Comedy, The Best Medicine

It's 2020. If you don't laugh, you'll cry. That's why the boys bring Ray Ellin, comedian and founder of Comedy Cloud to the podcast. Ellin's company brings top-notch comedians to corporate Zoom calls. In addition to laughs, we're talkin' better employee morale, engagement and just a break from the daily monotony of working.

Take a break, grab some headphones and have a few laughs on us and our sponsor NEXXT.


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Chad (1s):

Well, you said that first show went really well. How do you know? Because when you're on stage, you can engage and you can see, and you can feel the crowd. How do you feel the crowd when you're on a zoom call or what have you?

Ray Ellin (13s):

It was the strangest phenomenon. I was, I was a little, I was really kind of apprehensive, but the key was when I'm scrolling through people's screens on the zoom and you can see them laughing, I mean, up close, and that was good, but I found myself clicking a lot on those, like really like rifling through the pages of the webcams.

INTRO (33s):

Hide your kids! Lock the doors! You're listening to HR’s most dangerous podcast. Chad Sowash and Joel Cheeseman are here to punch the recruiting industry, right where it hurts! Complete with breaking news, brash opinion and loads of snark, buckle up boys and girls, it's time for the Chad and Cheese podcast.

Joel (54s):

It's a new day in America and Waka Waka, we got some comedy for you, everybody. Can you believe?

Chad (1m 0s):

Oh, Yes.

Joel (1m 1s):

On today's show, we welcome, Ray Ellin, comedian and founder of Ray, welcome to the show, man.

Ray (1m 13s):

Thanks for having me.

Joel (1m 14s):

This guy's got chops.

Chad (1m 15s):

He's got chops, Comedy Central. I mean you did Fox, Nat Geo. I mean you you've done some shit, Ray, you're from what I hear, you're a pretty damn funny guy.

Joel (1m 25s):

You're kind of a big deal.

Ray (1m 27s):

Thanks guys. I feel very, very, very, very impressive sitting here in my tiny New York City apartment. But thank you.

Chad (1m 36s):

We do what we can do. So give us, give us a little bit about you. Little Twitter bio.

Ray (1m 40s):

Well, I started doing standup throughout high school and college. And then when I moved to New York, did a bunch of TV commercials and while I was doing standup, and then I made this movie, I produced and directed a film called the Latin Legends of Comedy, which did pretty, pretty nicely.

Chad (1m 59s):


Ray (1m 60s):

And I was most recently I was an executive producer of a Comedy Central show called This Week at the Comedy Cellar. And that we did three seasons of that right before the lockdown. And then I also started a comedy club called Aruba Ray's Comedy Club, which is the number one nightlife activity on the Island of Aruba for the past seven years. So.

Chad (2m 24s):

Got to love that shit, right? I mean, when you're going to Aruba, you got your own place.

Ray (2m 29s):

It is nice. That's why I really, I set it up. I've been going to Aruba for a bit and I fell in love with the Island. And I went every month for a year. I kept going back and forth like eight days, nine days a month. How could I spend more time here? So I set up the comedy club in April of 2013. Not really thinking it was gonna, I thought it'd be like, it'd be like an okay little thing, but it's turned into like a pretty solid place to go. So, it's awesome. Yeah.

Chad (2m 53s):

Well, that's the state of New York? We hear it's dying out here in the midwest.

Ray (2m 58s):

It doesn't feel like Aruba. I could tell you that. New York has gotten, has gotten much better. I mean, compared to when I, left and went down to Aruba mid July, as soon as they opened up. And at the time that I left, like my neighborhood in New York, which, which is a pretty nice neighborhood, it just felt really unsafe. You know, it wasn't, you didn't feel so great walking around the neighborhood. There was a little more crime and so on and everything was closed. I mean, I had the supermarket, the pharmacy and a deli, those three things were open pretty close to my apartment, which is great, but everything else was, was shut down. And it was a pretty dreary vibe.

Ray (3m 40s):

Most people that left town, probably 80% of my building, 90% of my building had left and went somewhere else outside of New York. But then when I came back early September, there was, there was a lot of outdoor dining had now opened up, a bunch of stores that opened up. But that being said, there's still some terrific places that I've been going to for the last, you know, 10, 15 years that are, are gone, that went out of business, you know, restaurants and some other mom and pop stores. And that, and that really, it sucks. I mean, it's, it's a, it's a bummer and I feel bad for the owners and, you know, they're hoping they can reopen maybe in a year someplace else that maybe at better rent, but it's disappointing, you know, it's, it's difficult.

Ray (4m 23s):

It's very difficult, but you know, what can you do? You have to move forward, right? It's all difficult.

Chad (4m 27s):

Talk about that. I mean, overall, you're a comedian. You make people laugh, but that doesn't mean that, you know, sitting in your apartment in New York City, doesn't suck, during 2020, this shitstorm, we call 2020. How do you cope? How have you actually moved through this?

Ray (4m 45s):

Well, pretty, it's difficult, but it was pretty challenging, you know? Well, first of all, I think you guys know, so March 1st, my oldest sister passed away. She was based in California.

Joel (4m 57s):

Sorry to hear that.

Ray (4m 58s):

And no one really knew that much about COVID at the time was this brand new thing. And so, you know, we get this terrible news. So, and then a week after her funeral, we basically go into lockdown. So we had just wrapped the third season of the Comedy Central show, right as we're going into lockdown. And a week prior, I had this terrible thing happened with my sister. So I kind of had this, you know, there's like this global pandemic that everyone is a part of. Then I have my own little personal crisis, you know, for me and my family. So when, when we first went to lock down, it was just like, it was, it was just a bizarre, it was just a surreal feeling, you know, like you're alone in your apartment, it's is a lot to sort of figure out.

Ray (5m 41s):

And then they say, all right, you're going to be locked in for two weeks. And at first, alright, like two weeks, I guess I have some food in here. There's a supermarket around the corner. Okay. I'll just, I'm going to read binge Game of Thrones. And literally that was the game plan. I'm going to, let me see what the Starks and the Lannisters are up to again, for the next couple of weeks,

Joel (6m 4s):

It was Breaking Bad for me. It was Breaking Bad.

Ray (6m 7s):

I did that at some point. I think I did that hit that in June, but it's, you know, that's really what I was doing at the time. And I knew comedy clubs weren't going to be open and comedians were hurt. I set up a fund for comedians. I knew, there's a lot of comedians that hadn't worked in quite some time. So I set up a fund for that, not for me, but for my colleagues. And that felt good doing that of course. I was talking to friends of mine who work in at law firms and in banking and advertising and they're working from home. And some of my friends were saying to me like, you know what, Ray, I love my wife. I love my kids, but I am losing my fucking mind.

Ray (6m 49s):

Just going crazy, you know. Same thing, my friend Barbara said to me, she was like, you know what I, my husband is I am going to murder him. Like they, you know, they were really, they were just going nuts like each other. So, so I, I really thought, okay, comedians have no place to work. I have, you know, friends who need some sort of relief. I, I, you know, I would say to them, you really need to laugh right now more than anything. And then I get a call from a guy who had been to my comedy, the comedy club in Aruba. And he said to me, you know, you want to put together a show online for, for my employees?

Ray (7m 28s):

And I, on the one hand I wanted to perform, on the other hand, I was feeling kind of lousy, but on the other hand, I knew people really needed an outlet and they needed a hoot. And he said, you know, we're having motivational speakers come in every week. And at this point I don't really think my employees feel motivated anymore. So, you know, what do you say? And, and I thought, you know, this let's give it a shot. So it was myself and three other comedians, all of whom, you know, everybody's been on the Tonight Show and America's Got Talent and Last Comic Standing and Jimmy Kimmel and everything. And, and the show I produced, I would also work with probably about 180, 190 different comedians.

Ray (8m 8s):

So I just, from being in the business a long time, I know a lot of different comedians. What I didn't realize was there's some comics that are great when you see them live in the feeder and a club, but online either they're not into doing it online or where their act just doesn't work well, going through the webcam. So, yeah, there was also a learning process with that to discover who was really great online. And who's not.

Joel (8m 33s):

So, just for a visual, is this like a zoom call? Like, it would almost be a fellow employee on the screen. Do you set up, do you set up a stage? It's just sort of, it's the same as a zoom call?

Ray (8m 44s):

Same as a zoom call. Yes. And I we've tried different types of backdrops and some backdrops, you know, you kind of get lost, you look like a, you look like, BooBerry, you know. You just of floating, but some are better than others, but yeah, just like as a regular zoom call. You know, and we have to learn about the best way to do lighting and audio and that sort of thing.

Joel (9m 6s):


Ray (9m 6s):

So we do the show for this company, and it went great. I was like, much better than I expected both their reactions and, and how it felt to perform, you know, on your laptop. So I knew it had it to be modified. It had to the format, the flow of a show, a totally different from seeing a regular comedy show. And also becoming more proficient at zoom, you know, being able to spotlight people and tweaking the audio and that sort of thing. So I bring in a small production staff each time we do a live event to make that go smoother, but it went really well.

Ray (9m 47s):

And I said, there's something here. And I kind of thought, and it was great because it gave me something to think about, something more constructive and creative to think about during the...

Chad (9m 56s):

A purpose right?

Ray (9m 56s):

Press, right? Yes, exactly. It was really like, it gave me some sort of purpose that, you know, not only, you know, was I able to, Oh, this is something that can, you know, can boost people, make them feel better? You know, everyone's stuck at home, everyone's cooped up, it'll boost their morale. Also give some comedians a place to work. And then for myself, just a great distraction from, you know, from just from everything else that, that was on my mind, you know? So, so that was really, it, it was the first time, you know, people come up to me after shows and comedy clubs before, and they would say to me, I've been going through such a hard time, and this was pre pandemic, you know, thanks. It felt so good, that sort of thing.

Ray (10m 36s):

And I always appreciated hearing that, but this was the first time that for me personally, comedy really was a coping mechanism. I mean, who knows for the last 20 years, it's probably been a psychological coping mechanism for me as well.