of the things that I do and that's one of the things I'm proudest of frankly is is I have a real good idea for stories. And so because I I have a pretty good idea from stories I can approach things differently and want to. Yeah I was offended and wrote about it in my Sunday Notes column about the Bluejays paying money for Cleveland to take. I still am offended. I cannot believe that they're getting away with paying.


Saul Colt: [00:14:46] I was surprised it wasn't a bigger story.


Steve Simmons: [00:14:48] I am too. To be honest I think you know what trade I'm fine get a little for him fine. I understand that pain for him to go. And. That's bothersome to me. But so I've seen that I'm thinking about how do I write something different here. And I thought OK they traded him. They got him for almost nothing. They traded him away for almost nothing. He won an MVP here. He had that team the playoffs it's first and all of a sudden Gilmore clicks in my head. He got here for almost nothing. He almost won an MVP here. He had the team in the playoffs the first two years to two best league seasons anyone can remember. And you start the parallels with that I got on the phone and I called them and I found out it's his favorite player. And so Doug was so excited to talk about this. And he's not the world's greatest interview at times. He's a nice man but he's not a bully. And how we talk but he got to Donaldson. I hit a nerve with him and I hung up the phone thinking I got something here and I went to write it and I wasn't sure it's going to work. And the response was overwhelming. So it was really nice to see that when you when you have a piece and you think it's good and you hope people are going to like it. The one thing I can tell you from years and years and years of doing this is you never know what people are going to respond to. You can write something that you think is going to get enormous response and it gets almost none. You write something that you think is just so so and it gets enormous response.


Saul Colt: [00:16:14] I have heard that about  hit records. The one that comes within five minutes you think that no one's going to connect is the one that goes crazy and the thing the late is a labor of love nobody cares.


Steve Simmons: [00:16:25] Yeah. I can't tell you most. In fact I wrote a column for today's paper about bluejay broadcasters and sort of the mess that this season has been with different radio crews and different TV crews people meshing in and out. Jerry Howerth retiring. And I thought it was an interesting piece when I put it together. But I had no idea that my paper was going to put it on the cover of the section and then played up on the first page and the response today so far has been enormous. And so sometime again you read the piece. It's interesting to you. Like the records you write. Like anything else. Mean I know authors that you know thought their best book was the one they didn't sell. You know that's that kind of thing you don't know day to day. And here's the difference between today and and you know previous world. Response is instantaneous like the column is perusing online before it's in the paper. So reading it in fact Jerry Howerth read the paper. Read the column online yesterday and wrote me a note yesterday. Then he wrote me a note today saying I didn't realize it was in today's paper. I thought it was yesterday's paper. So it's how people view things.


Saul Colt: [00:17:35] Well it's interesting because like comments are also permanent. So sounds like if somebody called in to talk radio talk radio is the height of the the you know fan outreach you still get this word wrong ephemeral it like it vanished after some and talked about nobody was archiving. You know the Bob McCowan show or anything like that or when you were on you know that fan 590 and stuff like that and now like somebody said something and you know three years from now nobody looks at dates of columns either. So let you Google something here you see something and people don't realize it's like you know.


Steve Simmons: [00:18:10] And there's a good in that and there's a bad in that. I'll just take it from my own personal perspective. There's a tweet between Jose Bautista and me that gets tons of online play now I think it was five years ago maybe four and a half years ago my timeframe is again I apologize for that. It was a situation that was one day in the making. At spring training that year. We talked shook hands said you know everything is well and everything was well. There are people to this day. If I if I if I would put something about Jose Bautista in a column or something like this to online someone will re-tweet that four and a half year old file out of context completely thing and have a laugh about it. And then a bunch of people will then re=tweeted and then it will go and go and go stuff on Twitter doesn't die it just and no matter how out of context it is no matter how irrelevant it is and all that stuff it just hits. It's amazing how people like nothing than to have a good laugh at someone's expense even if it's not true. Like you know this is a it's a great giggle fest out there for people who enjoy doing this.


Saul Colt: [00:19:29] So this may be a broader society question but why is fandom almost always turned into like anger and depression like no people does. And you know people just aren't kind on the Internet to begin with. But when you add a layer of like sports or fandom you know like there's like you know you get attacked all the time for stuff like so many other people and there's like there's almost just no regard for the humanity of the person.


Steve Simmons: [00:19:59] You start with the root of fans comes from fanatic. Now you add the anonymity of of being able to say whatever you want and it will never come back to you because no one knows who you are.


Saul Colt: [00:20:13] You mean I'm super Jaye's fan. Ninety nine out their birth name.


Steve Simmons: [00:20:17] No it's not there. Now what I've discovered over time and this is not scientific in any way but what I've discovered over time is the louder the voice the more obnoxious the response the more angry the response means that that person will not put their name to it and b has very few followers. So there's almost a correlation between number of followers and anger. And I think what happens is people start accounts they become Mr. angry and then they start another account and they have nine followers and they become Mr. angry again. I always check a person's how many followers do you have. Because I think it's telling to me and I read more often than not. I do read responses just because I'm curious and I'm I'm thick skinned enough not to care what anyone says. But I like to read because once out of one out of ten maybe or one out of five are pretty good or are intelligent or say something that you know one side or the other I mean you don't get to do what I do without liking an argument. I like that argument. I like both sides. I want to hear both sides. I don't like being the one who yells at you and threatens you and swears like you and wants you to die and then all the other things that they want you to do. You know I don't pay much attention. I don't block people. Now I've discovered the greatest button in the world on Twitter is mute. You can mute people they don't know they're muted. They think you're getting their stuff. You're not getting anything from them. It's somewhat peaceful and it's fun. So. You know


Saul Colt: [00:22:01] Sort of going back to access the thing X is really interesting because I don't know if you would frown upon this or not but when I was in my last year of high school I would I would write to the Bluejays like I think it probably did like three times and I would damn I would get a press pass basically saying as a high school newspaper reporter which I wasn't. I just wanted to run around and Tony Gwynn favorite player of all time a spot at last season and you know final tour and they were in Toronto for a inter league game or whatever. And I don't remember feels that it was just after the 3000 hit that happened in Montreal and called the Blue Jays got access had lunch and the thing the whole deal. But Tony Gwynn like we arranged it ahead of time. He let me watch batting practice he shows up before anybody. I think it was like 10 or 11 in the morning and we sat and we did an interview sitting in the visitors dugout. I still have like a micro cassette dictation machine like and I should transfer it to his or whatever but it was just like it was no big deal to him it was like the biggest deal in the world to be. And like I think he spent 20 minutes with me. And then he just went on with his day and I imagine like that would never happen anymore.


Steve Simmons: [00:23:16] It depends on the team it depends on the player. And that's that's a big thing. Baseball is the sport you'd have the best chance of doing that just because of the accessibility you're in the clubhouse before games. You know players are available if you can get them to be available which has become a greater challenge over time. But every once in a while there's that guy. And I suspect Tony Gwynn was one of them that you know would probably be happy to do that. Probably said to those guys later. You know I just talked to a kid and I made that kid's day and some people will really take joy and something like that. That kind of thing doesn't exist very often. I tell you interesting story remember Bob Probert the hockey player he had all kinds of problems drugs and alcohol and different things. And he and he had spent time in prison. And and he came out of prison. And all four Toronto papers sent reporters to the Red Wings practice the day he got out of prison to do Bob Probert stories. They brought Bob Probert out to meet the four of us or that was more the Detroit writers and local media were there as well. And Bob Probert who was not a great interview at the best of times I think spent about 30 seconds with us and mumbled a couple of answers to eight questions and really not much happened of anything that you could possibly have made a story out of. So we're all kind of discouraged and standing around and I get a tap on my shoulder and Jacque Demers the coach of the Redwings go on into my office and sit down and close the door. So I walked around where those office was and I went and I sat down and I closed the door and about two minutes later Probert walked and sat down in his chair and the desk. And and and Jacque left to you know basically saying you got him. And I got like 20 minutes worth Bob Probert by myself. Even though all the other reporters had had zero that day nobody knew that I had them. And just because I had a good relationship with Jacques you know he had decided to give me. A bonus of some kind that day. And it was just you know sometimes sometimes you don't know what you're going to get. You know you can show up and you know you could show up try and I could show up and try and do Tony Gwynn on the same day and he can say sorry I got I got to do my batting practice. I can't talk now.


Saul Colt: [00:25:51] Or have already scheduled a very important interview.


Steve Simmons: [00:25:54] I mean Josh Donaldson is a good example of just arsenate spring training had this one interview a day policy like so if he was talking to Rogers that day he wouldn't talk to you. He was talking to bell that day. And so you had to almost schedule your Josh Donaldson time you know to to talk to him and you'll learn over time who you have to do this with or who is easy and who's not who you go through agents or he goes to Team PR people or how it all works. And you try your best to do all you can to get people as often as you can do because it makes for a richer stories.


Saul Colt: [00:26:31] Who your favorite interview ever.


Steve Simmons: [00:26:36] Probably a guy named Charlie bourgeois. Well there's a lot of coaches are like people of Dwayne Casey and John Gibbons who'll be up there who's a hockey player and him. Charles bourgeois who played for the Calgary Flames when I covered them and we got to know each other reasonably well just to the day to day stuff and he was a long shot to make the NHL Jonny played at University of New Brunswick. I think he just wasn't look you know you're likely early draft pick kind of going to be a star player. When we're sitting out at a pool in St. Louis Saints playing St. Louis in the playoffs and we start talking about family and friends and things like that and he starts telling me about his father. Turns out his father was an RCMP officer. In New Brunswick who was buried alive when he was 12. And and he starts telling me the story of what happened to his dad and what happened to his family and all the things that went on because of it. And I think we talked probably for an hour or thereabouts and I had one of the I think one of the best stories in my career. You know at that time at least my opinion one of the best stories of my career. And so you don't forget people like that who for some reason chose to open up to you and to tell you something that he never told anybody else. And he was sitting there saying you know how much it would have meant for his dad to be here now and to be seeing him in the NHL in the Stanley Cup playoffs this close to playing for the cup. I think they were one round away at that time from going into the cup final and all that kind of stuff. You know and as someone who spent a lot of time and minor hockey. And it hits me more now because I coached my kids and I spent time with you know all that how much something like that would have meant to a dad in that circumstance and how for some reason he chose me to tell a story to.


Saul Colt: [00:28:31] Is there still a place in  for human stories in sports was like you know if you read the sports pages it's all stats driven or trade driven or rumor driven. But the human stories like this like you know it's like the NBA is slogan is you know like you know it's why we play the game or have here they just changed that blank and it's.


Steve Simmons: [00:28:54] It's getting harder for the daily newspaper guy without giving extra time or access to do what you're talking about. But there are things like players Tribune which now players are telling their players have taken a lot of ownership now of their stories whether it's been on Players Tribune whether it's been on their own websites whatever. So you're finding out about people's lives and you're finding out things about them more than ever before but there still are know real stories like this. Yeah I think a lot of them are and I mean that to me a friend of mine who works for the athletic which is now a an online sports Web site. She's the one who you know she did an awful lot of work on that. Dr. Nasser's story out of Michigan State and I think she's now going to be writing a book about it. But when you do I mean there were so many interviews to do and so many people stories to tell and so many stories about. It's an awful story obviously. But to get people to open up to get them trust you to get them. There's still a certain skill. And not my friend Mary Ormsby who works for the Toronto star. Just two recent pieces on George Chavalo I don't know if you saw them or not but George is starting to now. You know draft a bit he's in his 80s. And it's not from boxing. I think it's just from life it's what happens to people. And there's been fights about him. And he's not his ex-wife because they're still legally married. And who has the money and who controls the money and where is it going and and and who's in charge of George and who's making sure of the things. And she she did two tremendous pieces on sort of this Canadian legend who. Has suddenly fallen on hard times you know for things that happened I think all the time to people who are less famous now.


Saul Colt: [00:30:51] Well it's interesting you bring up George Chavalo. Where was I think as Ossington there. There's a condo building that just walking kind of minding my own business and they actually have a plaque on this fancy new glass condo. That's it. This is the gym. It was either the gym where George Chavalo trained or he was wearing them where he trained for Muhammad Ali's flight. And they have a plaque sort of commemorating it's not a historical killing is brand new. It just sort of you know add to the lore the building but I'm like you know you think it's like George Chavallo and Muhammad Ali and all these people. I don't think people think of Muhammad Ali as a boxer anymore. And I think George Chavalo which were a local story. I kind of wonder like I grew up with boxing. I was on the biggest boxing fan but you know like Tyson Holyfield those were events they were spectacles Boxing used to be such a big spectacle. And as someone who is a fan but not like a hardcore diehard fans it's sort of interesting to see like a sport has almost vanished it's been replaced by MMA and there is still boxing but like you know the last big fight of Pacquiao and remember the fun. It just didn't have the same appeal or draw to me like I'm sure there was still a zillion people who bought it.


Steve Simmons: [00:32:07] But what's happened is it's become niche sport and there's a lot of things have become. But it's become niche sport and by niche sport it still has its large events. There was one just this past Saturday enough to not Gennady Golowski and fought Canelo Alvarez and those names may mean nothing to you but they did over a million pay per views in the United States. So there's still business being done. What's happened is it is. I grew up in the ali era and you could turn on your TV set on Saturday afternoon and you hope that Muhammad Ali would be on Wide World of Sports. Talking to Howard Cosell and that was an attraction and you hope that the next fight you know wasn't on TV would be shown at the local theater or at Maple Leaf Gardens. You could go down and see it that way. Close circuit television. And everybody I know every friend that I had that was you know in those days there were no leafs and Argo's in toronto there was no Raptor's there was no Bluejays. Everybody was into boxing and in particular into the heavyweight boxing. And so there was Ali and there was Frasier and there was foreman and later Larry Holmes. And after that Tyson and then Tyson into Lennox Lewis and it was a long run of Pretty good North American boxers. And then Lennox Lewis retired and it was like a heavyweight boxing stop stopped that day an Eastern European heavyweights like the Klitschko brothers and others became the. Story and heavyweight boxing and the one by one people you'd ever heard of were fighting for titles and people who didn't care about or fighting for titles. And then boxing got chopped up into WBA WBC and IBF and too many organizations with too many champions we didn't know or care anyone about. And then every once in a while there was an anomaly. Floyd Patterson. Floyd Mayweather Floyd Mayweather made more money in boxing than anyone who's ever thought anyone public who ever will fight.


Saul Colt: [00:34:05] He finally gets it all in cash in his prime. Yes.


Steve Simmons: [00:34:09] Or in the strip club that he's out almost every night. Picking up more money. But he he found a nieche and an audience and a persona and it worked. And there was enough fighters from Pacquiao from Oscar de la Hoya or from others that he fought most recently Conor McGregor and that sort of semi farce that they fought in Vegas and I was at. But on a week to week month to month there's no conversation there's no it could be the big fight and HBO and ESPN still put on big shows a few times a year. It's what happens between the big shows almost doesn't exist to the mainstream unless you're really into it. And so. It might change again if a group of American heavyweights become prominent. Because there aren't any and there aren't many that will get us excited when Tyson came in and started knocking people out in one round. Everybody wanted to see Mike Tyson. When Ali and Frazier thought everybody wanted to see Ali Frazier and so I still believe boxing there's a place for it. It just isn't the place that it used to be. And your own ever be that place again until there's a bevy of American contending boxers. I grew up at a time where Ali became the champion after Liston and he could fight Fraser and he could fight forman it and he could fight Jerry Corey and he could fight Oscar mana. He got such was that you could go down to Jimmy Young he'd go down to eight nine 10 in the division. There were guys you knew it was the names. I'm in the business I couldn't name you three heavyweight boxers right now.


Saul Colt: [00:35:51] Going on Tyson towards i dont know if it was pre jail or after prison. But they like it always seemed like there was the Tyson fight and there was the rematch like them and they would fight twice a year as opposed to going down the list.


Steve Simmons: [00:36:07] Yeah things like. Well one thing that's happened with too many promoters and too many networks and too many people fighting for a piece of the pie is. I don't fight you anymore because we're the two logical people to fight. I fight the one that I know I can win. So I will build up his record fighting easy bouts and other guy will build up his record fighting easy bouts and then eventually they'll fight each other. But in between you have nothing and you really want to watch. And so everyone's protecting their there commodities so to speak so that they can make as much money as possible when the big thing hits has them.


Saul Colt: [00:36:48] Has MMA made sort of made boxing irrelevant or the two lived completely in a different world.


Steve Simmons: [00:36:54] I think the two live in completely different worlds and I think the whole UFC thing has hit its zenith and is now a little bit in decline. What it was three to five years ago it isn't now now it's lost some of it's great. I mean I was there five years ago at UFC had Jon Bones Jones as its best champion and had had Conor McGregor and had Ronda Rousey you know it had name George St. Pierre Jumbo's Jones has had nothing but drug issues and legal issues. Ronda Rousey is now wrestling for the WWE George St. Pierre hasn't fought in years and so all of the stars. Which are on the sales point of any kind of combat sport are not the same. And so now it's there the fans are still engaged. The one who is engaged I've never been one of them but they are engaged and they do watch and they do go to shows and they do paper reviews and all of that but it's not like it's not the overwhelming success seemed to be heading towards because it lost too many stars and strangely enough at the same time pro wrestling which sort of runs cycles all the time has is in another up cycle and it goes through periods of where it's really hot and then periods where it's not and the periods where it's really hot again and this is a period WWE each stock in the last six months has more than doubled. So we're all sorry we didn't buy it.


Saul Colt: [00:38:30] So NBA is just around the corner. I think this might be one of the most interesting years for the Raptors maybe since inception. Besides the fact that they've got you know quite Leonard and it's a bit of a question mark you know all those sort of things from a journalist's standpoint from your standpoint. You know as an outsider I look at the two stars of the team Lowry and Leonard. One doesn't like to talk to the media and one doesn't talk at all. So how does like and you know we think about the last few years forget forget Derozan as a player. But he was he was like the spokesperson the team and Lowry kept you know they'd come out together Larry and let him do the talking. You know granter you know sort of piping. Like who is even a spokesperson this year it sounds like you can let Fred Van Vleet be the face of this team.


Steve Simmons: [00:39:19] It's not so much being the face and being a spokesman is important for guys in my business. It's not really important for when you win and lose or how you win it or lose it and maybe put on a happy face to the public. But the actual meaning of it isn't very meaningful and so is it going to matter that Kwali speaks or doesn't speak so long as he plays to the lofty level. He can play. No it doesn't matter as long as it doesn't disrupt the balance of a team. Now what can happen is that you've got a guy like Demar when he was here. He liked being the go to media guy. He enjoyed being having that role. He enjoyed being the leader and the spokesperson but if he is there and other players resent what he's doing on a regular basis then that can have a negative impact as well. And so I think right now by proxy it's going to sort of have to be a combination of Fred Van Vleet and and you know what is Fallon shrewdness and what we don't know either is how his neck nurse going to be the new coach on a day to day basis. When we were truly spoiled by Dwayne Casey for so many years and so Dwayne Casey was the perfect media deal with interview guy on a day to day to day to day basis. You know one of the best I've ever been around for that. And so Dwayne Casey is gone and tomorrow is gone and that team is new. But I also think this is the first season that I believe I can see this team going to a final where I've never said that at the beginning of a season. Strangely enough it's the first time I've ever seen the Leafs in this position and it's the first time I've ever seen the raptors in this position and who knows it possibly is neither will it will happen. But there's also a possibility that either one will opt out or both them.


Saul Colt: [00:41:12] So I lived through the Jays World Series as you know of course you did too. So while you are in the building probably for the World Series I was outside selling t shirts and things. I was I was around it all and you really saw like how amazing of a of a sports town Toronto can be. Transactionally it like so this year the Leafs have all this optimism that wraps it all. But is Toronto really a sports town like do like you know there's been times where the 12000 people are Rogers centre.


Steve Simmons: [00:41:44] Toronto is a trendy town. If it becomes the place to be. Everyone wants to be there and I'll use 2015 16 as the best examples I can come up with. Halfway through the 2015 baseball season Alex Anthopoulos makes the trades for for Troy Tulowitzki and David Price Ben Revere and all of a sudden the 500 blue jays play 750 baseball or 800 baseball the rest of the way win their division. And what happened suddenly and you couldn't get a ticket. Suddenly for for from 1995 to 2014 you can get a ticket any single night other than opening day. You could sit wherever you wanted most times. There was not great demand. All of a sudden it became that place. This is our hot team. This is a winning team. When I noticed was and this was this something really changed to me was the demographic of the fans changed. Suddenly it wasn't a bunch of 40 plus old guys scoring the games on their score cards which is sort of the traditional older baseball fan. This was young people this was men and women. This was girls on a Friday night not going to a bar. But six of them going to a bluejay game and taking selfies of each other. It became the place to be. So it translated to leading attendance in 2015 and leading in 2016 as it carried over. And it actually carried over into last year because people were still expecting the team to be decent. And then as soon as you know it was apparent that they weren't. You know I think the Jays are down 10000 a game this year. They're down the largest amount of any team in the major league. So is this a great sports town. I don't think it's a great sports town but it's a town when you become a hot place to be. Everyone wants to be there. Same with TFC is a good example of that. They have they have developed a culture. People just want to go to those games they don't care if the team wins or loses for the most part. It's part of it it's just that's a place to be. So people want to do that. I think the Raptors games with that outside thing in the playoffs that they do a pile of people standing up


[00:44:02] Standing out in the rain you know watching a game on a screen. It's you know it's funny how that works in that way but I don't I agree with you. I don't think it's a tremendous sports town. I think we are like a hot movie or the hot TV show. You know people will other than the Leafs which are a whole other entity the Leafs are the own world. They are one of the unique if not the most unique franchise in professional sport.


Saul Colt: [00:44:38] So LeBron James he's he's already said that he'd like to try to stick around the league until the Suns playing me play one year with his son which is a cool story but when you look at athletes in general they make so much money now or at least you know a percentage of the players make so much money. It only seems like there's no reason to stick around and break records like you know their goals are no longer to be the leading scorer. It's to eventually on the team. Do you think records are going to become reasonably irrelevant because of these facts.


Steve Simmons: [00:45:11] No because every time I think that way or you think that way we're not thinking the way athletes think athletes want to play. And I think the minute they stop playing they rarely ever find anything in their lives after that that matches the joy and everything that playing with them. And so you get Patrick Marleau with the Leafs. He's 39 years old. He retires he wealthy enough. Absolutely. He's still playing. He's still trying. He's still training. He's still doing all the things that keep him going because he loves to do it. And most athletes that I know want to play as long as they possibly can. Some some some of them their bodies don't allow them to. So it depends on can you continue. Can you. Are you still a commodity that someone's going to want or are you willing to do that. Sure. You know in LeBron's case there's always a story around the story whether it's his son or whether it's Hollywood whether it's being in Los Angeles whether it's owning teams whether it's you know making movies or or whatever it's going to be he can afford to have as many interests as he wants because you know he has that kind of financial freedom but even those who don't lot most athletes I know want to play as long as they can and they want to walk out on their own terms and very rarely do athletes ever walk out on their own terms are almost always told to leaveChatted a while,


Saul Colt: [00:46:33]  Chatted a while covered a bunch of stuff. One thing I didn't ask you and I've always been curious about people in your position with no enormous followings lots of attention and no big spotlight. Do you ever second guess yourself or like you know before you press send on that article or anything like that. Do you think about what the reaction could be or if you're happy with that. You know that's all that matters.


Steve Simmons: [00:46:59] I don't think you think about what the reaction could be you think Have I told the story the way I want to tell it how I made the point I want to make. There are days that I've done things that I wish. Two days later I hadn't done that for the most part. You trust your instincts and not only your trust. See what people don't realize is you right. It goes through two rungs of editing before it hits a newspaper. So if there's a problem with the piece and this has happened at different times where I headed or will say you know I don't know about that and then they'll throw it back to you and then you look at it again and then you make a decision whether is that what you want to say or is that how you want to say it. And so that happens on occasion. But for the most part you have instincts you have professional instincts you know what works and what doesn't. You know every once in a while surely you'd like one back. But more than anything else I think I trust my instincts and I come to trust them over time because I think they've been pretty good to me.


Saul Colt: [00:48:03] How often to talk to a Cito and you know he made his displeasure public. How often you just get a back channel e-mail or phone calls saying like that was uncool.


Steve Simmons: [00:48:15] Less than you think you would. Often what happens is it comes from a PR person and it comes from PR person who has been yelled at by the person that you've written about. Who who will say something along those lines. But it doesn't happen very often. What you're also get I'll give you the story. I'm in Cleveland for the Raptors and the Cavaliers playoffs few years back and I'm an insomniac And so because I'm an insomniac I find things to do in the middle of the night and I wander over to the casino where it's right beside where our hotel was not very far from where the arena is. And I will sit down at a blackjack table. Turns out there's three or four other media guys already in there playing a little bit of blackjack and all of a sudden I look up and there's Demare Carole and Joseph the point guard. That's. And and and I and some other group of guys. And I thought to myself it's like 2:30 in the morning and they're playing tomorrow. What are those guys doing out in the casino. And I go to bed after thing in the morning like what do I do with this. Do I write it. Do I not write it. How do I write it. What's the approach. And I didn't want to go did the what they call the shoot around in the morning and ask about it because I think that would get to many people somehow tipped off what was going on or something along those lines. So I thought I'm going to wait until game time and I tried to get Dwayne Casey before the game and wasn't able to and I tried to get I guess Musai wasn't able to. And so the game happens and the Raptors absolutely get obliterated. And I thought to myself afterwards I have to write this. And I checked with all of the people who were at the table with me. Are you going to say anything or are you writing some were broadcasters somewhere right. Most of them are television people actually and none of them thought that. And then it hit me. It's this is the Super Bowl. This is the night before the Super Bowl. This is Tom Brady in the casino. Don't you think that's going to be reported. There's always been without question has disappeared. So sorts. Yeah. And so I said I have to right. So the game is played. I get Dwayne privately in his room after he's finished his interviews and he was a bit perturbed about what happened here buddy. For the record said you know what you think he would say and I waited for Demare Carol and Joseph to come out of the dressing room area back where they change where we can't go. And I'm right on deadline like it's as close as you can get. I'm giving my I'm pushing my time to the point where I've got like a minute to go. And I'm I think what happened is one of the PR people pulled them to stay in the in the room and not come out. Knowing that what I was going to ask and I think it would have been actually in their best interest to come out and explain what it is they were doing. And so I wrote a piece saying this Well the public was one of those pieces got huge attention and huge reaction. I would say 50 percent for 50 percent against maybe a little more against than for people in my industry is where the strongest reaction came from. And there was a huge debate as to whether it was the right thing to do or the wrong thing to do and people who have great regard for told me it was the right thing to do. People I have great regard for told me it was the wrong thing to do. And so you just have to go. And I went back to you know what if it was the Super Bowl was my sword in my head as to why I chose to write it. It wasn't to tear up anyone's life it was. It was like it's 2:00 in the morning what are these guys doing out.


Saul Colt: [00:52:23] It's just it's not like you're a singer with like you know a hooker without really.


Steve Simmons: [00:52:26] Just they were in a casino and they were they were there. And then of course you get how do you know who it is who's sitting in fair play blackjack while it up. Like sometimes things just happen in front of you. Not very often but this was one of those.


Saul Colt: [00:52:42] Two questions that I let you go OK can you even still be a sports fan. Can you watch sports and still enjoy it or are you watching the out trying to you know connect dots and find where the story is.


Steve Simmons: [00:52:58] Two things I've found have happened over time. One is if you were a fan a lot of that's gone. You're now a fan of the story. What is the story. How do I get it. How do I tell it. What's the best way to do it. But what I am a fan of I'm a fan of artists and by that I mean when you see the best I guess it's like if you get if you can hear Sinatra you know what's it like to hear the Beatles at their best. What's it like to be in the stadium when Usain Bolt runs the 100 like that. I'm still excited by the by greatness. So when I see you Connor McDavid doing what he does or LeBron doing what he does or bolt is the one that always comes to mind for me because I've I've covered nine gold medals that he ran. It seems like when you see that that still gets you you get your blood going so to speak and it gets you excited not as a sports fan per se. But as someone party to greatness. And here you are seeing you know Kobi shoe score 81 or more. I was lucky I did. I did. I was in Edmonton in the 80s when when the Edmonton Oilers were you know me the greatest offensive team in hockey history. And so when you can see that. It still takes my breath away.


Saul Colt: [00:54:21] Last  question you've been you know a dozen or more Olympics you've been to Super Bowls NBA Finals World Series as I so you know I've been to a couple really interesting sort of milestone sporting events for like what. What is the big game or the moment or something we're like you know exactly what you. You talked about where you are just like wow look at a sort of remember this one like whether you were there for you know Frank Wright. The big turnaround the bills or something like that.


Steve Simmons: [00:54:57] Sometimes the biggest story isn't the biggest story. Sometimes it's the moment and it has nothing to do with something you'd remember or anybody else would remember but as a storyteller it's something I remember for actual actual moments. Watching Donovan Bailey run the hundred and then when the Saturday night after the four by 100 are things that will be in my head forever. But the story from the 96 Atlanta Olympics that sticks with me forever was I got assigned to doing road cycling which is one of them most boring events of all time. They just they're on a bike and they're on a bike for hours and then in the boiling heat and you wait at the finish line for guys to come in several hours later. And I was assigned to write about a guy named Steve Bauer a Canadian who had won medals in the Los Angeles Olympics and this was his swan song this was his end. And Steve Bauer as I'm looking we have computer screens you can see where they are. It's thirty fifth and I'm thinking what. How am I going to write about a guy finishing 35th in his last olympic race like. What's the story. And I'm and I'm getting sort of paranoid as this is happening and wondering when am I going to write. And what happens as people cross the finish line they don't leave the area they stay in the area waiting for everybody else to finish. And so all of a sudden you see guys who are down in the end of the valley there waiting for the race to end. They're all making their way towards the finish line. And they all got on their bikes sitting on their bikes. And Steve Bowers about 100 yards to the finish line. And I'm going I'm going to get emotional here. And everybody gets on their bike and starts applauding. And it the whole scene was like like all of the sport was paying tribute to his career. And it was just remarkable watching and nobody knew really what was going on. He didn't know who he was or what was happening here. He had been a very good writer for years but he never won a big race or anything like that. And this the gold medal winner and the guys who are second third or fourth and fifth are all on their bikes applauding and he crosses tears running down his face. It's one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. And that stuck with me for I've been to 17 Olympics and that's the one that story that always stands out to me.


Saul Colt: [00:57:33] That's awesome. I tell people who you are.


Steve Simmons: [00:57:36] Steve Simmons a sports columnist for The Toronto Sun and post media doing this for the last thirty nine and a half years. That's awesome. Thank you so much for doing.


Steve Simmons: [00:57:45] Really enjoyed it.


Aspiring Voice Over Artist Jenny Gershon: [00:57:49] You've been listening to that we now join the program already in progress hosted by my best friend Saul Colt. A new episode drops every week. So if you like what you hear please subscribe to the podcast on iTunes or any of your favorite podcasts providers. Right now you really like what you heard. Please leave a review on iTunes or say hello to Saul on Twitter Instagram on Facebook. So easy to find just look up Saul Colt. Or you can email saul at Saul@saul.is I am Jenny Gershon, Saul's best friend and aspiring voice over actor reminding you to follow your dreams.


saul colt
Episode One - Andy Nulman (Just for Laughs, Play The Future)

The following is a transcript of “We Now Join The Program Already in Progress” Episode One with Andy Nulman.

Voice of God: [00:00:00] Due to the length of earlier programming on KOIN local 6 we now join the following program already in progress.


Saul Colt: [00:00:06] So what is through the out door.


Andy Nulman: [00:00:11] Oh it's in through the outdoor. Yeah. Yeah. It could be one of my greatest successes the greatest failure depending on how you look at it I see it as a success. But I guess if you if you question the public they may find a different answer but the other is this idea has way way way back when it's 20 or 20 years ago that the show aired it was the world's first all gay gay and lesbian sketch comedy shop. And I got the idea because I was running just relax time and I saw we had a show called queer comics which was a club show and most of the audience was game of not the gay and lesbian people. Thirty five percent were straight and I said you know what this shows is that it's not a ghettoized concept. This is something that could be accepted by the brand public. So that was the idea I pitched it to four years from initial pitch to actually being on the air was not easy but I had two sympathetic ears over the CBC in Canada and a Showtime in the United States. Those were the two co- producing companies for it. We did it put together amazing cast and crew and including Lia DeLaria who is probably best known that album ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK IT WAS AMAZING AMAZING grouping and amazing the show very ahead of its time and very daring. And so many that last sketch was partly the price is right. It was called Last Chance. It was a game show for AIDS patients. And basically what they were doing the bidding on medicine and because it was so expensive and it was really dark and all again the end game so they have blood and you bought a new car. Well we did something similar that we said we will get to around. Also you go in your own private ambulance, a new ambulance. We have an ambulance on set and it was really wild. So air and the response was unreal, unfathomable. Everybody hated it. Everybody hated it. You know the consumers were aghast liberals were aghast. The gay community was unhappy to be portrayed this way. I mean everybody was just up in arms over it. It really went to far for the time and still goes was the pilot and there's going to be a series of CBC and Showtime shows on as you know a window in areas which we have to say 16 times after the first airing on CBC I got calls from the head of both network saying look this is just too much and keep the money but we are never airing this again. So that was that because again the other.


Saul Colt: [00:03:04] Is a crazy time sort of changes everything so I watched it recently you posted it up on YouTube. It's brilliant. And but like I guess watching it with 2018 eyes or lenses I just thought it was a really well written you know sort of edgy you know show that that you know occasionally got dark I imagined 20 years ago very very different time place and sensibility but like now if you were to play this I'm not sure that there would be any reaction other than you know you probably win an award or two.


Andy Nulman: [00:03:39] Well see again there's a great expression expressionlessly cliche by now but timing is everything. What's the other one that comedy is just tragedy sped up or is a tragic comedy slow down.


Saul Colt: [00:03:52] It's one it's about that time plus something time plus tragedy equals comedy or something like that. There we go.


Andy Nulman: [00:04:01] So again maybe I'd rather be ahead of my time than behind what people are doing. And so again back to the original question is that a failure or a success. I don't know. I think it's the success. I'm incredibly proud of. But you know maybe I should have just waited a little bit but again if you wait some will come up with it before you and then suddenly you're a me to.


Saul Colt: [00:04:25] So they do. So yeah we've been chatting for a while. You've had such an interesting career. You know you started out at 16 and you know writing for a weekly newspaper. How did that kind of prepare you for everything you did after that.


Andy Nulman: [00:04:42] Well I was always with older people because of the fact that look I started at 16 and the entertainment editor newspaper at 17. This was before I could even get into the club bars where somebody is the show's level. This week I'll be writing about getting people to write but were happening. So all my peers were older. You know the kids have gone to school with you know necessarily understand you know what I was going through or what I was doing. So it just prepared me I guess for always to be the eternal outsider never really getting in anywhere and in some cases that could be traumatic and that could be problematic and that could result in a lot of years of therapy for me it just a great position in state because what I used I think to make for the rest of my life.


Saul Colt: [00:05:35] So yeah we've we've been friends for a long time and one of the things that you know that I've really enjoyed that I just enjoy every minute we spend together enjoy like you know the time you give me the conversations the advice things along the ways you know you wrote a book probably four or five years ago and really bad with timelines for the book was called Power right between the eyes and it really documented the importance of standing out. It's something that you know we've talked about a lot. We both kind of live to you live to varying degrees. You know reading the book and hearing your stories and I probably know too much about you is you know like you've really lived this your whole career and when you know you cofounded Just for Laughs festival used to do some crazy stunts to promote the festival in the early days. Can you tell a couple of those stories and then I want to know if that's sort of you know is that where the idea for the book came out from or have you been walking around this idea for a long time.


Andy Nulman: [00:06:37] The idea really is I guess it's the concretization of my DNA. I guess my DNA. What how I live my life both professionally and personally. But really I saw the result of this I guess by doctors Yes I thought people were going to jump aboard. So let's go. Let me go back to the question that will go into the more philosophical element the Just For Laughs That we did because I would always say just for laughs. That's so Neil James Bond 0 0 7 Michael to kill. We had license to do anything because at one point in time we could always fall back on the excuse. Just kidding. So I give this example if you're a banker. You see somebody slap in the face. What do you do with what we can replace him. We get say. Just for laughs in the suit because basically crazy has come out I'm just kidding. So have comedy and you get away with it. So it was that theory that we wanted to put into play all the time that we didn't really do anything and get away with it. So there are so many. I remember one time we did a show called the comedy of politics and to promote it what we did the Canada Day parade happening in Quebec. We didn't get saved on the verge of tears up at the parade and we did something somebody at the time there was no security place where we didn't. We got a car a convertible convertible. We had the comedy of politics on side. We had a actor dressed as Ronald Reagan one Robert Gerasimov for us with the premier back at the time. And basically we waited for the parade to pass the side and basically just pulled our car into a lot of traffic and suddenly we have a parade. So it is the official float convertible. This fall as sort of with two people one just as radiant as Robert Brass's striking each other in the back seat or sitting on the back of the truck and on the back of the convertible beer and strangling each other. And I know of course at the piles of papers with the newspapers that we read this book and we just play that because it will happen. So we're going to go ahead and take a little rest just because hey guys just last I'm just kidding. Totally we would get away with it. So that's the stuff we did.


Saul Colt: [00:09:16] I may have half the story remembered properly. Didn't you do a press conference once where you announced that it was in a ballroom and announced is in one location and then just kept scaling back and back and back.


Andy Nulman: [00:09:31] Oh well there were a couple times we play with the first time we did it we announced that we set the invitations that were gold engraved invitation to this amazing VIP dinner with champagne and everything at the Ritz. And then we sent out a second invitation to this and so we know the budget cuts we're having a good buffet at the holiday. It looks like an invitation that was a lot less lavish. It was this third before the printed on the back of the pizza box and we said that we're having a Domino's pizza at a frat house at McGill and that they will be scaled that down the whole thing. It will give have a lot of money but the indications were pretty cheap to produce and it didn't we and that people are so excited that they got the first invitation back in 1986. And you know at the time was just getting off the ground and the media was so excited that we're coming to the ritz for lobster champagne and froe grias.


[00:10:29] I was given the dance. They were pissed off. They got the joke at the end but it really set the pace of who we were. Another time another venue we did one at the lot of the convention center. We got the biggest movie possible, seats 10000 people I would put three chairs a folding table in front and a way way far backwards for the paper and donuts and just a massive room with empty people were walking the football field looking at the chairs and what when and how to go wrong puzzled and we had one planted journalist who was a fake journalist asking questions. You know it's just a way to start a comedy festival of course not and that's one of the doors open behind that we had a marching band circus animals. But that was amazing deal. The stuff that we played around with the guy we it because we could.


Saul Colt: [00:11:35] so I was talking with David Feldman the other day the great David Feldman who I met at Just for Laughs You know sort of him inadvertently through you. You had me down at the festival many years ago and he's going to be on the podcast and Dave and I become quite good friends I care for him deeply as a great person. We were talking about political correctness. And yeah and how you know sometimes you have to filter yourself or her hold back and sometimes you don't. Some people think about it some people don't think about it. Do you ever filter yourself or did you ever sort of bite your tongue and not say what you're really thinking or are you always sort of who you are. Take it or leave it.


Andy Nulman: [00:12:18] I think that these days you have to think a lot more what you say before you say yes I think a lot more of what you're going to do before you do it to say who can offend than why so be prepared for it and be blindsided by it. I want to be honest with you and saying you I'm a little less daring than I used to be because the consequences can be a lot worse. But then again I've been doing this for 42 years. So what's the worst thing that happened. You know I never work again. So what. OK I've done 42 years. When you to take away the rights to work. I would love to. But I also plan to go to prison for doing it but I want about that. So you said before this we can really I can relate to. We talked about the stunts just for laughs. Nothing surprising about that. What is. Well people talk a lot about change they want change that is something different this is something you need. And when you actually come to them with something unique and different and wild ranges and standing out they'll back they'll say you know I mean I usually get to this well once in a while. Crazy. OK. Wonderful. Yes. That's a little water. Wow. You need scale back a bit. All right. One of the press a little bit still too much good because that's just not free. OK. Yes perfect. Well you know what that's exactly what you do. You do we know you don't want to change. You saying Do what you don't buy. And then all you know is do you want to take somebody off change first won't do it after that. So in the end. So disinterested interesting bogosity so disillusioned by that because really what is that more often than not. I'm sure I love you but I'm betting there.


Saul Colt: [00:14:15] Hi I've had. I've worked for like a hundred brands over my career and I'd say probably two or three ever like only two or three really said like Go just don't get us in trouble. And everyone else was like You know I would say this is this is what you need to do to accomplish your goals. And they would ask for it. You know in their mind they'd be like oh that's an 11 out of 10. You know on the volume thing and I'm thinking really it's more like a six and they're like scale it back and scale it back and every time I scale it back I would explain to them this is what I think you can get at this level and this is the results thinking it at this level. And you know I got a pretty good knack for knowing what'll come from different things and I'm usually pretty right. And then you know and one position I absolutely hate being in you'd think I would love this from a gloating standpoint. I hate being in the I told you so stage because I get no glory from it. No joy from it I'd rather do the cool thing and show them that this is what's possible then say this is what we got. And we could have got way better. It's like hurts my heart.


Andy Nulman: [00:15:26] Sure. But I told you so means it was a failure.it means you didn't you didn't carry out the mission and that's what she said. There's no winning. I'm not even monetarily . I told you so. No win whatsoever in that.


Saul Colt: [00:15:47] Like how have you. Have you figured out think tricks to selling crazy ideas to conservative thinkers. Or is there is it. You know there is no trick to it. You either find the right person or you don't find the right person.


Andy Nulman: [00:16:00] You find the right person you don't find them and so many people are afraid of death. You know people have mortgages with kids in school and they have priorities. And I give a great example. They got the nimbleness that it had to do with a lottery corporation we were dealing with and we came up with all these really sexual ideas that they all love. So we're going to go ahead with that we're going to do it. And in the end they said no and that's why. Basically this is what it boils down to. But the logical person was somebody who you know works alongside them alongside us bring them to the table. This is why we corporations you know lives in this part of Canada, not remote but it isnt Toronto Montreal as arrogance as a salary of 40000 dollars house and the water and all that. If he does nothing and keeps his job for seven eight years and years maybe be able to retire with the life of a parachute. But if you go and take some risks and work submitted again. Fifty thousand dollars salary. Take the risk. Does He have fired and he's never going to find another job like this again. So why do it. Why take a risk and that's it. So he got in this this guy has a life and a career. Why not just my career and my kids and my and my life with my family for this grand idea my idea. So you then directed them.


Saul Colt: [00:17:31] You mentioned DNA in my brain it's like well like I always want to do the thing that could you know be amazing. How is one to take the risk. Like I said I'm the guy who bet it all and you know luckily 98 percent of the time I've been right so far because like I don't even think of these things as risk because they're calculated there's nothing actually like half half assed about them or are reckless it's like you know we come up with the idea we planned it from every direction. It may seem risky to the uninitiated but yeah I don't think anything you've done that and maybe I'm wrong you've really like haven't thought it through all the way in and really don't know what the most probable outcome is going to be it's just the you know the the the actual executions seem you know crazy to some people.


Andy Nulman: [00:18:20] It's many causes and what happens is you know you think everything out but what you don't figure out is people's reaction to public reaction. And sometimes the public respond so vocally and loudly that people go kind of deal as you say we shall lot down the deal. Let me go back to the outdoor example. You know there was a massive outcry but we know this going to that a massive. Are you willing to put on gay television show on the air in 1998 face. You know the set of problems but you would you have to do. And my take was OK you think that your interview likely that you are appalled that you are close minded don't watch. It's not you. You remember we got the company people said I will stop watching CBC if this is a national if this continues. What would you say you the national mission much the shock of national international laws. He wasn't the flamboyantly gay but that was a time you know a great person he watched the wife take up the issue on the national so I thought that. So you know people panic. What can you do. You're not going to change that. And you have to look for those who are willing to embark and take a risk with you. But the book doesn't work. One example recently. So it's for the world. SIMON I think it's one of the great retailers not just in Canada but in world out of Quebec City. And they just faced a huge controversy over a line of bras they named after Chief Justice. Yeah. Why are you ok. Where is the win there? Well you know yes you know you're going you get press but there's really these days with me too need you know how would you know that's not going to play well. So why do it.


Saul Colt: [00:20:31] So if they're silly. That one was a head scratcher. Like I mean I've done some pretty risky things and I looked at that and went well I wouldn't even touch that with a ten foot pole.


Andy Nulman: [00:20:42] Saul, You gave me I will still remember you talking about the book. I didn't get to go back to the book. I thought for sure I wrote that book I'm surprise. Oh my lord. This is going to be like read every marketing book in the world at that time. And I was so bored because they all said the same thing. They all said You'll exact same thing. I was just and exact but it was all repetitive. And this one really came out of left field of original art that there was all sorts of games and it didn't stop and it was a show that some books. This is really going to take you by storm but it did because the fact is people you can't teach people guts. you can't teach people to take risks. You can have anecdotes and you can't do that. People talk. The city they would love that they'll never be able to do it. So I realize how that were to actually think that by now people are going to change their ways because I'm reading the book but most of them go back. I wish I could get this with the Greatest Stunts of all kinds which I would love to get the money to do it. But you said that having a copy on his books and to get buy a copy right now and people are 2000 people. You get these people into Bluejays game and you buy seats that.


Saul Colt: [00:22:02] Sit in the field and read your book for nine innings from me.


Andy Nulman: [00:22:08] And you see of course someone's going to pick it up and they will look at this what are they doing Zoom in and that gets broadcast around the world. I just don't have the money to pay for 2000 tickets because of the book. Two thousand people but that was a brilliant idea you know right now. You know as a social media company company you will see over the course of 50 months because most of the time it's a brilliant idea. Never forget that.


Saul Colt: [00:22:34] Thank you. You know it's funny when you say about companies taking risks and being afraid to lose a good job or something. One of the best opportunities and the worst opportunities I ever had in my career. You know without naming any names I was hired by a company to basically you know give it some life and give it you know some personality. And things like that. And the CEO hired me. I didn't realize this one as being hired. That was his Hail Mary pass. He was like he had like 30 days to live or not literally but like you know corporately live and and he was looking for me to kind of save his job and he was actually thrown out eight days into me being hired and they saw me as his person and they were going to throw me out too. But they put me on a 30 day probation like thing. The logic behind all this and they gave me a budget and they said go do something crazy because they were hoping it would backfire and they could get out of my contract. And and I did it and it worked. And they gave me another 30 days and another 30 days so the first six months that I worked with this company I was going 30 days or 30 days doing you know the most freedom I've ever had anywhere because they were hoping they could fire me because of it and because you know I didn't have you know people saying water down or this or that things actually went ridiculously well. You know I sort of lived out my one year contract and decided I didn't like you know the whole gun to my head approach of everything. But it's always interesting to me why people you do stupid things are just the motivation behind stupid things because these guys actually wanted a disaster so they could get rid of me as opposed to nurturing something beautiful and you know building it out and blowing it up and actually following through on the goals of the hire and making the company something special. It's a good corporate people are always a mystery to me.


Andy Nulman: [00:24:36] Well then again look at what Nike did with Colin companies. And this is to me a great lesson because you know I remember when it when it first hit people said oh lord what were they done. This is going to blow up in their face. But this is too smart a company just to do something you know. So you like that the measure that they knew that it was going to be a backlash.


[00:25:03] But the thing is with the brilliance is the Frontlash was going to be a lot heavier much stronger than the backlash. And you know what. We know we're going to lose cost really doesn't get them to stop because hey you know I disagree we. So that's the backlash. Trump is going to go rail against. It was a free publicity frontlash. That's great. We get what's coming we're going to do that to our benefit but you people always reap a backlash backlash and you know I like the drive the business backlash the backlash to the stuff that people worry about and the things that they become so in my thought.


Saul Colt: [00:25:42] I saw it on Twitter but I don't know who said it so I can attribute at least be honest and sad and come up with and buy them. But I thought this was really relevant. Someone wrote Nike's no longer marketing to the people who've loved them for the last 30 years. They're marketing to the people who will love them in the next 30 years. And I thought that was really quite an astute observation because the Kaperenick thing was brilliant. And like there's no way that wasn't thought of in discussed from every angle and and it just worked like it. You know I've been reading about. Have you ever heard the term by BYcotts like instead of boycotts bycotts. Sure sure yeah like this is really like in some ways people have rallied to go support the company even more through you know the backlash exactly what you're saying. So it is brilliant but as brilliant as it is it's not that far out of the Nike personality. From day one like sort of the things I've always done just the timing of it was so perfect and the fact that they are the official sponsor of the NFL. That's something I've never seen a brand do. Almost you know play both sides of the fence at the same time was very interesting.


Andy Nulman: [00:26:56] But we are with you that big you can do it. And you know you never know. I'm sure they ran simulations they ran the numbers. They know what was up but still there are many companies that would have taken a shot like that and it was the turning point in their downfall. But you know I get kudos to them for having the guts to actually do it. Most people you know talk about it never have the guts to do anything just like it. But it's funny you talk about the next 30 years and in them. Believe it or not political commentary for the Quebec election coming up here in the CBC part of the the election night coverage and we've been doing weekly political commentary on what's going on with the election. And you realize I've read some pretty interesting books on politics to prep on this. They realize that most politicians today are talking about that are really yesterday's news. I hate to say this but you know talk about nafta and dairy farmers and jobs the auto sector which are things that are going to be very different in you know 20 to 30 years where we're till the data you know the rise of algorithms will actually be the game changer. And people are still talking about old school jobs. I mean remember you Yuval Harare well Harare and you look you know a Harare called bucardo has and homogeneous and sapiens and he has a new book over them lessons but really with books that would make you think of 30 years ahead. That really is as you said it's written here and that's the the that's the move here not necessarily calling Kaekernick the move of thinking 30 years ahead so that you know so many things have changed so rapidly. Most of the things we're talking about here are irrelevant fast.


Saul Colt: [00:28:58] So speaking of 30 years ahead we're going to talk of all you're doing now sort of and talking about the past but one little bridge before we get into what you're doing now with a play in the future your career has always been kind of you know show business and technology and you know various different times as a pioneer of you know sort of this space combining the two. Is it interesting to you and maybe have a completely different opinion but where we stand right now I don't think showbiz's technology can almost live without each other.


Andy Nulman: [00:29:31] True but I think in many cases a show business and technology are at odds with each other in many cases. Showbiz's almost primitive in some of the ways that things are hand organised. An example I think is it's not necessarily what you see on stage I just came back from seeing the Paul McCartney and I saw U2 earlier this year and some of the stuff that's going on there technologically is really impressive but I'll use the example of just getting into a venue getting into a venue these days with technology you're using airport technology which you know present technology although you have you have periods of extremes it's really a constant ebb and flow whereas we go concert there's one peak of it or a hockey game peak period and using the same technology used to run through an airport on a 24 hour basis whereas you get to hockey game or a concert on a one hour basis so you tell them being primitive technology that some push technology really to the forefront. Just getting people into a building without having to wait into line for 40 minutes which is the case if you go to a hockey game or concert at the Scotiabank arena Bell Centre in Montreal. So I really do think that that is the way to communicate as it's still you know primitive compared compared to what could have been based on what was going on in the world. And you know and I guess it will happen sooner or later we're a different breed. Takeover decision making process. So


Saul Colt: [00:31:16] What are you working on now and I sort of hinted at that called the future is what is the future.


Andy Nulman: [00:31:22] Well there's a couple of big projects play the Future is one of them and again it goes back to you know the DNA of being you know perhaps ahead of the game that we just will we would just give him just less off the ground. There's no such thing as a comedy festival yesterday. It didn't exist. We will go around talk about some what we're doing this comedy festival Montreal. The question would always be what's a comedy festival. And then we finally explain this why would you do that. Montreal people couldn't fathom it. So that was in the early mid 80s airborne was the mobile mobile entertainment. We started in 1999 when those screens were green with black dots. We told people that one day people got to watch television of these things and they thought we were mad. So we had we watch television. But you guys are crazy. My office so that was that. So you play in the outdoors. Very similar. Hey we're good solid good mothers and lesbians who cares about them. Why would anybody ever watch this. There we go. And now they features almost the same thing. It's a simple concept. It is you know fantasy sports is correct. Desperate making sense you like we see that why just make bets sporting event a data point and the data points the amount of Varvatos sweaters sold at Nordstrom is a data point equal to a score of the leafs Rangers game. If that number. So but the thing is you know. My wife  could care less about the score of Rangers game but she made the call to know how many sweaters were sold at Nordstrom. So why why not take every data point to make a play about this. You said you know it's a game if it can be measured it can be played and that's what it really is right now trying to push the concept of fantasy life of a play. Example there was a huge fundraising ball that was explain this concept to somebody said look this event itself can be played. How many bottles of wine will be served today. How many how many glasses will be broken. What will the silent auction of price be for the painting that they're auctioning off. These are all points at the end and that will give back the rental they have to say 12 glasses were broken so local glasses were broken. So do the count of bottles of wine so why not play. Go ahead make the event itself a game. And you know if people more involved when you look back in the history of the NFL what made the NFL more popular than baseball. Why. Because America's game was the violence could be but also the point spread people to the point that made the difference because it was a blowout. The point spreads kept interest in the game. So that is basically what to put the points for not life. And again it's one of those things like just falafels of airborne mode or into the author was you know ahead of its time and our goal is just to stay in the game and it has to be there when it hits.


Saul Colt: [00:34:42] So how's it going.


Andy Nulman: [00:34:47] You know some days are diamonds some days. So to quote Tom Petty right now we're we're we've had some great trials with Bell Media. So we've got to take this to the next level. Let's play the whole network or less develop a television show where rather than discuss what happened this week. John Oliver had once a show called Last Week Tonight you have a show come next week. Today we're going to go and say this is what's called prediction. You know you go ahead in the next week to come back and see who the best and the audience at home could play along. So of course the same way with elections or with sports. The more than the people you know on television conflict. So is what monologist wants with know media and projects we launched in October with Ladbrokes which the huge U.K. gaming firm to launch it to basically play the British news so that will test questions right now. One of the questions this week I love was Megan Markels releasing a cookbook. So we say OK the Dutch to put up this week. What will it Amazon ranking Be On. You know try that. So that's the type of questions we want to bring to the table people you know play along and enjoy the rest of us the way some people enjoy sports.


Saul Colt: [00:36:16] That's very cool so you've got an amazing art collection and I assume you've been collecting for a long time. Why is it important to you.


Andy Nulman: [00:36:26] Art is. We're talking about the things that we do. That is you know I could never put this on canvas or make a hobby out of porcelain or marble or wood. So the quote unquote art I can create these ideas. But these people can create these type of ideas that you would talk about but do it on a canvas. And you know all the other media I talked about last I support it really it's an encapsulation of creativity you have with you. Basically we'll capture that you capture the spirit of someone's idea and you're able to actually display and I think that's amazingly cool. To me the art is great but there's two things that come of that which which which I love. First of all it's the process I chose not to learn about the process what went into it. The bridal shop both painting my house to learn how the whole story about Chuck Close what he does and how he's done it why it's fascinating. So it gives a story to the piece was not a piece of the wall. You can talk to somebody and say this is this is the story. So it's not just you know something in a frame but there's a whole history behind me to mention the history by every piece. That's one thing that really art is impact because to me you know the art only becomes art when exposed to the audience. It's a relationship. So a painting or sculpture in someone's studio is is the relevance of Art Art Art. Some see it react to it but there's a relationship. So I love seeing the relationship where people come into my home and see what have. Some people want peace and other peace. The least there's a reaction versus you know neutrality neutrality our neutrality or whatever. You know art can be whatever the. Oh my god it's fantastic. That's for effect in here forever. However it is not art it is a relationship. That's why I like it so much.


Saul Colt: [00:38:47] A couple more questions than I give you your day back. Why do you keep working as hard as you do.


Andy Nulman: [00:38:57] Because it's always seen the play the future. You know we call it  tomorrow's trivia because it's a rally. I wonder what happened yesterday and I always look it up for trivia. So Boring now. if I want to know anything like a Alexa what's the tallest mountain in Ecuador that will set the tallest mountain in Ecuador is Mount whatever it is. So those feet above sea level. Thank you. Any answer I wonder of anything that happened can get within hours of Friday my electorate just started when I said that hilarious. But you want to know can be solved in the second just by speaking it and suddenly if they are trying to get more answers for you but no one knows what tomorrow brings. So That's the fascination with tomorrow that I keep working to create tomorrow to see what tomorrow will break. I always have this discussion with with my business partner the person Foster I like to write a phone call just don't or a unknown number I don't know the numbers. Wow where is this going to lead. The great mystery pass is going to be pointed towards me. You know She wont answer the phone she has known the person she knows that sort of needs. Wow it's like a Pandora's box of wildness about to happen. So that's why it's you know it's not for you know the money it's for me the experience for the what happens with them. And in some ways that's why you are driven at all by people thinking you can't do something you know in the end that's that's not the reason why but it's fueled basically everyone really basically everything I've done and it's not like again get back to the point you made before. Like I told you so moment because you never throw it in someone's face. I told you I could do this. You said no. I certainly showed you alibi. But in your mind what you're doing is when people say it can't be done to a location it can't be. Let me show you. And that really is the driving force but only the driving force let. Let me show you the there let me see if it can be done versus haha look what I've done in your face. Yeah I believe that everything like that. We go back to a 16 year old in a newspaper are you kidding it's ever going to happen. No comedy festival? You know entertainers cellphones watch TV are going nuts. So all those things take off back but never in a way that's the revenge for it because that will blow up your face. It's just the satisfaction of saying this is good because I'm good.


Saul Colt: [00:41:53] Now why last question why don't you think I have my own TV show.


Andy Nulman: [00:41:59] Yeah. Why. Because first of all if I ran the networks about you when we were together you would probably go too far and you probably have to get fired but that's great. At least you have a right to have a run. I find it amazing how much television is coming out and is made I find a lot of it isn't I very the very people Mike Darnell who used to be a star at Fox he did lots of wild reality shows Arthur Smith and we all are who has maybe the American Ninja series worked really well. There are quite a few funky in different but so much is is again a worry of change and because of the fact that there's committees and there's groups that focus groups and these are people who take no I'm saying it will take a fistful of razorblades razor blades to give you that. And that's the problem. It's so much that there's not one person or one Keen's vision it's OK what can be done by consensus and consensus by a large never really works. It works for that. That said there's so much TV coming up what you would need release somebody said hey you know it's good that we're ABC CBS get the shot to has to survive by languishing. Let's just try anything you need someone says let's just try anything because you know our next us Saul or oblivion. I think that would be a great name for sure. Saul or Oblivia.


Saul Colt: [00:43:40] It's Sol or nothing.


Andy Nulman: [00:43:43] Yeah well yeah we got a really good way to end this show. It's all or nothing. I think it's fantastic that the Goonies.


Saul Colt: [00:43:53] You want to hear my 30 second pitch. Sure it sounds like doorly whatever listen. Maybe someone is listening. It's a lawyer. It's a late night talk show where I get a list guests like George Clooney and people of the like and they interview me every week. And and so instead of me asking questions about what they've got going on they just ask me stories about my childhood. It's a guaranteed Emmy Award winner right there.


Andy Nulman: [00:44:24] Well it depends what what the what the category of emmy but you know just bring up saw years ago I pitched to two shows they say Let's reinvent the talk show. It was really just pitched to HBO. It was it was called Ultra comfort zone. What it was it was the appearances of Let's break some of the comfort zone. But let's take somebody into their extreme comfort zone meaning we could take Hulk Hogan and Hulk Hogan because he was a wrestler. Wow. Yelling screaming but he's ugly. All right. This is cool. Do you in your state believe in the this could ultra comfits when you're not in love. Do you know. Oh I should build a ship. And it takes you take this guy to his extreme comfort zone. OK so let's take you there. I pitched a similar idea to the CBC as a pre show to hockey in Canada to see let's show other parts of hockey pairs all about let's show their love there and it's a talk show with hockey player you the half hour each with a couple of guys the sort of things they do with the ideas hangeul people come here just for laughs with Bradley came to our show and he just said that because he thought he was a cabinet maker with the built Cabot's was a woodworker and he loved it so that I never knew nothing about how the soil could be showing the stuff. There was Jose Theodore guitar player and to a rock band so that was so cool. Joseph had a particular band on the show. So again it never worked. They needed to sing that right now. They pick us up and still give us the credit. Yes.


Saul Colt: [00:46:24] And we end every show with introductions so tell people who they are and where they can follow up and find more about you.


Andy Nulman: [00:46:34] You know the best way to find out about me and the Andy Nulman is to just Google me because I'm almost at the anti social media I'm on Facebook I'm on Twitter and read on them you know. But I'm not like a guy who I'm on Instagram but I'm not someone who really uses it daily to push it any I've nothing to push. I have my stuff. You find it you like it cool. Not body really. It's it's not. There's nothing to push it. It's all pool just type entitlement. I'd rather be pulled and have to continue to push a little bit more Pull in my life. It would be very very beneficial.


Saul Colt: [00:47:15] OK Andy I'm grateful to have you in my life. Thank you very much for doing this and I appreciate it. A whole lot.


Andy Nulman: [00:47:23] It's Saul or nothing my friend.


Jenny Gershon, aspiring VO actor: [00:47:29] You've been listening to the we now join the program already in progress show hosted by my best friend. A new episode drops every week. So if you like what you've heard at least so far to the podcast on iTunes or any of your favorite podcasts right now. If you really like what you heard please leave a review on iTunes or sale of assault on Twitter Instagram or Facebook. So easy to just look up Saltcoats as well. See LTE or you salt salt salt. Hi. Hi Jennifer. Shawn saw his best friend and aspiring voiceover actor reminding you to follow your dreams.


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