By Justin Kerr


Ever wonder what it's like to be a comic? Tim Barnes is the host of the It's All True podcast and a working comic in New York City. Tim joins Mr Corpo to talk about tweeting from bed, waking up at 11am, quitting your job to take an unpaid internships, why he wants to be just like Whoopi Goldberg, and how awesome it is to have enough money to go to the movies whenever you want. Tim also shares his favorite flavor of wine - Suicide (hint: it's white and red mixed together) - and explains why you can never remember what a comic says 2 minutes after they just said it.




Meet Tim Barnes -- The World's Tallest Comic (10/5/2016)

JUSTIN: I'm thinking of a number between one and ten. Hi, welcome to Mr. Corpo podcast.


(Intro music)


JUSTIN: Hi everyone. Welcome to another episode of Mr. Corpo podcast. I'm so excited to welcome a special guest. I -- I almost want to say super special guest, but I'm gonna say special guest and then we'll see how it goes. Our special guest today is Tim Barnes. He is a comedian. He is also the leader, the -- the spokesman for his podcast, It's All True! And also, he's the tallest guest we've ever had on the Mr. Corpo podcast. Tim, welcome.


TIM: Thanks for having me. When you said special guest, I was like waiting to like, look around the corner to see who was gonna walk out. Can't believe it's me. I'm very excited.


JUSTIN: Well, Tim, one of the things we like to do on the Mr. Corpo podcast is ask people, what is your theme music? If you had to have your walk on music, what would you want playing when you walked up to bat?


TIM: I -- I really love the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson theme song. I think about --


JUSTIN: Okay, I'm not that old, so...and you don't look that old either, so --


TIM: I'm an old soul.


JUSTIN: Okay, alright.


TIM: Yeah.


JUSTIN: What was that music?


TIM: It was a -- it just kinda went, duh, duh, duh duh,  , duh, duh, duh, duh duh,  , duh duh duh duh know.


JUSTIN: Oh. Alright, well that'll help our demographics for the older audience.


TIM: Yeah, it's kinda this sort -- this swinging jazz music you -- you really feel like it's show business when you hear this song.


JUSTIN: Alright, alright. So you're not about the lyrics, you're more about like, the tune and the --


TIM: I'm more about the tunes, yeah, and someone, you know, the Tonight Show used to be a big deal for comics. If you did a set on Johnny Carson, it changed your entire career.


JUSTIN: Now I'm gonna take a leap here and I'm gonna imagine most of the people listening to the Mr. Corpo podcast are not comedians. So tell me what is it like to be a comedian? What is a day in the life of a comedian? Take me from the moment you wake up, what happens?


TIM: Well, at this point in my life, I -- I think it's -- it's important to clarify where I am as a comedian. I've been doing comedy for four years now, which is like, I'm still a baby. If you ask most uh, career comics right now, just a child.




TIM: Four years is a long time, you graduate from college in four years, but in terms of comedy, it's still like a little -- little baby step away from -- from the next phase, if that makes sense.


JUSTIN: How many shows do you think you've done so far?


TIM: How many shows? Um, I've definitely done -- wow, I -- I -- probably --


JUSTIN: Over 100?


TIM: Over 100, yeah, yeah.


JUSTIN: Over 150?


TIM: Yeah, I'd say maybe 200.


JUSTIN: What about like less than 190, or more than 190?


TIM: Uh, to be on the safe side, I'd say less than 190. I don't know, but --


JUSTIN: Okay. How about 189 shows? Or --


TIM: That might be right. Yeah, yeah.


JUSTIN: Okay, we'll go with 189, okay. Nonetheless, tell us what is the day in the life of a comic?


TIM: Uh, it depends on if you have a day job or not.


JUSTIN: Do you have a day job?


TIM: No, right now I'm doing a lot of freelance stuff. So a day in my life, uh, is I wake up pretty late, maybe 11, maybe 12...


JUSTIN: Oh my gosh. This sounds fantastic. Okay, keep going. Our listeners want that kind of job.


TIM: Um, I tweet -- I tweet a lot. I probably do -- I probably do some morning tweets.


JUSTIN: Like when you wake up -- are you still in bed when you're tweeting?


TIM: I'm still in bed, yeah. Most of the first half of my day, I'm still in bed.


JUSTIN: Now, does your humor change throughout the day? Do you have like bedtime/I'm waking up tweets? And bedtime humor? And then it changes as you get through the day, or --


TIM: I'd say later in the night it get -- it gets more absurd, because --


JUSTIN: Is that based on how much you're drinking, or --


TIM: Not necessarily. I think it's just based on the vibes of the nighttime. My brain is wandering into abstract places. Uh -- yeah, I definitely just some very -- weirder things.


JUSTIN: How many tweets would you say you send out in a day?


TIM: Maybe 15.


JUSTIN: Fifteen tweets a day? Alright. I thought you were gonna say 50. I was gonna be like I'm not sure if I can follow you if it's 50.


TIM: Yeah. It's very stream of consciousness. Some people take a lot of time and meticulous care with their tweets, but I like to use it as a place --


JUSTIN: You're like a volume guy.


TIM: Yeah. Or it's just -- I -- I see Twitter as a place where nothing matters. Compared to when you're on stage, everything matters. So I just throw everything out there on Twitter.


JUSTIN: Okay, alright. So 15 tweets a day, that's pretty good. And is that an important part of building your audience? Do you think about that at all?


TIM: I do.


JUSTIN: Or you just think if people are following me, they're into it, if they're not, they're gonna jump off, or --


TIM: I guess so. I -- I -- I do think if people are into me, they're gonna -- they'll dig it. And I hope people discover me. I feel like there is a benefit -- a benefit to it. Uh, thing -- wonderful things have happened because of -- of Twitter. Um, people that I respect --


JUSTIN: Like the Egyptian revolution, or just -- you're talking about your own personal Twitter, okay.


TIM: Yeah, well like, people that I respect comedically dis -- have discovered me through Twitter. 05:01 Um, so that's good. It's -- it's a way for -- it's a -- it's almost an equalizer.


JUSTIN: Alright so we haven't even gotten out of bed yet. You've tweeted a few times. And now what happens? It's 11 o'clock. Like, what's -- what's going on? What's going through your head?


TIM: Uh, I check a lot of me email. Uh, like I say, I do some freelance stuff, so I try to figure out if there's stuff I can do, or um, uh, I -- I do uh, podcast reviews for the AV Club right now. So I'll try to keep an eye on things and, I'm trying to organize my life through the emails, you now? Cause there's emails you gotta catch up on. You don't feel like you've really on top of things until you -- you've done that kind of stuff, you know?


JUSTIN: You know, I wrote a book called How To Write An Email, right? It's -- are you plugging my book, or like -- you should read my book.


TIM: I should, yeah, yeah, yeah.


JUSTIN: You know, I don't know if you've read my book but -- I -- I actually subscribe to the same thing, so we have something in common. I organize my entire work life through my emails. And the different between you and me is, I get into work at 6:30 in the morning. And I send out all the emails I need to send out for the day, if I'm waiting for an answer I remind people or you know, I open my email and -- actually this reminds me of something with email. Every day I open my email in hopes of getting some kind of email that might say, "Justin, we think you're amazing and we want to do a TV show and a movie, and we wanna do a book deal. Just anything it takes to work with you." Like, that's actually something I've never admitted to anybody, but I wake up every day, I open my email and think, maybe it's gonna be there. So I mean, does --


TIM: There -- there's an element of that with me, too, because I mean, just the other day I got an email for a writer -- writing packet for a show. For a pilot for a show.


JUSTIN: Okay, yeah.


TIM: So with comedy it's -- it's -- I'm hoping someone wants to book me for a show, or someone, uh --


JUSTIN: Like, is it every time you open it, like a little butterfly like floats up?


TIM: Yeah, every time I get that notification I think this could be -- this could be anything. It could be uh, a low-balance alert on uh, my bank account. Or it could be, uh --


JUSTIN: Oh my gosh. So if you wanna fuck with Tim Barnes, just start emailing him just all the time, just to get his blood pressure up. Hey, just saying hi, Tim. Then just like two minutes later, just like, saying hi again. Like, it's totally gonna mess you up.


TIM: Yeah. I mean, emailing is important to comedians. Cause I mean, especially as a -- a new comic in New York, uh, the way I've gotten a lot of shows is by finding out the booking emails and sending out a message, you know?


JUSTIN: Really? Okay.


TIM: So a lot of it is like, like just yesterday I took the time to look at all the messages and emails I got about shows so I could write it down on my website.




TIM: So that organizational part is important.


JUSTIN: Now, I'm just gonna ask the obvious question: do you feel pressure to be funny in those emails? Or how -- what's your approach to email? Like, that's not the way -- it doesn't carry your tone, like try and keep it simple?


TIM: Yeah. I think the unwritten rule of -- of doing uh, comedy is that you don't try to be funny in person or through emails. You kinda save that...


JUSTIN: Are you doing that on this podcast?


TIM: (laughs) Yeah, save that.


JUSTIN: That was a joke.


TIM: I know, yeah. But it's like if you -- I mean, comedians are funny when they're talking to each other. But it has to come from an honest place. You never really see comedians just like, hamming it up.


JUSTIN: I totally agree. Actually there's a few -- I learned a few things about comedians, or comics, as you like to call them. I lived in Chicago for a summer after I graduated from college. I live with some improv olympic people, and they knew some people at Second City, and so this was -- you know, I know the improv world, different than the comic world, but the one thing I learned that summer while I was there -- I was actually acting in a play -- the one thing I learned about people who do improv is, they are the most insecure people in the world. Now, I'm not telling you where to go with that comment, but...agree or disagree?


TIM: Yeah...well I'd say, uh, improv people have it a little more together than a little comics, standing comics.


JUSTIN: Oh really? Okay.


TIM: I think, uh...or -- or maybe standup comics are, you know, using comedy to, uh, to kind of grandstand against their insecurity. But I think -- I think standup comics are more insecure than improvisors. Because I -- I had this feeling in Chicago, especially -- like the standup and improv world didn't really mix together a lot, I feel like it's different in New York. But um, improvisors always had better jobs.


JUSTIN: Yeah. I understand, you're right.


TIM: They're lies --


JUSTIN: They almost had a regular job, and then they did this, they let it out a little bit --


TIM: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.


JUSTIN: So, I wanna talk a little bit more about your day in the life of a comedian. So we've gotten up, we're going to lunch, you've checked your email. Now what? Are you literally living and dying by whether you're gonna get that next standup show? Are you hustling to try and get shows? Like, what does success look like at this point in your career? What's a good day, what's a good week for you right now?


TIM: Well, I think uh...the key is -- is -- is -- it's balanced by what my idea of success is, at my -- as a comic, I -- I don't have the idea of becoming like a road dog. 10:05 Like the idea of a show in a different city every -- every night isn't really what appeals to me. Like, I like the balance of doing standup at shows and also doing something comedic in the media world. So my ideal situation is to be writing for a show or creating something with audio or video editing, and also doing standup. So I'm -- I have enough shows. But you know, a situation I was in in Chicago that I felt very comfortable with was, I was working for this startup TV station where I was doing a lot of comedic work for videos, creating these segments and things. And I brought my podcast there as well. So I felt creative at work, and then I was also doing shows. To me, that's the ideal situation.


JUSTIN: Okay. Now, when you're doing these videos, were you on air? Were you in front of the camera? Or are you a behind the camera guy? What do you like?


TIM: I was on -- I was on camera, yeah.


JUSTIN: You like it?


TIM: So I was kinda -- I was kinda doing everything. I would do on-camera stuff, I would do editing, I would come up with the ideas, uh, near the end there were -- I think only three episodes came out because the startup, uh, ended up collapsing like a lot of startups do.


JUSTIN: Oh, okay, yes.


TIM: Um, I had this uh, daily segment called "Hm? With Tim Barnes" that we were doing. And so I actually had this writing -- uh, this writers room with uh, people that I loved. It was -- it was the best experience I've had so far, uh, comedically. So --


JUSTIN: I mean, that sounds fantastic, actually. Like, your own segment on a TV show. Like, that's halfway there.


TIM: Yeah, yeah.


JUSTIN: Tell me, where does money come into this? So, in the life of a comic, you're getting all these different gigs, I just saw you at a show over in Brooklyn last week, it was fantastic, you're absolutely hilarious, and I have a couple questions about that. Um, but where does money come into this? Cause I know a lot of those shows, you're kinda piecing it together. I mean, it's like a band life. You're taking these shows, you wanna get in front of people, but it's not like the payday is necessarily there for these one-off, standup shows. So -- so how does money enter into the equation?


TIM: That's something I'm -- I'm still trying to figure out. But I think that also has to do with my personal equation of how I want my comedic life to be. Uh, I've really don't like the idea of relying on standup for money. Like I'm trying to build something a little -- little bigger than that. I know this is a -- this isn't nec -- this isn't necessarily an example of what...of what I want my career to be. But I do think about Whoopi Goldberg a lot, you know?




TIM: When you think of Whoopi Goldberg, what do you think of?


JUSTIN: Uh, that -- uh, sister act movie.


TIM: Do you think of her as a comedian?


JUSTIN: Well, no, actually you're right. I think of her as kind of all-encompassing entertainer. Because I didn't even know her as a comedian. I knew her as a movie actress, and then I know she's on The View now. I think she married Ted Danson at one point --


TIM: Yeah, yeah, yeah.


JUSTIN: -- for a moment. But --


TIM: But that's -- that's like, that's -- that's -- that's what I kind of want. I want to get to a point, at some point in my life where no one even knows why they know who I am.


JUSTIN: If we were to say that was number ten on a scale of one to ten, where would you say you are in your career right now?


TIM: I'd say I'm probably at either three or four.


JUSTIN: Okay, okay.


TIM: Yeah.


JUSTIN: And what does it take to get you to five? What -- what's gonna get you to five? We don't want to get you to ten, we can't get you to ten, but what does it take to get you to five?


TIM: I think, um, a little more of the business aspect of comedy. I need to -- I need to get better at.




TIM: It's something I've always avoided cause I don't like -- I feel very uncomfortable in business situations.




TIM: I um...


JUSTIN: Like negotiating the contract when they ask you, or when they say hey, do you do this show, and they say how much do you charge, and you're like...


TIM: Not necessarily that part, but just -- there is the other element of uh, getting an agent or a manager and stuff like that, like -- I know that's important but I don't know -- it all -- it's all very weird to me in a very real way, yeah.


JUSTIN: Okay. But I mean, I think you're taking some positive steps. Let's talk about your -- you're doing your own podcast, you've been doing that for a while.


TIM: Yeah.


JUSTIN: Um, it's called It's All True! and there's an exclamation point at the end of that, which is emphatic.


TIM: Yes, cause I love exclamation points, yeah.


JUSTIN: I love that. Now, I wanna let you talk about your podcast, but before we get there, I -- I was -- I've been listening to your podcast before the show, and I noticed that you have 39 reviews, 38 of which are five star reviews. But one of the reviews is only a four star.


TIM: Wow.


JUSTIN: Now, I'm just wondering what was going through this person's head that they felt like, I -- it's good, but it's not great. It's four star, but it's not five star. It wasn't like they give you a one star and they're like, I don't like Tim's humor. It was literally, I think he's just one degree less than a five star, so --


TIM: Yeah.


JUSTIN: What do you think they were thinking?


TIM: I think -- I think, I mean that's how I would -- I mean, I don't grade things like that, but I did, uh, I did um...judge an air guitar competition a couple months ago, and I think about that...


JUSTIN: You found a -- you found a difference between a five star and four star performance?


TIM: The idea of five is perfection, you know.




TIM: 15:00 And I -- the toughest person to judge, I think in any judging situation, is the first person. Cause you're not comparing it to anything. You're comparing it to this abstract idea. But then the more you get to the show, then you're comparing all these other people to each other. And then you fine tune this idea of who was better than the other person.


JUSTIN: So you don't think that was like, an angry ex-girlfriend or like, a parent who's like really upset at like, that you used a bad word? Cause I did notice you have some explicit content in your podcast.


TIM: No, no. I do, yeah, yeah.


JUSTIN: Okay. Actually, while we're on that topic, how do your parents feel about you being a comic?


TIM: I think, um, they were very concerned at first. When I moved to Chicago, that's kinda when I really started focusing the most on comedy. Before that I had just kinda went out into a couple open mics, uh, without telling anybody about it. So, it was shocking when the -- when I told them, I wanna go to Chicago. But I think the idea of going to Second City, which kinda seems like a school, was -- was something --


JUSTIN: Oh, you went to Second City?


TIM: Yeah, I tried it and I -- I realized I didn't like it. Um --


JUSTIN: Okay, alright.


TIM: Um, but I think that that made them a little more comfortable.




TIM: Oh, he's going to school.


JUSTIN: Well, they can tell their friends, oh, he's going -- Tim's going to Second City. And you know who else went to Second City?


TIM: Yeah, yeah, yeah.


JUSTIN: You know, Bill Murray was at Second -- so your parents had a way to kind of justify it or talk about it at the cocktail party, they're like, what's Tim doing? And they're like, um, he's at Second City, the same place as this other famous person.


TIM: Yeah. And I was so excited to be struggling, too. I moved to Chicago with a little less than 3,000 dollars, no job in the -- in the -- in the works when I got there. Um, but I was so --


JUSTIN: But you made it work?


TIM: Somehow made it work. And I was so -- I loved starving, you know? I loved the idea of being a starving artist. It was the most alive I've ever felt.


JUSTIN: Okay so I'm actually -- I'm gonna make a comment here. Only someone -- did you come from like a middle class background, or --


TIM: That's the thing. Like, my -- my parents never -- never allowed me to understand the concept of class.


JUSTIN: Yeah, yeah.


TIM: So I think I was middle class, but I don't -- like anything -- they made anything happen. But I don't know what amount of struggle was behind, you know, behind closed doors.


JUSTIN: No, I think I -- I just respond to that because I would say -- I've very similar to your background then, maybe. I wasn't really clear on that there were any classes in the world, or what's happening. But you know, and -- and it kinda came and it went. But I remember I took a cross-country bike trip, and it was the first time I had rebelled against my parents, it was the first time -- I only had 1,000 dollars to get across the country. And I would go into the convenience stores and I prided myself on how little money can I spend. And it was like, oh, these banana-flavored Twinkies are only 99 cents, like, I'll buy those. Rather than the thing I actually could have want -- would have wanted. And so I just res -- I responded to that because that's -- some way, that's a powerful reaction against...not your upbringing, but just a different experience for you.


TIM: Yeah. And I -- my nuclear family's small. So it's just me, my sister, and my parents. But my dad is one of eight siblings --




TIM: -- and it's just a, like, and then my -- my grandpa, my mom's dad, uh, uh, let's just say I have a lot of grandmas on her side of the family. So I have this big, complicated family. And I never felt like I fit in to it. Like, I never fit into this -- this sort of mold. So I always felt a little off. And so it was -- it was um, yeah, moving to Chicago was -- was good for me.


JUSTIN: So, alright. We're catching up on your podcast career. You moved to Chicago, you start your podcast. You -- you've actually interviewed a lot of very famous people, I was very impressed. Eddie Izzard, he kinda sounded a little bit like a dick, but uh...oh yeah, Tim's not -- Tim's not commenting but uh, there's a laugh there, so -- I don't know, you've interviewed a lot of famous people, right?


TIM: Yeah. Well -- well the history with the podcast is weird, and maybe there's -- there's something to -- to learn from -- from this. But um...I started it because I was writing for this website called The Whiskey Journal, which is similar to The Onion, in Chicago. A comedian started it. It's a satirical news website. And the guy who created it, Kyle Scanlan, had this audio editing equipment that he wasn't use -- not audio editing, but this recording equipment that he wasn't using. It was like, hey, if you ever wanna start a podcast just come up with something and we'll put it on the website. And so, since it was, uh, a fake news-based website, I came up with this idea, but I wanted to incorporate elements of podcasts that are real like -- so Radiolab I really like, I love the Sonic elements of that. And I really like this podcast called The Dinner Party Download, which started off as about 10 to 15 minutes long, but I think now it's a little longer. But it's segmented, and that's what I really liked about it. Cause every episode, you knew what you were gonna get, but there were different things in those segments. So the idea of this show is that it's everything you need to know that week before you go to a dinner party. So it starts off with a joke, then you get into this historical fact, and then they have a bartender make a drink based off that fact, and it just --


JUSTIN: Oh my gosh, that's a great idea. I'm gonna check that out.


TIM: Yeah, yeah. So I love that. 20:00 And then I also wanted to something like WTF. So I made it a storytelling show that starts off with an interview, and then they have to tell me a headline before they tell me that story. And I want -- once it gets to that story, I add in all these sonic elements. And I really created it as a way to learn how to edit audio. Because part of -- you know, I've always wanted to do a little bit of everything. Before I was a comic, I wanted to be a film maker. Um, and part of why I want -- why I like the idea of Chicago is because I knew This American Life was there. Even though This American Life was already in New York by that -- by that point. Um...(laughs) -- but so, yeah. The evolution of the show is because when I first came to Chicago, I just wanted to feel a part of the city, because LA doesn't really feel like a city, California is this huge state --


JUSTIN: Truth, truth.


TIM: Nothing really -- you don't feel like you're interacting with anything. So I used to volunteer for all these weird places. And one thing led to another. I started volun -- volunteering at WBEZ. Uh, so I just got -- I just vaguely got to know different people. There was a com -- there was a comedian in Chicago at the time, I think he's in LA now, named Brian Babylon, who's a frequent guest on wait -- Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me --


JUSTIN: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.


TIM: Uh, and he had a morning talk show on Vocalo, which is the sister station to WBEZ. Um, and so since he was a comic, he would see me at all these weird places. He would see me at like weird WBEZ banquets volunteering, and then at a comedy show. And that was just all over the place. Cause I really was just all over the place. And so one day after a show he just walked up to me and said, "Who the fuck are you?" And then I just told him what all my interests were and it's like, alright I'm gonna make you my intern. It was an unpaid internship, and I was working at Dunkin Donuts at the time.


JUSTIN: Oh my gosh.


TIM: But I was so excited about this idea of entering the world of media that I quit my job at Dunkin Donuts and --


JUSTIN: For the unpaid internship?


TIM: Yeah.


JUSTIN: And I like the idea, like, the -- the absolutely ludicrous idea of like, walking up to someone and being like, I'm gonna make you my intern. And it's like...and the second sentence is like, and I'm not gonna pay you. And it's like, are you excited now?


TIM: Yeah, but --


JUSTIN: It worked on you, though!


TIM: Yeah, it worked. And you know, it's the sister station to WBEZ. So thought that, I was -- I mean, they're in the same building.




TIM: Uh, so through that I was just in the home of -- I mean, one of the most recognizable public radio station names and --


JUSTIN: Good resume-builder.


TIM: Yeah, exactly.




TIM: So I was uh, doing stuff there. And then this internship opened for WBEZ in their podcast network. The people at Vocalo recommended me for that. And then in the interview, I already knew the person. Joe DeCeault, because I had met him through the volunteering stuff. Um, I mentioned my podcast and then he like, expressed interest in it and like, listened to a couple of the early episodes, which sound very rough, if you listen to them. Like episode one --


JUSTIN: They're so different. I went back and listened to your first episode, you know, cause I'm just launching this podcast.


TIM: Yeah.


JUSTIN: I actually threw out the first recording of our first episode.


TIM: Yeah.


JUSTIN: And of course, after the first one I was like, "Rob, that was really good." And he was like, "Yeah, totally..."


TIM: Yeah. And I -- yeah, yeah. It's crazy, like -- I never listen to those. I've thought about deleting them. But they're -- I -- but I like this idea of --


JUSTIN: They hold up, they hold up.


TIM: Yeah. And I like this idea of not deleting history, with -- I think with the internet, people get used to this idea that you can just delete anything. But I like the idea of like...


JUSTIN: Yeah, there's a lot of people, they talk about high schoolers who curate their Instagram, they don't get enough likes, they delete the picture right away, as if that's embarrassing. And I think --


TIM: Yeah. I know comedians like that, too. Who -- who'll delete a joke if it doesn't get enough likes and stuff.


JUSTIN: But I think that's the thing, like -- the world wants the real. Like, the good and the bad, and they wanna see people fail, and they wanna lift 'em up again, and -- but you -- but you talked about something while you were talking about the podcast there. Sounds like even as a comic, you're building your resume. So you're -- you're kinda building one stepping stone to the next, trying to build these networks?


TIM: Yeah, well, the reason I do that is because I never graduated college.


JUSTIN: Oh, wow.


TIM: So, every achievement feels really great because of that, but it -- it is also this element of like, I might as well try to build a resume that looks really good without college. So do it at --


JUSTIN: Well at this point it doesn't matter.


TIM: Yeah, this point it doesn't matter.


JUSTIN: Did you go to college for a little while?


TIM: I went to Santa Barbara City College for a couple years. That's where I studied film.


JUSTIN: Oh, I know that well. And then you transfer up to Santa Barbara and you go live on La Playa or De La Playa or --


TIM: Yeah, I lived -- I lived --


JUSTIN: And you party your brains out --


TIM: Yeah, well --


JUSTIN: Pretend to get a college degree...I know that whole thing, yeah.


TIM: Yeah, well that wasn't really my -- I followed this kid -- this is, my life is -- I -- I remember my life through interviews. I don't --




TIM: But I uh, the last year of high school I ended up going to this summer camp at uh, the New York Film Academy in LA. So it was the New York Film Academy at Universal Studios, California.


JUSTIN: Complicated.


TIM: Complicated, yeah. And one of my friends from that summer camp, uh, was going to Santa Barbara City College, so I just followed him there, because I had no idea how to apply to like -- by the end of high school, I was like, I don't -- people keep talking about college, but I don't know how to do this. Especially my pa -- my parents didn't go to college, so I think you know, 25:00 we were kind -- like, trying to learn stuff together. I think they perfected this with my little sister more than me.


JUSTIN: Oh, right. Yeah, you were the experiment.


TIM: But I didn't know -- yeah, yeah. I didn't know what was going on. And I didn't care about it either. That's why I quit. Cause I just realized, even if I got a degree tomorrow, I wouldn't care.


JUSTIN: Yeah, yeah. No, it's -- it's amazing sometimes, your parents do come in handy. You know? And like I think my parents made me apply to colleges, like, I wouldn't have known what to do if they hadn't, like, practically filled all the forms for me. It's like, you know, one thing leads to another. But I guess I was lucky in that way, yeah.


TIM: Yeah.


JUSTIN: Um, so -- I wanna come back here. Um, you move to Chicago with 3,000 dollars, you start the podcast, you're building your resume, you just move to New York City. How much money did you have in your wallet when you moved to New York City?


TIM: I -- I don't even wanna disclose that.


JUSTIN: Okay, let's leave it to the listeners' imaginations. I love that. I was just trying to give you a point up there, where like --


TIM: Yeah, I mean, I got -- I had two jobs in Chicago. I mean, my first three jobs in Chicago, the first one was I was a host at the California Pizza Kitchen in Chicago.


JUSTIN: Oh, Thai Chicken Pizza. I love that. Okay. But you're a host there, okay, alright.


TIM: I was a host there. Uh --


JUSTIN: No tips when you're a host.


TIM: Uh, I think I get some tips from --


JUSTIN: They pooled it?


TIM: Yeah, yeah. They pooled it. Yeah.




TIM: Um, and that was just a favor that came from a friend of a friend of my dad's, I think.


JUSTIN: That was an easy job though, right?


TIM: Very easy job, yeah. Um, after that it was Dunkin Donuts. And then I quit Dunkin Donuts. And then, uh, by the time I -- I got to the podcast internship at WBEZ was paid, but it was like -- it was like a pretty low stipend kind of thing. And so then I also got a job at an Einstein's Bagels. So it was Einstein's Bagels part time, WBEZ part time.


JUSTIN: Our producer Rob also worked at a bagel shop in Lawrence Kansas. Here I am across the table from two bagel masters.


TIM: I'd say, the -- you know, the bager -- the bagel world isn't all it's cracked up to be. It's not...yeah. You really learn how to hate humanity at these jobs.


JUSTIN: Okay, so those were three different jobs, yeah.


TIM: So that was three different jobs. Uh, by the time the podcast internship ended, I got this job. And this is based off of my resume of just being known for like, editing comedy videos in Chicago. Uh, so -- uh, someone who also, um, did comedy hired me to be uh, under him at WGN Radio for their new media position of like, doing video for their website. And that was the most -- that was -- I think it was like 30K or something like that. Something, you know --


JUSTIN: Wow, yeah, that's good.


TIM: Yeah, yeah. It was great, yeah.


JUSTIN: You can layer that in and then get all of your comic on top of that.


TIM: Yeah, exactly. But I was so excited to finally -- I'd never been in that position in my life. I was like, I can just go to a movie whenever I feel like it.


JUSTIN: Yeah, yeah, great.


TIM: I can do anything. Yeah, so I would just be like draining my money until the next paycheck came, cause the next paycheck was so big, it was...(laughs)


JUSTIN: Endless wealth, here! My 30K, it's gonna go on forever!


TIM: Yeah, yeah. And then of course, you know, I didn't know, like especially with these newer-type jobs that you have to like really be very weary of the end of the fiscal year, cause that's when things start to get cracked down. So by the time -- by the beginning of January, that -- my job was gone. And that was, uh, unemployed again. And you think I would learn my lesson from that. Uh, but I kept doing the -- even when I was at WGN Radio, I kept doing this podcast for WBEZ, which at that point, after the internship, I wasn't getting paid for it, which was also a little weird. But um, it's just, yeah, the complicated nuance of --


JUSTIN: Okay, chalk it up to life.


TIM: Yeah. And I continued to do the podcast for free after I lost the WG -- WGN job. But they had built up this sort of popularity in a way that I got to leverage that to getting -- I leveraged, through the podcast, me getting a job for that startup TV station.


JUSTIN: Okay, yeah.


TIM: They were like, if you bring the podcast over here, uh, we will pay you -- that was like 40K or something like that. Um...


JUSTIN: Well, that's good. Alright, keep moving up.


TIM: Yeah, yeah. But it was the same situation, like -- and for this one, I didn't see anything coming, you know? Yeah.


JUSTIN: But -- but now that you're here in New York, you don't feel pressure to look for one of these like, salary jobs right now? Or, I mean, you're only two months in.


TIM: I mean, I am. Yeah, I'm applying -- I'm applying to a lot of salary jobs.


JUSTIN: You are? Okay, okay.


TIM: Uh, but I'm trying not to -- my darndest not to do is to apply for a bagel shop.




TIM: You know what I mean?


JUSTIN: Been there, done that.


TIM: Like that is -- I mean, that's why I have so much free time, cause it's like -- and I've gotten to the point where I have -- I've had a few interviews and things happening, and then even comedically, like, a few write -- packets that I've gotten to write and stuff. So things feel like they're in a positive direction. But it's like, I don't want -- I got so used to that lifestyle. And I feel a little weird about that, too. But I just don't want to step back.


JUSTIN: Yeah, sure. Well -- well listen, I think it sounds like you're making things happen here in New York. Listen, our beers are out. So I wanna go get new beers, I wanna take a break, and let's go to commercial really quick, and we'll be right back with Tim Barnes.


TIM: Sounds good.




JUSTIN: Tim, do you drink wine?


TIM: All the time. 30:00


JUSTIN: Chardonnay or the red stuff?


TIM: I like to mix 'em both together, it's called suicide.


JUSTIN: Is that true? I think suicide -- when I was growing up, that was Dr. Pepper, Coke, Sprite, all together. But for you, it was white and red wine. Oh dang, alright. Well Tim Barnes, giving ideas for next season's Forlorn Hope collection. As always, you can get the discount using the Mr. Corpo podcast, M-R-C-O-R-P-O at the Fifteen dollars off when  you buy three bottles or more. And Matt, our famous winemaker, please look into the suicide mix for next season. Tim, thanks for your pointer.




JUSTIN: Welcome back, everybody. We've got Tim Barnes here, our special guest. During the break, he and I were connecting. Earlier on in the show I'd talked about his stories about childhood really resonating with me, and how we had a connection. And then I realized he grew up in South Central LA, and I grew up in Newport Beach, California. So...


TIM: Yeah, yeah. I mean, the connection was, I wasn't allowed to go outside as a kid. So I felt -- and I was very content with that. I didn't wanna go outside as a kid. So it was a win-win situation.


JUSTIN: Yeah, okay, alright. So that -- that was our connection. But it was kind of like not a connection either --


TIM: Yeah.


JUSTIN: -- because like, I grew up on the beach and you grew up in the city. So maybe we have almost nothing in common.


TIM: Yeah, I mean, did you -- I -- I've never identified with people my age. I always hung out with old people.


JUSTIN: Oh, I was always with the older people. And I can relate to you on the level of, I used to stand my -- I almost said apartment -- but in my house, and build Legos for 48 hours straight. And I would play Super Nintendo, I would play the baseball game, I would fart about 500 times with the doors closed, and then like, my parents would open the door and I'd be like building the train Lego set, and it was just like, a stink bomb in my entire room. And I would listen to Bon Jovi on cassette. It was the Young Guns movie.


TIM: I think that's -- that's where our connection ends.


JUSTIN: Oh really? You're not going with me on that. Shot down in a blaze of glory! Anyway, I knew that entire album frontwards and backwards off the cassette, but -- but I digress. I wanna talk about Tim, and I wanna talk about his sense of humor. I wanna talk about your standup set. I saw it about a week ago. I thought it was fantastic. One of the questions I have about uh, being a comic is -- or maybe you can explain this to me -- how come I can listen to a set, I can laugh my ass off, it's so funny, and about two minutes later, I can't remember a single thing that was said during that show. Why is that?


TIM: I mean, that's -- that's the key. I mean, it's -- it's like magic in that -- in that way. I think maybe we let you in a little bit more than magic, but you don't -- I don't know.


JUSTIN: So that's like me in the moment, I'm in the zone with you, and like --


TIM: Yeah, you're in the zone. And I don't remember what I just said, yeah, yeah.


JUSTIN: -- it only exists in that zone. Oh, really?


TIM: Yeah, I mean, I think it keep -- a part of it is that, you know, there's the idea of the act. I'm -- I'm a comedian who likes the idea of the act, and I kind of expand on that a little bit. Almost like uh, I don't know, I don't wanna sound -- I'm gonna end up sounding very, uh, pretentious, so I'm not gonna say what I was gonna say.


JUSTIN: Okay, good. Keep going, keep going. Let's get you on -- let's get you on wax, sounding pretentious.


TIM: I've kind of stopped writing my set down. I think I go -- I go through waves of writing my set down before I go onstage. But what you saw was kind of me just going through -- I've done this act so many times, just kind of going through the motions of my act, and then kind of riffing on things that I felt like in a certain situation and -- and I think it's just more fun that way, for me. But afterwards, I don't even remember everything that I just said, or how -- and I -- I try to make transitions that are multi-layered. So --


JUSTIN: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I can understand. I mean, at that point you know the material so well, you're kind of in a calm place and you're kind of riffing off of what the audience is giving you back, and uh, you know, one -- one of the questions I had for you as I was preparing the show and you know, I -- I could feel sensitive asking this, but I think the -- the subject of your humor touched on race a little bit while we were together. So you were at the show in Brooklyn, and there was an audience, I would say, predominantly white, at that audience. And you had all of us talk about personally, as a black man, was that right?


TIM: That's right, yeah.


JUSTIN: You -- you had us all saying that out loud. And somehow, we all thought this was the funniest thing we'd ever done in our lives. But -- but tell me a little bit about like, what are you going for with that, or what are you thinking, how does -- how do you approach that?


TIM: I think the beginning of that joke was something I still laugh, uh, and think about in high school, which was like what if in the middle of this test everybody's quiet, I just stood up and I said, "I am an African American and I am proud." You know? Cause it's -- it's this idea of power, I mean...35:01 black people have been the underdogs of American history for so long, but because of that, there's also this like, great power, too. And I think as a young black kid, like, learning the dynamics of -- of that, are -- is -- is interesting. And with my comedy, I try to bring people into the way that I have to see race. Or like, or bringing people into the conversation of race. So I try not to dictate things to the audience, but I think audience members sometimes are not used to having to look at things from a certain perspective. So...and I have this sort of palate -- like, this face that you can add any emotion to, you know? And I'm aware of that. And so I try to have this voice that's calming, and I'm aware of the power of that, too, so I try to ease people into these things where like, how did I even get here?


JUSTIN: Yeah, you do have a nice bedside manner, I will say, as a -- as a comic. You know, I -- you feel very comfortable, you feel safe in some way up there, just the -- you've got a very calming voice. Now, um, I thought you had a great opening joke when -- when I was out there last weekend. Do you remember that joke?


TIM: Did I get up there and say, "Where did I lose you?" Cause that's something I --


JUSTIN: No, you were talking about -- you said something to the effect, and again I can't remember it, but it's something to the effect of, have you ever had such a great day? Do you know that joke?


TIM: Oh, have you ever -- have you ever -- have you ever had so much fun you thought you were white for a second? Yeah. My favorite jokes are questions. And I think that kind of sums things up in a way, too, of's a way that I have to exist a little bit too, is just like balancing my fun from reality.


JUSTIN: Right, right, right. Now, I mean, is that -- is race an important part of giving you your humor, or something that you like to try and -- it's something you're breaking down, or it's something you just -- what -- what is it for you?


TIM: For me, I mean, um, it's something that I think about all the time, and I think that's the most important thing for comics to focus their material on. I mean, it's -- it's just -- for me, it even just gets down to math. Like, people laugh harder at the jokes about race. People like the jokes on Facebook that have to do with race more than the other ones. I mean, if those are the jokes that are working for you, why wouldn't you deal in that realm? It's like, people are telling you to do this.


JUSTIN: But do you feel like that's because it's coming from a place that you're -- you're coming from a place of strength, or playing to your strengths, or --


TIM: I think it's -- I think it's playing to my strengths, and I think I find a -- a unique angle on it. And it is sort of -- I think most comedy comes from anxiety, even if you think about -- like if you think about Jewish humor, the idea of Jewish humor, it has to do -- that is just racial anxiety. So my comedy comes from -- also comes from racial anxiety.


JUSTIN: Okay. Now, tell me -- how do you -- do you write jokes? Do you sit at the table with a notepad and write a joke? How do you write a joke?


TIM: My jokes have always been conversational. Like, before I even started doing standup. And I think most comedians are, um, and I don't want this to be seen -- maybe it is negative, but are manipulative in a way. Comedians like repetition, they like testing out things. They like -- they're meticulous, I guess is what I'm trying to say. Like, they'd rather go into a conversation with a pre-planned bit because they -- maybe they don't like conversations. So that was kind of the person I was. Like, I would -- if I was at a party, I hate -- I hate small talk, and so I would try to find ways to entertain myself, but I'd also try to see if -- if I say this thing, does it always get a laugh? So when people ask me where I was from, before I ever did standup, I would say, I'm from African America. And say it very casually. And wait for the delayed laugh.


JUSTIN: Yeah, do -- should I laugh? Is -- is he joking? I don't know.


TIM: Yeah, just throw -- yeah.


JUSTIN: Oh, I haven't heard of -- what?


TIM: And so I've always gotten a -- a joy out of that. And so I've just translated that onto the stage. So I like my set to seem very much like I'm having a conversation with the audience. I like making my audience feel comfortable, and then also very uncomfortable, and then comfortable again.


JUSTIN: Yeah, you -- you do really have them on a string there for a little while. Um, but -- but tell me, you know, being a comic, you're -- you're kind of living off of the adulation or the laughter or the applause of this audience, and it can be a real high. There's no high like a high of people adoring you. But you know, you get off stage, and you walk around the corner, and you get on the bus, or you drive home and you're by yourself, and I think that's where a lot of comics or actors or other people that live off of other people needing to tell them how good they are, can get into trouble with drugs or drinking or chasing that other high. Does -- does that make sense, or --?


TIM: I think -- I think that's true. I think um, I think it's very important to balance a real life with comedy. And that's why I really like my relationship with my girlfriend. I think, I mean --


JUSTIN: Does she think you're funny?


TIM: 40:00 I -- I think she started off thinking I was funny and then it's kinda disappeared. But I kinda like the uh, I like the challenge of balancing a normal life with my comedy life. Because I see a lot of -- there're a lot of unhappy comedians. Um, but the balancing act is what -- is what I like.




TIM: Like, I don't think there's an answer, and I don't -- you know, you can dive deeper into one or the other, but I like trying to balance it.


JUSTIN: But it sounds like you're aware of even trying to keep a balance. Cause I think some people, you could get so high off of the adulation of, everyone's going crazy for me, I'm amazing, and then you could feel really lonely the next day when you wake up at 11 o'clock and check your email, and no one's emailed you, and it's discouraging, right?


TIM: I guess it's just based off the email but then it is like, yeah. I mean the dream is to have shows all the time. And so there is a sort of -- you wake up the next day and it's just nothing that day compares to -- and then no one knows what you did yesterday.


JUSTIN: Yeah, yeah.


TIM: So you do kinda chase that high a little bit.


JUSTIN: Okay. Now, how do you kind of work new material? Do you go out, you say new material, not a single person laughs, and you just drop that from the bit? Or you keep working it? You know, you hear about people working stuff. Working the humor.


TIM: Yeah. I like to work new material into show -- show sets, actually. I mean, open mics are good for -- to get used to saying a new bit. But you don't know where the laughs are gonna come, cause comedians laugh at different things than audiences do.




TIM: And it's -- you feel more alive in your set at a show when you're adding something new in there. Cause sometimes you get so bored with your material that like -- I remember a couple times I started yawning in the middle of my set. Um, because of -- and it's -- I still got all the intended laughs, but I was just so bored with myself that...


JUSTIN: Oh, it's time to get some new jokes at that point. Your girlfriend's looking across from you from dinner just laughing. She's like, I've heard that one already, Tim. My dad's still telling the same jokes he's been telling for -- I'm 38, he's been telling them for 38 years. I'm like, get some new lines. But anyway, whenever we have a guest to the dinner table, he's always like, this is gold, I'm gonna use all my best material.


TIM: But that's true. That is exactly what it's like to be a comedian. I mean, yeah, you don't necessarily want people to go to like, multiple -- you want different people at every show. You know, you don't -- it's just like magic in that way. For like, if you watch the same magic act every --


JUSTIN: Oh, fascinating. Fascinating.


TIM: Yeah.


JUSTIN: Cause I -- I kind of grew up -- didn't grow up, but I -- I played in a band, and you played shows, and inevitably 90 percent of the audience is people you've seen at the last show. But you're saying actually it's nice to have a fresh -- fresh crowd so that you seem totally original.


TIM: Yeah. And you want anonymity from them. You know? That's like -- that's why I like the ideal setup in a theater or whatever, is when the lights are on you, and you can't see a single face. You just want this to be this anonymous --


JUSTIN: I never thought of that.


TIM: -- void out there.


JUSTIN: I've never thought of that. Okay. Wow. Um, alright, well look. Rob's kinda giving me the stink eyes if we're going over time here. So let me just uh, hand it over to you Tim, I want you to talk a little bit about where can people catch you. Now, keep in mind, this episode's gonna come out in September. So where can they catch you in general, talk about your podcast, like give us the whole spiel. If you wanna give people your email address and have them crank -- crank email you, you know, whatever you wanna do.


TIM: Uh, any information you want on me you can find at Uh, my podcast, It's All True! uh, I release new episodes every Thursday. And you can find it anywhere you look for podcasts. Soundcloud, iTunes, acast, Google Play, all that stuff. Uh, my Twitter handle's Tim Barnes451, that's the temperature at which jokes burn. And um -- (laughs) --


JUSTIN: I thought it was the San Francisco area code.


TIM: And uh, I just want you to know that I believe in you.


JUSTIN: Um, well listen, that was the Mr. Corpo podcast. That was the end of Season 1. I think we took it out with a bang. And uh, as always, catch us on the social channels. Twitter is Mr_Corpo, or Instagram, I made it through the whole season keeping a horrible handle name: JDKJDKJDKJDK. That's four JDK's in a row. So without further ado, the end of Season 1. And stay tuned for Season 2, coming to a podcast near you.


Oh my gosh, I almost forgot to thank my good, almost great, awesome, not quite super awesome producer, Rob Schulte. Actually, I take all that back. He's super awesome and he's great. And of course, I always like to leave you with a song. In this case, I'm gonna end Season 1 by sharing with you a super secret track. Not everybody knows I used to be a rapper. My rap name was MClater. It's cause I wore a calculator watch, and then I shortened it to MClater. And then I realized the name MClater kinda sounds like, I'm gonna see you later, after the club, girl. 45:00 And so it's kinda plays on multiple levels. But this is a song that I rapped on with the producer Peter Gavin, from Moped. There's two of us on this rap song, you'll recognize me because I have a famous line of one of the great non sequiturs of all time, "India and Pakistan, they're at war. I have to be honest I don't know what for. Both of these countries, they are nuclear powers. Dining at Shalomar takes less than an hour." Shalomar was our local Indian restaurant. So without further ado, it's a non-issue.






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