2008 was a transformative year for me. Here’s some of the best stuff that happened.
I wanted to do a couple of year-end lists, but I wasn’t particularly inclined to do “top 11 songs” or whatever, so I decided to make them more personal ones. I feel justified in doing this because, according to my stats, the “Personal/Misc” category link above gets the most clicks of any of the categories — so people must be at least a little bit interested.
This has been a great year for me — quite possibly the most fun year of my entire life and definitely my most interesting year career-wise. Here are 11 ridiculous, unexpected, surreal or shocking things that happened to me this year… which, collectively, do a decent job telling the story of my life in 2008.
I’ve put them in chronological order.
1 | Getting hired by Break (January)
Four days into 2008, Break.com offered full time jobs to (my writing partner) Paul and me — come on board and make original comedy videos every day. When we started Panda Smash back in late 2006, it was always our goal to have it turn into jobs like these… so even though we both had to leave extremely comfortable jobs we both really loved (and both take a cut in pay), the decision was a no-brainer.
Almost a year later, the Break experience has been fantastic — not only have I gotten to write and produce tons of videos (and get some crucial on-set and technical experience), but I finally feel like I’m on a direct, correct and immediate path to achieving some of my life’s career goals.
2 | Full press access at NBA All-Star Weekend (February)
We started at Break on February 4th.
Approximately seven days later we were on a plane to New Orleans with full press access to NBA All-Star Weekend.
And approximately one day after that I was standing there, on camera, interviewing Dwyane Wade, Tim Duncan, Chris Paul, Rasheed Wallace, Joe Johnson, (almost) Kobe Bryant and dozens of other NBA players.
Later that night I found myself standing on the center of the court in the New Orleans Arena retrieving a loose ball for Kevin Durant and sitting down to hang out with and interview Jamario Moon.
The next day I sat down and interviewed Gheorghe Muresan for 20 minutes. I stood on Bourbon Street spending 90 insane minutes interviewing every drunk lunatic that crossed our paths. And the day after that I shot a basket on the court during the pregame and stood in the foreign press box watching the NBA All-Star Game.
Tragically, almost all of this footage has to remain locked away forever — a big fight ensued afterward between our company and a few others. But we were able to release one portion (we covered a video game championship at the Jam Session there for T-Mobile and 2K Sports)… you can check out the best webisode of that, where I interview Rudy Gay, Chris Paul and Mike Conley Jr., to the right.
3 | My car gets stolen (March)
I’ve covered this on my blog before (11 Things the Car Thieves Took and 11 Things the Car Thieves Didn’t Take). My car getting stolen was the first time I’ve ever really been the victim of a crime and it definitely messed with my head (and life) for a few months.
Now, it’s just a major component of one of the strangest stories of my life: The time my car got stolen while I was on a first date with a girl I’d met a month earlier at speed dating. (Yep.)
4 | Going to Vegas for a drinking game championship (March)
All through college, we played this drinking game called caps. It’s nowhere near things like flip cup or beer pong in terms of popularity, but those who play it tend to love it.
Well… somehow my friends found out about this whole underground network of people who play caps. There’s even an annual world championship. In Vegas. Which we got invited to. Paul and I placed third out of about 20 teams.
The most surreal moment for me was walking into in this room at a bar in downtown Vegas where I saw dozens of grown men throwing bottle caps into mugs… and breaking down and analyzing the game, swapping stories, discussing strategies and more. And then we all sang the national anthem.
5 | Going skydiving (May)
I’ve always meant to write an 11 points list about the time we went skydiving — not sure why I haven’t yet. For (one of my roommates) Gabe’s 29th birthday in May, my three roommates and I went skydiving. I don’t really have a fear of heights and was shockingly calm the entire time… but still, getting up to 13,000 feet and then jumping out of an airplane ranks up there as one of the most surreal moments I’ve ever had.
6 | Interviews at a Penthouse DVD release party (June)
My access through Break has taken me into some weird situations this year, but none compares to when we got press passes to a Penthouse DVD release party.
For about three hours I interviewed more than a dozen porn stars… most of whom said stuff so ridiculous that even my twisted mind couldn’t have come up with it.
It led to one of our most popular videos ever (embedded to the right). It also makes me optimistic for next week, when we go to Vegas to do press coverage of the Adult Video News Expo.
7 | Going to Vegas for a kickball championship (September)
My second ridiculous trip to Vegas for a tournament. In the spring, my friends and I signed up to play adult kickball (which was a fantastic decision by the way — one of the best ways to meet people ever). Somehow, we inexplicably ended up being good at kickball… we won our league… and got to go compete in the world championships in Vegas.
We did OK there — although a team that can be described as nothing less than kickball professionals from New York did beat us 18-0. We’re better now, and, last month, we won our league for the second time. So next year, we get to go back to this tournament. For some vengeance.
8 | Making a ton of insane videos
It’s very strange to get paid to make stupid videos, then see those stupid videos get millions of views. Every once in a while I just have to shake my head and realize I’m living some kind of dream.
9 | An L.A. musical crowd reacts to the Obama victory (November)
On Election Night, I was at a musical in downtown L.A. I never go to musicals, but I’d agreed to go with my friend Ilana. She’d bought the tickets a few weeks earlier because they were heavily discounted… since it was election night.
The show started at 8:00 pm… literally moments before Obama won. So at intermission (or halftime, as I accidentally called it), gradually everyone in the theater started checking their texts and listening to their voicemails and realizing what had happened. And then, people started breaking out into cheers and applause. As more people figured out what was happening, the wave of cheers and applause kept spreading, until it was happening across the whole room.
Probably the coolest way that could’ve been enjoyed.
10 | Realizing I was too old to go out during Thanksgiving weekend (November)
This Thanksgiving I had one of my first “holy shit I’m actually getting old” moment. When I was back home in the Cleveland suburbs, my friends and I went out to one of the usual bars that we’ve gone to every year for a decade. And as I recognized only a handful of people, my surreal moment clicked: We were the oldest people there.
Apparently, after your 10-year reunion, you need to stop going out to the usual hometown spots on Thanksgiving. I was unaware of this.
And in L.A. or elsewhere it doesn’t matter how old you are — but at the hometown bar where everyone went to the same high school, everyone knows exactly how old you are. And that put me into the role of “creepy older guy who can’t let go.” I do not ever want to be in that role.
11 | Pitching my first TV show (December)
I haven’t talked about this much mostly out of fear of jinxing and/or overhyping it, but, earlier this month, I got to help Break pitch a TV show to a cable network. It was my first-ever pitch, which was pretty exciting — and, in theory, it will just be the first of many.
Sometime next month we’ll find out if anything became of it. But regardless, a very exciting meeting for me, a huge career step… and yet another moment I never saw coming one year ago today.