Bye-bye, 2018

2018 is over and I’m not sure how I feel about that. It’s not that I get overly emotional about the calendar ticking over to another January but it’s as good a time as any to reflect a little.

On the one hand, in a lot of the traditional ways I gauge how my comedy career is going, I was not at my peak in 2018. I only made one video I wasn’t very proud of and I wrote my last blog post of the year in April. I also performed in many fewer shows than I’m used to in all three of improv, sketch, and stand-up. I thought, “What a disaster!” when I started to think about writing a personal eulogy to 2018.

Then I started to think of the positives. In March, Emily Riggins and I started our podcast, TeaBD, and that had a very strong 2018 (with more to come, naturally). In August, I started performing stand-up again after a (very) long hiatus and sprinkled a few shows here and there over the course of the rest of the year. Finally, in October, I was asked to perform in the NYC Sketchfest and got to act in my first sketch show after another (very) long hiatus. That got me to sign up for a new sketch writing class over at the Magnet Theater to get my writing juices flowing again.

Last Wednesday, I hit up the Magnet Mixer for a little improv practice. On Thursday, TeaBD had it’s first episode of 2019 come out. On Friday, my indie improv team Jammy had our first show in months at the good old Triple Crown. Today I published this blog post.

I’m still not sure about 2018 but I’m probably being harder on it than it deserves. One thing I do know, is I’m going to try my best to have no regrets about 2019.

Photo by Laura Miner

I Made Myself Write Something

Sometimes I don’t know what to do. I’m not always sure how to move forward. I’m currently in a weird mood because on the one hand my new podcast—TeaBD—is doing pretty well, and that’s great. On the other hand, I’m having a hard time figuring out what to do with myself.

This blog has been a weird chore over the past couple of weeks because I’ve been procrastinating a lot with writing for it and I haven’t really had the best ideas. I think I’ve stressed myself out a bit with recording a separate podcast for these blog posts (no new episode this week, I’m writing what you’re currently reading by just free writing).

Today I realized I haven’t made a new video in MONTHS and I feel like I really need to do that. I’ll have to come up with an idea soon and I may have thought of something just typing this sentence. I always tell my wife, who is a photographer, that taking photos of anything is better than taking photos of nothing. It turns out writing for the sake of writing is good too. I probably don’t even need to publish this blog post (but I will anyways, as you’ve already seen).

What put me in this funk is that TeaBD is great but I really only kind of get to work on it for real once a week and I can only bask in it’s release for a day. Then I have a whole bunch of other days I try and think of ways to work on it. Sometimes I try and make graphics and sometimes I try and make us an intro song (did both of these things to no real end tonight because I’m only so-so at both). I also don’t get quite as hyped for my blog posts as I do for these podcast episodes. Maybe it’s because we haven’t had a bad episode yet but I do feel crummy about my blog posts from time to time.

I work a lot better when I don’t put an expectation on myself. I think that’s why I’m funnier doing improv than when I’m doing stand-up. Or why I think my podcasting is funnier than my blogging. Normally these blog posts take a lot of effort. (Tonight, that effort will be spent to not edit what I’m saying here, give you that RAW version of how I feel. And honestly, I can feel that I’m typing this whole thing in a different language than I normally use. When do I ever call myself “hyped” for something?)

I have no idea if this blog post is good for my blog. I feel like I have a tenuous relationship with anyone who regularly reads what I write. I’m not famous or anything, so I feel like I really need to make it worth it for people to bother reading. Then, that makes me feel whatever about it sometimes. Agh! What a mess. Well, just know that I wanted to get this off my chest and I’m better for writing this out. Hopefully this will motivate me to do more things.

Control Freaks

People love being in control. I’ve been thinking about this a lot and I got to see it in action the other day. I was at the bar and I watched someone order a flatbread. They wanted pepper on their pizza and asked the food runner for fresh pepper. The food runner handed the person a regular pepper shaker and walked away. The patron then asked a manager if they could add fresh pepper to their food. The manager turned around, grabbed a pepper mill, turned back, and attempted to grind the pepper on to the pizza. No pepper came out. At this point, I assumed the food runner knew the pepper mill was either broken or empty, which is why they supplied a simple pepper shaker instead. The patron then took the pepper mill from the manager’s hands and attempted to use it for them self. Still no pepper came out but they didn’t trust the manager to know what they were doing. It was a lack of faith that a stranger would want what’s best for someone they didn’t know. The patron needed control over whether pepper would come out or not.

I don’t know if this is an American thing or not—though I know we nearly eradicated our public transit systems because we all wanted to own our own cars. People feel in control while driving, even though they are still subject to the whims of the other drivers. This is a learned problem. A kid in the back seat of a car feels safe with their parents driving. They don’t need to be in control! I assume this is why people have an irrational fear of flying. They are not in control, despite the fact that flying is the safest way to travel.

Other instances of this include:

  • Telling someone that a pen doesn’t work and then they have to scribble on a piece of paper to try and make the pen work.
  • The impulse to help someone open a jar.
  • People turning down help with a photo while taking a selfie.
  • Insisting that someone is driving the worst way to get somewhere.
  • Seeing someone struggling to open a bottle of wine and grabbing the bottle from them.

In my own way, only I’m allowed to have food near my computer. If I spill something all over my keyboard, I only have myself to blame. This feels analogous to always wanting to be the driver. At least if I’m driving, the accident is my fault. I feel like this might be a poor way to go through life. It takes a little getting used to, but it’s easier to relax on a bus ride or a flight than it is in a long car ride, no matter how much those first modes of transportation get mocked.

6 Things for the Perfect Café

What makes a café perfect? Good food and drink, cleanliness, and friendly service are all kind of obvious. I’m at a different café all the time and I have a few ways that these places could really go above and beyond other cafés.

Now, for the obligatory disclaimer: I’ve never owned or worked in a café. These are just some common sense, great ideas that the ideal one would think about if they are interested in becoming the best. I work from home, so I’ll often go out to a café to feel like a member of society. I’m still usually there alone, so I have a lot of time to judge everything about a place and really let things bother me without being distracted with pesky things—like talking to friends.

6) No credit card minimums

These minimums are for the greediest of café owners. As long as the average transaction of all customers is above a hypothetical minimum, it all works out in the end. Sure, it would be bad if everyone went in to buy $2 items with a credit card and the café had to pay an onerous fee from the credit card companies—but there are surely enough larger purchases to even it out. Do I think everyone with a credit card minimum is bad at math? No, I think they are greedy and it will turn away customers who don’t have cash. Alternatively, it makes people buy more than they wanted to but I also find this rude. Put up a friendly sign that asks for people who make purchases under $5 to use cash but that credit cards are fine if necessary. I’ve seen this before and I find it endearing.

5) Same hours every day

This is such a little thing but it matters! I want to be able to reliably go to a café and know it will be open. I’d rather a place I like be closed on weekends than have some weird shortened hours. The worst offender of this is when a place closes a half hour early a couple of days a week. It’s not worth the confusion. I love the symmetry of an hours sign that lists the same hours every day of the week.

4) Let the power outlets free

What is a café without power outlets? It’s a place that’s hiding them. Think of any place ever. How many outlets are in that room? The answer is more than zero. Yet there are cafés that don’t have any of them. Give laptop users their sockets, there are a lot of us! I’ll remember if a café doesn’t have any outlets and avoid that place if I have any thoughts about being there for a while. Bonus points: USB ports available from any seat. A café recently opened up in my neighborhood that has a plentiful amount of outlets and each outlet also has a pair of USB charging ports as well. I’ll always remember this place.

3) Wi-Fi

The only thing worse than no power outlets is no Wi-Fi. Every business should have free Wi-Fi, not just cafés. It’s a little extra cost and a huge amenity. Fast food restaurants have Wi-Fi. Starbucks has Wi-Fi. Get on the Wi-Fi train. It’s just that simple!

2) Love laptops

The last couple of points on this list are for people with laptops. Some cafés don’t like laptops. Why be that way? They want customers and a lot of those customers use laptops. Maybe it’s because the owner imagines a quaint, delightful café where everyone is a little less digital and a little more friendly. Well, someone using a laptop is just as anti-social as someone reading a book or whatever. Just let people do what they want! Alternatively, maybe the café owner is trying to make people feel unwelcome…

1) Embrace the space

Each of these little things sound like they might be expensive and won’t directly make money. It’s the food and the drink that make money. Well guess what outweighs all these little costs and doesn’t directly make any money on its own? It’s floor space. I had the thought the other day that so many cafés are huge, but why? I’ve already bought my stuff, why let me linger around for a couple of hours? There is always empty seating in them, so it’s not an efficiency thing. They mostly sell common to-go items. Why do they need so much space? Cafés know that having seating is important and will attract customers there yet size is one of the most expensive fixed costs. I won’t go to one at all unless I know I can get work done while I’m there. If a café can put this much money into essentially wasted floor space, that means these other things will pay for themselves with goodwill. A café owner should want reviews to say things like “really good Wi-Fi” or “great place to work.” No one will say they loved a place because there were “no power outlets.”

TeaBD

I’m a greedy, selfish, person. I started one podcast—You Don’t Have to Listen to This Podcast—six weeks ago and now I already have another podcast! Both of these will exist at the same time because they are very different. Here’s a little primer about the new one.

There’s a new podcast out there on the podcast market and it’s called TeaBD! It’s hosted by me and my friend, Emily Riggins, and is about friendship and tea. Each week, we brew some tea and discuss a topic brought by one of the hosts and/or a guest. The topics are only known to the person bringing it (hence, TBD) and will hopefully create an interesting conversation.

The podcast debuted this past Thursday with our first episode, Guys, We’re Figuring This Out: Queens, where Emily and I drink some Paris Black Tea and discuss queens (like the kind that wears a crown). As the title of the episode suggests, we are also figuring the podcast-thing out. A little inside scoop: we already recorded five episodes and I can say first-hand that we’ve been continually tweaking the format to get it just right. [A pun about steeping would fit nicely here but I’ll leave that up to your imagination.]

Emily and I both perform improv in New York, which is how we got together. We bonded over our mutual love for tea and podcasts, so naturally we wanted to create a podcast about tea. In addition to talking tea, hopefully you’ll be swept up in the conversation and it’ll be like you’re in the studio (my living room) with us!

If this sounds interesting to youand I hope it doessubscribe however you listen to podcasts (we aren’t everywhere yet but we’re getting there) or head directly to our iTunes page to subscribe. If you can, please leave us a rating and a review! You can also like our page on Facebook or send us an email to [email protected]. Enjoy!