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.