The Colbert Report

On my actual b-day I went to a networking event where I met a couple of people, including a very cool person who I met up with again at another event and hope to hang out with when I'm back in NY. I also went to Of Montreal, which was fantastic and included several Of Montreal'esque antics.. including 2 fighting pigs (fake) that got spanked by Susan Sarandon (real). Ask me about it in person if you're interested in hearing about it.


So another thing on my to-do list was to go on a talk show. I will admit here that I love TV. I don't often make time to watch television anymore & rarely turn on the tv at all... nowadays I typically get my fix by getting obsessed with a series and then watching it via rental or online in a ridiculously short time frame. The last few series where I have done this are: The Office, Battlestar Gallactica, Mad Men, Lost, Dexter & 30 Rock. I abandoned Weeds and True Blood... they didn't really hold my interest. I have the Wire queued up.

This behavior is not very unique, as most people I know do this. However the exception I make is the Colbert Report, I will regularly stay up to watch his show and to say that I'm a huge fan is an understatement. He's awesome, and I have a bit of a man-crush on him.

When I went to NY, I did a bit of research to see what you needed to do to get tickets for the show. Much like SNL, the Daily Show, Letterman and Late Night - tickets to the Colbert Report were given out months in advance and the few seats available were given out on a standby basis which involved waking up early and standing in line all day. I thought I would have plenty of time to fit in a day of line-standing but it turns out that 10 weeks in NY can go by pretty quick.

In a last ditch effort, I went online again to see if there was another way. It turns out there is. In many cases, the VIP tickets that get handed out months before become available, because traveling plans get changed or something comes up, etc. VIP tickets are non-transferable (to prevent a black market for the free tickets), so when that happens the Daily Show and Colbert Report post the ticket openings back on their web site. Because of their popularity, normally they go extremely fast (4-5 mins). The good news is that some guy made a twitter feed that alerts its followers when those tickets become available. On Jan 27th, I had tickets for that night within a couple of hours of following the twitter feed. If you are in NY and want to see Colbert or Jon Stewart... follow @dailytix.

So enough about getting a ticket. The whole Colbert experience was excellent! I won't go in to the detail displayed above for the rest of the post but here are some highlights:
  • they let you in to the show based on your arrival. I was #83 (the number of Ales Hemsky - my favorite Oiler);
  • before the show they lead you in to a room where you go through security and watch Colbert highlights as Colbert himself rehearses in the studio;
  • once in the studio all cell phones and cameras have to be off & there was a security guard right behind me. I got a couple of shots, but bad ones;
  • I sat beside a guy who looked like a guy I used to work with named Mac (my 3rd such encounter in NYC - see him in the photo in the security room);
  • we had about 45 mins of stand-up from a warm up comic before Colbert came out to do his deal with Jon Stewart. At the end of the Daily Show, Jon Stewart does a little chat with Colbert to end off the one show and lead in to the other. Stewart was on closed circuit TV, so after Colbert sat down they had a warm-up/rehearsal which lasted about 5-10 minutes where they chatted about topics from the day. This included a fairly in-depth conversation about what the guest on the Daily Show was talking about & Colbert's opinions on it. Of course, when the actual taping for the segment happened, Colbert took Stewart completely off guard by pretending not to know who the guest. The old bait and switch. I don't know if that was set up or not, but Stewart seemed genuinely dumbfounded, which was pretty hilarious;
  • Colbert then went off-set and they brought back the warm-up comic, who told us it was rare that Colbert went off again (apparently go right in to taping the Report) & also thought the bait & switch was hilarious and odd... so maybe it wasn't set up;
  • Colbert finally came out again and did an out-of-character Q & A. He's equally hilarious out of character, but its obvious just how much of an informed genius he is when he can talk openly about various issues. Of course most of the questions were pointless (like 'would you rather kill Bambi or Winnie-the-Pooh?'), but he gave great answers for those too;
  • before the taping he launched a bunch of Wrist-Strong bracelets out in to the audience. Both people beside me got one & I did not;
  • the taping was great... if anyone wants to watch it go online for January 27, 2010 at (Canada) or (US);
  • I expected lots of jokes about the iPad, but he kept it rather light on that, which is fine because I'd heard it all by that time. His focus was on Justice Roberts' decision to allow corporate financing of political campaigns... he was genuinely fired up of camera as well. He talked a lot about it off camera as well, mentioning his run for President in '08 which he had sponsored by Dorrito's Nacho Cheese. He said that when they were doing it, they tried to come up with some of the most ridiculous things they could think of... and now it's actually not a joke;
  • his guest was a mathemagician, who basically was this uber-nerd savant who used magic to make math fun and interesting. I'm usually not a huge fan of Colbert's live interviews because the guests usually have a hard time navigating Colbert's persona (the editing done in the taped interviews makes them wayyyy more funny). However, this one was pretty good and the guest was probably already used to people not taking mathemagics seriously;
  • after the taping was done, he did a bunch of high-fiving with the audience (I was near the back so couldn't partake - but got a blurry pic where he's on the left of the shot);
  • then he sat down on the ground in front of the audience and started singing Kumbaya. The audience joined in and I got another blurry pic, but his head is barely visible at the front center of the audience.

Networking Events

To define the marketing, advertising, web, and tech industries in Calgary as small would be more then accurate.

The above is not a statement about the level of talent, or the potential for greatness, as some of the most talented creatives and developers that I know are based in YYC and are doing tremendous work. There are also some awesome things that are starting to incubate this growing community.

However, aside from one massive interactive firm, 3-4 great agencies (all with 30 staff or less), and a couple of stock photo sites - there isn't really a lot of options for a world-class writer, programmer, designer, IA, or programmer who wants to be paid accordingly (apologies to all those Calgarians that disagree).

As a web entrepreneur it has been particularly tough at times to reach the people that I need to make my business grow. The people that have "been there" in the web space can be counted on one hand and, of those, there is a high likelihood that their experience comes from the stock photography business (Eyewire, iStockphoto and Veer all started up in Calgary). I am not directly connected with any of those people (yet). In many cases when a new technology starts up in Calgary, it will go elsewhere to become successful (ex: StumbleUpon).

The most common expertise in Calgary is Oil & Gas related, and the most common advice I'm able to get is "you should go on the Dragon's Den" (a Canadian "business" reality show where investors will offer up $100k for 51% of only the very best companies brought forward... usually in some sort of dramatic combined effort that will fall apart after the cameras are off). I am thankful for all the advice I can get, but I am hungry for more.

I am traveling for personal reasons, not for work. Aside from sending some emails back to Canada, tinker with my Google AdWords account, and sketching out some plans for my company, there isn't a lot I can do work-wise until I'm back in Calgary.

One of the things I can do while traveling is meet people, so I've tried to go to as many networking events as possible to try to meet some like-minded folks and perhaps one or two people that can help me when I make my return to Canada. When I was in NY I went to 5-6 events and met some fantastic people in the process.

Anyways, one event that I went to was at Bloomberg LP. They are hiring UI specialists and had a networking event for UI, with a speaker from The speaker was quite good, although the information he was able to share was a little limited. He admitted so by telling us that he knew information that would answer some of our questions but was limited to telling us information that was already public knowledge. Nonetheless, it was a worthwhile evening and just to give a sense of what a networking event for those involved in UI in NY was like... it was attended by approximately 200 non-affiliated industry people (in YYC having 200 industry folk at an event likely means 80 are made up of 2 companies), had free wine and hot food, and was held in Bloomberg's offices.

Here are a couple of pics from the event and the link below is the presentation (on slideshare w audio).