Notes from ‘Jerry Before Seinfeld’

Jerry Before Seinfeld is a Netflix special created by Jerry Seinfeld. Its focus is Jerry’s decision to start performing as a stand-up comedian in the mid-1970s and what those early years were like.

There were a few takeaways I got from the special:

— He moved to New York City in 1976 to start doing stand-up. He was not planning to go anywhere with it. He just knew that he loved it and wanted to do it. Similar to Dave Chappelle, when Jerry started his comedy career, he thought if he could just earn enough performing to make a living, that would be the greatest life he could have.

— The first comedy club he started performing at was The Comic Strip. The comedians would perform for free. The one bonus they got was free food, so that’s where he ate lunch and dinner every day. The positive at the time was the club was filled with spectators every night because stand-up comedy was the cool new thing to see.

— He had all of the expected setbacks for a new comedian. Hecklers, bombing a set, etc. But none of that bothered him. He was in the comedy business, and that’s all that mattered to him.

— He is like most comedians in that he is far more comfortable speaking to all of a crowd while he performs than he is speaking to any of them individually off-stage.

— Every romantic relationship you’re in during your life will have a certain amount of tension. Accept that.

— It takes young guys a long time to learn the power of flowers in a relationship.

— Rodney Dangerfield’s line to Jerry about great jokes: “The killers…they’re wanted in all 50 states.”

— Jerry wrote all of his jokes on legal pads, and he’s kept every joke he’s written from 1975 until today.

— To feel your sense of humor being validated is the only validation he cared about as a human being. He didn’t care if the crowd liked him personally. He only cared whether they liked the jokes.

— Anything “20 minutes” is a lie. You will never “be there in 20 minutes.” This conversation will never “just take 20 minutes.” Nothing ever takes 20 minutes.

— He recognizes human beings’ weird relationship with time. We stay up way too late binge-watching Netflix and don’t worry about the consequences the next day because that’s Morning Guy’s problem. Night Guy is making the decision right now to watch more Netflix.

— When you’re doing stand-up comedy, you absolutely have to connect to the audience.

— Five years after he started doing stand-up comedy in 1976, he got called to perform on The Tonight Show.

Five Lessons from Seeing ‘Hamilton: An American Musical’

I was fortunate to see the musical Hamilton over the weekend. I had read part of the biography by Ron Chernow that inspired Lin-Manuel Miranda to create the play, but that only covered the material from the first act of the show. There were several lessons I took from Hamilton’s life:

Note: I allude to some parts of the plot, so if you would rather be kept in the dark until you get to see the musical, I suggest waiting to read further.


Hamilton was a learning and writing machine. His work rate was extraordinary. It goes to show that if any of us want to be more productive with the time we have for work, all we need to do is search for better methods.

Remember to take a break. Because of his difficult upbringing and lack of reputation when he first moved to the US, Hamilton was consumed with getting to the forefront of any field he pursued (military command, law, finance, politics). The drawback of this one-track mindset is you can forget about the other people in your life that matter most. Keep a little balance.

Recognize if you are someone that wants to be in the ‘room where it happens.’ Hamilton’s rival Aaron Burr realized midway through his political career that he wanted a larger leadership role than his current path would make available to him. This altered his approach going forward. A person does not have to target the highest leadership role in their office or community, but if you want to be a key decision-maker, it helps to know that early because it will require more work and a specific track to have a chance to get there.

This tale is another example of the negative consequences that can befall a person that is obsessed with their legacy. Hamilton indirectly ruined his home life because his focus was on clearing his name from a career perspective. And Aaron Burr became obsessed with getting revenge against Hamilton after Hamilton recommended Thomas Jefferson to be President instead of Burr. Instead of viewing the event as a temporary setback, Burr lost his emotional cool, leading to the duel where he kills Hamilton.

A person can find a greater purpose at any point in their lives. Hamilton’s wife Eliza preferred to stay in the background while Alexander was climbing up the political ladder, but after his death, she sprung into action to ensure the US populace would appreciate all that he had done for their new country. Her activist lifestyle also led to her opening the first private orphanage in the state of New York.

Sugar Consumption’s Real Impact on Your Health

I watched the 2014 documentary Fed Up recently. The film’s focus is on the history of sugar consumption in America and the commodity’s negative effect on our health. This is more well known today, but I found it helpful to walk through the subject matter in more detail. You can find the film on Netflix. My notes are below:

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Notes from the HBO documentary ‘Becoming Warren Buffett’

— His father had unlimited confidence in Warren, even when Warren screwed up.

— Imagine that when you turn 16, you’re given the only car you will have your entire life. What do you think you’ll do with that car? You’ll take as good care of it as possible. In reality, that’s not the deal with cars, but it is how it works for us with our body and mind. We only get one, so take care of it.

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