An Ode to Ari Shaffir

      We’re in the middle of a standup comedy boom. It’s never been bigger. There’s no one reason, as the soar in popularity of podcasts, roast battles and big budget Netflix specials have all contributed to this glut of laughs and comedic perspectives. However, there is one unsung hero who’s played a pivotal role in the mainstream success of comedy by bricklaying the foundation of the underground. That man’s name is, Ari Shaffir.

*I’m not an expert nor a historian but I am a comedy nerd so some of the names and references I’m about to drop may be a little obscure.*

For decades, there was a palpable beef between West Coast (mostly Los Angeles) and East Coast (mostly New York and Boston) comedians. New York and Boston comedians thought L.A. comics were vapid, shallow and showboaty while it seemed as if L.A. comics perceived their coastal counterparts to be unnecessarily gritty, brash and everything blue collar that they were trying to get away from. Ari Shaffir played and is still playing a major role in squashing this beef by bridging the two comedy meccas together via podcasts, a collaborative storytelling tv show and most importantly, live comedy shows.

Ari Shaffir, a.k.a. “The Amazing Racist”,  developed his chops at the world famous Comedy Store in Los Angeles in the early 2000’s. He had some moderate success around town, featuring for big comics like Carlos Mencia (big comic at the time), Tom Segura and Joe Rogan. In 2013, Ari started to gain real mainstream traction with the success of his storytelling web-series, “This Is Not Happening” presented by Comedy Central on Youtube which was later picked up by the network as a full fledged tv show in 2015. He also dropped his second special, “Paid Regular“, the same year and week on the network. Around that time, Ari started traveling back and forth between the two coasts before officially becoming a New York City resident in 2015. This catalyzed a new relationship between New York and L.A. comedians that has proved to be fruitful for both sides.

Most of you know who Joe Rogan is. He’s essentially an L.A. comedian who first gained mainstream fame for hosting “Fear Factor”, then as a headlining comedian but most of you know him now as one of the biggest podcasters hosting one of the biggest podcasts out there, “The Joe Rogan Experience”. Well, Ari and Joe are best friends. When Ari moved to New York, he made more friends..very funny comedian friends. With Ari’s endorsement he got Joe to put those friend’s on Joe’s podcast and boom, careers were made, saved and resurrected. People like Mark Normand, Joe List, Dan Soder, Big Jay Oakerson, Luis J Gomez, and Dave Smith were all introduced to Joe through Ari. These comics are all killing the underground scene, poised to be household names when comedy inevitably shifts back to the dark ages.

Ari didn’t forget about his L.A. comedian friends. He made sure they got in with his new community in New York as well. Old friends like Tony Hinchcliffe, Jayson Thibault, Sam Tripoli, and Bert Kreischer are almost all now touring the country (and some the world) as a result of their success on New York City podcasts and shows. This would have never happened without Ari’s backing. These comedians gained an entire new fanbase and opened up an entirely new market (the east coast) just by being associated with Ari. I’m simplifying their success way too much but even they would agree that Ari had a lot to do with bringing the two comedy communities together for the betterment of everyone.

I could go on and on about Ari but I feel like I’ve given you all enough of a reason to at least check out a few of his projects to get to know a little bit about why he’s such an important person in comedy. He’s not a household name because he doesn’t want to be but he’s a big reason why comedy is so good today. He’s free, principled and willing to do whatever it takes t get a laugh in the moment. Check out his podcast, Skeptic Tank and go see him live any chance you get.

How Black Are You?

“Like what percentage, isn’t it like half?” – I’ve heard some variation of this question countless times throughout my life.  It’s not that I mind people’s curiosity about my background, it’s that I mind the pervasiveness of misinformation when it comes to race vs ethnicity vs nationality…I have also noticed how many times I’ve had to hear someone else answering the background question with the coveted, “I’m 1/4 Egyptian, 1/4 Italian, 1/12 Jewish, 1/19 Irish, 1/256 Greek”…One, no one cares that freaking much when they ask…and two…okay maybe it’s just me that doesn’t care that much? Just say you’re white and/or black etc and call it a day?
Alright, there’s actually a number of things that bug me about this topic actually, so here’s just a short list to correct some potential myths. They’re not even opinion based so hear me out! 
1. You can’t know “what percentage” of any race you are based on what your parents are. Say your dad is black and white because he has a white mother and a black father.  That does not automatically mean he is half and half, or that you’re a quarter of each.  Genetics don’t work like that.  You can absorb more or less of either side (i.e. 30% black, 60% white or vice versa).  Same with your siblings.  Your full-sister can be genetically “blacker” or “whiter” than you.  
2. Your nationality/ethnicity is NOT your race.  If I say I’m Puerto Rican, or American for that instance, that’s not telling you my race.  If someone says they’re German, you probably automatically picture a white person – however, there are black Germans.  There are black Puerto Ricans, white ones, and generally hella mixed ones. There are black Spaniards, there are white Africans…You get it.
3. Companies like 23andMe, Ancestry, MyHeritage have a ways to go regarding accuracy of genealogy reporting. These companies simply compare your DNA to the DNA of other people with known ancestries.  In doing so, they look for evidence that you have common ancestors with people in the specified reference group (Spanish people for example).  The problem arises though, when we consider that every company uses a different reference group, and these reference groups are changing all the time.  This means you could easily get a result from one company that says you’re 3x more Polish than the other company reports.  What’s more is that the reference group information available for certain ethnicities is lacking, where it is mostly abundant in European/white data points.  Over time, the hope is that the more people participate, the more accurate the reporting will become across all ethnic groups.
That’s my hope at least, since I successfully transcended through ALL 5 stages of grief after my 23andMe pegged me as 60% white (with a Rican mom and biracial dad).  Until then, I’m making my first casserole and dry turkey this Thanksgiving. Trying to embrace this potential newfound identity.

Necessary?

Considering you’re reading this on one of your many devices, doing shit you don’t care about is unnecessary. I don’t mean the every day things e.g., brushing your teeth, doing the dishes, taking your baby for a walk- of course all of those are necessary activities. I think big life things, like what you do to make money, who you spend your time with and just overall how you spend your time is way more in your control than you think. Your boring/unfulfilling job, that partner that adds tension and anxiety, and the agony of you not chasing your passion day after day can go away quicker than a rat snap. That shit is unnecessary.

Sure, most of us need jobs to survive but not at the mental expense that most of us don’t even realize. I’ve always heard that a salary never made anyone rich and with almost 13 years of vastly different job experience, it’s starting to ring alarmingly true. My goal isn’t to be rich but instead to one day have personal satisfaction and piece of mind in knowing  that I am self-sustainable without burden on other people. This goal will never happen as long as I to pursue mid-level management at some company that doesn’t really care about me or what my goals are outside of said company. People think they have assurance and security at big, established firms but at the end of the day, they’re putting their futures in the hands of people who only see them as a box in a hierarchy connected by segmented lines. I think this reality for them deep down in their subconscious and comes out through PTA beefs, stamp collections and too many happy hours. That shit is sad and unnecessary.

People need people, that’s true. It’s also true that people can be your biggest downfall. We all have an archetype built in for people we meet in our life, even if we don’t realize it. We trust the doughy, well kept, fair-skinned mom type because of movies and maternal figures in our lives and are attracted to hour glass figured, high heeled women because of the same type of thing (movies and media). That kind of stuff creeps in with your partners as well. Physical attraction is a motherfucker because it can trick our brains in to thinking a person is good for us even though all signs point to the contrary. The bottom line is, if your partner doesn’t make you feel good about yourself or doesn’t make you a better person, ya dip. That shit is unnecessary.

Most (if not all) of what I’m saying has been said and harped on before but I know there’s at least one of you that needed to read these words today. I don’t think my blog post is going to change your life but it could be one more grain of sand tilting the scale towards making a decision to change…and I’ll take that. Just remember that the things you choose to do everyday and the people you choose to be around should lift you up and make you better. If not, ya dip. That shit is unnecessary.

It (Still) Takes a Village

 You see the title, we’ve all heard the phrase. “It takes a village” is an African idiom as old as time, but I think it’s idiotic that it only applies to children. Where did this “village” go? What happened to all the people to who used to pinch my cheeks and snitch on me to my mom? It was all good when I was a cute pup but now that doggy’s all grown up he has to hunt for his own kibble. I’ll stray away from the dramatics of the dog metaphor but after you reach a certain age, life gets rough (or ruff, hehe). Right around the time you grow out of your cuteness is when you need the village the most. You’re a preteen and your face is greasy, your voice is all over the place and you’re swatting boners away like a never-ending game of whack-a-mole. That’s when the village starts losing members…like a plague came through. Your adorable “kids say the darnedest things” moments become awkward silence and dads aren’t cool with you hanging out with their daughters unsupervised. Adults try to connect with you by reminiscing about their old days, which only embarrasses you and further pushes you away. Or they’re so scared or insecure to try to connect that they turn in to dicks. I don’t know, and I’m getting close to that 250 word count minimum that for some reason I imposed on The Relatable team.

The jizz of it is, long after we’re children, it STILL takes a village. However, the cool thing is that you can eventually hand pick your village. Pick your village wisely and remember the strong will outlast any plague.

 

P.s. – I thought the title and premise was sooo original before writing this and I googled “it still takes a village” about midway through and forced myself to try to finish. Really embracing the newly found credo, “Don’t Overthink Shit”. Boom. Godnight.

Episode 130: Ice Brudda

RIP to Mrs. Dog the Bounty Hunter. The pod starts with heavy UFC talk (skip to about 20 mins in if you’re not down) and eventually gets to Dean detailing his first PAID stand-up gig, Hawaii prostitution laws and a new business brainstorm sesh. SHOP THROUGH THE AMAZON LINK (on the site) TO SUPPORT THE SHOW.

 

wifisfuneral – 30for30

Aminé – Faces + Places