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“Everything Is F*cked” Quotes

Monday, July 15th, 2019

I recently read (the kindle version of) “Everything Is F*cked: A Book About Hope” by Mark Manson. Here are the quotes I found most interesting.

How May I Help You? If I worked at Starbucks, instead of writing people’s names on their coffee cup, I’d write the following: One day, you and everyone you love will die. And beyond a small group of people for an extremely brief period of time, little of what you say or do will ever matter. This is the Uncomfortable Truth of life. And everything you think or do is but an elaborate avoidance of it. We are inconsequential cosmic dust, bumping and milling about on a tiny blue speck. We imagine our own importance. We invent our purpose—we are nothing. Enjoy your fucking coffee. Location 123-126

The opposite of happiness is hopelessness, an endless gray horizon of resignation and indifference. Location 153-154

Hopelessness is the root of anxiety, mental illness, and depression. It is the source of all misery and the cause of all addiction. This is not an overstatement.4 Chronic anxiety is a crisis of hope. It is the fear of a failed future. Depression is a crisis of hope. It is the belief in a meaningless future. Delusion, addiction, obsession—these are all the mind’s desperate and compulsive attempts at generating hope one neurotic tic or obsessive craving at a time. Location 158-162

Studies done in more than 132 countries show that the wealthier a country becomes, the more its population struggles with feelings of meaning and purpose. Location 326-327

The wealthier and safer the place you live, the more likely you are to commit suicide. Location 249-250

Hope doesn’t care about the problems that have already been solved. Hope cares only about the problems that still need to be solved. Because the better the world gets, the more we have to lose. And the more we have to lose, the less we feel we have to hope for. Location 255-257

To build and maintain hope, we need three things: a sense of control, a belief in the value of something, and a community. Location 257-258

And we usually don’t lie out of malice—rather, we lie to others because we’re in such a habit of lying to ourselves. Location 703-704

Wherever there is pain, there is always an inherent sense of superiority/inferiority. And there’s always pain. Location 727-728

Leaders need their followers to be perpetually dissatisfied; it’s good for the leadership business. If everything were perfect and great, there’d be no reason to follow anybody. Location 1471-1472

Success is in many ways far more precarious than failure. First, because the more you gain the more you have to lose, and second, because the more you have to lose, the harder it is to maintain hope. Location 1514-1515

By experiencing our hopes, we lose them. We see that our beautiful visions for a perfect future are not so perfect, that our dreams and aspirations are themselves riddled with unexpected flaws and unforeseen sacrifices. Location 1515-1517

The only thing that can ever truly destroy a dream is to have it come true. Location 1517-1518

Ideologies, because they’re constantly challenged, changed, proven, and then disproven, offer scant psychological stability upon which to build one’s hope. And when the ideological foundation of our Ideologies, because they’re constantly challenged, changed, proven, and then disproven, offer scant psychological stability upon which to build one’s hope. Location 1690-1691

Thus, began the stupid dick-measuring contest also known as human history. Location 1723-1724

We’ve got it backward: everything being fucked doesn’t require hope; hope requires everything being fucked. Location 1752-1752

Hope is, therefore, destructive. Hope depends on the rejection of what currently is. Location 1755-1756

A friend of mine once described parenthood as “basically just following around a kid for a couple decades and making sure he doesn’t accidentally kill himself—and you’d be amazed how many ways a kid can find to accidentally kill himself.” Location 1890-1892

then they won’t actually trust you. The most precious and important things in life are, by definition, nontransactional. And to try to bargain for them is to immediately destroy them. You cannot conspire for happiness; it is impossible. But this is often what people try to do, especially when they seek out self-help and other personal development advice—they are essentially saying, “Show me the rules of the game I have to play, and I’ll play it,” not realizing that it’s the very fact that they think there are rules to happiness that is preventing them from being happy. Location 1955-1958

Becoming an adult is therefore developing the ability to do what is right for the simple reason that it is right. Location 1965-1966

This is essentially what good early parenting boils down to: implementing the correct consequences for a child’s pleasure/pain-driven behavior. Punish them for stealing ice cream; reward them for sitting quietly in a restaurant. Location 1992-1994

Graduating to adolescence requires trust. A child must trust that her behavior will produce predictable outcomes. Location 2007-2008

the problem with hope is that it is fundamentally transactional—it is a bargain between one’s current actions for some imagined, pleasant future. Don’t eat this, and you’ll go to heaven. Don’t kill that person, or you’ll get in trouble. Work hard and save your money, because that will make you happy. Location 2122-2124

The Blue Dot Effect suggests that, essentially, the more we look for threats, the more we will see them, regardless of how safe or comfortable our environment actually is. Location 2251-2252

Developmental psychology has long argued something similar: that protecting people from problems or adversity doesn’t make them happier or more secure; it makes them more easily insecure. Location 2268-2269

What we find, then, is that our emotional reactions to our problems are not determined by the size of the problem. Rather, our minds simply amplify (or minimize) our problems to fit the degree of stress we expect to experience. Location 2271-2273

Nobody is fully happy all the time, but similarly, nobody is fully unhappy all the time, either. It seems that humans, Location 2344-2345

Regardless of our external circumstances, live in a constant state of mild-but-not-fully-satisfying happiness. Put another way, things are pretty much always fine, but they could also always be better. Location 2345-2346

Human perception and expectations warp themselves to fit a predetermined amount of pain. Location 2361-2362

Because you can’t get rid of pain—pain is the universal constant of the human condition. Therefore, the attempt to move away from pain, to protect oneself from all harm, can only backfire. Trying to eliminate pain only increases your sensitivity to suffering, rather than alleviating your suffering. It causes you to see dangerous ghosts in every nook, to see tyranny and oppression in every authority, to see hate and deceit behind every embrace. Location 2390-2393

Not only is there no escaping the experience of pain, but pain is the experience. Location 2407-2408

Living well does not mean avoiding suffering; it means suffering for the right reasons. Location 2416-2416

Our tolerance for pain, as a culture, is diminishing rapidly. And not only is this diminishment failing to bring us more happiness, but it’s generating greater amounts of emotional fragility, which is why everything appears to be so fucked. Location 2531-2533

Meditation is, at its core, a practice of antifragility: training your mind to observe and sustain the never-ending ebb and flow of pain and not to let the “self” get sucked away by its riptide.
Location 2544-2546

The pursuit of happiness is, then, an avoidance of growth, an avoidance of maturity, an avoidance of virtue. It is treating ourselves and our minds as a means to some emotionally giddy end. It is sacrificing our consciousness for feeling good. It’s giving up our dignity for more comfort. Location 2611-2613

No matter how much wealth is generated in the world, the quality of our lives is determined by the quality of our character, and the quality of our character is determined by our relationship to our pain. Location 2625-2627

He saw marketing as an incredible new tool that could give people the feeling of having freedom when, really, you’re just giving them a few more flavors of toothpaste to choose from. Location 2813-2815

More stuff doesn’t make us freer, it imprisons us with anxiety over whether we chose or did the best thing. Location 2837-2837

The only true form of freedom, the only ethical form of freedom, is through self-limitation. It is not the privilege of choosing everything you want in your life, but rather, choosing what you will give up in your life. Location 2843-2845

Even if all the problems of today get magically fixed, our minds will still perceive the inevitable fuckedness of tomorrow. Location 3165-3165

Don’t hope for better. Just be better. Location 3169-3169

“The trick is you bite off more than you can chew . . . and then you chew it.” Location 3239-3240

The post “Everything Is F*cked” Quotes appeared first on Ben Rosenfeld - Comedian.

“Digital Minimalism” Quotes

Friday, July 12th, 2019

I recently read (the kindle version of) “Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World” by Cal Newport. Here’s the quotes I found most interesting.

As Dave explained to me, his own father wrote him a handwritten note every week during his freshman year of college. Still touched by this gesture, Dave began a habit of drawing a new picture every night to place in his oldest daughter’s lunchbox. His two youngest children watched this ritual with interest. When they became old enough for lunchboxes, they were excited to start receiving their daily drawings as well. “Fast-forward a couple of years, and I’m spending a decent chunk of time every night doing three drawings!” Dave told me with obvious pride. “This wouldn’t have been possible if I didn’t protect how I spend my time.” Location 489-493

Thoreau establishes early in Walden: “The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it, immediately or in the long run.” Location 546-547

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone,” Blaise Pascal famously wrote. Location 1131-1132

Storr notes that the need to spend a great deal of time alone was common among “the majority of poets, novelists, and composers.” Location 1140-1141

Three crucial benefits provided by solitude: “new ideas; an understanding of the self; and closeness to others.” Location 1153-1154

Experiencing separation, he argues, builds your appreciation for interpersonal connections when they do occur. Location 1157-1157

Regular doses of solitude, mixed in with our default mode of sociality, are necessary to flourish as a human being. Location 1164-1165

The urgency we feel to always have a phone with us is exaggerated. To live permanently without these devices would be needlessly annoying, but to regularly spend a few hours away from them should give you no pause. Location 1345-1346

They found, for example, that if you increase the amount of likes or links clicked by a standard deviation, mental health decreases by 5 to 8 percent of a standard deviation. Location 1624-1625

The idea that it’s valuable to maintain vast numbers of weak-tie social connections is largely an invention of the past decade or so. Location 1796-1797

A life well lived requires activities that serve no other purpose than the satisfaction that the activity itself generates. Location 1911-1912

You can’t, in other words, build a billion-dollar empire like Facebook if you’re wasting hours every day using a service like Facebook. Location 2291-2292

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“Write Your Book In A Flash” Quotes

Thursday, July 11th, 2019

I recently read “Write Your Book In A Flash: The Paint-by-Numbers System to Write the Book of Your Dreams – Fast!” by Dan Janal. Here’s the quotes I found most interesting.

“Best-selling authors start writing their book with the book description. This exercise helps you get focused and lets your ideal readers know immediately if they want to buy your book.” (25)

“Don’t say the book is for everyone… No one wants to buy a book for everyone. They want to buy a book that speaks to them.” (27)

“MY BOOK TITLE is a CATEGORY that helps PRIMARY AUDIENCE achieve PRIMARY BENEFIT.” (31)

“‘Creativity is intelligence having fun.’ -Albert Einstein” (71)

“Readers buy your book for one purpose: to solve a problem. If you can show you understand who they are, what motivates them, and what keeps them up at night, you will earn a reader.” (71)
“Here’s a surprise alert: People like to see you are vulnerable and have made mistakes. People don’t want to sit at the feet of infallible experts. They want to relate to people like them who have battle scars, who have tasted defeat, and who learned from their mistakes. Readers pay you to make sure they don’t make the same mistakes.” (72)

“‘That’ Can usually be removed. If it sounds good without it, you’re set. If it sounds awkward, keep it.
‘The’ can be cut sometimes.
‘The’ can be cut if it refers to a noun, and you can make the noun plural.
A prepositional phrase start with ‘of,’ could be rewritten.
Prepositional phrases using ‘of’ can be deleted sometimes.
Is/are and a verb ending in ‘ing’ can be changed to the verb form only.
Usually you can cut these words: very, now, just, only, and even. Read the sentence without the word. See how it looks. Hear how it sounds. If it sounds good, then cut the words.” (132)

Liked the quotes? Buy the book here.

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“The Anna Karenina Fix” Quotes

Thursday, July 11th, 2019

I recently read “The Anna Karenina Fix: Life Lessons from Russian Literature” by Viv Groskop. Here’s the quotes I found most interesting.

“As they say in Russian, “Life is better there where we are not.”” (128)

“Happiness is always something on the horizon. We need to head towards it, but, once we get there, it moves away again.” (132)

“Whatever your delusion about what you need in order to be happy is, it becomes more powerful when it is reinforced by other people.” (133)

“When he was eight-nine and living in America and headed off to his shack every day to write for hours on end. At the time, he was extremely infirm. His wife said, ‘He hasn’t left the house for five years. Hie’s missing a vertebra… But every day he sits and works.’ That’s all you need to know about Solzhenitsyn. He’s missing a vertebra. But every day he sits and works.” (149)

“Solzhenitsyn kept regular hours and did so religiously: from 8am to 10pm every day for seventeen years, supposedly without a day off. Sometimes, he broke off to hit a ball across the adjacent tennis court.” (154)

“When his last play Moliere premiered (this was one that Stanislavsky rehearsed for four years), it received twenty-two curtain calls. But it also had four significant negative reviews and within six weeks had been canceled, after a final, unsigned article in Pravda finished it off. The headline? ‘Superficial Glitter and False Content.’ Can you imagine having your play rehearsed for four years, it getting twenty-two curtain calls and then having to close within six weeks?” (167)

“You are only really ‘from’ somewhere if you want to speak to your children in that language.” (173)

Liked the quotes? Buy the book here.

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“The Little Book of Stoicism” Quotes

Sunday, April 14th, 2019

I recently read “The Little Book of Stoicism: Timeless Wisdom to Gain Resilience, Confidence, and Calmness” by Jonas Salzgeber. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. if you like the quotes, buy the book here.

“The Stoics were living proof that it’s possible for someone to be exiled to a desert island and still be happier than someone living in a place. They understood very well that there’s only a loose connection between external circumstances and our happiness.” (4)

“Stoics recognized that the good life depends on the cultivation of one’s character, on one’s choices and actions rather than on what happens in the uncontrollable world around us.” (4)

“Epictetus wrote, “So, what should each of us say to every trial we face? This is what I’ve trained for, this is my discipline!” Hey, a boxer who gets punched in the face won’t leave the ring, it’s what he prepared for, it’s his discipline.” (18)

“Stoicism has nothing to do with suppressing or hiding one’s emotions or being emotionless. Rather, it’s about acknowledging our emotions, reflecting on what causes them, and learning to redirect them for our own good.” (21)

“It’s more about unslaving ourselves from negative emotions, more like taming rather than getting rid of them.” (21)

“We can train ourselves to act calmly despite feeling angry, act courageously despite feeling anxious.” (21)

“The goal isn’t to eliminate all emotions, the goal is to not get overwhelmed by them despite their immense power.” (22)

“For the Stoics, positive emotions are more like an added bonus than a motive by themselves.” (23)

“Since every man dies, it is better to die with distinction than to live long.” -Musonius Rufus (32)

“It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.” -Marcus Aurelius (34)

“A tower of strength can be born the moment you decide to give outside events no more power over you.” (39)

“Brian Johnson translates arete as “Expressing the highest version of yourself moment to moment to moment.”” (41)

“Eudaimonia, to live a happy and smoothly flowing live. To achieve this goal, we need to be on good terms with our inner daimon, the highest version of ourselves, our natural inborn potential.” (41)

“In whatever you do, imagine there are two lines: the higher line indicating what you’re capable of and the lower line what you’re actually doing.” (41)

“Handing power to things we have no direct control over causes emotional suffering.” (57)

“If we define success as giving our best in the process, then we cannot fail, feel calmly confident, and can accept any outcome with equanimity.” (63)

“Just because we should try to accept whatever happens does not mean we approve of it. It just means that we understand that we cannot change it.” (67)

“For the Stoics, the only good lies in our voluntary actions, and our actions can only be voluntary when we’re bringing awareness into every moment.” (96)

“Epictetus says that as philosophers we should adapt to whatever happens, so that nothing happens against our will and nothing that we wish for fails to happen.” (111)

“Marcus Aurelius has a trick to bring his will into harmony with reality. He compares what happens to us to what a doctor prescribes to us. Just like you take some medicine when a doctor tells you to, we should take external events as they are, because they’re like the medicine there to help us.” (112)

“What happens to us is nature’s treatment to become better people. Those things happen for us, not against us, even if it doesn’t seem so.” (112)

“Epictetus says that if you fulfill your duties toward others, then you’re living in agreement with nature.” (147)

“People who are excited by posthumous fame forget that the people who remember them will soon die too.” -Marcus Aurelius

“We’re better off if we’re indifferent to fame and social status. After all, it’s not within our control.” (151)

“By seeking social status, we give other people power over us. We have to act in a calculated way to make them admire us, and we must refrain from doing things in their disfavor. We enslave ourselves by seeking fame.” (151)

“Epictetus observes, “Freedom is not achieved by satisfying desire, but by eliminating it.” (154)

“It’s not about not playing video games, not watching TV, not working full-time – it’s about the awareness and purposefulness we bring into these things. We can still choose to do whatever we think is worth spending our time with.” (166)

“You are disturbed not by what happens, but by your opinion about it.” (173)

“Nothing but opinion is the cause of a troubled mind.” (173)

“Harm does not come from what happens – an annoying person or unloved situation – but from your reaction to it.” (173)

“He who does not desire anything outside his control cannot be anxious.” (183)

“Don’t wish for life to be hard, but neither wish for it to be easier when it gets tough. Rather wish for the strength to deal with it. It’s an opportunity for growth.” (198)

“Epictetus says, “We would do better to remember how we react when a similar loss afflicts others.” (205)

“Seneca says, Let philosophy scrape off your own faults, rather than be a way to rail against the faults of others.” (258)

Liked the quotes? Buy the book here.

The post “The Little Book of Stoicism” Quotes appeared first on Ben Rosenfeld - Comedian.

“The Little Book of Stoicism” Quotes

Sunday, April 14th, 2019

I recently read “The Little Book of Stoicism: Timeless Wisdom to Gain Resilience, Confidence, and Calmness” by Jonas Salzgeber. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. if you like the quotes, buy the book here.

“The Stoics were living proof that it’s possible for someone to be exiled to a desert island and still be happier than someone living in a place. They understood very well that there’s only a loose connection between external circumstances and our happiness.” (4)

“Stoics recognized that the good life depends on the cultivation of one’s character, on one’s choices and actions rather than on what happens in the uncontrollable world around us.” (4)

“Epictetus wrote, “So, what should each of us say to every trial we face? This is what I’ve trained for, this is my discipline!” Hey, a boxer who gets punched in the face won’t leave the ring, it’s what he prepared for, it’s his discipline.” (18)

“Stoicism has nothing to do with suppressing or hiding one’s emotions or being emotionless. Rather, it’s about acknowledging our emotions, reflecting on what causes them, and learning to redirect them for our own good.” (21)

“It’s more about unslaving ourselves from negative emotions, more like taming rather than getting rid of them.” (21)

“We can train ourselves to act calmly despite feeling angry, act courageously despite feeling anxious.” (21)

“The goal isn’t to eliminate all emotions, the goal is to not get overwhelmed by them despite their immense power.” (22)

“For the Stoics, positive emotions are more like an added bonus than a motive by themselves.” (23)

“Since every man dies, it is better to die with distinction than to live long.” -Musonius Rufus (32)

“It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.” -Marcus Aurelius (34)

“A tower of strength can be born the moment you decide to give outside events no more power over you.” (39)

“Brian Johnson translates arete as “Expressing the highest version of yourself moment to moment to moment.”” (41)

“Eudaimonia, to live a happy and smoothly flowing live. To achieve this goal, we need to be on good terms with our inner daimon, the highest version of ourselves, our natural inborn potential.” (41)

“In whatever you do, imagine there are two lines: the higher line indicating what you’re capable of and the lower line what you’re actually doing.” (41)

“Handing power to things we have no direct control over causes emotional suffering.” (57)

“If we define success as giving our best in the process, then we cannot fail, feel calmly confident, and can accept any outcome with equanimity.” (63)

“Just because we should try to accept whatever happens does not mean we approve of it. It just means that we understand that we cannot change it.” (67)

“For the Stoics, the only good lies in our voluntary actions, and our actions can only be voluntary when we’re bringing awareness into every moment.” (96)

“Epictetus says that as philosophers we should adapt to whatever happens, so that nothing happens against our will and nothing that we wish for fails to happen.” (111)

“Marcus Aurelius has a trick to bring his will into harmony with reality. He compares what happens to us to what a doctor prescribes to us. Just like you take some medicine when a doctor tells you to, we should take external events as they are, because they’re like the medicine there to help us.” (112)

“What happens to us is nature’s treatment to become better people. Those things happen for us, not against us, even if it doesn’t seem so.” (112)

“Epictetus says that if you fulfill your duties toward others, then you’re living in agreement with nature.” (147)

“People who are excited by posthumous fame forget that the people who remember them will soon die too.” -Marcus Aurelius

“We’re better off if we’re indifferent to fame and social status. After all, it’s not within our control.” (151)

“By seeking social status, we give other people power over us. We have to act in a calculated way to make them admire us, and we must refrain from doing things in their disfavor. We enslave ourselves by seeking fame.” (151)

“Epictetus observes, “Freedom is not achieved by satisfying desire, but by eliminating it.” (154)

“It’s not about not playing video games, not watching TV, not working full-time – it’s about the awareness and purposefulness we bring into these things. We can still choose to do whatever we think is worth spending our time with.” (166)

“You are disturbed not by what happens, but by your opinion about it.” (173)

“Nothing but opinion is the cause of a troubled mind.” (173)

“Harm does not come from what happens – an annoying person or unloved situation – but from your reaction to it.” (173)

“He who does not desire anything outside his control cannot be anxious.” (183)

“Don’t wish for life to be hard, but neither wish for it to be easier when it gets tough. Rather wish for the strength to deal with it. It’s an opportunity for growth.” (198)

“Epictetus says, “We would do better to remember how we react when a similar loss afflicts others.” (205)

“Seneca says, Let philosophy scrape off your own faults, rather than be a way to rail against the faults of others.” (258)

Liked the quotes? Buy the book here.

The post “The Little Book of Stoicism” Quotes appeared first on Ben Rosenfeld - Comedian.

“Gridiron Genius” Quotes

Tuesday, January 8th, 2019

I recently read Gridiron Genius: A Master Class In Winning Championships and Building Dynasties In the NFL by Michael Lombardi. Here’s the quotes I found most interesting:

“Champions behave like champions before they’re champions.” -Bill Walsh (9)

“Take pride in my effort as an entity separate from the result of that effort.” (16)

“Walsh opted for less experienced men who shared his curiosity and displayed a willingness to learn his system and methods.” (23)

“In the ultimate team sport, real success doesn’t depend on tactics or discipline or order. It always comes down to how well a coach leads.” (35)

“Belichick is not worried about where an idea comes from; he cares only about whether it makes the team better. He knows that as the man running the organization he’s going to get the credit by default, so he makes sure to spread it around.” (38)

“That’s what being a first=time NFL head coach is like. It is more than likely you’re going to be bad at it. You just have to keep working at it until you get good and pray that you don’t end up a one-hit wonder.” (42)

“There simply has to be a thread of unity running through any successful team.” (102)

“Weirdly, Walsh’s offensive success – and his unique perspective on the passing attack – stemmed in part from his experience as a defensive coach. Belichick also used his defensive knowledge to design one of the most prolific offenses in modern football. Both men understood the checks and adjustments that occurred within defensive schemes. They built a counterattack by knowing their enemy.” (118)

“When a TV announcer asked their offensive coordinator about it, he said if Peyton Manning ever went down, they were “fucked” and “we don’t practice fucked.”” (185)

“One of Belichick’s favorite sayings is “To live in the past is to die in the present.”” (230)

“J. Roscoe Miller said: “I have two kinds of problems: the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important and the important are never urgent.” (232)

“Walsh called this the three F’s of decision making: firmness, fairness, fast.” (235)

“A pessimist leads an unhappy life, waiting for the next bad thing, never trusting the emotional highs. A realistic optimist may seem a crank to casual observers, but in actuality he’s quite content.” (239)

Liked the quotes? Buy the book here.

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“Hit Makers” Quotes

Monday, January 7th, 2019

I recently read Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction by Derek Thompson. Here are the quotes I found most interesting:

“The most basic human needs – to belong, to escape, to aspire, to understand, to be understood – are eternal.” (6)

“Most consumers are simultaneously neophilic – curious to discover new things – and deeply neophobic – afraid of anything that’s too new. The best hit makers are gifted at creating moments of meaning by marrying new and old, anxiety and understanding. They are architects of familiar surprises.” (7)

“The deeper question for people with a new product or idea is: How can I make something that people will share on their own – with the audience of my audience?” (8)

“Content might be king, but distribution is the kingdom.” (8)

“The story of a product’s distribution is as important as a description of its features. It is rarely sufficient to design the perfect product without designing an equally thoughtful plan to get it to the right people.” (9)

“The most famous moviemaking corporations in the world, like the Walt Disney Company and Time Warner, have for years made more profit from cable channels like ESPn and TBS than from their entire movie divisions.” (11)

“In the big picture, the world’s attention is shifting from content that is infrequent, big, and broadcast (i.e. millions of people going to the movies once a week) to content that is frequent, small and social (i.e. billions of people looking at social media feeds on their own glass-and-pixel displays every few minutes).” (12)

“There are simply too many “good-enough” songs for every worthy hook to become a bona fide hit. Quality, it seems, is a necessary but insufficient attribute for success.” (37)

“One third of the White House staff works in some aspect of public relations to promote the president and his policies.” (38)

“The average presidential soundbite on the news shrank from forty seconds in 1968 to less than seven seconds in the 1990s.” (38)

“When people see an artwork that reminds them of something they’ve been taught is famous, they feel the thrill of recognition and attribute the thrill to the painting itself.” (43)

“This is the “less is more” or “less is better” effect. It means that less thinking leads to more liking. A cheeky UK experiment found that British students’ opinion of former prime minister Tony Blair sank as they listed more of his good qualities. Spouses offer higher appraisals of their partners when asked to name fewer charming characteristics. When something becomes hard to think about, people transfer the discomfort of the thought to the object of their thinking.” (44)

“Fashion, as we know it, was not written into human DNA. It is a recent invention of mass production and modern marketing. People had to be taught to constantly crave so many new things.” (49)

“One the one hand, humans seek familiarity, because it makes them feel safe. On the other hand, people are charged by the thrill of a challenge, powered by a pioneer lust.” (49)

“Creative people often bristle at the suggestion that they have to stoop to market their ideas or dress them in familiar garb. It’s pleasant to think that an idea’s brilliance is self-evident and doesn’t require the theater of marketing. But whether you’re an academic, screenwriter, or entrepreneur, the difference between a brilliant new idea with bad marketing and a mediocre idea with excellent marketing can be the difference between bankruptcy and success. The trick is learning to frame your new ideas as tweaks of old ideas, to mix a little fluency with a little disfluency – to make your audience see the familiarity behind the surprise.” (62)

“To sell something familiar, make it surprising. To sell something surprising, make it familiar.” (70)

“The central insight of MAYA (most advanced yet acceptable) is that people actually prefer complexity – up to the point that they stop understanding something.” (71)

“People sometimes don’t know what they want until they already love it.” (71)

“Repetition is powerful, not only for music, but for all communication.” (86)

“Most people love original storytelling, provided that the narrative arc traces the stories we know and the stories that we want to tell ourselves.” (111)

“Every great story is more than its plot. It is a self-enclosed universe of life, or as Tolstoy wrote, a vehicle for the delivery of all feelings from sorrow to ecstasy.” (116)

“Distribution is a strategy to make a good product popular, but it’s not a reliable way to make a bad product seem good.” (142)

“Plato proposed that laughter was an expression of “superiority” over a person or character in a story.” (146)

“Even the biggest hits often need the light touch of fortune’s tailwind.” (163)

“In this way, all hits can ironically sow the seeds of their own demise, as over-imitation ultimately renders the trend obsolete.” (179)

“If this makes the business of hits seem hopeless, then good. Making complex products for people who don’t know what they want – and who aggressively cluster around bizarrely popular products if a couple of their friends do the same – is unbelievably difficult work.” (180)

“The franchise strategy might be a prudent way to mitigate the uncertainty of the moviemaking process. But it carries specific negative consequences, both creative and financial. Writers who observe Hollywood’s abandoning of smart, complex dramas for superhero franchises have moved on to television. It’s not a coincidence that the “golden age of TV” coincided with the “franchise age of movies.”” (182)

“The blockbuster strategy guarantees that the flops will be spectacular – and, for film executives, devastating. All but three of the thirty biggest box office bombs in Hollywood history were released since 2005.” (182)

“The business of creativity is a game of chance – a complex, adaptive, semi-chaotic game with Bose-Einstein distribution dynamics and Pareto’s power law characteristics with dual-sided uncertainty. You, the creator, are making something that doesn’t exist for an audience that cannot say if they will like it beforehand.” (183)

“Dealing with this sort of uncertainty requires more than good ideas, brilliant execution, and powerful marketing (although it often requires those things, too). It also begs for a gospel of perseverance through inevitable failure.” (183)

“There is no antidote to the chaos of creative markets, only the brute doggedness to endure it.” (183)

“The most successful storytellers are often collage artists, bringing together never-before-assembled allusions to create a story that is both surprising and familiar.” (186)

“Viral disease tend to spread slowly, steadily, across many generations of infection. But information cascades are the opposite: They tend to spread in short bursts and die quickly. The gospel of virality has convinced some marketers that the only way that things become popular these days is by buzz and viral spread. But these marketers vastly overestimate the reliable power of word of mouth.” (193)

“It became a hit not because of fifteen thousand one-to-one shares, but in large part because three celebrities had the power to share the video with a million people at once.” (195)

“A “viral” idea can spread between broadcasts. For most so-called viral ideas or products to become massive hits, they almost always depend on several moments where they repad to many, many people from one source.” (203)

“Some consumers buy products not because they are “better” in any way, but simply because they are popular. What they’re buying is not just a product, but also a piece of popularity itself.” (206)

“For many cultural achievements, the art itself is not the only thing worth consuming; the experience of having seen, read, or heard the art for the purpose of being able to talk about it is its own reward. Such consumers are not just buying a product; what they’re really buying is entry into a popular conversation. Popularity is the product.” (207)

“Vincent Forrest told me, “The nature of the in-joke is that it creates an opportunity for people to get to know each other. If a button says, ‘I like reading,’ there’s no conversation there. Plenty of people like reading. But a specific Jane Eyre joke is only going to go noticed by a smaller number of people who love Jane Eyre and can genuinely connect over something.” The smaller, densely connected audience beats the larger, diffuse group.” (210)

“People purchase and share all sorts of things because they want people to see that they have them. Vincent Forrest sells buttons to be worn in public. He sells 1.25-inch baubles of identity.” (211)

“An inside joke is a private network of understanding. It crystallizes an in-group, a kind of soft cult, where unique individuals feel like they belong. Vincent Forrest’s physical products are buttons and magnets. But what he’s really selling is something else: a sentiment that feels so personal that you simply have to talk about it.” (215)

“The average white American has ninety-one white friends for every black, Asian or Hispanic friend. The average black American has ten black friends for each white friend.” (216)

“Introverts, like all people, love sharing within their clique evidence that they are distinct from the mainstream.” (218)

“Wolfe said, “I’m a firm believer that a person can only be advertised so many times in the same format before they become cynical.”” (223)

“The most important element in a global cascade isn’t magically viral elements or mystical influencers. Rather it is about finding a group of people who are easily influenced. It turns the influencer question on its head. Don’t ask, “Who is powerful?” Instead ask, “Who is vulnerable.”” (223)

“Successful creations grow most predictably when they tap into a small network of people who do not see themselves as mainstream, but rather bound by an idea or commonality that they consider special. People have all day to talk about what makes them ordinary. It turns out that they want to share what makes them weird.” (223)

“A 2012 Harvard study found that people use about one third of personal conversations to talk about themselves. Online, that number jumps to 80 percent.” (226)

“Nine of the ten most popular stories have the words “you” or “your” which to each reader, mean “me” and “mine.” (226)

“Facebook is tapping into the natural narcissism of all broadcasts. One to many, we sculpt, smooth, and sand our life stories; mammal to mmall, we’re more likely to relate.” (228)

“Publicly, they want to be interesting. Privately, they want to be understood.” (229)

“If 40 percent of respondents say they are aware of a new show, and 40 percent of that 40 percent say they want to watch it, and 20 percent of that 16 percent say they are passionate about the new show, NBC can confidently predict that the program will be a hit. This is the 40-40-20 test, and it works.” (239)

“The value of a hit television show is greater than its ratings or its ad rates alone, because those don’t account for an even more important feature: their ability to support other shows.” (240)

“Even in the early 2000s, more than 90 percent of original series on broadcast and cable were renewed the following season. In 2015, however, the number of original shows has exploded, and now only 40 percent of them survive to see another year.” (242)

“In 2000, there were 125 original scripted series and fewer than three hundred unscripted cable series, or “reality shows.” By 2015, there were four hundred original scripted series and nearly one thousand original reality series – an across the board tripling.” (243)

“In 1979, twenty-six shows surpassed that lofty threshold (of a 20 Nielsen rating). In 199, only two shows hit the mark: ER and Friends. In 2015, none did. As television watching options expanded, the threshold for hits lowered.” (243)

“Imitation is not a sign that people know the secret of popularity. It is a sign that there is no secret, and the only thing people know is the last thing that succeeded.” (250)

“People are good at telling you their feelings. But they’re less dependable at reporting their habits or projecting their future wants and needs.” (261)

“Given time to reflect, people prefer to talk about the person they want to be, not the person they are.” (261)

“The greatest threat to newspapers wasn’t better newspapers. It was bad television.” (264)

“Merely considering something that’s “good for you” satisfies a goal and grants license to indulge. People say they want hard news in their social media feeds, but mostly click on funny photos. People say they want to eat greens, but mostly order greasy sandwiches at salad-serving restaurants. People aren’t lying – they do want to be the sort of person who reads news! They do want to see salad options! – but mere proximity to good behavior satisfies their interest in behaving well.” (271)

“There is a Japanese word “Tsundoku” which means the piling up of unread books.” (272)

“Facebook “will be probably all video” in five years, said head of Facebook operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.”” (273)

“Culture isn’t just what people do. It’s also what people say they do.” (279)

“Pierre Bourdieu argued that taste is partly a performance, a show of “cultural capital.” The elite do not just like opera because they have been exposed to it; they are exposed to opera because they think it makes them elite.” (279)

“The best writers also knew to just do the work and forget, for a moment, that anyone would ever read their reverie.” (281)

“The paradox of scale is that the biggest hits are often designed for a small, well-defined group of people.” (285)

“Narrowly tailored hits are more likely to succeed, perhaps both because of their inherent qualities – they are focused works – and because of their network qualities. People are more likely to talk about products and ideas that they feel unusually attached to.” (286)

“These artists and teams produced their most resonant work after they had already passed a certain threshold of fame and popularity. Perhaps genius thrives in a space shielded ever so slightly from the need to win a popularity contest. Rather, it comes after the game has been won, after the artist can say, essentially, “Now that I have your attention…” (287)

“People’s basic needs are complex, but old. They want to feel unique and also to belong; to bathe in familiarity and to be provoked a little; to have their expectations met, and broken, and met again.” (290)

“Hollywood thought that toys were advertisements for movies. Hollywood was wrong; the opposite was true. The films were proofs of concept. The future of the movie business was everything outside the movie theater.” (294)

“In 1920, there were no Sears department stores in the United States. By 1929, there were three hundred.” (294)

“In the two months after its 1938 premier, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the movie made $2 million from the sale of toys – more than the actual film made in the United States that entire year.” (296)

“Often, the difference between success and failure, he decided, was the quality of the people surrounding the artist.” (305)

“Ryan Leslie says, “If you want to be a popstar, you need a pop star’s top five. If you want to be a politician, you need a politician’s top five. Your network needs to match the quality of Obama’s inner circle, or Clinton’s, or a Bush. If you want to be the best tennis player in the world, the five tennis people in your life have to be better than the five people around Serena Williams.”” (305)

“Most hits bear the indelible imprint of not only their maker, but also some forgotten enabler along the way.” (306)

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“Subliminal” Quotes

Wednesday, October 31st, 2018

I recently read “Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior” by Leonard Mlodinow. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. If you like them, buy the book and then read it.

“It can be difficult to distinguish willed, conscious behavior from that which is habitual or automatic.” (12)

“Research suggests that when it comes to understanding our feelings, we humans have an odd mix of low ability and high confidence.” (19)

“Research supports that “environmental factors” such as package design, package or portion size, and menu descriptions unconsciously influence us.” (20)

“Both direct, explicit aspects of life (the drink, in this case) and indirect implicit aspects (the price or brand) conspire to create our mental experience (the taste). The key word here is “create.” Our brains are not simply recording a taste or other experience, they are creating it.” (25)

“Deep concentration causes the energy consumption in your brain to go up by only about 1 percent. No matter what you are doing with your conscious mind, it is your unconscious that dominates your mental activity – and therefore uses up most of the energy consumed by the brain.” (35)

“Our unconscious doesn’t just interpret sensory data, it enhances it. It has to, because the dta our senses deliver is of rather poor quality and must be fixed up in order to be useful.” (46)

“When we are repeatedly asked to re-create a memory, we reinforce it each time, so that in a way we are remembering the memory, not the event.” (66)

“If your child’s fantasy is a ride in a hot air balloon, research has shown that it is possible to supply that memory with none of the expense or bother of arranging the actual experience.” (75)

“As humans, we are so prone to false memories that you can sometimes induce one simply by casually telling a person about an incident that didn’t really happen. Over time, that person may “remember” the incident but forget the source of that memory. As a result, he or she will confuse the imagnied event with his or her actual past.” (76)

“Whether or not we wish to, we communicate our expectations to others, and they often respond by fulfilling those expectations.” (113)

“Labeling children as gifted had proved to be a powerful self-fulfilling prophecy.” (114)

“It stands to reason that one can also adjust the impression one makes by consciously looking at or away from a conversational partner.” (122)

“One of the major factors in social success, even at an early age, is a child’s sense of nonverbal cues.” (124)

“When asked to rate men they can hear but not see, women miraculously tend to agree: men with deeper voices are rated as more attractive.” (130)

“Speakers with higher-pitched voices were judged to be less truthful, less emphatic, less potent, and more nervous than speakers with lower-pitched voices. Also, slower-talking speakers were judged to be less truthful, less persuasive, and more passive than people who spoke more quickly.” (133)

“A little speedup will make you sound smarter and more convincing.” (133)

“If two speakers utter exactly the same words but one speaks a little faster and louder and with fewer pauses and greater variation in volume, that speaker will be judged to be more energetic, knowledgeable, and intelligent. Expressive speech, with modulation in pitch and volume and with a minimum of noticeable pauses, boosts credibility and enhances the impression of intelligence.” (133)

“Though your evaluation of another person may feel rational and deliberate, it is heavily informed by automatic, unconscious processes.” (156)

“Desire for food and water is the strongest ideology.” (164)

“Your in-group identity influences the way you judge people, but it also influences the way you feel about yourself, the way you behave, and sometimes even your performance.” (170)

“We are highly invested in feeling different from one another – and superior – no matter how flimsy the grounds for our sense of superiority, and no matter how self-sabotaging that may end up being.” (174)

“Emotions, in today’s neo-Jamesian view, are like perceptions and memories – they are reconstructed from the data at hand.” (182)

“When nerve cells send a signal to the pain centers of your brain, your experience of pain can vary even if those signals don’t.” (182)

“An isolated pratfall such as the coffee-spilling incident tends to increase the likability of a generally competent-seeming person, and the anticipation of meeting an individual tends to improve your assessment of that individual’s personality.” (194)

“The “causal arrow” in human thought processes consistently tends to point from belief to evidence, not vice versa.” (201)

“Our unconscious can choose from an entire smorgasbord of interpretations to feed our conscious mind. In the end we feel we are chewing on the facts, though we’ve actually been chomping on a preferred conclusion.” (203)

“They show that when assessing emotionally relevant data, our brains automatically include our wants and dreams and desires. Our internal computations, which we believe to be objective, are not really the computations that a detached computer would make but, rather, are implicitly colored by who we are and what we are after.” (206)

“The subtlety of our reasoning mechanisms allows us to maintain our illusions of objectivity even while viewing the world through a biased lens.” (214)

“We choose the facts that we want to believe. We also choose our friends, lovers, and spouses not just because of the way we perceive them but because of the way they perceive us. Unlike phenomena in physics, in life, events can often obey one theory or another, and what actually happens can depend largely upon which theory we choose to believe.” (218)

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“Solve For Happy” Quotes

Tuesday, October 30th, 2018

I recently read “Solve For Happy: Engineer Your Path To Joy” by Mo Gawdat. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. If you like them, buy and read the book here.

“What I realized was that I would never get to happiness as long as I held on to the idea that as soon as I do this or get that or reach this benchmark I’ll become happy.” (6)

“Happiness is the absence of unhappiness.” (19)

“Success is not an essential prerequisite to happiness.” (22)

“While success doesn’t lead to happiness, happiness does contribute to success.” (23)

“Unhappiness happens when your reality does not match your hopes and expectations.” (26)

“Happiness ≥ Your perception of the events of your life MINUS your expectations of how life should behave.“ (26)

“Once the thought goes, the suffering disappears.” (27)

“It’s the thought, not the actual event, that’s making you unhappy.” (28)

“It all begins when you accept the thought passing through your head as absolute truth. The longer you hold on to this thought, the more you prolong the pain.” (32)

“Happiness depends entirely on how we control every thought.” (35)

“With no thoughts, we return to our default, childlike, state: happiness!” (39)

“In the 1930s, the Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky observed that inner speech is accompanied by tiny muscular movements in the larynx. Based on this, he argued that inner speech developed through the internalization of out-loud speech. In the 1990s, neuroscientists confirmed his view.” (53)

“When it comes to thought, you should be in full control. Your brain’s job is to produce logic for you to consider. When the thoughts are presented, you should never lose sight of the question Who is working for whom?” (57)

“You just need to take charge and act like the boss. Correct Descartes’ statement all the way: I am, therefore my brain thinks.” (57)

“There are three types of thought that our brains produce: insightful (used for problem solving), experiential (focused on the task at hand), and narrative (chatter). Those types are so distinctively different from each other that they occur in different parts of our brain.” (57)

“As soon as you master the art of observing an idea and letting it go, your mind will quickly run out of topics to bring up. It can keep going only when you cling to an idea.” (61)

“Once when Aya was around five, she was crying while I was deeply engaged trying to explain to her why she shouldn’t cry about the issue that had upset her. In the cutest way she looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, “Papa, when I’m crying don’t talk to me about the things that make me cry. If you want to make me happy, just tickle me.” (65)

“To observe the physical world, you need to observe from a vantage point outside it.” (83)

“Our expectation that others will buy into our fake image is never satisfied – and we feel unhappy.” (90)

“The egoless child is still calmly sitting inside each of us. Buried in layers over layers of lies, egos, and personas. Happy nonetheless. Waiting to be found.” (93)

“Others will rarely ever approve of your ego because they are more concerned with their own ego than with yours.” (95)

“Entertain the idea that what you’ve spent your entire life learning may not be entirely true.” (117)

“While eternity is commonly understood to be a very long time, it really is the absence of time. It is timelessness.” (132)

“Every time you examine your thoughts you’ll notice that whatever you’re upset about is rooted in a past you cannot change or a future that may turn out to be completely different from what you express.” (141)

“Strive to achieve your goals knowing that the results are impossible to predict. When something unexpected happens, the detachment concept tells us to accept the new direction and try again” (151)

“As Oscar Wilde said, “It is all going to be fine in the end. If it is not yet fine, then it is not yet the end.” (155)

“There is nothing wrong with planning and trying to assume control. THe way we react when something unexpected happens is where we go off track.” (155)

“If you can afford the brain cycles to worry about the future, then by definition, you have nothing to worry about right now.” (172)

“Ninety percent of your long-term happiness is predicted not by the external world but by the way your brain processes the world.” (213)

“One day I realized that control is not to be gained at the micro level of every detail. It is not to be found in what I need to do, but rather in how I need to do every little thing I do.” (243)

“Please stop looking at what you don’t have. What you don’t have is infinite. Making that your reference point is a sure recipe for disappointment.” (249)

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