2013 Annual Review and My Plan for 2014

Since 2010 I’ve taken the time at the end of each year to review the last 12 months and come up with a plan of action for the year ahead.  It’s been a great way to gauge my progress and see what goals I am achieving and which ones are falling to the wayside.

First, here’s a link to last year’s review.

And so it begins:

Step 1: Review the Previous Year

My theme and purpose for the upcoming year: Continuing To Build and Taking Shit To The Next Level PART DEUX. More specifically, continue my quest to transform The Improv, continue building LA Encantada as a company and culture, and continue learning, growing, and inspiring.  Adding to that I aim to produce the best weekly comedy/variety show in LA and a show for television, and I want to double my income.  Easy peasy fresh and squeezy!

How I fared: Thematically: ON POINT!  I did continue to build and take shit to the next level.  The Improv had a huge year on all levels, and my creative vision (more music, more variety, and more of a bridge between the club and independent comedy scenes) was evident all year round.  Lots of great new shows featuring some of the biggest names in comedy, and with the help of my writing and producing partner Vanessa Ragland, we introduced VAN JAM, a variety show featuring a live soul/jazz house band that we produced 8 times in 2013, each one sold out!  We had special guests including Louis CK, Craig Robinson, Aziz Ansari, Tig Notaro, and countless others, so safe to say mission accomplished in that department!  Didn’t get anything on television, but did have some meetings about it (I know, like soooo L.A.) and continued to learn about the process for making that happen.  Certainly didn’t double my income, but can’t win ’em all.

Goal #1 is to make The Hollywood Improv the best comedy and variety venue in LA.  It’s got a storied history and is arguably already one of the best, but I know with continued work and artistic vision it can continue to innovate and bring something new and exciting to the ever expanding comedy landscape in LA.

Goal #2 is to continue building LA Encantada via a weekly show at The Improv, and other large scale events in LA and beyond.

How I fared:   YES!  While it’s still not getting the press I believe it deserves, in 2013 The Improv continued to build a reputation as having some of the most cutting edge comedy shows in town, and bringing my voice and production to the table we saw things happen on that stage that never happened before.  From Brendon Small jamming with Thundercat to Louis CK up on stage with the VJ’s to punk bands and burlesque dancers and everything in between, The Improv was definitely among the best places to see comedy and variety in LA this year.  As far as LA Encantada is concerned, mission accomplished as well.  Van Jam was a success through and through and we also saw the success of Tiki Tugboat (a tiki themed variety show), and had our hands in a few other shows as well.

This year I want to bring more people together from the comedy community to do events and community outreach.

How I fared:  Sadly I didn’t get as involved in this department as I’d like.  The extent of charity work I did was in helping bring in and produce fundraisers at the Improv, but I wasn’t as active as I would have liked.


Same as last year.  For the love of all things holy I vow to make meditation part of my regular daily routine

How I fared: GREAT!  Ups and downs per usual, but this year I probably meditated 100 times, whereas in years past I probably only tried 20-30 times at most.  Nowhere near where I’d like to be, but certainly a step in the right direction.

Like last year, my goal is to exercise for 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week.  And more nature.  And less drinking.

How I fared:   POORLY.  Had some streaks in there where I’d be at the gym a few days a week for a few weeks, but nothing consistent.  I did walk a lot more, and hiked a few times.   As far as drinking goes, overall I probably drank less than the year before on account of having gone 4 months sober (Two two-month spans during the year), but I question the effectiveness of that when I dive back into drinking after the self-imposed sobriety with reckless abandon.  But I had a lot of fun, so trying not to judge myself on that too harshly.

Now more than ever, there is 100% overlap between my career and creative goals, so see all of the above. (This makes me happy.)

How I fared:  The overlap continued this past year.  Success.  One development worth mentioning was my podcast, The Long Shot.  We are now starting our 4th year, with 150+ episodes in the bank.  This year one of our four hosts left to do his own podcast, which opened the door for me to step up my game as an on-air personality.  My confidence in that department grew tremendously and I got a lot of positive feedback from our listeners.  That podcast has become a great testament to sticking things out even when at first they are insanely challenging.  Hey, good on me!

Quick Summary of 2013:

Overall, another fantastic year.  I re-read my summary of 2012, and my summary for 2013 would largely be the same.  The same old trappings still exist, but I am recognizing when I am falling prey to them quicker. This doesn’t mean I always jump to action the way I should, but there’s at least some solace in knowing when I am struggling and why.  I’d say my overall confidence in what I do as a comedy booker has grown.  I’ve been doing comedy for 12 years, but booking a comedy club was something brand new to me when I started almost 2 years ago.  I still have a lot to learn, but think I’m getting pretty good at it, on the creative and business side as well.  I also had the epiphany that putting in the 10,000 hours to become an expert at something doesn’t always have to be focused on one particular skill.  There are times I regret not diving into one area of expertise from the get go, like stand-up or writing or directing, but I’ve still put in close to 10,000 hours in the comedy world in all capacities, which has it’s own worth.  Surrounding myself with the culture, taking part in all sorts of ways, and producing hundreds of shows and watching endless hours of comedy have had tremendous value.

As far as reading goes, the following books were my favorite inspirational reads of the year:

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (All about creative resistance – must read for any artist with a million ideas but struggles to execute.)
Where Did I Go Right? by Bernie Brillstein (A lot of perspective on the industry and the amount of love and passion it takes to get things done.)
You Know Me But You Don’t Like Me by Nathan Rabin (A relatable story of searching and insights into why people are attracted to creative lore and experience.)
The Art of Happiness by The Dalai Lama
Breaking Open The Head by Daniel Pinchbeck (Super interesting read on the history of psychedelic drugs and their effect on art.)
Catching The Big Fish by David Lynch (Quick read on how David Lynch uses meditation to inspire his films.)
Last Words by George Carlin (Fascinating history of a great comedic mind and dropping the bullshit to make art that was a true reflection of him and his times.)
12 Rings by PHil Jackson and Hugh Delehanty (So cool to see how much Phil Jackson used Buddhism and Native American traditions to inspire and coach his teams.)
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson (Fascinating, if egomanical dude, but interesting history and I was inspired by his words on attention to every detail, importance of design, and user experience.)

Step 2: Outline Goals and Overall Focus for Next Year

My theme and purpose for the upcoming year: Put Myself on The Map and Make Some Damn Money.  I’m 12 years in the comedy game.  I’m booking the most historic comedy club in the world.  I’m getting more and more confident in my live show producing ability.  I’ve been opening doors in the industry.  I’ve got ideas I know could work on television.  Through this blog, ensuing podcast, and aim to produce the best live show in LA I really want to put myself on the map as a writer/producer to be reckoned with.  And at 37 years old I’m getting impatient with living in debt, paycheck to paycheck.  Time to make some of that real skrill, son!

I pretty much said it above, but more specifically: Continue to build on the momentum at The Improv by bringing more of my producer capabilities to the stage more often; pitch several of my TV show ideas and get at least one pilot developed and produced on a major level; through this blog and a new podcast called “Search Party” I’ll be launching this month, further establish my name and credibility in the biz.

Same as last year: want to bring more people together from the comedy community to do events and community outreach.  Specifically, build in giving back and charity as part of the live shows I produce.

Meditate as many days as possible.  At least 200 days of the year.  Continue searching.  Find more balance.

Exercise for 30 minutes a day, at least 4 days a week. That’s it.  I know if I can do that, the other health issues I want to focus on will improve on their own.

Travel: I haven’t taken a major vacation in close to 4 years.  Want to get out of town.
Car: I sold my car in October and didn’t replace it.  It’s been a fun experiment and will continue at least another few weeks, but I don’t want to get a new one until I can confidently stroll into a dealer knowing that I can pay a lease comfortably while

Step 3: Make Decisions in Support of the Goals and Focus

SAME AS EVERY YEAR: To keep as positive as possible while working my butt off and being diligent about my use of time, and sticking to a set schedule.

One Comment

  • Dinah Leffert |

    I love this! I have a great community out reach project: One world futbol project. The community outreach part could be us doing a ball drop and giving away these in-destructable soccer balls to poor kids in LA. After we raise some balls on a charity show. We will see so much joy on these kids faces as we hand them a ball. It’s my passion project connected to my documentary. Landon Donovan brought the project to LA Galaxy foundation because of me. He said he will come to a show. Let’s get Jeff on board! http://www.oneworldfutbol.com (click on project). I have hope for 2014!

So, what do you think ?