Comedy’s Dynamic Duo, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg

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Picture of Tim Ferriss, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg

No, we are not in jail. And am I really that short?!

“If we can write a high school movie, then we can make a high school movie.”
— Seth Rogen

This episode features a dynamic duo. Seth Rogen (@SethRogen) is an actor, writer, producer, and director. Evan Goldberg (@EvanDGoldberg) is a Canadian director, screenwriter, and producer. Together, they get into a lot of mischief and create amazing comedy.

They’ve collaborated on films such as Superbad (which they first conceived as teenagers), Knocked UpPineapple ExpressThe Green Hornet, and Funny People. They have also written for Da Ali G Show and The Simpsons.

In 2013, Evan and Seth released their directorial debut, This Is the End.  In 2014, Seth starred in and produced (alongside Evan) Neighbors, which was a worldwide comedy hit and has taken in more than $268 million.

In December 2014, Rogen and Goldberg’s film, The Interview, became the most-talked-about news story around the world. Under extremely difficult circumstances, the film persevered to become Sony Pictures’ #1 digital title of all time.

Neighbors 2 is shooting now and will be released next May. Seth and Evan are also in production on Sausage Party, a raunchy animated movie for adults about one sausage’s quest to discover the truth about his existence. Seth and Evan are producing the film with Megan Ellison and Conrad Vernon.

In our conversation, we discuss all manner of tactics and silliness, including:

  • Kyokushin karate
  • Writer’s block and related debates
  • Their writing process
  • Who are the most underrated comedians and comedy writers?
  • How Superbad got made… after they first drafted it around age 13
  • The odd book Judd Apatow recommended to them (also Woody Allen’s favorite)
  • How The Kids in the Hall influenced them
  • The movie they both wish they’d written
  • Common pot mistakes
  • Recommended newb pot for working versus relaxing
  • Will there be a McLovin spinoff?
  • And much more…

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Want to hear another podcast related to comedy? — Listen to my conversation with Bryan Callen, who is a world-class comic and prolific actor. Stream this episode below or right-click here to download.



This podcast is brought to you by Vimeo Pro, which is the ideal video hosting platform for entrepreneurs. In fact, a bunch of my start-ups are already using Vimeo Pro. WealthFront uses it to explain how WealthFront works. TaskRabbit uses it to tell the company’s story. There are many other names who you would recognize among their customers (AirBnB, Etsy, etc.) Why do they use it? Vimeo Pro provides enterprise level video hosting for a fraction of the usual cost. Features include:

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This podcast is also brought to you by Athletic Greens. I get asked all the time, “If you could only use one supplement, what would it be?” My answer is, inevitably, Athletic Greens. It is my all-in-one nutritional insurance. I recommended it in The 4-Hour Body and did not get paid to do so. Get 50% off your order at Athletic Greens.com/Tim.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: If you could interview any comedian, who would it be and why? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

Enjoy!

Selected Links from the Episode

Twitter (@Sethrogen) | Facebook | Instagram (@sethrogen)

Show Notes

  • The story of how Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg got into karate and beat the shit out of each other [06:42]
  • How their view of competitive violence changed after karate [10:58]
  • How Seth and Evan first met and when they first started collaborating [12:08]
  • How Seth and Evan decided to write Superbad [16:05]
  • The differences between standup comedy and movie writing [19:30]
  • How Seth and Evan’s writing process works [25:03]
  • How This Is The End came together, and how they created the film [27:01]
  • How the Superbad script came to life [33:24]
  • Being hired to write for Da Ali G Show and other acting roles [40:06]
  • The lessons Seth and Evan learned from Judd Apatow [44:06]
  • Thoughts on the concept of writer’s block [48:29]
  • Today’s most underrated comedy writers [52:04]
  • The first person who comes to mind when Seth and Evan think of the word successful [57:52]
  • The habit Evan picked up when working with Snoop Dogg [1:03:01]
  • The advice Evan and Seth would give their 25-year-old selves [1:05:07]
  • The reason nearly all involved in Freaks and Geeks ended up being so successful [1:11:06]
  • Weed and productivity [1:14:20]
  • The types of pot for different situations [1:17:30]

People Mentioned

Posted on: September 29, 2015.

The Tim Ferriss Show is generally the #1 business podcast on iTunes, and it was selected for iTunes' "Best of 2015." Each episode deconstructs world-class performers from eclectic areas (investing, sports, business, art, etc.) to extract the tactics, tools, and routines you can use. If you want to 10x your productivity, click here.

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39 comments on “Comedy’s Dynamic Duo, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg

  1. If you were forced to sit in one place with nothing but a non-interactive screen and speakers for forty hours, what would you watch/listen, and you were sure to give it 100% of your attention, and remember it…what would you put on?

    Undergoing a medical treatment where the choice is that or sleep, need advice.

    Like

  2. Another fantastic podcast Tim. I’m a photographer, writer & director in the UK and I find inspiration in each and every one of these, no matter if it’s a chess champ, navy seal or comedian. They’ve actually helped me build a morning routine that has made me so much more productive, efficient and just happier and more fulfilled in general.

    Listening to Seth and Evan was an absolute joy. Their karate stories had me laughing out loud on my morning run. Funny guys indeed.

    Keep up the good work sir!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Hey Tim, thanks for the response!

        So my current routine is… 8 hours sleep a night, up around 7:30am, 20 minutes yoga, 10 minutes vipassana meditation (I’ve only been meditating for a few week so I’m working on building my time up to 20 minutes. I’m also interested in trying TM) podcast or audio book on (I loved the audio book of Tim Kreider’s ‘We Learn Nothing’ and have recommended it to everyone) then a 25 minute HIIT session or 5K run, shower, morning pages (I followed The Artists Way earlier this year and found that the pages were a great way to free up my brain up for creative work) then I usually read an article on Brain Pickings or a blog post (yours, James Altucher’s, 99u ) whilst I have my breakfast and around 9:30am I get stuck in to my work feeling happy, strong and inspired.

        In answer to your question of the day – I’m loving the female comedians that are owning it at the moment, Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Tina Fey, Amy Schumer, Lliza Shlesinger, they’re writing, directing, producing, acting and basically being a bunch of funny, smart badasses, . Other comedians I’d love to hear interviewed – Aziz Ansari, Louise CK and there’s a brilliant UK comedian called Ross Noble that does surreal, stream of consciousness stuff that’s insanely funny.

        And whilst I’m here spreading the learning love, a few of my favorite creative inspiration books are – ‘Rebel Without a Crew’ Robert Rodriguez, ‘On Writing’ Steven King, ‘Bird by Bird’ Anne Lamott, ‘Yes Please’ Amy Poehler, ‘Annie Leibovitz At Work’, ‘Damn Good Advice’ George Lois, ‘Manage your day to day’ 99U, ‘It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be’ Paul Arden.

        Right, that’s quite enough of me rambling on.

        Keep on being awesome.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Loved this episode Tim! Thank you so much! One of the best things I’ve listened so far on creativity, writing, happy life. Loved the thought about writer’s block being some bullshit theory. You either write or you don’t. Everyone has a bad day or doesn’t feel that inspired but it’s not a block, just time to experiment, play, live but still write. Seth Godin wrote a great blog post about it today. About just doing the work.
    When Seth and Evan talk about their craft you just feel that they just do their thing, it’s what they are here to do and they never questioned it, never got too much into their heads thinking about it. So amazing and inspiring!
    And can’t wait to watch Adaptation! Seems like an amazing movie recommendation! Thank you!

    Like

  4. I would interview Trevor noar, he’s a comedian with a completely different backgrounds who has taken over the today show and this is his first week as the new host. I would like to get inside his head and find out what makes him tick

    Like

  5. Mike Myers. When he was interviewed on Inside the Actors Studio, a woman in the audience had to be taken to the hospital to be treated for cracked ribs–from laughing so hard.

    Like

  6. Hi Tim! Greetings from Argentina. Saved this podcast for tomorrow morning, you can’t imagine how much I enjoy listening to your interviews while commuting, they have become part of my morning ritual, some leave me with a smile and inspired, some have made me change how I approach my life. I can only say thanks!

    Like

  7. Evan on one of the most important lessons he learned (regarding developing a story/character) from Judd Apatow:

    “Emotion is what matters. It’s an emotional journey. It doesn’t matter if the aircraft carrier hits the skyscraper and it collapses onto the hero – it’s what is he feeling when that happens, and why does it matter that he has to get out of the rubble. He taught us that emotion is key.”

    Like

  8. Loved the dynamic between Seth and Evan. Like when Evan told the audience to reach out to people because you never know what could happen and Seth was like, “Yea, says the high successful producer and director”. Just hilarious, even though I completely got what Evan was saying.

    Cheers Tim, another great episode!

    Question of the Day:

    Steve Harvey, over cigars. He’s not even close to my favorite comedian, but I’m part of a group of friends that has a weird fascination with him.

    Like

  9. Loved this episode along with the other screenwriters you’ve had on who shared their process (Faverau using improv structure). The money quote (below) is similar to something I just read in a Scott Adams book where he says that all humor requires emotion. A stapler isn’t funny, but how someone feels about a red stapler is.

    The quote from Evan:
    “Emotion is what matters. It’s an emotional journey. It doesn’t matter if the aircraft carrier hits the skyscraper and it collapses onto the hero – it’s what is he feeling when that happens, and why does it matter that he has to get out of the rubble. He taught us that emotion is key.”

    Like

  10. This was a really fun episode. The karate story had me laughing so hard that I nearly crashed my car.

    Question of the day: John Stewart or Stephen Colbert would be amazing. Mel Brooks would be amazing. Dave Chapelle would be amazing. All for different reasons.

    Like

  11. Please have more comedy people on your show! I’d love to (hear an) interview (with) Amy Poehler. All comedians work fucking hard, but the fact that she is so loved by everyone that comes into contact with her makes me think she must have some extra-good secrets for battling the demons.

    Like

  12. Awesome back stories, felt like a VH1 rockumentary. Cameo drawing appearance in Big
    Lebowski. Ha! Nice.
    QOTD- would interview Steven Wright just to get his personal history and how he found his unique style of comedy.

    Like

  13. Please do an interview with the British comedian (and serious contender for Mayor of London 2020): Eddie Izzard!

    http://www.eddieizzard.com/

    He is not only hilarious (Death Star Canteen), he also ran 41 marathons in 53 days for Sports Relief (and he wasn’t a runner before that), is currently doing his show in French (and planning on doing it in Russian and Arabic and German), and happens to be a straight cross dresser (“an executive transvestite”) who looks better in a dress than Margaret Thatcher.

    Like

  14. Hilarious podcast, Seth Rogen’s laugh is so contagious, I’m a huge fan of these guys, would highly recommend checking out the Roast of James Franco if you hadn’t already.

    As for the question of the day, I would interview Stephen Colbert. Colbert was the most prominent political satirist while he was on the Colbert Report, , even more so than Jon Stewart since he embodied a character, the show itself being absolutely hilarious. The show helped me stay sane when I was in a dark period in my life. He also has an inspiring life story. He was the youngest out of 11 and lost his father and two of his brothers in a plane crash. He also got rejected from SNL but eventually found himself working on the Daily Show, then got his own show in the form of the Colbert Report and has now succeeded David Letterman, a comic legend in his own right, as the host of the Late Show. Would love to hear a podcast with him.

    Also Anthony Jeselnik is a pretty hilarious underrated comedy, he was on the roasts of Charlie Sheen and Donald trump, very dark humor, you should check him out if you’ve never heard of him.

    Like

  15. Holy hell, this was entertaining. Laughing to myself on the subway like a nut. I’ve always enjoyed the podcast, but the last few with Naval, Scott Adams and these guys been knocking it out of the park. Your “5 things I do each morning” was actually very helpful & enjoyable BTW.

    Comedian I’d interview — Adam Carolla, who used his decades of experience in traditional radio & TV to build the most downloaded podcast of all time along with a network of other shows. He does 1.5-2 hrs of podcasting every weekday. Pretty impressive.

    Like

  16. Steve Carell, he is one of my favorite actors and for some reason I find everything that he makes hilarious. I like the comedy approach of this podcast, there is nothing wrong with a dose of humor!

    Keep it up!

    Like

  17. Found a candidate for a great podcast: Dr. Laura J. Esserman, breast cancer surgeon at the University of California. If your both have the inclination and the time she might be a fascinating interview. She’s local!

    Like

  18. Some critical feedback (as a fan and multiple time listener)
    1. This will sound strange but so often I find you compromise affability for respectfulness. This results in the interviews often lacking flavour. I don’t identify with James Altucher nearly as much as Tim Ferris but I’ve recently found his podcast more enjoyabe because he seems way more relaxed. Like he’s having an authentic conversation not doing an interview.
    2. I like that you stick closely to the theme of your show (teasing out habits and tricks from top performers) but I often think you miss way more fascinating digressions by not chasing a begged question. Example Wim Hoff losing site under an ice deck and getting lost on Mt Everest. The obvious question is “So what happened?” but it never gets asked. Instead you talk about the mindset of those situations which is okay (and sticks with the theme) but its not as juicy as hearing the story of what actually happened. There are lots of other examples. Happy to review and show them to you.
    3. Your frequently asked questions (eg What would you have written on billboard?), after a few episodes, begin to come across as a crutch. I’d question if they really deliver an authentic response. This also talks to point 1 where it takes it away from being an authentic conversation.
    As a massive fan Tim I’ve written these observations out of a sense of debt. Hopefully they’re useful.

    Like

    • Nice comments, Danny. In the spirit of support for Tim my respectful disagreements, in a sense: affability vs respect intriguing choice of description, if we called it ‘interview vs conversation’ I think the best use a combination of both. It’s a delicate balance but needs to verge more on Interview format is, is essential to for 1. focus and structure, maintaining discipline 2. the guests are (I’m guessing) generously offering their time, and may be in a vastly different timezone, and Tim needs to get the most practical juice without lapsing into mere entertainment value and not going over time. It’s not a conversation. I love Tim but Tims responses are about, or need to be about, prompting the guest to reveal more, not about the guest prompting Tim to reveal more about himself. Interrogation vs conversation is probabaly a better description than ínterview vs conversation.

      Note if you watch professionals, they’ll ask a question, the guest will answer, and whilst a normal human conversation would prompt a ‘oh yes, I see, okay, right, that makes me want to respond with this etc…’ the interviewer doesn’t really respond at all – just with the appropriate pause and intonation, asks the next or follow on question. This is highly effective for all three parties (audience, host, guest) It’s a discipline.
      the australian Andrew Denton had a show called Enough Rope some years ago ( transcripts and video all availabe online) Denton had a virtuoso ability to get his guests – everyone from Matt Damon to Dave Grohl to athletes, criminals, politicians – to really open up very quickly, he asked real human intelligent personal questions they were never asked before, displayed incredible sensitivity and kept his mouth shut, and always managed to mention something that got a ”how the hell did you know that?” response. he was really respected – had a reputation – and stood alone as a interviewer. I have tried watching a few of the US evening chat shows on youtube – I am always embarrassed and wonder how the presenters got their jobs! More interested in talking about themselves, asking insulting questions then not waiting for the answer but interrupt etc .unbelievable. I usually cringe and switch off in disgust. and feel sorry for the poor guest being humiliated

      Like

  19. Interesting interview, but if you compare with the interview Tim did with Whitney Cummings, I couldn’t help but notice he was way more comfortable and had more fun with her than with Seth. Did the chemistry between Tim and the duo not work or was Tim just not in the right mood, I wonder?

    Like

  20. I loved this one and laughed a lot with those guys . It’s so great to hear their dynamic but what really got my attention was the aswer Evan gave to to most successful person he knows . For me also ,being successful is much more than fame and money , being in a structure loving relanshionship , knowing how to handle the “simple ” tasks of life and raising a family togjeter is definitely what success means to me .
    Thanks Tim for another amazing interview

    Like

  21. Seth was right. Commercials are deliberately dumb.

    This came out of Robert Greene’s ‘The Art of Seduction’ (pg. 289), but is originally from Wilson Bryan Key’s ‘Subliminal Seduction’. To paraphrase:

    There’s an old proverb that if you want to con someone, you must make them trust you or feel superior to you. Assuming people aren’t dumb, they must feel superior to the commercials they watch on television, as they appear ridiculous at times, giving the viewer the feeling of control. Believing they have nothing to fear, they are prone to trust the ads. TV commercials appears so over the top foolish in order to be ridiculed at the conscious level. Effective TV commercials are designed this way to insult the viewer’s intelligence, thereby penetrating their defences.

    I’ve also heard before that there are basically two types of advertisements, aspirational and ads similar to the ones listed above. Interesting in the context of the advertising we are exposed to on a daily basis.

    Like

  22. This was AWESOME. The karate stories might just be the purest entertainment that I’ve ever seen on the podcast. I am still laughing (many days later). Thanks for getting these guys on the show!

    Like

  23. Hi Tim – love the podcast and always find value from all episodes. Staying on the topic of comedy, would be amazing to hear you pick the brains of Seth McFarlane or Matt Stone&Trey Parker.

    All the best

    Like