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More NYC Dong Drawing

October 26th, 2013 by Jeff Simmermon

I’ve referenced NYC’s classic folk-art subgenre before – the subway dong drawing. I found this marvelous specimen on the LIRR from Atlantic Terminal to Jamaica yesterday morning:

2013-10-25 09.59.31

She looks so pleasantly surprised, as if to say “I was expecting a breakfast treat, but this is really something special!”

Filed under Art & Design, Beauty, Comedy, Found, New York City having Comments Off

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Clear the Cache and Defrag the Hard Drive – Have a Good Cry

July 31st, 2013 by Jeff Simmermon

Everyone knows that straight men are emotionally repressed. If we weren’t, ‘Mad Men’ would be a two hour miniseries on Lifetime that nobody watched and ‘The Sopranos’ would be a Ken Burns documentary about the excellent and communicative management style of the New Jersey underworld.

Nobody ever talks about this, but all that emotional repression is a net positive for our species. Or, it can be, for a while.

Here’s why:

Testosterone is a hell of a drug, man.

Starting one morning when I was twelve or thirteen years old, and continuing for the rest of my life, my brain’s most immediate response to any stimulus is:

1) kill it
2) fuck it
3) eat it with your hands

Thirteen and fourteen are pretty tough years for guys because we are learning not to trust the constant swarm of chemicals in our bodies that is gearing us up to lead a Viking raid from horseback.

You learn to curb that shit pretty quickly that if you want to continue to earn your mother’s love and be allowed inside the house. Otherwise your family would just keep you in a shed in the backyard and throw chickens in there sometimes, like that one family in every zombie movie that’s in horrible denial about what’s really happened to their boy.

You know what they call guys who are fully in touch with their feelings and express them in real time the moment that they have them?


What’s initially a pretty solid social survival skill just kind of calcifies and turns into a habit after a while. A good habit in one context is a terrible habit when the context changes.

I’m starting to notice that the same impulse control mechanism that kept me and most of my friends out of jail in high school is now working against me.

Yesterday was a brutal day at work, just a beige blizzard of corporate stupid, and I had to come straight home and lie on the couch in my drawers and watch Superman cartoons.

My wife, my brand new wife of exactly two months, came home from the gym, glowing with exercise and beaming to see that for once I came home early instead of spending an evening trying to impress a bunch of schlubby misogynists at a dingy basement comedy show. She leans over and gives me a sweet kiss, then starts telling me about her day while she stretches on the floor, and a few minutes in says “you’re awful quiet. Is there something wrong?”

And this seriously came out of my mouth:
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This Excerpt From A Dave Eggers Interview Makes the Heart Sing

July 24th, 2013 by Jeff Simmermon

Humpback Whale Underwater

My friend and occasional blog-partner D.Billy sent me this excerpt from a Dave Eggers interview the other day and my God, it made my heart sing a massive oceans-wide whale song of recognition. I’ve been feeling ground down by a heavily “no”-intensive environment, the sort of thing where a cautious, smart “no” is always better than a “hey-let’s-give-it-a-shot yes.”

The cautious, smart “no” is usually pretty satisfying. You feel safe, secure. Then a few years go by and the view out the window never changes, and you start to think “wait, I feel kinda stagnant.” If you’re lucky you might notice that all that caution kept you in the driveway instead of out on the open road.

The whole interview is worth a read, but it all boils down to this at the end. Read it, and let your heart’s whale-song harmonize with the entire universe:

The thing is, I really like saying yes. I like new things, projects, plans, getting people together and doing something, trying something, even when it’s corny or stupid. I am not good at saying no. And I do not get along with people who say no. When you die, and it really could be this afternoon, under the same bus wheels I’ll stick my head if need be, you will not be happy about having said no. You will be kicking your ass about all the no’s you’ve said. No to that opportunity, or no to that trip to Nova Scotia or no to that night out, or no to that project or no to that person who wants to be naked with you but you worry about what your friends will say.

No is for wimps. No is for pussies. No is to live small and embittered, cherishing the opportunities you missed because they might have sent the wrong message.

There is a point in one’s life when one cares about selling out and not selling out. One worries whether or not wearing a certain shirt means that they are behind the curve or ahead of it, or that having certain music in one’s collection means that they are impressive, or unimpressive.

Thankfully, for some, this all passes. I am here to tell you that I have, a few years ago, found my way out of that thicket of comparison and relentless suspicion and judgment. And it is a nice feeling.

Because, in the end, no one will ever give a shit who has kept shit ‘real’ except the two or three people, sitting in their apartments, bitter and self-devouring, who take it upon themselves to wonder about such things. The keeping real of shit matters to some people, but it does not matter to me.

It’s fashion, and I don’t like fashion, because fashion does not matter.

What matters is that you do good work. What matters is that you produce things that are true and will stand.

What matters is not the perception, nor the fashion, not who’s up and who’s down, but what someone has done and if they meant it. What matters is that you want to see and make and do, on as grand a scale as you want, regardless of what the tiny voices of tiny people say.

Do not be critics, you people, I beg you. I was a critic and I wish I could take it all back because it came from a smelly and ignorant place in me, and spoke with a voice that was all rage and envy. Do not dismiss a book until you have written one, and do not dismiss a movie until you have made one, and do not dismiss a person until you have met them. It is a fuckload of work to be open-minded and generous and understanding and forgiving and accepting, but Christ, that is what matters. What matters is saying yes.

I say yes, and Wayne Coyne says yes, and if that makes us the enemy, then good, good, good. We are evil people because we want to live and do things. We are on the wrong side because we should be home, calculating which move would be the least damaging to our downtown reputations.

But I say yes because I am curious. I want to see things. I say yes when my high school friend tells me to come out because he’s hanging with Puffy. A real story, that. I say yes when Hollywood says they’ll give me enough money to publish a hundred different books, or send twenty kids through college. Saying no is so fucking boring.

And if anyone wants to hurt me for that, or dismiss me for that, for saying yes, I say Oh do it, do it you motherfuckers, finally, finally, finally.

Archives Posts

‘And I Am Not Lying’ Returns to the Black Cat in Washington DC, July 12th

July 5th, 2013 by Jeff Simmermon

**UPDATE – Dave Hill had to cancel because of some unforeseen circumstances. He is being replaced by the incomparable Paul Oddo.**

‘And I Am Not Lying’ is roaring back into town and cock-rocking the NPR crowd at The Black Cat on Friday, July 12th, at 9PM.

This show is going to leave a smoldering crater on 14th St NW, featuring a Game of Thrones-themed burlesque act from Corvette LeFace, Afro-Brazilian percussion from the 20-woman band Batala, comedy from Dave Hill, more burlesque from Cherry Pitz, and of course, storytelling by Brad Lawrence, Cyndi Freeman, and Jeff Simmermon (me.)

Tickets are $15 in advance, $18 at the door – available here. Seating will be limited, so you’ll want to get a ticket in advance and get there early if you want to sit down.

Here’s a poster I made for the thing, performer videos after the jump:


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Two Shows in May: 5.1 at Under Saint Marks, 5.9 at UCB East

April 29th, 2013 by Cyndi Freeman

Man, the month slipped past FAST. We’ve got two big shows in New York this May, and I’m here to tell you about them:


First, we’ve got the monthly installment of our residency at Under Saint Marks Theater on Wednesday, May 1st, 9PM. The theater is at 94 Saint Marks’ Place, between 1st Avenue and Avenue A.


Storytelling by: Cyndi Freeman (The Moth, NY Fringe Award Winner), Brad Lawrence (The Moth, BTK), Jeff Simmermon (This American Life, The Moth)

Standup comedy by: Guilia Rozzi (Stripped Stories)

Sideshow by: Abigoliah Schamaun (Abigoliah’s Bizarre Bizaar)

Burlesque by: Brief Sweat, Cherry Pitz

You can get tickets here.

Then on May 9th, 11PM, we’re bringing the show to UCB East in a one-hour bouillon-cube of thrills, featuring

Storytelling by: Shannon Cason, Jeff Simmermon

Comedy by: Paul Oddo

Burlesque by: Nastie Canasta

… More special guests to be announced.

UCB East is located at 153 East 3rd Street at Avenue A. Tickets are only five tiny dollars, and you can click here for reservations.

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Your One-Stop Resource For Info on Bitches and Flamethrowers

April 5th, 2013 by Jeff Simmermon

I just happened to take a look at the blog stats this morning, and found a pretty magnificent run of Google search queries that led the reader directly to this blog:


What if these were all the same guy, Googling each question in sequential order?

Filed under Beauty, Comedy, Found, Jeff Simmermon, New York City, Weirdness & WTF having Comments Off

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New Video: Fighting the Big Black Bird With Some Help

April 3rd, 2013 by Jeff Simmermon

I can’t tell you how happy it makes me to be able to share this video of this story. I told it at The Moth’s “Love Hurts” show on February 13th of this year.

I’ve been working it over and over for a few years – it’s a significant revision of a piece about the depression that comes after cancer surgery, and also all of the stupid shit that people say to you when they hear you’ve had cancer. Just a hint: Yoga can’t actually cure cancer, but getting high and watching ‘Pootie Tang’ will help you to feel better.

I put a lot of jokes into it that I’ve written over the last year, and it feels right. This is also the first time I’ve been able to adequately communicate in public just how much my fiance means to me without using any cliches, and why I can’t imagine living life without her.

Think what you want of Lance Armstrong – the doping scandals, the lying, the bullying, whatever. I didn’t follow cycling or that story that closely, so I’m shielded by a thick cushion of ignorance on that one. But the thing that helped me the most through this whole process of having testicular cancer was being able to talk about it openly, on stage and in the street.

People get a little weird about it now, but they used to get a LOT more weird about it, and it was something that wasn’t discussed at all. We used to say that people were testicular cancer victims, and now they’re cancer survivors. It’s a major cultural shift, and it’s come through the hard work of the LiveStrong foundation.

It’s OK to feel however you want to feel about the man, but let’s please recognize that the foundation has done – and continues to do – really, really important work. I benefited from it directly and indirectly, and a lot of other people have, too.

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And I Am Not Lying, Live on April 3rd

March 31st, 2013 by Jeff Simmermon

It’s time all over again for another installment of And I Am Not Lying at Under Saint Marks’ Theater – this month, we’re featuring a VERY special burlesque tribute to John Turturro’s Jesus Quintana from “The Big Lebowski!”

Here’s a fun flyer, info and ticket links below the jump:

And I Am Not Lying, April 3rd
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Doin’ It All For A Baby That Can’t Love Me Back

March 29th, 2013 by Jeff Simmermon

(I see a lot of traffic coming in to read this post – in the event that some of you are interested in seeing the performing that I’m talking about, you can see that this Wednesday in NYC, just click the link.)

Five of my friends have had babies in the last two weeks. The birth of a baby is supposed to be a happy thing, but it can also be a funeral for a friendship.

It’s great that everyone I know is immediately, rapturously in love with their child, and I wouldn’t wish anything else for them. I see the joy and happiness that my sister and her husband feel now that my nephew is here, and I genuinely want everyone I care about to feel that, too. But it’s not like I stopped needing someone to hang out with, talk to, commiserate with about the crushing grind that is art and performance in NYC, get super baked on pot cookies and watch sci-fi flicks together.

I’m not suggesting that the emotional needs of a 36 year old man should never come ahead of a baby’s, either. If any of my friends kept hanging out like everything was exactly the same, that would be even worse. I’d hate to find out that a close friend was so into our friendship that he was willing to become a deadbeat dad just to keep our train on the tracks.

I think a lot more kids are accidents than people let on. After a certain age, people just go to a different doctor when they find out they’re pregnant than they did in their twenties. I think so, anyway. But after my run-in with testicular cancer a few years back, I’m not going to be surprising anybody.

So while I grieve for my lost – or suddenly, drastically changed – friendships, I’m also jealous. Not like, snatch-a-baby jealous, but with the option of sudden, natural conception behind me, it makes me a lot more conscious of my choices. And I don’t feel like my life is in a place where I could drop everything and support a new life.

I’m really, obsessively focused on writing and performing now. It takes up almost every waking hour, and it pretty much has to until further notice. It’s crushing and exhausting, but sometimes it works out.

For example, I was honored to be the only white guy in a tribute to Richard Pryor at BAM last month. I grew up listening to Richard Pryor records in my room, mimicking his cadence and timing and trying to learn how he could conjure so many characters in a story. Not imitating them, but just becoming them. I’m a storyteller, Pryor was too. And I’ve got a story about a guy who pretty much is the living embodiment of his “Mudbone” character. It was a perfect lock, and such a thrill to be there.

The room was packed, standing room only, maybe 300 people or so. I went on second, after a guy who just crushed it. He’s brash and sharp, grew up incredibly poor in Washington, D.C., and the crowd loved him. Then I went on, and things changed.

They weren’t trying to hear anything from a huge white dude that looks like most people’s boss, dressed in a cowboy shirt. Especially not if the story was a complex story about a friendship with a schizophrenic black man. A large Caribbean woman sat right in front of me, frowning a hole in my skull with arms crossed in front of her like two giant pythons guarding a gateway to laughter on the far, opposite side of an echoing room. I saw dates look at one another and mutually decide to wrap it up early and claim they had an early meeting the next day.

Some people laughed here and there, but I knew in 30 seconds that it was going to be a fight. Comics can go to backup material, but when you’re telling a story and it’s going bad, you’ve got to land that burning airline no matter what happens.

Phones were coming out and lighting up all over the place, and I could hear the audience start to chatter. I swear I heard someone say, “it’s cool, we can talk over this guy.” I zeroed in on a friend’s face and just started talking to her, just to get through it.

And then, also in the front row, I saw this:

A haggard, middle-aged woman pulled a sharpie out of her pocket, and drew a mustache onto her face with a very practiced motion. Then she reached into her coat and took her shirt off completely, unfurling her boobs like faded, trusty flags she’d flown a million times before.
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“And I Am Not Lying” at UNDER Saint Marks’, March 2013

March 3rd, 2013 by Jeff Simmermon


Ed Gavagan’s story from tonight’s show is being taped by ‘This American Life.’ We really want to get a good crowd out for him, so if you were on the fence about this one, PLEASE consider coming out to support him! We’ve also created a discount code to sweeten the deal. For $6 tickets, enter discount code “BIGFOOT” there (click the blue “6″ on the calendar that appears, then enter the code.)

This week is a blur already. I am moving backwards in time, simultaneously experiencing Sunday night forwards and in my own memory from a week in the future. That’s what you do when you’re moving ahead fast – remember things while you live them.

I’m prepping for our shows at SXSW and won’t be at our monthly gig at UNDER Saint Marks’ Theater this week, but it would be horribly irresponsible of me not to tell you about it – it’s going to be awesome.

Naturally, the show is on Wednesday, March 6th, 9PM at UNDER Saint Marks’ Theater, 94 St. Marks’ Place, NYC. If you’re a faithful fan and want tickets right this second, click here (then click the blue “6″ on the calendar that appears.)

This show features:

Storytelling by

Brad Lawrence
Cyndi Freeman
John Flynn
Ed Gavagan


Burlesque by

Nastie Canasta
Cherry Pitz

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