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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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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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I Am Not Hanging Out with Wild Mountain Gorillas, No Matter How Cute They Are!

January 30th, 2012 by Cyndi Freeman

One of the latest viral videos is of happy gorillas in the jungles of Uganda taking in a tourist as one of their own. Now this is an amazing video, so sweet, so heart-warming, and it got me cruising YouTube for gorilla videos – and there are plenty. That being said, I am personally not going to be hanging with the Wild Mountain Gorillas.

I am not saying you shouldn’t hang with wild gorillas –  if you want to. Go ahead, it looks like fun.

It is just that they are both intelligent and they are wild animals, plus they have ideas on how things should go.

*Note to self – do not take your pet baby orphan gorilla into the jungle.

Personally I think I understand gorilla culture and etiquette, as it looks a bit like the culture and etiquette in my family. But as my husband knows, I avoid hanging with my family because they behave like mountain gorillas. They are cute and cuddly until you challenge them. You never quite know what you said that got them all riled up, all you know is that they are suddenly screaming and somehow its your fault …

Also a Safari into the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park in Uganda is like $300 a day, and I’d like to see what $300 a day could get me in Vegas.

I know that someone reading this might be thinking, “but  - but –  but….have you seen Koko the talking Gorilla who speaks sign language? Bill Shatner has!”

And I say to the imaginary Koko loving person in my head, “Oh yeah but what about the story of the Petronella Yvonne de Horde, she loved gorillas! She was convinced that the Gorilla named Bokito, who lived at the local zoo in Rotterdam was her friend…and so she went to visit him almost every day.  She would make kissy faces at him and he would make what she thought was kissy faces back….

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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

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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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“Give It To Me” at the Fulton Street Subway

December 9th, 2011 by Jeff Simmermon

I got off at the wrong subway stop last night on the way back from telling a story about Rick James at Luca Lounge. But as it turns out, it was so the right stop. These guys were just blowing out some serious funk underground, after midnight, for the entire world. The whole experience felt exactly like the mental image I had of New York in the decades before I moved here. And naturally, I requested that they play some Rick James.

Brother, did they ever deliver:


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Brad Lawrence: “The Last Pool Party”

November 1st, 2011 by Jeff Simmermon

Brad Lawrence is an excellent storyteller, and hosts the Moth pretty much every chance he gets. He’s also got a podcast called “The Standard Issues” where he broadcasts storytellers that appear in he and Cyndi’s live show of the same name. And, since this is relentless show-promo week, I am obliged to mention that he’s performing at And I Am Not Lying, Live in Philadelphia next Sunday, November 6th — and at the Black Cat in Washington, DC tomorrow night!

He told this story about the first and last pool party he’ll ever attend at Union Hall on October 5th, 2011.

Archives Posts

Black Centipede In A Blue Velvet Closet: Live at Union Hall

October 26th, 2011 by Jeff Simmermon

There’s a lot of talk about stopping childhood bullying online and on TV these days. Good, I say. I got bullied pretty badly when I was a kid, and I’m glad to hear that people want to put a stop to that kind of a thing. But on the other hand, you can’t stop rampant assholery. It’s a big brown glacier that just creeps across humanity, and it’s going to come out and express itself in some other weird way.

At least you’re allowed to punch a bully right in the face.

When my family lived in the DC suburbs in the early ’80s, it was pretty bad. I got beat up a lot and I was pretty scared to leave my house. My family was tremendously loving, and I had a dog that was my best friend in the world. But once I left the yard it was like a movie about Vietnam directed by Todd Solondz.

Nobody ever talks about this, though: a lot of times, the kids that are getting bullied get pretty mean, too. Being and underdog and a good guy are not the same thing.

I told this story at the And I Am Not Lying live show at Union Hall back on October 5th. It goes long, but I’m pretty proud of how it turned out. I tried to compress it to a tight 5 minutes for a Moth Grand Slam last week and it was a stunning failure. I got more nervous than I’ve ever been in my life, skipped parts and just blacked out completely on my feet. It wasn’t booze-related, just flop-terror. I came to a few seconds later, literally standing in front of several hundred people who were looking at me expectantly, waiting for me to say something intelligible into a microphone.

A lot of people have that experience as a nightmare.

I hope you guys enjoy my telling of this story more than I did teliing it the other night, anyway.

I’m also obliged to mention that I’m coming to DC on November 2nd and Philadelphia on November 6th with Brad Lawrence, Cyndi Freeman, and Runaround Sue. You can get tickets for the DC show here: And I Am Not Lying: A Night of Storytelling, Comedy, & Burlesque.

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“Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street”: All This Offense is Offensive

October 20th, 2011 by Jeff Simmermon

My friend Brandon Bloch is a videographer here in Brooklyn. We kinda know each other two different ways. In one way, we know each other because he made a really awesome video promoting D.Billy’s artwork a while back. And we also know each other because as it turns out, his wife is a good friend of mine and a consultant that I work with very closely at my day job. Small world.

Brandon and his wife and me and my girlfriend hang out together and do couple stuff together. One of these days, we’re going to get D.Billy and his lady involved and have the biggest, brunchiest, triple-couple bouge-a-thon that Brooklyn has ever seen.

I was having lunch with Brandon and his wife the other day, and he told me what he’d been working on. “It’s pretty fun, man,” he said. “It’s a video piece that we’re going to call ‘Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street.’”

I was a little surprised. He didn’t really strike me as that kind of a dude, to be honest. “Just watch it,” he said. I did, and now I totally get it.

Now, I present to you: “Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street,” by Steven Greenstreet and Brandon Bloch:

Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street from Steven Greenstreet on Vimeo.

Not exactly what it sounded like when you read the title, was it? That’s kind of the point. As Brandon told me, “We noticed that all the coverage coming out of the Occupy Wall Street movement was either of freaks or young, unusually good-looking people. So we decided to both be honest about our motivations and make fun of media’s tendency to seek out pretty people, and we ended up with an inspiring, moving story. We just kept the title because we knew it would get some attention and hey, look — the kind of person that searches for and watches a video called ‘Hot Chicks of Occupy Wall Street’ is probably the kind of person that actually needs to hear this message pretty badly.”

He’s right. If they’d called it “A Sober and Respectful Look at the Underrepresented Womyn’s Voices at Occupy Wall Street”, would anyone have watched it?

Unsurprisingly, the Internet had decided to lose its collective mind over this. The response is both shocking, and not surprising at all. There is a particular type of person that is happiest when they are riled up and offended about something. This sort of person is found both on the right and the left of the political spectrum, and they just LOVE to write a blog post about their manufactured outrage.
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Talking About Willie at The Moth: Funk Like That Never Dies

July 30th, 2011 by Jeff Simmermon

I used to live in Richmond, Virginia, in a row house that was exactly the color of a bunch of dirty old Band-Aids. My rent was $175 per month, and a schizophrenic street mystic named Willie used to come over several times a week and demand to hear Rick James’ “Ghetto Life.” He and his lady would dance to it, over and over, all day long until we had to kick them out.

I told a story about the experience at The Moth at Housing Works Bookstore in SoHo, NYC back on June 23rd — you can see video of it here:

Willie is one of those rare people who is both a classic archetype and a completely unique individual. I can see how someone might see my story and think I’m reaching for this cartoonish stereotype of an older cracked-out street character, not unlike Chappelle’s Tyrone Biggums or Richard Pryor’s Mudbone. Except I’m white, too, and I worry sometimes that I could be perceived as indulging in a reductive racist stereotype on top of whatever else is going on in that story.

Then I think “fuck that, just because I’m white doesn’t mean I don’t get to have a real, complicated friendship with a black man who is literally too funky to function within mainstream society.” It really happened, you know. You change things around a little to make your memories fit a story arc, but Willie is real as hell.

Possibly too real.
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