Dispatches from the Head

WTF - Sebastian Maniscalco is clean.

Full episode out 8/13

WTF - Brett Gelman is a Marx-ist.

Full Episode out 8/9

Are you Satan?

Okay, people-

Only a few more gigs away before I have to lock down and only focus on the production of the TV show. I will be in San Francisco for one night at Cobb's Comedy Club with Arj Barker this Wednesday, August 8. It’s a benefit for the SF ACC animal shelter. Do it for the kitties. I will be at Wiseguys in Salt Lake City on Sat. August 11th for two shows. Come out Mormons and non-Mormons. It will be good. I like SLC. It’s weird there. On the 17th and 18th of August I will be at The Blue Ridge Comedy Festival in Victoria, BC if you are up that way.

Getting ready to do my last show in Chicago as I write this. I have to say that the Mayne Stage Theater is probably one of the best venues in the country for comedy. Either that or I am just doing very good comedy right now. I am wary to give myself all the credit but I have been having the best shows of my life here. I am really loving this city as well.

I had a weird experience here that was a bit jarring. I did the Paper Machete show at the Green Mill Cocktail Lounge. The venue has a bad history with comics. Al Capone invested in the club through one of his henchman specifically to get the comic singer Joe E. Lewis to perform there exclusively. When Lewis balked they slit his throat. He recovered and performed at the venue but his voice was a bit rough after the “incident.” The ghosts of that era and that action pervade the place and no number of precious nerds gathered for a variety show is going to diminish that energy. It enters people.

I sat at a table next to some comics I was talking to. A very intense, gaunt, frightening woman with glasses and stringy, oily hair, wearing a sun dress that hung off her like it would a hanger, rushed up to the table and said, “This is my table. I reserved this table.”

“Okay, when you are ready to sit down I’ll move.” I said.

“I may not sit here but I have people sitting here.” She said.

“Fine. When they come, I will move.” She stormed off.

I knew right away the kind of person she was. A regular at the show who somehow thinks she is running the room. A control freak hanger-on who is tolerated. That was my take. I don’t know for sure. She had no idea who I was and that I was on the show but even when she found out I could tell she was hung up on what she perceived as my defiance of her system, her being. She exuded the horrible, angry lack of boundaries of a petulant child who didn’t get her way. Only she was a middle-aged woman. Not attractive.

Katie Rich went on before me and she was hilarious. Moments before I was to go on the freak lady came up to me and literally put her face right up to mine and said, “You think you can follow that?” She ripped a breaking angry smile.

“Are you fucking Satan?” I asked like a punch.

“Yes, I am,” she said and stormed off in a huff of self-importance.

Then, as they were introducing me, she came bounding back and stood right beside me and started saying something and I turned and said, “Get the fuck away from me.”

I have not felt so psychically violated in a long time, especially by a stranger. I was surprised at how angry and defensive I got in that moment. I have been very open lately and very available as a person and performer. Because of that I became a payback portal for whatever broke that woman.

I went up and had a great set. I did it for Joe E. Lewis.

On the show this week we have the sardonic and charming Ryan Stout on Monday and the odd and sweet Brett Gelman on Thursday. Enjoy.


WTF - Ryan Stout and the peanut butter cup ice cream.

Full episode out 8/6

WTF - Bob Golub is from a huge family.

Full episode out 8/2

Thanks for listening.

Happy 300th What the Fuckers!

I want to thank you all personally for hanging out. I can’t believe we have all been together for 300 episodes. I had no idea this relationship would last this long. I wasn’t expecting anything, but this is far beyond anything I could have imagined. I was never going to be the one that would break things off but I am amazed sometimes that you hung out. I mean I know I can be difficult and annoying. You must really like me or at the very least like my friends.

It’s astounding to me what has happened over the last few years since I started the show. I don’t want toot my own horn but I am in a very different place than when I started. Don’t get nervous, I am still in a garage and I still foresee problems of self, but I am okay, for now. We are okay. I think we’ve all been through a lot over the last few years and I think we’ve all grown because of it.

I have talked to hundreds of people on WTF. Each one of them brought something different to the mics. Each one of them had a different story to tell and each story taught me how to look at the world a little differently and understand myself a little more. The effect the WTF conversations have had on my life and work is beyond profound. I have learned how to be a person who functions in the world as opposed to an angry, alienating, uncomfortable, panic-ridden drain on it and its inhabitants. It has taught me how to listen and be there for other people. It has taught me that empathy and humility are two of the most important human qualities. It has made me more comfortable with who I am which is really all I ever wanted out of life. I’m glad you were there for me.

We are going to keep going. The 300th episode features four guests for four reasons. I talked to Nathan Rabin from The Onion AV Club about the medium of podcasting and its place in culture. It was good talk. I also pay respect to and talk with podcast impresario Jesse Thorn who got me started in the garage. We talk about the effect podcasting has had on us as artists and how it has changed the trajectory of our lives and our goals. Then I talk to Pete Holmes who’s podcast, You Made It Weird, was directly influenced by WTF. So much so that Pete unashamedly admits to stealing it. Finally I talk to Andy Kindler. I know the show has a lot of comic fans but no one I know has the relationship with the show that Andy does. He loves it and I respect him and his opinion a great deal. Enjoy the 300th episode and thanks for listening.

On Thursday Bob Golub tells one of the greatest show business stories I have ever heard. Ever. Look forward to that.

Thanks for everything.


P.S. I will be in Chicago at The Maynestage Theater Aug. 2-5. It's a great venue. You should come if you live around there. I will be in San Francisco on Aug. 8th for one big show with Arj Barker. It's a benefit for Animal Control and Care. Good cause. Great show. I will be in Utah at Wiseguys on Aug. 11th for one night only. Get tickets while they last!

July 30th we will be airing the 300th episode.

Hey, People-

On July 30th we will be airing the 300th episode of the show. So this week we are ramping up to it. On Monday we will air Episode 299, a live show taped at The Trepany House featuring Rory Scovel, Ron Funches, Brent Weinbach, Retta and of course Eddie Pepitone and Jim Earl. This was a great show. I hope you dig it.

Here’s where it gets interesting. Starting on Wednesday we will air some milestone episodes of the show leading up to the 300th episode next Monday.

Wednesday we will re-air the very first episode of WTF. Those of you who have been with us since the beginning may have heard it but it will be new to a lot of people. It was a different show then. My producer and I had just been fired by Air America. They let us stay in our offices through the end of our contract and didn’t take away our security cards. Which was stupid on their part but life-changing for us. We decided to do a podcast. We would basically break into the studios and bring guests up the freight elevator. The night tech was a friend and he watched our backs. We had no idea what the show would be or how to actually even post it but we knew one thing. We would do one every Monday and Thursday come hell or high water. We have honored that. It was not the show you hear now. I was a different person in many ways. I was desperate, broke-ish and without work. We had no idea what the structure of the show would be. We were feeling it out.

On Thursday we will re-air the 100th episode. This was a show that we did with you and for you, the fans. It was a major milestone and we were celebrating.

On Friday we will re-air the 200th episode. To somehow honor the many requests I got from listeners to interview myself, which I thought would be odd, I asked Mike Birbiglia to guest host and interview me. Mike and I had a tense relationship for years, mostly on my end. We became closer when he was a guest on WTF back in the first year. We were on good terms by the time the 200th rolled around but he didn’t go easy on me in the interview. He was thorough and I was not sure where he would take it. There were some uncomfortable moments for me. He did a great job.

So, enjoy the live one and the lead up to 300.


WTF - 7:30am with John Oliver

Full episode out 7/19

One ended with puke and transcendence.

Okay, People-

I’ve got an amazing week of shows for you but first a couple of reminders. I will be doing a workshop show at The Trepany House at The Steve Allen Theater tomorrow night, Tuesday, July 17th at 8pm. Come if you can. Be part of the struggle. Also, this Friday and Saturday I will be at Zanies in Nashville, July 20th and 21st. Come if you are in the area. I’m looking forward to going back to Nashville!

So, I just watched the season premiere of Breaking Bad and I am in full speculation mode. I’m working the angles and crunching the numbers trying to figure out where it's heading. I am fucking thrilled it is back. In the middle of the episode my lovely little cat LaFonda came into the middle of the room a puked. It seemed to surprise her more than it surprised me. She actually tried to run away from her own vomiting. As sad as the moment was it was a bit hilarious that my cat experienced some feline version of embarrassment. I had to pause the show and follow her into the bedroom where I am sure she was crouching and ashamed. It was so sweet. I hung out with her until she felt that I understood and wasn’t judging her and she seemed fine. There was closure. I went back to the show and watched it until the end. There was no closure. I just wanted to share the divergent narratives of my evening with you. One ended with puke and transcendence the other... I’m no spoiler.

The shows this week happened very spontaneously. I knew Fiona Apple was a fan of my show. She emailed about a year ago and told me so. We went back and forth a bit and occasionally corresponded. A while back, I had recommended that she do a Paul McCartney song called ‘Let Me Roll It.' As it turns out she played it the last time she was on Jimmy Fallon for Sir Paul’s birthday. She texted me to tell me that she was doing it. I felt like I was secretly part of something amazing. I also jumped on the moment to ask her to do the show. For some reason I knew it would only happen if it was impulsive and she was over here the next day. It was the first time we met and talked in person. It’s really a great talk and it was an honor to talk to her. The other spontaneous interview, which is Thursday’s show, was with John Oliver. I love John. He is a decent dude and fucking hilarious. I have a lot of respect for him. The few times we have talked it’s always been a blast. He was in town for like three days and the only time we could pull it together was at 7:30 am. It was definitely my earliest interview but I think neither of us had put on our full armor for the day and we had an awesome chat. I’m only saying chat because he’s British.

Enjoy the week.


WTF - Fiona Apple is a creature.

Full episode out 7/16

WTF - Sara Benincasa is a “sex show person.”

Full episode out 7/12

I have Post Vacation Stress Disorder.

Yo, Folks-

So, I’m heading back to Nashville to Zanies on July 20th and 21st. And, yes, I will eat more hot chicken now that I have a system.

It’s been a rough week. I think I have something called Post Vacation Stress Disorder. I definitely had enough of Hawaii. There’s really only so many sunsets I can gawk at and so many days I can spend on a beach. After a point you’re either in or out. Either you throw the life you know away and live off the land or come home. That’s the way I think. I could see myself growing pineapples or passion fruit, just laying back and selling them in my front yard. I would have to learn how to farm and buy land, but I can see myself in that groove… for a week or two, then I get anxious thinking about how anxious I would be and have to leave. I would have a new skill set but it's not practical.

So, being home has been an adjustment. The cats were welcoming for most part. In a completely odd turn when I opened my bag to unpack I went into the kitchen to get a soda and came back to find Monkey perched inside the duffle bag peeing on my clothes. I guess he did miss me. Payback’s a bitch.

I had a strange, cathartic moment watching HBO the other day. I turned on the TV midway into a documentary about performance artist Marina Abramovic. I had absolutely no idea who the fuck she was and I pride myself on at least pretending to have a sense of important artists. I had no clue. She’s been around for years and has done some very provocative pieces. Watching the doc, I realized how easy it is to mock performance art and condescend the ridiculous nature of some of it. Some of Marina’s pieces were nude, some with a dude she worked with for years who she had a relationship with. They did a piece to signify their breaking up by walking towards each other from opposite ends of the Great Wall of China to meet in the middle and part ways. Simple pitch. One line description, but they did it. That kind of commitment to an amazing poetic idea just blew me away for some reason. The act of doing it is what is significant. The intent is almost negating but the power of the intent and following through is ridiculous, beautiful and touching. It is important work to those who allow it in. Which I don't always do. It’s all in the context. Comedy is insulated but has mainstream appeal. Performance art is so specific and esoteric but can run deep if you let it in. I just wonder if they talk about their pieces like we talk about jokes. “I love that bit you did when you sat not speaking at a table for three months in the middle of the MOMA and let random people sit across from you for a few minutes each. Great bit. Killed.”

I’m not sure what I am getting but I am starting a long, open ended performance piece that I will talk about on the show. I’ve already started it actually.

This week, the hilarious and kind JB Smoove blesses the garage with his presence and on Thursday the author and comic Sara Benincasa talks agoraphobia and sex. Good week.

Talk soon.


WTF - JB Smoove on fiddling with things.

Full episode out 7/9

WTF - Tony Millionaire talks about the name Maakies.

Full episode out 7/5

Aloha.. still… help…

Aloha… still… help, people, wait…

I think I am having a great vacation but I think I need to get home. I was anxious at first then after a few days my brain disconnected from social media, phone, email, people other than Jessica, and I was left with the undistracted me. I haven’t seen that guy in a while. He’s a little nuts and he was withdrawing from at least 3 hardcore distractions which are tough monkeys to shake. I mean, fuck, I only tweeted 10 times in 10 days and 6 of those were promotional and one of the promotional tweets had a typo and had to be tweeted again. I impressed even myself with those numbers considering the depth of my problem. Also, Jess and I have never spent this much one-on-one time together, ever, so there was that. I’m not great at holding my anxiety at bay without distractions. So, there were occasional bouts between me and my fear that were fun. All in all, it took about a week for it all to fall away and for me to just really let go and relax.

That happened yesterday.

So, maybe I don’t need to come home. Maybe what I am saying is I need another week or the rest of my life to just to do nothing but eat, hike, sit on beaches and jump in the ocean every few hours.

I’ll tell you about it when I get home, if I come home.

Here are a couple of things for you to know. I will be at The Ice House in Pasadena on Sunday, July 8th for a 7pm show. I will be headlining and Pete Holmes, Chelsea Peretti and Joe Mande will be doing short sets. Should be an amazing show. Really looking forward to watching and working with them. On the show this week, a pre-Dan-Harmon-being-turfed Joel McHale, so don’t expect that talk but do expect to get to know Joel pretty damn well. On Thursday, the long journey of the artist Tony Millionaire from humble, weird beginnings into a humble, weird life.

I’m supposed to be home tomorrow.