Sarah Silverman — How to Be Your Own Best Friend | The Tim Ferriss Show | Transcription
Transcription for the video titled "Sarah Silverman — How to Be Your Own Best Friend | The Tim Ferriss Show".
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I am my sin. It's a little nail time and impression. To no one there. And no one heard at all, not even the chair. Oh, ha ha ha ha. You can hear me now. Sarah, welcome to the show. It's nice to finally see you. Likewise.
Personal Experiences And Thoughts On Depression And Self-Identity
Cueing Up the Story of S.R.s Depression (00:36)
And I thought we would start with a with a an unfinished story from my perspective, which came about when I had COVID and I was isolating and I was watching multiple episodes of comedians in cars getting coffee. And I watched your episode where you had coffee with Jerry and you were beginning to tell this heartfelt story. You said, I went through a terrible depression. I remember my stepfather says, what does it feel like? And then Jerry jumps in to say, excuse me to the wait staff. Can I get some half and half? And you're like, really? Was it that much of an emergency? And then the edit cut to a different segment of the conversation. So I was wondering if it's possible for you to finish the cliffhanger because I was actually interested to hear the rest of that. I went through a terrible depression. I remember my stepfather saying, what does it feel like? And then you got cut off by the half and half. Wow. Yes, I could tell you exactly. And I, you know, it's one of the few like very clear memories I have of that time. Depression came over me when I was 13, like, I always say it's like as fast as getting the flu. And you ever get the flu and from one moment to the next, you just go, you feel fine. And then you go, Oh, oh my God, I have the flu. Like that fast. It's just like a cloud covering the sun. And all of a sudden it's dark, you know. And it was, you know, it lasted for a few years and it was the 80s and I was put on Xanax. That's a crazy story. And ultimately was just given more and more and more until I was 13 and taking 16 Xanax a day, four Xanax, four times a day. And it just doesn't even seem possible. It's, it can't be legal to be giving a child that much drugs. And my mom and my dad were kind of trying to come up with solutions and fix things. And my stepdad was the only one who just asked me what it felt like. And it was the first time I had to think about what it felt like. And I really came up with the perfect description, which is it felt just like I was homesick. But I was home. So there was no way to satiate it. You know, there was nothing to hope for. There was no home to go to. I was home. Yeah. And that was where, if we place you in time, where were you at the time? 206 County Road, Bedford, New Hampshire, New Hampshire, 1110. Can you think of or identify anything that led to that wave crashing over you at that time? Is there anything that you can point to that acted as a trigger? You know, I remember the moment it happened, what was happening. I, you know, it was a chronic bed wetter and we had the eighth grade camping trip, which was a four day camping trip up Mount Cardigan. And I was the student leader. And I cried the whole time. And I had diapers hidden in my sleeping bag. And I just felt humiliated and homesick. And I, nobody caught me with the, you know, like that I slipped diapers in my sleeping bag so that I wouldn't pee in my sleeping bag.
The Genesis of This Yearslong Quest to Be Our Own Best Friend (04:03)
Yeah. I mean, I was 12, 13, but I just was painfully homesick. And I just, I was, I never enjoyed a moment of it. It was terrible. And I probably would have loved it. Anyway, it was humiliating. And we come home and I just want to go home and go into bed and I've got my giant backpack with all my stuff and everyone's getting off the bus and my mom picks me up. And she was a photographer and she just was taking pictures of me, like a paparazzi and I was begging her to stop. And it was just this very out combination of being photographed and ignored at the same time.
the moment depression took hold (04:49)
And that's when it happened. And there's a picture of it. I have a picture of the moment depression took hold of me. It's kind of incredible that you have that locked in the amber in a way. You have that moment captured. And one of the reason I'm asking is I do not have a clear vision of when the depressive episodes that I've experienced started. I know that it seems to be congenital. My dad has had extended depressions for as long as I can remember. I don't know when my experience of that started, right? In retrospect, it kind of seems like it was ever present. But what I'd love to do is actually flash forward to something I read in a piece from a few years ago in the Guardian because I'm curious about how this has kind of lent itself to your life. I read that your mom always said to be your own best friend. And this was at the very end of a Guardian interview, I suppose. And the paragraph reads, "As we say our goodbyes, marry the dog trots off down the corridor to pay some visits and silverman asks if we can hug." I mentioned that she seems happy, glowing. In fact, why? This is going to sound obnoxious. But mom always said, "Be your own best friend." And I really, really mastered that. And it goes on. Could you just elaborate on that? Because I think this is one of my lifelong quests is to get to that point. I would love to hear you just speak more to that. And maybe just describe how your mom instilled it and also how you practiced it. If that was something that you explicitly practiced. I did. I kind of went from... I was serial monogamist. I mean, I wouldn't go out on date with a guy without at least putting two years in. I think maybe he had a politeness. But there was one relationship I just completely lost myself. My partner fell in love with this independent woman and I became a completely dependent, codependent. I got out of that relationship so emotionally atrophied. I forgot who I was. I forgot. I remember I just kept saying, like, I don't know how to be. And that was really scary for me. And I think from then on, I really got very... It became really important to me to be alone and enjoy that. And I became... I loved it. I would come home and go, "What do you want to do tonight?" Me? You know what? I just thought like... I love hanging out with myself, but I also love television. I've said recently on my podcast, I had to kind of admit, I always say how much I love being alone and I do. But I'm constantly being kept company. I've got the TV on, I'm listening to "Hortster" and I've got... I'm listening to... I guess when I listen to music, I think that's... It takes me to a new place that isn't just company. But it is a compf. I'm trying to use the word in a positive way. It's my comp. Ray Brand, re-brand. You know, I don't know. I just... I really... I did actually practice, like, I lived in this apartment building for 14 years. I just moved into my first house since growing up in New Hampshire. And... But I would walk in from the apartment building and there were mirrors by the elevator and I'd make myself look in the mirror and give myself a thumbs up. And... Even though it's silly, because it's silly, I guess, it always made me laugh. It just makes me laugh. So it's nice to have kind of inside jokes with yourself. I also became very comfortable talking out loud when I'm alone. Talk... You know, it's a funny... When you first try it as an experiment, you really have to, like, break through a wall like it feels so odd. And now I'm so comfortable doing it. Now, are you talking to yourself or other people, the world in general? I just talk out loud. I think just creatively, just as a human, I'll be saying, "My half of a conversation I'm imagining," or talk through, or just be in conversation with myself. You know, I mean, I think when someone has a dog, they feel comfortable doing that. But essentially... Yeah, totally. That isn't talking to yourself. You're talking to another living thing, but... Is it that, you know, remove the dog and there isn't a big difference in that conversation. And so I got really comfortable talking out loud so much so that I've had boyfriends that are like, "What?" And I'm like, "No, nothing! I wasn't talking to you." But I feel like I get a lot out of that just talking because we are always have this kind of inner monologue going on. Do we? I don't know. I think we do. Yeah, I think so. We're always thinking something. I mean, meditation is trying to clear that out so we must be always, you know, have something in our heads. Was that something that you always had that feeling of enjoyment or being at ease with yourself and you just had to resurrect it after getting lost in that relationship? Or was it something that you were kind of building from the ground up afterwards? My friends always made fun of me because I have the opposite of FOMO. You know, like one of my best friends, John. He loves telling the story that I was living in West Hollywood and all my friends lived on the East Side and I just never saw them because I couldn't even imagine getting in my car and going to a bar to hang out. I don't know why. I just, I like staying home. I love watching TV. It's, you know, listen, it's not very intellectual, but it's really my joy. And there was a birthday party for two really close friends, not even a block away. And I didn't make it. And he was just like, you're unbelievable. But when I do go out, I am social and I love talking to people and meeting new people and I am a people person. But I just really love, I love being alone. And I've had friends, especially now, really annoyed with me that I'm not connecting with them. And I feel busy because when I have free time, I want to take a nap or watch TV or snuggle with my dog. I love my friends and I do drop the ball a lot. I have a lot of friends that say, why is it always me calling you? And I feel terrible because I love them and I think of them and I keep track of them, you know, on social meat, whatever. This is, this is asshole excuses, but I'm really not good at staying connected. Makes me think of French Jason Fried talking about the opposite of FOMO as JOMO, the joy of missing out.
Is there a TV series you have re-watched multiple timesUncut Gems?] (11:55)
Yes, that's great. Yes, that's his take. I mean, there's nothing better than someone canceling clowns for me. I'm just like, surprise gift. So you mentioned watching TV. Are there series that you have rewatched multiple times or watched multiple times? Or if you had to, is there anything that jumps to mind, is something that you would absolutely replay? Law and order is my safe space. I just something about this soft core murder. Kind of like, like, committee of version of things ripped from the headlines, like not not true crime, but. Homicidal, but approachable. Yeah, you know, you're really see blood, you know, but it's, it's all Broadway actors, you know, playing cops and lawyers and I love watching the same actors playing different roles, you know, and just, I just, and it's just, what I think, I think it comes from this, which is when you're on the road. It's a constant. Wherever you are, you can find a law and order and it, it's like my, what do they call it in the, my totem. Yeah, totally. Yeah, yeah, it's like a totem of some type. It's a constant, you know, it's something I can always, you know, I used to bring the same like, plaid blanket that I'd shove into my bag, just so I could put it over the hotel blanket and just have like something just consistent. Yeah, for sure. So it feels like home. Law and order has just always been that and now I'm, it's so funny, like I'm discovering. I'm loving Colombo. From the 70s and 80s. The classic. Oh, it's so good. And just bizarre. And I tend to not watch comedies, even though I really should. And when I do, I'm glad I did. But I think as a comedian, it feels stressful. I don't go like, oh, this would be relaxing, you know, either it's, I don't like it or I like it and I go, oh God, I wish I wrote that. But I do end up liking it. And one show that's on that I watch the whole first three seasons twice through. And I'm waiting for the fourth season. And it's a comedy is what we do in the shadows. What we do in the shadows? What is it about? Oh my gosh. It's on FX. It is. It looks like a reality show. All right.
What We Do in the Shadows (14:25)
Because it's one of those like mockumentary style. But it's about these three vampires living together in a house in Staten Island. And it's very like kind of show about nothing, like just about everyday life getting along. But then they have unbelievable effects. So to see that in a format that's like reality TV. Yeah. The contrast is so fascinating and it's just brilliant. That's amazing. I didn't realize that I knew that name sounded familiar and I didn't realize that it was made into a TV show because it started as the New Zealand mockumentary. I knew that I recognized the name. It's a move. Tycho a TT. Tycho a TT. And the Jermaine Clement. That's right. Yeah. Yeah. That was outstanding. I had no idea that it had been made into a television series. The movie is so great, but I have to say I love this series even more. There's just some, the actors are unbelievable. But it brings me a lot of joy. It doesn't give me that comedy stress for some reason. I think I'm growing out of it. When you say comedy stress, what does that mean? Like you're analyzing it as it plays out in front of you because it's your craft? What do you mean by comedy stress?
Writing "The Bedwetter" (15:37)
I think so. And I think I've shed bad a lot. But I think comedians kind of go one of two ways. Either they watch every, you know, like Judd Apatow watches everything comedy that comes with you. Like a comedy that comes out, podcast movie, TV. He just loves consuming. He loves comedy. Yeah. It's like when you watch like a Scorsese film or a Tarantino film where you go like, "Oh, these movies are made by someone who loves movies." Right. I think Judd is like a vat school. Then there are other comedians and I'm not proud that I fall into this, that just, it's not relaxing to watch comedy. It's relaxing to watch a murder mystery. Or, you know, like for me, I like thrillers or murder stuff, peaky blinders stuff. That's just not in my world. Something that I can just get lost in. When you wrote your memoir, "The Bedwetter Stories of Courage, Redemption and Pea," was there any part that you found particularly or very cathartic to put down on paper? I mean, you've lived so publicly, shared so many stories. Was there anything that just felt different or freeing or cathartic when you put it in the book? Or the opposite, extremely difficult to kind of put down? Well, the first couple months of stuff I wrote, I had to throw away because it was, I was writing the way I saw it. A writer should write. Instead of just the prose of how I talk, you know, or just me, however that is. Using your voice. The first time I did "Fresh Air with Terry Gross," I remember I was like, "Well, Terry, you know." And then I was just like, "Who is this?" You know, I felt like I had to, I grew up in here. I wanted to have that voice. So these moments where I found myself trying to do or be what I've seen before, what is normal or what, you know, and then I had to just throw it out. And I was writing with such furrowed brow, and you could see it. Then just almost being an investigative reporter in my life, interviewing my parents and seeing how those stories, their perspective on things were the same and where they were different, and kind of be a detective in my own life to be able to tell a story. And realizing stuff I never realized, you know, having to deconstruct, I was like, "Oh, God, well, deconstructing comedy just ruins it." But it kind of doesn't. It's interesting. And to me, it's fascinating. It's what I love. And writing that book made me realize, really see the trajectory of how I became a comedian because I had a dad who thought it was hilarious to teach his three-year-old swears. And then I would yell those swears at the market, you know, and I just remember the feeling of yelling it out and all these grown-ups giving me this wild approval despite themselves. And that feeling, I just became addicted. I remember my arms itched with glee. And of course, I chased that. I chased it. Shock became my currency at three and four and five, you know? And it just made so much sense, you know, looking at how I depended on that. And then after my first special, which was a stand-up movie, actually, I didn't get a special with anyone, but the guy from Interscope was like, "Oh, like a movie!" And in Jesus's magic was my first special. It came out like a movie. And after that, I had to start over. Like, that was my first special, so it was the best of everything I had ever done. Right. Now I had nothing. I had done it as a one woman show for a few years. And then it came out in 2004, 2005. So I had been working with all that material for so long. And then I just kept doing it a little bit. After it came out. Yeah, I just didn't know what to do because I had a real identity crisis. And it was a great moment of growth in a way because people didn't want to see the same material. I had to write new material. But in order to do that, I had to disappoint audiences. I had to start over. And now people came to see me. I wasn't just maybe a number seven at the improv lineup. People were coming to see me, but I had to start over. But what they expected was to be shocked and surprised. And I wanted to give them that. And I didn't know how to do that because they had an expectation of it now. What I had to realize was comedy dies in the second guessing of what your audience wants to see. It was never how I had started. And now I found myself in this place where I was like, well, if they're expecting to be surprised, they need to surprise them. But then I'm giving them what they're expecting. And I just have to stop. And I got very inspired by watching Chris Rock, who does a special, I mean, he's such a pro. He goes out on the road. He runs it, runs it, runs it tweaks it, you know, all those things. And then he starts at zero. And he goes to the comedy seller wherever he goes. And they bring him up and the audience goes bananas. And he doesn't take on that pressure of wanting to give them what they want to see. He just, what do I got? You know, he brings it down to zero. He, and he just, he bombs. And maybe one or two or three things. There's something there. And it's work. And you have to be brave enough to eat a bowl of shit and try new stuff and see where it goes. And then some stuff that bombs you cut and some stuff that bombs you still believe in. There's something here I like this. It could be just missing a beat or an end or, you know, an article of a word or I'm setting it up too much or I'm not setting it up enough. The point is you have to be brave enough to bomb again and start over even if you're famous, even if people come to see you and you know they're going to be disappointed because that process is you can't avoid it. You can't write a monologue at home and memorize it. It's just not how comedy works. The audience is half of it.
Tina's experience on SNL (22:33)
I would have to imagine a toughness that you develop through repetitions of that attempting to rise from the ashes like a phoenix with zero just eating shit sandwiches over and over again. I have read, and I actually don't know the details on this kind of deliberately because if I knew all the answers to the questions I was going to ask that would be very boring for me. I would love to hear a bit about your Saturday at Live experience because I've read that helped you to become tougher and I don't know if that's true and I also don't know the details of what happened, but could you perhaps just describe what your experience was? I think what I meant was it really was like a bootcamp, you know, and I remember going in thinking, "Oh my gosh, I have this job where I can dream things up and then they're on television." And it didn't necessarily go that way, but it was a great experience and I learned so much. And, you know, it was still very much a boys club, you know, to use that old. And there were not many women around and it was just a very different time. It was about to really change, but it hadn't yet. I did like it and I got along with everyone and I really shined on Thursday nights for punch-ups. That was like where I could really... What is punch-up? Oh, so Thursday night you take the writer's room, you sit around a big table, I mean, this is how it was in '94. And you go through all of the scripts that are now chosen to be on the show and you punch them up, you know, "Oh, there could be a joke here. Let's think there maybe there's something better for this." Just go through it and try to make it better as a group. Yep. And boy, I mean, it was... There were computers then, but we still wrote on legal pads and gave it to a room of typists. I remember my first day I was put with these three guys who were hired right out of Harvard. And we were all 22, but I didn't go to college. I was a stand-up, you know, and they kind of put us together because we were the kids and the newbies or whatever. And I spent the whole day with these guys. And at the end of it, they thought I was a typeist. They just assumed I was a typist. At the end of the day. And I was like, "We're hanging out. We're getting to know each other." And they go, "So are you a typist?" And I was like, "What? I'm a writer like you." And it was just... You know, I always think of how it was for me to be a woman in comedy as how it was for me to be a woman in basketball.
Tina's take on the importance of sports in shaping who she is today (25:16)
Because I played basketball growing up but not at school. I played at the Y. And so I always played with almost all men. And I still, although I haven't played since March 2020, play pickup games with almost all men, sometimes a woman will play. And it's great. And I always demand that we're on the same team because I hate how they always go, "Well, you will each take a girl." And I played my whole life. I play, you know. But that feeling of going to pickup games and the... You can feel guys rolling their eyes or a burden they feel that they have a girl on their team or this. And having to prove yourself so much. And I like using this analogy with other women in comedy or other women that I play basketball with. You know, every shot has a woman that you shoot and miss is like missing 100 baskets. Because you feel the weight of the guy go, "Oh." And maybe I'm putting that on them. You know, it's not for... Maybe it's true and maybe I'm putting it on them. And either way, it shouldn't be in my head but it is. And you carry this weight and it doesn't help you. And I always say, sometimes, especially in New York, I love just watching the pickup games and stuff. And there's always maybe there's a woman playing. And I go, "Watch how many times these guys shoot and miss and shake it off and shoot again and shoot again and shoot again." That's how you get better. You cannot take on this. "Oh, I'm a woman in a guy's game." And I, you know, that feeling that if I shoot and miss, I better not shoot for a while. I better just work on setting picks and it really taught me something. Suddenly taking the focus off of myself, which is really like a self-centeredness and watching the guys and watching them fail, shake it off, shoot again, shoot again, and go, "Oh, yeah. Yeah. I can keep shooting if I have a shot, I should shoot." Does that make sense at all as an analogy? It does make sense. It does make sense. My understanding with the, with the SNL. Oh, God, I completely forgot where to go. No, no, no, that's okay. No, that's okay because I think it ties to the basketball. Is it true that you got fired by fax or let go by fax? I got a call, a three-way call from my agent, my manager, and I, it never occurred to me that I wasn't coming back. I was already ready to sketch this. I was like, "And this year's going to be better. It's going to be great." You know, and I go, "Oh, they're both calling me." "Wow, hello, you know. What wonderful news must this be?" And of course, I was fired and they said that they had gotten a fax. They had gotten a fax. It's fine that they got a fax. That's the business. That's how it was. They let go of a lot of people that were, had their first year that year. Yeah. But I remember starting out comedy and, and Guy Comics giving me advice and they go, "The best woman comic is Paula Poundstone." And that was probably true. I love her. But they go, "And the reason is because a guy could do the same material and it would work." And I bought it. I bought that. I mean, looking back, I'm just like, that's so absurd that a woman comic couldn't talk about the experience of being a woman. Well, the conceit was, yes, the audience is half men and half women, but the women are in date and they only laugh as the man laughs. So your audience is the men. Never thought about that. Well, it's absurd and stupid. Yeah. That was what it was. You mentioned not taking on this burden of, for lack of a better term, kind of hiding, say, as a woman taking a shot in a basketball game, if you happen to miss. In the case of SNL, because part of what's impressed me, does impress me still about you is just your longevity in the craft. I mean, it's really, no, it's remarkable. It's really remarkable. And it's not altogether common at all. And I'm curious after the SNL, were you able to dust yourself off and just get right back to work quickly? Did it take a while to recover from? Yes. All right, please tell me more. I have a Polaroid picture I took of myself and I saw it when I was moving, you know, and I had cut my bangs, like, maybe an inch, just insane looking bangs. And it just says no confidence on it. I wrote. And I just, I remember thinking, like, am I in show business? I mean, like, I didn't know where I fit in. I didn't know who I was. I didn't know how to just, you know, and eventually I just pulled my head down and kept doing stand up and it led me, wherever it led me. I've really never made a plan in show business. I've never thought like, I want to do this or I know this is maybe not, you know, it's not advice at all, but I've never set goals for myself. I just always kind of, I don't know. I love the stuff I do. I think of myself as I do odd jobs. And like, when I couldn't do stand up, I said, well, I was, I have to do a podcast. I'm, what am I going to do with all of this? You know, but I do think part of the longevity is just being open to be changed. And what I learned after that first special that I talked about, that really changed my life, along with therapy, great therapy. But to be brave enough to bomb, to change and no longer have the same fans, to disappoint people and just go on the trajectory, I go on, you know, there's a line and a song and a musical Sunday in the park with George. It's a song called move on. And she says, the choice may be mistaken. The choosing is not. You've got to move on. And it does free you. I feel like you can thinking about it. The whole play is quite brilliant. It's about art, you know, and life. But it doesn't matter the choice. It doesn't make a difference. You're going to wind up where you're going to wind up, but make one, you know, because it can be so paralyzing, I think. Totally. Not wanting to make a mistake. And I think what I learned from that basketball analogy as well, along with a brilliant quote by Charlie Kaufman, and it's being talked about a lot just in general is how essential failure is and what you do with it, which is not a new concept anymore. Is this it? I'm just pulled it up. Failure is a badge of honor. It means you've risked failure. If you don't risk failure, you're never going to do anything that's different than what you've already done or what someone else has done. Oh, well, I never heard the whole thing. All I knew is don't fear failure. Failure should be a badge of honor. It means you risked failure. You know, and look at all these, you know, the concept of cancel culture, and I can argue either side of it passionately. But another thing is if you think of yourself as a risk taker in comedy, for instance, the thing that makes it a risk is that there's something to lose is that there's consequences. You can't just say, I'm risky and then be angry if there are any consequences. You got to take it. Yeah. And be changed by it or disagree with it maybe, but wonder about it. It's like when you get notes from a network and I know there must be a, I know this sounds very specific to show business, but of course, any job where you have a boss. And you get notes from a network and you go, this stupid, this is not even, there's always something that they're on to, some germ of something, the spirit of that note that you need to figure out because they're on to something. But they maybe don't know how to articulate it. The first sentence in that quote by Charlie Kaufman that I don't have any context for was do not simplify. And then it goes on to do not fear failure. And I wonder what that refers to. That's an interesting sense. We need to find the whole thing. So I'll put it in the show now. Inspirational writing advice from Charlie Kaufman. It's on YouTube. We're gonna have to watch it. I heard it as a quote where I read it as a quote and I was like, Oh my God, and completely attach myself to it. And of course, I never just googled the whole thing. Now I'm very excited to watch.
The one quote that sums up how Tina feels about politics (34:18)
Yeah, it's 41 minutes. We'll link to that. And Charlie Kaufman's got all sorts of good quotes. Say who you are, really sit in your life and in your work. Tell someone out there who has lost someone not yet or someone who will be born for 500 years. Your writing will be a record of your time. It can't help but be that. But more importantly, if you're honest about who you are, you'll help that person be less lonely in their world because that person will recognize him or herself in you and that will give them hope. Charlie Kaufman, I'm sold. Charlie Kaufman, who was, as I understand it, one of modern sin, it was celebrated writers with work, including surreal fantasy being John Malkovich, cerebral sci-fi eternal sunshine of the spotless mind, comedy, drama adaptation, and extraordinary animation. And now, Melissa, Anna, Melissa. Oh, yeah. Wow. All right. Well, we will put that video, inspirational writing advice from Charlie Kaufman, 41 minutes in the show notes.
Philosophical ponderings on group dynamics and our shared future. (35:14)
I have spent way too much time on the internet with this kind of accidental audience or unexpected audience after my first book in 2007. And I've seen in the last, say, four or five years, some really disconcerting patterns emerge, just watching this large, I mean, for me, you know, large-ish following. Massive. I've seen a lot of well-intentioned, you know, in some cases, well-educated. It doesn't really matter. But thoughtful people get pushed to the polar ends into these extremes or pushed themselves or just been led by algorithms. Who knows? Right. It makes me think of, and I could also be getting the facts wrong on this, but it was either Fahrenheit 451 or 1984, one of those lovely dystopian novels that makes me think of the book burning in one of them, but probably Fahrenheit 451. And there's this kind of monolithic state in the firemen and so on, but the book burning started with the people, the people themselves burning the books and the kind of righteousness, horn, and like reputational assassination that I've seen, even among people who would think to be at the same kind of tribe, let's just say listeners of this podcast is really disconcerting to me. And I'm curious to know where you think this goes? Like, does it burn itself out in some fashion? Does it get increasingly bad with higher and higher consequences? Because you're watching a lot of these events unfold and you're noticing them. If you had to hazard a guess, where do you think this goes, right? Three years from now, two or three years or four or five years from now? What do you think it looks like? I'm going to have to say a very solid, I don't know. I couldn't begin to guess what the future holds for us in terms of this. I think the sooner people realize we're all totally connected and you're fighting with yourself, basically, the better. But I do think there's really, like, the pendulum has frozen in both extremes. Yeah. And they're almost a mirror image of each other in a real fucked up way, as much as neither side would want to see that. Yeah. But I don't know. I don't know how to answer that. I mean, listen, when you leave social media for a while, you realize it's not the whole world. It's not even most of the world or half of the world. It's a very small part of the world. Yeah. But it's given us this thing where we, in real time, can see how, like, almost everyone feels, and it's... Yeah, I don't know. I don't know where it's going to go from here. I'm listening. Facebook and YouTube radicalize people by algorithm. You know, it's not like they're set up to do it, but Greed has made them do it because it... inciting rage is, they found very lucrative. Yeah. Twitter too. And Twitter. And so you see a headline, and the headline is designed, even reputable places now. Their headline is clickbait. It's so one small piece of a story that is the most salacious. Yes. And maybe if you click on it and read it, proves to be not be true at all or is wildly minimal to... but who clicks on it and reads it? Very few people. They're reacting to it. So it's just these little beams of light coming out at your face to upset you and make you angry and whether you're... whoever you are, it's designed just for you. Yeah. This, you know, I guess on the podcast, very bright guy who has the most endurance of any guest. I've ever had Balaji Srini Vasan. He talks about the media you consume having root access to your brain in the same way that you can have root access to a computer and therefore control the computer, right? So if coding is scripting the behavior, let's just call it behavior of computers, then media is basically the code that gets installed into humans. And so when you have algorithms on Twitter or anywhere else, for that matter, YouTube, right, that are kind of self-perpetuating by reinforcing to greater and greater extremes because they're more effective for producing clicks. Of course, I'm not a Nostradamus. I don't know where that leads, but I do see more and more examples of the kind of hatred and vitriol online resulting in people getting docked. So like, right, so having their physical addresses and personal information posted in the hopes that there will be some type of violent consequence. And I think it's also just my nature. I come from a long line of warriors. So I think that it's I have to be aware of my predisposition to go to worst case scenarios. I don't know. There's some part of me that may be perversely just get something out of imagining these. I think for a lot of people, and I think myself included, and I really see it like in my stepmom and so many of us that worry is even though we don't want to be in worry, we don't want to be worried.
What is self-loathing, and how do we overcome it? (40:58)
It's our comfort zone because it's familiar. Do you experience that yourself or do you see that more so? I do. I do. I mean, all these things I know and talk about are purely aspirational for me. I can hear myself talking. I mean, my mouth. Well, I mean, in a sense, they're aspirational, but I'm still impressed by this sort of success story around the be your own best friend. I think that's very rare. I think that at least in my kind of concentric circle of friends, I think that particularly if people are driven and I think even though you may not have a five or ten year or twenty year plan, I mean, I think most people would consider you very successful in what you do. A lot of that drive seems to translate to people being very dissatisfied with themselves or hypercritical of themselves, or at least they seem to correlate. So, I mean, what advice would you give somebody who's maybe prone to self-flagellating? Would you have any advice to them if they're just, they're not yet at a place where they maybe, they maybe they don't even particularly like themselves, right? But they use work as a way to occupy their minds so that they're distracted from them. I think in terms of the self-flagellation, I see it and I don't mean this to add to pile on someone who is constantly putting themselves down in their head or out loud. But it is not modesty. It is self-obsession. Unless those thoughts turn into change that make you into the person you would be very happy to be, then it's very masturbatory. You're not seeing there's no room to observe and watch and be delighted and amused by others. It's just all self. And listen, I have friends that are comics that cannot be alone. They are out until four in the morning and only go home when they can drop to sleep. And it worries me, some of my friends. Why do you think they do that? Because being alone is terrifying for them. Being still, being alone, being alone with their thoughts is terrifying. And listen, I admit to you, I love being alone, but alone with my thoughts is a whole other thing. I mean, I am often, but I still constantly entertain myself with television and radio and radio. I just think when you accept yourself, the way you accept any schmuck on the street, you just have a lot more room for other stuff. You know, I had a therapist who said, "Look in the mirror less." And I found it to be incredibly profound. Just know that any one of us looking in the mirror does not see what other people see. Not that what other people see is what's important, but we cognitively distort what we see in the mirror so much. I mean, look at the whole thing with selfies. And I see it the same as people who heckle. And I know that sounds really weird connection. But hecklers to me, whether they're yelling something out lovely, or mean, or whatever it is, it's interrupting, you know, like a show. And the same with people who are constantly taking selfies, I feel like the subtext is the same for both, which is, "I exist, right?" And that's ultimately what it is. Life is this existential crisis of like, "What is it to exist?" And we need it to mean something. Yeah, I completely agree with you on the... And I say this as someone who I think is pretty self-absorbed as evidenced by my sort of depressive episodes in the past. Same! No, but because it is sort of the "me, me, me, I, I" song, right? When you're either suffering from depression or anxiety, you're kind of trapped in a self-referential loop, right? Yeah, it's not conceited. It's not, you know, it's awful, but it's to be consumed. Yeah. And I think that what's been hard for me is realizing that, but not being able to extricate myself from that loop, right?
The ways talk therapy has been most helpful to Sarah. (45:27)
So this might be a good time to just ask in what ways therapy has been most helpful to you. So there's good, the bad, and the ugly among therapists, right? So I'm wondering how has therapy most helped you? Or why has it been helpful? Besides that, it's another perspective on your life, you know? Like, you know, and how you see things and how you relate to people. Listen, there are plenty of terrible therapists out there, but it's always bizarre to me that people will drive ten different cars to see which one they like best or what, you know? And, you know, if you're lucky enough to be able to afford therapy and it's becoming at once less and less accessible and more and more accessible, because there's a lot of stuff online and there's a lot of stuff. I mean, the best therapists I ever had charged $100 a session. This is recently, you know, up until very recently. But I mean, that's not nothing, but it's for therapy. It's pretty good, but it's become more and more accessible. And I just think, find the right, you know, if you have the luxury to be able to find the right one for you, do that. But I found the right one for me. And he just changed my perspective in a lot of ways. And I, you want some greatest hits? Yeah, definitely. Sounds like you have a couple of locked and loaded, so let's do it. I've won, he said, "Have you ever predicted anything that's happened in your life?" And he'd go, "Well, yeah, you can move, I guess not." Because we're looking through a pinhole. You don't know what's coming up next. We have a fear of the unknown. That's why we tend to, and I'm very ritualistic and it's hard to get me to try new things, actually. And I try to break out of that. But we have a fear of the unknown. We have a fear of change. But like the truth is, you should be just on the edge of your seat. What's going to be next? You know, I don't know. We're looking through a pinhole. We don't know what's coming up next. I like that. He changed my perspective in a lot of ways. And I realized, like, listen, I see this when I think about, when I went into depression so fast, and I think about it in beautiful, wonderful ways as well. But I mean, you change your perspective by one degree and the whole room looks different. The whole world looks different.
Sarah'S Therapeutic Journey And Creative Endeavors
Sarah's new therapist. (48:06)
And that's neat to me. When you've been in the sweet spot, whatever that means from a therapy perspective, how often are you doing sessions? I said, "Once a week, twice a week, once every two weeks, what is your cadence?" I'm very erratic with it. I'll go once a week if I'm working through something. And sometimes I'll go like months or a month or something and be like, "I need to talk this out." I've gone for many years regularly and I kind of go starting actually with a new therapist. I've got my second session on Wednesday. Why are you starting with the new therapist if you had a great therapist? He's so wonderful. Well, I could just say he's retiring, but I actually left a little before he retired and I love him so much. But... And talk about path... I'm not giving him a path to redemption. He doesn't need to be redeemed. I just... We had a session after I lost my friend to COVID that I was my writing partner on this musical and the music part. And I had my first session with him since spending three months in New York during the first three months of the pandemic. And I told him the whole story of losing Adam and just seemed... It was also, you know, he texted me, "Oh my God, I think I have this thing." And then I'm like, "Oh, I'm still sick. I can't get a test anywhere. This is crazy. I have a really high fever." And then not getting any more texts and he was in the hospital. I'm in the hospital. I'm in the hospital with COVID. And then the text stopped and then his girlfriend was reaching out to us and then he was gone. I mean, because it was so early. They put on a ventilator and it was... Anyway, I tell him the whole story. And I guess I don't have to not say this because it's my therapy. I feel like he was like, "Well, what did it say on his death certificate?" Because they're calling everything COVID now, you know, because they pay hospitals, $30,000 to call something. And like he's like a COVID denier. And I don't care what he is, but he didn't need to bring it there. And I was pretty positive. The thing to say was, "Are you okay? I ate over." Gee, I'm so sorry. And now I feel like someone online who he didn't say exactly what I needed him to say. And now I'm angry at him. I'm not angry at him. I love him. And I'm so grateful for him, but I just needed to detach with love. And I have a very close friend who also knows him and said, "Just talk to him about it." Or whatever. And for some reason, I just don't feel angry about it. I just want to kind of move on. I had so wonderful years with him and I don't need him to say something. You know, listen, he's on his own thing and I'm so grateful for what he taught me, but I just kind of moved on. Like you can get a lot from someone and a lot of value and they can do something you really disagree with. Yeah. The latter does not necessarily negate the former, which is hard to sometimes see out there on social media. Boy, yeah, it's odd that we seem to be living in a world where people just expect you to... If you say something that wasn't what, in their mind, what you should say, they're just so disappointed. You know, I've always maintained, like, personally, I go, "Hey, I'm not everyone's cup of tea and it's okay if you don't like what I say. It's okay if you're not no longer a fan." Yeah. I had the author and she's just an incredible historian and historical thinker. Doris Kerns Goodwin on the podcast. I asked her if she thought leaders like, say, a Abraham Lincoln or an FDR or a Churchill could exist, could actually be elected in today's day and age. And she said, "No, because the veneer of perfection has to be... The facade has to be presented in such a way that, you know, if any of the kind of foibles and flaws of many of these things, of many of these leaders had been transparent or were transparent in today's day and age. There's no way they would get elected, even though in other respects are really effective. So it's definitely... I don't know why today is the day I've decided to showcase all my dystopian concerns about the next five to ten years. I bring it out in people. Now, the Sarah Silverman podcast, I think you alluded to at least one of the reasons perhaps that you began the podcast, but why did you decide to start the podcast?
Why Sarah decided to start her podcast. (52:52)
The pandemic happened and I couldn't do stand-up and I just felt like this is... I have... where do I put all this? And just made sense to do a podcast. I've been resisting doing a podcast for so long. Why'd you been resisting it? 'Cause like everyone was doing it, I was in an OG like you. But I really liked the idea of being able to talk to hear from people all over. And I'm shocked by the people who call from so many other countries. I didn't even... it occurred to me that... it's just so... so American. It didn't occur to me that this would go to other countries across my mind. So that's been really neat. But just that people from all over are really calling in and it was... I was hoping that would happen and... you know, it's voicemails. Every once in a while ago, I need to talk to this person more and we'll call. But it's mostly voicemails and people will call in and follow up. And I've become kind of connected to this kind of community, but it's always changing. And I really... I love the... it's so different from my stand-up. First of all, like sometimes I listen back to the podcast. I go... there's no evidence of a comedian. Like, who do I think I am? Like, you know, but then... I don't know. I try to remember joy before I go on. I go, "Stop taking yourself seriously." I go, "You're embar- it's so..." Once I take a little puff at night and then if I listen to some podcast, I go, "Who the fuck do you think you are?" It's like embarrassing to me, but then I go back and do it again and people call in with questions and I really feel like I can help or at least say what I'm thinking. You know, it's morphed into this thing that I didn't expect and I didn't really know what it would be. But I knew I just wanted to talk and hear people's thoughts and opinions and then let that be the trajectory of the episode. And it's been really fun.
How Sarah Picks Her New Pete Voice Messages To Respond To (55:09)
How do you choose which to speak to? Because you use... I was looking at your Twitter feed. You have an enormous New York City plus-sized Twitter following, like 12 points, something million. And you use Speakpipe. But with that sized audience, you must get an absolute avalanche of different voice messages. How do you choose what to respond to? I've got two producers on the show, Raj and Diana, and they go through all of them and they bring me about 20. We listen to them the night before, like tonight, because I record on Tuesdays and it comes out on Thursday. But it, you know, and I just go, "Oh, yeah, that's good." You know, I kind of talked through like what I might say and I just, "Yeah, yeah, let's do that one." And I pick, I probably pick like 18 of the 20, you know, and then that night or the next morning, I'll kind of think about it more and make like an outline and just to have thoughts in my head. And then we record and sometimes I respond to the way I planned and sometimes I don't at all. I go a different direction. And I always record way more than we need and so either throw stuff away or if it's evergreen, you know, could be used in other week. It's not about like the news of the this week or something. We might save it because then I, when I work on the play in March, March April, May, I'll probably be able to do some episodes in New York, but I like to, you know, stockpile some that are brand new, but are could be any, could be a month from now or so. And maybe you didn't want those exact details, but that's how it basically how it goes. Are you kidding? I love exact details. Yeah, all right. What am I talking to? I stock by exact details so you're in good shape. It's interesting because with my stand up, I'm a very slow honer. I'll work on a joke for months, months, months, months, maybe even a year, a year. And I hone it so slowly, even though it may sound kind of in the moment, you know, I'm working on it inch by inch. And on the podcast, it's very immediate. It's messy. I'm loving now being able to, now that I can do stand up more and more, less and less and more and more depending, they're very different, you know, and it's, I like doing odd jobs. I like doing different stuff.
When Worlds Converge... and Don't (57:40)
And when they converge, it's kind of neat where if I say something, I go, "Oh, that could maybe be a joke," you know, but... Has anything from the podcast popped in an unusual way for you where one topic or one episode unexpectedly got particular traction? Has anything been really surprising for you overall? Yeah, I'm always surprised. Well, you know, at first I was like, you know, I usually pick like three little clips to post on social media. Yeah. And do we go with what works best or do we go with what, you know, it's because it's a quandary because then you become... You run into the same problem with second guessing the audience on stage, right? Yeah. So this is... I want to dig into this because this is an important choice, right? Do you use what you think is going to get kind of the cheap applause, so to speak, or like the easy layup, or do you use something else? So how do you make that? Right. But the irony is, and I don't know if this irony, but I would post those clips that I thought were funny. And then, like, I post something and I go, "Ugh, this is like opinionated, thinky, hippy, dippy, granola, you know, stuff that is also me." And people really responded to the more serious stuff. There's some... A couple of communities that have become like motivational speakers, and it's, you know, I find it incredibly obnoxious, and then I'm like, "How am I different? Am I doing that?" You know, but I think maybe that's why, because people always go, "Why do you always say you're talking out of your ass?" Like, "Because I am. This is me in process trying to make sense of life." And so my answers, there's no authority in my answers other than my own life experience and having not died. I've lived all along while I hope to keep living a little island. I have learned a bunch of stuff. But, uh, it's a fine line, and I would be horrified if I saw that I had become that. And I really spot when people qualify things a lot, and now I'm doing it right now. And I go to my shows up as a writer. "Oh, I don't know. I'll talk it out of my ass. What do I do?" But I feel like it means that qualifier just to prevent me feeling like I think I know best, you know? But my mother was like that. And I've become my mother. She couldn't help, but there were not enough comments, cards in the world for my mother. She felt she could correct so many things, just in the strangers around her. It was almost like a horror movie. You could pick up a book. There was a book she had that was like a guide to Santa Barbara. And it had like in pen corrections all throughout it. Like grammar or anything. But now I've found that I've become that person that I'm like, "I'm helping." Like she would always go, "I'm helping." You know? And I would go, "Ugh." But you know, I was at like 7-Eleven, and a kid, you know, 19-year-old kid or something was buying orange soda and Doritos. And I just couldn't control myself. And I was like, "Really? I'm almonds are the same price." "I- This is what you're feeding your body." I'm just like, "Oh my God, Sarah." I'm helping. I'm helping.
First dramatic role I Smile Back. (01:01:11)
I would love to ask you, there are a few questions. I'll tell you what. I'll give you a two-furn. You can pick which one you want to answer first. Okay. So the first is how you chose to become involved with I Smile Back. And the other is what you learned or any kind of lessons taken away from Gary Shandling. Oh, I'll just do both of them in order. Yeah. I Smile Back was a book written by Amy Coppelman, and she had sent it to my agent at the time, who's a real character. You ever want to interview an agent? I don't know why you would want to, but he's fascinating. Michael Keyvis. And he sent it to me and he said, "She wants you to play this part." And I was like, "She does?" And I read it and it was really interesting. And then she and her friend Paige Dillon wrote the screenplay. And then they were very, I said I'd do it and they were really collaborative and we worked on a lot of it together. And it was very hard. I mean, you know, I remember thinking, "Yeah, this is a really heavy movie." But it doesn't mean it's not going to be fun. Like, yeah, I'll act. That it's the reality of the moment and then they'll say cut and we'll have, you know, be fun. And it was. It was a good experience. But it was so, I didn't know that, you know, you have to have your 10,000, 100,000 hours in. Tom Hanks seems like he can just, you know, I always heard he jokes around and he's, you know, well, he's like the, the bell of the bell. He's like funny and all this. And then they say action and he's Captain Phillips. Right. I don't have the experience to be able to access everything. Like once I access those kind of things, they're just on my lap, you know? So it was, I remember a friend would call and say, "How's it going?" And I go, "It's, I don't, this is really the bummer." You know, like, I just, I wasn't able to just separate. So it was just a lot. Like two compartmentalized. But I'm so glad I did it and it was an incredible experience and that movie's really relentless though. Yeah. Even Precious had moments of relief, you know? I just go, "Yeah." This movie's just like too much. But, but it was really fun to do and, and, and Amy Cappelman just directed her next book that was made into a movie, which is really cool. Anyway, so that was that. Well, I just want to say two things real quick. So the first is, I thought you did an outstanding job. I think a lot of folks have exposure to your comedy, of course, and you as comic and so on, but less exposure to you in a dramatic capacity. And I thought you did a really outstanding job and a really nuanced job. So I wanted to say that. And I've had dinner with Amy before. She is a very smart, very observant, fascinating woman. So I wanted to, to also encourage people to check out her work. Yeah. Gary Shandley? Gary Shandley. What did I learn from him? You know, I can't say enough about him and, and really if anyone's, and if for anyone who's listening, please watch Judd Apatow's two-part documentary on him is. Is it the Zen diaries of Gary Shandley? Yeah. Is that the, yep. Oh, it's so good. And, and, and, but Gary was so generous and so he, we played basketball at his house every Sunday and there were star, you know, big celebrities that played. There were, you know, writers and systems, PA's that played good. It didn't matter. He, he assembled this ragtag group, you know, and they were all his friends equally. There are NCIS scripts that have benefited from, you know, that a writer would show to Gary and he'd give, you know, he, he, he, he put so much into helping writers, helping actors, everything he learned the hard way. He really offered out to us on a silver platter and some things you got to learn the hard way, but so many things I learned about silence about taking, you know, the, in standup even just the moments in between the words and the currency and that, you know, currency sounds like a, you know, or the, the specialness or that, that, that, that you're saying something in those moments just as well. And, and to not be afraid of them, to not feel like you need to feel that empty space. And it's interesting learning that for standup, but then in life, you know, I hear my dad when we talk on the phone. Now we FaceTime and it's different. But when we talk on the phone and there would be like a dip in conversation, he'd go, um, um, um, um, um, um, um, um, like that fear of silence or, you know, is, is so real in people. Yeah. I learned that from him. It's very interesting. And he was a studied Buddhism. He was a Buddhist. He was, but it wasn't because he was naturally that way. It's because he was riddled and he needed it. And that's all of us, right? Yeah. And trying to just be honest and get to the core of, you know, he kept a journal, which, you know, I think your comedy notebook is half journal. And he would say, just be Gary Shambling, whatever that is on stage, you know, or like all these things and, and Judd helped clean out his house and stuff and would post pictures of a lot of his journal pages that are, I don't think he would be upset about it.
What Sarah might put on a billboard. (01:07:12)
We're so revealing and so helpful. He wasn't perfect, but he was in search of, you know, and just even learning that or watching that in him was so fortifying and helpful. Here's a question that is sometimes directly leading to a dead end, but that that's on me. So I'll try it. Just be Gary Shambling made me think of this. So if you could put a message, any message could be a quote could be an image could be anything really on a billboard metaphorically speaking, just to get it out to hundreds of millions, billions of people. What might you put on that, Elbert? Two things come to mind. One is the story about Fred Phelps, who started the Westboro Baptist Church. I don't know this story. Oh, oh, so he started the Westboro Baptist Church. You've got to interview Megan Phelps Roper. She grew up in the Westboro Baptist Church and her story is amazing. She's amazing. Her change and the ways in which she didn't change, that she was always this beautiful person, but to grow up in something and believe it with your whole heart. Anyway, her story is incredible. Fred Phelps, her grandfather, started the Westboro Baptist Church. And of course, these are the people that show up to funerals with signs that say God hates bags. They're those people and people showed up at his funeral with signs that said, "Sorry for your loss." And I just thought that was the most beautiful act of protest, I remember. And for some reason, I feel like that on a billboard would be useful for everyone in some way.
Conclusion And Sarah'S Musical Project
Parting thoughts. (01:09:26)
I don't want to chub to much of your time, sir. I'm having a great time. Is there anything else that you would like to talk about? Is there anything else that you would like to comment on, any suggestions you'd like to make, anything you'd like to point people's attention to that comes to mind? I'll say what my auntie Martha told me. Grab joy where you can get it. Grab joy where you find it. I was single and I was in DC and I was supposed to go to LA for home to LA for a friend's memorial service. Comedians killed themselves a lot. And I kind of wanted to go back to New York to see this guy I was dating. I feel guilty. I go to New York. Grab joy where you can get it. Your friend is gone. You can honor him in your mind. You know what I mean, other ways. Grab joy where you can get it. Although comedian memorials are really fun. Okay, I can't let that sit. Tell me more. What makes them fun? Well, because I find funerals to be pretty fun usually. I mean, even if you're sobbing, you're with a group of people that loved this person talking about the greatest hits of who they were and how they impacted everyone. But with comedians, I mean, Gary's, Gary's Shanley's memorial was amazing. You're laughing and crying. Kevin Neeland, for lack of a better word, closed the show, the memorial. He was sobbing and he was killing. I mean, and it was just all real and true afterwards, when everyone goes their separate ways and lives life is when you grief punches you in the face, you know, and you're at line at Ralph's, you know, two weeks later. But you're just hearing the funniest stories and the greatest things they wrote and said. And it's a sit as a celebration. I think that's a, you know, Sarah Kate Silverman, where's the Kate from? I don't know. I think I was supposed to be named Kate Sarah Silverman and my Nana said, no, I know someone named Kate and she's, I don't like her or something. So they go, I don't know what we'll say Sarah Kate. That's the amazing story of my, if I was a boy, if I was a boy, I know I was going to be John Robert after the Kennedys. Wow. Yeah. I think Sarah Kate works. I like it. Yeah. Sarah Kate Silverman at Sarah K Silverman on Twitter. Thank you so much for taking the time. People should absolutely check out the Sarah Silverman podcast, where each week you can find joy where you can get it.
Sarah's musical, The Bedwetter (01:12:18)
One bite sized audio morsel at a time. Yeah. And your book, your first book memoir is the bedwetter stories of courage, redemption and pee.
Comedic Insights On Memorial Services
The unique commentaries at comedian memorial services. (01:12:28)
Oh, yeah. That's from 2010. It is from 2010. The musical. The musical is called the bedwetter and it comes out previous start in April at the Atlantic Theatre in New York and that is based on the book, but it's just the year I was 10. And I'm not in it. There's a little, little pint size, incredible me. I mean, the actresses get incredible. Well, congratulations. I know that's been a long time in the making. I know that your dad has been counting down the days as best I can tell. Yes. He's like, how much longer do I need to stay alive? And it's here. It's here in just a few months. Fingers crossed. And thank you so much for taking the time, Sarah. I really enjoyed the conversation and getting to know you, not just through doing the homework and research with the conversation, but having the conversation itself. And I hope that we get to have another conversation sometime. Me too. And for everybody listening, we will put links to everything in the show notes and you can find that at Tim.blog/podcast. And until next time, thank you for tuning in. Bye.