292 – Interview with Ori Halevy: Comedian and Comedy Writer

Episode Transcript:

Erick: Hello friends. My name is Erick Cloward and welcome to the Stoic Coffee Break. The Stoic Coffee Break is a weekly podcast where I take aspects of Stoicism and do my best to break them down to the most important points. Share my thoughts and my experiences, both my successes and my failures, and hope that you can learn something from them all within the space of Coffee Break.

This week's episode is an interview with Ori Halevy. Now, Ori is a comedian here in Berlin, where I'm staying at the moment, and last week and a few weeks ago, when I was having a really rough day, I decided to go out for some comedy and caught his show and really enjoyed it. We talked for a bit afterwards and just, he's a really smart guy, very philosophical and a lot of fun.

So I thought it would be fun to sit down and chat with him about life, philosophy, humor, and anything else that came to our minds. So this was done in a coffee shop in Berlin. Unfortunately, it's a little bit noisy and we did have some audio issues, but we did our best to clean this up and hope it sounds good.

You can also watch a video of this on YouTube, on my YouTube channel at Stoic Coffee. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I enjoyed chatting with Ori. Hello everybody. Welcome to the Stoic Coffee Break podcast. This is another live interview that I'm doing here. We're in Berlin.

We're at a nice little coffee shop. We've got our coffee going on here. So, coffee and tea. Cheers. So, this was a Nugetti. A Nugetti? Yeah, basically it's a mocha.

Ori: I like how they invent stupid names for things. Like if it's mocha, it's 3 euros, but if it's a Nugetti, it's 4. 70.

Erick: Exactly. So I'm like, eh, it's all good.

So today I'm with, go ahead and introduce yourself since I always butcher your name.

Ori: My name is Ori Halevy. I'm a comedian in Berlin, in English. Which is a weird choice. Yeah, what else? What should I say about myself?

Erick: Just talk about what you do. You obviously have the comedy show.

Ori: Yeah, I have Epic Comedy Berlin.

That's our comedy brand. We run a bunch of different shows around town. We have I don't know if people know this, but in Berlin there is actually the biggest English comedy scene in Europe. Yeah, we have I like to say we have comedians here from all over the world that couldn't make it in their country.

So they came here. But really it is a very, like, it's amazing seeing people tour everywhere. They're, some of them become a little famous online and stuff like that. And we, so there's a lot of, a bunch of different open mics. We just work with the most experienced comedians that are touring our local.

And we have different formats. So we have like a showcase on Friday at a place called Zosh. It's a very cool jazz club. But then we also have a Monday show which is actually philosophy versus comedy where my partner in crime, Brendan Hickey, he's he's got a master's in philosophy so he brings a real philosophical idea and then we kind of make fun of it.

It's a lot of fun. Check it out, Wise Fools. And and then we have some, so essentially how we built the Knights is just a different ways of working out. So we have a show called Darkest Thoughts where the audience can write us their darkest thoughts and then we have to improvise comedy on it. And we have an open mic called saying the wrong thing.

So we're always kind of like testing the waters of different ideas from philosophical to topical to all that kind of stuff. And that's what I do. Nice. I'm also a writer. I write for TV and movies.

Erick: Excellent. Yeah, I went to the the Wise Fools the other night.

Ori: Oh, yeah. Brendan told me about that. Yeah.

Yeah. What did you think?

Erick: Yeah, it was pretty funny. So, he, he appreciated the fact that he had a, what he called, you know, he's like, oh, so you're the professional. And I'm like, well, I, I like to think so. I've been doing this for seven years, six years now. Wow. So, I think I've learned a little bit about stoicism, where I can speak intelligently about it.

I'm also writing a book on stoicism right now. We're in the negotiation phase. I'm writing some writing samples for them to see if they like it and so far so good So I'm hoping to get a contract.

Ori: Was that the Romans?

Erick: Yes, the Romans. The Romans were like, let's

see if you're ready. It's a big publisher in America.

Like one of the biggest. But it's a small imprint from them and they have a very specific focus on things. And I'm not sure if I'm contractually allowed to say anything yet, but Don't say it. But hopefully it'll come through. And if not, I've got ideas for a whole number of books. And this has also really helped me to kind of hone my writing style a little bit.

For, and theirs is what they call an academic light is the tone of it. So it's, it's academic, but it's supposed to be very approachable. And so, cause at first I had some, I had some funny little quips and stuff in there and they're like, yeah, that's a little too loose for what we want. We need a little bit more academic light.

I'm like, okay, that, that's actually more of what I do anyway in my podcast.

Ori: So it's like academic but palatable.

Erick: Yes. It's not like it's super dry. A while back I was reading you know, to kind of, when, when I first got approached about writing this book, I wanted to make sure that I understood some of the deeper parts of the history of the philosophy and so on, the differences between Stoicism versus some of the Socratic ethnic virtues that came afterwards, like from Aristotle and Plato and stuff like that.

So I was reading a fairly dense academic paper on it, and it was, it was only 18 pages long. Holy crap, it was so hard to read, because it was very Very lawyer esque, in a way, I guess would be the best way to describe it. So philosophers, true, you know, academic philosophers have a way of talking about things.

And they use words that are like, whoosh.

Ori: That's what I feel like. I feel like the whole I don't know if that was, because sometimes they say that the philosophers of the time were kind of comedians. You know, I'm not saying they were trying to make people laugh necessarily, but they were trying to talk to the masses, like, not all of them.

But so there was the academic side, and then there was the more approachable side, I guess. And I think that's gotten lost. I mean, even on me, like, I'm not, I'm not a scholar. You know, I'm I have my own thoughts about things. But then I do feel a lot of this stuff is not approachable at all. And if you try to read it, you know, You're like, what the fuck are you talking, can you just tell me what you're talking, what do you mean?

And then and then when I, like, that's one of the reasons I like the show me and Bender are doing is because he has the master. So he brings it up, and then I'm the stupid, and me and another guy, we're kind of the stupid guys that, that deal with it. But at the same time, I have had these thoughts.

And, and it's, and it's refreshing, and it's interesting where somebody says, Well, someone has actually thought this through, and this is the structure they've created. And I think that's not approachable. Like, even Stoicism itself I don't think most people know what it is.

Erick: Yeah. You know, like And for me, I found, luckily, that Stoicism was the most approachable, even from reading, you know, things that were directly attributed to Epictetus because he never wrote anything down himself, but one of his students wrote it down and said, I tried to write it down as verbatim as absolutely possible.

That's where we get the endocrinia and what was the other one he did? Discourses. From him or from one of his students whereas Seneca we have the direct writings Like he actually sat down and wrote down his stuff and then meditations from Marcus Aurelius But in reading all of them, that's the one I know.

Yeah, and those are pretty approachable So they they did a pretty good job.

Ori: Yeah, but not for today. I feel like

Erick: Yeah, a lot of it is, though, the language that's been handed down over time. It's kind of like, it's kind of like the Bible. You know, you read it and it was written, you know, the King James Version is the most popular English version one.

In, in, in Austria and in most German speaking countries, it's the Luther Bible. It's the one that Martin Luther translated. So we're talking about things that were translated into Old English back in the 1600s. And that's what's, or earlier, and that's what's being used in modern day religions. So, yeah, it makes it a bit less approachable because people aren't going, you know, hey.

So, a lot of it is because the translated language is also very outdated.

Ori: I grew up in Israel and we had, like, we had, like, a class on the Bible. And it's also antiquated Hebrew, you know. And, like, we get it, like, more, I guess, than the translated stuff. But it's still kind of, it's like being a kid and listening to Shakespeare.

It's a weird It's not the language you're talking. It makes it not approachable. Like, I haven't, I gotta admit, I haven't re, like, I haven't re read the Bible, because in class they made it seem so boring. Yeah. That you just don't wanna, you just don't wanna approach it, you know? And I feel like philosophy is like, I saw this this video once of of a guy and he was saying that we've lost a major part of our relief source when, because when we were in tribes, there was the shaman, right?

And the shaman was the thinker, so that guy, he'll figure out the spiritual stuff. And I don't need to think about it at all. He's going to tell me what the gods are thinking today and that's it, I'm not arguing with that at all. If I have any trauma, any problem, I'll just go to heaven. And then it grew into like the bigger religions.

And now, we're in this age where we all think, well not all, but a lot of us are like, either don't believe in religion, or have stepped away from it somewhat, or are complete atheists. And then we have this gaping hole. And a lot, and some people are looking for philosophy, but I don't think philosophy is, I mean now, yeah, you're doing this podcast, there's some people talking about it, et cetera, et cetera.

But I feel like there's so many things that, where we're lost. And we could, if we had this like easily approachable thing, then, then I would just be like, oh, okay, I'm, I'm, you know, this is a fear I had or a thought I had and I didn't really think it through, but somebody's already done that. And it's, I think it's also probably stems from some sort of I don't want to, I don't want anybody to tell me what to do.

Because if you're already not believing in religion, you're like, I don't want, you know. So, you're stepping away from ideas that are already thought through sometimes. But, I just feel like philosophy is like a, it's like a pop culture idea. But not a lot of people really interact with it.

Erick: Yeah, and I fall into that category as well.

So, I took a philosophy class when I was in college, in my twenties. And it went through some of the major philosophies, and it . Even though I was very big into psychology, you know, I'd read like The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck and other things like that, because I grew up very, very Mormon, which was a very strict religion.

You were a Mormon? Yeah. Oh my god. That's why I speak German is I went on my mission to Austria. Wow,

Ori: Mormon. You stepped away from Mormonism. I did. Wow, that's a good choice.

Erick: Yes, it has been a really good choice for me. Wow, how long ago was that? About 20 years. 20 years.

Ori: Wow, 20 years not a Mormon. Yeah. And have you seen Book of Mormon?

Erick: I've heard it. I've listened to the musical I used, I started out as a musical theater major in college, so I love musicals. Oh, okay. And so I listened to it. I haven't seen it yet. That's, oh, you should see it. It's just, yeah, it's, when it came to Portland, I, for whatever reason, I didn't go so, but yeah, it's one, I want to see it.

So many of the songs in there, I just laugh my ass off because I'm just like, I could totally relate to 'em because you know, it's about missionaries and all the things in there. I'm just like, oh my God, this is hilarious. Having been in theater. Like the one where the guy is singing about shove it down, like he's gay and he doesn't want to do something.

I was just thinking about that. It was just like, man, I knew, I knew so many kids who were. And some of them didn't, obviously didn't come out.

Ori: In the, in the theater thing? Or were there Mormons that studied with you? Yeah. Wow.

Erick: Yeah, and one of them is he's actually incredibly successful. He didn't come out until later on.

But we all kind of knew. But nobody cared in my high school. We were all, I came from a fairly affluent high school. And, we really didn't care one because he was just an amazing guy. And everybody just adored him. He was just a great person. And so even though most of us had an inkling that he probably was, It was like, we don't want to know.

We didn't ask. Don't ask, don't tell. Because if it did come out, we knew that it would, it would cause problems. Sure. So nobody wanted anybody, nobody really wanted to know because . We, one, we didn't care. And two, it would just cause more trouble than it, it was worth. Sure. Yeah. And so when, when we finally did come out, I sent him a note, this was, you know, years later and I just said, Hey, just wanna let you know.

I'm so glad. Was a physical note. No, no. I, I sent him an an email and I just said, Hey, just wanna let you know, you know, found out about it. You finally coming at it and I'm, and I just wanna say. I love you and support you and I want you to find your happiness and I hope that you find somebody who's worthy of you.

That's cool. And he was just like, thank you so much for your support. That's awesome. And I'm like, you've always been a great person. This doesn't change my opinion of you one iota because you are who you are. Yeah. And he's incredibly successful in the musical theater world. Yeah. And yeah, so I love watching his career rise up, and he's a pretty amazing person.

But, you know, for me it was just always, that was one of the main reasons.

Ori: Becoming more and more gay as it goes along. Starting from Mormonism and becoming the gayest person on the planet.

Erick: So, yeah, but what was, I think a lot of it though was because that was one of the things that, that I, I disliked the church's stand on.

Because, Thank you. , he didn't choose to be this way. Sure. He want, I mean, he would love to be your normal straight person, but he's not. Yeah. And I know that he's not making a choice to be gay like a lot of people think he can. I'm like, no.

Ori: It's just that to me is is that's always like I've, I've I've said like the, the, one of the reasons like Jews support I mean not, you know, secular Jews at least.

The reason why I support gays is because they're the front line at this point. Like, if they go against the gays, we're next. So, we'll support that movement as much as we can. But yeah, I mean, you can see it. Like, it's, it's this idea, which is counter to philosophy in a way, I guess. Or, it's just picking one and, like, saying it.

This idea of, like, there's a certain way to live your life, and if you don't do that, then you're dead. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

Erick: Yeah. You know, and yeah, so back to yeah, so back to the whole kind of approachable philosophy thing. Like I said, when I was in college, I took the class and it didn't, it didn't ever really click for me.

It's like, okay, that's kind of cool. It just seemed like it was something that was gonna be way over my head. And so I think that maybe I approached it in a way, like, oh, this is just gonna be way too, too heady for me. I'm not smart enough to understand that. And so when I stumbled into stoicism, because I didn't even know it was a philosophy, I just knew the term stoic, you know, like most people do, like somebody's stoic and they're non emotional.

And Tim Ferriss mentioned on his podcast, he said, there's this book that changed my life. And he, Tim reads a ton. I don't know if you follow his podcast, but he's an interesting guy. But he was just like, this book changed my life. And I was like, okay, if Tim reads that many books, and this is one where he says, this is one of the best books out there and it changed my life.

Okay. Maybe I should give it a read. And the title of it was A Guide to the Good Life, The Art of Stoic J oy. And I thought stoic joy that, okay. There's a little bit of a paradox there, at least in my mind. Okay. That sounds interesting. I got to read this and order the book, read it through the first time.

And there were plenty of moments of like, Oh, Oh, that's pretty good. But I'm like, it didn't really sink in. And so I got the audio book. And then when I was going to and from work every day, I would listen to it for about 20 minutes. And I kept having these lightbulb moments like, Oh my God, Oh, just like, Oh my God.

Okay, that I did, then I've been looking at the world like this and it's really more like this. Or if I look at it like this, things are a lot clearer and make a lot more sense. And so for me, stoicism is such an approachable philosophy because its whole goal is how to live a good life. So while the con and the, when you break down a lot of the concepts, they feel counterintuitive, but they are understandable.

And the principles themselves are fairly simple in many ways, but just like most things, even if it's simple, it doesn't mean it's easy. So it's a simple idea, but like, you know, what do you control? What you can't control, where you can control the way that you think about things, your perspective, your thoughts, so on and the choices you make and the actions you take.

That's it. And you're like, okay, what exactly does that mean? So when you really dig into that, Then you recognize you have to let go of everything else, because you're not in control of that, like you're not even in control of your own body. You get cancer, your knee hurts, whatever, you can control what you do about it, but you can't control your body in the way that you would want to.

You would want to say like, I never want to get cancer, I always want to have a six pack or anything like that. What you can control are the choices you make, like if you eat too many hamburgers, you're going to put on some fat, if you drink too much whiskey, you're going to ruin your liver, those kind of things.

Ori: I just have a joke where I was talking about looking at things from other people's perspective, and I just slowly go, like, from people who are, like, against you. And it just makes your life easier. And then I said, well if you have cancer, look at it from the cancer perspective, you know? He's just like, hey, I'm level four!

And all his friends are like, you're killing it! You know? Like I feel comedy a lot of the times is is that. Like it takes, it takes the approach of like, here are not only dangerous thoughts, but here is a way to like, make them flexible, you know? And and I feel like it helps just deal with life. Like so it's similar in that way because I feel like for me, the problem with, with what, with, with this idea of like accepting that you have no control or letting go is it's not, as you said, it's not a simple thing.

So there has to be some sort of workout, you know, and the workout of the brain, I find other than meditation, stuff like that, it's, it's, it's very hard to do, but I find it to be a very good thing to do on stage. Once I can get into that area, which is, by the way, I feel like a lot of the times Not that people get triggered very much in my, in my shows, but when they get triggered, I feel like a lot of times it's because you're crossing that border in their brain where from control to what they can't control and they're trying to control it.

But it's not even they're trying to control you, they're trying to control their thought, but you just said it out loud and now you can't do that because, oh, my God. So but, but to me if I go on stage and I go here are all the things I can't control and I play with them, I play with the idea of, you know, of, of death and disease and and and how fucked up my brain is and how I don't have control.

And this recent bit I did was like I asked people if they live in the moment. Most people don't, don't say, say nothing like they're not living in the moment. And and I told him, yeah, you're thinking about your videos and your phone right now. But I was saying, like, I have a weird contradiction in my brain where so there's the real world and there's the imaginary world.

And I go like for example, I love doing stand up comedy. So I really appreciate each one of you that is here. But at the same time, I'm heavily disappointed that I am because I was supposed to be in an arena right now with people sucking my dick for autographs, you know, but, but at the same time, this is great.

This is amazing. So just this constant. It's so, it's so weird, and I feel like a lot of things play into it, like this whole manifestation thing, for example. What's your, what's your, what's your stance on manifestation?

Erick: I don't buy into the whole secret thing. What I buy into is that if you are putting your intention out there, and you are focusing on that thing, and you are actually taking action towards that thing, that thing will happen, in one way or another.

But just to go I want to manifest, you know, a new Mercedes Benz. Yeah. And you just sit there and wait for it to come. It's not going to happen. Yeah. But if you go, I want to manifest a Mercedes Benz, and every chance I get, I'm going to do something that's going to move me towards that goal. Yeah. Then, yeah.

Sorry about all the noise. So we, this was the

Ori: Berlin. Yes, Berlin. There's no place in Berlin with no noise. They build the buildings in a way where like, the cold can't come in, but your neighbors talking or having German sex, just no problem at all.

Erick: Yeah. So, I apologize for the noise. I'm going to reduce it as much as I can on the sound, but it makes it more lively.

But yeah.

Ori: But I agree with you. I think that the what's funny to me about Manifesta, so I agree with the idea that, I think Manifestation in general, the idea of like, Seeing a specific future and then trying to get to it that that works. But then there's so much emphasis on this stuff I've seen lately on if you don't have the thing that you want You're not manifesting well enough and I just thought I thought it's like it's a combination of Motivation and procrastination so you're spending all of this energy to go nowhere and this people telling you well you have to do that better

Erick: It reminded me I saw somebody who asked me one time, you know, they're like well But, you know, if you just manifest hard enough, I'm like, well, that's not, I mean, I said, but the way that they talk about it, you're just not doing it good enough.

That's exactly like religion. I mean, that's what I tried. I tried to live all the Mormon things exactly the way I was supposed to, and I was still unhappy.

Ori: Were you like really thinking about that every day?

Erick: And I was, I tried so hard and I was miserable and I just, I, it never worked for me at all of this stuff.

And I'm like, and what was the answer? You just don't have enough faith. Your faith just isn't strong enough. I'm like, my faith is damn strong. I went, I went to Austria for two years and try talking to those people about Jesus Christ. I mean, I'm sitting here talking to people who've been Catholic for ever about, they should join our version of Jesus's church and tell them that their church is wrong.

That takes, that's a lot of hard work. And so I'm like, I'm trying, I'm really trying to do this thing. And so for me, once, what really did it for me was I, after trying so hard and feeling like I was a big failure with this my ex wife left the church and was just like, I'm not going anymore. It doesn't work for me.

And she had joined the church later in life. And then after a few months, she was, you know, she's like, you can go if you want, don't care. But I'm like, I went a couple of times. I'm like, you know, I'd rather be out cycling. I'm an avid cyclist. And so I've got riding on Sundays. And then a few months later, she gave me a book.

It was called Leaving the Saints by this gal named Martha, Martha Beck. She's a big time life coach now. Her father was the chief apologist for the church for 50 years. And he had a PhD, and so he was the master of, like, twisting things around. And so, she wrote a book about her journey of leaving the church.

And I learned a lot about the church's dirty laundry and stuff that they had covered up for a long time. That was documented, was legit, like it was fully researched, fully vetted, so She's like, this is the real deal, I've done all the research on this, and the church even acknowledges these things. And there was enough things in there where I recognized that Joseph Smith was a con man and a pedophile.

And made up the whole thing, and I went, Okay, this was all bullshit. I can leave and I physically felt lighter like I remember I was reading the book and I read that and I was I read some stuff on there and I was just like, I put the book down and I just stood up and I was like, I can leave in good conscience because I tried and it's all bullshit and I felt like this.

You know, there's, I described, you know, there's big statues on Easter Island, you know, the big long nose guys. I felt like I had one of those on my shoulders and I just shaked it off. And I had to look around because I physically felt lighter. Like I was floating off the ground. I'm like, okay, I'm not, I'm not floating.

Okay. It just feels like I'm floating. It was just this giant relief. And I was like, okay,

Ori: well, that's a good lesson on letting go. I guess. Yeah. Do you manage to do that then if you have fears and anxieties or do you work on that also every day?

Erick: I work on a lot. One of the things that I'm working on now is adjusting my career path to work with CTOs and CEOs on developing better leadership through stoic principles You know, adjust your thinking, making decisions in uncertainty, building good teams, building a good culture within a company.

Because if you, if you can do that, then you can be much more successful. Your team will be happier. You will be happier. And it makes your work environment so much more fun to be in and having an example, like something that very simply put a lot of it is a lot of people think that if you're the manager, you're the boss.

That you have to control everything. And that's the worst way to work. And every team that I've been on where the manager came in and was like, Hey, by the way, my job is to serve you. My job is to be here to get everything out of the way so that you can do your job. I hired you because you're smart enough and I will let you do your job.

I'm not going to interfere because I'm too busy doing other things. And I need you to step up and do your job because that's what I hired you for. So a lot of autonomy, clear communication, clear setting of expectations or negotiation of expectations. Just things like that.

Ori: That's kind of like how my parents raised me, by the way.

Yeah. They were like, we trust you, don't do please just, you know, if you stay out late, call us, da da da da da. And it was a sneaky trick. Because at the end of the day, you rebel less. You're like, well, I have all these freedoms, so I guess I should be a little, you know, responsible.

Erick: Yeah, and most people, you give them, you know, as they say, you give them the rope to hang themselves.

If you give people autonomy and you say, hey, I need this done by this time and I need the quality to be like this, be just, be wise about your time and I'll let you do, go do your job. And you don't micromanage people, you trust your people and you, You have the integrity to be trustworthy. So a lot of people think that if they have a sucky team is because they have bad team members.

And sometimes that's the case, but usually it's the leader. Interesting. If the leader is not a good leader, the team is going to, you can have great people on the team and it's going to suck and it's going to fall apart. Yeah, I get that. But if you have a great leader, you can have weak people on the team and they usually will rise to the occasion because they trust that person.

They admire that person. They want to please that person, so they want to do good work because they feel like they're part of that team. And I found that when I was on teams that way, we got so much work done. And I enjoyed going to work. Like I was getting, when I was getting divorced, it was really, it was really hard.

I was just in a bad place mentally, which happens during divorce. And I remember that my manager at the time was this really good Really good?

Ori: Sounds like a, sounds like a, just a time that, you know, passes you by.

Erick: So, but my manager at the time was this really great guy. And I wouldn't apply. We got along really well and he was very trusting and he, he earned my respect.

And a lot of it was because he's like, you're a smart guy. I hired you. Get your work done. Communicate with me every day about what's going on. Just, you know, just let me know what's happening and let's just get this stuff done. And because he trusted me and I learned to respect him a lot. And so I actually work was my safe place because home was really hard right then.

And so going into work was like, I can go into work and I don't have to worry about crap. I don't, I don't, because my job was a good job to go into. It was a, it was a good place for me to be. So mentally I could fall apart at work if I needed to. And my boss was just like, I understand you're going through a rough time.

It's all good. Just keep doing what you're doing. If you need to. Take a long lunch and go for a walk, whatever, just, just take care of yourself. And so that made it so that it was, you know, like if your home life sucked and your work sucked, you just feel like life's just a giant pile of shit. So if you have at least one of those, that's, that's a good place to be, then you can deal with the harder things at home.

And so I think that a lot of people miss that. And so, yeah, so a lot of it for me is transitioning into this coaching of helping CEOs and CTOs of how to develop good leadership. Which therefore, when you lead well, then you can lead good teams, which makes the work environment so much better for everybody else.

Everybody's more productive because they're not just trying to put their time in, they're trying to get stuff done because they have the same vision that you have.

Ori: But then sometimes people don't step up. Like I remember when I do like cause I've been writing for TV and stuff for many years and I like show running teams.

That's that's pretty much my attitude. I'm like look you guys are here for your own reasons and you're creative people This is the show. I'm gonna give you the guidelines and we're gonna work on this together Just do your stuff and some people which are talented and you kind of they want to be there but they're just not stepping up and it's that's where I get I don't micromanage ever but that's where I used to get like frustrated because Because then you have to start asking yourself.

What is the motivation if you don't want to fire them? If you don't want to go to the I'm either firing you or I'm gonna me yell at you or don't want to use any of these tools Then that's always like an issue of like, how do you find what motivates that person? How do you also keep the balance because I feel there's always this balance of like What are the things that will either motivate you versus what are the things that will annoy you or make you want to not do?

The thing that you're yeah. Yeah, that's a tough one. I feel like

Erick: Yeah, but as a good leader trying to actually understand that rather than just going you're doing a bad job Hmm You know, slapping him on the wrist, that doesn't work out very well. But if you go on to him and say, Hey, you know, you have good talents.

What is it? Why aren't these talents coming out? Why am I missing these talents? If you've been a good leader and they respect you, they'll be like, If they're, if they're worth it and they actually do want to succeed at this thing, they'll, they usually will step up to the plate and they'll be like, Oh, you know what?

You're right. I didn't, I've been slacking because X, Y, and Z. And okay, what can we do to overcome X, Y, and Z? I mean, I had a boss who did that with me. I wasn't, I wasn't really pulling my weight with some of the stuff that I was working on. This was 25 years ago. So I was just getting into my career and I was a junior developer and was just, I was, and I know I was slacking.

I look back on it now and I don't necessarily know why I wasn't pulling my weight as well, but because he was very gentle about it and he just said, you know I'm kind of disappointed that you're not not pulling your weight here because I know you can do that What can I do to help you so you can you can get back up to speed like that?

I was like, oh

and part of it was embarrassment for me. I'm like, yeah, okay, you caught me, but then it was also like And I'm not getting a slap on the wrist. You're just saying, Hey, I'm, I'm disappointed in you and I know you can do better. And I was like, yeah, he really means that. And he's going to support me. Oh, okay. So the next time we had a review three months later, he was just like, I'm so proud of you.

This is, you have done so much good work. In fact, you've, you've exceeded what I was hoping you would be able to get done. So I knew you had this in you. Good job. And I was just like, Hey, thanks. And for me, it really helped. Me too.

Ori: A lot of sick people in Berlin though, , .

Erick: And it really helped me to really up my game as far as that goes.

And so I was much more motivated to come into work and I, I really enjoyed working there. The only reason I left that was 'cause we didn't wanna live in Minnesota anymore.

Ori: You know what I found about what I found weird about German ambulances? It seems to me that they have the, the, the, in anywhere I've been to the world, these are the strongest sirens.

This is why we're hearing them. And it seems to me that it's a, it's a combination of wanting to help and show off. You know, and just be like, we gotta get somewhere. But also I'm helping people. Oh my God, look at me. So that's the every time I just like, oh my God, I'm a doctor, , whatever. Anyway, sorry. Yeah, no worries.

I have to comment on it because of course, because you're a comedian and because it interrupted the sound, so I gotta say something. Yeah. Here we go again. Alright.

Erick: There seem to be a lot of those around here, so I dunno if there's,

Ori: That's what I'm saying. They're no, actually, you know what? I think it's actually police, and I'll tell you what, speaking about stoicism, I mean, or, or solutions that are, you know what, what, what I've found that Berlin policemen, policemen do, which I've never seen anywhere. If you do anything out of order that the police has called for so instead of like being very, you know, violent or whatever, getting the guns out, they get ten people on it.

So I, I've seen a drunk guy being kicked out of the bar wanting to come in, surrounded by ten police officers. And the thing is, it just immediately works on your psyche. There is no way that you're misbehaving. It doesn't matter how drunk you are. There is no way you're misbehaving when there's ten police officers around you.

And it solves issues like that. It's amazing. So, every time there's a minor thing, there's like a busload of cops just driving there. And things get solved really easily. Yeah, I'm sure. Also, they're hot, by the way. That's true. That's true. If you see the billboards as well, they're always, they photograph them.

But also, you can just see it. They're hot because that's another psychological trick. That's true. You're, you're, you're going to get less into conflict with people you're attracted to. It's just something they do here.

Erick: Learn America, I guess. Exactly, we don't need to shoot everybody.

Ori: Exactly, just get hot looking people, and a lot of them, that's all you need.

And then the police will get a better reputation.

Erick: Exactly, so.

Ori: But then how is that how is that directly connected to stoicism, would you say, the, what you just said about the leadership role?

Erick: I think a lot of it has to do, I mean, obviously Marcus Aurelius was a fantastic example of leadership about trying to, I mean, he was the most powerful man in the world at that time, and yet he was trying to always improve himself, to be humble.

I mean, he talks about, you know, when you get up in the morning, you're going to deal with people who are greedy, who are selfish, who are ignorant, who are loud, who are, you know, all these things about them. And he's like, and the reason that they're this way is they don't know good from evil, and it's your job to help try and instruct them.

And I was just like, That's a pretty, pretty good statement coming from the emperor who could just say off with your head and they would do it. So he could just be like, yeah, you're annoying me today, you know, go kill this guy. And everybody would be like, okay, you said so, emperor, let's go do this thing.

Ori: Have you ever seen the Tudors, the show, the TV show?

Erick: I watched one or two episodes with my ex partner.

Ori: It's a fantastic, I don't know how it holds up now in terms of the quality of the design and everything. Because it was at the time where, where like, TV dramas were like it was the golden age, but they still didn't have the budget, but I thought was fantastic show and that is the example of the opposite of that leadership.

This guy was so volatile Yeah, and that was what was fascinating about it. It's amazing that I think we don't associate Childish behavior or emotional behavior or all that kind of stuff to leaders, you know, if you look at Trump I guess you can just see it on him But he's the words that is he's saying is I know this is all rooted in very smart strategical No, you're just it's just a big baby.

Yeah, and you just you just want to control everything and it's It's interesting. I get you never look at And it, I think, I think it is hard once you're in a leadership position to not lose yourself in it. Yeah.

Erick: Yeah. Well, like they say, absolute power corrupts absolutely. And Marcus Aurelius is a fantastic example of not letting that happen.

And so I think stoicism, because, because it focuses on there are only four Except all the slavery. Yeah. Yes, there was, yeah, true. There was slavery, wars, and other things going on. Yeah. I mean, there was only so much he could do.

Ori: But, or realize,

Erick: yeah, but there was also, you know, like the Stoics, they talk about the only good is to develop virtue and that's, you know, courage, wisdom, temperance, and justice.

That's it. Like everything else is neither good nor bad. And Aristotle also believed that wealth, beauty, and health were also virtues that you should aspire to. The Stoics, yeah.

Ori: How do you aspire to beauty?

Erick: I don't know. That's what I was kind of wondering. Either you're pretty or you're not. I mean, yes, you can trim your beard a little more, do your hair or whatever, but, you know.

Ori: I'm big coming from him? Yeah.

Erick: But the Stoics broke with that tradition. They just said no. Like, those are indifference. Like, if you are rich and you don't, you know, you need to do all the virtues because then you could be either rich or poor or whatever. And you're still happy. You could be either in good health or bad health and you're still happy.

You could be beautiful or you could be ugly and you're still happy. It doesn't matter. Those things are, it's nice, they're nice to have. It's nice to be rich, it's nice to be healthy, it's nice to be good looking. But it doesn't, in order to live a virtuous life, you don't have to have those things.

Ori: So there's a, there's a bit of Buddhism there as well I think, no?

Like, um, there was this when we were in India, there was, we had this driver, a Buddhist driver. And he took us to this awful, awful place called Spiti Valley, which, if you go to India, unless you like a lot of rocks everywhere, I wouldn't suggest you go. But he drove us this, it was like a, it was like an eight hour drive or something like that.

And horrible, horrible, like we were suffering the whole way through. And he stopped once, he went to this little outside temple, and he was always smiling, always like, And that's his job. He's just a driver, you know? I mean, not to belittle drivers, but I'm saying his whole job is to just drive from point A to point B.

And then we got to the place we were finally getting to, and he was like, he was going to sleep where the drivers sleep. And we were like, no, no, no, we're going to pay for your room. And he was like, no, I don't want it. I want my thing. And I was like, yeah, I appreciate that. Because, yeah, he found his own way to be happy, and he seemed super happy the whole time.

And that takes real, like, inner discipline to be like This is my thing I like, this is what I'm doing, and I'm not going to sway from the way that I do these things because it might cause me pain probably, which is interesting. I, as I'm an anxious person myself, I have anxiety like my whole life. And I've been dealing with it with different tools and therapy and stuff like that.

I think one of the main things in anxiety also because I have ADHD. So it's like a combination of like my friend calls it. It's like there's, you know, how in creativity they say it's the magic what if, right? But that's also the cursed what if, if you look at it from the anxiety perspective, because everything could be bad, right?

So recently I've broken it down to like are you trying, as you said before, are you trying to make things not happen? Or do you trust yourself, if things happen, you'll be able to handle them? And I think that's a very strong distinction, and there's a problem there, which is, I think, trust. You have to trust yourself enough to know that you could handle them, and have enough willpower to to know that you'll be able to that it doesn't matter that all these what ifs, and They don't matter because you have no control of them and 99 percent of the time they won't happen.

You're just creating imaginary scenarios you don't have to deal with. But then you have to take your brain away from that. Because it's, it's, there's something, first of all, there's something more attractive in negative thought than there is in positive thought. Because in positive thought, you're just, things are good.

You're not thinking a lot. But then all these negative options, they're, they're, they're story time, you know. They're, they're, yay, oh, Netflix. I find that to be like a, a big challenge, like in terms of just pushing, just physically feels like, like you're pushing it to the other side and you're like, Oh, let's keep my focus here.

It's, it's hard to do.

Erick: Yeah. Well, one of the things that, that right along with that, it reminded me when you were talking is that Seneca tells us, like, usually we have anxiety because we're worried about the future or we're stuck in the past. We're worrying about things that we have no control over either way, because most of these things in the future that we think.

Aren't going to happen. And the things in the past, well we can't do anything about them. So, you're borrowing misery either way. So yeah, so the Stoics are very much about, like the Buddhists, being as present as possible. But, they also talk about and I'm sure you've probably read about this, the idea of Primanidātyamālora.

It means premeditated malice, and you sit down in a, in a safe.

Ori: By the way, you're giving me way too much credit for reading and being smart. I'm just telling well, you say the ideas that I've had and possibly overheard and uhhuh and some of it I've read very little. I've read, but these are just thoughts that I,

Erick: well, so the idea of Preme Malorum is that in a safe place.


Ori: I can speak Hebrew and be like ancient Hebrew and be like, oh, look at me. And there you go. You just use those words. .

Erick: What's the idea that you, in a safe place, you sit down and you think about the worst possible scenario. What's the worst that could happen in this situation? So that way you, you get that from spinning around in your head, so you write it down or you talk it out or do something like that, but you take an active approach to it.

One, so that it gets it out of your system. At least, this is the way I view it. Gets it out of your system. But two, so that when you write it down, you can realize, oh, it's not as bad as I think it's going to be. Or, what will I do if that happens? And if it does happen, would I be able to manage that? And you go, oh yeah, if it did happen, I'd be able to manage that.

Like, when I was working for a startup, there was one point where they bounced five of my paychecks in a row. And, I had just gotten divorced, and so I was paying child support and alimony, and so I had 17 to my name for a week one time. Wow. And I had a date, and I, she came over, and I was just like, By the way, I've got 17.

He's like, well, there's a sushi place right up in the corner. Throw in your 17 and I'll cover the rest. I was like, thank you. And we had a great time. And then you were homeless.

Ori: Well, but then later that week. Pulling out of that sushi steak. Yes!

Erick: But I had to ride my bike to work, which was fine with me.

Because I couldn't afford to pay gas and things like that. And it kind of freaked me out for a little bit. But then I was like, okay. What would be the worst that would happen? If, you know, I lost my job, the company went under and I'm like, and it took me a while to find another job because this was back in 2005, 2006.

So the economy was okay, but there was, there were some things starting to shake loose a little bit, but I really thought through that. I'm like, okay, well, what would I do if I lost my job and was not able to find another one? I'm living in a pretty cheap apartment. Okay, let me just think about this. And I went through all the scenarios of what I could do.

You know, I could, I could move back to Salt Lake, where my brother was living at the time. Or I could move back to Minnesota for a while and live with my mom. And, then I would, yeah, I'd miss my kids for a bit. But, you know, it would probably just be for a few months, or maybe six months, something like that, until I got back on my feet.

You know, or if worse came to worse, I could sleep in my car. It's almost summer and that's doable. And I've got a gym membership that's super cheap. It costs me 49 bucks a year. It was a deal I bought way back when, and I just now pay 49 a year so I can go shower every day at the gym. Not a big deal. So I was like, okay, I can do this.

I could figure this out, you know? And, and so I just.

Ori: Heroin is pretty cheap

Erick: now. There you go. I went through all these scenarios like that and what it, it did a number of things for me. One, it reassured me that I would be able to survive. That this was not the bottom of the barrel. Like I could, I would be okay one way or the other.

And second, it also released the grip that money had on me. Because I realized that money wasn't that important. I mean, yes, it's important, but that I could survive on very little. Yeah. And I could make things stretch. And that I had community that I could reach out to, to help support me if I needed to.

And it was like, okay. And so that, by going through that, and then later on when I found out about it, I found out about stoicism. I went, Oh, that's, I've done this before in a very important time in my life. And yes, this is incredibly helpful and it relieved a lot of that anxiety for me.

Ori: I agree. I know that tool and I use it occasionally.

I always forget like in my mind is so I have so many things running around my mind that I, that there, there are tools that I hang onto that help me through time. And then there's tools like that, that when I use and they're, they're good. Yeah. And then I forget to use them again. So that's a good reminder.

Erick: Yeah, well often times it's because life's going along well. And so, while it's going well, and then you don't use it for a couple of months, and suddenly like, things get rough, and you're like, oh crap, what do I do now? And I have to do that periodically, because I'm just starting this whole change in my career.

And there are times when I'm like super anxious about it, and I look at my bank account and go, okay. I've got money, I can last for a while, but I need to start bringing in money. You could always use more on

Ori: Patreon, huh? This room is costing money.

Erick: Exactly, but things like that where I go, I go, you know, I need to, I need to start getting out there, I need to start doing these things, I'm doing all the planning right now, and figuring out, you know, what is it that I'm going to teach, how am I going to help these people, how do I make sure that I communicate my message in a way that they understand this is really important.

And thinking about how to do that because my, my, like one example that I found, I'm taking a course right now on how to basically create a mastermind and, or like a hybrid type of mastermind slash course and bring people into those kinds of things. It's expensive, but it's really incredible for me because it changes my mindset dramatically.

So my career for the most part has been me. being brought problems and bringing the tools that I have to bear to solve those. So I have, I know how to program all of these computers. I know how to do all of these things. I have a lot of domain knowledge in certain areas, but I have all these tools that I know how to apply to problems that people bring to me.

I'm not really good at going out and figuring out this is the problem this domain is having. and, and chunking it down in a way that, or communicating it into a way, this is your problem. I will help you solve that. Mm-Hmm. I tried creating startups on my own for a while back 'cause I was in tech or with other people, and I wasn't really good at being the person to go, Hey, what's the problem we're gonna solve?

I would be like, Ooh, there's this cool technology. You can do all this really cool stuff and we can do all these things with it. What should we build with it? I,

Ori: Hmm.

Erick: Hmm. So I needed somebody to bring a problem to me, and then I could help them solve that. So now it's going out and figuring out what people's problems are, asking them and understanding that, getting in their mindset, and then communicating that to them.

So that's been a big shift for me, and now I'm starting to be able to see that. And it was something that I wasn't very good at before. Like, I knew my own personal problems. Like, that's why Stoicism, my podcast, does well, because it's mostly, Crap, this is a problem I'm dealing with. Well, how do I deal with it?

So I go to Stoicism. I write it all out. Do a lot of thinking about it and bring all of it together to bear on my own problems and then I just share those with other people. And so that's basically how my podcast has worked. But to go out of where my problems are and to help find other people's problems and show them, Hey, you've got a problem here.

Let me help you with that. That's something that's new for me. And so it's something I'm learning.

Ori: What kind of problems are you looking for? I mean, we're talking about their problems, talking about life problems, talking about tech problems, what are you talking about?

Erick: Mostly life problems. This is again, the leadership thing.

It's like, what are the problems that the leaders are really running into? You know, and I'm going, well, you, you have all these tools and they'll help you to be a better leader. Okay. But what's the problem that they have that they need to be a better leader or how do you explain to them? Okay. You think you're a good leader, but you, you actually have this problem and I'm here to help you solve this problem.


Ori: Not a bad reality show as well.

Erick: Yeah. So, like I said, I'm better when people just bring me a problem and go, Hey, I've got a problem and I've got, cool, I've got all these tools that I can bring to bear and help you solve them.

Ori: If I can tell you as a, as a comedian, it's like First of all, I've been, I think my whole life just wanting to be an artist and a writer, et cetera, et cetera.

And then I do morning pages and I just go through my own psyche and, And then As I've become a comedian, like I've been doing it for over 10 years now, it's like there is this thing where you sit at home, you take something and then you bring it out. And then they laugh when they identify, when they don't laugh, when they don't identify.

And then you slowly like start this process of like this circular process where where you start to identify, but there is the, for me the laughter is a key. So you're just like, I bring something out and then I see where they are. And that a lot of times echoes to me what's happening. How much of what I'm going through is actually echoing through everyone.

And there's also this everyone thing because as a comedian you're trying to get the room. So there's going to be one or two people who are never going to be with you because they're, you know, But it's fine. But I hate them. But but you see, that's, that's, that's identification thing. So, that echoes a lot of the times what you see other people's problems are.

So just even generic tools can come of that that can help you. Assess what, what the problem is. Like if you tell, if you tell, if you, let's say, if you go to do a corporate gig and you want to laugh at certain people, you'll see, you're going to see who they're going to tell you, you can and cannot, for example, or you say something about the boss, cause you don't care and everybody's like, and you're like, oh, okay, this guy's a narcissist.

But also there's just this echoing thing where I like to use that. Like. There's a risk to it. The risk is you're going to bomb. The risk is you're going to be the guy who said it and nobody is identifying with it. And it becomes a risk once you divulge the fact that you are flawed individual. Like I have a bit about being insecure.

I say like I'm an insecure person. A lot of the time. So I said, this is an audience. And I go, a lot of times I feel maybe I'm not smart enough, not funny enough. I'm not attractive enough, but I also know that I'm better than all of you. So I don't know how that works in one way. And they're laughing and they're offended at the same time.

And I see that they're laughing and I go like, and some of you are thinking, I'm better than you. And we have the same problem. You see, this is, this is exactly what's happening here. So it's that's one of the reasons I love comedy. It's, it's, it's exactly that because you don't feel alone in your own little, I don't know, something there about echoing about identifying the problems that are there because the more you're able to touch those things, the more it resonates through, through the room and you see that everybody has like similar issues.

But I think to me, like what you said before about don't put your mind in the future. Don't put your mind in the past. Yeah. Those are very clear instructions, but they've, maybe because of the repetitiveness of them, have become vague. So what I try to do is, if I like what you said now, the tool of like saying, alright, just write down.

I try to find within the veins of within the, within those I'm looking for a word that escaped me. Never mind. Within, within that field of saying don't look in the past, I'm trying to, to go, what's the muscle? What's the muscle of not looking in the past? How do I strengthen that muscle? And then how do I talk about that?

And how do I remind myself while I'm talking about it? So I just, I had a, a set yesterday where I was saying I've been having a panic attack for four days or five days. Because of the thing that happened to me, and I'm aware of it and I'm functioning, you know? And so I just started talking about it and just to getting all this stuff out.

When does anxiety come from? And wow, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. And just kind of, and, and everybody like identified with it and, and just letting it out just made me feel better and just making fun of myself. Mm-Hmm. for, for for being afraid of imaginary scenarios. Yeah. It's, it's ridiculous.

Yeah. You know?

Erick: Well, and that's, that's a good way I think of being present is. And a way to practice presence when you're getting stuck in the past is to vent it out like that. And that's why it's important to have community. And that's why, I mean, that's why oftentimes it's always the joke of, you know, when your partner, your female partner comes to you and it's just like, throws all these things out on you as a guy.

Our, our first instinct is we got to fix it because that's how we've been. Most of us have been raised. We got to fix the thing. Our only value comes from what we can do, you know? And so the first thing that, you know, any good. Marriage coach will tell you is ask if she wants it solved or if she wants you to listen.

And I mean you should listen anyway. Obviously. Practice active.

Ori: It'll be harder to solve if you don't listen.

Erick: Exactly. But you know, often times we just need to vent about the thing. And so for me often times my writing is that way. Writing an episode is that way because I'm struggling with something. I'll just sit down and be like err, err, err.

And go through and then I get done with it and go, ugh. Okay, it's not such a big thing. I took all of that and I put it out of my head and sometimes my journals are just that way, I'm just like I'm feeling anxious today and I just write about what's going on in my head and just getting it out of my head somehow deflates some of that energy that it has.

And it takes it, by putting it down there, it makes it a little more real so I can actually look at it. So it's not just spitting around in my head and ruminating on that. So that's really helpful, like you were talking about doing morning pages. That's kind of what this is sometimes. And for me, I find that by letting it out, it, it pulls you into the present and takes something from the past.

But you're talking about it with your friend, with yourself, whatever, right now. And it's. For me, that's a way of a bit of grounding as well. Also meditation is something that I do from time to time. That's very helpful.

Ori: Yeah. Meditation really helps. Yeah.

Erick: And for me, a lot of the main, the reason why meditation helped me become much more present minded.

I did this exercise about three years ago where I meditated for 60 minutes for 60 days in a row every day. And it was hard. It was one of the hardest things I've ever done. Sure. And I got it from um, what's his name? Totally blanking on his name. He's a VC. I don't remember. That's some other point.

But he had done that. One of his mentors is like, Hey, you really need to do this. And he's like, why? And he's like, because I'm telling you, you need to do this. I know you trust me on this. And he's like, okay, I'll do that. And he did it. And he was like, after that 60 days, It was like my base level of anxiety dropped dramatically.

Like by doing that, I became so much more aware of how my mind thought. So I can be aware of my own thinking at any time, far better than I have been before. Because, but also just that 60 minutes for 60 days. allowed my brain to process all of the backlog of things that had just been spinning in the back.

And it finally brought them to the front. And I could notice them be like, Oh, that's an interesting thought. I haven't thought about that for a while. And this thing, and it was like, he was able to just kind of work through and get rid of all of these things. So I did that. And I found that after that, that I was better able to look at my own thinking at any moment and realize all the stuff going along.

Yeah. All the clutter that was happening. And so I can just. Kind of stick my head up and go, okay, that's going on. That's going on. Hmm. Wow. There's a lot of things spinning around in here. Just be aware of it. And just that basic awareness then helped me in many ways. To, to recognize what was going on and what was causing some of that feeling, because our emotions are caused by our thinking, you know, worrying about something.

It's going to cause some anxiety, but if you're aware of it, it's easier to do something about it. Yeah. For me, I have this little practice that I do. I call it nudging, which is very simple. It's not edging, but nudging. And it's rather than trying to just change my mood on a dime, like I'm feeling anxious.

I don't want to feel anxious. So I'm going to try and do everything I can to get over here because our minds aren't very good at shifting that quickly. Except for emergency situations, you know, car's going to hit you. You're suddenly forgetting, forget about being anxious. And you're going to be like, Oh, you're going to be terrified.

So. But I found for me

Ori: If you get hit by a car, you're like, I might be gay. No, you're not.

Erick: Exactly. But I found for me, what it did was, what the idea of nudging is, is that I think, I think about something that generally makes me happy. Like I think about my kids. Or I think about the meal I had last night.

Just something a little bit happier. And I just kind of, just meditate on that just for a minute or two. And just, you know, And it just kind of like, or, you know, and I just kind of make myself just kind of relax a little bit and smile a little bit just to nudge my mood in the direction. And I think of it as kind of like if you take a, if you've ever been in a canoe, it doesn't take much to just shift a few degrees and go that direction and you are going to end up in a completely different side of the shore than if you kept going where you're going.

So that little nudge just kind of moves me in the right direction.

Ori: I, in the morning I do now when I wake up, I do, first of all, I I, I try to practice Transcendental Meditation I try to do it every day. I don't succeed, but I try. It is really helpful. It does reduce your anxiety, but what I'm starting to do every day when I wake up is I just sit, like, lay there for, like, a few minutes, and I think about that this is gonna be a great day.

Just, just I saw this comedian talking about it, but but he was talking about it from a different angle, but I like the idea of, like You kind of have to gaslight yourself. You kind of have to gaslight yourself. You kind of have to gaslight yourself. You kind of have to be like, it's going to be a great day.

And then, you know, why is it going to be a great day? Because my life is pretty good. This is pretty good, that is pretty good. If anything happens, I can deal with it. But you don't have to get in, like, especially in the morning, before everything kicks in. Because in a few minutes, everything is going to kick in.

You have a little bit already, the computer is starting to bring up all the stuff. You just sit there for a second, and you go, you This is going to be a great day because the sun is shining, my wife is here, and I'm just gonna, I'm just gonna, you know what, this is going well, that is going well. And then you wake up and I found this to be like important where the first thing you say in the morning, right?

If you're with someone, if you're with a spouse or whatever. First, it's like, just do it in a very, like bring yourself to a place before you get out of bed where you can say good morning in a positive way. And I find that to be super important because a lot of the times I go, like, if I don't do that, I have this like, Oh, I'm saying the same words in the morning or she's saying, and I'm like, no, like I'm here.

I'm having, there's a goal to this. And I'm, I'm spreading positivity now. I'm like, hey, good morning, like, how's your morning? She's like, yeah, and we're already starting on some, some good footing. Yeah. You know, and you don't have to keep it up the whole day. It's just, just the beginning of it. Yeah. And I find that it has a huge effect on my happiness level.

Erick: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, basically that's, that's kind of, same idea. Yeah, just that, just reminding yourself about something to be grateful for. Yeah.

Ori: Yeah, for sure. I also do like, in the shower, I do like eight things I'm, I'm grateful for every day. That works.

Erick: Well, and that's the one thing I really like about stoicism is it's it's about just trying to practice things every day to have a better life.

And, and because they, the principles are, like I said, they're fairly simple, doing them well takes work, but you can do even just doing a little bit every day can bring such great benefits to your life. And I'd say you don't have to be perfect at it by any means, but if you're, it's never about perfection because perfection is.

I mean, again, there's no, there's no real way to define what perfection is. It's always just, are you moving in a good direction? And I think that that's, that's the answer.

Ori: Tell you what I think the problem with stoicism is, is branding wise. So I have a friend and he, for many years, he's like, oh, I'm a stoic.

And I, I don't, I didn't like that. I didn't like that. I'm a stoic. I'm like, what are you, a fucking Jedi? Like, you're not, just like, oh, I don't, I don't like it. There's something about it. And also, he's like, he's like this type of person, of course. He's like So I didn't know what that meant and then also he's like this type of person that sometimes he pushes things in So I'm just like the minute someone says I'm anything I'm already getting like critical about it, you know But so I think the and all this Marcus Aurelius, it's like it just sounds like gladiator, you know I'm a stoic, I have swords.

It's just that it's just bad branding, you know And I think that first of all saying I'm practicing stoicism I think is way better. Yeah You Okay. Because it's, because it's exactly what you just said, which is every day I'm doing something to try and get my life better and it's along the lines of Stoicism.

Yeah. So that's the thing. This is a big difference. You know? And yeah, and I would ask like, what would you, for someone who wants to start trying to practice Stoicism, what would you say first steps, first good steps would be? Just out of interest.

Erick: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, for me, one of the biggest things.

And it's one of the hardest things, is again, understanding what you can control. And being able to look at that very clearly, and to stop trying to control things you can't. Because that's

Ori: So what would be the tools to, to, to focus on that, for example?

Erick: Well, I think a lot of it is What, is thinking about what are the things that we try to control the most in our lives that we don't have control over.

And usually that's other people. That's the biggest thing most of us try to control that we can't. We want to control what other people think about us. We want to control our reputation. We want people to like us. We want all, you know, we want this person to think we're great. We don't want our partners to be mad at us.

And rather than actually trying to communicate with them, we get mad at them and saying, stop being mad at me. And we get more and more angry with them. And for me, stoicism has been super helpful because I recognize the reason why I was angry about a lot of things or was easily set off by a lot of things.

It was because I was trying to control them. I was trying to use anger to control these things around me. 'cause that's what my dad, that's what my dad did. And so that was my example. And so it was, it was kind of hardwired in that way from, from years of abuse of when anything didn't go the way he wanted to.

We, you know, immediately got angry and hit us and, and things like that. And so it's, it was really hard with him because when he was good. Things were great. He was funny. He was kind. He was smart. He was generous. When things were bad. Ooh It's rough. Yeah, it was kind of like living with an alcoholic, but he didn't drink alcohol I mean I almost wish he did because then he could come home and go whoop.

Dad's on one tonight Let's you know, you can see the bottles or smell the booze and and the other thing Yeah, he was a closet bisexual and in the Mormon Church

Ori: Wow Harsh. Yeah, that's exactly the problem with these kind of things. Yeah. This is the way the world, no, it doesn't because why? Because you can do other things.

Yes. It's obvious. I don't ever get that about people who like are like preaching God. It's like if God is everything, why is not the possibility of everything also God, like why this? Exactly. It's just very, I don't think, I don't think people really believe in it. It's just one structure.

Erick: Yeah, exactly. And I think that I think it was Krishnamurti, I think was the author.

He has this book called the last freedom and really in the last freedom is really that You as a person need to realize you can do anything you want in this life. You have the choice to do anything that you want now You can't control the consequences for your choices, but you have the right to choose to live exactly the way you want You're not happy in your marriage.

You can leave You do not have to stay You do not have to make that choice. You do not have to work the job your parents want you to, or society wants you to. You can be a bum and live on the street. You have that choice. There are consequences with those choices. But you have that ability. And that's really hard for a lot of people to internalize.

Like, no, no, no, we can't all just do what we want. Like, yes you can. It can cause massive disorder in a lot of different ways in society and other things like that. So you have to think about what are the consequences of me doing exactly what I want to do or anything that I want to do. But you're allowed to do that.

Ori: I think it's safeguards people from making decisions that exactly that they don't want to deal with the consequences of, which is, I think it's not just because they want to do those things. They just don't want to think those things through. It's scary to think for a second about about anything.

About, like, what would happen if I was to Like, for example, even like things that we're already doing. I have this whole bit I'm working on with politicians and stuff like that. Everybody complains about them. What would you do if they disappeared? Would you do their job? Do you even know what they're doing?

They are the wolves, we are the sheep, because we've elected them to be the wolves. We want to sit here, you know, we just want to go, Netflix. That's what we want to do, you know. But, but, the point of it is, like, we don't even want to know. It's the same thing why we're angry with vegans. Because vegans are telling us things that we know that we don't want to know.

But if the book says eating meat is fine, then I don't have to listen to the voices in my head talking about morality at all. Because the book says this is moral, and I want to think about it. Because I know on some level it's not moral, it doesn't sit well with what I perceive morality to be. But I'm an amoral person in those respects, but I don't want to admit it to myself.

Yeah. And that solves that entire problem. Yeah. And I feel like a lot of kind of rules do that for people, and there's comfort in that. There's comfort in that.

Erick: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And I had somebody ask me one time on, or they posted a thing on Reddit saying, What's the difference between Stoicism and a religion?

And I said, all right, I'll take that on that, let me explain what it is. Stoicism is a bunch of tools and principles that are just applied in any situation in life. It's not dogma. It's not telling you, you have to do this and this and this and this is saying, if you want to live a happier life, you want to feel like a better person, a moral person and be able to weather these things that are really hard.

Here's some tools you can use to do it. Yeah. Try them, see if they work. And I said, so there's no, you, there's no, there's no prescriptive law.

Ori: It's not, you can't be gay because Marcus Aurelius said you cannot be gay. Exactly.

Erick: I said there's no prescriptive things of like you have to do these things in order to be a stoic.

It's, it's a, It's not declarative. It's, it's this kind of like, here's the idea. Here's some ideas. If you follow these ideas, you're just going to find that you're going to be happier if you live this way. If you practice courage, if you practice wisdom, if you practice self discipline, if you practice justice, which to me, justice is how do you treat other people, try to treat other people?

Well, that's what justice to me says about is how do you interact with your fellow man? And it's so stoicism is just like, just try these things and see if they make you happier.

Ori: Let's go back to the example that you gave. I agree with you that you cannot control other people, but you can try and influence what people think of you.

Sure, absolutely. But within that realm, there is a whole level of debate with yourself. How much am I being myself? How much am I skewing towards the other person? How much does even the other person like it when I suck up to them? Or if I'm being myself, am I being too aloof? Am I being too, like you know?

And those are also hard tools to it's very hard to look at yourself from the outside and realize who you are and what you're doing. Yeah, yeah. Also, some people really like you and some people really don't. Yeah, and that's okay. That's really annoying. Yeah. Because you can't get any clear data from this.

Erick: Exactly. Well, like my, I was with my brother this last weekend in Frankfurt and, We've always had, we've been, we're, we've always been close, but also had some, you know, and we're brothers, you know, it's just kind of how it is. Just as we've gotten older and wiser, and I, there were always things that he would say where I'd just be like, man, he, because he doesn't have a filter, he doesn't have much of a filter.

Like, if he thinks it, it comes out of his mouth. And when I was younger, you know, I was much more trying to be the good Mormon and do all the righteous things. And he was the one who was like, ah, brah, you know. doing whatever he wanted. And I would always be like, oh, you're a bad person. And yeah, I was very judgy.

And I know that. But it was funny. He was, he was talking, he was telling me some story and he was, he was helping somebody out with something, but he was still giving them shit about things. And, and they go, you know what? You're a likable asshole. And he's like, yep, that's pretty much what I am. I just laughed.

I'm like, you know, but he's more than willing to just admit and he goes, yeah, I'm kind of a son of a bitch sometimes. And I'm okay with that. Not everybody, I'm not everybody's cup of tea, but, but his, he's got friends who are so like loyal to him because he is exactly who he is and he rubs people the wrong way. There's some people who do not like him because he's a lovable asshole and but he knows that yeah And he's accepted himself for who he is like that and I can have a lot of respect for that and we had a great time and really connected and for me a lot of that judginess that I used to have when I was younger I don't have anymore because I've worked on letting go of that And, and also he's softened up as he's gotten wiser, as he's gotten older about things.

And he's less judgy about things too. And so we were able to get him together and we had a great time. And it was, it was really a lot of fun. But I love the way you put that. It's just like, you're a real likable asshole. Like, yeah, there's nothing wrong with being that.

Ori: I feel I mean, I feel that way sometimes.

But I don't think I'm I think I'm an asshole. I think I'm, I used to be way more blunt about things. You know? I think moving to Europe has really changed my perception, but it's not just that. It's just that you work in TV and there's like a level of like, I have my authenticity, but also I'm aware that I might be wrong.

And at the same time I have to get along with all these people that I wouldn't necessarily hang out with and yet I don't want to betray myself. So it's always this kind of weird, I think recently what I've realized is I have, if I want to say something. I, I will say it because I have this I have this compulsion, I cannot not say what I perceive to be true.

But, I've learned to be nice in the way that I say it. Be polite, not nice, like, you know, so Be kind. Be kind, yeah. Yeah. Don't, like, I, I attempt not to create suffering. But at the same time speaking of Buddhist stuff, so at the same time I want to be authentic. I want to be real. It's not that, Oh, this person must know my opinion about them.

That's not the issue. But the issue is like, if there is an opinion I want to express, not necessarily about the person, but generally then I would like to express it because I feel like I'm entitled to it, but I feel like this is who I am and this is what I see in this, what I would like to do. And, and yeah, and I try to wrap it in such a way that my point will come across.

I don't feel On the inside that I oppressed myself on one hand and on the other hand that I didn't really cause any harm or pain unless The situation calls for some conflict. So recently I'm trying to get better at actually at conflict and realizing the conflict is not the worst thing in the world.

It's pretty good actually. Yeah. Yeah. Sometimes it's necessary. Exactly. So I'm, I'm trying to get better at that, ironically from Israel, but, which I think probably is, is part of the problems anyway. But but yeah, there is, there is this for me, there's this constant. And, and when people look at me on the side, I think, for example on stage I'm likable, I think I'm I think people identify with me, like I, I'm very, I'm very, like I talk about a lot of dark stuff, but I will say it in a way that will include people rather than exclude, I'm trying, I'm not trying to shock anybody, I'm not trying to say something dark, I'm like, I look at it from a perspective of exactly what we've talked about, like, There's dark shit in the world.

This is just life, and let's, if we don't make fun of it, we don't bring light to the situation, then we're just gonna suffer. So that's what I'm trying to do, but I also come from that attitude. Of like, I'm not gonna try and shock you with saying words, I'm just, and And I do have some tension over I mean, it becomes more precise and professional when it's on stage, Cause then I'm like What did I say that where I lost them over here?

So I'm not gonna not say what the point of what I wanted to say But I will find a different way of saying it so it'll be palatable because my goal is to have a conversation.

Erick: Yeah Well, it's like for me. I I the way that I kind of see that is I try to practice radical candor as much as possible. And to me, candor is a little bit different than just being honest.

Okay. Because you can, you can be honest and tell the truth and everything like that. But candor is like, can I be candid for a minute here? It's very different than just saying, well, I assume you were being, you know, can I be honest here? It's like, well, haven't you been honest? Haven't you been telling? You know,

Ori: What's the difference between candid and honest?

Erick: To me, honesty is that everything you're saying is factually true. Candor is what's behind the scenes. It's pulling the curtain open and going, Okay, this is what you see, that's being honest. Let me show you what's really going on. It's much more vulnerable. It's much more about saying, This is what I've been really thinking.

This is what's really going on. Even though what I told you was true, there was a veneer on it. There was, there was a polish to it. Candor is like, here's more of the raw stuff. And so for me, candor is, is like a deeper step of honesty is kind of the way that I see it. But with can, but with everything, you kind of need to make sure you understand the opposite and the positive opposite.

And for me, the opposite of candor and the positive way is discretion. And so if you practice radical candor with people, you also have to have discretion and that's tact. That's knowing sometimes you don't need to say it, or sometimes you How you say it is important and you, you land it gently and go, by the way, I just need to tell you, you're a total asshole, but I love you anyway.

You know? And so it's, it's kind of the same thing. And so I, I, I try to think about that when I, when I deal with people, it's like, I want to tell you the truth. I want to be the, I want to show you the vulnerable truth, not just I'm telling you the truth, but I'm showing you the truth. Showing you something that's a little bit deeper than that.

This is the vulnerable thing of things, but also trying to use discretion at the same time.

Ori: Interesting. Can I be candid? Absolutely. I'm trying to get some basic tools to get into stoicism, because I like the idea. I like the, I like what I'm hearing about it. I don't, I think I understand, like it's a bit like geography.

Like, I know where major areas are, I think, I think. But I don't think I have the the stepping stones. Like what you just said, for example, about other people. Okay, I'm thinking about it. Or certain things we discussed. I'm like, yeah, I do that. But then I don't see the stepping stones towards getting into it, for example.

Just starting off in it.

Erick: I actually did an episode about three weeks ago called Beginning Stoicism where I Oh, just listen to that. Yeah. So that, that right there I think is a good place to start.

Ori: Should have listened to that episode then. Exactly. Waste everybody's time.

Erick: Exactly. But, I think a lot of it is, well, like you said earlier, it's a lot of, to me, I consider Stoicism as kind of Greco Roman Buddhism.

There are a lot of crossover because they came to the same conclusions, just understanding human behavior and, but a little bit less woo, if you will, and a little more rationality of things. And so the idea is that, you know, we're human beings, we have rationality, that's what makes us human. Homo sapiens as opposed to just being some other primate, is that we have the ability to, to, at least to a certain extent, think rationally as best we can.

Another thing that is really big on stoicism that I try to help people understand is that your perception of something is what causes the feelings that you have. It causes your distress. And they even say that in there. It's not the thing that bothers you, it's your perception of it. The way that you think about the situation bothers you.

Like you talked about this guy, your driver, he thought of his place where he crashed as his most comfortable place. It was his happy place. So when you look at it and go, God, that must be really uncomfortable. Why is he going to do that? And he looks at it and he's like, this is my comfy place. And he's all happy to be there.

Sleep in his car. Exactly. So for him, his perception on it was, this is my comfortable little, little safe space. Other people look at it and go, Oh, that would be terrible. I want my hotel bed. And then you need something much more than that. And so really your perception on almost anything can change how you are, how you feel about it and what you do about it.

Ori: So you change your own perception of things.

Erick: Yeah. That you choose your perception or you, at least you're aware of your perception. It's like, what am I thinking about this? That's, that's, what's the story that I'm telling myself about this situation. Like if somebody came up to you on the street, a simple thing of perception you had two people who are trying to get to work and they missed the bus.

One guy gets mad and he's flipping the bus driver off and he's all sorts of pissed off about it, you know, because he missed the bus and the bus driver continued on. And we've all had situations like that. His coworker is standing there and he just looks at it and you're like, eh, okay, whatever. Just smiles about it, goes to stand on the bench and starts looking around.

He's like, well, it's kind of a nice day today. And this is. Okay, and he's like, you know, hey, that's 15 more minutes. I get to chill out before I get to work. Hmm same situation And and so there you understand that it was they're just they're different perceptions on what it really meant. Yeah You know and people are like no no, but these things that happened to me They're the reason why I'm upset or because this person said this thing to me That's why I'm upset and it's like no it's because the story that you tell yourself about the situation about what the other person said.

That's what's making you upset.

Ori: But then what's the line between authenticity and perception? Because if you can change your perception of most anything, which I agree you can do and should do sometimes then how do you know that you're remaining authentic to yourself?

Erick: It's not about necessarily having to change your perception, because you can keep it.

It's about recognizing what your perception is. And recognizing that the way that you're thinking about that might be the thing that's causing you the distress that you don't want to feel. It's like you could be the cause of your own problem. Somebody said something mean about you and you're all worked up and upset about it.

Why? You're the one who's telling yourself this awful story about what they said. If you said, if it was some stranger who said something to you and you didn't really care, or it was somebody that you thought was an asshole and you didn't care about what it, they could say the exact same thing, and the story you would tell yourself is, Pfft, he's an asshole, I don't care.

It's only because you gave it weight.

Ori: So you have to look if your perception serves you or not.

Erick: Exactly. Because it could be that your perception is fine. That person said that awful thing, and I feel upset about that, and I want to feel upset about that.

Ori: You see, that's where anxiety kicks in a lot of times.

Because anxiety will hold on to the perception and say, Well, this perception has saved us many a times. You should never change this perception. Which is like, this is like how you know the brain is somewhat of a computer. Yeah. It's like, here are these files you shouldn't touch, and these ones. That's, that's true.

And I feel like in comedy there's somebody I met this woman once and she said she went to clowning school. And she asked her, like, if you have to tell me one thing that's really valuable from that. And she said, in comedy you don't, in clowning, you don't only have to agree to be the floor man, you have to enjoy it.

And that really spoke to me. You know, I was walking with my wife in Köln, which is a city in Germany. Just for the Americans. No. So I was walking there and I was and I was walking down the street and I farted. And two guys behind me laughed. Right, and my wife was kind of feeling a bit embarrassed about it.

And I was like, you know what, my job is to make people laugh. It doesn't matter if I'm on stage or off. I'm happy that they laughed at my fart. So, and it really changed, like, and that's something actively, like, I don't mind, and I think, by the way, it's a pretty powerful tool, not just for comedians, but generally, like, one of the things which I fundamentally disagree with is if people laugh at me, that means I'm weak.

I think that's, that's, that's a, that's a very common perception, by the way. And and once you change that, once, like, on stage, it doesn't matter what they're laughing at. Like, I'm instinctually funny in certain ways. And if my goal is to make you laugh, because I think you'll feel better, I'll feel better.

It doesn't matter if you're laughing at me or with me. Everybody's making this really, like, especially in comedy, this really important distinction. You're laughing at me or with me. I'm like, what does it matter? They're laughing. People are having a good time. It doesn't matter at all. And, And you can't control it anyway.

Yeah, and you can't control it anyway. And you shouldn't attempt to try. I mean, you can, you can, you can guide the laughter. You can try and play with it. But This whole concept, I feel like this is another thing when people are Connecting laughter to disrespect, which I think is an awful thing to do because you basically said I think John Cleese was saying something about that There's a difference between being respectful and pompous Like if you're not be if you if you if they can't laugh at you, you're being you're a dictator You're being pompous.

You're saying like I am you cannot touch me like you're over serious And I feel like that probably stems from, I don't know, I'm not a psychologist, but it probably stems from childhood when we couldn't handle it. Where somebody was laughing at you and you thought, oh shit, I'm in social danger right now.

I'm being demoted.

Erick: Yeah, I had a hard time with that because my last name is Cloward and I used to get called coward all the time. And the kids would laugh at it and I would feel so hurt and so offended and I had a hard time with sarcasm growing up because I got picked on quite a bit. Because I was a little bit smaller, and also because of my name and stuff like that.

And so my ex wife was, she was fairly sarcastic, and it was hard for me, and she was trying to play. Her sarcasm wasn't mean, it was her play, but for me, all sarcasm was hurtful. Yeah. Because, also because my dad would use sarcasm as a hurtful thing. It was never a funny, playful thing. And my ex wife was, you know, her sarcasm was trying to be play, and it wasn't until like two years after we were divorced, where I finally like I was reading an article about something like that and I was like, Oh, I never stopped.

Oh, geez. I always felt attacked when she was being sarcastic. She was trying to play with things. She was trying to make, you know, some kind of witticism or something. Yeah, like a, you know, She was trying to play with things and I was so serious and so Defensive all the time because I've grown up being very defensive all the time because the church is always telling you you're a bad person My dad is always telling me.

I'm a bad person Kids are teasing me. So I always felt like I was this bad person I was super defensive about a lot of things and it wasn't I guess that went two years later. I'm like she was trying to play

Ori: I'm gonna be here with it. First of all, I had this image of you and like if you need a if you need a You Image for your podcast, you just have like a yourself and kinda like a, I don't know what the body language is, but something like, but you have an S for stoicism, like , like a shitty superman.

You know what I mean? Like you're dealing with it not because of your bra and your, but you're dealing with it the way through stoicism. Yeah. Astro Pues you want, there you go. That's not bad. Yeah, exactly. But what was I saying? Ah, when I got here so Israel, we don't really have banter. We have, we laugh at each other, we laugh a lot, like, in Israel, because Jews, you know, we deal with tragedy through laughter, but we don't have banter.

We don't, we don't pick at each other. And when I came here and I met all these British people and the Irish people and Australians and everybody's like, you know, I felt attacked in the beginning. I didn't understand what was going on. People being critical of me, what's happening. I And and because I hang out with comics a lot, then somebody made it clear to me at some point, I think it was Brendan actually, my partner from the shows, Epic Comedy Berlin, check him out online, I've got a website.

So, he he told me that, he was like, well you're being a little bitch essentially. So I was like, ah, okay, they're doing something else. And then I asked him, what is banter? And then I realized what banter is, I was like, ah, okay. And there is this one comic in the scene here, he's he's a young comic and his name is Eunice.

He's a funny guy, but when I started getting into this banter thing and started to shit at people as well, la, la, la, la, la, he was, he's such a guy that you can tell him anything and he's just like, ha, ha, he laughs at himself. He takes it, he's, he's, he finds it funny. And then he laughs at himself. And you're like, this is the best punching bag I've ever had.

But also, he's enjoying it. So, and it also kind of like, there's a limit. Of how much you can do it. Because you're like, alright. But at the same time, it's fun because this guy's enjoying the situation. And then, even if he's not that good yet at punching you back, It creates this nice feeling for everybody.

And I realized, yeah, that's what you need to do. You need to kind of accept the fact that you're a piece of shit like everybody else. And allow them to point that out. And also not take it very seriously. Like, there's something about comedy. It's like, you're ugly, right? Nobody means that you're ugly, but you are also ugly.

Everybody's also all of these things. Yeah. And and that's, I think like, if you grab on to that idea, then you start to get fucked up. If you're like, oh, am I ugly? You go home and you're like, ah. Just let it go. Just let it be. Or am I dumb? Yes, you're also, but it doesn't matter.

Erick: Yeah, and that's where, again, he had a great perspective on things.

His perspective was anybody can make fun of him and he could choose to be offended or not. Yeah. And he chose he wouldn't be offended. He would laugh along with them because there's a little bit of truth in it and that's okay.

Ori: Yeah. Yeah. It's sadly now he's dead. No, he's not. He's not. But I hope if he hears this, he'll laugh at this.

Yeah. Yeah. Very interesting.

Erick: Yeah. So, yeah, I, I really appreciate our conversation on this. I've been enjoying looking at stoicism like through the comedic lens of things and just being able to laugh at the ridiculousness of life and, and the episode, well, the episode that I had a couple of weeks ago, it was, you know talking stoicism It was inspired because of, I came to your comedy show.

Oh no. I was having a crappy day, I was just in this, this kind of sour mood and I couldn't shake it. For whatever reason, I was just having a really rough time, and I was trying to work on the podcast episode for that week. It was a Sunday, and I was just like, not able to shake this mood. And so, I'm like, you know what, let's just go out for the evening.

So I looked on Meetup, saw the comedy show, and I'm like, comedy, there we go, that's what I need. And Just going to that and laughing for two hours. And I sat next to this really cool German couple that had just been walking by. Oh. And Who's the other comedian? I forgot his name. Partik. Partik. He just said, Hey, we've got a comedy show in English and you know, it's 7:30 and so they're like, Oh, okay.

Ori: Yeah. And so

That's fun.

Erick: So they were like, Oh, okay. And you know, they were really nice and we didn't, yeah, we're like, okay, they might come back. And they, they, they showed up and I sat next to him. That's amazing when people do that. Yeah. We sat next to him and we were all laughing.

We were having a great time and I chatted with him for quite a while and we were all just, I mean, it was a small crowd. I think there were only like 10 people. Yeah. Yeah. But it was a great crowd. Everybody was having so much fun. We were all laughing and filling the room and you guys were great. And it just set my mood for that whole week.

The next week just felt so much better and so much lighter. And it just, just squashed that sour mood. And so I had to write that episode. I'm like, this is what I'm going to do. And wrote that episode and it was pretty well received. And I really liked it because I'm just like, you know, stoicism. Everybody always thinks it's all so serious and all this stuff.

And I'm pretty serious on there because I'm trying to talk about how to approach hard things in your life. Yeah. But here's another way to approach hard things in your life. Learn to laugh about them.

Ori: I gotta say, for me, when I go to the show and I do the same, like, I perform, I feel the same way, like, I just saw today Facebook likes to remind you how old you are, so it's like, seven years ago you've written this, and I was like and I literally wrote today, like, seven years ago today, I had a really shitty day, but then I had a great show, and the show trumped the day.

And I really feel that that's that works, like it works both ways because comedy is, is, my dad was a doctor and he's dead. Which is, I like, I wrote a joke after this saying, well that means he's a bad doctor. It's the one thing you're not supposed to do. Anyway, so the so what he used to say is like, any patient that'll come into his to, to his practice, And is smiling, will 100 percent of the time get over anything that he has, any problem they have quicker than people who are not.

And when he used to call me he used to ask me, are you, I can't, he used to say on the phone, I can't hear you smiling. And I have on my phone every day at 5. 30 I have a reminder to smile. And the show that I'm doing, the hour that I'm practicing, where you came was our little lab where we're practicing our, like, longer sets.

So I called it, for now at least, it's called Laughing Matter. Because I do think that it, it just lightens your whole existence. And there's something about also knowing that you're not alone. If, when you're in a room and people are laughing it, it creates this subconscious confirmation that we are kind of similar and which is, which, which I think is beautiful to me and is also why I don't like when people say, Oh, you shouldn't laugh about certain things because that's a saying.

You shouldn't treat certain problems. You go to the doctor and say, No, I'm sorry. I'm not going to touch your asshole. Sorry about that. We don't do that here. It smells, you know, it's not popular thing to do. So no, you should go everywhere and laugh about everything. Because what you're trying to do unless you're an asshole, but then that's not funny being like a real asshole That's not funny But if you if you're really trying to get in in in somewhere that's dark and deep Then that will make you feel lighter about yourself.

And I think it's always good to laugh yourself Always good to laugh with others And you can also laugh at others. One of the things that I, that I I mean, there's a border there between being an asshole and being exactly like, like comedians are shitting on each other, you know? It's like, I was thinking about it.

Why do I love stupid reality shows? Me and my wife, we watch Temptation Island. We love that show. It's such a good show. And there was no one there, at least from Season 2, but also Season 1, but let's say, that has not understood what the format is, why they're there, and what the benefit of everybody involved is.

But, it is so much fun for them. They get the Instagram followers and the money. We get to judge other people and go, Look at their relationship, it sucks. And, and the producers get to go, Oh, I like this money that comes in from royalties. That's, that's what everybody gets to do. And that's fine, and that's fine.

And I think that I think that we should allow comedy to seep into as much, as many parts of our lives as possible.

Erick: Agreed. Agreed. Like the, like the old philosopher said, you should be seeking eudaimonia, which means a good spirit.

Ori: I like that. Probably had to do with wine.

Erick: Yeah. Sometimes wine does put you in a good spirit.

A good spirit for a good spirit.

Ori: And also, even though this is something I've been working with recently, there is a level of like apologetic ness, but it's not real. It's not real. So the standards people have, which I feel like it's, this is not to say that I am a com as a comic, don't want always to be better and the best comedic 'cause that's absolutely what I want.

But I also feel like it was just even not comedy shows just left. From just anything. Like we have weird standards about our own fun. You know what I mean? Like, oh, I'm not gonna laugh at it. Why? Like, there's, this is a new bit I'm just, I'm working on where I go like, I go like, why is that even there? And then I do something stupid.

I go like, And on some level, As the kid inside you knows that's hilarious. There's something hilarious about it. There's something funny about stupid shit that there's no reason to laugh at. But we're just sitting there going, now say something political. Because we've created this barrier between what it is okay to laugh at as adults, and what it is to laugh at as children.

And I think that barrier needs to slowly dissipate. Because that's what you want. That's what really, when you go to comedy, that's what you want, really. So, of course, it's my job as a comedian to get you there, but it's also helpful if you let go a little bit. You know, which is, I think, why people take certain drugs, probably.

But, that's what I'm saying, that there is, if I had to say two things, it's one, it's those things. Like, let comedy seep into anything, and also, just let, just laugh at stupid shit. Cause why the fuck not?

Erick: Yeah. And life is just full of it, and so you can either, Amor fati means to love your fate. So you, meaning, love your fate.

Fate. So it means that life's just gonna throw stuff at you. Life is gonna happen. And you can love it or hate it, but life doesn't care. The universe doesn't care. It does not give a shit. So you can hate it all you want, and the universe is like, So what? Still gonna dish it out at you. And so you can either just go, Okay, I love this.

And what better way to learn to love something than to be able to laugh?

Ori: Yeah, that's a normal thing. I feel like after this podcast, you're going to get letters and people saying, I like the thing, but gay people are still not okay in my book.

Erick: Oh, I'm sorry. I occasionally get some stuff like that. Like I wrote, I did one about talking about understanding your privilege in life.

You know, because it took me a long time to understand all the things that I just got because I was a white male in a Christian culture in the richest nation in the world. Okay. And, you know, had good high schools, all of these things, middle class, all these things that I got that I did nothing for, I just happened to get by virtue of my birth.

And I just talked about it, just saying, hey, there's nothing wrong with having privileges. Just know that you have them, understand them, and so you don't judge other people because they're not like you, because they didn't get the same things that you got. And do what you can to help those who don't.

That's it. You know, I wasn't, wasn't super preachy, I was just saying, understand your situation, understand that you got lucky, or maybe you didn't get lucky, but you probably got luckier than somebody else. Because there's always somebody lower than you who got worse things. And I got a couple of emails on that, how dare you, and you know, and you're going off on this political woke agenda and all this stuff, and I said, that's not it at all, you missed the whole point.

Plus, you're not being very stoic if you're writing into me being so nasty because something offended you, you chose to be offended. Sure. Sure. And then the other one was, I mentioned during the middle of the pandemic, there was one where I was talking in my podcast and I said, you know, with this going on, if you go out and you are, you know, not wearing a mask and you aren't getting a vaccine, your behavior is being selfish because you're not taking into account how you're affecting other people.

Sure. So I got some nasty emails about that. Of course. Same kind of thing.

Ori: Anything that's political, people will will, will, will respond immediately from there, especially Americans. Yeah. From there. No, this is the left and this is the right, and if you said this and I'm actually from there, just shut up.

Erick: Yep. Well. I think it's getting time for us to wrap this up, because I know you have some plans for the evening, and my MacBook is just about to run out of power, so

Ori: Look at that. It's a good time. Even the MacBook is like, shut the fuck up.

Erick: No, it's been a great conversation, so I've really enjoyed having you on here, thank you.

Ori: Thank you, thank you so much, and thanks for coming to the comedy show as well.

Erick: Yeah, yeah, it was a lot of fun. Like I said, it really reset my mood, and the last couple weeks have just been better just because of that. I don't know what I was so sour about, or what it was bothering me, but I remember waking up Monday and it just felt better.

Ori: Well, glad to hear that, man. That's, when you say that, it fills me up with joy.

Erick: Yeah. All right, so that's it. Yeah for today's show. I really appreciate already being on here and thank you for having me Yeah, thank you. So and don't forget to laugh because life is a joke.

Ori: Are you gonna have my Instagram on there?

Erick: Yeah. Yeah, I will put some ways to contact Ori In the show notes of the podcast episodes to make sure you follow him on Instagram. It'd be really great.

Ori: Either Epic Comedy Berlin or big old Jew with a D. Yep Thank you very much. Yeah, I really thoroughly enjoyed

Erick: Yeah. Me too, man. Yeah. All right. Bye, everybody.

Bye. And that's the end of this week's Stoic Coffee Break. I hope that you enjoyed this conversation with Ori Halevy, and make sure that you follow him on social media at Big Old Jew and Epic Berlin Comedy Show. As always, be kind to yourself, be kind to others, and thanks for listening.

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Awareness Coffee Break

113 – Plenty To Laugh At

Plenty To Laugh At


“He who laughs at himself never runs out of things to laugh at.”

― Epictetus


One of the most important things in life is that we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Remember, Stoics keep in the forefront of their minds the knowledge that one day they too will die, and when you look at life through that lens, you learn to give things their appropriate weight. Is that thing that you are stressing about going to be of importance in 10 years? 100 years? 1000? 10,000?

We talk a lot about how you can’t control the opinions of others and what they may think about you. And I think being able to laugh at yourself is a place that can free you from a lot of stress in your life.

About 10 years ago, I became the butt of a Weird Al Yankovic joke and created a trending topic on Twitter for a day. In response to an amusing video he posted on Twitter about streets sign using poor grammar. I retweeted it and misspelled the word grammar. Weird Al responded with the the correct spelling, and boom, there I was at the receiving end of embarrassing retweet after retweet.

While the incident itself was harmless, I found myself really upset by it. I consider myself to be intelligent and literate, so being at the receiving end of other people’s laughter about my perceived lack of intelligence really hurt my ego. When I look back on it now, it seems pretty silly, and I can laugh about now. But at the time it really stung.

And why is that? Why would the opinion of so many people, none of whom I actually know, matter so much?  When I think about it now and using my logic, it was simply words on a digital page. That’s it. But because I used to be so worried about the opinion of others, I could feel my cheeks burn with embarrassment even there was no one around to see me. I even suspended my account for a bit.

But you know what? The next day it was forgotten and the twitterverse had moved on to something else. All the stress was for nothing.

The more you learn to lighten up and are able to laugh at yourself, the more you can enjoy your life, and let go of things when they don’t work out as planned. Can you laugh at yourself?Can you let go of your ego enough to realize that you can laugh at yourself and the silly things you hold on to? If others laugh at you can you recognize that it impacts you as much as you let it? That even if they do laugh at you that it doesn’t change who you are?

To me, being able to laugh at yourself is a way of being able to forgive yourself for the silly mistakes that we make.Learning how to lighten up and find the silliness and joy in life can make such a huge change in your life. And if you can bring a little lightness to someone else’s life by some silly foible, consider it a good day and laugh along with.


Photo by Eugene Taylor on Unsplash