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Episode 459: Nerdist Podcast
Jerry Stahl
Nerdist PodcastNerdist Podcast

Nerdist Podcast: Jerry Stahl

The very interesting and insightful Jerry Stahl stops by the show to talk about being addicted to heroin, the Fatty Arbuckle story and William Randolph Hearst’s role in pushing the scandal, using life experiences for creative works, and what really makes a person positive or negative!

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  1. Petey says:

    Decent episode. Intelligent guests are good.

    When people get pissy because they find your output lacking in some way, the “it’s free” response misses the point. Pretty much all podcasts have no financial buy-in from the audience. It’s about more than money. People spend an hour or so listening to each episode. That’s a real cost they like to think of as an investment because they know they’ll get something in some way fulfilling out of it afterward. So when people are disappointed enough to complain about whatever their nitpicky problem is with your work, it’s because they expect more from you based on the standard you’ve set, producing work they like, and care enough to let you know they’ve got an emotional attachment to it and boy are you ever gonna hear about how you’ve not lived up to the esteem in which they normally regard your stuff.

    Doesn’t mean people aren’t shitty, or just dead frickin wrong sometimes too, but getting defensive and catty isn’t constructive & definitely erodes at your brain over time. Those of us who put our creatively private work out in public only to have it dissected by everyone with just enough brain to form an opinion do well to view user feedback, critical or otherwise, as mostly irrelevant yammering by insane or stupid people, and then grade their responses equally:

    Q.: Is there anything constructive in this critique I might use to improve my product?
    A1.: If yes, (say, 3 things) take em, and award the critique (3) points.
    A2.: If no, award the critique 0 points and consider its writer an even bigger failure than they were before they wrote it.

    The more points your audience has at the end of the day, the better off everyone is.

  2. Baxter says:

    Holy shit! What a beautiful, insightful and poignant episode. Stahl’s first novel, “Perv: A Love Story” is filled with similar truths and is one of my favorite books of all time. Thank you Chris and Jerry for this incredibly therapeutic hour. And it was free to boot!

  3. Mike says:


    I agree with you big time. This happens all too often on this podcast. Interesting guests but weak interviews. Wasted opportunities.

  4. jd says:

    When Stahl talked about not being able to compare pain, that’s when the hosts should have moved on to something besides asking their guest to give advice or validation to their happy worldview. Stahl mentions interesting aspects of his writing career (working for Hustler, working on CSI, six unpublished novels, how writing now is different because of the Internet), but all of this is passed over in favor of answering the question “Is it OK that I’m happy?” Stahl has nothing interesting to say about heroin (because to have an interesting opinion it would have to be “do it!”), but hints at having all kinds of interesting things to say about working in TV. Too bad he was never given a chance to expand on any of it.

    Many of the nerdist podcasts are excellent. This one was so frustrating.

  5. DipDobson says:


    I kind of agree. It comes off weak. If Hardwick wants to be a real stand up someday he should toughen up. Responding=Troll wins.

  6. cat jon says:


  7. Pete says:

    Rube = Short for Ruben!

    Why am I never on the podcast at the right times?

  8. Mike says:

    Don’t feed the trolls. Ever.

  9. Joe Friday says:


    It’s the exact opposite of standing idly by and allowing yourself to be shit on by bullies. A blog post, or a video, or a tweet is a thing that someone makes and puts out into the world. A creation, if you will. To someone who makes things for a living, and makes things in order to feel happy, and makes things in order to make other people happy, and takes the act of making things and making them well very seriously, it’s baffling why someone would make a thing for the sole purpose of belittling someone. It’s exponentially impossible to fathom why someone would make that thing poorly, or with substandard materials (incorrect information, half-assed assumptions, poor grammar, etc). The response to want to make a thing to counteract and negate the negative thing comes as easily as breathing to a person who spends their life attempting to make good, positive things.

    The jury is still out on the effectiveness of responding to trolls, but the almost undeniable urge to respond, at least, is understandable, IMO.

  10. chris hardwick says:

    @Super: nah, it’s not about thickness of skin. It’s about being trained as a comedian to go after hecklers. I can all but guarantee that comedians probably have some of the highest interaction rates with trolls. It’s more of a “aha! now I shall have the upper hand!” than it is a “awwwww, mean troll hurt my feewings!” That’s how I see it, anyway.

  11. Garth3r says:

    This one really hit home on a lot of shit. Feels good to not be alone about awkward stuff that you don’t really know how to go about working it out. Thanks @nerdist

  12. Al says:

    @Super, I suspect that the reverse side of the indignation that motivates a response is a refreshing of your own values. It’s like when you read about an outrageous wrong and comment about it. Generally, you won’t actually do anything to right the wrong, but it reminds you about what you care about, and sharpens the distinction between your views of right and wrong.

  13. Super says:

    Hey why does Chris always answer the trolls? You’d think a successful tv host and aspiring stand up comedian would have thicker skin.

  14. Ken says:

    On the topic of perceiving others as fake, happiness isn’t true and so forth: I don’t think it’s happiness that others loathe, perhaps it’s that others view happiness as a sign of being fortunate and or wealthy that people loathe. People can relate better to those that appear to have a darker side but choose to be positive despite it while not denying the darkness exists. For example, if you are at a beach with friends, we don’t want to hear afterwards that “I got the perfect tan” “the water was amazing” “I learned to surf and received a lot of compliments” “I met the sexiest person”. We want to hear that, as long as it’s followed by “but I got a rash from all that sand in my bathing suit” “I swallowed so much salt water” “I have the worst sunburn” “I cut my foot on a piece of glass”. It’s the judgment of how fortunate one is, not how happy one is that we all partake in.

  15. Thunderbird says:

    Chris, why you’re thinking of Alan Ruck is that he’s one of the passengers on the bus. “I already seen the airport.” 🙂