Xmas is Bullshit Instagram post uncensored with gingerbread man

Graphic design by Anna Haas of Red Hare Creative

Holy crap. It’s been a looooong time since I released my own solo music, but finally, I just released a new holiday comedy song today called “Christmas Is Bullshit,” and I can’t wait to hear what people think of it! A music video and lyric video are also coming soon, and they are super funny as well.

The song is available everywhere for streaming and downloading (Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, YouTube Music, etc) so go check it out and tell all your friends about it. And add it to your holiday party playlists! There’s a version with clean lyrics for those of you who can’t play the uncensored version.

I had the idea for this song last December after having a rough time during the holiday season. I haven’t really looked forward to the holidays for a long time, and if there’s one thing I hate, it’s doing things because other people say I have to. So when people say, “Oh, come on, the holidays are so fun! Just get into the festive spirit!” I say, “NO.”

Holiday time is too busy, the weather is awful (at least in New York City), everyone is stressed out, trying desperately to wrap up work for the year before they go on vacation and everything closes down, everyone feels obligated to shop for gifts for lots of people in their lives, which causes them to run around desperately searching for something that each of those people might like, and spend a lot of money, and try to wrap presents well, and lug presents to parties and gatherings, and receive presents they don’t like and will have try to act convincingly excited about, and then try to return those presents to the stores they came from.

Holiday music SUCKS. The ONLY person who managed to make a Christmas song I don’t mind hearing is Mariah Carey (I’m talking about All I Want For Christmas, obviously), and I don’t even really want to hear THAT song if I don’t have to, because it’s about Christmas. Plus, every year, it’s the same playlist of 20 dumb Christmas songs you’ve heard a million times everywhere, even though every year, THOUSANDS more new, original Christmas songs come out. We could switch it up, but no one ever does. And then you’re stuck in an auditory torture chamber every time you have to buy something during December, which is, unfortunately, often. Every time I’m in a CVS during the holidays, I feel like I’m about to give up a closely guarded secret to the FBI.

But at least the food is good, right? NO. Besides hot chocolate, which you can have anytime, there are no redeeming foods associated with Christmas time. Ham? BLECH. Eggnog? YUCK. WHO DRINKS RAW EGGS?! As comedian Kevin Meaney’s mom used to say, “A crazy person! A SICK person!” Fruitcake? Dried fruit and cake were never meant to be mixed. They are great on their own, and terrible together, just like wolves and the prey they tear apart to eat. How about Christmas cookies? Let me ask you this: if you had a choice between eating a Christmas cookie or eating a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie, what would you choose? If you chose the Christmas cookie, congratulations! You have no taste.

Anyway, in the midst of my Christmas loathing last year, the idea for the chorus of “Christmas Is Bullshit” came into my head. All of a sudden, I could hear the lead vocal and the layered, choral-style backing vocals over swelling strings and horns playing in 6/8 time. I thought, “That would definitely be a funny Christmas song. Maybe I should  write it!” So I wrote out the verses, choruses and bridge part in a few hours, tweaking the lines to flow better, rhyme better and be funnier, and in a few hours, it was done! I sang it a cappella for a friend of mine, and he thought it was a surefire hit, so I quickly threw together a bare bones track of the beat, a scratch vocal and the piano part on GarageBand, and called all my music video director friends to see if anyone could help me film the video while New York was still in full Christmastime swing. But, of course, everyone was just about to head home for the holidays, so I decided I’d switch the concept of the music video to be something that looked like a home video shot on an iPhone of someone’s native New Yorker friend (me) taking them all around New York to see all the Christmas attractions, and eventually showing more and more rage and disdain for all the schlock in hilarious ways. That way, it would make sense for the video to actually be shot on an iPhone by someone who wasn’t a professional film director. I filmed as much b-roll of Christmas stuff and winter storms as I could, and then, a few days before Christmas last year, I headed out for a LONG day of shooting with my old friend, Aaron Duesing, who has helped me with almost every music video I’ve ever been a part of. Aaron is smart and hilarious and knows how to help me get what I want on film, even though he’s not a filmmaker. He’s a joy to work with, and with a high-pressure shoot like this, I needed someone just like him to help me out.

We ran all over Brooklyn and Manhattan, shocking and horrifying tourists who thought we were making a sweet holiday video with a heartfelt message (lol), and trying to get footage of everything on my very long shot list. It was a joy to make and direct a music video again, but God is it a lot of work. We were totally exhausted by day’s end. Then I sat on that footage for 10 months until the audio track of the song was ready and the video could be edited.

Recording the song was a joy as well. I taught myself to use Logic, a music production program, and composed and arranged all elements of the song myself. Then I consulted with audio engineer and all-around fabulous person Chris Camilleri about things like whether I needed real horns (yes) or real piano versus synth piano (no) for the track to sound good. I got my old friends Dan Freeman and Ken White to record the bass and drums, and some fabulous horn players I had just met, Ben Seacrist, Jovan Johnson and Alex Blade Silver, to record the trumpet, trombone and saxophone, with help from Ian Elkind, a recording engineer at King Killer Studios in Gowanus, Brooklyn. Then I recorded all the vocals with Chris Camilleri, and Chris did the audio mixing of the song before I sent the final mixes off to Mark Santangelo at The Mastering Palace. Making a silly little song takes a village, and I’m so grateful for everyone who contributed their time and talents to making it awesome!

Finally, it was time to edit the music video and lyric video, and for that, I worked with the awesome Travis Stewart (and his wonderful dog, Fiona), who has put together some visuals that are going to delight everyone as soon as the videos come out. I can’t wait to show it to you!

Till then, listen to “Christmas Is Bullshit” and send it to all your friends!

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Whew, it’s been a crazy year, but I’m finally done with all the touring and bookstore events Kevin Allison and I did to promote the release of the new book my true story is in (and that I helped compile and edit), RISK! True Stories People Never Thought They’d Dare To ShareIMG_0341

Here I am with one of the first finished copies of the book as soon as it was ready. It was so awesome to see my name and story in print!IMG_0355

It was also really cool to see my name listed in the same book as some of my favorite actors and comedians. The book includes stories from people like Dan Savage, Michael Ian Black, Marc Maron, Aisha Tyler, Lili Taylor and many more. It’s an honor to share the page with them. 🙂IMG_0358

Our live bookstore and RISK! events, where I read my story to audiences in New York, Boston, San Francisco, LA, Chicago and Washington, DC, were so much fun. I got to see and share the book with so many friends who live all around the USA, and I was so touched to have their support for this exciting project.

I learned SO much by being involved with making this book happen from beginning to end, and I’m so excited by how much everyone who’s gotten the book loves it so far. We’ve got 270 5-star reviews on Amazon so far, and people are giving it to their friends who love true stories but aren’t big podcast listeners. I know this book is going to keep delighting readers for many years to come, because it’s timeless, and the truth never goes out of style. 🙂

If you haven’t gotten the book yet, you can grab it wherever books are sold in paperback, audiobook or e-book, so go get yourself and your friends a copy or ten now!

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I’m super excited to say that my true story, The Downward Spiral, that originally aired on the RISK! podcast a couple years ago, will be included in the forthcoming RISK! book, to be published on July 17, 2018 by Hachette Books!

I’ll be in the collection of some of the best true stories to ever air on the RISK! podcast, alongside awesome stories from Marc Maron, Aisha Tyler, Ts Madison, Michael Ian Black, Dan Savage and more. I’ve read the whole manuscript of the book, and it’s just incredible. The stories are SO GOOD, even if you’ve listened to them before on RISK!, and there will be lots of new stories as well, so whether you know these stories from the podcast or not, you need to get this book.

You can preorder the book now at TheRISKbook.com. It’s only $17, and every preorder we get from now through July 17 will count toward our first week sales. If we get enough of those, we’ll be on the New York Times Bestseller list, so please go preorder tons of copies for yourself and your friends and help us make this a big success. If you love uncensored true stories you won’t hear anywhere else, this is the book for you!

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I had a great time speaking at Viacom this week on a panel on podcasting for the Junior Hollywood Radio and Television Society. I’ve been wanting to speak on a panel for a while, so I jumped at this opportunity, and it was just as fun as I had hoped.

My fellow panelists were super funny and there were so many laughs. I loved talking about how podcasting is an awesome way that artists can make a living, have a ton of fun, and do things their own way, with total artistic freedom. And I really loved talking to young people who are interested in starting their own podcasts and just needed a little encouragement and guidance.

Even though I have a lot of fun working on the RISK! podcast, and I do it mainly in my pajamas, I really have learned a TON about running a business, podcasting, working in entertainment, managing employees, creating the life I want, and making a great show, and it’s awesome to feel that that knowledge is valuable and powerful and can inspire others to build something awesome of their own and thrive on their own terms.

Thanks to Junior Hollywood Radio and Television Society for having me, and I can’t wait to speak at more events and inspire more people to do what they love!

SEPH - a new play by Tori Keenan-Zelt

A few weeks ago, my good friend Anna Haas asked if I could jump into a play she wrote the music for, and I happily said yes. That’s how I ended up in the Greek Chorus of the off-Broadway play SEPH, which, it turns out, was written by my Harvard ’06 classmate, Tori Keenan-Zelt! You can see me and the rest of the chorus above, belting our hearts out and making paper bird puppets fly.

It was great to be on stage again, and I hope it’s not another ten years before I do some theater, because it’s still a ton of fun!