How The Bread Is Made: Episode 111
Surprise, a bonus episode! Hope you enjoyed this one. Harris “Hair-Of-The-Dog” Wittels, auction winner David Guy Levy, and a “surprise” guest who brings with him controversy during every appearance. What more could you want?
How much would YOU pay to be a part of the fun that is a CBB taping? Is two thousand dollars too much? Too little? Some would say that such an opportunity to be immortalized in the podcast Hall of Fame is priceless. Others would agree, but would argue it doesn’t have a price because it isn’t worth anything, and the podcast Hall Of Fame does not, nor will it ever, exist.
For the past three years, we’ve been doing a year-end benefit / auction / fundraiser for the L.A. Regional Food Bank, and wonderful place that distributes food to those in need all throughout the county we call home. We’ve raised over $100,000 for them, basically from the wonderful comedians who have donated their time to providing fun “experiences” upon which regular “non-coms” can bid.
I’ve done four “anyone can host” live shows with winners, and they’ve all been fantastic (albeit draining) opportunities for me to work with novices or people with less experience. We just finished our latest one, with Dr. Hal Lerman, a dentist who had never done standup before, and it was very rewarding for both him and me.
This is the first podcast auction we’ve been able to complete (2010’s winner had trouble scheduling it during the year for which he bought it, and we’ve missed each other each time he’s been in LA since then). I never know who these winners are – it’s always a surprise to me when we finally get in contact, and I find out their level of familiarity and interest in the comedy scene.
I found David Guy Levy to be a little different than the winners I usually deal with – he had ties to a bunch of people I know, including having produced a movie Adam Scott appeared in. Everyone told me he is a great guy and “gets it,” so I knew I could breathe a little easier, and not be in my usual state of mind when I meet auction winners – i.e., wondering if they’re going to murder me.
David had an idea for his show – he wanted to “surprise” me with a guest, Brett Gelman, with whom he was already friendly. He thought it would be great to bring back some of the fake tension he loved from our previous encounters.
A little backstory – Brett and I, regardless of how it may seem, are great friends, and have worked together quite often. He’s one of the most talented guys around, and in real life, I support his art unequivocally.
For his second CBB appearance, Episode 35, I asked him to perform the now-legendary “iBrain” story, a piece I had seen on the CBB live show a few months back, which made me cry from laughter (especially after a considerable amount of time wondering “what in the fuck does he think he’s doing?”). The supposed friction between us during that show was a lot of fun, and the “banning” of him was supposed to be a delightful little story element that might or might not be followed up upon in the future.
I will say that, while it’s added a sense of drama to his every appearance, this particular storyline has become a bit of an albatross to deal with during every episode on which Brett would appear. In reality, we have no problems with each other, so the fact that we would have to go over the story every time, and reiterate why he was banned, became something that, after a few episodes, I was angling towards trying to leave behind. In order to, hopefully, get back to Brett just coming on and having fun, like most guests get to do.
Ergo, David’s idea, while a great one, was met with a little trepidation from me, as it wasn’t an area I necessarily wanted to revisit.
(Add to that, a few days after we taped this episode, we taped the infamous Episode 102, “Behind The Music,” with Tim Heidecker and Neil Hamburger. Another episode fraught with fake tension – and one I’d like to write about soon – but ultimately, conflict and anger are not something I want to be the thing you think of when you think of CBB. )
But a winner is a winner, and I am bound by the compact I had entered to fulfill Mr. Levy’s every desire!
David and I agreed it would be good to have someone on my side during the taping, so it would be more of a fair match. He agreed to let me pick my co-conspirator, and Harris immediately came to mind.
I always enjoy playing off of Harris, because, while I respect him immensely, he doesn’t mind playing lower status than me, and sometimes being the butt of the joke. Plus, we had the results of the poll to get to, and I was anxious for him to hear how many people voted for him to never return – a whopping 150! More than could even fit into the UCB Theatre.
With this matchup set, we met briefly beforehand to figure out how the show should be structured. David was nervous about being on mic for the first time, as is normal for anyone. We suggested that it’s always fun to shit on Harris, and he agreed to try that tactic for the first part of the show. Then, in the second segment, Brett would enter and surprise me, and we would eventually direct it toward revealing that he and David had a previous relationship, and this was all a plan to secure Brett an Earwolf podcast.
(For those of you wondering – the Gelmania podcast is real, and coming soon. In fact, that’s part of the reason I held the episode for so long after we taped it – like I said, it was taped during the CDR period, and I had to actually edit out every instance I said the old name. We were waiting for Brett’s show to be able to come out the day this episode dropped. Unfortunately, as is the case with most things in show business, it’s taking a little longer to put together than we’ve anticipated, and I had to put out the episode in time for the release of David’s movie Terri. Plus, Harris was tired of not being on the show while we waited for it to come out.)
In the first segment, Harris debuts some ridiculously awful Foam/Phone Corner jokes, for which David, playing to our wishes, is unnecessarily harsh. I do want to reiterate this was our suggestion, and not just David being a dick (I even edited some of the harsher things he said afterward, because I didn’t want listeners to turn on him).
Then Brett came out and goes into his usual insane mad genius bits, and I got to try to figure out a way to make it entertaining and not just angry. When I hit on the passive-aggressive “you paid two thousand dollars, so you can do whatever you want” tactic, I feel like I really found a way to make this different from all of Brett’s previous appearances. And it was making those guys laugh, so in the end, I’m happy we did it.
And I make no promises that the drama between Brett and I is over… I do have fun engaging in it. Fans of his will find that his podcast is full of Kaufmanesque tension and mock arrogance. Hopefully, though, for my show, we can get back to just enjoying each other.
Was it worth it for David? I really hope so. Two thousand dollars is extremely generous, and I know the Food Bank appreciated it, so I hope he found it to be a pleasant experience. With any luck, you all went out and saw Terri, and will look for his name in future projects.
And who knows? Maybe this wasn’t the last episode of CBB on which David will appear. Just writing this gave me an idea that it might be fun having him be Brett’s sidekick on future episodes. What do you think?
(By the way – to donate to the LA Food Bank, please go here: https://www.lafoodbank.org/CDR2010/donate-now.aspx)