320 — Improvisational Jazz
Chris [00:00:05] Hello to everybody just making it up as they go along. It’s Beautiful/Anonymous. One hour, one phone call. No names, no holds barred.
Theme Music [00:00:30] (THEME SONG).
Chris [00:00:30] Hey, everybody. Chris Gethard here. Welcome to another episode of Beautiful/ Anonymous. First things first, thanks to everybody who came to our live tapings and or the standup shows in Pittsburgh, Ann Arbor, and Grand Rapids. Good times. Helped launch a new comedy space in Pittsburgh. Bottle Rocket. Everybody support. Got to go do shows in two cities in Michigan. I’ve never headlined before. And guess what? It’s coming up on go time, everybody. I mean, June 1st I’m doing a live in New Jersey is the world at Asbury Park. And then we’re doing taping and standup in Portland, June 3rd. Taping and standup in Seattle June 4th. And then standup in Andalusia, Pennsylvania, June 10th. Morgantown, West Virginia, June 11th. New Haven, Connecticut, June 17th. A taping of Beautiful/ Anonymous and standup up in Cambridge, Mass. on June 18th. I’m going to be out in San Pedro, California, on June 23rd. San Diego, June 24th. L.A., June 25th. Those are all stand up dates. That’s just June. Hitting the road hard. Gonna see everybody soon. Go to ChrisGeth.com for tickets. Let’s not worry too much about that. I love doing those live tapings. Taping the show live with that crowd after all those years of not being able to. Ooh, it’s fun. And isn’t it fun to listen to the live ones with the laughs? Get the built in laugh track. But who cares about a laugh track? It’s just like, Oh, humanity still exists. Anyway. Okay, focus up Gethard. This week’s episode, this is sometimes people go sometimes I think people look back at the earliest days of Beautiful/ Anonymous with rose colored glasses are like I want the really early ones. I’m like, Well, some of the really early ones had bad sound quality or I was just shouting at people, so let’s not romanticize them too much. But I think what people mean is they missed the vibe that chaos could erupt, that that as the show established itself more and more and became more and more of a platform, it was a little less chaotic. I knew what I was doing more. People knew what they were getting into more. This one is funny because I got the improv comedy background. Our caller has an improv jazz, like, music background. She’s really good at it and it leads to a lot of funny conversation and it leads to a lot of chaos and it leads to a lot of efforts for me to merge my improv comedy skills with her improv music. And that’s not always a good thing, but I think it might be a funny thing. And then we also have some really good discussions about art and some things that echo comedy as more as being a female and in an industry where not many opportunities are a lot and there’s sometimes this feeling of quotas for female performers, and you don’t always get to connect with other performers who are like you and and identify with you. You’re gonna see what I mean. That stuff is actually really fascinating and eye opening. The whole episode I think is good is what I have to say about it. Enjoy it.
Voicemail Robot [00:03:37] Thank you for calling Beautiful/ Anonymous. A beeping noise will indicate when you are on the show with the host.
Caller [00:03:45] Oh, hey, what’s up?
Chris [00:03:48] Not much. What’s up with you?
Caller [00:03:52] Just playing piano a little bit. I don’t know if you can hear it.
Chris [00:03:57] I can. What if you just played piano for the whole hour? I would sit and listen to you play piano for an hour.
Caller [00:04:03] I mean, I (UNCLEAR) But what if it was just really bad?
Chris [00:04:11] I’d listen to it. Do you understand that when I started this show, I didn’t think people were going to call up and be like, Oh, here’s. I thought it was going to be this. Someone just like, You just shut up and let me poorly play piano for an hour. I didn’t think it was people going like, let me tell you about how I have a thing that my own toenails try to stab me and doctors- there’s only three cases in documented history.
Caller [00:04:38] All right. Okay, I’ll play. All right. So can you give me, like, an inspiration of, like, let’s see, like what’s top of your mind right now?
Chris [00:04:50] What’s top of my mind right now. My my son my son has had an upset stomach for three days. And I feel very bad for him. And it’s also throwing my life into severe disarray. That’s that’s mostly what’s occupying my time and attention. Yeah.
Caller [00:05:09] Okay. Okay. All right. I can work with that. I can work with that. So, like, a little turmoil? A little like tummy turmoil.
Chris [00:05:18] Unpredictability yeah. An unpredictability.
Caller [00:05:21] Unpredictability. Okay, okay. Okay. All right. So. All right, all right. I’m going to breathe real quick. And then let’s see. Let’s see. And then if you come up with any words along the way.
[00:05:33] Oh, sure.
[00:05:34] Then that’s cool.
Chris [00:05:35] You want me to improvise lyrics over your improvised piano playing?
Caller [00:05:39] Yes.
Chris [00:05:39] Yeah. Good, yes. Finally this podcast is what I- finally this podcast is what I wanted it to be.
Caller [00:05:47] Good. All right. All right. So I’ll just get us into the groove a little bit. Can you hear that pretty good?
Chris [00:05:55] Mm hmm. Mm hmm.
Caller [00:05:56] All right. Great. (PLAYS PIANO) (SINGS) Chris’ son has the tummy trouble.
Chris [00:06:26] Okay. I thought I was doing the lyrics, but I’m not trying to step on toes.
Caller [00:06:34] I just wanted to give you a platform to get started.
Chris [00:06:38] Good. Got it. Why’d I eat the crackers? I thought I was ready for the crackers. I wasn’t ready for the crackers. I wasn’t ready for the crackers!… How did I convince Daddy that after a night of throwing up in my own crib, that a good breakfast would be cheese? Convinced Daddy that cheese was a good- threw up last night and convinced Daddy cheese for breakfast- cheese was a bad idea, it turns out. Cheese was a bad idea.
Caller [00:07:40] Yeahhh. All right.
Chris [00:07:45] Is that the end of the song?
Caller [00:07:46] So that’s that call?
Chris [00:07:46] You tell me. I’ll do that for an hour or we could talk about whatever.
Caller [00:07:53] No, I mean, that was that was really, really that was really fun. I needed that. Thank you.
Chris [00:07:58] I will say you did capture tonally via music the experience of watching a toddler who does not have the verbal capacity to warn you when vomit is coming. You captured the experience. Yeah.
Caller [00:08:15] Yeah. No, I felt that. I just mean that, you know.
Chris [00:08:19] Those minor chords?
Caller [00:08:20] Yeah, yeah. Well, that was all prerecorded, though.
Chris [00:08:25] What are you talking about?
Caller [00:08:25] I wasn’t actually playing any of that.
Chris [00:08:27] That can’t be true.
Caller [00:08:28] I wasn’t actually (LAUGHS) I’m just joking around. Um, I, I got to do this comedy set the other night, and I’ve gotten to, like, meet a couple of people that are sort of, I feel like, connected with you in some way. And they’re all such great people. And I’ll just say that like, Connor O’Malley, like dropped in to this like very DIY comedy club that I do stuff at in my city. And he did a set and he was just so cool, just like hanging out and watching. Everybody said, like, it was like an open mic kind of night. Like a big open mic. And it was just such a it was just so nice to, like, feel that energy. It was. It was so awesome.
Chris [00:09:28] I’m glad to hear that. And I’m glad to hear that the bird agrees. Is that a bird? Sounds like a bird.
Caller [00:09:35] Yeah I just walked outside. I was sitting inside and now I’m out on my porch.
Chris [00:09:40] Good.
Caller [00:09:40] So there’s some birds out here.
Chris [00:09:42] For anybody who doesn’t know, Connor O’Malley has been a friend of mine a long time. He played a character on the Chris Gethard Show called the Beast Masturbator. I would say he’s known for he’s known for a lot of comedy where when you watch it you go, oh, this person seems very unhinged and aggressive. And then you meet him in person and he’s a real sweet guy.
Caller [00:10:03] Yeah. Yeah. And I just the reason I bring it up is just because, like… It’s so nice to feel that sort of like kind energy from people that are like doing, you know, doing this thing like doing doing comedy or like music or whatever, that are on like a different kind of level or working or whatever. And then they bring that like kindness and that like openness into like this, you know, like this is like a, just like a, you know, a little like DIY club or whatever. And people, it’s just, it’s really nice. Cause I’ve had some, I’ve had some, like, run ins with people that, you know, the whole ego thing can really become like a like a really big issue. And it’s it’s really, really nice. It’s really nice.
Chris [00:11:08] That’s awesome. Yeah. I mean, I tell you, I remember the people I looked up to who were kind when I started out. Some of them in ways that were very overt and some of them just by being good people around me. And I remember being so impressed by that. And I’ve also seen it in the other direction so many times where you see people who have a persona publicly and it’s so, so twisted to realize how not real it is. Or you see people just be rude or mean or play status games or let ego drive things. And I see how heartbreaking that is. So I’m with you. I still remember I still remember interactions from when I was young, when I was like, from my perspective now in actual child, that kind of gave me the blueprint on how I wanted to treat people moving forward.
Caller [00:12:08] Yeah, yeah. It’s so important. It’s so important to to have those experiences and like… Yeah, I think back to the mentors that I’ve been lucky enough to have in my life, and they just like, they really provided the blueprint on that, you know? Sorry. I think I missed something that you said there.
Chris [00:12:39] Oh, no, I was just going to ask because you mentioned mentors. Now you played music. You mentioned doing stuff in comedy clubs. I’m unclear. Oh, are you also are you on speakerphone?
Caller [00:12:51] I’m on like I have like Bluetooth headphones on. I can take them off if they sound weird.
Chris [00:12:57] Because I think- because Anita asked if you were on speakerphone and I think why- and I think you’ll laugh at this- every time I’m speaking and you are not, it sounds like you’re throwing the phone down a staircase. Like every- now it’s stopped. Did you turn off those Bluetooth headphones?
Caller [00:13:13] Yeah, I just turned them off.
Chris [00:13:14] Oh, I can’t tell you how much better the sound quality is. It was like every time you stopped speaking, it sounded like you took your phone and just bounced it off a bunch of rocks. That’s what it was like. While I was speaking. And I’m sitting here trying to drop some emo, meaningful, heartfelt shit. Hello? Whoa. This is what we call a technical difficulty in the biz. I’m going to go ahead, get the caller back on the line. We’ll be right back… Thanks to all of the advertisers that helped us cover the dead air as we reconnected with the caller. Let’s get back into it. Hello?
Caller [00:13:56] Hello.
Chris [00:13:58] Hello?
Caller [00:14:00] Hey. Sorry. Sorry about that.
Chris [00:14:02] Did we get you back?
Caller [00:14:04] Yeah.
Chris [00:14:05] Okay. I’m gonna start the clock again.
Caller [00:14:06] Yeah, I’m here. Okay, cool. Sorry about that. I ditched the headphones.
Chris [00:14:13] I’m glad you ditched the headphones.
Caller [00:14:15] Yeah, yeah, me too. Me too. They say, you know, they advertise like it’s going to change your world… And then all it does is screw over when you’re on the phone on Beautiful/ Anonymous.
Chris [00:14:31] Listen, I tell you, I.
Caller [00:14:33] They promise the world.
Chris [00:14:34] Listen. So for anybody listening, we had an incident where you were cut off and we had a we had a little trouble getting you back on the line. These Bluetooth headphones, I’m sure they’re great for day to day stuff, but day to day you’re not always being recorded for a podcast that, frankly, has very high standards.
Caller [00:14:53] Yeah, yes, that’s what I’m saying.
Chris [00:14:55] But I feel like that’s thrown off your mojo. I’m getting the sense you’re someone who’s very affected by mojo and vibe, and I feel like your vibe is more bummed out than it was before. And I want that to go away because we’re good. Me and you, we’re good.
Caller [00:15:11] No, my vibe’s not bummed out. I’m excited. I’m really. This is so fun that I get to talk to you.
Chris [00:15:17] But am I correct on that? You’re someone who, like you can be at a party having the best time ever, and then you go over to the snack table and realize that somebody Bogarted the last piece of cheese that you were hoping to grab some cheese and that can throw off the whole party for you. True or false?
Caller [00:15:32] Listen, I. Okay, you’re just giving me a true or false?
Chris [00:15:37] Expound.
Caller [00:15:38] False. I’m gonna say false. I’m going. All right. So let’s turn this into a debate show.
Chris [00:15:43] I’m here.
Caller [00:15:44] And I’m gonna say false, and I’m going to defend myself. I just get so aggressive. No, no. But I… Maybe. You know what? I think maybe at one point. Yeah. But I. I’m so much more go with the flow now. You know, all my vibes and just going with the flow. No, but I’ve been. I’ve been practicing like, feel like I’m digging myself into a hole here.
Chris [00:16:17] You’re doing great.
Caller [00:16:18] I’ve been practicing meditation a lot. And so then it helps so that way when you’re really pissed that the cheese is gone.
Chris [00:16:27] Okay.
Caller [00:16:27] That you just you feel that for a second, and then you just let it go.
Chris [00:16:32] Understood. So you feel- you allow yourself to feel it and you recognize it as valid, and then you let it get swept downstream.
Caller [00:16:40] Yeah. Also medication is very helpful for that.
Chris [00:16:43] Agreed. Agreed. Now, we were talking before. You were you were just telling me about how you had some mentors who you remember their behavior. Setting a good example, being very positive. And I had been asking before we got cut off, you mentioned that you do comedy shows, but you were also playing music. So which which world do you inhabit that you had these mentors?
Caller [00:17:09] I… Right now um the person that like was really my biggest mentor was a jazz pianist and a composer that I met when I was just out of high school and starting to go to school for music. And he was someone that was really instrumental for me in finding my own voice and like staying true to my own path. He was like just such an open, creative person. And I was really lucky to meet him and make music with him because everything that he was about was like… Really… Being open to discovering like who you are within a thing instead of trying to fit a certain mold. And it was also really important for me because he was also the first male mentor that I had. Like male person through, like, music and creative work and stuff that, like, was just… There was no undertone of like me being a young woman… In a way that it was just. I don’t know how to say that without, like, going in that direction, but it’s just. He was. Yeah, he was really, really important to me, for sure. And I feel like everything that he taught me has been super instrumental in like any creative practice that I do. And I also teach a lot. I have a I have like a teaching studio where I teach like creative practice and improvization and songwriting and stuff and like… I love it because I get to work with like all different types of people and everybody is just so unique and doing their own thing. And like I feel like I get to pass on some of the way that he taught which is really special.
Chris [00:19:43] That’s cool. So you studied music and you still you still inhabit the world of music.
Caller [00:19:52] I do. I do. I do like I do that professionally. And then I sort of feel like I live like a few different lives day to day. And it gets a little overwhelming and… I… I… I think it’s going to like it’s coming to that point where, like, I might need to back off of like some things. But everything, everything that I do with, like, comedy and with with music is like… I think the core of it for me is like being able to connect with people. And like with comedy, it’s like it’s such a good feeling to like be in a room with people and like… have everybody sharing like this connection of like being in the moment and, like, laughing and, like, letting go. And I think that music… And especially improvizational music provides that too in just a little bit of a different way. Um, and so they, they are, yeah. It’s, they’re all, everything’s like, equally important to me. But I’m also trying to live like two different lives, which is a lot.
Chris [00:21:17] That’s a mysterious and fascinating statement that I want to unwrap. I want to hear about these these different lives that you’re simultaneously living. But I also have to ask, I have so much experience in the world of improv improvizational comedy. I feel like there’s been a few major waves of that throughout history. It’s a truly American art form started, you know, in Chicago, back in the Depression. So not even a hundred years ago. And there was a pretty major wave of it in New York City that a lot of people would say was fueled by the UCB Theater. And I was there. I was there right pretty much right when it started. And I was there for so much of it. Now the world of Improvizational music, though I don’t know that much about. You associate jazz music with having a lot of improvised elements, but I don’t know much about that world. Is that a thriving world where one can one can find creative satisfaction and or make a living, which are not always the same thing?
Caller [00:22:19] Well, I think that like… I think that like with music, with anything like that, I mean, a lot of a lot of the time it’s about putting on a lot of different hats. So like when I feel like I’m living a bunch of different lives, it’s because… I put on like so many different, like, roles throughout, like, the week or the month in order to, like, make… Honestly, just to like get get by. And then, you know, it would be lovely to to make more money than that in order to, like, maybe thrive. I’m like, I’m starting to get to that point where, like, I’m tired of using that the phrase, like, “make ends meet”. Because I feel like that’s like what we always say as artists, like, oh yeah, well, we just need to make ends meet. And I’m really like trying to just get out of that headspace to ask for more. But like with the Improvizational music thing… So like, okay, like I, I do some like scoring for like short films and sometimes like I do some ghost writing when I get asked to for like songwriters and stuff. And then I have my teaching studio, which has been astronomically helpful, especially over the pandemic, because it was my… It continued to be like a backbone for me where I could make some money, but also I got to meet with, like, the most thoughtful, creative people everyday over zoom and talk about like… Expressing, expressing things. Through like a really difficult time. So I’m really thankful for that. And. That sort of can allow me to- with the Improvizational music thing… I mean, no, there’s not like, you know, you have to really make it I think just like with anything to to be strictly like a touring artist or something like that. Um, but I will say there are so many ties between improvising music and like improv comedy. And it’s so cool.
Chris [00:24:52] I like it. I like it. I also want to just say I’m with you. This idea of like, oh, yeah, I’m an artist so I work all these- I put on all these different hats to make ends meet. And you’re getting tired of saying that. I just want to say that I’m totally with you on that. I want to say there are stretches of anybody’s life as an artist- I’m going to get on a high horse, get on a soapbox about art, long standing trope on the show. But right when you’re starting out and you’re not proven, yeah, you got to do that. But then, you know, the… The whole idea that we romanticize this idea that artists just have to make ends meet, that also ends poorly for so many people and it also allows people to be taken advantage of, even at an extremely high level. Even like pop acts, even pop musicians. You look at what streaming services pay for people’s music and there’s it’s fractions of fractions of pennies for songs that are making these services millions and millions of dollars. And people might go, oh boo hoo, you still get to tour. And you go, Okay… Artists are continuously told like, Oh, you have this song that’s really popular, you have this album that’s really popular, well stop complaining about streaming services. You get to tour. And it’s like, Well, you’re effectively telling an artist, okay, you have the product, but in order to monetize it, this means you need to go on the road. You need to spend time away from your family. You need to spend time away from sleeping in your own bed. You need to live a life that’s nomadic, effectively, you know, people go- and then that extends, right? And then you’ve got promoters who go, Hey, you sold a lot of tickets, but your cut of the deal, I’m gonna discount this, this, this, and that. But hey, you get to keep all your own merch sales. And you go, Well, I’m the one with the song, and how come there’s corporations licensing it and there’s streaming services making bank off of it and there’s promoters, there’s all these people in the seats. The promoters are making a lot of money. And now you’re effectively telling me that I get to sell T-shirts, I get to be a T-shirt sales person because I’m the one who made up the song. It just always rolls downhill to the artists, it seems. And there’s certainly artists who complain too much. But the infrastructure, the romanticized, starving artist, you’d be shocked at how high a level it goes, let alone, you know, like I’m someone who’s very, very lucky. I’ve been very, very lucky as an artist, and I still sweat it out so hard. And I’ve met with relative success, let alone, like you say, like the world of improvised music. I don’t know much about it, but I do know that it’s it’s not a mainstream pursuit. I think that’s fair to say, in 2022, right?
Caller [00:27:28] Of course not. Yeah. Of course.
Chris [00:27:30] So you sit there and you go for you to say to me, like, yeah, you have to be working at a very high level and top of the craft to be able to get like a touring position where you only do this, you go, man, so you’re working in an art form and in a corner of the arts where the highest level people manage to get success where they might go on the road and be away from their families or any stability for 300 days a year. And they’re grateful to do it. And that is a success. That’s a victory. But it’s also eye opening. So I want to let you know, I got your back and I hear that. And for anybody who’s not an artist, I sit here I go, everybody has it tough. And look, I hate when artists complain. And I don’t think we’re complaining. I think that people opt into the arts and it’s a beautiful lifestyle. And there’s there’s other people out there, you know, working in factory jobs where they might get injured. And there’s not protections for that. There’s people who are fighting for unionization in environments that are actually physically dangerous, you know? People getting black lung, people, you know… I get it.
Caller [00:28:32] Yeah. It’s all connected.
Chris [00:28:36] It is. It’s all about the work connected. It’s about the people putting in the work, not seeing the monetary benefit of that work. So I want to say for you, I hear you. And for you to go- I see what you’re saying. You know, you get to teach. And that’s a beautiful thing. You also get to pick up gigs and that’s a beautiful thing. And then when you cobble them all together, you might have a life where the rent is paid. And that’s a beautiful thing. But it’s also a stressful thing. And I hear you.
Caller [00:29:06] Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Oh, man. So much to talk about. Like, um. Well, first of all, I am a T-shirt salesman, so let’s get that out of the way right now. I would say it’s actually my passion project. I love selling t shirts of all kinds.
Chris [00:29:25] Is that true?
Caller [00:29:26] I’m just kidding. Okay, but. Okay, I’m just joking. But let’s see, I. I mean, just this week, like I have covid right now, that’s why I sound like this. So, like I have to take off… Like I’ve had to take off, like, three days of work, you know? And that’s hard. That’s hard. Income wise, you know? And so it’s that’s that can be really that can be really challenging when especially if you have some, like, tour dates or something like that, too. And then, you know, you know, it’s just like all of a sudden you’re sick or something like that. But um, ah I, I’ll say too, it’s not, it’s not even like… You know, just that there is such an interesting juxtaposition, too, of like these sort of… What’s it called? What’s the word I’m looking for here? Milestones. Milestones that you can reach. But how they don’t necessarily always represent what they can like… They don’t actually like manifest necessarily as much as they do like symbolize something. So like I’ve had some experiences where I’ve gotten to go and like play and bring my music at like some of the more like major festivals and things that exist in the country. But, and then there’s like this feeling when that stuff is happening where it’s like, okay, maybe this is like maybe this is driving me forward. Maybe this is like taking me somewhere. And like, you put that effort in to try to have it lead to other things. But like… Those types of milestones are only there for the instant sometimes, you know? Like you play like a festival or something and it feels like a really big deal, but then it can be gone like the next, the next day.
Chris [00:31:30] Ooh. Let’s pause right there. That hits me. Playing at a festival. It’s a big deal. And it’s gone the next day. Man, that’s a lesson I’ve learned so many times in the past 20 years. That one hits home. Okay. We’ll be right back. Thanks to all of our advertisers. And now let’s finish the phone call.
Caller [00:31:53] You play like a festival or something and it feels like a really big deal. But then it can be gone like the next the next day. Like, I’ll still I’ll have things in my own city where I’m trying to book a gig or something like that. It really doesn’t matter like the credentials you have. It’s still just about like, you know, will that that weird bar manager like, give you like a minute? Or actually, like, check out your music or not. So, you know, there are these like weird juxtapositions. And within with with jazz musicians, too, they’ll have this like, maybe you’ll go like to like Europe or something. And it’s like you’re like, lauded as this, like, incredible, you know, like, you sell out like a stadium or something, and then you, like, are back home and it’s like maybe like you have, like, you know, a small little bar gig, you know? And I’m here for it. I’m down for it. I love. I love like the absurdity of all of it. Even though it can be so frustrating.
Chris [00:33:12] Are you near your piano right now?
Caller [00:33:14] Yeah, I am.
Chris [00:33:16] How would you feel if you improvised some music and I improvised some lyrics to sum up this stretch of the show?
Caller [00:33:22] All right, I dig it. Let’s do it. All right.
Chris [00:33:27] Okay. You get it going. You give me, like, 4 bars and then I’ll throw down some lyrics.
Caller [00:33:32] Do you mind if I sing with you if it comes up?
Chris [00:33:35] Oh, you do- I’ll follow your lead. Okay.
Caller [00:33:38] All right, let’s do it. So let me get this piano up a little more.
Chris [00:33:42] Mm hmm.
Caller [00:33:45] And then we’ll play. (PLAYS PIANO)
Chris [00:34:15] Art for art’s sake feels like a lie! And the question is why?!
Chris [00:34:33] I think I feel like that. Okay. I feel like I nailed my part. Beautiful. Beautiful flourishes right there. Yeah… WHYYYYYY! …. All right.
Caller [00:35:25] Fine.
Chris [00:35:26] Okay. Art for art’s sake feels like a lie. Why? We nailed that one. We nailed that one. Now as you’re scrapping about, piecing together all these aspects of your life through your passion, trying to turn it into your profession, are there any high points that stand out? Are there any things you can point to and go-?
Caller [00:35:50] Yeah.
Chris [00:35:50] Yeah. Okay. I want to hear about those.
Caller [00:35:53] Yeah. Absolutely, absolutely. Um, so something that happened a couple of weeks ago, which was really wild to me, was that I felt there is this, there’s this musician that was coming through town on tour. And I really, really respect and admire his music and it’s like influenced me a lot as I was coming up and I just kind of, I worked up the nerve to shoot him, like I try to get in touch with him, basically. So I shot him a message on Instagram. I didn’t even know if he would see that. And I didn’t hear anything back until the day he was in town. And then I just got a message from him just being like, Hey, what’s up? Want to go get some food? Which was so it was just so I was like, Damn, I guess this is happening. And so I went and picked him up and we had coffee and got to, like, walk around and talk about life and music and like… It was another one of those examples of just like, kind of like brushing up with somebody that could- it could go the other way where like, maybe you meet somebody and it just feels really uncomfortable for whatever reason. Or there’s like a status thing or anything like that. But he was just so generous with his time and his knowledge. And something that really blew my mind was that he was familiar with my work already, which is something that I just couldn’t have imagined or like even… You know that the day before, I didn’t even think it was possible to even, like, hang out with this person. You know? Or get in touch with this person. Just to all of a sudden, like be like, all right, now we’re hangin more like as peers… It was just a little bit of a jolt to my system and also like a very like a much needed push, I think, as well, to get me thinking about things again, like thinking about like what I actually want and what I want to, like, pursue next.
Chris [00:38:21] I love that. I love that. Do you? Do you? Well, I was going to say, did you do you feel like he he looked you up when you reached out or he’s aware of the scene and you have enough of a name in the in the scene that he said, oh, no, I know who that is.
Caller [00:38:41] Well, you know, I think I think that it’s all these, like, little things. So I feel like every everything that has really worked out for me has been by, like, a longshot. So uh the reason he knew about my music is because I met him at a festival, like, maybe like five years ago that I was performing at because I had taken a long shot of this like… This like big like application kind of like award type thing for like composition and singing. And so it led me to this festival where he was at. And then I worked up the courage to go see what’s up to him there. He asked for my CD there. And I just figured he was being nice and probably would never listen to it. But I guess he did. And then this other thing happened where, like, I put my name out for this really big application for like women and non-binary people in jazz and improvised music, which is like a whole new program that exists. And people should check it out, actually. It’s called Next Jazz Legacy because it’s important, really important that people know about this stuff because there’s not enough resources for women in in in the industry. But anyway, on a long shot, like I, I did this application and it turned out, turned out that he was on the like artists board. Like listening to stuff. And I didn’t really have any idea of that. So when we met up he said, Hey, I don’t know if you know that like I was in the room listening to your shit. Which was like, oh, okay. Wow, I guess we’re talking about this kinda moment. So yeah, it’s all these, like, little things that that ended up… All these other moments that ended up leading me here to this this time where it’s like, Oh, he actually is familiar with my work and is like an advocate for, like, my stuff. And I didn’t even realize it.
Chris [00:41:06] What a good feeling.
Caller [00:41:09] Yeah. Yeah it was a good feeling. It was a good feeling. Especially at a moment when you’re not, like, necessarily seeking validation. And then it’s sort of like presented to you and you’re like, all right, what, you know, what, what do I do with this now? Because that’s that’s just the feeling. That’s just a feeling that can be, like, super fleeting, too, you know? And it’s not like you can hang on to those moments forever. You just got to- now you just got to go with it. And I will say that, like… A couple of things… Something that’s really funny about it to me is that at the end of the night, he wanted to hang after his show. And he was like, I got to see you do comedy now. I got to see you do comedy. So took him to this, like, open mic. It was already like midnight and it was just like a total, like, mess in there. And I signed up. I was on, like, last. So we were there it was like, like 230 in the morning and everybody else had cleared out besides just like a ton of drunk people on the other side. And so I ended up delivering, like, a solo standup set to like my musical like hero.
Chris [00:42:43] That sounds like a nightmare.
Caller [00:42:44] And it was it was it was a nightmare but like, in a good way. Like, absolutely. It was the most surreal. I totally blacked out. I don’t even know what the fuck I was saying. And um but I love that confusion. I love. I love that like, I’m like seeing- I don’t know. It’s just such a weird, confusing way to live, I feel like. Like I had, like, an article. I’m sorry. I’m, like, talking a lot now.
Chris [00:43:19] I love it.
Caller [00:43:20] But all these things are randomly coming up. Like there this article that came out about, like, a festival that I get to do in the fall, like a, like a jazz festival. And, um, by the way, still crazy that, that I can even do that because there were like two years that I couldn’t even, you know, do any of that. I’m still really feeling that from from yeah, pandemic life. But anyway, in the article it said, uh, you know my name is a improvising musician and a improv- what did they say? Musical improv comedy person or something like that, which isn’t quite right.
Chris [00:44:10] Mm hmm. Mm hmm.
Caller [00:44:12] Like it’s not quite the right label, but also, like, so funny to be, like, the first time that I’m, like, recognized in print for, like, actually doing comedy, because I’ve been putting a lot of time into that world, is in an article for, like a jazz festival.
Chris [00:44:31] Yeah. Yeah. That’s.
Caller [00:44:32] It’s so weird. So weird and I love that so much.
Chris [00:44:39] Uh huh. Okay. I think you got to hit the piano. I think we got to sum this part up in song, cause I like this. This story of you and your mentor. The idea of you performing at 5:30 a.m. for a set where the only person paying attention is one of your musical heroes. Okay, I like this.
Caller [00:45:02] (PLAYS PIANO)
Chris [00:45:10] They say, never meet your heroes. But I think that one’s not quite true. Because I met you. Did you hear the one about the mentor who walked to a bar at 2:30 a.m. to have a solo stand up said from a mentee and a protege? I heard that one because I lived it. Meet your heroes, kids! Let them surprise you or maybe disappoint you. But don’t you ever let them off the hook. And don’t you ever apologize for who you are and what you do! … I like that one.
Caller [00:46:05] Yeah!
Chris [00:46:05] I like that one.
Caller [00:46:08] Yeah, that’s tight. I dig that a lot.
Chris [00:46:12] Mm hmm. Mm hmm.
Caller [00:46:14] That’s really fun. Uh, something. Something that I wanted to say too about all this stuff is that like this comes at a time- and I just want to put this out there because I’ve been having so many of these conversations over the last- kind of like since the pandemic hit, but I realized over the last year that I was sort of pushing myself out of the music scene. Out of like performing. Out of all these things that I really love and care about and have like spent you know, many years doing. And I had all these justifications for it in my head like, you know, all the things basically we were talking about before with, you know, financial well-being and all of that stuff. But when the pandemic hit, I realized that, like, a lot of it had actually been built up around all these really negative experiences that I had with like men and like harassment and stuff like that. Being like a a woman and and a young woman, like trying to make it in this in the scene. And it’s been a really powerful thing to like… I think what that time in in in quarantine and lockdown provided was like this stripping away of going gig to gig and having to really like process some of those things. Um, which I’m grateful for. And now I feel like I’m in a position where it’s like, man, I kind of don’t want to let that dictate what I do.
Chris [00:49:00] Meaning these were feelings that you felt like you had to take head on for a long time, and now you feel like you need to push beyond that and not let them become the- I feel like for an artist, issues along those lines could be ripe for the taking and ripe for inspiration. They could also, I fear, I imagine, have to be frustrating at times of like, well, why does why does my art need to stop here just because other people create bad situations that I then need to sort out?
Caller [00:49:33] Yeah. It’s like, I think that, like, I was really starting to feel unsafe. It’s like I would go from gig to gig where something would happen, something would happen, something would happen. And sometimes that would be like a verbal abuse thing. You know, sometimes it’s like, um, harassment from, you know, like a bar manager or someone from the audience, or sometimes it’s like a band leader or like somebody like that and you don’t have time to process because you’re just trying to get to the next gig. You’re just trying to, as we were saying before, make ends meet. And by- it’s like you’re presented with a choice every time. It’s like, Do I say something? And if I do, who am I even giving this information to? And will that further put me in harm’s way or will it actually help? And in many and you know in the instances that like, I mean, I’ve had situations where I’ve spoken up and then it’s like you end up being the one fired from a gig or something like that. So you you’re kind of conditioned to do the other thing, which is just like laugh it off, you know. Laugh it off. Keep going. But by not processing any of this stuff, it’s like it’s been an undercurrent of all of my choices for a really long time. Or it’s like, Oh, you know what? Maybe I won’t take this gig. Or this opportunity is coming up. Maybe I won’t do that. And the really strong feeling behind those things actually being like, Are you not taking this because you don’t want to? Or is it because, like you’re feeling like it’s somehow going to lead to something bad. Does that make sense?
Chris [00:52:01] Yeah, it does. It does. And it’s a very simple breakdown of why this stuff is really worth talking about. Because you sit, right, you sit here, you go, well, you know, you inhabit a world that’s- I would have to imagine when someone finds himself in the world of improvised music in the modern times, you get to know the other people who are interested pretty quickly, right? The other people who participate in it who are good. If you’re in a city, you quickly learn who are the other people who have studied jazz or improvised music or composition, because there’s not that many people. And then you sit, you go… Like you mentioned, bandleaders who have the ability to hire you for gigs. And you said you go, it’s not out of- there’s some people might be going, Well, yeah, maybe that guy is going to ask out a girl who plays music because they have common interests. And there’s not that many people. And you go, from my perspective, at least- and tell me when I’m saying something stupid, you go, Yeah, sure. But what happens when that band leader realizes consciously or subconsciously, this person needs gigs from me… And that gives me leeway to maybe act in a way that I wouldn’t if that wasn’t the case. You know, you go, okay, like.
[00:53:18] Oh, sure.
[00:53:19] So what’s the line between going- What’s the line between going, We’re both interested in the same thing and I’m very impressed by you and I’m attracted to you, so maybe we could go out sometime, which seems like it’s in play. In bounds. Versus, hey, like I am the person who hires you. I’m attracted to you. Do you want to go out? And you start to realize that reactions are going to be different, consequences are going to be different, and that’s when things get- at best, I would have to imagine for someone in your position, icky would be a good word. Where you go, it is at best icky, some of the situations that you run into as an artist dealing with let’s be frank, horny dudes. It’s, at best, icky.
Caller [00:54:04] Sure.
Chris [00:54:05] And often much worse than icky. Often, much worse.
Caller [00:54:09] Right. Right. I like. Right before the pandemic hit, the last conversation I had was with this guy for a jazz festival. And all I was doing was asking for the details, asking for the contract to be sent over. And it just resulted in him screaming at me over the phone.
Chris [00:54:34] Why?
Caller [00:54:36] And telling me that I was ungrateful and that I should just be excited for the opportunity, and and all these things. And there were some other elements there, too, where I was being asked- I don’t even want to go into it. Just suffice to say, you know, behavior that’s not okay. And also I don’t think what has happened to a male counterpart, but- based on my experience. And I I’ll just say it’s really important for, well, you know, for us for us to connect on these things and women and and non-binary people and, you know, to connect on these experiences, because it’s definitely been astronomically helpful to me to over the last couple of years to have conversations about this, because we’re often kept separate. Like whether it’s like in a comedy thing or a music thing or whatever, it’s like a lot of the times it’s like there’s there’s one spot open for a girl. One spot, you know? So then it’s like, we’re separated. We’re kept separated. So it’s like I’ve had some things recently where it’s like I’ve connected with people. I was like, Oh, man. Like, I cannot believe that we haven’t, that we haven’t talked. We’ve been in this, like, scene for so long together. And, um. You swap you swap the horror stories. You swap the war stories and things like that, and you get through that. And then on the other side of it is just like beautiful like creativity, which is like the stuff you want to be spending your energy on. You know, like, now how can we make something together? Like now that we’ve, like, you know, been able to like process this in some capacity, even though these things are going to keep coming up. It’s just a part of it. You know? Like, talk about how we can, like, actually make something?
Chris [00:57:09] I think that’s really.
Caller [00:57:10] And that’s powerful.
Chris [00:57:12] That’s a beautiful thought. It’s a beautiful thought. Right. Because you do you realize, oh, how many comedy shows have I been on where there is one slot set aside, where there’s there’s one female performer in the whole night? And it’s exactly what you’re saying, right? This means those first conversations invariably- at least in the world of comedy, let’s be honest- you’re going to have a lot of conversations early on of like, hey, don’t be alone in the bar at the end of the night with this guy or that guy. Like, those conversations are sadly necessary. And what a waste of everyone’s time and energy. And then, like you say, once you get to a point of camaraderie that’s beyond that, then you start going, Well, what happens if we make things together? What happens if we’re inspired? And that’s such a bummer. That’s such a barrier to think about that. You have to burn energy going, Hey, this open mic is not safe. Don’t go to it. And you have to waste your time having that conversation. And you have to waste your creative energy having that conversation before you ever get to sit down with a female counterpart and go, What do you want to make? How can I help? What skills do I have that might add to the thing you do and vice versa? No, no, no. Before we get to any of that, I need to say, hey, did you hear about that thing that happened in the back room of that club with that person? Do you know if it’s true or not? Because I don’t know if I should be at that club anymore or around that person anymore. That burns energy. That burns bandwidth. That sucks. And if there’s anybody out there who hears me saying that, going like, Oh, this guy’s like a white knight or a social justice warrior, I guess my response to that would just be like, Fuck you. Be realistic. Be realistic. You know, be realistic. We all know that that stuff happens. We all know how much that sucks. And yeah, one of the things that’s lucky I’m lucky about in New York, I think, is there’s so many performers that I think I’ve always seen very strong female performers, but I’ve performed enough in cities that aren’t the coastal cities. And I don’t know where you’re at. But where I go, yeah, there’s still that thing of one girl per bill. Well, that really sucks for a lot of different reasons. And chief among them, I think one of the big ones is information isn’t shared. And this not only puts people in, potentially, harm’s way, but also just means you have to burn so much, so much energy just to get to creative conversation with other creative people. That blows, just on a logistical level. That blows.
Caller [00:59:42] Yeah. Absolutely. Absolutely. And you know, I, I that’s why I shouted out that program earlier, because that’s- I’m pretty sure that’s like the first time that a program like that exists where it’s specifically like kind of like a peer mentoring thing for for women and non-binary people in this music in this industry. And it’s going to connect people from, you know, nationally, to be able to, like, talk about these issues, but also like make music and like help each other with their careers. And that’s exciting. It is really exciting. And I just want- I want to shout out too like… Like, okay, I live in- I think it’s okay I can say where- people do that.
Chris [01:00:43] Yeah, sure.
Caller [01:00:43] People do that on the show.
Chris [01:00:44] Do whatever you want.
Caller [01:00:45] I live in Detroit and… Detroit there’s like there’s like a camaraderie here with people making stuff. And that’s exciting. Where there’s a lot of really skill, skillfull talented people here. And the thing is, there’s no industry here, really. Like for, like, entertainment industry. And like, you know, you can hit a wall with that. But. What you do got is like people that are like down to make stuff and really put their energy into that.
Chris [01:01:30] Some real weirdos in Detroit, too, man. I know-
Caller [01:01:34] Hell yeah.
Chris [01:01:34] Well, I did a- I did a show a while back at the Planet Ant Theater. We did the Live- the Motor City Mayhem Live taping of Beautiful/ Anonymous was through Planet Ant. And that vibe was weird in there. And then some of those people from that theater just did a- they decided they wanted the Chris Gethard Show to come back, so they just did it and they pretended to be me and they livestreamed it and I watched some of it. I was like, Man, this is a bizarre experience for me.
Caller [01:01:59] Very you know what? I saw that dude, I Chris, I saw that. And I was like, I don’t know about this.
Chris [01:02:11] Think how I felt. People unauthorized pretending to be me to try to replicate my TV show that got canceled four years ago? Think about how I felt.
Caller [01:02:19] I mean, I did. I was thinking about it because I thought that it was a strange choice. And I didn’t I don’t want to say too much more about it because I am, you know, like that is one of the only- all right. Planet Ant, I want to say, is providing spaces for people to put stuff up, which is really amazing because there’s not a lot. You know, there aren’t… There aren’t a lot of places doing that. But uh, but yeah. So then I was like, I don’t know. I don’t feel good about it.
Chris [01:02:59] Yeah. It was a lot.
Caller [01:03:07] I’m not going to apologize because I had nothing to do with that.
Chris [01:03:11] Yeah, I’m glad they went for it. I’ve always been a they went for it. I watched some of it. I feel like they felt weird about it while they were doing it. That’s okay. You shoot your shots.
Caller [01:03:22] I was like, this was a mistake.
Chris [01:03:22] We got 10 seconds left. We got 10 seconds left, me and you. What do you think we should say in our final 10 seconds?
Caller [01:03:29] Oh, well, listen, just thanks so much. I mean, this was really nice to talk, and I just appreciate you and appreciate what you do so much. And. Oh, gosh, yeah. It’s been like a really- all of your projects have been such a hugely positive influence on my life. And I just can’t thank you enough for it. So thank you.
Chris [01:03:50] Oh. I got to say, I’m glad you’re out there making cool stuff, getting into the stuff that’s not the mainstream. Figuring out ways to work. Figuring out ways to make ends meet, but also not settling for just making ends meet. Spreading it to other people, looking to collaborate with other people, looking to teach other people. I feel like we got to just some of this whole call up in a song. Don’t you? It’s gott to end in a song.
Caller [01:04:13] I think so.
Chris [01:04:14] Okay.
Caller [01:04:15] All right. All right. (PLAYS PIANO) Hanging with Chris Gethard on Beautiful Anonymous. This is if you want to come in cuz I can’t see your face.
Chris [01:04:45] Okay. I was just about to, but my instinct was just to say, just to start yelling something to make you laugh. Like to just inexplicably go, choo choo cha cha choo choo cha cha cha choo.
Caller [01:05:03] Choo choo choo choo choo cha choo choo.
Chris [01:05:21] Caller, thank you so much. Thanks for tickling the ivories so often along the way. Thank you for calling. This show is produced by Anita Flores and engineered by Ryan Connor. Our theme song is by ShellShag. Go to ChrisGeth.com if you want to know more about me, including my live stand up dates and my live Beautiful/ Anonymous taping dates. Wherever you’re listening, there’s a button. It says subscribe, favorite, follow, something like that. Really helps us when you hit that button. Find our latest merch at podswag.com. We’ve got mugs, shirts, posters and more.