Posts Tagged ‘Aaron’


Ari Shaffir’s Skeptic Tank #296: Brandon Goldberg, Stripper at Law (with Aaron Berg)

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photoshop by JP Downer

Aaron Berg came to my apartment to tell me about his days as a male stripper in Toronto. It was really fun and got kind of seriously dark in the middle there. And then back to more fun. Come on along.

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Guest Details

Jesus Christ. ‘Roid much, Berg? This was Aaron back in his competition days.


Nice hair, punk. You look like cocaine feels. I wonder if that guy then knew how bald you were gonna be now. Who am I to talk, though? My hair looks like it survived a tsunami.


Here’s Aaron with Sunshine, the stripper with 2 kids who thought she was pregnant with his child. So lucky.



Episode Details



The Music

2 Chainz – I Luv Dem Strippers

Mason Jennings – Duluth

Man 2 Man Meet Man Parrish – Male Stripper

Nina Simone – Cotton Eyed Joe

John Denver – Thank God I’m a Country Boy


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Revenge for the Holocaust Thank You Notes

Thank you:

Bar Azure

This was an open mic we used to do in Culver City. It was this cool bar that allowed smoking inside even after the ban. They decided they were just gonna take the fines when they came. Brian Keith Etheridge and Aron Kader ran it. The key to Bar Azure was that it acted as a response to the alt open mics that littered the scene. This one was for mainstream comedy. It still pushed you to come up with new, exciting material every week to perform for other comedians but they valued dick jokes. It just had to be a new dick jokes. A few people ran their old sets over and over and they were hated for it. The place also had 1 or 2 dollar Bud bottles, so we all got drunk and then swerved home. This is where Matt Fulchiron perfected his stage brags (Does anyone know if Bar Azure has insurance, because I’m about to blow the roof off this joint). Man, we waited for him to go up so we could hear some new ridiculous lines from him. This is also where I met and became friends with David Taylor, Nick Youssef (back when he was a virgin and had a Creed lunch pail), and a host of other guys. The place was a key to my development as a comic and I wouldn’t be the same without it.



Don Barris

Don taught me that I could say horrible things to the audience in overboard ways in order to take the sting out. He’d refer to grandmothers as dirty little sluts. And you should see how they howled. It’s amazing watching him control a late night crowd. Consistently watching him has made me a better comic.



Ami Butler

He was a high school friend (2 years below me in my brothers class) who kept telling me to that I should try standup comedy. This was back in early high school. It stuck in my brain like a hook in a fish and gnawed at me until I actually tried it one night.



Canadian audiences

The most well behaved, standup educated crowds I’ve done. Canada has shown me overwhelming support and made me realize that I could be really solid if I kept working at it. I did that Sydney Harbor Bridge joke at The Nasty Show in Montreal and it was overwhelmingly the favorite bit the industry would talk to me about. I mean, they tracked me down at the hotel at Just For Laughs to tell me how much they loved it. A lot of them did that. Later I had a manager tell me in front of the Comedy Store that it was hacky to make a shit joke. I knew right then I had to drop him.



Kevin Christy

Kevin painted the amazing cover for Revenge for the Holocaust. We brainstormed it one day in a car near his house while we were on the way back from getting Greek food and his rendition of it was amazeballs. Yes, amazeballs. A Jew spider hunting a hitler fly? Come on. That’s sweet. If you want to see some of Kevin’s work, go to, follow him on instagram at KevinGChristy, And he’s also a really good tweeter. He’s at @KevinGChristy on Twitter. 



The Comedy Works

On my list of top 5 rooms I’d want to play again before I die. (Comedy Works, Comedy Store OR, Clandestiny, DC Improv, Cap City) It’s set up perfectly for comedy. If you ever find yourself in Denver, do yourself a favor and go see whatever show they have there, even if it’s a shitty comedian you don’t like. It’s that good a room. After the first attempt at this CD didn’t come out (the recording was all staticky and unusable), I was looking for another place to do it. When I saw that I had The Comedy Works on my schedule in May, I knew instantly that was the place I was gonna record. I’ve never had a bad set there. One time, I was there opening for Joe Rogan and ON THE WAY TO THE CLUB from the hotel, we found out that Richard Jeni had committed suicide. We both really respected him as a comedian and it hit us kind of hard. We walked in broken silences all the way there. I had to go up, maybe 45 minutes after finding this out and I was rattled and off. Still a B+ set. That was the worst set I ever had there.




An unbelievably supportive group of fans. Ever since the early days of deathsquad when Rogan, Diaz, Tait, Eddie Bravo, Redban, Duncan and I used to go on the road together, Deathsquad has been a catch all for this brand of comedy. This umbrella of Rogan’s fame that he’s managed to pull a lot of us under. They have get togethers before shows on the road. And they show up in droves to places. Without their support, I don’t get to play a lot of the rooms I get to play and this album wouldn’t have been as worked out.



Joey Diaz

Joey was one of my great influences on my comedy. At the Comedy Store, I found a few guys that did at least one thing better than anyone else I saw. Like Barris with the over the top insults. Diaz’s on stage persona was more like his real self than anyone else I may have ever seen. It’s almost a straight 1 to 1. I learned from him that you could just be yourself up there. He’s also been a great friend and supporter, but what I learned from watching him was one of the invaluable parts of my development as a comedian.

Dorchester Hall

This was my dorm at the University of Maryland. We were in the international dorm so there were people from all over the world there. And we were all really close. I developed A LOT of my comedic personality while hanging out at Dorchester and running around with all the residents.


Hebrew Academy

I went here from 4th-10th grade. This is where I learned to be funny. I went from pretending in the cafeteria that Eddie Murphy’s bits were my own, to forming my own jokes and personality. I guess you’d call it a class clown. But I liked making people laugh. And I learned how to do it at Hebrew Academy. It also had a TON of other hilarious people. The laughs we would all give each other made me so much stronger before I even started comedy.

Justin Edbrooke

My agent at Super Artists. Literally changed my life. I went from never being able to get into clubs, even at the lowest prices they paid, to not only getting in, but getting in for more money. He believed in my comedy, which no one on that side of the camera ever had. You have no idea how frustrated I was not being able to get booked anywhere. And I mean anywhere. I could headline the La Jolla Comedy Store and that’s about it. Occasionally clubs would offer me a late Saturday show if I was already there with Rogan, but nobody was ever bringing me back on my own. Justin got me in to so many places and got me over that final hump to being a real comedia

Jordy Fox

He works at Comedy Central now, but when I started as an employee at the Comedy Store, Jordy was the standout of the employee class. He’s the guy we’d all stop our conversations to come in and watch. But where he really helped me was by telling me that I couldn’t only go up at the Store. He was going up 5 times a week. I couldn’t believe it. Jordy told me about a bunch of other open mics and told me that I absolutely had to go up a lot. It was hard in the beginning. At first, 3 times a week felt like I was pushing it. And then before I knew it, if I wasn’t getting up 5 at least 5 times a week I felt like a failure and I literally got anxious and antsy. I got into the top 5% of spot takers in LA and that’s almost the entirety of the work I do. I just get up and get up and get up. Without that advice from Jordy, who knows if I would have even lasted.

Kate Hicks

My first girlfriend. She moved to LA after I was there for 6 months so we could get back together. I finally let her see me do a set a few months after she arrived. Her take on it shaped my comedy more than anything else probably. What she said was that while she enjoyed it, she liked me better when we were all at the University of Maryland dining hall and I was trying to make our Dorchester friends laugh. We came upon the word “contrived.” That’s what I was doing on stage. And from then on, I tried my best to never be like that. I wanted to mimic those fun dining hall times. To sound natural. Without a doubt, this is why I developed my conversational style of comedy. You may not like me, but you’re always going to feel like Im talking to you.



Long live the internet! Before online, there was no way for me to reach fans in any way. After those amazing racist videos hit the web, people all over the country and the world became aware of me. Rogan’s fans became aware of me through his message board and people sharing their experiences at live shows. Pretty soon, when I’d come out on stage, I could hear claps that were for me specifically instead of just for the beginning of the show. The podcast has made me able to directly reach my own fans to tell them where I’m playing and to tell them about releases like this album. Al Gore has given a lot of comics a chance.


The Just For Laughs comedy festival in Montreal was one of the first times I felt like an artist. I first did the Nasty Show there in 2009. They had a green room with lots of candy and food. They had a shuttle take you to and from gigs. They just treat comics like artists. And I think in turn, we give them our best. They also put me on tour a few times which got me money to stay in the business but it introduced me to new friends like Jeff Ross, Kurt Metzger, Mike Wilmot, and Big Jay Oakerson. And they put me on Canadian TV which helped with my draw in that country. Actually just the JFL credit alone helped my draw there, too. They’ve always been super supportive of me since that first year I went and it really legitimized me in the eyes of my peers.


Bobby Lee

Bobby took me under his wing when I got to the Store. He bought me meals, he gave me comedy advice. And he also consistently killed. I could watch him over and over again to see what techniques he was using. If anyone has ever noticed me holding the mic stand more than most comics, that’s Bobby Lee’s influence.

Aaron Levine

My first roommate in LA. Aaron was the one who talked me into going. He had finished college a year or so before me and was living in Miami, just kind of tooling around. When I graduated, he kept pushing and pushing for me to move to LA with him and eventually I did. I probably don’t become a comic without that push. It’s possible I could’ve started in DC and flourished, but the odds were soooooo much lower.

Aaron also pushed me by negative example. He went to LA to be a screenwriter and barely ever wrote anything. He smoked a lot of weed back when I thought pot made you a loser. I could see him not getting what he said he wanted and I tried not to be like that. Occasionally, I’d be too tired from working at the Health Network during my day job and the Store till 2am for my night job. On some Wednesdays I’d come home and just couldn’t bring myself to do comedy. I was out of energy. But Aaron would come home and light up his bong and EVERY TIME it would make me go, “You know what? I don’t want to be like that.” and I’d go find an open mic. He’s still a friend of mine today but that early negative example he showed me was invaluable.

Ashley Snow Macomber

She’s an ex-girlfriend and an artist. My conversations with her about art, completely changed the way I looked at my standup. I now have a point to most of my bits. I have something I want to get across, and I write material to get that into an audiences head. Prior to her coming into my life, I was only trying to write funny bits, but I didn’t care what they said. She allowed me to take comedy seriously as an art form.

Bob Oschack

The first potluck (open mic and employee) host when I got to the Comedy Store. Bob was my first version of a professional comic that I saw consistently in LA. I still want to impress him when I see him. What he did better than anyone else was write complete bits off stage. He’d come with never before done material that STARTED at 95% finished. It taught me to prepare.


Rav Rhein

My rabbi at yeshiva in Israel. He helped shape me. Sure, he taught me some Torah stuff, but he really gave me the ability to sit and work and he taught me to take responsibility for my actions.


Joe Rogan

Man, I owe so much to this guy. He was the first guy to start taking me on the road with him, and consistently at that. My development shot up so high after 6 months of doing those packed rooms, that my friends would point it out to me. Going from shitty open mics and booked bar shows in LA to packed 300 seat comedy stoked audiences allowed me to relax on stage with the knowledge that I won’t lose the crowd if I try something spontaneous or take a longer than normal pause. I took that training and applied it to those small rooms when I got back, and man! I did so much better.

The road experience with him was amazing. First of all, he’d pay for everything. And I mean everything. Meals, (nice steak meals, too), travel, hotel. booze. One time, we were staying at the Buttes Hotel near Tempe when we were there to play the Improv. I was trapped in the way back with all the luggage so everybody else went in to check in for me before we had to drive further down the road to our rooms. (The Buttes is really spread out). Rogan comes back with my room key cards and what looked like a mailbox key, too. I asked what the small key was for and he said “The mini bar.” I was like, “Why do they give you the mini bar key? As if I’m really going to get anything from there. Please.” But Rogan was like, “Why do you think I got you the key? Take whatever you want from there, I put my card down for you.” Man, I couldn’t believe it! I got to get snacks from the minibar? Life was amazing.

The other thing Rogan did was allow me to do whatever I wanted on stage. He didn’t give a fuck. I could be dirty, clean, political, talk about drugs, anything. He only wanted me to do well. So many guys try to over advise new comics or worse, to restrict what they can talk about. Not Joe. He was amazing and made me feel like a real equal. One time in Denver I did 44 minutes to start a show. As an opener, I usually do 25 and then bring him up. This time I did 44. I didn’t even believe it at first. Redban had to show me the tape to convince me. After the show, I apologized sincerely to Rogan, saying I had lost track of the time and I was really sorry. Joe didn’t care at all. He said something along the lines of, “Dude, you had a great set. Who gives a shit?” And I appreciated it but I told him I wouldn’t ever do that again. But Joe persisted. He told me that I had a great set and then he had had a great set after me, so the crowd got two great sets. There literally was zero problem and I should be happy I did it instead of apologetic. And then he more focused on how amazing it was that I could do 44 minutes on a cold open. That was how long a lot of headliners did and I had done it with no one having warmed the crowd up. He was an A level headliner that was treating me like a colleague. Eventually, I started to believe him.

The last thing he did for me, and this was invaluable, took place in Rhode Island. We were on our way between Boston, Massachusetts and Foxwoods casino in Connecticut. We had a day off and picked up this gig at a boating club in Rhode Island. The promoter met us in the parking lot and gave us the rundown as we walked towards the venue. I still remember the white of the pebbles on the ground, this was such an important moment for me. The promoter told us about what the stage was like, who else had played there (Bob Saget most recently) and then he told us about the makeup of the crowd. They were conservative people. So, the promoter started, we might want to keep it kind of clean tonight. Rogan didn’t even miss a beat. I mean not even a beat. That guy hadn’t even finished the sentence of “…you might want to keep in on the cleaner si-” before Joe cut him off with a dismissive “NO.” Didn’t even turn to face the guy. Didn’t change his pace at all. It was like he was swatting away a fly. That’s how little he considered of what this guy was telling him. “NO.” The promoter didn’t protest but you could tell he hadn’t seen it going that way. Now, I was still new, so I took the words to heart. Diaz was filthy, Rogan was filthy. I was clean and struggled and they both killed. It really made me understand that this is what I do. I will be the one deciding what is said. I am in control of my art. I can’t stress how huge a moment that was for my comedy.


Merryl Shaffir

My mother. As worried as she was about me going to California to do some weirdo job, she never stopped offering emotional support. It was really important to me to not have a parent that kept trying to talk me out of doing this.


Nat Shaffir

My father. He had come from Israel to America when he was 22 so he understood the need to spread your wings a little more than my mother did. And he was just as emotionally supportive. My parents really took away what was a huge obstacle a lot of us had to face.

Mitzi Shore

The owner of the Comedy Store and my adoptive grandmother in LA. Mitzi offered new comics, not only a place to perform, but a home as well. The Comedy Store is, as Steve Simeone puts it, the island of misfit toys. It was open till 2 am every night, and usually later. I’d end up there almost every night after open mics before I ever got passed there as a paid regular. Her putting me on the door and the cover booth allowed me to see great and bad comedians night after night. I could see past the jokes and start noticing technique. The Comedy Store was where I developed every one of the bits on this album. It’s my home. It’s where you can bomb with impunity because it’s all about the end goal there, to get better. You have to follow top shelf comics every time you go up. And different ones, too, so you can’t even get comfortable.

When I tell you it’s my home, I don’t mean that as a metaphor. It is my home. I’ve had my dick or balls out on the Original Room stage maybe 100 times or more. I’ve slept there. I worked almost every job you can imagine there. Phones, cover booth, door, night manager, assistant talent coordinator, runner, driver, talent coordinator, waitress, web master, video room, host, and comic. 

Becoming a paid regular at the Comedy Store was THE carrot I was fighting towards for my first 5 years of comedy. She tortured me. Every one of my friends got passed before me. Steve Rannazzisi at some point said she was an asshole for not passing me because I was better than half the comics on her roster. I could not get her to make me. It drove me crazy. And it drove me to get better. I showcased for her a lot. 37 times. My final record was 2-34-1 (I got made a non-paid regular and then got made a non-paid regular again a year later because she forgot I was already a non-paid regular. That was the tie). In the beginning she told me I was too hyper on stage (and man, I really really was). Towards the end, I would get off, she would tell me no, and I would got throw a temper tantrum in the empty Main Room, throwing chairs across the room for an hour. I liked to say that I finally understood what a leap of faith was because all evidence pointed to that I would never get passed and yet I continued to work there anyway. I was Mitzi’s driver for years and I’d have to sneak looks at the list of who got passed when she wasn’t looking. She’d circle your name if she liked you, and crossed your name off if she didn’t. It was 90% cross offs. My name was ALWAYS crossed off. David Taylor full on apologized to me for getting passed before me, he felt so bad about it. But it gave me something to strive towards.


They opened my eyes. Made me see things in a new light without romanticizing the details of my material.


Freddy Soto

Freddy painted a picture on stage like nobody you know. He could tell a story and it’s like you were there, man. Watching him added a whole bunch of new colors to my comedy. He was also super supportive of the younger guys. Freddy had been Mitzi’s runner in the past and his kind words of encouragement and the way he treated us like peers kept a lot of us from quitting. His death destroyed me but it made me try to return the favor of what he did for me by helping out the new guys when I could. 

This Is Not Happening

The storyteller show I do with Eric Abrams and Sam Saifer. We started with a show of stories about psychedelics from the side room at the Improv and 3 years later we were recording episodes of it for Comedy Central. That first show, called Psychedelia, featured Dan Madonia, Dylan Brody, myself and Pete Carboni, Steve Agee, Marc Maron, and Joey Diaz. Diaz’s and Maron’s stories from that night are both on my youtube page now. Then we started doing the show monthly. At first it was easy. We just picked topics that I already had stories for (fights, sex, heartbreak) but pretty soon, we started picking topics that I didn’t have great stories for, and it forced me to really write up the details of my life in an interesting, beginning middle and end kind of way. I learned how to tell a story. After a year and a half I could feel the improvement in that part of my game. Not only did I learn by watching 5-6 comics (different ones each month) tell their most amazing stories, but I had to come up with one for myself. And they weren’t always good. Sometimes my stuff went nowhere, wasn’t funny, made no sense. But I was learning and growing that part of my game. By the time I took that walk on the Sydney Harbor Bridge, I was ready to bring it to the stage in no time. It became my closer probably within a month and I recorded it less than a year after it happened.


Westwood BrewCo.

The big alternative open mic of the week. Vance Sanders ran this show for over 20 years. Sadly, it just ended in July of 2013. But it was the focus of my comedy week for a long time. I’d start new bits on Wednesday and work them out for a whole week at different open mics so by Tuesday, they were as good as they were going to be so I could impress those people. Comics I looked up to were at that show. Not only other open mikers and some new pros, but Janeane Garofalo and Zach Galifianakis would stop in to do sets, legitimizing every one of us in that room. You had to do new stuff every week or you were a jerk. Nobody wanted to hear your stuff twice and it was always the same crowd. It made me get creative and it really pushed a lot of us.

Brett Williams

He and I started comedy in LA within a couple weeks of each other and we because open mic friends. It was clear that there were two types of open mikers; the kind that wanted to be comedians and the kind that just enjoyed getting up. We saw ourselves as the former and we tried to distance ourselves from the gang of middle aged men and women who hung out at the various coffee shops, bars, and bookstores that hosted the open mics. Brett was a far better comedian than I was in the beginning and I played catchup. But we talked a lot about comedic theory, about joke form, and about what rooms to do. Eventually Brett dropped out, but I still see him from time to time and he’s always fun to talk to. 

Danny Wolf

Danny Danger put me in, and directed the Amazing Racist. He’s great at that guerrilla shooting style that we used and he really made that stuff funny. The Amazing Racist was the first time most people became aware of me, and though I never got anything directly from it, having something people found genuinely hilarious was cool for me and gave me a lot more confidence when I went on stage.