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Anthony Jeselnik On How To Be Funny By Being Mean

There are plenty of ways to be mean. Anthony Jeselnik uses them all. Here, the creator and star of Comedy Central’s The Jeselnik Offensive talks about finding the funny in everything.

Anthony Jeselnik has nothing nice to say about anything. His persona is that of an arrogant prick, constantly airing grievances and confessing evil deeds. Frequent targets of abuse include family members, small children, and any woman with the misfortune of being one of his girlfriends. Through sheer commitment to character, though, and a deep respect for old-school joke crafting, Jeselnik has elevated “being a dick” to an art.
Of course, nobody gets laughs merely by saying horrible things. There’s a certain finesse to it—a strategy built on misanthropy—of which Jeselnik is the undisputed master. The cranky comedian recently shared with Co.Create the tricks to cracking jokes by being a jerk.

Appeal to your audience’s dark side.

I think the biggest laugh is when someone laughs at something they don’t think they should be laughing at. It’s just a different kind of laugh, and that’s the only laugh I want from an audience.

Desensitize through quantity.

People can feel a little better about laughing at something awful when it’s surrounded by other horrible things.

Smuggle mean in with the humorously tragic.

When I wrote for Fallon, my favorite stories were the more tragic ones that people could still make fun of. Like when the inventor of the Frisbee dies. It’s a chance to make a funny, silly joke about that, but it was also making fun of someone who just died. 

Go ahead and offend people; they’ll get over it.

There’s a guy from New Zealand who was demanding an apology from me for this shark bit I did on the show recently. And I couldn’t care less. I would never apologize for anything. He’ll forget about it in a week. It doesn’t matter. He doesn’t know who I am. The criticism was “How can you make fun of New Zealand sharks when you wouldn’t make fun of 9/11 or Newtown?” I’ve made fun of both of those things a few times on the show.

Be mean for the right reasons.

Laughing after a tragedy takes the power away from it.
It depends on why you’re making the joke. Are you trying to get attention for yourself? Or are you really trying to make people laugh at something. I think one is more noble than the other.

People like being insulted…sometimes.

There’s something about not taking yourself seriously that’s really fun. Especially if someone’s good at it. 

Use “third thought” to make mean twists surprising.

If I give you the setup of a joke, a punch line might pop in your head right away. That’s the first thought. But if your punch line is the first thought, nobody’s going to laugh at it because they’ve all already thought of it. If you sit there and think about what else might happen—the second thought—that could be an okay joke. But the third thought is where you really blow people away, because it’s something that they would have put together eventually, but it takes a while. 

The bigger the tension, the bigger the release.

Sometimes the punch line is something offensive, sometimes the setup is offensive—where it just makes people uncomfortable. That’s when you can really pull the rug out—because they’re looking one way. You build up the tension and then release the tension, and everybody laughs. I just think you get a bigger laugh when you’re talking about offensive subjects

Pretend there’s no line (because there isn’t one).

There’s no line. Comedy can go anywhere, as long as you can make it funny.

Read the full story here.

Anthony Jeselnik On How To Be Funny By Being Mean

There are plenty of ways to be mean. Anthony Jeselnik uses them all. Here, the creator and star of Comedy Central’s The Jeselnik Offensive talks about finding the funny in everything.

Anthony Jeselnik has nothing nice to say about anything. His persona is that of an arrogant prick, constantly airing grievances and confessing evil deeds. Frequent targets of abuse include family members, small children, and any woman with the misfortune of being one of his girlfriends. Through sheer commitment to character, though, and a deep respect for old-school joke crafting, Jeselnik has elevated “being a dick” to an art.

Of course, nobody gets laughs merely by saying horrible things. There’s a certain finesse to it—a strategy built on misanthropy—of which Jeselnik is the undisputed master. The cranky comedian recently shared with Co.Create the tricks to cracking jokes by being a jerk.

Appeal to your audience’s dark side.

I think the biggest laugh is when someone laughs at something they don’t think they should be laughing at. It’s just a different kind of laugh, and that’s the only laugh I want from an audience.

Desensitize through quantity.

People can feel a little better about laughing at something awful when it’s surrounded by other horrible things.

Smuggle mean in with the humorously tragic.

When I wrote for Fallon, my favorite stories were the more tragic ones that people could still make fun of. Like when the inventor of the Frisbee dies. It’s a chance to make a funny, silly joke about that, but it was also making fun of someone who just died. 

Go ahead and offend people; they’ll get over it.

There’s a guy from New Zealand who was demanding an apology from me for this shark bit I did on the show recently. And I couldn’t care less. I would never apologize for anything. He’ll forget about it in a week. It doesn’t matter. He doesn’t know who I am. The criticism was “How can you make fun of New Zealand sharks when you wouldn’t make fun of 9/11 or Newtown?” I’ve made fun of both of those things a few times on the show.

Be mean for the right reasons.

Laughing after a tragedy takes the power away from it.

It depends on why you’re making the joke. Are you trying to get attention for yourself? Or are you really trying to make people laugh at something. I think one is more noble than the other.

People like being insulted…sometimes.

There’s something about not taking yourself seriously that’s really fun. Especially if someone’s good at it. 

Use “third thought” to make mean twists surprising.

If I give you the setup of a joke, a punch line might pop in your head right away. That’s the first thought. But if your punch line is the first thought, nobody’s going to laugh at it because they’ve all already thought of it. If you sit there and think about what else might happen—the second thought—that could be an okay joke. But the third thought is where you really blow people away, because it’s something that they would have put together eventually, but it takes a while. 

The bigger the tension, the bigger the release.

Sometimes the punch line is something offensive, sometimes the setup is offensive—where it just makes people uncomfortable. That’s when you can really pull the rug out—because they’re looking one way. You build up the tension and then release the tension, and everybody laughs. I just think you get a bigger laugh when you’re talking about offensive subjects

Pretend there’s no line (because there isn’t one).

There’s no line. Comedy can go anywhere, as long as you can make it funny.

Read the full story here.

The Writer Behind “Dark Night” and “Man of Steel” On Multitasking, Meditation, And Using Your Good Ideas. 
David S. Goyer, the writer behind “The Dark Knight” trilogy, “Man of Steel,” “Call of Duty: Black Ops” and the new Starz series “Da Vinci’s Demons,” credits a rigorous schedule and daily meditation with his multitasking successes.
Leonardo da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, conceived of the helicopter and developed a rudimentary theory of plate tectonics (among many other things), making him one of the most famous figures in history. And yet we know surprisingly little about the Renaissance Man—all of which makes him ideal fodder for historical fiction.
Da Vinci is just the kind of superhuman figure that David S. Goyer relishes. The screenwriter who crafted the Dark Knight movies (he cowrote that trilogy with director Christopher Nolan) and Man of Steel (the upcoming reboot of the Superman mythology, directed by Zack Snyder and produced by Nolan) has created Da Vinci’s Demons, a new series debuting this week on Starz.
Goyer is no slouch himself. The last TV show he created was the one-season ABC series FlashForward; he has directed movies, including Blade: Trinity and Zig Zag; he’s written two novels and he developed the story for the wildly successful videogames Call of Duty: Black Ops Iand II.
In a tightly scheduled 15 minutes, Co.Create asked the master multitasker how he manages it all and how he balances the expectations of die-hard fans with his own creative vision. Naturally, we couldn’t help squeezing in a question or two about the much-awaited Man of Steel.
Stick to a rigorous schedule- unless Zack Snyder calls.
If you have a good idea, don’t save it. Use it.
Help a director out.
Find the hole in the history.
Embrace Reinvention.
Here’s the full story.

The Writer Behind “Dark Night” and “Man of Steel” On Multitasking, Meditation, And Using Your Good Ideas.

David S. Goyer, the writer behind “The Dark Knight” trilogy, “Man of Steel,” “Call of Duty: Black Ops” and the new Starz series “Da Vinci’s Demons,” credits a rigorous schedule and daily meditation with his multitasking successes.

Leonardo da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, conceived of the helicopter and developed a rudimentary theory of plate tectonics (among many other things), making him one of the most famous figures in history. And yet we know surprisingly little about the Renaissance Man—all of which makes him ideal fodder for historical fiction.

Da Vinci is just the kind of superhuman figure that David S. Goyer relishes. The screenwriter who crafted the Dark Knight movies (he cowrote that trilogy with director Christopher Nolan) and Man of Steel (the upcoming reboot of the Superman mythology, directed by Zack Snyder and produced by Nolan) has created Da Vinci’s Demons, a new series debuting this week on Starz.

Goyer is no slouch himself. The last TV show he created was the one-season ABC series FlashForward; he has directed movies, including Blade: Trinity and Zig Zag; he’s written two novels and he developed the story for the wildly successful videogames Call of Duty: Black Ops Iand II.

In a tightly scheduled 15 minutes, Co.Create asked the master multitasker how he manages it all and how he balances the expectations of die-hard fans with his own creative vision. Naturally, we couldn’t help squeezing in a question or two about the much-awaited Man of Steel.

  • Stick to a rigorous schedule- unless Zack Snyder calls.
  • If you have a good idea, don’t save it. Use it.
  • Help a director out.
  • Find the hole in the history.
  • Embrace Reinvention.

Here’s the full story.

How To Tell If You’re Creative
A new personality test determines the markers of a creative mind.
Forget Myers-Briggs. A study out of BI Norwegian Business School has determined the signposts of a “creative” personality. Conducted by Professor Øyvind L. Martinsen, the study posed 200 questions to 481 people. The subjects fell into three categories. One group of “baseline” subjects such as lecturers or managers, and two groups of people who are generally considered to be creative, such as students of advertising and performing artists. Martinsen says he found meaningful differences between the creative and noncreative groups.
Read about the seven elements of a creative personality here.

How To Tell If You’re Creative

A new personality test determines the markers of a creative mind.

Forget Myers-Briggs. A study out of BI Norwegian Business School has determined the signposts of a “creative” personality. Conducted by Professor Øyvind L. Martinsen, the study posed 200 questions to 481 people. The subjects fell into three categories. One group of “baseline” subjects such as lecturers or managers, and two groups of people who are generally considered to be creative, such as students of advertising and performing artists. Martinsen says he found meaningful differences between the creative and noncreative groups.

Read about the seven elements of a creative personality here.

Here’s someone who can definitively answer “Yo, Is This Racist?”

Andrew Ti’s racial-issues blog has birthed a podcast that determines whether certain people and ideas are in the wrong (spoiler alert: yes, they are).

One day, years ago, Ti was engaged in a bout of typical, boring office banter when a coworker mentioned the cartoon character Yosemite Sam. This person pointed out how Yosemite Sam sometimes utters a string of cartoon swears, among them the term, “Cotton pickin’.” (Usually when he’s crazy mad at Bugs Bunny.) It slowly dawned on everyone involved that they all had this same shared memory, and it had somehow never bothered them before. Within five minutes, Ti had created the Yo, Is This Racist? tumblr to catalog such prickly concerns.

Read the full story here.

Here’s someone who can definitively answer “Yo, Is This Racist?”

Andrew Ti’s racial-issues blog has birthed a podcast that determines whether certain people and ideas are in the wrong (spoiler alert: yes, they are).

One day, years ago, Ti was engaged in a bout of typical, boring office banter when a coworker mentioned the cartoon character Yosemite Sam. This person pointed out how Yosemite Sam sometimes utters a string of cartoon swears, among them the term, “Cotton pickin’.” (Usually when he’s crazy mad at Bugs Bunny.) It slowly dawned on everyone involved that they all had this same shared memory, and it had somehow never bothered them before. Within five minutes, Ti had created the Yo, Is This Racist? tumblr to catalog such prickly concerns.


Read the full story here.

How One Company Taught It’s Employees To Be Happier And What Happened Next

Media agency MEC offered a happiness workshop to a group of workers in its Manhattan office. Co.Create looks at the thinking behind the effort and the results.

Here’s the story.

How One Company Taught It’s Employees To Be Happier And What Happened Next

Media agency MEC offered a happiness workshop to a group of workers in its Manhattan office. Co.Create looks at the thinking behind the effort and the results.

Here’s the story.

See A Brief Cultural History Of An Auto Giant: The Volkswagen Beetle

It’s hard to think of any small car—or, indeed, any car—that’s had such an outsize cultural presence. From the ugly associations of its past to its role in advertising history and its multiple rebirths, the Beetle transcended its role as conveyance, or even brand, and became a cultural icon.

Here’s the story and the full slideshow.

5 Ways To Thrive During Marketing’s Seismic Shift To Mobile 
During SXSW, major brands convened to discuss how to move forward with mobile. Urban Airship’s Scott Kveton outlines the key trends and strategies that emerged and provides examples of brands adding value via mobile.

What is increasingly clear is that mobile will confound the cookie-cutter campaign creator, bother the bulk emailer, and annoy broad-audience advertisers. Brands that rely on traditional, one-way mass media must completely re-engineer their approach for mobile, because when customers perceive marketing as an interruption, they take immediate action to tune you out.

Find your value in your customers’ lives.
Engage each customer in the key moments of their day.
Deliver value based on location.
Allow customers to personalize their experience to gain relevance.
Don’t sell to your customers: entertain, engage, and delight them.
Read more here.

5 Ways To Thrive During Marketing’s Seismic Shift To Mobile 

During SXSW, major brands convened to discuss how to move forward with mobile. Urban Airship’s Scott Kveton outlines the key trends and strategies that emerged and provides examples of brands adding value via mobile.

What is increasingly clear is that mobile will confound the cookie-cutter campaign creator, bother the bulk emailer, and annoy broad-audience advertisers. Brands that rely on traditional, one-way mass media must completely re-engineer their approach for mobile, because when customers perceive marketing as an interruption, they take immediate action to tune you out.

  1. Find your value in your customers’ lives.
  2. Engage each customer in the key moments of their day.
  3. Deliver value based on location.
  4. Allow customers to personalize their experience to gain relevance.
  5. Don’t sell to your customers: entertain, engage, and delight them.

Read more here.

Why do companies keep making offensive pink products “for her”?
The ePad Femme is just the latest in a long line of ill-conceived, insulting, “female-focused” products. Here, we look into the mystery of the unnecessary genderification of gender-neutral products.


In October, the Eurostar Group introduced a product called The ePad Femme—an eReader just for women. It sells for $190, and it comes preloaded with stereotypically feminine apps, which seem to revolve around fitness, cooking, and man-pleasing. It is, of course, pink. Eurostar Group is a Dubai-based company, and the tablet received little attention in the U.S. until the past week or two, when bloggers picked up an article in the Jerusalem Post about how Eurostar was marketing the tablet as a Valentine’s Day gift. Cue the understandable outrage at such a sexist product.
This opprobrium happens every time there’s a goofy product marketed as something “for women”: Check out the Bic Cristal Pen for Her, the Della computer for women, and Honda’s car for women for debacles similar to the ePad Femme kerfuffle. And even marketers who aren’t creating a bespoke product for women seem to cling to some jaw-droppingly retrograde notions about women’s behavior vis-à-vis their existing product and women’s lives in general—witness Samsung’s embarrassing Galaxy S4 event, which featured a group of drunk ladies preoccupied with weight loss and marrying doctors.
Since the public response to the pinkification of gender-neutral products seems, at face value, to be universally negative, we were wondering, why do companies keep making these things?
We asked Jonah Disend, CEO at the brand development firm Redscout, and Gina Reimann, director of industrial design at Redscout, to clue us in on why Eurostar might have created the ePad Femme.
Find out what she had to say here.

Why do companies keep making offensive pink products “for her”?

The ePad Femme is just the latest in a long line of ill-conceived, insulting, “female-focused” products. Here, we look into the mystery of the unnecessary genderification of gender-neutral products.

In October, the Eurostar Group introduced a product called The ePad Femme—an eReader just for women. It sells for $190, and it comes preloaded with stereotypically feminine apps, which seem to revolve around fitness, cooking, and man-pleasing. It is, of course, pink. Eurostar Group is a Dubai-based company, and the tablet received little attention in the U.S. until the past week or two, when bloggers picked up an article in the Jerusalem Post about how Eurostar was marketing the tablet as a Valentine’s Day gift. Cue the understandable outrage at such a sexist product.

This opprobrium happens every time there’s a goofy product marketed as something “for women”: Check out the Bic Cristal Pen for Her, the Della computer for women, and Honda’s car for women for debacles similar to the ePad Femme kerfuffle. And even marketers who aren’t creating a bespoke product for women seem to cling to some jaw-droppingly retrograde notions about women’s behavior vis-à-vis their existing product and women’s lives in general—witness Samsung’s embarrassing Galaxy S4 event, which featured a group of drunk ladies preoccupied with weight loss and marrying doctors.

Since the public response to the pinkification of gender-neutral products seems, at face value, to be universally negative, we were wondering, why do companies keep making these things?

We asked Jonah Disend, CEO at the brand development firm Redscout, and Gina Reimann, director of industrial design at Redscout, to clue us in on why Eurostar might have created the ePad Femme.

Find out what she had to say here.

4 MULTITASKING TIPS FROM CREATIVE POLYMATH JAMES FRANCO

As his latest feature hits theaters, it’s a sure bet that James Franco is working on at least 8 other projects across at least 4 platforms. Here, he shares some productivity tips.

James Franco is one of the biggest multitaskers in show business. In 2013 alone, he has promoted three films at Sundance (because any less than three would be un-Franco-like), written a presidential inauguration poem for Yahoo! News and announced a bushel full of projects—adapting a James Ellroy novel, directing and starring in the Jay Sebring biopic Beautiful People, and producing a Gucci documentary. He’s also starring in Oz: The Great and Powerful, debuting this week, and Spring Breakers, which premiers later this month.

How does one man do it all? We asked Franco for some nitty-gritty insights. 

COLLABORATE! COLLABORATE! COLLABORATE!

If you’re coming up with ideas as constantly as Franco is, you can’t possibly do them all on your own. The solution? Enlist collaborators to help manage projects and keep you updated on their progress. This way, your project gets to see the light of day—but you don’t necessarily have to be the one dotting all the is and crossing all the ts. “I try and always collaborate, and that’s allowed me to work on a lot of things. If [a project] pops into my head and I haven’t heard about it lately, I’ll text that person and find out what the status is.”

KEEP AN IDEAS LIST

Just because you can’t start a project now doesn’t mean you should discard it. Keep a running list of ideas, and sooner or later the good ideas will find their way back to the drawing board. “I do have a list—it’s sort of all in my head. We have to plan certain things way in advance, like movies to get financing, especially if they’re large movies. Other things I keep in the back of my head, and they gestate there. By the time they come around, sometimes they’ve taken on a new form or have new participants—and in a lot of ways they’re maybe better because of that.”

PLANNERS SCHPANNERS

As far as Franco is concerned, calendars and daily planners are not a prerequisite for multitasking. “I don’t have a daily planner. I find that I never use them when I get them.”

DON’T FEEL CHAINED TO YOUR DESK

When at home, Franco finds he does his best creative work away from desks. “I gravitate towards couches and beds.”

Now-a-days we’re all polymaths to some degree. How do you do it all?