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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.

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Wonder Woman Ties Up the Cheetah at And I Am Not Lying Live

June 13th, 2012 by Jeff Simmermon

Well, I’m tickled to all hell right now. We’re bringing the And I Am Not Lying live show to the Black Cat in DC on Thursday, June 14th, and I’m told that we’ve sold out the 8PM show. We’re adding a late show that night, with doors at 10PM. You can see more info on the Black Cat’s site here and get advance tickets here: And I Am Not Lying at the Black Cat, 10 PM show.

This is a photo from a show that we did last year at L’Etage in Philadelphia, just to give you folks at home a taste:

Runaround Sue, Brad Lawrence, Cyndi Freeman 3 (by Ryan Collerd)

This is Wonder Woman apprehending the Cheetah while Steve Trevor looks on with a stupefied, dreamlike amazement. I’ve never seen someone be more hesitant about their rescue in all my life. Cyndi Freeman/Cherry Pitz is Wonder Woman, Runaround Sue is the Cheetah, and Brad Lawrence is Steve Trevor. Photo is by the genuine, warm and spectacular Ryan Collerd.

As it turns out, we’ll be coming back to Philadelphia on August 4th, too. So keep watching the skies, people – we hope to see you really soon.

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And I Am Not Lying at the Black Cat, Washington DC, June 14th

June 1st, 2012 by Jeff Simmermon

**UPDATE**
The 8PM And I Am Not Lying Live show at the Black Cat is now sold out. We have added another show that night – also at the Red Room at the Black Cat. Doors are at 10PM, tickets are still $12. You can get tickets for the 10 PM show here.
**/END UPDATE/**

We brought the And I Am Not Lying live show to the Black Cat in Washington, DC last year. And I don’t mind telling you that it was a lifetime highlight. The show sold out and everyone killed. I could have gotten shot by snipers on the way out of the club and not felt a damn thing.

So it thrills me to tell all you people that our sputtering cargo plane is going to crash back into the Black Cat’s mountain and spray the whole ZIP code with fuel. We’re bringing the planet’s first best and only comedy storytelling burlesque sideshow back to the Red Room on Thursday, June 14th!

You can get advance tickets to the 10PM show here: And I Am Not Lying at the Black Cat

Here’s a flyer and a cool trailer, text info on performers after the jump:

And I Am Not Lying - Live at the Black Cat

Read the rest of this entry »

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E-Trek-tion 2012: Tuvok Obama vs. Gul Dukromney

May 15th, 2012 by D.Billy

The ever-increasing election coverage, combined with the Star Trek marathons that have been taking place at home, have made it hard for me not to see these resemblances:

References for the less nerdy: Tuvok / Gul Dukat

Images yoinked from TotallyLooksLike.com.
Font: Bajoran Regular by Eric Oehler.

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Force Push Santa

May 11th, 2012 by D.Billy

Because it’s Friday, and somewhere some bastard is still trying to bring you down:

Force Push Santa

(Just to be clear – in this scenario, I believe that you are the Jedi.)

GIF via Jonathan_Eilenberg on mlkshk.

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Beauty is Embarrassing : Wayne White Documentary

February 3rd, 2012 by D.Billy

Sweet jumping Jeebus, I love me some Wayne White.



He makes beautiful, funny typographic additions to found oil paintings, he designed sets and puppets for Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, he art-directed the Smashing Pumpkins’ gorgeous, Georges Méliès-inspired “Tonight, Tonight” video, and he generally embodies the kind of artist that I want to be.

And now Wayne White is the subject of a documentary entitled “Beauty is Embarrassing”, which is premiering at SXSW 2012. Here’s the trailer:



I want to watch this film with all of my heart and soul. (And also my eyeballs.)

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And I Am Not Lying – Live: We’ve Got a Residency at Union Hall, First Tuesday of Each Month

January 22nd, 2012 by Jeff Simmermon

We’ve been real sometimes-y about these And I Am Not Lying live shows over the past year – a show here and a show there, spattered around Brooklyn and lower Manhattan and DC and Philadelphia in a series of one-offs that are always exciting, but hardly consistent. Considering that the show’s based on a blog that is updated really infrequently, that kinda made sense.

Thanks to a lot of awesome help from Creaghead and Co., that’s about to change.

Starting February 7th, we’ll be cock-rocking the NPR crowd with the And I Am Not Lying live show at Union Hall on the first Tuesday of every month. Doors are at 8, show’s at 8:30 and tickets ain’t but ten tiny dollars for the finest comedy, storytelling, burlesque sideshow you’re going to get anywhere.

Be honest with yourself: stuff like this is part of the reason you moved here. It’s worth a headache at work on Wednesday.

You can buy tickets here if you’re into that already.

We pulled together this cool trailer about it, too. It may be NSFW, depending on your job:

I wanted to start this show for a very, very good reason. I’m doing this thing so that I don’t go completely numb, and I’m trying to bring as many people back to life as I can right along with us.

I spend a lot of time hunched over a glowing rectangle starting and mediating petty squabbles about nothing, breathing shallowly through my mouth and reading tweets about television. I’ve been doing it for years. When I’m not getting paid to do it I sit around my apartment in my underpants and do it for free, apparently.

Everyone does.

Sometimes I think we’re all using computers to row this numbing boat towards a black wall of depressing distraction. I want to do my part to get as many people into one room and feeling something great together for a little while. And maybe if we get together often enough and pool our collective energies into something funny and weird, we can live a little outside of our bottomless pockets filled with lotus petals.

The entire purpose of life is to get as excited as possible. I’m so, so excited to have a reason to hose the town down with excitement once a month. So it’s like a Mobius strip of recursive excitement for me.

Sometimes storytelling shows can get a little sweater-vesty, comedy shows can be too bitter and detached, and burlesque too much, all in a go. This way we can cross-pollinate the best of the best and no matter what, if you’re not into what you’re seeing you can see something else really soon.

I want this thing to be a rock show without instruments, to just cram an entire aircraft carrier’s worth of fun into the basement of Union Hall. So far, we’ve been doing pretty okay on that front, I think.

D.Billy and I collaborated on this cool poster (I think it’s cool, anyway) to announce the residency:

And I Am Not Lying Live - Residency Poster, 2012

Read the rest of this entry »

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Reggie Watts Covers Maroon 5, Improvises and Raps In A Death Metal Style at “Heart of Darkness”

January 10th, 2012 by Jeff Simmermon

Creaghead and Company is pretty much Caroline Creaghead. And Caroline Creaghead is pretty much awesome. She helps to book and produce the And I Am Not Lying Live show, in addition to a bunch of others. One of the other shows in Caroline’s stable is “Heart Of Darkness” with Greg Barris. According to Flavorpill, Heart of Darkness (with the live band the Forgiveness) is a

psychedelic stand‐up show … a visceral experience from the downtown comedy underground. Accomplished thinkers, authors, poets, and artists join Barris and his band to become one seamless, improvised comedy freak show.”

I caught the sold-out show at Union Hall last Saturday. What I could see of it was really, really awesome, when I could see around a pillar. Everything sounded great, though.

Reggie Watts dropped in at the last minute and did a hilarious set, improvising all kinds of hilarious music and completely surreal standup that made perfect sense and told right-on truths as long as you didn’t listen too closely. If you did, you’d realize he was riffing on the kind of played-out onstage cliches you hear from most hip-hop and rock ‘n roll stage banter.

Here’s a pretty sweet clip. In it, Reggie Watts covers Maroon 5′s “Moves Like Jagger,” freestyles and improvises, and raps like the lead singer of a Cookie Monster death metal band:

Reggie Watts – Touching Songs Improv – Heart Of Darkness – 1.7.12 from Karmalize Productions on Vimeo.

In this clip, Reggie, Greg Barris and the Forgiveness improve a long jam about slack friends, vampires, teen smoking and more:

Reggie Watts & The Forgiveness – Improv Jam – Heart Of Darkness – 1.7.12 from Karmalize Productions on Vimeo.

Both clips were shot and edited by Alex Gaylon of Karmalize Productions.

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Never Let Your IQ Get In the Way Of A Good Time: And I Am Not Lying is Live At Union Hall on December 10th

November 30th, 2011 by Jeff Simmermon

Man. I can’t believe it’s showtime again already. But me, Brad Lawrence and Cyndi Freeman are bringing our live show back to Union Hall in Brooklyn on December 10th at 8PM. And it don’t cost but ten bucks, people.

People keep asking me, “so, what’s this show about? What’s your hook?” And man, I have no idea. I used to think it was a live version of this blog. But now this blog is turning to a blog version of the live show. All I can say is that it reflects a huge lesson I learned sometime in college:

Never let your IQ get in the way of a good time.

Basically, we’re cock-rocking the NPR crowd with burlesque, storytelling, comedy and sideshow acts. Sound fun? It better. If that’s not high-quality Saturday night entertainment for you, I don’t want to know what is.

I’d strongly recommend getting advance tickets, which you can do right here: And I Am Not Lying Live at Union Hall on 12/10/2011 — $10

If you’re really into the Facebook thing, you can click here to see the invite and RSVP. That doesn’t actually help anything, but it massages my starving ego.

Here’s a poster, lineup published for Google SEO trickery after the jump:

And I Am Not Lying at Union Hall, 12.10.2011

The show features …

Storytelling from

Jeff Simmermon (storyteller featured on The Moth Podcast and This American Life)
Cyndi Freeman (Wonder Woman: A How-To Guide for Little Jewish Girls)
Brad Lawrence (The Moth GrandSLAM champ)

Comedy by
Michael Che

Burlesque by

Fem Appeal,
RunAround Sue & Cyndi Freeman

and a VERY special appearance by
Mat Fraser & Julie Atlas Muz

Hope you can make it out.

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The Convergence of Twitter, Sports, Batman and Letterpress Printing

November 9th, 2011 by D.Billy

I’ve been taking a letterpress class at Cooper Union, and Jeff recently tweeted something that I thought deserved memorializing in type and ink.
So last night, I grabbed a few fonts of wood type and locked up the form on one of the Vandercook SP-15 presses:

I hand-inked the type with brayers rather than inking the press rollers, so I could print two colors simultaneously and easily change colors later. After some trial and error with ink amounts and pressure, I pulled the first decent test print:

And a while later, I had a small edition of posters in four different color schemes:

It was a really fun exercise. For those of you unfamiliar with the process of letterpress printing, check out the sweet little video below. And if you’re near Brooklyn, be sure to check out The Arm for letterpress classes, or to book press time if you already have letterpress experience and just want to make some things.

Letterpress from Naomie Ross on Vimeo.

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