Greg is a Marketer & Musician
Greg Tirico talks about his passion for music and playing drums! He also talks about how music is an easy topic to get clients and colleagues to open up about themselves and encourage them to share more!
• Getting into music
• Why he decided to pick up drums
• How a former drum student became a client
• Why he felt more hesitant to open up earlier in his career
• Music as a unifying force
• How music helps with relationships at work
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Welcome to Episode 331 of What’s Your “And”? This is John Garrett, and each Wednesday, I interview a professional who, just like me, is known for a hobby or a passion or an interest outside of work. To put it in another way, it’s encouraging people to find their “And”, those things above and beyond your technical skills, the things that actually differentiate you when you’re at work.
I’m so excited to let everyone know that my book is published. You can check out everything at whatsyourand.com. All the details are there for links to Amazon, Indigo, Book Depository, barnesandnoble.com, few other websites. I can’t say how much it means that everyone’s getting the book and leaving such nice reviews on those sites and then sharing how their cultures are changing because of it.
Please don’t forget to hit subscribe to the podcast so you don’t miss any of the future episodes. I love sharing such interesting stories each and every week, and this week is no different with my guest, Greg Tirico. He’s the owner of Working Web Media outside of Atlanta, and now he’s with me here today. Greg, thanks so much for taking time to be with me on What’s Your “And”?
Greg: Thanks for having me, John.
John: This is going to be awesome, man. My 17 rapid-fire questions to run you through. I hope you’re buckled in.
Greg: I’m ready.
John: Ready to roll. All right, here we go. I’ll start you out with a pretty easy one, chocolate or vanilla.
John: Vanilla. Okay.
Greg: Next question.
John: All right, how about puzzles, Sudoku or crossword.
John: Sudoku. Nice. All right. How about a favorite color?
Greg: Blue. I don’t know why that happened. It just did. Blue.
John: Yeah. No, it’s mine too. How about a least favorite color?
Greg: Probably a color that I don’t know what it is, like a fuchsia. I don’t know what that is.
John: Or how to spell it. It’s like, what? This is weird. It’s one of those colors that comes up when you’re planning a wedding and then that’s it. How about, prefer more hot or cold?
Greg: Oh, man. I’m actually, with my kids. I’m a big fan of saying, you can always put more clothes on, but you can’t take all your clothes off.
John: Right. That’s a good point. That’s an excellent point. Cold it is, man. How about a favorite actor or actress?
Greg: Oh, man, that’s an unfair question.
John: You can rattle off more than one. I’ll give you more than one.
Greg: I’m actually a huge fan of science fiction. If I had to pick one, and maybe the audience, it’ll be a little bit of a throwback for them, Admiral Adama from the reboot of Battlestar Galactica. I think he did a fantastic job.
John: Nice. Battlestar Galactica, that was a cartoon when I was a kid. I had the sheets, the bedsheets. That was classic, man.
Greg: Do you know that they rebooted it?
John: Yeah, I did see that. Yeah, yeah. I did see the reboot, but I was saying, even the original, yeah, that’s super cool. Would you say you’re more of an early bird or a night owl?
Greg: Early bird.
John: Early bird.
Greg: Yeah. If I don’t get my work done by 11:30 in the morning, there’s a high likelihood it’s not going to happen.
John: Right. The fact you’re up early enough to get work done, all of your work done by noon is fantastic. Yeah, I tend to be more focused in the morning myself, as well. Okay, so, sci-fi guy, Star Wars or Star Trek?
Greg: The only most difficult question in the world, beyond that would be, to quote Weird Al, “Who do I like better, Shatner or Picard?” I’m going to go Star Wars.
John: Star Wars. Okay, all right, all right. Is your computer more of a PC or a Mac?
John: Mac. Yeah, the marketing guy. You’re cool like that.
Greg: It has everything to do with the fact that I actually used to build my own PCs. I’m a huge geek. I was big into the Windows ecosystem. I had Linux boxes.
John: Oh, wow.
Greg: Then I had kids. I don’t have time for this anymore. I just need something that I hit the button, it turns on, and we’re good, so I bought a Mac.
John: No, I hear you, man. I hear you. How about a favorite ice cream flavor?
John: Oh, okay. How about a favorite adult beverage?
Greg: Oh, man. Okay, so right now, because I’m outside of Atlanta, I have access to one of the highest rated craft beers in the world. It’s only distributed out of Athens, Georgia, into the Atlanta market, and it doesn’t make it much further. It’s a beer from a company called Creature Comforts. Shout-out to Creature Comforts. The beer’s called Tropicalia. The Marvel movies, specifically the most recent Avengers movie, they’re filmed here in Atlanta, right?
Greg: The staff associated with the movie, they’ve got some free time on their hands.They head into Athens, Georgia where the University of Georgia is. They hang out. They find this amazing brewery called Creature Comforts. When Thor was fat and grumpy and drinking a lot of beer, he was drinking Creature Comforts’ Tropicalia and Creature Comforts’ Athena.
John: That’s awesome.
Greg: My brother-in-law, Jim, went to UGA. He’s a huge UGA fan today, college football, obviously, and one of his fraternity brothers works as the Head of Community at Creature Comforts. I was like, Jim, ask him if they paid for that. It turns out they didn’t pay for it. The staff on the Marvel’s Avengers movie loved their beer so much, they just put it in there. Because what — I got to thinking about it — what good would it be for Creature Comforts, who can’t even distribute outside of Atlanta, to spend millions of dollars on a spot in a movie that gets distributed worldwide? There’s no point.
John: It’s almost perfect because then everyone else thinks that it’s a make-believe beer. It’s not even a real beer. Where do you get this? So I’m guessing it’s vanilla-flavored beer?
Greg: Tricked you, ba-boom.
John: No, no, I’m kidding.
Greg: It’s a pretty powerful IPA. If that’s your thing, you’ll love it. If it’s not your thing, you’ll hate it.
John: That’s awesome, man. That’s very cool. All right, so marketing side, print or digital.
John: Digital, okay. Oceans or mountains.
Greg: Oceans, specifically South Carolina.
John: Okay, all right.
Greg: The Low Country of the United States.
John: No, no, but the beaches there, yeah, yeah. How about, what’s a typical breakfast?
Greg: I don’t eat breakfast.
John: Okay, so, nothing. There you go. That answers it. I cook for my kids. They’ll ask me to make pancakes or omelets or something like that. I’m happy to oblige, but I don’t eat breakfast.
John: There you go. All right. How about a favorite number?
John: Is there a reason?
Greg: Well, when I was a kid, I decided it was a good number, not knowing that that was the most common lucky number, and then also Sonic Youth.
John: Okay. Oh, there you go. All right. Very cool. Two more. Since my book’s out, Kindle or real books?
Greg: Yeah, but only because I’m an avid reader, and I also am trying to do this whole run a business thing. The idea that I would go to the library and check out a book, it’s just, a lot of time. Instead, I use the library’s Kindle borrowing.
John: Yeah. No, that’s awesome. The favorite thing you have or the favorite thing you own.
Greg: Oh, man. That’s a hard question because I have them, but I don’t own them, and that would be my family. Right?
John: Sure. Sure.
Greg: I don’t mean that to be a cop-out answer, so we’ll go materialistic because I think that’s where you’re headed. The favorite thing I own is one of the, and I want to clarify for the audience, cheaper Teslas. I have an electric car, and it is one of the favorite material things I own.
John: Yeah, because it can do everything.
Greg: Yeah, it takes me to the movie theater because I’m doing that a lot now.
John: Right. Yeah, but it’s cool. It’s an experience, and it’s something you worked hard for. There you go, man. That’s cool.
Greg: I’ve never been a car guy. I worked in the automotive industry for 13 years, not a car guy. I’ve mostly had a small series of Japanese sedans, buy them at three-year, 30,000 miles, sell them at 200,000 miles, so I drive them forever. I’m just not a car guy, and for not a car guy, I have enjoyed that car a lot.
John: Yeah, it’s almost that sci-fi side of you, you know?
Greg: Yeah, definitely.
John: That’s cool, man. That’s cool. Let’s talk music. Is that something that you’ve been into since you were a kid? How did that start?
Greg: Yeah, it started — I remember this specifically. This is probably more interesting to me than it is to your audience. How did I start? What is interesting in the story is how, to me, these really small moments in time can alter the direction of your life, right? So, in third grade, there was a music program at my elementary school. I grew up on Long Island. There’s a music program in the elementary school, third grade. We all have to stand in line and pick an instrument. My dad plays the guitar, so I want to play the guitar. My buddy, Ritchie, standing there, he’s like, no, no, no, man. You should play the drums like me. What do I know? I’m in the third grade. I’m easily influenced by friends. I signed up for the drums, and I’ve been playing ever since.
John: That’s incredible, man. That’s super cool. It was just like music through elementary school. So you were you in high school band and…
Greg: I was, absolutely. So, marching band in high school, symphony. Actually, one of my private teachers in high school was, for a time, the head timpanist with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, so I got really into it. I was probably pretty decent. Although, my ego won’t allow me to go much further than that. Right?
John: No, I’m sure you were great, man, and especially relative to me. I mean, you’re killing it.
Greg: Sure. I loved it, and I think that’s why I stuck with it for so long.
John: That’s what’s most important too, is it’s what you enjoy. That’s cool. I was trombone. I was in marching band in college even, so I went next level because it was like, one day I’m going to go pro. It’s like, no, no one’s going pro from college. That’s stupid. I think that’s really neat that it’s just always been a part of it, and it’s mostly just percussion instruments of all kinds?
Greg: Yeah. Drum set is what you naturally gravitate towards.
John: Oh, yeah, because that’s what’s on the bands.
Greg: Behind me in my home office here, I have a collection of hand drums. I’ve got some congas and some bongos and then a couple of African hand drums primarily. They’re called a doumbek and a djembe. They have a couple of gourds as well. I wouldn’t call myself a collector now. I do have the drum set set up in another room in the house. My son has shown interest in playing the drum set, so I’m really careful there. I don’t want to push him into it. He’s in fifth grade. He’s got plenty of time to figure it out, whether or not he even wants to be a musician. I don’t know. Maybe he can play basketball. After all, I am like five, seven-and-a-half on a good day. He can be really tall.
Greg: I’m careful not to push that on him. My daughter does play. She’s in the eighth grade. She plays the clarinet. She seems to really enjoy it. Maybe we’re a musical family, and I just didn’t know it. For me, collecting the hand drums because they’re a little more accessible. I can pick them up in between phone calls or something like that. It’s a great way to just decompress for a couple of minutes during the day. That’s why they’re in my home office.
John: No, that’s a great idea, actually, and a great point of, it’s something that brings you joy, that grounds you, it takes you back to almost childhood sometimes, I guess, but it’s a quick little thing. It’s just like, hey, I’ve got five minutes, why not? I was going to say just banging on the drums, but I know it’s way more sophisticated than that.
Greg: You know, it doesn’t have to be.
John: I guess that’s true. I guess that’s true. It’s like, well, whatever.
Greg: With the drum set, a lot of kids that come over, they want to play the drum set. I’m fine with that. Here’s some stick, go for it. When parents see their kids, they go, no, little Johnny, be careful. I look at them, and I’m like, it’s a drum set. Let him pound the crud out of it. It’s going to be fine.
John: You’re not going to break it. You’re fine, trust me.
Greg: Kids love to get that kind of energy out, just bang the heck out of them. It’s totally fine.
John: Like Animal in The Muppets.
Greg: There you go, and it brings them a little bit of joy. I, actually, I like seeing it as well. There’s actually, when I was — let’s see, about 12 years ago or so, I heard a drum set in my neighborhood one weekend. I was at the neighborhood pool. I heard this drum set. I was like, that’s a drum set. It turns out, I’m sitting next to a family whose son was the drummer. They’re like, “Oh, that’s our son.” Oh, I play drums. We get to know each other. It’s pretty small neighborhood. There are only about 120 homes, which is small by Atlanta’s standard.
John: Yeah. No, exactly.
Greg: It turns out that this kid needed a drum teacher, and I was willing. I basically took money from his parent and then bought him a bunch of stuff. I’d show up with new sticks. Because I didn’t want to profit off my neighbors and I was having a lot of fun with it. Life moves on and he gets into high school. He loses interest, which is perfectly acceptable, goes on into the Marine Reserves and college and all that stuff, calls me a little less than a year ago. He’s like, “Hey, man, I know you run a marketing agency. I need a little bit of help. I’m starting this company, and you’re my man.”
John: Oh, wow.
Greg: It came full circle. Here is this young adult now, standing in front of me. Our connection is music and the time we spent together playing the drums, so the relationship is easy. There’s no friction. It’s really hard to start a company, so you can imagine his anxiety level can be a little high. Sometimes it’s not, but we have this this shared moment, and it’s all about music.
John: That’s super cool. Is the music something you share with coworkers and clients as well, through your career?
Greg: I find more recently than not.
John: Oh, okay.
Greg: I started my career in Corporate America, a 68,000-person company, great cubicle walls, manufacturing and distribution, so, super exciting. Actually, the gray cubicle walls, they were the most exciting part of my day. I got fulfillment out of the job, all kidding aside. It was my entrance into the marketing world, but I was really hesitant to talk about myself. You know all the reasons why. It’s in your book. You’ve talked about it with previous guests. You’re afraid that you’re going to be judged. You’re afraid you’re going to be maybe cast out because you have a weird hobby or whatever it is. There’s a reason that’s stopping you from sharing.
I find more recently, though, because we’re doing a lot of Zoom meetings, for obvious reasons, not to date this podcast unnecessarily, but people know where we are in the world right now. When I turn on the Zoom, you see the drums behind me, and the conversation naturally goes there. What I find is most interesting with music is that it is is very typically, and this isn’t a surprise to the listeners, it’s very typically a reflection of that moment in time.
You can go back to the late ‘60s, and we had a lot of strife and struggle in this country from things that are very similar, unfortunately, to today because we haven’t learned anything, from race relations to world conflicts, to military conflicts, and the music of the time reflected the people, reflected their desire to break from that, their desire to change the environment they we’re in. It’s my hope that music can again be a bit of a unifying force for us because our anxiety levels are super high. We still have trouble with race relations. The world is falling apart, in case you haven’t looked around. I don’t mean to be too doom and gloom, I’m a very optimistic person, but my hope is that music can be a unifying force again, as it always has been.
John: It’s something that, I think, a lot of people can relate to because at the very least, when you’re getting your car, there’s the radio. Everyone’s heard music. Everyone listens to music. I’m not sure if I’ve ever met someone that openly doesn’t like any music, like none. Somebody likes something so then there’s that conversation starter there. Do you find that the relationships that you have that bring music into it are different than the ones earlier in your career where it was just work-related conversations?
Greg: They’re easier. You’re not shocked by that. You’ve done the research.
John: Yeah, but it’s cool to hear that I’m not crazy.
Greg: No, you’re not, no. They’re easier. They’re more natural. For a long time, I was selling software. What that taught me, it taught me a great many things, but one of the things I took away from it is that people buy from people. Right?
Greg: It’s great that we had a fantastic solution we could bring to the market, and people were receptive to taking meetings. All of that stuff was laid out for us because of the great work that the company had already done. At the end of the day, people buy from people, and getting to connect with them on a personal level was the right thing to do. It made it easier. That’s why the idea that someday we will all return to our restaurant in the evening for business dinners, as painful as some of them can be, they’re breaking bread together, getting to know each other. If you can find some kind of commonality when you’re in a roomful of people that you don’t really know what to talk about, if you assume that they’re all family people, you say, “Oh, do you have any kids? How long have you been married?” That kind of conversation will take you far, but only so far, and then I very commonly turn to music. Hey, what’s the most recent band you listened to? In the car on the way here, driving to the restaurant, what was on the radio? It’s a great way to take the conversation even away from music. You’ll find that it breaks up barriers, and it just makes things easier.
John: Yeah. That’s such a great point. Something I just thought of actually, while you were saying that is, not everybody has a family or not everyone is married. Sometimes those can be questions that trigger people, where it’s like, maybe they want to have a family, but they don’t or whatever. Everyone has got a hobby or a passion outside of work, so that’s the safest question. People always think, well, family, that’s a safe question. Not always, actually, but hobby or passion, that’s actually the safe — and music. Do you just drive silently? I don’t even think if you could turn your radio off. I think it’s just on all the time. Maybe in the fancy Tesla’s, actually we have the band in the Tesla. That’s how that works. It’s like a hologram.
Greg: Because I’ve spent so much time performing and I’ve been in a number of bands, I have destroyed my hearing a little bit, so the better sound systems in the newer cars, believe it or not, is huge to me because I can hear again.
John: Yeah, yeah. I didn’t even know, here in Denver, there’s a guy that does a lot of installing home theaters and things. He was explaining to me that there’s HD sound.
John: I thought he was pulling my leg and then, no, no, it’s for real. There is definitely a difference. It’s cool to hear that you’ve experienced that, and you witnessed that. That’s pretty awesome. How much is it on the organization to create that space for people to share those hobbies and passions? Or how much is it on the individual to just be like, well, here’s my little circle at work, and I’m going to share within that and get it started that way?
Greg: You kind of nailed it there because there are two components to the organization. You’ve got your little bubble. You’ve got your work friends. One of the most common questions inside of organizational cultural questionnaires and surveys, pulse surveys and things that HR teams tend to do is, do you feel you have a best friend at work? Super common question. Because if you do, if you have a work best friend, you’re far more likely to stay. You’re more likely to be a happier employee. You have someone to go to lunch with. So, you’ve got this little pod that you build inside of an organization, and you really can make that pod anything. It can be a team of people that are not necessarily on the same structure on the org chart, but they get together or maybe they end up getting together outside of work. That’s a mini culture of sorts inside of an organization. They could be really powerful, but they can also be squelched pretty quickly because the culture of the organization is what, and I’m riffing on an individual that, in the moment, I’m not able to quote because I forget his name and I forget who said it, but he effectively said, “Culture is the oven in which you bake your strategy.”
If you think you have an amazing strategy, and you’re going to tackle the world, and you’re going to take over in a very positive way; you have to bake that in an oven, otherwise known as your corporate culture. It might fry that strategy. It might bake it perfectly. I’ve always found that analogy to be pretty good. So, it is incumbent upon the organization to create an environment in which people feel comfortable sharing. Today, we know that is primarily DEI initiatives. Diversity, equity, inclusion are the modern day equivalent of what we used to call something else. It’s not just the DEI. I mean, that’s important because we have to recognize that there needs to be more diversity in organizations. I’m a big fan of and supporter of that. At the same time, culture isn’t just DEI. Culture comes with the staff. It starts with your leaders. I’ve often said, if the culture in an organization isn’t great, well, you should probably look to the top. No offense, those are trying really hard, but, yeah, man, it starts at the top and it rolls downhill. We know what rolls downhill, both positive and negative. Right?
John: That’s an excellent point that it is bigger than DEI. Especially something like what I do, it’s almost like they go hand in hand. They’re together but in separate lanes but working towards the same goal.
Greg: DEI is.
John: Oh, totally, yeah. It’s just don’t put all your eggs in that one basket and think you’re doing it. It’s like trying to put up a tent with only one pole. No, no, we need all these other poles too, to keep it up.
Greg: Also, don’t start a DEI committee, wash your hands, and call it a day. Well, we started the committee. We’re good.
John: Right. Yeah, exactly, exactly. That’s an excellent point. I love that oven analogy as well. Do you have any words of encouragement for anybody listening that thinks, well, maybe my hobby or passion has nothing to do with my job, or no one’s going to care?
Greg: No one’s going to care, right. I do, and I’ll start with a story, a very good friend of mine, an individual that I used to work with. He’s now retired, so we worked together a long time ago. We’re still in contact today. He loves model railroading, loves it.
Greg: I still have my H gauge model railroad stuff in a box in my basement. I used to be into it when I was a kid. He’s not a kid. He’s in his 60s. He loves model railroading. Years ago, we’re going back to a time when, ‘03, ‘04, Blogger was a thing but social media really wasn’t a thing yet. I said to him, “You really love this.” I’d gotten to know him at work and found out that he was into model railroading, and I was a little bit. I said, “You should start a blog. You should write about this.” He said to me at the time, “I don’t think anybody cares.” It’s model railroading. Where am I going to find a community of people?
John: There’s like whole festivals of this.
Greg: Yes. He actually published his most recent blog post to his model railroading blog about a month ago. He’s still doing it. Every time we get together and talk, he reminds me about how I had to push him a little bit to go out his comfort zone and talk about his hobby. As a result, he’s a better person for it, certainly. I didn’t do it. It was all him, but that little nudge about model railroading, and today, he’s got this blog he’s been publishing to, for 15 years. His entire basement, multiple rooms, he’s got trains running all over the place. Who would have ever thought?
It doesn’t matter what your hobby is. Mine is music, and that’s probably a little more accessible than some of the hobbies we have in the back of our minds that might be considered fringe or “weird”, but they trigger a side of our human nature that needs to connect with people. Going back to my comment from before, people buy from people. That’s not my phrase. That’s been a phrase that has been in sales forever.
I need to connect with you. I need to know something about you, John. We’ve only talked for a couple of minutes. I know you’re a college football fan, at least a Notre Dame fan, probably, doesn’t take a genius to guess that, your bookcase back there, I mean, I feel like I’m a little more connected to you than I would have been had you just called me and said, “We’re going to do this interview. Here are the questions. Please talk.”
John: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. It makes it come alive. It’s like three-dimensional. There’s color.
Greg: There’s that element, your hobby, whatever it is. I’m actually confused. I’m getting a little terse in my language to you because why would anyone hide that? I don’t understand. Don’t. No. Wear it on the outside and be proud of it. That’s how it is.
John: No, no, I agree with you too, provided its legal and not counter to whatever your work is, and then bringing it to work is — as long as it’s not distracting to other people’s ability to do their job. I love to play the electric guitar. You come in and jam at level 10. No, you cannot do that. You can talk about it. There’s nothing wrong with that, or model trains. That’s cool. We’re not in sixth grade anymore, where everyone’s going to pick on you and make fun of you. It’s the opposite now. People think that’s cool, and that’s something you remember about that coworker of yours. Think of all the coworkers that you don’t remember right now. Well, you can’t even think of them because you don’t remember them, which is sad, because they didn’t have that model railroading. Or maybe they did, but they didn’t share it, and so, now, you don’t have the opportunity to remember them, 15 years later. The model railroad guy is top of brain, top in your mind right there.
Greg: It leads to depth of personality when you learn about people. You learn about their depth, and you connect with them more.
John: That’s awesome, man. That’s so cool. This has been really great, Greg. Before I close it up, I feel like it’s only fair that we turn the tables since I rudely questioned you at the beginning of the podcast that this is the first episode of The Greg Tirico Show. Thank you so much for having me on. I appreciate you asking me to be a part of it.
Greg: No problem. I’m glad you could join me, on your time too, which is amazing.
John: Exactly. So, whatever questions you have for me, I’m all yours.
Greg: I’m a big fan of stand-up comedy. I think you know a little something about that. Actually, recently, Kyle Dunnigan has hit my radar more and more. I think he’s one of the most underrated comics out there today that used to make some great work. He’s funny as heck, right? I’d love to know somebody that you’ve picked up on recently that you feel might be a little underrated right now and deserves the spotlight.
John: Yeah, well, I don’t know if it’s recently, but just friends of mine that — I mean, I even put in the back of the book in the thank-yous, it’s a shame that there are comedians I’ve worked with that we’ve all heard of, and then the ones that you’ve never heard of that are just as funny and maybe laughed just as hard, like friends of mine. Keith Albertstadt’s hilarious. Dan Davidson’s so funny. Those are guys that were friends of mine that I’m sure a lot of people have never heard of, unfortunately, and really, really funny. Kristin Key’s super funny. She had a little bit of Last Comic Standing exposure, though. She’s really funny, too. Yeah, it is a shame because there are so many funny people out there.
Tyler Crowell is a guy out of Milwaukee that he doesn’t really do a lot anymore but, man, he was so, so funny. He and I, we used to drive to Madison, Wisconsin all the time, doing the open mics, back 20 years ago. He was absolutely hilarious. He had this ventriloquism bit where he would hold up the ventriloquism dummy. He’s like, yeah, I’m really new to ventriloquism, but I just heard, all you have to do is just not move your mouth. Then he would just open his mouth as wide as possible. He’s like, “Well, I wouldn’t tell your wife.” It was just crazy and hilarious because it was just the weirdest stuff. He was so funny.
Greg: All of those people you just named have just picked up another fan. Thank you. I actually am going to take that list and go look them up.
John: There’s just so many funny comedians out there. Unfortunately, there’s really not funny because there’s no barrier to entry. You just show up and say, “Well, I’m a comedian,” and then they let you in, but, yeah, so many really, really funny comedians. They’re just like, wow, that’s amazing. The stuff that they think of and how they deliver it, yeah, really funny.
Greg: That’s interesting. I’d love your perspective on this as well. I’d recently read or heard that some comics, not all of them, but some comics are having a really hard time right now because I don’t think we, as the outsiders, recognize how much they are practicing their craft every night in front of a microphone, and they can’t really do that right now, having a hard time developing new material.
John: Yeah, we would refer to it, like when I lived in New York, going to the clubs, it’s like going to the gym. You’re just putting in reps.
Greg: I can tell you go to the gym a lot.
John: Right. Totally. I could barely fit into this medium-sized t-shirt. It’s going to the gym. It’s putting in your reps. The more you say it — the only difference between you and me and me and, let’s say, Seinfeld is you’ve told a joke 10 times, I’ve told a joke 1,000 times, Seinfeld has told it 10,000 times. If he gets interrupted, it doesn’t matter because you just go right into it, or it sounds more natural. It’s more that where, when you’re newer, when I worked with Louie Anderson in some big casino shows, he was saying, “When you’re newer, you’re asking the audience to laugh. At the end, you’re kind of like, I think this is funny, yeah? Then when you’re more confident, and you’ve done it more and all that; you’re actually telling the audience, okay, this is where you laugh, and now, and then they laugh.
The thing that still blows my mind, even when I’m onstage is still, I’m talking to strangers, and I say words. When I stop saying the words, their immediate gut reaction is laughter, and they don’t know each other either. It’s just mind-blowing to me how laughter works and how comedy works. It’s probably one of those things, the more you think about it, the more it plays with your mind, so just don’t, but it’s such a surreal thing to be up there, say something — but also too, the more you do it, you start to understand, okay, here’s why this is funny. Or here’s why that works. Certain words are funnier than others. Certain numbers are funnier than others, certain syllables and the cadence and all that. There’s definitely a science to it.
Greg: Oh, yeah.
John: It’s similar to music really, when you think about it. There are certain chords and certain — I mean, you just look at those, it’s bands that I love, like the Blink-182s and the Green Days and stuff like that. It’s the same court. They’re not going off the reservation with anything. They’re coming right at you with the super easy because it’s easily digestible. It hit’s a place in your soul that you like. It’s not uncomfortable to listen to. It’s the same way.
Greg: Yeah, comedy brings people together, for sure.
Greg: We need more of that. I love it.
John: No, definitely. My comedy’s always without an agenda. I always looked at it as, you’re coming because something in your life, no matter who it is, there’s something in your life where you’re like, I wish it was better. When you’re in this comedy club, you forget about all that. We’re laughing. We’re having a good time. You’re laughing at me. Everything’s great. So, if I can be a small piece of that, to just give you some reprieve and give you some laughter, then that’s great.
For me, personally, I don’t like it when it turns into an agenda thing, but if it’s a well-written joke, then that’s great. I don’t care who it’s about or whatever. That’s the thing is, I think people are always, it’s a joke. It doesn’t mean anything. I have a bit about marching bands because I was in marching band in college, and it’s a joke about being in the marching band. I got an email once from somebody from Sirius that heard it on SiriusXM, went home, emailed me and said that the reason their Music program in their kid’s high school is being canceled is because of me. I’m like, okay, well, first of all —
Greg: Let’s unpack this.
John: Yeah, just because I do a joke about something doesn’t mean I’m anti that. I’m not anti-Crockpots or anti the McRib or anti whatever I have a joke about.
Greg: The Crockpots are asking for it. They’re so easy to make fun of.
John: No, totally. They’re so slow. It’s so slow. Why don’t we just cook over a campfire? That would be faster. Although, you know what’s hilarious? In Atlanta, every time I do a show in Atlanta, I used to have a bit about sweet tea, and every time in Atlanta, right when I would get into the pit and I would say sweet tea, someone would say, “Watch it.” It could be an 80-year-old woman. Watch it. They’re like they invented it or their mom invented it, and I’m coming at your family.
Greg: I’ll tell you what, I have various types of sweet teas that I prefer, based on the day of the week.
John: See, it’s a religion down there. Because I would have a joke, I would be like, because I was at a restaurant, I asked for water, and the waitress brought me sweet tea. It’s a default drink. Here’s your sweet tea. It’s like coming out of the faucets. Babies are being baptized in sweet tea. What the, this place is weird. Watch it. It’s like, what? Well, no, this has been so much fun, having you be a part of this. Thanks for being a part of What’s Your “And”?, Greg. This is awesome.
Greg: My pleasure, John.
John: Everyone listening, if you want to see some pictures of Greg in action or maybe connect with him on social media, be sure to go to whatsyourand.com. Everything’s there. Don’t forget to buy the book, and you could do the anonymous research survey about corporate culture.
Thanks again for subscribing on iTunes or whatever app you use and for sharing this with your friends so they get the message that we’re all trying to spread that who you are is so much more than what you do.