On today’s show we start off with a call from Canadian comedian Matt Falk:
Daren Streblow: So, what’s on your mind?
Matt Falk: Here’s the thing Daren, I need to commend you for having this resource for comedians to call in. There’s nothing better to be able to call you on the punchline and just get something off my chest. Being a comic is just an inherently stressful job. I’m traveling like crazy now. I got my visa, so I’m coming down to the U.S. and working in the states.
Whenever I visit a new city the first thing I is check out its zoo. But here’s thing: whenever I go to the zoo in your country, there’s always one giant exhibit for all American animals, and it’s starting to tick me off. I mean, really? Pay $25 to come and see an animal that I just hit with my car? I don’t think so.
Daren: We just scrape them off the pavement and throw them behind the cage. We save them a lot of money that way.
Matt: Oh, that’s why they weren’t moving. I thought it was just hot outside or something.
I was in Houston, and it was my first time in Texas. You know what my favorite part about Texas is? Just how kind and courteous the drivers are. What is wrong with those people?! They’re just maniacs. What are they so angry about? I, just a poor Canadian boy, got these giant trucks surrounding me on all sides. I didn’t know they made a Ford F-950. I mean, these are insane.
I think I’ve figured it out. I know what they’re upset about; they’re only cowboys in their imagination.
Daren: I think they’re upset because the state is huge, and if they want to drive to the grocery store, it takes them 2 ½ hours.
Matt: That might be it.
Daren: They are pretend cowboys. We have them everywhere. You see them in every city. I think that theory is right on.
Matt: It’s kind of annoying, too. You see a lot of these guys wearing cowboy hats and boots, and they’re driving into office buildings. Give me a break! Do they kick in the boardroom door and say, “This cubicle ain’t big enough for the two of us.”
C’mon! Get a fedora like a normal person!
Here’s the other thing: whenever I’m in another country, in Houston specifically, I keep hearing these idioms that tick me off. I don’t like idioms. They’re annoying. They have this one that I keep hearing: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” That should be updated for the 21st century. It should be something like, “You can lead a Baby Boomer to an Apple store, but he’ll still probably by a BlackBerry.”
Then, when you go to the north-eastern states with all the trendy places like New York, you see all these Millennials with big tattoos all over their arms and their face. Here’s the thing: at least Baby Boomers got tattoos that they believed in, like their son’s name. But my generation gets a tattoo of a panther because they really like panthers right now. What? We’re treating our bodies like we treat our binder in Grade 7.
Do you get respect for being a comic?
Daren: Not from my children, family, or any of the people I’m looking for respect from. How about you?
Matt: I don’t even get it from strangers. I was in Las Vegas for the World Series of Comedy and went out shopping at a shoe store. While I was looking for shoes, the employee helping me asked me what I do for a living. I told him I was a comedian, and he told me,
“Weird. You don’t look funny.”
I’M BUYING SHOES AT A SHOE STORE! Did he expect me to hold a rubber chicken and wear rainbow suspenders like More from Mork & Mindy!? I bet he when he tells people he works at a shoe store they don’t respond with, “Weird. You don’t look shoe-ish.”
Then, he keeps prodding me.
“So are you actually funny? Because I see a lot of comedians who aren’t actually funny.”
“Really!? You seem like a guy who laughs a lot. That’s so bizarre that you’re so picky about my profession.”
“How do you write material? Do you pull it from real life?”
“Come to my show in a month and find out.”
Check out Matt Falk. He’s got a great website and a great career. Make sure that you’re updated with his work at mattfalkcomedy.com.
Next up, I have a chat with stand-up comedian and author of a crazy funny children’s book, The Retelling of the Three Little Pigs, John Branyan.
Daren Streblow: So, I hear you have a new game show. Tell us about that.
John Branyan: Well, it’s a brand new game show that’s being shopped around to whomever would like to buy and produce a game show.
Daren: I’ve seen the pilot, and it’s very entertaining. So, how did this get started?John: I didn’t do anything. This guy named Tracy had seen my show, Crazy Love, in Tulsa 15 years ago and remembered me from that. It just goes to show that you never know when your efforts are going to be rewarded. You never know who’s paying attention.
Daren Streblow: In life, as well. You can have those moments, like when you’re standing at the DMV or grocery store and feel like making a scene, but you never know who’s watching. You always have to behave yourself.
So they saw your show and approached you, what was that like?
John: Well, he called a few months ago and talked to my booking girl. Then she called me up.
“Dad, [she’s my daughter] would you be interested in doing a game show?”
“What are you talking about?”
Then, she ran through the conversation she had with Tracy.
“I don’t know; does the dude sound crazy?”
Daren: I’m surprised you hesitated at all. You love games of all kinds. Have game shows always been an interest for you?
John: I have always watched game shows and thought, ‘Man, it would be fun to be a game show host.’ But then I grew out of that and realized that it’d be irresponsible. So, I decided to become a stand-up comedian, a much more stable career.
Daren: So it must have looked legit, since you went for it.
John: Well, I went for it because he was pretty realistic with me. I’m always skeptical of people who tell me that their idea is the best idea of all time, and I’d be a fool not to jump on it. He told me upfront that it probably wasn’t going to work. He was unsure if we could sell it, if any would be interested, and, if anyone was interested, that they’d want me as the host. I appreciated that, because I already knew that. I know how much of a longshot these things are. Since he was honest and told me that there were no guarantees, I said, “Sure, let’s do this.” So, now we’ve shot three pilots.
Daren: The show’s called Person, Place, or Thing. Now, can you describe it without giving it away, since you’re still in the shopping stage?
John: Well, how would you describe it?
Daren: Well, it reminds me of a hybrid of charades, passwords, and Laff-A-Lympics. It’s a very interactive word game that gets faster and more frenzied as it goes along. The most interesting part about it is that the winners give their money to a favorite charity. These charities are really helping people in need, so everybody wins. It’s a beautiful concept.
John: That aspect of it makes it really fun, because even if your team loses, you’re winning some money for a worthy cause and you’re losing to another team that’s playing for a worthy cause. It’s still competitive, but you don’t feel like you’ve lost millions of dollars or wasted an opportunity. Everybody wins, even the losers.
Now, my job is basically just to make fun of the contestants.
Daren: And you do so in a delightful way. Are you shopping this out to networks now?
John: Yup. Network affiliates, Game Show Network, regular television networks. We’re just showing it to everybody that’ll look at it, and we’ll see what happens. If it gets picked and goes somewhere, it means that I’ll be shooting those alongside my stand-up. I’ve never done anything like this before, but I assume we’re going to be shooting a lot within a small period of time.
Daren: Why do you think game shows are so compelling?
John: Well, it depends on the game show. Different games are possible for different reasons. You’ve got games that people at home like to participate in, like Wheel of Fortune. Then there’s game shows that people watch just because it’s entertaining to see what people do. Then, you got other game shows that are demonstrative of people’s skill sets, like Jeopardy! Person, Place, or Thing is a little less highbrow than Jeopardy! It’s kind of a party game, really.
Daren: Before I let you go, what else are you doing?
John: I’m working on comedy writing system that I’m going to make available. I’m trying to develop a system that won’t be necessarily used by comedians. Instead, this is targeted at everybody, whether you’re a teacher, preacher, or somebody who often makes business presentations. Anybody who speaks at some level and would like to be better at incorporating humor into what they present can use this.
Daren: Where can people find out more about this developing project?
John: It’ll be on the website, jbcomedy.webflow.io, as soon as it’s ready, but right now I’m still getting feedback from different groups of people. I’ve gotten positive feedback so far, but I’m going to try showing it to more and more groups of people, especially those who aren’t that talented at humor.