Laughing at Our Own Suffering (with Zach Zimmerman)
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Zach Zimmerman has a custom-made sweater to match their new book “Is It Hot in Here (Or Am I Suffering for All Eternity for the Sins I Committed on Earth)?” Yes, it’s a heck of a title, and just like the book, we unpack a lot together. Zach tells me about the best advice they got from their “burrito boss” and why their comedy is both “delightful and devastating.” I also do a teeny bit of trauma dumping. Just a teeny bit. We’re all working through something out here.
Please note, Funny Cuz It’s True contains mature themes and may not be appropriate for all listeners.
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Zach Zimmerman, Elyse Myers
Elyse Myers 00:15
Okay, actually, can you just pretend that you’re listening to a fully complete theme song here, I got really in my head. And I tried to make it perfect. And I couldn’t. So this is going to be the theme song right here Hello, and welcome to another episode of Funny Cuz It’s True. I’m Elyse Myers. Today’s guest is a name that you should write down because this person is someone you don’t want to miss. I’m talking about comedian, writer and artist Zach Zimmerman. They just came out with their first book, a collection of essays titled, is it hot in here? Or am I suffering for all eternity for the sins I committed on earth? Like their writing and comedy? Zach is candid, quick, dark and so sweet. I can’t wait for you to hear a conversation. So two things that are funny because they’re true. Number one, I know Zach just came out with their first book, but I think that I pitched them a solid second book idea if I do say so myself. And number two, we learned the power of the pizza coupon. All right, let’s get into it. Oh my gosh, Zach, can I just tell you really quick what the last five minutes of my life was like before we are gonna have this beautiful conversation.
Zach Zimmerman 01:24
What are you fighting off? I’m so intrigued.
Elyse Myers 01:27
So like, literally at 12 o’clock, and we’re supposed to talk, I hear the loudest lawnmower kind of rev up and I realized these people come in, like, help us with our lawn. And they started and just like we’re like swinging by. They’re like, well, I just have some time we just hit you know, hit Elyse’s house and like, amazing. So I go out there and I’m like, I’m so sorry. I need you to stop because I didn’t know how else to explain it. So I was like I just said I’m on TV because I didn’t know how to say like, I have a podcast and they I’m just screaming this over his lawnmower.
Zach Zimmerman 01:57
What a diva. Oh my god.
Elyse Myers 02:02
Like why was that the thing? Okay, so then right before that I had a quick snack. And I was like, because I’m pregnant. All they want is super spicy food like Carolina Reapers is what I’m, like really wanting. And I ate a piece of cheese that has like Carolina Reapers, like woven inside of it. And I didn’t wash my hands because then I went to go outside to tell the guy. So then it rubbed my face as they stopped. And I started like they started like burning and like moisture. And so now we’re here.
Zach Zimmerman 02:33
That belongs on TV. That story, I think, Oh my god, what a comedy of errors.
Elyse Myers 02:38
There’s no lawn mowers. We’re just here together. Um, okay. Anyways, Zach. Seriously, thank you so much. I am so excited to talk to you today. Thank you for making the time. And I wanted to start by saying I have noticed you have some incredible sweaters in your collection. And I want to know what the inspiration behind that is. Is that like a fluke? Are you just like you happen to have all these sweaters? Are you a sweater person? What’s the story?
Zach Zimmerman 03:02
Thank you for the compliment. I can’t take full credit. I did not make them. But I a couple years ago my friend David was like you might like this sweater that he had. And he pointed me on to this designer named Dos Jefes. It means like two bosses on Instagram. And he takes just like recycled, Hanes sweatshirts. They’re all like upcycled and his stitching filth onto them to create these like gorgeous, like sons and hearts and daisies. And so I bought one. And then I bought another. And then when I did when I went on James Corden show to do stand up for the first time on TV last year, I was like, Oh, wait, I should wear one of these. And then when my book came out, I was like, I wonder if he’d make one inspired by the cover. And so he did. And then I was like, What can I pay you? I feel like I need and he’s like, it’s on the house. And so now I have like, I know I have like a best friend. Designer. He’s so they’re all one of a kind. I even just got one. It’s a black. I’ll just describe it. It’s all black and the heart. The flowers are all black too. So there’s like these gorgeous flowers. Yeah. Which I think is like a fun. What I like is like my comedies kind of like a little delight, but also devastating sometimes. And so I like tricking people into like, Oh, we got Mr. Rogers up there and these beautiful sweaters. And then I’m like, life is meaningless.
Elyse Myers 04:23
So now I guess you have every single time you have a good event and a big event happening in your life. You have to then get better, I think, just kind of the thing forever now. And you’ll have like a closet like a capsule like wardrobe of just these sweaters, you know, a story behind all of them. And maybe one day you can make a book about just the sweaters. Honestly, one of my favorite things to do is come up with creative ideas for other people and they have to execute them and I can just have the idea. It’s like it’s the best part of the creative process. Okay, so for your book, you said that you got a new sweater for your book and I really want to hear about the book and the writing process and how it that has been, it is hot in here? That’s the name of the right?
Zach Zimmerman 05:00
that’s the first part. It’s so long, but it’s funny. It’s called Is it hot in here? Or am I suffering for all eternity for the sins I committed on earth?
Elyse Myers 05:13
Really light. Can you tell me the inspiration behind the title and then also the rest of the book?
Zach Zimmerman 05:19
The I knew I wanted to invoke hell, I grew up. My dad was a pastor, and I grew up in this very Evangelical Church. And getting out of that, and dealing with that religious trauma is like part of what informs my comedy. And so I knew I wanted to invoke hell.
Elyse Myers 05:32
The length of it is amazing. It’s like, the longer the title is, the more you’re like, now I have to explain it. And that’s like the best.
Zach Zimmerman 05:38
And I feel like it gives people like a gut punch. It’s very me. But now I’m like, second book is either going to be one word or long titles. I’m long title guy.
Elyse Myers 05:48
You should like make it the whole cover and then have it like have to wrap around the back, like, hey, so it’s like the, that’s really funny. Just gonna come back though, in the back where it’s like, you could have just made the type smaller, but you intentionally chose to just wrap it around three words.
Zach Zimmerman 06:01
It reminds me that the cover of how to be perfect by […] writer of greater of the good place the T on perfect is like cut off. And so it’s so funny and charming. And I shouldn’t be plugging it because it just came out as a paperback too. So we’re in direct competition with one another. But it’s such a fantastic book.
Elyse Myers 06:19
You know what, they can both be super successful. They’re both gonna be great bestsellers. What was it? What was it like writing that book? How long did it take you what, what is your I’m reading a book right now. And it’s like, it’s so new to me that I just want to know all the things about it.
Zach Zimmerman 06:34
They say your first book, you’ve been writing your whole life, some version of it. And so maybe that’s why there’s sometimes the best ones are the hardest to write. Because you’re mining like the stories you’ve told at dinner parties, or in my case, like via standup, or you’re probably like looking to your most viral TikToks. Like people want to hear the behind the scenes of that or go deeper into these themes. And so it can be kind of overwhelming to try to pick it all. But just write it all out. And you I imagine as a creative, you know, like getting into a play state is good for generating. And then getting into like, critical negative state is good for like the editing process. And so you will now hold both parts of your brain give yourself time to play on the page, have those ideas like and cut off the voice? That’s like, that’s dumb that won’t people won’t be able to read it. That’s such a terrible idea. At least why did yeah,
Elyse Myers 07:27
definitely talk? Yeah, no, that makes sense.
Zach Zimmerman 07:31
Do we have to say, I think everybody has some version of that, like negative talk track in their brain? Oh, yeah. Now I’m thinking of I’ve listened to a few episodes of how you cut off the talk and then talk about it.
Elyse Myers 07:45
Do you mean like this, right here?
Zach Zimmerman 07:49
I’m wondering if I’ve said anything so far, I’m afraid you’re gonna be like, Zach went too far.
Elyse Myers 07:55
Or never, never, if any, if I ever do the oh, it’s always. It’s always me, like spiraling with me. It’s never, it’s never like this person. It’s like, Oh, my God, Elyse, why did you say. It’s a very interesting medium of being able to correct yourself in real time while listening back to the conversation you’ve had. It makes me hear myself differently. And it’s like, I’m curious with when you when you write? Do you go through a story? And you write it out? And then do you read it as somebody else? And you’re like seeing it differently when you write like, what is that process like for you, when you’re getting your stories down on paper?
Zach Zimmerman 08:31
You have to take a step away. The trick is if you can treat your own writing as if you’re reading it for the first time, and you didn’t know what’s behind the scenes or what you were thinking. So if you can literally come to it with fresh eyes. So I find I have to like take a break. And sometimes that’s a day, sometimes that’s a week, sometimes that’s a month, and try to treat it as like, Oh, I see what you were trying to do there. People have done it before, but it’s all hacking your own brain. And if you know your mind, like, Oh, I’m being too hard on myself. The other thing is sometimes like sentences or ideas will just come to you in full, fully formed. And so then you just have to have a life where you’re able to be like, Oh my god, I have to write that now. Like I’m clicked into the zeitgeist or the creative force. I used to work in advertising. And the head of voice for Chipotle told me this. It was so funny. It was basically I think it’s like some sort of postmodern thing. We are just vessels for creative ideas. So the idea doesn’t come from you. You it’s not your idea. You’re just like a vessel for Oh, my God, at least is writing it down.
Elyse Myers 09:42
No, I was like, actually writing it down in my notebook.
Zach Zimmerman 09:46
So it’s about getting in tune with the zeitgeist like ideas are just flowing in the ether. And so it removes the ego from writing about like, I have to be a good writer, I have to make this perfect thing. And this was all being told to me You buy like a burrito boss.
Elyse Myers 10:05
Ooh, that’s another good book title, burrito boss. And with that it is time for a break. When we come back, Zach tells me more about their work life before comedy. With your experience, how long did you work in a job where you were able to just get advice from somebody that was like the leader of Chipotle? Because how does that? How did you get from there to here?
Zach Zimmerman 10:41
Oh, my life is taken twists and turns. Once I graduated college, I had to have a day job. And so I got into our first worked and LGBT community center. And then I got into advertising like text message marketing. And then I kind of lost my way a little while I was like, oh, if I don’t care about this job, let me try to make as much money as possible while doing it. And it did help me have like a little nest egg to take this leap into a creative life over the past like five years.
Elyse Myers 11:08
How long did you do that job before you ended up taking the leap? Were you doing stand-up at the same time? You said you were kind of transitioning like that?
Zach Zimmerman 11:16
Seven years. Yeah, burning the candle at both ends, just leaving going to stand up in the evenings.
Elyse Myers 11:21
What was that like? To be in that, like two totally different worlds at the same time?
Zach Zimmerman 11:27
Oh, it was a very unhealthy I think, because I wasn’t bringing my full self to work at all I like was very by the book. I’m not showing you who I am. I’m not funny at work. I’m a boss. And then I got to be who I was via standup I think other people are more successfully able to like kind of be fuller versions of themselves. My therapist says we’re only like, 20% of ourselves at work anyway. So to me, it was very like, just a job. And it just got Yeah, I just had a reckoning with myself. After I moved to New York. I was getting like enough signals from the universe. So like, hey, maybe you should stop doing it like, Yeah, I think just getting older and burning the candle at both ends, you get a little tired.
Elyse Myers 12:10
What was the signal like when you were trying to figure out whether to make that leap, like, teeny remember one signal we were like, that was it. This is my time.
Zach Zimmerman 12:19
I think when I was like taking a trip to LA for maybe the first or second time just to do some, like 10 minutes spots and like reconnect with some old friends. And I got like an email that my first like humor piece was gonna be on new yorker.com. And I was like, it’s a goal I’d had for a while I’ve been pitching and submitting forever. And I was like, and it’s not like, I could quit my job. It’s not like that was rent or anything, but it was like a little hint like, hey, you are funny. And like you’re doing the thing it sort of I think the universe like whispers at you and eventually like yells Yeah, but you have to just like quiet all the other stuff to hear like, now, that’s your purpose. Yeah, stop you. It’s gonna suck for a couple years while you’re figuring it out. But get out of there, Zach, jump.
Elyse Myers 13:05
Was there something you had in mind when you said like, I want to make this jump? Or were you like, I don’t know what I’m going to I just know, I want it to be creative.
Zach Zimmerman 13:13
Oh, great question. I think I think I mean, standup was definitely like exciting and interesting to me, because I was starting to process my life. Like, I’ve never been quite drawn to fiction that much. Except maybe, maybe more recently, but I knew I wanted to like process my story. My parents and sort of growing up and not figuring out who I was till college that felt like something I liked talking about and stand up and that resonated with audiences. And so that helped me figure out who I am, I guess
Elyse Myers 13:46
I’m really curious like, what your background actually is and what that kind of story looks like because it sounds a little similar to my life and I’m like, I need to know all about it. So I can just like jump dump on my trauma on you. Tramadol please take me through that I would I would really, really love to hear kind of that story.
Zach Zimmerman 14:07
Come with me at least Southern Virginia, a beautiful town called Roanoke surrounded by beautiful mountains, which made it hard to get out of and there, Patti and Frank fell in love a server and a pastor gave birth to four kids who they told about eternity they told about salvation. They told about the one true Savior Jesus Christ and little Zach prayed those that prayed his little heart out to Jesus Christ to save him. But Jesus Christ didn’t say anything back. And Zach thought he was going to hell for very long time and then got to college and realize there is no hell man that life and that life is actually hill. But that’s the bedrock of it all these like very well meaning, zealous evangelical couple who made a little cold out of their family, and we still stay in touch. Now I feel like that’s the challenge of my life is sort of learning to navigate our relationship with one another as like adults. And we started to see them as like, broken, fallible people. Were just doing the best that they could. But that’s sort of the, the growing up the foundation.
Elyse Myers 15:29
Yeah. How, what was that like? Because I’m assuming that when you were writing your book, you had the process a lot about your life and your upbringing and all of it, you know, like, what was that journey like for you? And do you feel like it was helpful in that, like healing and processing journey?
Zach Zimmerman 15:51
I think healing is a great word. There’s at least one essay in the book where I’m like, Oh, I got some demons out of me onto the page. Like I captured something I went through, and now it’s like, preserved, there’s a lot, I feel lucky to get to process my life in this way. That’s what artists do, I guess. And that’s what’s so sad. I think about people being cut off from art or not expressing themselves at all. I just sent my data Bob Ross painting kit. And he’s taken to it. Like this is a 65 year old man who’s never done a creative thing in his life. Used to be a pastor. So he’s like a performer by nature. And he’s a goofball. But now he’s like, tearing up the canvas with these like, pretty damn good, like landscapes, and he loves it. And he’s learning. Think about himself and his own relationship to creativity. Wow. And so yeah, I wish everyone could be more creative all the damn time and go make bad art and good art. And don’t be afraid to like, process your life for other people. Because we’re all going through this like, chaotic, painful, joyful thing.
Elyse Myers 17:03
Okay, time for another quick break. When we come back, Zach, and I talk about our experiences with religion.
Zach Zimmerman 17:23
You had a religious upbringing, or?
Elyse Myers 17:26
Yeah, I actually I grew up in California. And so I, I moved to the Midwest, and the religious part of my life happened later. So I didn’t really grow up religious, but ended up accidentally going to a ministry school thinking it was a music school. In Australia, I went for a guy. And I really, really wanted this dude to, like, love me. And he didn’t, he thought it was fine. And I was like, You know what, we’ll put them over the edge if I go to the same school he went to. And it turned out to be this ministry school. And I ended up being there for three years because I was so hell bent on like, not admitting I made a mistake, and ended up you know, it’s very confusing, and it’s very, like, attractive sometimes, like, religion and church, and you make us community. And I felt like I, for the first time was, like, accepted, and it was like this. I really didn’t know kind of what was wrong and right, and it just felt sometimes really good. And I was like, Okay, this is good. And right. And then I ended up, you know, do it staying for three years and feeling like, well, if I don’t use this, then I kind of wasted that three years. So then I went back to the States, and I tried to get a job in a church. And turns out that’s a wild concept in the states like for a woman to lead other men? That’s like, a no, no, a huge no, no, it’s like, no, you can’t do that. And so that was really hard. And then that started a lot of questions of like, I know, I’m really good at things that I do. And I don’t understand why anyone would want me to not do that job because of who I am. And it started a big conversation that I ended up leaving the church. My husband was a pastor and left the church and we have just been on this huge journey of like, what is real and what isn’t? And like, what did I do because I just wanted to be loved and accepted and what did I do because I really believed it and those are very hard lines to find and like so it’s been it’s been a big journey and so I honestly all that to say like, listening to your story is I relate so deeply and I think that with your book you have processed and moved so much further than to the point where I am not at that point yet where you feel comfortable and you are like confident in what you believe and you can talk about it and I’m just like, sitting here reading your story and like hearing you I’m like I’m jealous. I just I felt this like overwhelming sense of like jealousy that like you are sure of yourself. And that is a very, very powerful thing. And it’s powerful for other people to experience of you. Because people need to be around more people that are sure of themselves unsure of what they believe, and have gone through the work of processing what they believe and really have, like, confidence in where they stand with it. And I am, I am just proud of you and jealous. And I want to know, how did you how did you get there? How did you get to that point of being confident in what you believe?
Zach Zimmerman 20:29
This is hilarious to hear as someone just plagued with self-doubt every step of the way.
Elyse Myers 20:36
I guess that’s the nature of it.
Zach Zimmerman 20:38
Maybe, maybe it’s just since I did a little tour from the book just coming out. And so I’ve been like, flooded with adrenaline and like, had to perform every night. And I think live performance like puts you in the moment and makes you demands you sort of be confident, even had someone give a talk back with me. And they’re like, you’re so confident on stage. But like the voice in the book is like, shy and unsure of itself, not just like the character. And so I do think I have a gift I’ll give you that was given to me is that writing is thinking, like, it doesn’t have to be like you can process this all through writing and get to that, like place your story. I love the idea that you just thought it was a music school and you’re hearing like, oh, these songs sound great. And then you get there and you’re like, oh, we’re singing to somebody.
Elyse Myers 21:29
Zach was denial that I went through when I flew across the world. There’s so much of that season that was so precious to me that I would never redo. There’s also so much that I would redo in a heartbeat. And I know everyone’s like, don’t live with regret. And I’m just like, I have so many regrets. I can’t even tell you how many regrets I have. But I met my husband there and that I am. It’s like I couldn’t imagine, you know my life without him. And I’m so grateful. It’s a whole book in itself that story, but bring it back to you. It’s really I’m really curious. Like, for me, it’s hard to share my story, knowing that there are so many people in my life that love me that are very still in it. And I’m curious how you feel sharing your story with religion, and all of that, that you’ve gone through with people that probably are still in it. Like, actively right now.
Zach Zimmerman 22:17
I definitely never want to cause them harm. But I do sort of own like my story and my need to tell it and I tried to tell them like, Hey, you are a person, but you’re also a character in my life. So it’s like on the page. It’s Zach’s experience of mom. And I told her that as like, I sent her a copy. Definitely let her like read it. She said she skimmed it. In hindsight, I could have redacted like the threesome chapter or the like sauna hookup chapter like so. Maybe I demand too much acceptance from her sometimes. But I think what’s lucky about? I’d written a couple pieces before that she was in and we actually got closer through the writing process. Like I wanted to write a piece that was called I Love My homophobic mom the way like people at Pride parades have like, I love my gay kid signs. And she’s like, I’m not homophobic. And so I got out a dictionary, we read the definition. We had like this debate. And I realized like, oh, that that word for whatever is hurting her, even though some of her beliefs are like textbook homophobia. And so as an act of love, I don’t have to have that as the headline. It’s also I took David Sedaris masterclass. And he says like you can never like predict what’s going to bother someone. And so he does, like share his pieces with family members to sort of get their response. And like, if it’s he listens to what they say, so like, oh, maybe me using this adjective, like rub someone the wrong way, or they got really sensitive about XYZ. So I think sharing a draft or giving people like a heads up that they’re going to be in a story. My ex, the one I was with for three years and who left me or we broke up on literally on the plane back from Paris.
Elyse Myers 24:07
In person, you guys were like in together. On a plane, like a 10 hour, 11 hour plane ride?
Zach Zimmerman 24:14
Yeah. And it was like an hour in.
Elyse Myers 24:16
I think I would die. Or at least spend the remaining of the flight in the bathroom. I just I don’t think there’s a world in which I would be able to like, sit in that seat.
Zach Zimmerman 24:26
I found out he had cheated on the trip. Because he deleted a text message and he said it was a pizza coupon. And I knew that the pizza coupons came out on Fridays and it was only Wednesday. So I was like who are you actually texting?
Elyse Myers 24:41
The way that you like caught him because of a pizza coupon and you know the schedule of when the pizza coupon comes out is the coolest and craziest thing I’ve ever heard. Like, you were just like, that’s not the truth. I know when my pizza coupons come out, sir.
Zach Zimmerman 24:56
Exactly. We’re kids of the clearance rack. We know. So I caught him. But then we stayed together. But then we broke up on the plane ride back. But all of which is to say that essay in the book, he and I have stayed in touch. I offered to change his name. And he’s like, No, keep it in. And then one of my, I think more people heard about the book from this he like posted literally yesterday. He’s like, It’s not every day your ex publishes a unflattering story about you. Congrats on your book, Zach. And he tagged me in it. And I put it on Twitter and like the internet is like, ooh, we loved.
Elyse Myers 25:36
I love that. And also the fact that he was like, No, don’t change. My name is pretty wild. He’s just like, I’m, I’m comfortable with this.
Zach Zimmerman 25:46
I feel like I was a child. I feel like he was a child. But I give I have nothing but good feelings for him. I’m too empathetic to people even if they’ve like wronged me sometimes. But I think that’s all you can give them is love. And I wish I wish him the best. And Lamont who wrote Bird by Bird says something like you own your stories tell them if people wanted to be righted more warmly about they should have behaved better. So that sort of permission to grind the axe.
Elyse Myers 26:18
I can’t even tell you how much I relate to this right now. There’s just so many stories I tell that end up getting put through the wringer by strangers, because it’s like, you know, your story has consequences. And I’m like, you’re talking to me about consequences. I’m telling you the story about somebody’s horrible actions on my life and the consequences that gave me like I am living in those consequences. You want to talk to me about consequences. Like, I don’t share these things. Because it’s, I just want to like, talk about things that have been horrible in my life, like a lot of the things I share are within a message of something so much greater. That is like, I accepted this kind of love for so long. And I you know, was I deserve so much more than that. And now I can see that because of all of the 10 years that I chased somebody all the way to Australia that literally didn’t even text me back for nine months. Once he found out I was there like things like that. Like it’s, you share these things, because they are your story and they do make you who you are. And also totally unrelated with this Twitter drama, I want to know if you like drama. Do I like drama? That’s exactly where my brain went. And there was no transition in that question. I just wanted to know.
Zach Zimmerman 27:27
I mean, aren’t we all messy bitches who live for drama at the end of the day? Sort of. No, I genuinely like everyone to get along. That’s what’s so ironic. Like I feel like a peacemaker. Even with like, friends who don’t like each other. I’m like, let’s all get looking at you all. It’s my birthday. Can’t we all? Like I genuinely want there to be like, yeah, but at the same time, like, I guess it was a little saucy of me to like, bear our dirty laundry. But to your point, it’s within the service of some bigger insight, like we’ve been through some shit we’ve suffered. Because you suffer, you sort of get a glimpse of the meaning of life or the meaning of things. And then you hopefully find that little insight and bring it back to people. And also as comedians, we don’t. People don’t want to hear about us winning. They want to hear us suffering. Like it’s funny in DC, I ended the show, and the books didn’t show up. There were no books to sell after the book show. And I’m like, this sucks. But also, how funny like the one reason I’ve gone to this city. Like it’s if you can laugh at your own suffering like that. Those are the keys to the kingdom like you get life then if something awful happens and you can instantly like laugh about it process it sure but if you’re like, okay, next thing universe, what else you got for me?
Elyse Myers 28:52
Is that why is that why you explain your comedy is like funny, but also like, the little trap like tragic, like are the like, what are the two words that you use to hold your comedy in?
Zach Zimmerman 29:02
Oh, delight and devastation.
Elyse Myers 29:06
Yes. Yes. Yes. Is that Is that your favorite part about like storytelling is that you can include both of those and kind of pull up them at the same time?
Zach Zimmerman 29:13
I think so you put people’s guards down, like, Hey, we’re gonna have some fun, but there’s a darkness to life and then you go back to the fun but that darkness is here. Hello, we’re all having a good time.
Elyse Myers 29:25
It’s your life.
Zach Zimmerman 29:29
The visual I have, I don’t know if it’s helpful to anyone or if it makes any sense. But if I just see this like, white page of light, and then in the middle of it, there’s just this dark black gash and the black like, makes the light lighter. It has to be there. It can’t just be pure joy all the time. life can’t be just like this beautiful white light. It has to there has to be acknowledgment of like the dark twisted side of things.
Elyse Myers 29:56
Do you think comedy helps you kind of see those better? and kind of be okay with those is It is commonly kind of your way of processing it because for me it is I’m like, I if I can make it funny, I’ve healed. Like if I can’t make it funny, then it’s not I’m not through I’m not past it.
Zach Zimmerman 30:11
Oh 100% Yeah, if you can laugh about the thing. Now you understand its role you understand your own and significance, you understand something better about the world, then you’re ready to like, talk about it.
Elyse Myers 30:25
That’s like the point of this podcast. Funny Cuz It’s True is literally just like, I don’t know, sometimes it’s really not funny. It’s just funny because it actually happened. That’s really all I can get to at that point.
Zach Zimmerman 30:34
And we’re the truth tellers. The artists. We have to, like, say the big, big truth. And we get to, like most people have to live their lives like not telling their boss, you’re a bad boss. But I get to write an essay in a book where I’m like, You’re a bad boss. I changed her name. But she was so bad at her job.
Elyse Myers 30:55
She was the worst. I don’t even know where and I just know, she’s the worst.
Zach Zimmerman 30:58
You know her that’s the thing we all know. We all know. It’s universal. It’s specific.
Elyse Myers 31:05
Do you feel like you’re in charge of your career? As a comedian? Do you feel like you’re at the front? And like driving the car? Or do you feel like it’s still happening to you? And you’re kind of just reacting?
Zach Zimmerman 31:14
It’s I’m like, in the back. I’m like, halfway into the driver’s seat. It’s very dangerous with precarious I should be in a seatbelt. But I’m like starting to realize like, oh, wait, I am driving. And I think I was thinking about this. Like in my pre podcast shower. And I realized, for so long, I was doing other people’s assignments. through school, I loved my straight A’s, I loved my quizzes, I did everything the teacher needed me to do, got into the good school got the good grades, they’re like, please the teacher. And what happens when you shift to that artists life is like, there’s no one giving you assignments and telling you what is right and wrong. What is success, what’s not success? What should you focus on, you have to start to get in touch with like, that little desire inside that little gut check that tells you like, no, I shouldn’t have done that. Or like, No, I wanted to say yes to this project, but not to that project. And so there’s a tension. The other book you should read is the artists way, if you haven’t done it, you probably already did it, though. Yeah. Like it makes you start to realize this tension between power and surrender, like you have power to control certain things, I am controlling the words that I say right now. But you have to surrender to how people will perceive those words, like, what is in store for you. And there’s fear in that. But there’s also beauty. If you knew everything that was going to happen for the rest of your entire life, you’d be a very bored God. Like there’s some excitement to not knowing. Plus, like the technologies are changing so rapidly in five years, there might be a new way to make people laugh or a new way to like mine insight for life. And so you can’t be too attached to like, very specific goals or what you want a career to look like, especially being alive now. There might be a crisis, you need to answer that we may need to all rally, but get in the bunker, everybody now Elyse is going to make us laugh.
Elyse Myers 33:11
I will. So when I and I will not take any more time I swear I just want to with this end with this. But like, when I was in web development, it was so clear, I was running my business. I was the only person it was just me. And I was working with other companies and making websites, right. Like, I was very good at my job. And I felt good at my job. And it’s like, the only time in my life where I was like, I feel like I’m killing it. Like, I feel like I actually know what I’m doing. And I’m good at it. And I want to do this forever. And then I transitioned to comedy, because it went well. And it made more sense to do that than it did to stay in here. And it let me be with my family more and all of that. And it was like, I went from knowing exactly what I was doing. And being in the driver’s seat to like not even being in the car and like feeling like it was like chasing the car, like and I was behind it and like that, and that’s on me because I didn’t know and I was asking everybody else’s opinion, and asking everybody else to bring opportunity to me so I could then respond to it. And it’s just it’s felt like this specific year like I have felt so challenged to get in the driver’s seat, like get in the fucking car and sit in the driver’s seat and be like, This is what I want this career to look like because it is such a beautiful and like huge gift to be able to literally make people laugh for my job. And if I don’t enjoy every single second of it, what is the point? Like why am I doing this? And like and so I just wanted to ask you like, if you feel like you’re in the driver’s seat because I’m just in this like slow awakening of like, how do I get into the driver’s seat and how do I make decisions for myself and feel confident in them and know that like if anyone has an issue with it on my team or in this I’m not in any of my team listening? I’m not talking to you I’m just like talking metaphorically to myself. Like I love all of you. Like it’s just I want at the end of the day to be like I lead this thing and so it sounds like you were both on that journey. Doing that together. It’s like, it’s hard as a comedian, or just in general like owning your business. It’s hard. But I’m curious in the comedy world.
Zach Zimmerman 35:10
Oh 100%, the push our metaphor even further, you realize when you’re driving a car, you can sometimes look at other people’s cars and see where they’re going. And yeah, there’ll be like, a little bit of like jealousy or these like socially constructed ideas of what it should look like, where you should be driving to, but like, you might want to go to Orlando and other people, your team wants you to go to Mars, or like, your audience wants you go to the moon, that balance, taking care of yourself through it all. Wait, there was something else with our beautiful metaphor of this high speed railway of us all driving self-driving cars were like trying to jump in the driver’s seat and make sense of it all. That’s such a rich image. Hopefully, yeah, hopefully, nobody crashes. Hopefully there’s no crash. And,
Elyse Myers 36:00
You know, that’s me just trying to avoid crashing and burning every single day. It sounds funny, but I really do. I really do say like, I want to be doing this for the next 40 years, I want to be on my literal deathbed. Like, still being like, I’m never gonna do stand up. And then like someone giving me a mic at like, 80. Right. And I want to be doing it for the long haul. And it means like, I have got to pace myself and I have got to figure out how to say yes, to the right things, and no to the right things and, and not feel like I have to explain myself every single time. someone’s like, why don’t you want to do this, it’s like, because I really want to be home for dinner tonight, guys. Because I want to be doing this and I want to give you a job in 20 years. And I want to also have like 30 more people on this team that are like loving their life and love the company they work for which is my company and like in comedy specifically, I’m like, why the fuck would we not have the best time like and also like, enjoy every decision that we say yes to and not feel bad about the ones we say no to? And I could do this for the whole day. So I won’t know. I know you have a day.
Zach Zimmerman 37:07
You sound like you’d be a joy to work with. I think you’re killing it. You’re killing it more than you might realize. And I think learning to be that business owner is like yes, the next the next phase of things orderly it’s exciting and scary but I can’t imagine you’re not going to meet it with grace and with enjoy and as Frank Sinatra says you’re going to do it your way. Like that’s everybody else’s drive. Your car’s going into outer space. Yeah. Do this your way
Elyse Myers 37:36
where it’s going right into outer space. Well, I can’t think of anything better than that on because just a Frank Sinatra quote. Of course, obviously, Zach, it was so good to meet you. Thank you seriously so much for being on this podcast. And I love it. We know each other. I want to connect all of the time outside of this so much.
Zach Zimmerman 37:53
Please keep up the great work. Keep writing. You’re doing great.
Elyse Myers 37:56
Thank you so much.
All right, that’s it for my conversation with Zach Zimmerman. Please go and pick up a copy of their book titled Is it hot in here? Or am I suffering for all eternity for the sins I committed on Earth? Wherever you get your books. And if you liked this show, make sure to go and give us a rating and a review. It helps other people find us all right. Thank you so much. We’ll be back next week, bye. There’s more Funny Cuz It’s True with Lemonada Premium, get access to all of Lemonada’s premium content, including a very special episode this week where I asked my five questions to my husband Jonas Myers. That’s coming out this Friday. Subscribe now in Apple podcasts. Funny Cuz It’s True is a Lemonada Media and Powderkeg production. The show is produced by Claire Jones, Zoe Dennis and […], our associate producer is Tiffany Buoy. Rachel Neil is our senior director of new content and our VP of weekly production is Steve Nelson. Executive Producers are Stephanie Wittels Wachs, Jessica Cordova Kramer, Paul Feig, Laura Fisher, […] and me Elyse Myers. The show is mixed by Brian Castillo and Johnny Evans. Our theme song music was written by me and scored by Xander Singh.