Adventures in LA
Lunch with Bill Grundfest, book recs from Twitter, and a newsletter I love (Stew’s Letter #101)
Howdy, happy Thursday.
Two weeks ago, I went to LA to catch up with some friends, surf, and generally escape the New York winter. Today’s email was mostly inspired by that trip.
Will this NFT be worth millions one day? Yes, almost certainly.
To all the new readers, welcome.
Haters, absolutely body slam that unsubscribe button.
Let’s get to it!
Notes from my lunch with Bill Grundfest
Bill founded The Comedy Cellar, the iconic comedy club in NYC where a number of famous comedians got their start. Bill personally helped discover and mentor Jon Stewart, Ray Ramano, and Bill Maher.
I recently re-shared his story on Twitter, where it blew up (2M+ impressions and counting 🤯).
Bill and I did lunch while I was in LA. We scheduled lunch for an hour, but it quickly evolved into a 3-hour mega-conversation about… everything. We didn’t record the conversation, but I thought you all might enjoy some of my notes:
At lunch, Bill drew out the evolutionary tree of comedy, charting out how every comic is a descendent of the comics that came before them. I asked who the common ancestor of all comedy was. He didn’t miss a beat: “God.”
The cultural revolution in the ’60s laid the groundwork for comedians like Richard Pryor to reinvent themselves as edgier and raw, ushering in a new era of comedy.
I asked Bill how far talent alone will get you in Hollywood. Who wins – the genius or the somewhat-talented person who hustles? His answer: “Whoever wants it more.”
Radical kindness is a core value at the Comedy Cellar. It’s how they treat the comics, the audience, and even the occasional group of protestors (inviting them inside for coffee). Kindness is built into the DNA of the Cellar’s culture.
Art and commerce. Lots of artists view any sort of commerce as selling out or evil, and a lot of business people don’t appreciate art. “I’ve never seen the two in conflict. I love the game of combing the two.”
On marriage: “Marriage will help you grow as a person. Unfortunately, I never wanted to grow.” 😂
They say never meet your heroes, but Bill is my exception.
What’s a book that’s had a meaningful, tangible impact on your life?
Last week, I asked Twitter:
“What book has had a meaningful, tangible impact on your life?”
I wanted to hear about books that weren’t just interesting to read, but actually nudged people’s lives in a different direction.
I got over 1,000 responses. These were some of the most popular answers:
More than anything, I enjoyed reading the ways in which specific books impacted people (example: Julie Mosow’s story here).
For the full list of books, check out the original tweet.
🗞 Newsletter I love: Every
Over the past two years, I’ve subscribed to over 100 newsletters.
For the sake of your sanity, I’ll start to spotlight the best of what I’ve found here so that you can spare your inbox the bloat.
I’ll start with my most-highlighted newsletter: Every.
Every reliably produces some of the most thoughtful explainers and analyses on productivity, strategy, Web3, the creator economy, and even writing (😻) – in other words, they hit nearly all of my professional passions.
They seem to have an uncanny spidey sense of what to cover, publishing thoughtful explorations on new questions just as they arise for me.
If this sounds like your jam, you can subscribe here (there’s a free tier).
(p.s. what are some newsletters you love? Reply to this email and let me know!)
💭 Thought of the week
One measure of any relationship is how many textures of laughter you've heard in the other person.
🔥 Fire TikToks
Romans after the first day. So stupid, so good.
Meryl Streep improvised 20+ fake phone calls while shooting Don’t Look Up. For some reason, this clip reminded me of The Onion’s “In The Know with Clifford Banes,” a fictional talk show where the host is never actually present and the fill-in hosts offer absurd explanations for why.
📸 Photo of the week
I surfed nearly every day I was in LA.
On the first day, I paddled out with my buddies Mack Howell and Chris Taylor (if you’re a baseball fan, you might know Chris). We got steamrolled by blown-out, 8-foot walls of water for about an hour before we paddled back in.
I had more luck the next day, where I surfed with Mack and Khe Hy. We managed to catch some glassy-and-fun head-high closeouts all morning.
I failed to snap a selfie with anybody, but I did capture this beautiful, early-morning set just before I paddled out.
Plenty of swell, light off-shore winds, and no crowds? Pure heaven.
Until next time,