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April 16, 2024 47 mins

Meet Matt Williams, the creator of hit shows Roseanne and Home Improvement among many other successful projects. Matt never focused on red carpets and glitzy parties during his lengthy and successful career in the entertainment industry. Rather, he says, what sustained him, guided him, and inspired him were divine glimpses of goodness and grace. Listen to Matt talk about that and so much more in this interview. Matt’s new book Glimpses is out now and he is donating all the money from this book to children's charities worldwide. Buy it now, available everywhere you get your books. enJOY! 

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
The Craig Ferguson Fancy Rascal Stand Up Tour continues throughout
twenty twenty four. For a full list of dates and tickets,
go to the Craig Ferguson Show dot com slash tour.
See you out there, the Greig Ferguson Show dot com
slash Tour. My name is Craig Ferguson. The name of
this podcast is Joy. I talk to interest in people

(00:24):
about what brings them happiness. Matt Williams has written or
created or both some of the biggest sitcoms in American history,
some of the most controversial sitcoms in American history. And
now he's well, he's kind of looking for God. Matt Williams,

(00:49):
I want to talk to you about your book in
a little bit because it is a book of First
of all, I've read it, now that's full disclosure. I've
read the blurb for it, and now I will read
it because I do read, and I want you to
understand that I will read it. And when I was
doing Late Night people used to say, well, you got
to read the book before you know the celebrity is
on the show. You are the celebrity at this point,

(01:11):
and I'd say, no, I'm not going to read the
book or watch the movie or see the TV show,
because then we're both talking about something we already know about.
Oh see, there you go. And I had this conversation
with Leno, Who's like, no, that's totally wrong. You're so rude.
That is so rude. I said, all right, well, I'll
skim through the movie. But a book's a commitment. A

(01:32):
book is a commitment you've got to. I mean, that's
that's a few days, you know. And if I'm talking
to authors every day, that's my whole life. My whole
life is reading books, which is not a terrible life.
I guess when you because your book is a spiritual book.

Speaker 2 (01:49):
It is a memoir told through humorous essays and what
I call spiritual musings, there is a spiritual thread.

Speaker 1 (01:57):
Yeah, it seems to me, like like the blurb by
Red that is about something there. Look you tell me what.
The God is very much a part of it, right,
So God's apart? Are you a religious person?

Speaker 2 (02:07):
I am? Okay, what stripe is where my stripe early
on was Lutheran and very strict Lutheran. And then that's
one of the story threads is my evolution from God
being a pissed off, bearded guy sitting on a cloud. Yeah, Santa, Yeah,
you know, the petulant parent waiting to throw you into hell.

(02:30):
And then as I Maturita went, wait a minute, why
do you want to spend time worshiping that God? And
then as I started exploring other religions and going, if
God is love and there's a divine mind, a spirit,
a holy mystery, whatever, the ultimate creator, I want to
lean into that rather than the pissed off parent. And
so that's part of the journey, is that spiritual journey

(02:52):
is tracked in the book. I hope with humor and humility,
I would imagine.

Speaker 1 (02:56):
So I mean giving you a writing credits so far
were again that it seems like you are capable of
writing the occasional humorous music, Yeah, the occasional joke. Where
did you Did you end up in a particular organized
religion or did you just a wonder of Lutheranism into
a kind of soft rainbow colored informal.

Speaker 2 (03:15):
I call it. I call it. I don't use the
term Christian because that has all this baggage. So as
you say Christian Bible thumping, hairsprayed, evangelist, calcified Christianity, my
way or the highway, misogynistic, judgmental, blah blah blah. Yeah,
none of that christ I don't. So I say instead,
I'm a follower of Christ. So I am a Christian

(03:36):
in that sense because whether you can wrap your head
around the historic Jesus being God incarnate or not, at
least look at what the man was preaching and teaching,
be kind, be compassionate, take care of the poor, feed
help others. Yeah, who can argue with that?

Speaker 1 (03:54):
Yeah? I think that my feeling, my personal feeling about
Christianity because I I'm I think I'm want a similar
kind of streat, you know, kind of search as you are.
I'm looking for something that kind of makes sense in
a God sense. And you know, I was raised in
Presbyterian Scotland, which is not a million miles away from Lutheranism.

(04:14):
It's kind of the same. It's like it's got all
that predestination and you know, you know, you can try
being good, but it's already been decided and all that
kind of stuff, and you're kind of screwed. And let's
not have any pictures up anyway, like like you suck
and you're not even allowed to have art fun. But

(04:36):
I became fascinated in recent times. I'm sure you have
read C. S. Lewis and GK. Chesterton and the Christian Apologies.
Right through reading them, I was fascinated by, particularly C. S. Lewis,
who seems to be able to put it into bite
sized chunks and kind of entertainment style language that I

(04:58):
can read and understand and digest pretty easily. I ended
up at the Desert Fathers. Have you come across those
guys you're talking Thomas Merton or you talk to I'm
talking Origin of Alexandria. If agrees of Pondos Anthony st. Hildegarde,
Julian Hildegard is awesome, Yeah, yeah, yeah. What really drove

(05:21):
me back to Christianity was studying the Christian mystics, because
they're dealing with panantheism. They're dealing with God living in
all things, God being alive in all of us, as
opposed to that floating figure out there, that calvin mentality
of Oh I've got to beat myself up and crawled
and broken glass for God to love me. And I thought,

(05:42):
wait a minute, Hildegarde, Meister Eckhart they talk about the
divine spark that lives in all of us. Well, that
was Origin of Alexandria as well. That was like second
century Christian mystics. So I'm fascinated by that because I
think a lot of that. Lutheranism though a lot of that.
I mean, look, if you're a Luther, if you're Lutheran

(06:03):
and this is pissing you off, well, let's be honest,
you were pissed off before have we started anyway. But
I think that all of that kind of punitive form
of religion is a product of the very necessary reformation
after you know, during the I mean because even the
internal reformation that the Church had, Catholic Church had at

(06:26):
the time, they were trying to find a way. But
Origin of Alexandria was excommunicated five hundred years after he
died because he said, there can be no physical representation
of God. That's insane. God is If God is everywhere,
then how can you draw a picture of it? That's silly.
And he was excommunicated five hundred years after he died.

(06:49):
Because I feel like, if your business is selling art
and pictures and bones and relics, candles and candles and
little gig in Chashkaz. Then it's going to be tricky
if you say, well, there can be no physical representation
of God. You can't have a drawing of the sapphire
pavements of heaven. You're going to have to just go

(07:11):
there in your head. And of course he even went like,
you can't do it in your head either. It's that's
not a Some people are very strict. Are you very strict?
And what do you feel you've arrived at a belief system?
Are you still kind of stay? Oh, I'm always evolving.

Speaker 2 (07:25):
I think that's the older you get, the more you read,
the more you travel the world, you keep evolving. I
think that's one of the problems with organized religion is
it's it gets locked in. Like I said, calcified, it's
this way, it must be this way. It's dualistic thinking.
There's right and wrong, there's God and the devil and
nothing else, ones and zeros and want and I go,

(07:47):
I don't believe that if God truly and I do
believe God lives in all things right and animates all life,
and right now is expanding the universe. Were sitting inside right, Well,
then and I better start changing my concept of God.
And I'm still evolving. I'm still trying to learn.

Speaker 1 (08:08):
Right.

Speaker 2 (08:08):
I read as much as I can about other religions,
and you know, when you start to break them down,
really break them down, they're kind of all saying the
same thing pretty much. Just don't be an Asshole'll be kind, Yeah,
don't be a dick, and don't be and take care
of people.

Speaker 1 (08:23):
Yeah, it's kind of that nice.

Speaker 2 (08:25):
Be nice.

Speaker 1 (08:26):
Yeah, I know it's it's kind of interesting. But your
period of your writing career in Hollywood, I mean, so
you started. The reason why I'm going to this is
because it's not a period which is renowned or an
area which is renowned for spirituality of any kind. Really,
I mean, there's a lot of yoga, but but and

(08:46):
yoga's great, but you know it's like, but yoga and
juice aren't. That's not where it ends. So you were
working You've started on I guess be The Cosby.

Speaker 2 (08:57):
Show, right, very first television show that was your first
job as a writer, as a writer, it was The
Cosby Show, which was in La would be in New York, in.

Speaker 1 (09:06):
New York in the eighties. Was in the eighties.

Speaker 2 (09:08):
Yeah, it was in the eighties, and it was It
started in Brooklyn Avenue M and Brooklyn at studios a
way out there, and then eventually moved to Astoria in
Queens and Queens. So the Cosby Show and then with
two other writers did the spin off. I created the
spinoff Different World, Right, And then after three and a
half years on The Cosby Show, I left created Roseanne right,

(09:31):
that made a deal at Disney, and then created a
couple of other shows, and then eventually created Home Improvement
with David and Carmen, my two partners.

Speaker 1 (09:39):
Right. So you you have worked on some of the
most successful shows. Man, you must be so rich. It's
the eye of the needle having thing. I'm just mentioning it.
I'm pretty blessed. Well, those were the good times, man,
those were there. I mean that's when in sitcoms made money. Yes,
so you're working. You weren't like I had writer on Cosby, Right,

(09:59):
you were in the room. Yeah, So A Different World
was your first, Like you're running it.

Speaker 2 (10:05):
No, we just did the pilot a man named John
Marcus and Carmen Finestra, who later became my partner at
wind Dancer. The three of us took Bill's idea. I
think Bill got the created by credit because it was
his idea and we had to develop by credit or something.
And but we wrote the pilot, produced the pilot with
Tom and Marcy. The show was launched. Then we went

(10:26):
back to the Cosby Show and continued right because we
were the staff was small, five maybe six writers and.

Speaker 1 (10:35):
Yeah at that time that's tiny.

Speaker 2 (10:36):
Yeah, and so when you have three of them, peel
off to create a pilot. So then we came back
to the show. And then while working on Cosby, Tom
Order and Marcy Carci said do you have any ideas
you want to pursue?

Speaker 1 (10:49):
And then that then you you went into Roseanne Roseanne.
Now you've worked with both Cosby and was that for
widely different reasons. Their legacies are tarnished pretty pretty badly,
cause me very obviously. So are you still in touch?

Speaker 2 (11:07):
No, I've not talked to Bill in Uh. He actually
shot a video when New York Station Film honored my
wife and I many years ago, and he did a
video and I talked to him then, but that was
fifteen years ago.

Speaker 1 (11:21):
Yeah. It's funny though, because I it's people people won't
say I never met BeO Cosby, but people saying, did
you hear anything, And I was like, actually no, but
I wasn't in that world. I wasn't anywhere near it.
Did you hear anything, but there was no vibe about
it or anything.

Speaker 2 (11:38):
Well you heard things about maybe women being around, but
being a serial rapist. No, no, concept. I was shocked.

Speaker 1 (11:46):
Well, you mean that he had a lot of women around,
but you didn't know that he was using women?

Speaker 2 (11:50):
Yeah at all? And so and what was tough was
he was kind of my mentor I learned comedy. You
hear the tapping?

Speaker 1 (12:00):
Yeah, is that that's Bill's it?

Speaker 2 (12:01):
That's Bill? It's somebody with a hammer above us? Shut
the hell up.

Speaker 1 (12:07):
Maybe it's the Lutheran God.

Speaker 2 (12:10):
You're right, yeah, yeah, I got the lightning bolt.

Speaker 1 (12:12):
Guys, So you weren't aware of any of that going, No, yeah,
it's not it's a professional environment. I guess it's it's
a strange, strange thing. It's kind of very upset. So
you moved from Cosby into Roseanne, right, Norrazanne? That show
was based on Harstando. Right, that's how you guys built
around it? Is that or was inspired by it or something?

(12:35):
It was a combination of two things. I went to
Tom and Marcy and said I want to do a
show about three women who work in a factory in
the Midwest where I grew up, because a friend of
my wife's has said, you know, we have a real
support system. These women who work in the factory, this
was in Detroit. All support each other and baby sit

(12:55):
each other's kids, and if one of them get sick,
they buy groceries. And I went, isn't that in And
so the original concept was three women, one married with
a husband and children, one divorced with a child, one single.
These three women so and they said, we like this idea.
We love the idea of female driven you know, sitcom.

(13:18):
And then they said, we have someone we think should
play the married female on the show. Look at her
stand up. Well, of course it's Roseanne. She's got a
very strong feminist point of view. So we started developing
this and that became the point of view of the show.
And I will give her credit because she brought that

(13:41):
whole feminist point of viewstrong voice, a very strong voice.
But the real key to the success of that show
was John Goodman. Yeah, because when John at his quote audition,
he was more of a chemistry test. When he walked
into the room with her yeah, and within seconds he

(14:02):
told her to move over. She told him to shut up,
and they started and Tom and Marcy turned to me
and said, there's your shot. It's the show.

Speaker 2 (14:10):
That's the core of your show. They're both spectacular specific yeah,
and John Goodman is one of my favorite actors of
all time.

Speaker 1 (14:18):
Oh yeah, Yeah, he's amazing and it's just going bear
and bear as he like he he went through a
journey personally as well, and uh, didn't we all? Yeah,
The Craig Ferguson Fancy Rascals stand up to her continues
throughout the United States in twenty twenty four. For a

(14:39):
full list of dates and tickets, go to the Craig
fergusonshow dot com slash tour See you have there? Did
that ever get in your wait? Did you ever hit
the wall with booze and drugs and all that kind
of stuff?

Speaker 2 (14:54):
No, no, not booze and drugs. I think the I know.
I was never addictive in that sense. I was very
tough on myself. Perfectionist and part of what uh, and
it's over compensating for childhood crap, and so I would
really beat myself up for not being perfect because going

(15:14):
back to that God. If you weren't perfect, you couldn't
be loved. And I addressed this in the book. In fact,
one of the chapters is called knee Slapper, where at
my earliest memory was making my mother laugh doing impersonations
and pratfalls because I equated her.

Speaker 1 (15:33):
Laughter with love, love and approva good. That's why you
work in comedy.

Speaker 2 (15:37):
And I go, of course, it doesn't take a boatload
of psychiatrist to figure out why you end up being
a comedy writer.

Speaker 1 (15:41):
How did it manifest itself in the perfectionism though? How
was it negative in your life?

Speaker 2 (15:45):
There's never any satisfaction or joy because it's never good enough,
even if it's number one, having two number one shows
almost back to back, and going it's not enough. There's
got to be more. And I've said this in other
interviews that anytime I created something and it was inspired

(16:07):
by love and guided by spirit, it's seeded a big time.
Anytime it was inspired by competition and driven by ego,
it usually crashed and burned. Because you're out here in Hollywood,
the hamster wheel Hollywood. You start running faster and faster,
and you look over your shoulder and go, well, he's
got two top ten shows. I should have a third tops,

(16:29):
I need a fourth. Time that movie opened, then my
movie's going to open bigger and you go put on
the brakes. Wow, you've lost perspective here.

Speaker 1 (16:40):
Well you see that in like in the billionaire race,
and you know, oh yeah, ridiculous billionaires with the super
odds and the oh my god. And I think was
kind of strange about it. And what I feel very
grateful for was I feel exactly the same, and I
think probably my motivations are extremely similar to you. But

(17:00):
what happened to me is when I got to do
Late Night and every night you meet, I was meeting
some of the most successful people in show business. They're
coming through and I realized that the mensh to douchebag
ratio is exactly the same as it is in the
average bar, in the average city anywhere in the worlds.
Some people are nice, some people are douchebags, and most

(17:21):
people are kind of you know, travel between both, trying
to stay on the bench as much as possible. And
what I was intrigued by was that more success oftentimes
me looked to me anyway to bring more personal unhappiness.
I feel like that's there's almost a religious a parable

(17:43):
in that. I think like that, you know, as success,
because I've always felt like as a as someone who's sober.
I've been sober for thirty two years. In the thirty
two years i've been sober, and of course there are
times when you think when it gets dangerous and you
might get drunk. The times when it's been dangerous in
my sobriety have not been times of adversity. There have

(18:04):
been times of you know, I'm doing good, you know,
I mean, I maybe deserve a little respector and that's
when I lose a sense of perspective. Now you wear
and are extremely successful writer. So at what point in
the perfectionism or did you did it break for you?

(18:24):
Was there a moment? Was there like a bottoming out
or a talking out moment where you go, there's never
going to be any good in this.

Speaker 2 (18:32):
I think what happened was I kept pushing. And you know,
every career is like a wave. It has its peak,
and you know, and I hit that. But I stayed
in the business longer than I should have. I kept pushing.
I kept pushing, And I touch on this in the book,
is when you stop creating from passion, and you start

(18:55):
generating product, right, they even call it product. They even
call it product, And you got to you gotta be careful.
And then I was at a pitch meeting at a
studio after having created some very successful shows, and I
was pitching a ten episode arc for a new series.
And in that I said, the lead actor and the

(19:18):
female love interest next door have their first kiss in
episode ten. And someone in the room stood up, This
is not a creative it's not the president of the network.
It was a salesman who sells shows set into syndication.
And he jumped up and went, no, no, no, they
can't kiss. And I went, excuse me. He goes, they

(19:42):
can't kiss, and then he started quoting data new girl,
when this character kissed this character, they dropped exponentially in
this key demographic and started And when that happened, my
brain exploded and splattered all over the wall, and I went,
what the fuck I doing. I literally got in the car,

(20:03):
drove back to the wind Dancer offices. Yeah, and told
my partner at wind Dancer. I told David, I said,
I'm closing up shop. I'm done, I said, because now
it's not the tail of the dog, the flea on
the tail is wagging the dolls.

Speaker 1 (20:18):
Sure, totally. But what's interesting is is I because obviously
there are young creative, artistic people coming up, Oh of course,
but they're not They're not here. They're not coming up here.
They're coming up through the internet. They're coming up their
own way. They're finding ways through because they will. But
you're right, the idea, particularly after COVID, when people pitch

(20:42):
shows now they do on zoom call. How the fuck
are you going to know if the energy is a
thing is going to work on a fucking zoom call?
And so people say, Ei, there's five hundred channels and
nothing to watch. I'll tell you why there's nothing to
works because the people in charge of it hate you
and don't fucking care. All they want is you. They
don't they don't give a shit about it. If the

(21:02):
shoe is good or not, they don't fucking care. Nobody
fucking cares. That's not our brand. It's like your brand.
Which the fuck are you talking about your brand? You know?
But that's why one of the reasons I laughed, I thought, well, wow,
I'm better now, I'm I'm fine with U said, I
think I sent the ament of bitterness. And show business
is good. It means you are participating. But I think

(21:24):
if you, if you go too far, then it closed.

Speaker 2 (21:28):
I didn't want to come. I didn't want to become
synecal I honestly I closed up shop. I moved back
to our farm in New York, and I told my
wife I'd literally turned to her one day and I said,
I don't want to die with all these stories still
living inside me.

Speaker 1 (21:43):
Ah, so now you start writing, to find another.

Speaker 2 (21:46):
Way to write these stories that were stirring around, and
almost as a cathartic exercise, I started writing what had
been bubbling in my unconscious and deep in my heart,
and it just started kind of pouring out. And then
I felt liberated because I didn't have network meetings, I
didn't have studio meetings. I wasn't being noted to death

(22:09):
by twenty executives. Yeah, and so these essays, these humorous
essays and these musings started pulling pouring out, and I went,
my gosh, this is the best I have felt in years,
because I'm back to creating as opposed to grinding out product.
I'm creating something from my heart. And it really felt
good and it evolved into the book. Well, I think

(22:31):
that it's I think it's healthy in it. I mean
it's also it's a natural progress of an artists as
perhaps you enter a different age period in your life.

Speaker 1 (22:42):
I mean, you don't you know. It's got a funny thing.
I was talked to, you know, Jay Leno only in passing.
All right, Lanta and I are friends, and he's a
terrific guy, and we were talking about a comedian. We
both know you probably know this guy, but I don't
want to mention him because I was saying, you know,
we were just talking a little bit about his act
and how it was so much better now than it
had been at the peak of his success, that he

(23:05):
was actually much better now. And Jay said, this lovely
thing about him, because Ja, all J cares about is
the is the comedy, like and the cars obviously, you know,
you know, and Mavis and that's it. That's that's the
three things he cares for. Everyone else he doesn't really care.
And he said, he said, yeah, but very interesting about
him if he's grown into an active act before with
the kind of but now he's older, it's like, oh,

(23:27):
he's really interesting guy. I really, I really enjoy comedy now.
And I think that that's true of many artists. And
what because Hollywood deifies the young. Artists who are good
when they're young are not necessarily always going to be good,
you know, true? And you know, anything else of any

(23:48):
value I've done was well after forty yes before that,
like well, I think what happens is you get simpler.

Speaker 2 (23:58):
You know, the title this podcast is joy, and you
really start appreciating simple joy. That it's not accolades, it's
not approbation or approval, it's not the red carpet. Simple
that's awful, awful, and that's what people see on their

(24:18):
screens and aspire to be a part of that. And
you go, the greatest joy is usually pretty simple, having
breakfast with your kids, or you know, cuddling with your wife,
or it can be so simple.

Speaker 1 (24:30):
It's health. I think it's a mental health and physical health,
and as spiritual health as well.

Speaker 2 (24:38):
Probably I was just going to say that goes back
to the spiritual aspect. But you're looking for your validation
as a human being out there. You can't win enough
awards to ever feel satisfied and love yourself as soon
as it good to get Oh well, it's nice. It's
very nice. But or I would like I should probably yeah,

(25:00):
I would too. I don't want any.

Speaker 1 (25:03):
You want you want a lot of green Dead presidents.
I think you're fine.

Speaker 2 (25:08):
Okay, I'll buy some of them.

Speaker 1 (25:10):
Yeah, yeah, by your own Yeah, by the Emmys. You'll
be fine. But you're right, it doesn't. It's an inside job.
But I think in order for the business to survive,
certain areas of show business to survive, it has to
be presented as an outside. It has to be aspirational,
particularly in the in the current wave of you know,

(25:31):
selling real lifestyle as an entertainment, right, you know. So,
like I hate to single out the Kardashians. They're not
bad people, they but they created a genre which is
it's kind of empty. You know. It's like you can
be like me, Well you actually can't, and anyway do
you want to be? I mean, it's like, I don't
get it. It's like you're watching Roseanne. Nobody watched Roseanne

(25:53):
and said I really want to be like Rosanne. You
watch Roseanne and you go, fuck, we really like the Corners,
aren't we. I mean that's what That's what happens is
that it's a completely different approach to it.

Speaker 2 (26:05):
Where are you with that, Razanna? I don't know, no content,
no contact. I wish her well. I don't have any
idea where she did.

Speaker 1 (26:13):
You guys have a I'm not talking about her specifically,
but that that show was that because I was hugely successful,
it was did that? Would that? Did that make life
difficult on a day to day basis? Yes?

Speaker 2 (26:24):
Yeah, yeah, but it it It ended with me leaving
the show and making a deal at Disney and creating
Home Improvement, So it worked out pretty well.

Speaker 1 (26:32):
Yeah, he's a pretty easy guy to be around. And yeah,
any run ends I've had with him, he's like, hey,
how you doing, buddy, And.

Speaker 2 (26:39):
Like Tim as a gentleman, I loved him.

Speaker 1 (26:43):
Yeah, yeah, I always kind of impressed with him as well.
He sticks to his guns.

Speaker 2 (26:46):
Yeah, you know, and he's been sober for how many years?
And yeah, and functioning and enjoying life. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (26:54):
And he's one of those guys that I think is
when he I mean, you know, by his own messed.
He sober and desober for a long time. And I
look at him and I go, yeah, you're not faking this,
you really wear you were pretty bad back then. I
worried well, there's evidence of it. We got the mugshots.
But he he's a guy that turned his life around.

Speaker 2 (27:15):
And even when he was living that pretty bad period,
he was still a good guy.

Speaker 1 (27:21):
Yeah. Inside, he's a good man. I've seen a lot
of that. Yeah, I mean, over the time i've and sober.
You see guys that their behavior would tell the world
one thing, you know, like fighting and disappointing people and
stuff like that, and you know, maybe making bad choices
about business decisions, which I think was Tim's problem, getting

(27:42):
into the wrong business perhaps, But then the way that
you see people turn that around, I think it's something
to do with I can't live with being like that,
do you know what I mean. It's like, but if
you you talk about perfectionism, which was I think, Ime, No,
I don't want to put words in your mouth, but
it kind of says like when I said it wasn't

(28:03):
drugs and alcohol, you said no, but it was perfectionism.
So it's kind of your I always thought perfectionism. I
heard a guy talking about this. It's fascinating that he
said perfectionism is narcissism in reverse. It's it's narcissists looking
in the water and despising everything he sees it is.
It's as equally out to lunch as an idea. But

(28:27):
perfectionism in society is still kind of People will say, oh,
I'm a perfectionist. Nobody will say, oh, I'm a narcissist,
because they wouldn't say that because there's a negative connotation.
But people will say, well, you know, I guess I'm
just a perfectionist. Well stop stop doing that. That's that's bad.

Speaker 2 (28:43):
What you're talking about is really deep seated trauma as
a kid, I think so probably, and coming from a
tumultuous household and divorce and all kinds of craziness, which
I write about in the book.

Speaker 1 (28:55):
Was there was there alcohol problems? I always go to
that because.

Speaker 2 (29:00):
One part of its alcohol. Yeah, my mother.

Speaker 1 (29:04):
Was an alcohol oh yeah, and career in Covedy Bacon's
and the family and the again, as the oldest child,
you feel responsible for your siblings and everyone, and as
the oldest child you get caught in the middle.

Speaker 2 (29:19):
And I remember Greg, I was a sophomore in high
school when the family blew apart, right, and I won't
go into all the details, but it was as ugly
as he gets. I consciously sat down and said, I
am going to be so perfect. I will be beyond reproach.

(29:41):
And I went from being a B C student to
a straight A student, captain of the football team, king
the prom lead in all the plays. My high school
yearbook is pages of accolades and awards, and I consciously
said I will be so successful, I will be beyond
repro coach. Now, forty years later and thirty two years

(30:03):
of therapy, I kind of worked through there and go,
that's bullshit. I don't need to do that anymore, right,
And then finally somewhere in my late fifties, I went,
I kind of liked me. I I'm okay.

Speaker 1 (30:14):
But was that result of being so successful? I mean,
did that plan? No?

Speaker 2 (30:19):
Sure, no, because as we've started this conversation that Hamster wheel,
I've only had two number one shows. I need three
number one shows because how many does Chuck LORI have? Okay,
I need it, and you're going, wow, this.

Speaker 1 (30:34):
Is the thing. It. Chuck's really a happy guy. Though
if he was here, he'd been like, no, I'm good,
I'm good. But it's as an interesting thing though that
you know, without the success, would you have reached the
you know who was it said this Kipling, maybe the

(30:55):
road to the road of access leads to the Palace
of wisdom or something like that. It does the rule
of success to you, like you get what you were
looking for, you find it doesn't work, and then you
start dealing with it because like what I'm trying to get,
had you know of being successful, would.

Speaker 2 (31:13):
I would have been successful in other ways. I would
have been a really good high school English teacher and
a football coach, and I would have been a winning
coach because I'm a leader. I'm a natural born leader.
I'm really good at inspiring people and out here, if
you're going to be a leader, whether you're a CEO
or a room runner or a show runner, you lead
either by inspiration or intimidation.

Speaker 1 (31:35):
Yeah, well, these days it's going to be insane.

Speaker 2 (31:38):
And to me, it was always inspiration and setting example.
So I would have been successful. There's no question. If
I had stayed in Evansville, Indiana, where I grew up
and become a bricklayer, I would have been a very
successful bricklayer because I was driven and I held myself
to that standard. And even when I was working as
a hot carrier in my teen years for my uncle.

(31:59):
I wanted to be the best hotcare you know, can
you still?

Speaker 1 (32:02):
Can you live? I can lay bricks. See that is
actually a skill I can expect. I can lay the
bricks and home improvement stuff join a like. Now these
are skills that I value. Sing people say, oh, I
you know I can play the enormodome. I'm like, yeah, okay,
that's I know a lot of people that can do that.
How are you with shelving?

Speaker 2 (32:19):
You know, I mean I'm not great with shelving, but
bricks I can do. And I even tell my students,
I go, you know, I I'd learned how to make
movies and TV shows on the construction site, because it's
not that different. You got a foreman, like you have
a director. You have a blueprint, which is your script
or the blueprint. You have a team, you have equipment.

(32:42):
Everyone's got to be communicating. You have to know where
to put the scaffolding, and then to take that even further.
As a writer, it's the same as bricklaying. You have
to put one brick at a time, one word at
a time, line them up into sentences, stack those sentences
on top of each other until they become a paragraph.
And so the mentality behind the work, And so I

(33:06):
get frustrated with artsy fartsy people who go, oh, I
just I couldn't write today because a butterfly landed on
my shoulder, and I just and I go, bullshit. You
show up every day, you're right, and you're right. You've
written three four books. You know. You show up, you write,
you lay the bricks, and at the end of the day,
you go that wall didn't exist, that three pages didn't exist.

(33:28):
At seven this morning, they do. Now I can go
kick back, Okay, I'll do it again tomorrow.

Speaker 1 (33:41):
I've I was kind of friends of a friends with
may Have Benchi the Irish, and may Have used to
write two thousand words a day. She's get she'd get
a tub of sangria big jaris agria, and she would
write two thousand words a day. And at two thousand
words she stopped, like even if it was going right,
now that's fine, two thousand words finished the sangra. I

(34:02):
have to do something else, probably more sangria. But it's
it is about, you know, inspiration, perspiration, It's that whole
thing about it. It's about work and you really have
to do it, and it's quite interest in that because
I I wonder, because so much work can be done
for you know, useful tools AIS, and you know, like
I remember when Final Draft came in as a writing program, people,

(34:26):
I was not probably writing if you're not writing on
a typewriter, you know, isn't it though, I mean I
think it is. I tried. I don't know if you've
ever tried this. I put into AI, write me fifteen
minutes of Craig Ferguson's stand up Matereal.

Speaker 2 (34:41):
No.

Speaker 1 (34:41):
Yeah, it just wrote me some like it changed some
gags that I had done, like changed the words now,
like that's not the choice I would have made. And
so I mean, maybe maybe it can do it. At
one point, I don't think so, but it's kind of
interesting now I wonder if it could do first drafts,
like like maybe an AI could do for straft the
story for you.

Speaker 2 (35:01):
My daughter was kicking around an idea for a story
that was said in Patagonia, and she sent me the first.

Speaker 1 (35:09):
Chapter the store or the country the country right, okay, god.

Speaker 2 (35:13):
Not the park up And she sent me the first
chapter and she said, what do you think? And I said,
this is really quite good. It's a little impersonal in
spots and I gave she said, this was completely written
by Ai. Wow, she said. I gave them the machine,

(35:34):
the facts and said write it in the voice of
magical realism. And it came back in that And I
had no idea, but I did sense some coldness, emptiness
in some of the parts. And I think that is
that spiritual element, because the difference between craft and art,
at least in my mind, craft can be duplicated by

(35:57):
many people. Art is when you pour a piece of
your spirit into something. If you see an original van Goal, right,
you feel, oh, yeah, it's like live photograph of Vang
versus Vango. It's a live starry night vibrates it does.

Speaker 1 (36:12):
I went to see it in the met recently actually,
and the starry night is on a tour in the
mat and look, it has its own light sources luminescence. Yes,
it's crazy. Yes, I've seen photographs, so I know the image.
But when you see the thing.

Speaker 2 (36:26):
Go to Rome and go and see a Bernini sculpture
and you look at this and you go there's light
coming out of that marble. It's alive, it's vibrating, And
I believe that is the spirit of the artist being
poured into the object.

Speaker 1 (36:39):
I love that idea. I think it's you know what
I didn't notice when I went to Italy was like
all these like amazing statues in Florence and Rome and
you know, and sec and stuff. But if you go
out and the really produnk rural churches, the religious art
is crap. I mean, it's just that. I was like,
is that is that Jesus? Or is that is that

(37:00):
bear claiming of fans? What is that? It's like, this
is our Lord on the crucifixion. I'm like, no, that's
a bear claiming of fans. I don't see that at all,
and I kind of loved it even more.

Speaker 2 (37:13):
Well, circle back to your your saints or the excommunicated guy. See,
you shouldn't be creating art. Yeah, there you go. Yeah,
you know, there's a law of religions. They don't like that.

Speaker 1 (37:23):
They don't like I think in Islam they don't like
imagery either. No imagery. Don't be doing that. You can
write things, you can have calligraphy, which is very nice,
but no imagery. Right, I don't know, how do you
feel about that? Well, you don't have rules about it,
I guess, right.

Speaker 2 (37:37):
You know, how can you you know, when people refer
to God as him, I go, wait a minute, how
can you take something that is incomprehensible, unfathomable, right, the
greatest mystery and reduce it to human form. One of
the essays I wrote that didn't make it into the
book was called mister potato Head, right, remember the old

(38:01):
I said, Okay, so if God is this ineffable, eternal,
creative energy, what we do with each religion is we
grab our little parts and we create a mister potato
head so that image looks like us. And when you
think about that, it is true. You know that we change.
If you go from indigenous people with the you know,

(38:24):
the sky dancer or the bison had wonka tanka the
Great Spirit to is God white bearded on a cloud?
Is God mocha colored with dark brown eyes? I love?
I've said this before. James McBride wrote a memoir called
the Color of Water because his mother was Jewish, his

(38:45):
father was African American, and when he was a small child,
he asked his mother, said what color is God? And
she said God is the color of water. Okay, And
I went, that's brilliant, that's and that's that's the title
of his memoir.

Speaker 1 (38:59):
That's pretty cool.

Speaker 2 (39:00):
It's very cool.

Speaker 1 (39:01):
Do you look at different religions that you fascinated by
other belief systems.

Speaker 2 (39:06):
I'm not a scholar, bidyman, but I read, I study
as much as my small brain can comprehend. I really
do try and connect the dots between all religions.

Speaker 1 (39:15):
I so I do that too, and I became fascinated
for a while with Akinatin. You know, Akinatin. Akinatin was
Tutin Kammon's father in ancient Egypt. Okay, so for a
couple of thousand years in ancient Egypt, it's like, you know,
you get the guy with a doghead, he's this guy,
and you got all the different gods. You know, there's

(39:36):
the you know, there's the Sphinxy guy that's in charge
of like the lady that's part you know, giraffe and
all that, and all these different gods. So Akinaton comes along.
The first, I believe, the first documented monotheist who says no,
there is His name was Amenhotep. The third I think

(39:58):
he was the Pharaoh and he said no, all of
these gods, that's not true. There's one god. His name
is Aten. Or its name is Aten, and it is
the Sun, and they worshiped the Sun God. So all
of this thousands of year old religious infrastructure that's set
up in ancient Egypt, now much longer than from the

(40:20):
time of Christ to now right, there's all been going
on is now dismantled. And they move the capital of
the city forty miles into the desert and they worship
at in the Sun God, and they upset a lot
of people, as you can imagine.

Speaker 2 (40:35):
Sure.

Speaker 1 (40:36):
And then when he died, Tutin Katan, who was his son, said,
for safety reasons, says, you know what, let's go back
to the old gods, and I'll go back to Tutin
Camun instead of Tutin Khatten, because I am the son
of a Munrad, not the And they took it all back.

(40:57):
But I was fascinated because it was the first time
I've come across the idea that the image of God
was no humanoid or anthropomorphic in any way. It was
the Sun. Now he did that thing, I could ask
you anyway. You could talk to him through me, which
is a common you know, a piece of grift, and like,
oh no, you have to speak the special language. You

(41:20):
got to talk to me. That'll be forty bucks.

Speaker 2 (41:22):
Well, in recent years I've been reading there's a Rabbi
David Cooper wrote a book called God Is a Verb. Okay,
and Buckminster Fuller and others believe God is a verb.
And that opened up my mind. Rather than this anthropomorphic being,
this noun, what if God is the creative energy that

(41:44):
lives in all things? So and I'm not I'm way
in open my head here. But if only five percent
of matter is what we see in can touch and feel,
five percent, twenty five percent is dark man right, right,
seventy is dark energy and no one knows what it is, right,

(42:08):
but it exists, and it is what is pushing the
whole universe out and why we keep expanding as a universe. See.

Speaker 1 (42:17):
I think this is an extrapolation of Rennie Decart. I
think this is Decartean. So the Cartian Renne Descart when
he said so, and oys everybody obviously when he does it.
But it says I'm going to rather than God, be
a revelation like you know, a burning bush or an
angel coming from heaven, or a sudden dream or stuff
like that. I will prove the existence of God through reason,

(42:40):
which I've said the church a lot. But he was
clever about it. But he said, how do I how
do I go about it? I thought it was fantastic. Look,
maybe if I'm telling you something, you're ready to forget it.
I'm just the idea of what he said, I'm going
to doubt everything. This is where I'm going to start
complete doubt. Right, So he said, I doubt, you know,

(43:00):
the universe, I doubt God, I doubt I even doubt myself.
There's only one thing I cannot I cannot not doubt,
and that's I can't doubt that I'm doubting. I am dubting.
It is an absolute you're lockedown. You can't doubt if
you're doubt. So if I'm doubting, I've got to be thinking.

(43:21):
It's just I have to be thinking if I'm doubting.
And if I'm thinking, then I am cognito ergo sum
I think therefore I am I exist. And I thought
that's fantastic, And he uses extrapolates the reading. I loved
Carl like, Look, I'm not the first one to say that,
but I'm fascinated by the idea of the revelation versus reason.

(43:45):
And I think what I see in a lot of
spirituality for myself, and I think with you correct me
if I'm wrong. Is that looking for reason doesn't necessarily
make you an atheist. No, it just makes you look
for it, doesn't make you even lack faith. You're just
like I'm interested exactly. This goes back to calcified, which
is unchanging. This is what I believe, This is what

(44:06):
I was told as a child. And if I think differently,
I'm wrong. God gave us free will, gave us a brain.
You know, we have creative energy. I believe we co
create our life with God, with the Ultimate Creator. I
think we're in a constant, creative, symbiotic relationship with the
Ultimate Creator, and we can create. But because we have

(44:29):
free will, we can create. We can split the atom,
right and bring electricity to millions of people, or we
can split the atom and blow up a town. All right.
You can take a knife and make a salad or
kill someone.

Speaker 2 (44:41):
We have that free will. We're not ambus just responding
to stimulus.

Speaker 1 (44:46):
All right. This is good in a personal sense, But
let's look at the problem of evil, like when the
innocents are whoever that is right where you know when
something awful happens to a child or so doesn't deserve it, right,
how do you? Because this is a stumbling blow for

(45:07):
me every single time. It's a stumbling block for everyone.
I can't believe that the universe is benign when this
can happen.

Speaker 2 (45:14):
Yeah, but maybe the universe isn't benign, you know, Does
God just create us and let us bounce into each
other and see what we do? Like a game show?
You know, are they going to destroy or create or whatever?
But it depends on your belief if you believe in reincarnation,
which I'm not saying I do, but I am exploring
that if you believe in reincarnation, to fully understand the

(45:36):
mind of God, I have to experience what it is
to be the victim as well as the perpetrator. I
have to understand every aspect of human life. And I
can't do that unless I triumph and suffer, starve and
excel and through many lifetimes. Then I become like the

(45:56):
mind of God. Now I'm not saying I believe that,
but that's that's one answer to why evil exists. And
I can't even begin to answer that question. And that's
why they go I don't believe in God because he
allows innocent people to die. But I go, God's not
swooping down with the sword and killing these innocent people.

(46:16):
Man is humankind is? So what is motivating? And then
that gets back to dualistic thinking, which is, oh, it's
the devil and which used to drive me crazy. Anything bad,
the devil did it? Well, then you abdicate all responsibilities
for your life. Yeah.

Speaker 1 (46:31):
No, other guys came and did it and then ran away.
It wasn't me.

Speaker 2 (46:35):
Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know.

Speaker 1 (46:38):
Hey, listen, it's a subject which is small, it's a
pretty big subject. But I tell you one thing has
proved my theory that comedians and comedic minds are the
modern school of philosophy, and a thousand years from no,
they will discuss people like us the way they discuss Aristotle,

(46:59):
Plato and uh, you know, like carrot Top will be
you know, Archimedes. It's lovely to talk to you. I
could talk to you all day. Let's do it again, all right,
all cood, luck.

Speaker 2 (47:12):
With the thank you?

Speaker 1 (47:13):
All right, thanks man,
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