Hey Reddit. Doing this from Just For Laughs in Montreal. I have a live edition of my podcast tomorrow morning with the President of Original Programming at Comedy Central, Kent Alterman. If you're in Montreal, come on out.

Who I am

Industry Standard Podcast

Update 1: Getting a lot of Chappelle questions. Here's my podcast with Chappelle's Show co-creator Neil Brennan that probably has what you're looking for in terms of stories.

Update 2: Barry got some of that sleep stuff around 4am, but he's back up and ready to answer any more questions you might have.


Comments: 240 • Responses: 72  • Date: 

naughtymom4051 karma

Barry this is your soon to be ex-wife speaking. Having lived with you for 14 plus years, the vast majority of them blissfully happy, I honestly want to know how you keep up such a positive attitude? I know for a fact that the positivity is not a front- your ability to let go of shit and move on, as well as your passion for artists, is truly awe-inspiring. Where does the wellspring of positivity come from? Your balls? (I'm kidding) but really do you think that is just your nature or how you were raised or something you came to understand because of specific life experiences? I have logged more hours than any human on self-improvement and still fight negativity daily... How do you stay positive in the face of all obstacles?

BarryKatz50 karma

Firstly, this clearly is an unexpected source of a question by someone who I love, cherish and revere (smiling from ear to ear). That being said, ever since my dad passed away and I had to witness my mother suffer through my childhood years all I ever wanted to do was stay positive for her and be a beacon of light knowing that she buried two husbands, I guess I figured, what do I have to complain about when she's suffered so much. Then I went on to work at camps for disabled kids and adults and I saw so many young men and women who were dying but were more positive than most of the counsellors. I realized that I had a choice, I could be negative and lose my way like most of the people that I saw in my journey, or I could stay positive and hopefully make an impact on those who were wavering. I wish everyone could feel positive about what's happening in their lives and hopefully through the podcast I can reach as many people as possible to share the stories of my guests that prove that you can overcome anything and have a meaningful and positive life. But, to answer your question, in a concise manner… my balls

cvillemade38 karma

What's your best Dave Chappelle story?

BarryKatz227 karma

I have so many Dave Chappelle stories that they could fill a book longer than Atlas Shrugged. One of my favourite stories since we're live here at the Montreal Just For Laughs Festival (Shameless Plug)… is after he did the festival for the first time there was a huge amount of interest in him to sign with an agency that was bigger than where he was at. I remember we took a meeting at UTA (United Talent Agency) who at the time repped Ben Stiller, Jim Carrey, Jack Black and some of the greatest comedy minds of my generation. We go into the conference room and it's a huge marble table the size of Road Island. There are agents with suits and shirts with white ties that you'll never see again as long as you live after the meeting. Some of the most beautiful assistants in the world with the high heels and the short skirts delivering food of all kinds, it was like a Medieval Manor and we're sitting at the end of the table and these beautiful assistants were delivering cookies and popcorn and sandwiches, fruit platters, soda, veggie platters. And you know here Dave and I were sitting at the end of the table, and I"m relatively new to the business, and I'm sitting next to a teenager who wakes up at the crack of 2pm and smokes a bag of weed a day who's a genius. But as more and more agents filed in and the meeting came closer to starting, Dave became more and more anxious, staring at the food in front of him, looking back at me, looking out at what seemed like over 50 agents dressed in the attire of a cocktail party from the 60's and finally the meeting's about to start and Dave stares at the food again, looks at me, stares back at the food, back at me… and right before the meeting starts he leans over and whispers to me

"Barry man… you think they know I'm high?"

StormyJMaster19 karma

Any funny stories about Louis CK you can recall?

BarryKatz50 karma

Louis CK was the first client I ever managed in my life. And I met him when he was a teenager doing stand up in Boston. And the funniest story I can tell you involving Louis CK, but it wasn't a funny story for me… was when I got to New York City and he started coming with me and got an apartment there. My first car I ever owned was a 67 Chevy Camero and I'd restored and I loved it and when I got to New York I kept it there and garaged it, and I remember I was going back to Boston for a week and Louis asked me if he could borrow my car for the week and I told him no problem. In New York you don't really use a car all that much so there would be times you didn't use a car for 2 months. So I came back from Boston and a couple months and I asked Louis where the car was because I went to the garage and it wasn't there… and he put his head down and put his hands over his eyes, making noises and he says "Barry, you know I really love Sarah Silver, she's so wonderful and beautiful and nice… and she, uh, I just uh, she needed a car and I lent her your car."

So I said "No worries, just tell me where it is."

and he says: "Barry, I don't how to tell you this, but… sigh… the car got towed, and she was afraid to tell me, and by the time she did I went to the tow yard and in New York after 30 days they just sell your car… so, your car got towed and it was sold and it's gone forever."

and then I did an impression of Louis, and I took my hand up to my eyes and made noises not found in nature… but you can never get mad at Louis CK or Sarah Silverman. I just put my head back up and walked off into the distance

PaladinSato11 karma

Has he ever replaced it monetarily or sentiment-arily?

BarryKatz95 karma

No he never has, but that's only because I never wanted him to when he offered it. Louis is a very very special man and long ago when I was in a very dark depression, after my wife passed away in Boston at the age of 23, he invited me to his house on Christmas and when I told him that I couldn't get out of bed to come, he called me every 30 minutes until I picked up the phone and he told me to get my ass out of bed and get in that red 67 Camero and drive over to his house. And for some reason, those calls finally got to me, and his family treated me better or equal to anyone in the family there that night. Had presents for me, a seat at the table, and treated me like a million bucks. I'll never forget that night as long as I live. And it showed me early on what kind of a person Louis CK was then and what he would become later. An extraordinary person, and artist.

MrSwearword13 karma

What are the offstage personas like of the clients you mentioned?

BarryKatz27 karma

I think a lot of the time the thing you realize about comedians is their offstage persona is nowhere near their onstage persona… so very few comedians are like they are onstage. Of the ones mentioned, Tracey Morgan is the closest to who he is in real life, that's what makes him great. He plays a lot of his characters from himself while the others are more grounded personally and just regular people.

Moh712 karma

Ever meet Patrice oneal or hear any stories about him?

BarryKatz16 karma

I knew Patrice O'Neal very very well. He actually wasn't called Patrice O'Neal, his name was Bruiser O'Neal, and he was in Boston. That's where I met him. He was one of a new breed of comics coming up as I left for New York. He was definitely one of the kinds of people that I spoke of in my last question. I knew that Patrice was the kind of person that might not be long for this world, but I didn't know how or why. I always loved talking to him and I always loved laughing with him. But I wish he had taken better care of himself, and been less self-destructive in his business life. I still don't really know the mysterious circumstances surrounding his death, but regardless it's a tragedy that stays with me.

obamasballs12 karma

How difficult was it managing Dave Chapelle?

BarryKatz47 karma

Dave Chappelle was and is a genius, and if ever in your life you can figure out a way to work with anyone in any profession who's a genius you have to do it. I was fortunate enough where I had the opportunity to do it, and it was a symbiotic relationship from the beginning when he was a teenager. I never had a cross word with Dave. He never lost his temper with me, and he was always an amazing, amazing gentleman, and it was an honour to work with him. I love Dave Chappelle

Century-310 karma

What do you think of Anthony Cumia's firing from SiriusXM?

BarryKatz21 karma

I'm gonna have Jim Norton on my podcast while we're here in Montreal actually… I was there, and one of Jim Norton's managers when he started Opie and Anthony, and I remember the paltry amount of money they offered him, but I remember the importance that I placed on having an artist's voice heard from a larger audience. If you're an artist and you can get more eyeballs or ears hearing you and you're doing the right thing your star will always rise. Consequently, there's an old expression: "it's harder staying there, than getting there." And when you can reach a level that Anthony was at in radio it's rarified air, and it takes a lot to be able to stay on top. And the one thing most people need to realize is they need to get out of their own way. And yes, what happened to Anthony was horrible, the experience he had was horrible, how he felt about it was real, why he shared it with millions of people in his own voice while he was still in a rage, knowing what he knows about the business and how social media can take you down is a mystery to me. You're working for somebody who writes your cheques. Never write a Facebook post, a tweet, or get on a talk show and say anything you wouldn't say in front of the queen. If you do, prepare for the worst, because it will come swiftly and forcefully.

411197510 karma

If you could have learned one lesson 20 years earlier, which one would it have been?

BarryKatz27 karma

I think the greatest lesson that people wish they had learned 20 years earlier and still have trouble learning to this day (see: Anthony Cumia or Jason Biggs) is the ability to stop yourself from saying that extra thing that's going to hurt you. The ability to get out of your own way, the ability to not complicate winning. And unfortunately most people don't learn those lessons early on, and when they get older they lose their way and create situations for themselves that change their lives forever in the wrong direction.

cookinbpacks9 karma

How did your career path lead you to where you are now? Did you attend a four year university? If so, what was your area of study? Thanks!

BarryKatz16 karma

I actually specialized in working with disabled kids and adults and I went to camps. One was Camp Allen in Bedford New Hampshire which ironically two household name comedians grew up there while I worked there, Adam Sandler and Sarah Silverman, and I became like a phenom working with all kinds of disabilities: Blind, Cerebral Palsy, Muscular Distrophy, and I used to put on shows for them, and organize all these comedy shows and sketch shows. And that's probably one of the places where I really felt good about what I was doing. I went to Boston University, got into Sergeant College and when I got there it was kind of very non-challenging because I had worked for 4-5 years with these populations, so college was only great for the social experience, and going to comedy clubs and starting to do stand up in Boston.

jd1959 karma

Barry, first off, thank you for all the work you put into the podcast. I've been a fan of your interviews since the first Mohr Stories and Industry Standard is always a great combination of entertainment and advice. I'm not, and most likely never will be in the entertainment industry, but I feel like I come away from listening to every podcast better for it.

For my question, on the last Mohr Stories, you mentioned the time where Jay ignored your advice to go back for the chemistry read and have previously told of the decisions that resulted in "Buddies" and the fallout from that. I can't remember if this was discussed on your podcast, but what's your favorite story where the opposite happened...when a client or friend would look back and realize that they would not have had their "holy shit moment" if you hadn't been undeniable (sorry...couldn't resist) and convinced them to take your advice?

Thank you again.

BarryKatz22 karma

Thank you so much for those nice words. There are so many of these that I don't think I can count them, but as an homage to Tracey Morgan who is recovering from a traumatic auto accident, I'll tell you that probably one of my greatest moments turning a no into a yes was with him on SNL. To preface this story I just want to let you know that the Saturday Night Live team to me are some of the most gifted, visionary, producers in the history of television. Lorne Michaels and his team around him (at the time it was Marci Klein and still is… Michael Shoemaker who now runs Fallon, Steve Higgins who's the sidekick on Fallon) and it continues today with a whole new breed like Lindsay Shookus, but occasionally when you're putting showcases together you just have to go with what's in front of you, and sometimes the evidence of what someone like myself sees after hours and hours of seeing an artist and what they see after just looking at a 5 minute video makes it very difficult to make every decision one that is going to make an impact on your show. There was a year about 15 or 20 years ago where I had 7 people testing for SNL out of 16 and it occurred at the comic strip in New York, and the day of the test I got a call from Marci Klein letting me know that she appreciated everything I'd done, and it was amazing, but that Lorne felt there was too many people on the show and they wanted to cut it down to 15 and they had determined there was one person who had the least chance of getting Saturday Night Live based on the video, and that she was going to remove him from the show. And I said "Who's that?" and she said "Tracey Morgan" and I don't' wanna go into the full details but I've told it on my podcast a couple times, but I didn't tell Tracey, and all day long I faxed, messengered, called to try and turn the no into a yes, and finally about 2 hours before the show they reversed their decision. And out of that test, that group of testers for SNL, only one person got the show… and that was Tracey Morgan. And I always think about that when somebody says no to me, and I know in my heart that if I really believe in something I can turn anything around and that's why I have so much respect for Lorne Michaels and Marci Klein is that it's easy to make a decision, it's easy to cut somebody from a show, but it's very difficult to go out on a limb and reverse your decision. That's the true characteristic of a great, great leader, and that decision that they made, combined with my tenacity, has changed Tracey Morgan's life and has brought hours and hours and hours of amazing entertainment to millions of people and I owe a lot of that to Lorne and Marci for making that gutsy decision to listen to me fighting and also listening to and trusting their instincts about reversing that decision. I'll always be grateful to them for that and it's a big watershed moment in my career.

jellopez119 karma

Have you ever worked with Marc Maron or listened to his podcast? If so, what do you think of him/it?

BarryKatz8 karma

Let me just start by saying that I love his podcast, and I think Marc is a really really special artist in our world. An original force that will never be duplicated.

He actually just did my podcast recently

In it, he talks candidly about our relationship and my influence on his career. Honestly I was truly blown away by what he had to say, because I guess sometimes you block things out of your memory and he shared with me how I gave him his first stand up comedy stage time, his first paid gigs, his first month of work that got him to be able to quit his day job and his first two TV programs showcasing his stand up. He also told me that when I first started managing people, I called 10 people into my office to ask them if they wanted to work with me as a manager. He told me something that I didn't remember. He was the only comedian to say no.

Frajer9 karma

who are some comedians I should know that I might not be familiar with?

BarryKatz21 karma

Great question. Comedy is very subjective and the reason why I believe there is not a lot of comedy movies that are hugely successful is because it is so subjective. When you go to a drama, if you see a movie like Precious it's going to affect everyone strongly, but if you go see Get Em To The Greek or The Hangover everyone has a different sense of humour, so it's the same with stand up. The people I love might not necessarily be the people you love. I guess, I don't wanna single out too many people because I feel like if I do I'll leave out people and it's not fair but I love a lot of young comedians… but here are a few that I work with who haven't broken yet, but I think they will very soon.

Mike E. Winfield

Reese Waters

Ryan Clauson

Kirk Fox

Melissa Villasenor

Alli Breem

But I'm going to think about this more because there are probably over 20 artists that I think are really on the right track.

guitarnoir8 karma

Jay Mohr was the lead in a great Hollywood Industry comedy on Fox called, Action. I knew it couldn't last, because it was just too damn good. Perhaps, "ahead of it's time" is a better description. It really was the perfect mating of actor and story. Did you have anything to do with that production/deal? How did the late Warren Zevon end-up doing a TV theme song? How did Sandra Bullock show-up in a cameo?

BarryKatz6 karma

I was involved almost from the beginning, but the answer to your question lies in one person who was an inspiration for the character of Peter Dragon, and that was Joel Silver. Almost every big name or anybody who appeared or did a theme song or anything involved in the production would be a call that was made by Joel Silver, and when Joel called everybody came, and who could blame them. At the time he was producing the biggest films in the business, and 15 years later, nothing's changed.

citricacidx7 karma

Are there any talents you wish you could work with?

What do you think of Mitch Hedberg?

BarryKatz17 karma

  1. Normally there are very few artists that I feel I could work with, mainly because there's a very specific kind of artist that kind of works best with my kind of skill set. But if you're asking me about artists that I think are special who I think I could/could have made a difference to, there are many I have loved along the way that I never had the opportunity to work with. Some of those people are: Pete Holmes, Jimmy Fallon, and Mitch Hedberg. Another person that I have always loved, from the moment I met/saw him, is Dave Attell. His new show is very very special, and I'm so happy for him.

  2. It's hard to articulate a question when you're not face to face with somebody. I have so many mixed feelings about Mitch because you're talking about a person who had tremendous material, tremendous performance skills and tremendous self-destructive tendencies. Sometimes it's easy to look at people who are in pain and think "why are you throwing it all away?" But then when you learn more about addiction every year of your life you realize it's equal to cancer, only less curable. I feel sad that the world lost such an enormously great talent and an even greater man. But hopefully those comics out there that have the chance to go down that path will stop themselves knowing what the inevitable outcome will be.

EggTee6 karma

Man, great answers. I'm loving the detailed responses. Did you watch any of the The Pete Holmes Show? So funny.

BarryKatz10 karma

I just travelled here with Pete Holmes. He used to work my old comedy club, The Boston Comedy Club, in Greenwich Village and we were sharing stories about some of the hell gigs that we've been through. He is a really really special special man.

ChupacabraBones7 karma

Have you ever had to break it to an aspiring comedian that he/she just isn't funny?

BarryKatz13 karma

Every day. Every week. Every month. But that doesn't mean that they won't be funny, next day, next week, or next month. I like to be honest and I like to share what I consider to be one man's opinion. I'm not always the arbiter of what's funny or not funny. But normally, if you ask me my opinion, it's my right to tell you if I think you're doing the right thing, or something that isn't going to get you where you want to go.

PaladinSato7 karma

How much travelling do you do? Are you home much?

BarryKatz7 karma

I don't travel as much as I used to travel because I guess I'm comfortable in California, in LA and I love hanging out with my two boys because it's a really special time when your kids are 9 or 10, because you can still hug them and not have them say "Daddy, you're embarrassing me" but you know one day that will come. But if I have to travel anywhere for any kind of business, there's no place like the Montreal Just For Laughs Festival.

CamJude7 karma

Barry, this one is a little unrelated, but I wanted to hear your opinion on George Carlin, as someone who is inside the industry.

I've heard Louis and several other comedians attribute much of their success to George Carlin. Personally, I love the man and his entire body of work. But, being that I'm not in the comedy industry, I can only imagine how much more someone like Louis could absorb from a body of work as extensive as Carlin's. What is your personal opinion of Carlin and the merit of his work?

BarryKatz11 karma

Carlin is one of the four faces on the Mt. Rushmore of comedy. I believe he did 14 one-hour specials. So let me ask you and every other comedian out there, what did you write today? I'm not saying that to be mean, just to be funny. The guy was prolific. I saw him at the Comedy and Magic Club in Hermosa Beach, less than a year before he died, working out his act with notes and papers, doing everything he could to make sure he stayed relevant, and was the best comedian that he could ever be. It was that drive and determination as well as the content and performance that made him one of the greatest comedians ever. As well as the evolution and lack of fear in his heart to change from the Hippy Dippy Weather Man to the guy who laughed about recycling saying that the earth would flick us off of it like a dog flicks off fleas. There will never be another George Carlin.

lonyernas7 karma

I'm a fan of Jay Mohr's podcast, which is where I was first introduced to you (100% approval!). I just wanted to thank you for giving some good advice that can be applicable to our everyday life, "You have to be undeniable."

Have you seen any good youtube videos or movies lately that inspired you? If so, which ones?

BarryKatz10 karma

There's so much content all over the place it's hard to really point to one thing that continuously moves me. But a few things recently, comedically and non-comedically that struck me: One was a short 2 minute video from a group of guys called "FND" (Frank Nancy Dog) called Celery. It's not new but it's shot with one camera, one take, and it's hilariously funny to me, and incredibly risky comedically, but it really got me. A dramatic spot that moved me was something that it escapes me what it was for but I saw it recently and it was an audition of men and women to re-enact what it's like to throw like a girl or do things like a girl. It started off showing it in a way where women were depicted in a non-flattering way and then the spot turned into something really special and empowering for women and it was amazing. Really heartfelt. And the last thing I saw which I saw virally and not on television even though it was on TV, which mixed comedy and drama was the 7 minute scene on the show Louis on the fat girl episode, where he's walking by the water with the girl talking about his perception and her perception of what it's like to be overweight as a woman. I tell you right now if you are any kind of artist who wants to do anything special in the business, it will help you tremendously to watch all three of these things because it will show you anything is possible. None of these three things were shot with tonnes of cameras, tonnes of angles, two of them were one camera, one take - Louis and Celery. The other was one camera with jump cuts. You can move people with little cost to yourself, with just a camera, a dollar and a dream, and you can make great content. And the most important thing I can tell anyone reading, listening, or watching this is don't put out anything that isn't extraordinary. You can make a short film and do 100 takes, and 99 of them suck, but as long as you get one, keep building on that, and make it great and show people the best representation of yourself, and when you do… it's pretty hard to lose.

RigatoniJones6 karma

Hi Barry. Huge fan of the podcast. I've been an entertainer for over a decade...IN MUSIC. This past year, at the age of 33, I've made the jump over to my first love, Comedy. Am I too old for this and is there any way to get my screenplay in your hands? Go BoSox and Thanks for the inspiration. - Geno

BarryKatz13 karma

Thank you Geno, I say this with a smile on my face and a real uh… heartfelt feeling. It's very humbling when you do something, anything, that you start from nothing and it becomes something. So my answer to you is quite simple. I started something from nothing, when I was several years older than you are right now. As a matter of fact, after this AMA interview, I'm gonna be fitting my walker with tennis balls. You are never too old to do anything that you love and you're extraordinary at. Lewis Black is an example of somebody you should study. So many others. Don Rickles is doing a show here in Montreal, if I'm not mistaken, I believe he's 80. You have a 50 year career ahead of you. I wish you the best that life has to offer. PS look up J Chris Newberg, he toured in a band opening for Oasis and now he is a successful stand up comedian who just did Tonight Show and Arsenio this year and is writing on three shows. In the immortal words of Rob Schneider in every Sandler movie known to man… You Can Do It!

YUHDEW6 karma

Is Dave Chappelle just as funny offstage as he is onstage? He seems like the type of guy that would be hilarious to hang out with.

BarryKatz17 karma

The answer is no. He's just like a regular guy. That's not to say that he can't be or isn't funny, because he is. But in my mind he's just like a regular guy with a regular guy with a regular sense of humour, but when he gets on stage it's like turning the volume up from 3 to 10 and breaking the fucking knob off. Most people are regular people leading regular lives and on stage they become a heightened version of their inner beings.

amajorseventh6 karma

How do you feel about your portrayal in Comedian? And then in Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee?

For the record, that film got me into the "inside baseball" aspects of comedy. I watched it almost daily in college.

You do great work.

BarryKatz10 karma

Wow, you watched the film daily in college? When did you have time to jerk off? I'm sorry that was rude. It's weird because that happened here in Montreal about ten years ago and I'm back up here now and it wasn't planned at all. My mother used to say, "You make plans and God laughs." And everything that happened in that movie was completely unplanned. I just walked into Orny Adams dressing room, and sitting next to him was George Shapiro, his and Seinfeld's manager at the time, and somebody I"ll be interviewing for the podcast in a few weeks. Orny asked me a question and I answered in honestly, and he called me a cocksucker after I left. I was given a release form to sign, but even though I didn't hear him call me a cocksucker, I knew enough to know I needed to see the footage before I signed any paper approving. So Jerry and his producer's sent it to me and I really went back and forth as to whether I should edit it, delete part of the scene, but I thought about it and I decided to keep it all in, because I wanted people to know what real life was behind the scenes in comedy. In the end, I'm proud of how I'm depicted, but I'm depicted exactly as it was recorded and so was Orny and George. On the flip side, in Comedians Getting Coffee I was blindsided by what happened, and again I didn't sign the release but this time I had Jerry edit out significant portions of where I was featured so that it became a minimalistic cameo. Thank you for the compliment.

MattRyd76 karma

Have you ever had to perform any menial or absurd task to keep someone you were managing happy?

BarryKatz10 karma

Yes. Many many many many times. But I think the thing to understand if you're in this business is the fact that talent rules. Talent will always rule. And Jay Mohr has a great, great thing he always said to me that I live for in terms of representation and working with people and that quote is, "Don't spook the thoroughbred." My whole goal as a manager/producer is to make the people I work with feel confident about their future while feeling safe at the present moment, and if that means that I have to do something that many people would think was beneath me, I have no problem doing it. Because I wanna feel what it's like on every set, in every situation, what it's like to be at every level of the business. Whether it be the level of an intern, or the level of an Executive Producer of a Television show…. and for anybody out there listening, I truly believe in any job you're in, if you wanna get to the next level, you have to be prepared to do everything, and never have a sense of entitlement, or you will fall like a set of car keys in a fish tank.

escapegoat846 karma

How often do you meet someone in your day-to-day-outside-of-work life who you feel has the charisma and natural wit to entertain people for a living? Have you ever taken time out of your day to talk to someone about it?

I'm not talking exactly about people who you think could take the grueling life of a transient for-profit entertainer, but just people who you think have a 'sell-able' personality? You don't have to go into detail, anecdotes are fine.

BarryKatz7 karma

I meet people like that all the time who I think are really really special. And everyone knows when they meet somebody who is really really special. There's just something about it. I think charisma is something that very few people have, so when you run into somebody who has the light, it's always an exciting feeling, and a powerful and overwhelming aura comes over you, and if you're in my position, naturally you realize that anything is possible for anybody who really believes in themselves in any profession, and if they have charisma then their odds are exponentially better.

willnoonan5 karma

I'm a professional comedian and frequent r/standupshots contributor. I've been doing comedy for 8 years. I have no management. How can I get some? E-Mailing seems to not work.

BarryKatz29 karma

Will. Don't worry about finding a manager. When you're doing the right thing, when your comedy is undeniable, when you go to your home comedy club ten times in a row and you have the best set of the night by a landslide every, single, time and every bartender, every waitress, every manager, every comedian that hates you, every audience member if they had a truth serum in their veins would say you had the best set of the night. If you can figure that out, and do the kind of comedy that you love, embody the kind of material that blows you the fuck away when you watch it, when that starts happening, managers like me will chase you like your ass is on fire. But until then, keep working hard, keep doing the right thing and don't lose faith in yourself. You will prevail.

iamaTinfoilNinja5 karma

What's the best piece of advice you received in your career that you utilized and how did you utilize it?

BarryKatz9 karma

(Laughing hard) I just was a guest on Jay Mohr sports which I have to assume this isn't a coincidence and you're alluding to that. For those of you who don't know or didn't listen to it, I was in studio when Dennis Eckersley, a hall of fame pitcher for the Red Sox and the Oakland A's called into the show and in the middle of Jay's interview which was going very very well, he asked me to ask Eck a question. I thought I asked him a great question, for those of you reading this, the question was the same one that you are asking me:

"What's the best piece of advice you received in your career that you utilized and how did you utilize it?"

Instead of giving me the answer of a lifetime, he completely froze and started stammering, asking me what kind of a question is that. Finally after a minute or so he said "I don't know, throw strikes?"

I've received so many pieces of advice that have helped me throughout my career it would be hard to narrow it down to one. But the one I love most that Jay Mohr and I talked about a lot because he shared it with me long ago is "Don't complicate winning."

iamaTinfoilNinja2 karma

Barry, I was listening live during that interview and I loved your deep, weighty question to end the segment. I'm so disappointed Dennis didn't answer and not surprised that Jay and crew turned it into the newest (and greatest!) audio drop on the show. Within a week I heard them use your entire quote at least twice as a legitimate question to wrap up interviews with live, call-in sports guests. For example, Jay throws it to you (as if you are live in-studio) then they play your question AND THE GUEST ANSWERS! Genius! Tell Jay that down the road I'd love to hear a montage of the best answers on the show.

"Don't complicate winning."

Wow and thanks for replying personally to the question. Do you mean that winning should remain a simple formula as a concept or perhaps, as humans, we tend to complicate things with our over-thinking and over-feeling?

EDIT: #jaymohrsports because I'm conditioned to hashtag and eat Bigg's sunflower seeds at all times.

BarryKatz2 karma

Well, you just did it again. You're over thinking, over-replying, and over-analyzing. You're complicating winning. (He has a smile on his face.) But seriously, I really believe that you know the answer to this question. So, I guess I will refer to the famous quote: "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

loyaldrifter5 karma

Why do you think Asian comedians have not done as well? And are you managing any?

BarryKatz4 karma

That's a great question, I used to manage Ken Jeong from The Hangover movies and Steve Byrne from Sullivan and Son. My guess is that the asian audiences are not as supportive of their artists as latino and african american audiences are of their artists. In the end, you're only as big as your audience and many times to be successful you have to garner the support of your core demographic. And if you're really extraordinary, you'll cross over to every demographic. See: Chris Rock, Dave Chappelle, George Lopez, Jimmy Fallon.

sashattack5 karma

I currently work in the news industry, but have wanted to work in comedy production and managing my whole life. I feel like I'm pigeonholed in news. What advice can you give me to transition to the funnier side?

BarryKatz9 karma

Well one thing you could do is you could write a comedy news show that is highly original and unique and if you feel like you want to be in front of the camera or behind it you can use your talents or skills to put a channel together on Youtube or somewhere else, give it a great name that you trademark, and if you really have what it takes in that side of the business you'll see right away if you move people or not, and if that's something you've always wanted to do if you had all the money in the world and the health of your family… then what do you have to lose to do that in your spare time? If it takes off, you've gotten your dream, if it doesn't you haven't lost the stability you already have.

Ironic-ironic-repeat5 karma

In your experience, is there one essential quality that distinguishes someone who is just "funny" from someone who is prolific in comedy? If so, what is it? Thanks for doing this AMA.

BarryKatz7 karma

It's always a combination of extraordinary writing, matched with extraordinary performance. Sadly, comedy is a very very tough profession to be extraordinary in. If you're a singer in Arcadia Florida, Worcester, Massachusetts or Riverside, California and you're getting standing ovations every single night in cafes and coffee houses, and you're doing extraordinary performances and your lyrics are wonderful you may never make it. But if you're a comedian and you have the material of Chris Rock and the performance skills of George Carlin, and you're performing in a bathroom in Thailand, the world will find you and you will become a star.

itpm5 karma


BarryKatz3 karma

The biggest thing I love about my job is helping people to accomplish all the things that they wanna do in their professional lives. That is why my podcast, Industry Standard, is so important to me. You see, when I do something great with my talent and one of my artists' talents and something great transpires it's an amazing feeling. But when I go home at night, I realize I've only helped one person. One of the reasons I started the podcast is I wanted to reach more people and make a difference to as many people in the world as I could to help them in their journeys to get to the next level, and it's been a vehicle that has helped me reach over 3 million people in a year, which is incredibly humbling, yet makes me feel like I feel when I help one of my artists get to the next level.

grenadinegirl5 karma

Barry, is there such a thing as a happy, well adjusted comedian?

BarryKatz3 karma

Yes there is. But it's very very rare. Out of all the comedians I've ever met in my life, even though I don't know him as well as many others know him, to me Jerry Seinfeld is as close as you get in that category.

Warlizard5 karma

Love Jay Mohr. Couple questions:

  1. Why didn't Action take off? It was brilliant.

  2. Mohr Sports -- Bizarre choice of guests. I was in the audience for one where Naughty By Nature was visiting. Why would they be on a sports show?

  3. Why wasn't he a bigger part of Last Comic Standing?

Thanks for doing the AMA.

BarryKatz8 karma

  1. In my opinion, the reason why it didn't take off is because it was originally slated to be on HBO but I believe it was Columbia Tristar Television, couldn't make a deal with HBO that was financially feasible, and so we had to take a show that was an edgy, cable show and convert it to a network show where you couldn't swear and you couldn't do the kinds of story lines you really needed to do that would be embraced by the mainstream. Additionally, a show on Cable is normally around 28 minutes and 30 seconds while a show on Network is 21 minutes and 30 seconds, so you had to deal with the fact of telling a story in 25% less time. So even though the show had an audience of over 8 million people each week (which today would be a major hit) back then it didn't cut it.

  2. The concept of Mohr Sports was very simple, it was essentially "What would Letterman be if it was about sports. What would that look like?" And in Jay's mind and mine as well it would look a situation where you'd have all kinds of entertaining guests talking about the sports they love, or athletes, but also having musicians who are true sports fans just get to play and have fun on a sports show. The whole concept was to try and be original, and unfortunately due to some political circumstances the President of the Network moved the show 9 times in 16 weeks to different time slots so it was never able to keep and hold the audience needed to stay on the air for the 50 episode guaranteed commitment we had.

  3. He actually was a huge part of Last Comic Standing, he created the show and worked seamlessly with Peter Engel, the former creator of Saved By The Bell and the three of us Executive Produced the show in the early incarnations when it was nominated for an Emmy. The reason Jay left is he was very frustrated that the network cancelled the show in the third season right before the final episode was to air and the country never got to see one of the great comedians Alonzo Bodden, win. But to this day he still participates in the show, he's just not involved creatively any more due to his choice.

dazwah4 karma

Are you Dirk Nowitski?

BarryKatz16 karma

No… but I play him on television. Seriously though, I get recognized as Dirk Nowitzki about ten times a week. Which is kind of flattering considering he's about a bazillion years younger than me and about a foot taller. A funny story I can tell you involves Dane Cook. We were in Las Vegas playing three nights at Ceasars Palace, all sold out. 1300 people over 3 nights, we're having a private dinner at this restaurant with a huge Buddha, like literally 20 feet wide and 40 feet high, and they had this private table blocked off because everyone went crazy around Dane, it was like the fucking Beatles when he was around. Then this really muscle bound guy, picture the Rock's physique with Danny Trejo's face with a shaved head, and following him was one of the most beautiful women I'd ever seen with a camera, but very meek. He starts walking over to the table, and Dane looks over to the guy and looks over at me and says

"Here we go again, can't escape this can we?"

The guy comes to the table. He says "May I have your autograph and a photo?" Dane says "Sure pal, what do you got?"

the guy says "No I want Dirk's autograph… I don't know who you are."

I was trying to deflect, so I said "Look, I'm not Dirk," as the woman is bobbing and weaving with the camera. He walks away. Ten minutes later he comes back around with her following "Come on Dirk can you just take a picture and an autograph?" By now Dane is getting annoyed, I say "I'm sorry I'm not Dirk." Getting frustrated and angry the guy walks away.

Ten minutes later I look and see the girl with the camera by the Buddha, and I'm about to say something to Dane, and his eyes are widening, really wide, like in fear. Just as I'm about to say "What's the matter" a forearm reaches around me and grabs me around the neck until my face is staring at his forearm, looking at every tattoo he ever got in Juvey, and I feel his breath on my ear, and he whispers in an angry tone "Look man, I just got out of fucking prison, don't embarrass me in front of my girl… Dirk! Give me the fucking photo and the autograph."

As his arm came across and off of me, I got my composure and started breathing again, I turned and looked up and I said what every intelligent person would ever say in that point in time if they wanted to live. I looked at him, back at her, looked at Dane, back at him and said "I'm sorry man, I'm Dirk, I'm just fucking with you. What do you got?" He gave me a photo, and I signed it with the #41, took a photo with him, took a photo with the girl. They went home happy, Dane went home confused, and I went home… alive.

jonk07314 karma

Who says weirder shit Dave Chapelle or Tracey Morgan? Care to share a story.

BarryKatz7 karma

Hands down, Tracey Morgan. There are so many stories to tell, it's not even necessary to tell them here. All you need to do is google "Tracey Morgan Stories" or look on youtube and you'll find a million of them. He's a true American original and I'm honoured to say I had the opportunity to work with him before and during Saturday Night Live. And I wish him a speedy recovery.

andrmadr24 karma

Barry. Would your rather have been an amazing comedian or the manager you are today?

BarryKatz4 karma

When I started I really wanted to be a great comedian, but it bothered me that one night I would go on stage and kill and the next night I would go on stage and not do as well with the same exact jokes. I felt completely helpless and without any control over the result of my performances. And I soon realized that if I got on the other side of the business I would have more control over my destiny. In the end I think that if I had a choice to be a successful manager or a successful stand up comedian I probably would want to know the feeling of walking into a sold out arena where an NBA basketball team plays and make a difference to that many people in such a short amount of time. And the ability to help people and do charitable events that could change the way the world thinks about things. So your answer would be, in success, a relevant extraordinary stand up comedian.

bristolstreet4 karma

What do you think "makes" a comedian? Any opinions on why some become successful and others don't?

BarryKatz11 karma

Comedians become great by having great content. Now, I know what you're saying "there's some very famous comedians that don't always have the greatest content" and this is true. But chances are if they don't, they're an enormously tremendous performer. I toured with Dane Cook at all the arenas. I was at every arena. I managed Dane for 17 years. He had what I consider to be an unspoken, unique philosophy. 1/3rd of his material was blue. 1/3rd of his material was silly. 1/3rd of his material was incredibly, powerfully written and the content was unlike anyone else in the business. And he had tremendous performance skills, incredibly charismatic, and he was a guy who grew up with a speech impediment, he was shy, but he put it all together. However, if you were to look at cross sections of his material back then, he would be the first to tell you he's not Chris Rock or Cosby, but if you sit him down to watch The Atheist Bit, which is a ten minute bit from his HBO special at the Boston Garden, he would be the first to tell you he would stack that routine up against any comedian in history. So to answer your question, it's always going to be a combination of persona, performance ability, content, and originality.

GoodMorningFuckCub4 karma

What's the closest you've ever been to just quitting and doing something else besides managing?

BarryKatz9 karma

Great question. I'd say there was a year about 15 or 20 years ago where most all of my top clients fired me in a period of time that was around the year people like Wanda Sykes, Tracey Morgan, Jim Bruer, Chappelle and I remember after Tracey Morgan fired me that I felt that in all these cases I felt like I was doing the right thing… let me rephrase that. I was working really hard and creating great opportunities and with their talent and mine having tremendously successful moments for the most part for most of them. After Tracey had gotten SNL and things were going great and he fired me I remember doing something I had never done… I went to a liquor store and bought a bottle of peppermint schnapps… I had a 1 bedroom at 66th street, Broadway/West End NYC. I had a wooden parquet floor, I lied down on the floor and started drinking… and if you've ever seen an old three stooges episode where they lie on their side with their feet doing the circle, that's what I was doing in between drinking the entire bottle of peppermint schnapps. But, as Peter Engel from Last Comic Standing and Saved By The Bell once said to me so eloquently, "Someday, today will be a long time ago." And it was.

ellyem4 karma

What makes you realize someone has "that special somethin' something" - obviously it'd be different for everyone, but where does it normally click for you that you need to manage/develop talent?

BarryKatz5 karma

I feel bad saying this because it's not the answer that you wanna hear and I don't wanna come across as somebody who appears to be more evolved than others, what I will say is that I've always had this weird almost psychic gift where I could just shake somebody's hand and almost see the future, and I can't quantify it, I can't prove it in a court of law and when I read it in this box it looks a little hoakie. But it's not. And that's always been how I operate.

escapegoat843 karma

Do you guys have a 'n-word' quota with your white comedians? Like, do you require them to have a certain amount of 'n-word' jokes? Or do you find you have to curtail and regulate the usage? How about other minorities? Do you see a burgeoning market catering to obscure racial situations developing in the future?

How often do you have to shoot down clients/prospects who suggest routines of this type (ironically and non-ironically)?

But seriously, how do you handle creative control with your clients?

BarryKatz6 karma

I think the whole thing about being a comedian is that you're in control. You write, produce, direct, and star in your own performance every night to a different audience. Most people have common sense and they know what they can do and what they can't do. If you're a white comic and you're doing a joke using the n word, where does that get you? Does it get you on Jimmy Fallon? Kimmel? Comedy Central? The answer is no. Every time you do a joke that requires any word that can't be said on regular network television or basic cable you're limiting yourself. So the only reason anybody would do a routing with controversial overtones like that, is either for social commentary, which would be more well received in an alternative room like Largo in Hollywood, but for the most part if you want to get to the next level chances are that's not going to be your ticket.

inz_paradox3 karma

What is the most confusing way Dave Chappelle has ever ended a call?

BarryKatz1 karma

Honestly I know it's hard to believe, but Dave wasn't a guy that was confusing, or abnormal or crazy or unpredictable when I was representing him. He was an incredible young man, had the best manners. Was humble. Treated everyone with respect.

Mitch1124OR3 karma

As someone who loves the entertainment industry and was inspired by the podcast to relocate to L.A., any advice of avenues to pursue to break-in?

BarryKatz4 karma

Just perform everywhere you can. At a dive bar. An AA meeting. A laundromat. Or a car accident. Study greatness, imitate greatness, become great.

decentlyconfused3 karma

How much can an average comedian make?

BarryKatz8 karma

It's interesting, where my mind goes when you say "an average comedian" I'm thinking like a comedian who's just average funny. Not the average comedian. But that's a hard one to answer but I'll just tell you that if you're going to a comedy club in your city and seeing a person headline that you don't know that well, he's probably making between $1500-$3000 a week. The person going on before the headliner is probably making between $500-$1000 a week. The person MCing probably $300-$500 a week. If you go to a special event with a name that's a household name, you can probably figure out how much they're making by looking at how much you paid for the ticket and the people in the room, and normally the artist is making 50% of that gross, up to 100% depending on their pull. It the tickets are $25 apiece and 300 people in the room, you're talking about $7500 for that show. 6 Shows, about $40-$45K coming in. Chances are a headliner of that nature could make $20K or even up to $50-$60K that week, maybe more. That's usually how it works.

decentlyconfused3 karma

Do you think longevity-wise a comedian is a good career? I was always curious about those who don't end up "big".

BarryKatz7 karma

Well, you could say that about any career. It's odd that the definition of making it is becoming well known because that's not the case in every other profession. Sure, you're well known in your town, you're the doctor/dentist everybody knows or recommends, but you're a big fish in a small pond.. To me the most important thing in any profession is to be the best, to make your mark, and everything else will come. If you work hard, and you're better than everybody else, and you work harder than everybody else, what are the chances you're going to fail? I'd say, pretty slim.

decentlyconfused3 karma

So what would your perspective be on comedians who end up being writers for other shows? Would you say that its a form of branching out for alternate income, or more that they've "changed" careers?

Thanks for answering my questions so far btw, it is an interesting world that I know nothing about.

BarryKatz4 karma

I do think there is a transition sometimes that comedians go through when they feel like they're not getting where they want to be in front of the camera. It's almost like every day that goes by that they don't make it that they consider being a writer more. It doesn't happen in the beginning, it normally happens after 10 years of pounding the pavement and not getting where you want to be. But it's a new time right now and there's a lot of people who are writing, acting, Executive producing, directing, doing a little of everything. Yes, that used to be the case… now, I think that's only the case for people who have reached a frustration level for where they are in the business. When I interviewed Marc Maron for my podcast, I asked him why he said no to me when I'd been asking for 9 months. He said "Because when I looked at the line up of people you have on the show they're all the people who turned me down in my career and I said 'Whey the fuck should I do a show that supports the enemy.'" So, the answer to your question is, for some, yes… they change careers. And for others, they become multi-hypenates.

Galactic_Coffee3 karma

Hello Barry, this AMA is wonderful and thank you for your wonderful, intellectual, detailed answers.

My question is this: I'm sure you of all people probably realized that comedians have a tendency to be depressed and a little loony. The Laugh Factory in Hollywood even offers free therapy to comedians (It's called "Groucho's Couch") and theres a British study done earlier this year that says that comedians personalities are similar to people with mental disorders.


(No Joke..hardeehar.. get it no joke...)

Why do you think so many comedians have a tendency to be depressed? Do you think it's the pressure or something about their personalities? Do you believe that the great ones are crazy, or is it just a quirky personality? Do you think there is indeed a tie to mental illness? I'd love to hear your opinion on this.

Thank you ahead of time Barry!

BarryKatz7 karma

I can't speak for all professions, because there's people who suffer from mental illness and depression in every walk of life. It's a difficult subject to tackle because it's very close to me and many many many artists and people in my personal life have suffered from this very misunderstood disorder. Mental illness and depression are like part disease and part disorder. It's almost like there's this prescription for eyeglasses you have to get to see clearly, but the difference is the prescription is almost impossible to fill and is almost always inconsistent in how it works. Can you imagine wearing glasses and seeing clearly one day and waking up the next not being able to see? I think the reason why there are a lot of people that suffer from difficult obstacles like mental illness, alcohol abuse or a death in the family, is because laughter is the drug of choice to relieve pain. The free drug of choice. There's no prescription, no doctors, and no health insurance co-payments, it's simply free. And to see other people laugh at your pain the way you present it for them to laugh and the cathartic nature of getting that kind of love from an audience makes it a symbiotic combination.

ClaudioRules3 karma

When are you going to start managing the careers of redditors?

BarryKatz14 karma

To be honest with you, as odd as it sounds, those that can't… manage. What I mean by that is, the first time I heard the word "redditor" was about an hour and 48 minutes ago. I am embarrassed to tell you that I have never been on the website, I have never seen a post from the site, or a video, and I have never read an interview or done an interview. So I guess the answer to your question is, I need about 9998 hours of studying this area of the business before I can be confident that I'll be successful managing anybody from it.

seewithyoureye2 karma

If you could start over, where would your start?

BarryKatz4 karma

If I were given the opportunity to start over, one of the things that I would probably eliminate from my life were all the mistakes that I made. But then, I think to myself without those mistakes who would I be, where would I be, how evolved would I be, without dealing with the consequences or the pain I'd probably be less of a person than I am now. So I guess after answering this question I've realized that it's the wrong response, so probably, if I could start over and know what I know now… I would do everything in my power to save the lives of the great people that I've known in this business who have been taken from us by their own hands. Because I miss all of them. Very very much.

jaredgeorge2 karma

Louis CK is so prolific. (Creepily so). Would you attribute it to talent or work ethic?

BarryKatz6 karma

Well, I think Louis would always say that it all starts with work ethic. And I don't believe that when he was starting out when I represented him that he had any illusions that he was prolific, but he worked really really hard, and as Malcolm Gladwell will tell you in his book Outliers, when you put your 10000 hours in, you're gonna be in pretty good shape… and if you're Louis CK my guess is he's put 100K hours in, and when you put that much into what you love, you become prolific by proxy.

elmurpharino2 karma

Barry, do you find many top-level comedians to be as funny off stage as on stage, or is their on-stage persona different than off stage?

BarryKatz4 karma

I already answered a similar question, but I am committed to you, so just send me another question right now that's different from the other ones and I will answer it. Thanks

elmurpharino3 karma

Thanks, Barry. I don't know if this has been asked, but do what comics do you find most underrated? Overrated?

BarryKatz2 karma

Without mentioning names right now, the most underrated comics are normally comics that lack the ability to socially function in the world as well as the other comics. So being misunderstood in the world, and not being able to make an impact, takes attention off of their stand up. Another thing that can hurt you and make you underrated is being somebody who doesn't know how to navigate properly in their own world. In terms of being overrated, that to me is real simple. You become overrated by being a tremendous performer who can get anything out of a crowd and make a crowd go bananas, but your material is not on par. We've all seen performers like this who get the crowd going crazy but in the end there's just no substance to what they're doing. So, if you look at clips of all the comedians you know and those you don't know, without me mentioning names, you'll be able to determine for yourself the underrated ones from the overrated ones.

Boeris2 karma


BarryKatz7 karma

I feel bad saying this because I don't wanna be anybody who has a reputation of judging anybody. I think if you do an act that is incredibly controversial, like a Jim Jefferies, or the late Bill Hicks, you know what you're doing, you know the act you're doing, you know the result you want from it, and if somebody asks you to apologize, you're going to be like the main character in The Fountainhead, and tell them to fuck off and go back to the quarries. But if you're someone who's persona and act are not predicated on being offensive and controversial but simply edgy and dark then people know how true you are to your material and how much you believe in it, on whether or not you apologize. And if you apologize that means you don't value the material that you thought so highly of communicating to the world.

baconcowboy122 karma

Are you actually funny?

BarryKatz5 karma

(smiles) I am… very funny. Just not tonight.

romantherussian12 karma

How important is the 1st impression when you meet a comedian?

BarryKatz3 karma

Very important but it doesn't matter to me whether they bomb or do well, because I can normally tell if a comedian is great by watching them with the sound off. I remember Louis Faranda the booker from Carolines tipped me off about a guy named Joe Mackey he wanted me to see, who is now a finalist in Last Comic Standing and was up here in Montreal a few years ago. I went to see him at Caroline's and he bombed horribly. But his material was so original was so original and so unique and his persona was so different from anyone else in comedy I was blown away by him. I really thought he was going to be a huge star. And if things go the way things look like they're going on Last Comic Standing, he will be.

romantherussian11 karma

That's interesting. So standing out seems to be more important than anything else. I'm also assuming being a good person goes a long way also.

BarryKatz2 karma

Doug Herzog, the president of the Viacom Entertainment group of stations (Comedy Central, Spike, TV Land, etc.) once told me about his mantra. "We have a no asshole policy here at the networks." Words to live by.

ConradChekhov2 karma

Barry, Do you have any cats? And if so, do you call them 'Barry's Katz' ?

BarryKatz5 karma

I don't have any cats now but when I was growing up I had as many as 11 at one time. My favourite pet growing up was named Morris. Right now I only have 2 dogs, Lila (labradoodle) and Mordecai (Labra-mutt). I was thinking of getting a cat but as the years go by you realize that the number of cats you have are directly correlated to the number of minds you've lost… so I think I'll go catless.

mindrot2 karma

  1. I too only engaged with reddit recently and I am incredibly glad I did to catch this. This is so incredibly insightful. The advice you give seems to have a theme shared with advice or insight from other accomplished people that have involvement with creatives or are one themselves which is generally be hardworking, kind, and honest in your work. I feel confidant in my work and personal visions, but something I can't shake is uncertainty of the future. I feel like they greatest fear is to invest half your life (I'm young) in something and have it be just not quite good enough. How do I shake this feeling which seems to resurface so often?

  2. I've been given an amazing opportunity to work with someone in the industry that most would kill for. How do I make this flourish, without only counting on this single opportunity?

BarryKatz5 karma

  1. That's a great question… um, I think that what drives the world to be great and creative and innovative is uncertainty. There's only one thing that we're all certain of, and it's the mystery to me of life, and I'll explain it to you right now. If I told you that if you got in a car today it was gonna get in an accident, would you get in the car? If I told you that you were gonna get in a plane and it was gonna crash, would you fly? The answer is no. If I told you you were gonna die in the next 40 or 50 years, why would you wanna live if you know you're gonna die? But for some reason the only certainty we have is death, yet we fight on trying to make our mark, we're worried like you if we're gonna waste half our lives, when we know we're gonna die at the other half. Why is it so important that we feel we have to make some kind of mark on the world. If we do great work and focus on being the best representation of ourselves and are completely unstoppable in our chosen profession, how could you possible waste half of your life? I think it's important to stay positive, and believe in yourself and your god given ability to do extraordinary work in your field. If you do that, you will garner respect, and you will never waste any part of your life.

  2. An opportunity, any opportunity, only becomes a successful one if you're better than everybody else who had the opportunity before you. I know I sound like a broken record, but if you're undeniable, you cannot be denied. And you will never, ever, fail.

dirtymoney2 karma

Why does Louis CK hate kansas city so much?

BarryKatz2 karma

You would have to ask him. Normally comedians treat cities like people. The more better experience they have their with the fans (sell outs), the reception (how nice everyone is to you), and the business (how profitable their appearance was)….determines if they want to spend more time there. If you are a guy and you know 50 girls that interest you…there is always going to be a number 1 favorite…and a number 50 favorite. Maybe Kansas City is his 50th favorite. I know its a favorite place of mine. The people there are amazing.

imaguylikeme2 karma

In your time running Play It Again Sam's & the Boston Comedy Club were there any comedians that unfortunately never hit that you feel more people should know about?

Thanks for doing this AMA! I'm a Comedy Geek & I'm a big fan of your podcast!

BarryKatz5 karma

Firstly thank you so much for the kind words, I really appreciate it. There are many many comedians who were amazing that I worked with that never made it to the point where they wanted to be. The ones that come to mind that were brilliant in Boston were guys like Kenny Rogerson, Steve Sweeney (who used to sell out three shows on a Friday night every week. 1200 people came to see him), or Lenny Clarke who was one of the most gifted, natural comedians that I ever saw.

Slashy132 karma

What's the funniest joke you've ever heard?

BarryKatz12 karma

Hmmm… well comedy is subjective, so I'll just tell you my favourite. There's an old, old, old, elderly man on a park bench. He's the oldest man you've ever seen in your life. He's like, in his 100's. He's alone on a park bench and he's crying hysterically, uncontrollably, young man walks by and sits down and says

"Old man, why are you crying"

He says "I'm married to a 23 year old supermodel. Every morning I wake up, she gets me dressed, she cooks me a beautiful breakfast, she makes love to me all morning, till lunchtime, then she cooks me an amazing amazing lunch… she makes love to me all afternoon long, and she cooks me an unbelievable dinner, and she makes love to me all night long till she cradles me in her arms and I go to sleep and we wake up the next morning and do it all over again."

The young man looks at the old man in disbelief and says "Old man, then why are you crying?"

The old man wipes the tears from his eyes and he looks up and says "'sniff… because I can't remember where I live."

soomuchcoffee2 karma

Hey Barry - What is it that "snake" or shitty comedy managers do that get them labeled as such? So often you hear comedians talk about coming up in the business and some douche bag trying to fleece them or whatever it might be. Do you feel like you've avoided this characterization?

BarryKatz3 karma

No one avoids it entirely…because it only takes one person to start a rumor or one sniper to cripple an army. I honestly can say that in the beginning, I had some questionable moments….and despite the positive things I did for artists that were overwhelming, there were always things i did that people didn’t appreciate which brought them down emotionally and sometimes that gets passed on.

Managers are like friends you have in life…they all say sht that bothers you, pull some sht that upsets you, but in the end…you know who your friends are and the ones that aren’t…because those are the people that create a pattern of sh*ttiness in your life that you have to get away from.

mattovil2 karma

What advice do you have for a not funny guy who wants to be a funny guy?

BarryKatz3 karma

I don't mean to be repetitive and I'm sorry if I come across that way, but I said it earlier to another redditor, study greatness, imitate greatness, become great. If you do this, it will be the key to you overcoming what you call your unfunniness and one day soon with hard work and drive no one will ever accuse you of not being funny again, including yourself.

soapandfoam1 karma

Hey Mr. Katz, just heard you on Jay Mohr's podcast... honestly, my face lightens up everytime you're on his show cause you're just an all around perfect guest, and you and Jay's chemistry is undeniable. My question is: You have been in the industry for such a long time, Steven Spielberg in a recent article said that he had a hard time funding "Lincoln" and that they were going to make it an HBO movie. I was shocked, why is it that a well respected director like Spielberg would have a hard time finding investors?

here is said article: http://insidemovies.ew.com/2013/06/13/lincoln-spielberg-hbo/

BarryKatz3 karma

Sometimes I laugh on the inside when I hear that Entrepreneurs who have more money than God can't get a project financed. If you really believe in a project, and you know that you've always been successful, why don't you fund the project? There's several huge people in the business who have funded their own projects and done really really well. They are well documented. When somebody of Spielberg's level can't get the financing for Lincoln, it's because he has a board of directors and people who are tied to his company, Dreamworks, and he has to answer to more people. It's a business. They wanna make films guaranteed to make money, so even though he believes in a project like Lincoln, it's very common that other people in the ranks or in the circle would rather put more money or the investors they can pull from onto projects that might seem more viable to make more money than Lincoln. The double edged sword for people like Spielberg is that he is an artist and a businessman… those are two different muscles. Two different philosophies. Respect always outlasts cash, but unfortunately when you're a partner in one of the most prolific studios of all time, sometimes the artist has to take the back seat.

meatyourmomma1 karma

Thanks Barry. Very thorough answers. How does someone, as positive as you are, deal with the Hollywood experience? You don't seem to be affected and seem very genuine.

BarryKatz2 karma

Great question. I think it was something inside me that activates. Like on the way to Montreal I saw someone who is from my home town area that is in my business that means a lot to me. I was excited to see him, but he stayed in his seat working on his computer and barely acknowledging me. I wasnt upset because I don’t know what he is going through in his life to make that happen…so I just stuck with it and gave him breathing room and didn’t verbalize it. Within an hour he was starting a conversation with me and we rode into town together from the airport and reconnected. The best thing I can say here is to have very little expectations and just put your head down when it needs to be down and up high when it needs to be up high. In the end we are working with the fundamental principals that most people were not raised like we were…and don’t have the emotional tools in their toolbox to play fair in life….but if we can smile through it, we know in our hearts that they can’t break our spirit which gives us the strength to give our light to the ones like us in the future.

TriggerPete1 karma

Louis always seems like the kind of guy in his stand up that would be great to have a beer with and just pal around saying stupid shit back and forth, but his jokes are all about how shitty he is in general.
In your opinion, is he self-deprecating for the sake of comedy, or does he really suck a lot more in real life than in his act?

BarryKatz3 karma

I think when you're an honest artist like Louis, and your comedy and your writing is true to your life, I think it's always going to be a reflection of certain personas and parts of your mind and ego and how you feel about yourself. When Bob Goldthwait started with his character, it came from the alcoholic side of his personality… he's since been sober for 25 years, but at the same time that's where it came from. For Louis, although I'm not that close to him as I was long ago, my guess is, he does feel those things about himself in some ways and he is struggling with some of those issues but in the end he's one of the most respected artists of our generation and he's got two doorstops named Emmy 1 and Emmy 2 so hopefully that might make him feel a little better when he's feeling down.

salawm1 karma

Thank you for this. I've dabbled in stand-up, improv, and sketch comedy. 1. What do you think of comedy classes? Are any worth it or are they all attempts to profit?

  1. Do you see a saturation in the comedy market and, if so, what does this mean for the next few decades of comedy?

  2. I know you're busier than poseidon. But next time you're in NYC, it would be my pleasure to buy you cart food for lunch and then go get cookies. Can we shoot for early August?

BarryKatz3 karma

”Thank you for this. I’ve dabbled in stand-up, improv, and sketch comedy. What do you think of comedy classes? Are any worth it or are they all attempts to profit?

Everyone has their own way of how to get where they want to go in every profession. I personally have not been as big a fan of these classes in improv and sketch because they are big businesses that make big money for their owners and the percentages that break through are very small….but then again…few people make it in our profession so it about evens out. Acting classes, if you go to some of the best…Larry Moss, Michelle Danner, Leslie Kahn, Deb Aquilla, Risa Bramon, Nancy Nayor, Howard Fine…are never going to hurt you and are always going to help you. One of the most popular podcasts on INDUSTRY STANDARD is my sit down with LARRY MOSS, who is one of the greatest acting coaches of my generation having taught Leonardo DiCaprio, Helen Hunt, and Hilary Swank (spelling?). If you ever listen to that episode…it will reposition how you perceive yourself as an actor and will change your life forever

Do you see a saturation in the comedy market and, if so, what does this mean for the next few decades of comedy?

Comedy is always cyclical and there are always going to be ups and downs. The world dictates that, but if the comedians are extraordinary…it will rise….and if they are ordinary…it will fall. I don’t know of a time when there were more people working that could sell out a theatre. Its very exciting

I know you're busier than poseidon. But next time you're in NYC, it would be my pleasure to buy you cart food for lunch and then go get cookies. Can we shoot for early August?

I would be honored….but I don’t think I will be there then. However, I do have a limited number of spots a week when I do take consulting appointments and if that ever interests you….hopefully we could make it happen, otherwise…you can send me messages on Facebook and I usually am able to get to them over time as it means a lot to me.

windwolfone1 karma

Thanks for the AMA...I will now add your podcast to my roster!

Any advice in entering the business end of comedy?

I'm starting a podcast where comedians & musicians hang out on my boat here in Seattle, but I'd like to move to producing live shows.


BarryKatz5 karma

The biggest advice I can give you sounds very simple but it rings true over and over again. Be extraordinary at what you do, create holy shit moments that blow people away, and be undeniable in the content that you put out there and people will always find you. Thank you for adding me, I really appreciate it.

Darcyjim1 karma

What's it like working with Louis CK?

BarryKatz3 karma

Louie was always prolific…always writing…always creating….always trying to be the best he could be. He owned one of those old beige small box macintosh computers before anyone i knew and in his studio apartment on Bleeker Street….while the other comics were drinking and chasing p@ssy…he was working. That is why he is holding two Emmy awards and the people he hung out with early on are not.

socks4quid1 karma

What's the worst joke you've ever heard from these pros?

BarryKatz5 karma

I don't remember any bad jokes from them, but I feel bad that you reached out and I don't have an answer to your question. So please ask another one and I will answer it.

gbimmer-1 karma

Is Mr. CK an asshole in real life or is that just a stage thing?

BarryKatz3 karma

I don't know of anybody in comedy who would think that he is an asshole. Including himself. And he's very hard on himself… in his act. Sometimes.

kat_m-3 karma

Crazist story that occurred while working with these any one of these fellas?

BarryKatz1 karma

I already answered a similar question, but I am committed to you, so just send me another question right now that's different from the other ones and I will answer it. Thanks