Great tasting whiskey and Stand-up comedy: pay it forward

Great tasting whiskey and Stand-up comedy: pay it forward

I love premium whiskey. I’m no purist, mind you. I need an ice cube – or at least a few droplets of water in there – to let it breathe. And I like it cold. But I start every drink neat, so I know who I’m dealing with. I’m also a lifelong practitioner of “bueasure,” the confluence of business and pleasure inherent in many professions. Simply put, it means making work fun. That can come in many forms, and drinking is but one of them. As a publicist and marketing director, schmoozing was a big part of the job. I’m social by nature but sometimes, admittedly, a little sumfin sumfin took the edge off my nerves and helped me become the life of the party. When I got back into standup, I experienced a rude awakening. There’s a difference between holding court and performing a show. In my early 20s, I didn’t really drink, but I’d nurse a rum and coke (that’d never happen now, with my cultured palate and middle-aged body) as I sat at the bar with Colin Quinn, Denis Leary, Dave Attell and Louis CK (whatever happened to those guys, am I the only one who made it??). In those days, there were no open mics; you just waited til 2:30 in the morning to go on at Standup NY, ComicStrip or the Cellar, or wherever/whenever Barry Katz told you to come over. Anyway, back then I was innocent. I hadn’t accrued years of experience being the funniest ad guy at client dinners and award show after-parties. This time around, I fell back on booze –...
Branded Standup Tours: Road dog eats the fame bug

Branded Standup Tours: Road dog eats the fame bug

I get a call this week from a friend of mine who runs a “challenger brand”, asking if I’ll head up a comedy tour for them. A challenger brand is a brand that may be popular in its native market but needs help competing with the big boys. I say yes, of course. I’m already well into my “20 Years to Kill” tour, which started this past November and runs through my retirement from standup on November 15, 2035. So, technically, the tour is in progress as we speak. I tell that to my friend, who says, “Hersh, I love you. But this isn’t the fame bug calling.” Ouch. With that statement, he’s explaining that by “head up” he means “put together” and he’s telling me that I’m not headlining this tour. Meaning, he’s not calling to make me the next Kevin Hart. “Look, brother,” I tell him, “I’m almost 49. I’m the same age as Will Fucking Ferrell (that said, I’m a year younger than Chris Rock, the elder statesman of standup…and a dozen years younger than Grandpa Jerry). If I’m not Kevin Hart Famous by now, I’m not gonna worry about it. The fame bug is not an issue. And anyway,” I continue, “I’m not seeking fame. I’m a craftsman. I’m a comic’s comic.” A beat, during which I can kind of hear my friend take some air in. Phone etiquette demands that I give him a few seconds to let it out. Which he does. Slowly, and with the hint of a groan. “Really?” he asks. “Which comic?” Now, I have a lot of clever friends....

Hersh Rephun Comedy: TransMental

Back in LA for the first performance of my new show, “TransMental”, with special guest Jason Rennebu. Doors open 9:30 to live music, mayhem erupts 10pm sharp. Full dinner menu. Full bar. No Minimum. No...
The end of Mad Men made me HAPPYish

The end of Mad Men made me HAPPYish

One door closes, another opens. When I watched Mad Men in its original run, I had become disillusioned by the ad biz. I loved the show, but in 2007 the industry was on the verge of stagnation (or at least extreme conservatism), the economy was about to implode and the “good days” of advertising had come to an abrupt halt (or a slow stop beginning in 1989, according to some). So, while I was mesmerized by the characters, the nostalgia had a wistful side that was at times too much to bear (though never too much to watch). As we all know, the show was slow in resolving itself – there were, what, a dozen or so years between the two halves of the 7th season?? In that time, the world has turned, we’ve dragged ourselves through incredibly hard times, truly disheartening inhumanities, insufficient response to global warming (I’m no activist, just not a Koch drinker)…and, for the moment, we’ve survived. So while things aren’t all better yet, we have a sense that we’ve made it through to the next phase: the end of Mad Men. The show ended on a generally upbeat and capitalistic note, making many of us in creative marketing feel just plain good. Because the truth is, once you find your personal truth, everything you say is truthful, even if those truths are told in the form of messages about ideas that may or may not be, well, true. Where to go from here? Into modern times, of course, and the world of HAPPYish, Shalom Auslander’s singular meditation on the two most challenging things a...
Gen X-bred. Millennial-approved.

Gen X-bred. Millennial-approved.

There’s a lot of frustration out there on the part of old people. I don’t blame them. They’re nearly 40, and irrelevant. What these sad sacks need to understand is that it’s their own fault. In the 90s, they were bouncing along the edges of the dot com bubble, thinking they were the next “me” generation, instead of what they were: chum for the Wi generation. If this sounds harsh, it’s because I told you so. I saw this coming. I knew nothing was going to stop me from aging. I was bound to turn 40 in the late aughts. But I could prepare. Money wasn’t the answer; I knew I’d lose that in the recession. The solution was simple: artificial intelligence. Well, not artificial per se. More, an extension of my own brain. The science isn’t as complicated as it sounds, and I’ll come out with it: in my early 20s, instead of climbing the ladder of success, I started having kids, and I didn’t stop — until I knew I’d won. The biggest problem old folks face is that Millennials don’t take them seriously. Why should they? Boomers, Gen X-ers and the literally deceased have always been grownups, and the one old rule that these youngsters do adhere to is never to trust anyone over 30. I didn’t turn 30 until after my Millennials were spawned, and as a result, I’m one of them. I grew up with them. Sure, there was an age difference, but we went through a lot together. A move from NY to LA, a divorce (mine), a move back to the east...