John Vorhaus, Comedy Writer-Author-Session 2-Episode #284

Feb 27, 2024 | 0 comments

“The framing of the book is with awareness and acceptance of passion and purpose. I have to know who I am…. I have to know what I love, and I have to know why I’m doing it. There’s a lot to figure out there, but it’s not a destination. It’s a journey….”

What a great deal of fun it is to chat with the dynamic John Vorhaus — who is making his second StoryBeat appearance — because you never know which direction he’s going to take in any answer.

John is best known for his classic comedy writing textbook, The Comic Toolbox: How to be Funny Even if You’re Not. Now available in five languages, John’s “bible of comedy writing” continues to be a definitive source of information and inspiration for TV, film and fiction writers. John’s been a meaningful change-agent for tens of thousands of writers around the world.

An international consultant in television and film script development, John has worked for TV networks, film schools, production companies and film funding bodies in 37 countries on five continents. He created his own situation comedy in Romania, ran the writing staff of the Russian version of “Married… with Children,” and co-created two social action TV dramas in Nicaragua.

John’s scriptwriting credits run from sit-coms to episodic drama, and from web-based programming to theatrical-release screenplays, feature animation and documentaries, including the provocative “Misery Loves Comedy.”

His latest books include The Little Book of Standup and The Book of Practice: How to Do Better What You Want to do Well.  I’ve read the Book of Practice and found it to be both thoroughly entertaining as well as greatly inspiring. If you’re looking to kick your productivity and success rate into high gear, I recommend you check it out.

John is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, a member of the WGA, and a gold-medal athlete in the sport of ultimate frisbee.




Read the Podcast Transcript

Steve Cuden: On today’s StoryBeat:

John Vorhaus: The framing of the book is with, awareness and acceptance of passion and purpose. You can have fantastic practice. That’s what’s on offer, that’s the promise. But awareness and acceptance, I have to know who I am and I have to accept who I am, passion and purpose. I have to know what I love, and I have to know why I’m doing it. There’s a lot to figure out there, but it’s not a destination. It’s a journey where eternity is now. So if spend the next moment thinking about awareness and acceptance, I’ve created awareness and acceptance for myself in eternity.

Announcer: This is StoryBeat with Steve Cuden. A podcast for the creative mind. StoryBeat explores how masters of creativity develop and produce brilliant works that people everywhere love and admire. So join us as we discover how talented creators find success in the worlds of imagination and entertainment. Here now is your host, Steve Cuden.

Steve Cuden: Thanks for joining us on StoryBeat. We’re coming to you from the Steel City, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Well, I’m truly delighted that today I have the opportunity to speak with my friend, the writer producer John Vorhaus for the second time on this podcast. John is best known for his classic comedy writing textbook, the Comic Toolbox, how to be funny even if you’re not. Now available in five languages, John’s Bible of Comedy writing continues to be a definitive source of information and inspiration for tv, film and fiction writers. John’s been a, ah, meaningful change agent for tens of thousands of writers around the world. An international consultant in television and film script development, John has worked for tv networks, film schools, production companies, and film funding bodies in 37 countries on five continents. He created his own situation comedy in Romania, ran the writing staff of the russian version of Married with children, and co created two social action tv dramas in Nicaragua. John’s script writing credits run from sitcoms to episodic drama, and from web based programming to theatrical release screenplays, feature animation and documentaries, including the provocative misery loves comedy. His latest books include the little Book of stand up and the Book of practice. How to do better what you want to do well, I’ve read the book of practice and found it to be thoroughly entertaining as well as greatly inspiring. If you’re looking to kick your productivity and success rate into high gear, I recommend you check it out. John is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University right here in Pittsburgh, a member of the WGA, and a gold medal athlete in the sport of ultimate Frisbee. So for all those reasons and many more, I’m truly very happy to welcome back to story be today, the prolific writer JOHn VoRhaus. JOHN, welcome to the show.

John Vorhaus: Thank you, steve. It’s great to be back.

Steve Cuden: Well, it’s great to have you back. So let’s talk about the book of practice and practicing. How important has practicing your various skills meant to your success?

John Vorhaus: First, I’d like to create some space between the words practice and practicing.

Steve Cuden: Okay, good.

John Vorhaus: the kind of practice that I’m thinking about is a noun, a practice. I have a practice of writing, or I have a practice of clowning, or I have a practice of stand up comedy. The act of practice, practicing your craft takes place within your practice. But if you think of them as the same thing, then you immediately hit, I don’t want to do practicing because practicing sounds hard.

Steve Cuden: Yes, it does.

John Vorhaus: So if we say to ourselves, I got a practice, I have a practice of, needlepoint, all that means is I like to do it and I’m trying to get better at it. Now, how am I going to get better at it? By practicing it, but now not practicing in a sense of, oh, I have to do this because it’s my job, but practicing because that’s the fun way to get better at what I want to get better at.

Steve Cuden: Anyhow, you’re kind of equating the word practicing with a chore versus something that you want to do and are delighting in.

John Vorhaus: Exactly. Let’s put it in simpler terms. We will approach our work through the verb of should. I should do my daily writing. We can choose instead to approach our work through the verb want. I want to do my daily writing. A lot of writers definitely want to be out of the should space and into the want to space. And that’s kind of what the book is about helping you get out of. I hate practice because it’s a grind into, I love practice because it’s my happy space.

Steve Cuden: So in your practice as a writer, what do you do to make your writing better by continuing to do it, whether or not you’re selling it, I.

John Vorhaus: Detach from outcome as the first and best thing I can do good. I say to myself, this writing that I’m doing is not intended to sell. It’s not intended to be good. It’s not intended to be bad. It’s not intended to be anything. It’s just what it happens to be. So I make the choice not to stand in judgment of myself. And, once I’ve made that choice, then I can let the words flow because the thing that formerly was blocking my flow was the constant gate of self judgment that I put between myself and the flow all the time, every time.

Steve Cuden: Now, correct me if I’m wrong, you still need to have judgment of your work in order to make a draft more polished and so on. You still have to judge the work itself, don’t you?

John Vorhaus: I’m going to play a semantic game. I just messed with you about practice and practicing. Yes, please do. Now I’m going to carve out some space between the word judging and the word evaluating. Okay. When you’re judging your work, you’re assigning a value judgment to it. I’m a good writer. I’m a bad writer. When you’re evaluating, you’re not assigning that value judgment. You’re just asking, what does this work look like? What do I want it to look like, and what steps can I take to close the gap between where it is and where I want it to be? This evaluation steps outside of judgment a and b. I’m, first going to write it, and then I’m going to edit it as two separate parts of the task. So even if I were interested in making value judgments about the work on an emotional level, which, I try not to do, I’m still not going to do any of it until I have something to inspect. And I won’t have anything to inspect unless I focus on just the writing now and let the editing come later.

Steve Cuden: You need to create first. You need to make, the product first. Whether it’s valuable enough to sell at that moment or not, you still need to make the work. And then you have to spend some time, hopefully making the work more sellable. Is that a good way to say it?

John Vorhaus: That’s a good way of saying it. As long as your focus is on selling. There are a lot of people who are in practice for reasons outside of selling.

Steve Cuden: So let’s look at the word selling then. I don’t necessarily mean that someone has, although generally speaking, that means someone is giving you money for the work that’s selling, but it’s also presenting. It’s, putting it out in the world. Or I guess there are people that do this practice that you’re talking about with no intention whatsoever of ever showing it to anyone, though I don’t know that that’s the product that I would be interested in all,

John Vorhaus: Right, let’s break it down. I’m seeing three large parts. The first two parts occupy half the space, and the second part occupies the other half of the space. The first part is the writing. The second part is the editing. And those two things occupy half the practice. And the third part is what you call selling, let’s say exploiting or presenting to the audience. Getting it out there. Whether it’s getting it out there for money or just getting it out there, there’s a whole other job to be done that involves getting it out there.

Steve Cuden: Definitely.

John Vorhaus: In each of these parts, writing, editing, and getting it out there, there are identifiable emotional blocks, and it’s good to look at those blocks and see what they are in terms of how they manage the space. We’ve already talked about. An, emotional block to writing is I stand in judgment of my work too soon before it’s even out there as an outcome. I’m blaming myself for it being a bad outcome. So that’s a block related to writing.

Steve Cuden: I can’t relate to that at all.

John Vorhaus: At all. No. When I’m editing, there’s a block that involves, wow, if I don’t know what’s good and bad, and I don’t know how to trust my sense that this needs to be fixed, and if I agree that it needs to be fixed, I’m not sure that I trust myself to have the tools to fix it. So am I better off just pretending it doesn’t need to be fixed, or do I really have to self confront and say it’s not good enough yet? That’s an emotional block that exists in the space of editing. Now, as we look at selling as the third part of this, there’s a whole lot of emotional block all centered around, I’m afraid if I present this to the world, the world is going to laugh in my face and possibly hit me or hurt me emotionally hurt me for sure, by rejecting me. And sometimes the fear of rejection is so strong that the work is never put into the market or into an audience space at all. I have honor and respect for everyone in their practice, no matter how advanced their practice is. Having said that, I think I agree with you that a full and fulfilling practice will confront the artists or the practitioners fear in all three of those meaningful ways. I’m going to create without fear, I’m going to evaluate without fear, I’m going to present without fear. And if I, as a person in practice, can do those three things, then I’m prepared to call myself an artist.

Steve Cuden: That goes back to Aristotle. Does it not?

John Vorhaus: Sure. Why not?

Steve Cuden: Aristotle said, more or less that in order for a work to be complete, for the circuit to be completed, you need the message, the messenger, and a receiver. So you need the story, the person telling the story and the audience. And without that third part, the audience or the producer you’re selling it to, or the ultimate audience out in the world, the work is not, to Aristotle’s thinking, was not complete. And that, I think, is the purpose for most creative people is to eventually expose their work to many other people. Don’t you agree with that?

John Vorhaus: Aristotle, that old windbag? Hate that guy. Didn’t know what he’s talking about.

Steve Cuden: It’ll never work.

John Vorhaus: It’ll never work. the only counternarrative I would offer is this. as an artist, I don’t need the completion in the same way that I need it as a writer. There is a relationship that exists between the artist and the art that is itself. By my personal experience, I deem it to be completely satisfying. With that said, I would love to have an adoring audience for my art, but I don’t have that. So it may be self serving for me to say the relationship, the circuit is complete when it’s artist and art having a fulfilling experience together.

Steve Cuden: But you don’t create art and then put it in a drawer and never show it to anybody, do you?

John Vorhaus: No, I show it to anybody who will look at it. Exactly.

Steve Cuden: So that’s the audience. Whether the audience, accepts and likes what you’ve done is another story.

John Vorhaus: Yes, true. And I will say that when I was first entering art, and this wasn’t that long ago, 2016, I did go through a period of feeling shy about presenting it because it was so new and crappy. And I kind of knew it was new and crappy, but that’s why I did it anyhow, why I went into art, so I could experience something that was new and crappy, because I knew creativity inside out from a lifetime of writing. But I didn’t have any way of experiencing new anymore, so I went for visual creativity for the first time in my life.

Steve Cuden: So the title of your book, the Book of Practice, is about being in practice, not practicing?

John Vorhaus: Correct. Thank you. Let’s go back and put that on the COVID That’s perfect.

Steve Cuden: Because the word practice means both of those things to most people. I think that when you say, I’m going to go practice now, they don’t mean they’re in practice. They mean they’re going to be practicing.

John Vorhaus: But suppose they just said, I’m going to go be in practice now. I’m going to go to the place where the practice takes place. And suppose they say that to a significant other. And let’s further suppose that they’re having trouble carving out their time, for their practice with their significant other. Do you sense where I’m going with this? Steve, can you keep going? Paint the picture? I’m thinking about people who want to be in practice but get oppositional pushback from the people around them or from just circumstances.

Steve Cuden: They work at a full time job that they can’t get out from under. They need the money, and they just come home and they’re too exhausted to do anything.

John Vorhaus: Okay, first, let’s do what we do. Let’s break this one big problem into two smaller, separate problems and examine them one by one. Sure. So, problem a is my full time job is so time consuming that it swallows all my time and leaves me nothing for my practice. I’m out of gas when I get home. I would propose that that’s partly true and partly a manifestation of here comes the magic word, the four letter word, fear. If I come home from my hard day’s work and tell myself that I deserve to netflix and chill and I don’t need to go into my should space, then there’s theoretically time. But I’m not exploiting that time. And as we talked about earlier, you don’t want your practice to be something you hate. You want it to be something you love. So we have to recognize that the pressure, the time pressure we feel is part real and part artificial. Now, let’s look at the part that’s real. If we are to be serious about our practice, we need to treat it with the same joblike respect that we treat our job. We want to apply to our art or the writing that we hope one day will be profitable, or music, or playing guitar, or being in a band the same, show up and put in the time work that the work requires. So if your schedule doesn’t leave you time for practice, and if you’re serious about practice, one way or another, you have to change your schedule. Now, this connects to the other half of it. What if you’re getting competition for your time from people around you, your spouse, your children, your in laws, your parents, your friends? They all say, don’t go off and practice. Be here with us. Do you understand what I’m talking about? I do. Sure.

Steve Cuden: Imagine that that happens every day all over the world to lots of people.

John Vorhaus: Where, gee, I want to go off and be in my practice, but other people make other demands on my time. Well, it would be better for me if they took my practice seriously, would it not?

Steve Cuden: Sure, of course.

John Vorhaus: Okay. What’s going to make them take my practice seriously?

Steve Cuden: I was going to say in many cases it would be, can you prove that what you’re doing in your practice is actually benefiting the other person, the me, the wife, the husband, whoever it is, is it benefiting me? am I going to get something out of it?

John Vorhaus: Okay. I love that you’re going to get a better version of me. You’re going to get a happier, more fulfilled, more actualized, more activated, probably more loving, more generous, happier me.

Steve Cuden: And that’s assuming that the person that’s blocking you, the spouse, the parents, whoever, are enlightened enough to see that.

John Vorhaus: And if they’re not, it might be that part of what’s going on is jealousy or envy or actual opposition, like addict level opposition. Let me tell you what I mean.

Steve Cuden: Sure.

John Vorhaus: When you say to yourself, when you say to yourself, I want to be in practice, what you’re really saying is I want to be self aware. I want to be knowing myself and growing my understanding of myself. Doesn’t matter what your practice is. Fundamentally, that’s what’s going on. When you make the commitment to enter self knowledge, you become a threat to everyone around you who’s afraid to make that commitment. And sometimes the threat is so extreme that, they’ll actually try to thwart your effort. Sure. Rather than let you leave them behind.

Steve Cuden: In, a sense, they might try to even sabotage you.

John Vorhaus: Sure, they definitely will.

Steve Cuden: Well, it would be that they would throw monkey wrenches into the plans that you had or create some kind of chaos or whatever it would be in order for you to then pay attention to the other party, as opposed to you’re paying attention to your drive, your desire, your need to go off and create whatever that would be.

John Vorhaus: Wow. How do we get out of that? How do we ever find our way to the bottom of that? Because I’m not going to get out of that sabotage relationship unless I move toward my practice. But I can’t move toward my practice as long as I’m being sabotaged a little bit like a catch 22.

Steve Cuden: A little bit of a catch 22. I think that if you look at the history of art and artists and creators, that by and large, the ones who succeed put blinders on and move ahead despite everything that’s happening. And, the really, truly great artists, become obsessed in some way, and they just do what they need to do because they’re compelled to, they can’t.

John Vorhaus: Help themselves and more power to them. And they are self actualized.

Steve Cuden: They are self actualized. They don’t need anybody to push them or prod them. They don’t need a deadline. They’re just doing what they need to do. I think when you look at the truly well known names in all forms of creativity, that’s usually true. There’s nobody behind them saying, get up, get to work, you’re late. Nobody’s saying that to them. They’re just excited about what they’re doing. Are you talking in some way about people who have a dream and a desire, but don’t know how to go about it?

John Vorhaus: that could be part of it, but let’s break it down into actualized and pre actualized. I am, myself, self actualized, fully self actualized creator. I can sit down and create anything I put my mind to with clarity of ex. I know how to execute, and I’m not afraid. But, I spent decades pre actualized, not quite knowing what I wanted to do and being very afraid. So if we talk about people who are so focused, put blinders on, they really get there. We need to understand that there are many people who want to put blinders on and go there and get there. Maybe their life circumstances don’t allow it. Maybe they don’t know how to do it, and maybe they’re just daunted by the picture. They have in their mind that frickin Picasso got there, and I’m never going to frickin’Picasso get there. To which I say to all of that, simply be in practice. Slip into practice like a warm bath, with the intention of doing nothing more with today than today. Offers a half an hour of writing, 15 minutes of composing a poem, m 45 minutes of painting. Whatever is available, whatever will make you say, I spent minutes in my practice today will fuel tomorrow’s effort to spend slightly more minutes in practice, and that’ll fuel the next day’s effort to spend slightly more minutes in practice. Always understanding that there’s a balance between the desire to be in practice and the fear to be in practice, and always understanding that the fear is not to be ignored or denied, but addressed and engaged and moved past, sometimes tricked.

Steve Cuden: You speak in the book about a goal, having a goal. That’s an important part of this process, isn’t it?

John Vorhaus: It’s an important part of the process. It anchors the process. But let’s be careful about our goal setting. If my goal is to write a new, York Times bestseller, and I’ve never written a novel before, that’s a goal that’s going to damage my ability to achieve it. The very act of stating so lofty a goal will keep me from achieving it for sure. Because no matter what I do, the first sentence I write, I’m going to say, oh, well, that’s not New York Times bestseller worthy. I got nothing, and I’ll continue to have nothing as long as I’m daunted by that, unrealistic and lofty ambition. But if I change my expectation, I’m not even going to say my goal, but my expectation is what I’m going to do with my work today is do my best and have fun. I know that on most days, I can do my best, and on all days, I can have fun. Now I’m in my m practice with no goal loftier than do my best and have fun. No matter what happens, I win. Because no matter what happens, I’m going to do my best and have fun. It’s just not that hard. And then when I go back and look at what I’ve done, I’m going to see, hey, some of this part I’m not really that keen on, but others of it, that’s what I was going for. That’s what I was trying to achieve. I drew a turtle that looked like a turtle, okay, I drew ten turtles that didn’t look like turtles, and they sucked. But now I look back and say, hi, I got that one. How did I get that one? By setting a low bar. By saying, try to draw a turtle, not draw a turtle that the New York Times will put on the best selling turtle list. If only there were such a thing. Wow.

Steve Cuden: I’ve got to get myself that New York Times bestselling turtle list turtle list I’ve long maintained, and you can agree or disagree with me that the only way to get good or do things that are satisfying to others, it’s a way that I think about it, is, by doing it repetitively. Keep doing it. And part of that is having the drive and ambition to want to keep at what you’re talking about. Not the first turtle, but the 10th turtle is the one that turns out to be the one. And you didn’t get to the 10th turtle without doing the first nine turtles. And so that requires being able to see past the junk that you’re creating. One through nine. Is that right?

John Vorhaus: I’ve got a better answer. Simpler answer. Love all the turtles, even the failures.

Steve Cuden: Well, you got to love your failure. That’s a big deal.

John Vorhaus: But treat the whole process as, a turtle to love. There’s no difference between the nine that don’t work and the one that does work. They’re all your acts of creation. Let’s put it this way. The act of creation is the act of making a choice. You choose to name a character, Bob or Sheila. You’ve made a choice. You have created something. You choose to use yellow paint or blue paint. You’ve made a choice. You’ve engaged in creation. So all practice, all creativity, is choice making. Every time you make a choice, you win, because you get to play the game of being, an artist. So it doesn’t matter whether the choice is yellow or blue, bob or sheila. Just making those choices and then making more choices and never stopping making choices, that’s what gets you into practice.

Steve Cuden: Let’s talk about in terms of choice. So some people know early on in their life, I want to be a painter. I, want to be a violinist, I want to be something they know that early on in their life. And many people don’t figure that out till a little bit later in life, and some not till very late in life. My question to you is, how do you go about figuring out if you have some burning desire in you to be an artist of some kind, whether that’s a writer, a, ah, composer, whatever. How do you figure out what it is that you want to do? Is it just something that must come to you naturally? Or can people sit down and look at the variety of things and say, okay, I know I want to create, and I don’t know exactly what kind of creation I want to make, but I know I want to create. Is it possible to then choose something and go forward with that?

John Vorhaus: It’s possible to explore. If you don’t know where your passion lies, if you don’t know what your path is, then your path is to figure out what your path is. I got to have a path. If I don’t know that my path is writing, or if I don’t know what my path is, then my path is, by definition, figuring out what my path is. How am I going to figure it out? By exploring, by trying different paths, by having different life experiences and trying to find the one that grabs me and pulls me into the future. That’s what we’re really looking for in practice is something that’s easy and fun. In fact, I’ll put it this way. Try different things, and as soon as you come across something that’s easy and fun, forget all the rest and just dive right into that. Because the first level of practice is easy and fun. If it’s not that, you’re never going to get to the second level.

Steve Cuden: Should you have a visceral reaction to it.

John Vorhaus: Yeah. And, I’ll give you an example from my own experience. I told you that I do art. As I was exploring art, I tried a lot of things with my hand, drawing with a pencil or painting with oils. Not easy, not fun. I couldn’t make my brain talk to my hand clearly enough to, say, draw a turtle. I couldn’t do that. It was frustrating to me. Digitally, it’s easy and fun for me to create a digital turtle. I have all kinds of tools, all kinds of techniques, and all of them delight me because the task itself is easy and fun. Digitally, trace this or use a masking tool or stretch or bend or something. Those are tools that I understand and enjoy using. It’s funny, you won’t know it if you’re only hearing this, but I’m talking about what I do with my right hand vexes me, and what I do with my left hand delights me creatively. I can’t put it any clearer than that. So I want to be an artist. Yes. There’s two paths. One is hard and annoying. The other is easy and fun. The obvious choice, go easy and fun. Land on it. Follow it.

Steve Cuden: How important is it for someone who’s developing this work of theirs to keep track of their progress?

John Vorhaus: it’s. Welcome. let me tell you what I’m fighting against. I know you’re trying to lead me into a discussion of stuff in my book, which I confess I should have reviewed a little bit before I got back into it, but, I’m having a hard time getting past the word, the phrase how important, and this is just semantic. It’s all important. It’s all not important. That’s not the idea. You want to record your progress and note your progress because there’s growth in it and growth is good. So in that sense, yes, it’s important to track your progress so you can continue to make progress.

Steve Cuden: So it’s worth focusing on tracking the progress a little bit.

John Vorhaus: yes, but be gentle. again, let’s think about evaluating versus judging. If you say to yourself, in tracking my progress, I find that my progress is not meeting my expectations. Now I’m frustrated and I feel bad. I’m probably going to stop working. I’m just going to quit because I’m tracking my progress and I’m finding my progress to be just sucky. Can’t do that. I’m going to stop my practice. But if I track my progress and I say I’m aware of my progress, I see that I used to work like that. And now I’m working like this. And I’m not saying that was better than this or this is better than that. I’m just noting that stuff has changed. Oh. I seem to have stopped drawing, and I seem to have started doing digital art. Now I’m tracking my progress in a way that doesn’t hurt me emotionally and does guide me strategically. If I’ve stopped drawing with my hand and now I almost completely draw digitally, doesn’t that kind of tell me that I’d rather focus on drawing digitally? And if part of what I’m trying to do is to get those blinders on so that I can drive down a road and not be distracted by all the stuff that’s out there, is it not true that easy and fun is both the thing that will put me on the path and blind me to distractions on the path? I didn’t put it in the book, but I kind of want to go back and put it there now. What’s the key to everything? Find what’s easy and fun and follow it home.

Steve Cuden: So, I don’t know if you’ve ever read Annie Lamott’s book Bird by Bird, but she has a whole chapter in it called shitty first drafts. So she’s talking about being a writer, what it takes to be a writer and to succeed as a writer. And, she has a chapter called the title of it is shitty first drafts. And what she talks about, which I believe in and am a proponent of, that you want to, from my perspective, in order to take this daunting task of writing an entire feature length screenplay, 100 and 510, 120 pages, whatever that is, which, when you think about it, if I thought about the whole thing at one time, that’s like, holy macro. How am I going to get through this? It’s better to just purge it out, no matter whether the work is excellent or not, and it’s probably not going to be. And then go back and refine, refine, refine. That’s her take on that process. And I agree with that process. Is that something that agrees with what you’re talking about?

John Vorhaus: We absolutely agree with that process. I call it mining and refining. You don’t get gold jewelry out of the ground and ready to hang around your neck. First you have to mine it out of the ground. That is, create the raw material. And then once you have the raw material, you refine it into a finished product. Absolutely. I think it’s a little simple to say. First you write the shitty draft, and then it turned a shitty draft into a good draft, if you’re lucky. Yeah. I might have to go through a bunch of shitty drafts first. That’s a fine way to approach it, because it keeps your expectations low. That’s the first order of business.

Steve Cuden: Conflating creating a sculpture with writing a screenplay, which I do in my classwork when I teach. one of the things that’s interesting to me is if you’re in an art class and a professor comes over and puts a chunk of unshaped, misshapen clay in front of you and says, turn that into a piece of sculpture, whatever that is, or an ashtray or whatever you’re making. You can then sit there and poke and prod and tug and scrape away and make this thing that’s this clay into, a finished product. But if you’re a screenwriter, you have to make the clay. If you don’t have the clay to then shape and prod and poke and shape around, it doesn’t exist at all.

John Vorhaus: So you might get the clay by adapting, a book as an example. Sure. Now, I know what the rough arc of the story is going to be if I follow the book. Or you’re going to have to generate that raw material.

Steve Cuden: Exactly.

John Vorhaus: Maybe this will help. No matter what version of the story you create to be the clay, it’s going to be the wrong version of the story, for the same reason that the raw clay is the wrong version of the sculpture.

Steve Cuden: Sure.

John Vorhaus: So we borrow from the sculptors who know right now it’s just ugly clay and apply it to writers who don’t know that, because writers want it to work as a story, even when it’s only ugly clay. So if we remind ourselves what your colleague calls the shitty draft, we say it’s all ugly clay until we stick it in the oven 25 drafts from now. Then we don’t have to worry so much about getting it right this time. Or, maybe we say the goal for this draft is to get it wrong in a different way. In fact, what if we say that? What if we say that the goal of every draft is to get it wrong in a certain way? The first thing that’s going to do is set us free from ever needing to get it right, because that’s never the goal. We’re never interested in the right version of the story. We’re only interested in the wrong version of the story that we finally don’t want to change anymore. Remember I said earlier, creativity is choice. All art is choice. So if we start with the choice, how did I put it? A moment ago to create a different version of a bad draft every time. Right now, all of a sudden, we’re in a better space because we’ve made a healthy choice. Then we just start making other choices. What version of the bad draft do I want this to be? For a placeholder conversation, let me say, do I want this to be the bob version of the story or the Sheila version of the story? I don’t care which choice I make. I don’t have enough information at this point to know what good choice is anyhow. So I’m going to make. Here comes the name of the tool. An arbitrary choice, knowing that the choice is just part of the bad clay. I’m going to choose Bob, or I’m going to choose Sheila and never look back, because it doesn’t matter. I just made a choice. Let’s say I, chose Sheila. Now I have other choices to make. Who is she? What does she want? What world does she live in? What world does she want to be into? How can I start moving her from where she is to where she wants to be suddenly, without a lot of emotional hocus pocus? I’ve gone from not having a story to having a story, or let’s say, having that raw clay that you’re talking about. How did I do it? By setting my expectations super low. Try to have bad versions, the next bad version of the story. By making arbitrary choices, which are the best friend of raw material, and by detaching from self judgment.

Steve Cuden: Do you ever get to a point somewhere down the road where you then think to yourself, I have to make a better version than this one that’s flawed? Or do you never worry about that?

John Vorhaus: As a practitioner, you can start to speak to yourself in a different language than you used early on. We’re talking about someone who has the specific problem of getting started, and the solution that we’re offering is tell yourself a bunch of lies about it. Doesn’t matter. There are no consequences. Just have fun as you grow in your craft, which, by the way, the only way you’re going to grow in your craft is by telling yourself these lies at the outset. You use the lies to build momentum. Once you have momentum, you can start making different choices based on the experience you’ve gathered. I’ve been thinking about Wes Anderson lately. We know that, a film by Wes Anderson looks very much like a film by. So all of his choices, we can say, are based around what looks like something I would do. It doesn’t matter whether they’re good choices or bad choices. He’s not evaluating. Is this a good choice or a bad choice? He’s evaluating. Is this a Wes Anderson choice? I can say that at this point in my career, I can make the same choice. Within my tiny realm, I’m prepared to look at a piece of prose and say, this might not be the orthodox choice, but it’s the John Vorhaus choice. And I have gained enough experience by practice that I can make that choice with authority. May I close this loop by suggesting that for anybody who is at the beginning of their journey, where making choices is hard, who wants to be at the end of their journey, where making choices is easy, the path is present where you are. We’ve already named it. Follow what’s easy and fun. If you do work that is easy and fun, if you do work that makes you want to do more of that work, be it writing or gardening or clowning or stand up comedy or coding or anything at all, if it’s easy and fun, it will invite you into practice. Once you’re in practice, it’s merely a job of staying in practice, which you’ll want to do, because practice is easy and fun. Ultimately, you will arrive in a place where the want to but fear to equation flips when you start out in practice, it’s, let’s say, 10% want to and 90% fear to later. In practice, it’s 50 50. Ultimately it’s 90 ten the other way. If you want to be there, you’ll get there. Follow the easy and fun.

Steve Cuden: One thing is for sure, the great masters in all forms of the arts, when they’re performing or showing their work, or giving you a book to read or whatever it might be, it almost always looks like it was easy to do, and it never is, but it always looks that way.

John Vorhaus: Steve I went to a rock concert for the first time in forever. It was the eagles. They’re my age, and they readed hard for 3 hours. Bruce Springsteen does the same thing. Do you think they’re doing it? If it’s not easy, I mean, it’s.

Steve Cuden: Not easy, but it’s fun for them.

John Vorhaus: It’s fun. they’re taking the drug.

Steve Cuden: The example I like to use, which I think is right on the money for what we’re talking about, is Fred Astaire. Fred Astaire, his. When you see him on screen, it looks like he’s just floating on air and it’s effortless and there’s nothing to it. And, you know, he spent hundreds and hundreds of hours getting it to that point, and it was a lot of work, but you can tell he enjoyed the work a lot. But the ultimate end product looks like he just woke up that morning and started doing it. It just looks effortless.

John Vorhaus: There are people who will say, don’t enjoy the work, just do it. I mean, I don’t sign on to that.

Steve Cuden: I don’t either. I think you better enjoy it if you want to do it for a long time.

John Vorhaus: if you don’t enjoy it, you won’t do it. What’s keeping you from enjoying it? What’s keeping me from enjoying any of my work is expectation that it’s just not good enough. That’s what makes me not enjoy my work, and that’s what I work on all the time. To be comfortable with, to be in acceptance of the work is the work. If I can start with that, it’s going to be the parts that I enjoy will draw me in without blocking me. Let’s again, take the example of somebody. They’re trying to write their first screenplay. They know there’s a lot of unknown territory. Am I laying out the story? Beats right? If I even have an outline. Let’s say they have an outline. They’re trying to turn it into a script, but it’s uncharted territory. There’s a lot of fear associated with uncharted territory. That person needs to be sufficiently careless or carefree about choices that they say, I don’t care if it’s uncharted territory. I’m just here to have fun. If that fun starts to happen, I’m making choices and not caring about whether they’re good choices or bad choices. Those choices will carry me to the next choices, and those choices will carry me to choices that I’ll look at and I’ll say, I never thought about that before. Where did that choice come from? And the thing will start to snowball. So we can say that one approach you can take, if you’re struggling to get past fear anywhere in the process, is just try to snowball past it. How does that sound? Maybe that’s where Fred Astaire put in his practice. Just getting good enough so that getting good was easy.

Steve Cuden: I have to think that in Fred Astaire’s case, early on in his life, there was a natural ability and talent, and he started to develop it, and he really liked doing it, and people thought he was good at it, and they enjoyed watching him. And I think that, really great artists do that. They turn themselves into what you’re talking about. They’re working for their own satisfaction and their own joy. And what comes out is something that others also then enjoy and are satisfied by.

John Vorhaus: You passed through something that I want to go back and touch on. Sure. Which is, Fred Astaire discovers he has a talent for something. He gets a lot of support from the people around him, and he makes progress. Let’s pause for a moment and think about practitioners in our audience who don’t get support for the thing they want to do and the thing that brings them joy. I’m, not trying to bring people down, but you’re talking about early.

Steve Cuden: On in their work.

John Vorhaus: Yeah, I’m talking about someone like Elton John, who loves singing and performing, has a passion for it. It turns him on. It’s clear that it’s its path, but his father hates him for it. His father thinks he’s a freak, and so he feels himself that he’s a freak. So his challenge is, how do I find my way to easy and fun? When the path that leads me to easy and fun goes through walls and walls of disapproval and corresponding walls of self disapproval, my heart goes out to that person who doesn’t have a support system, has nothing but opposition standing in their way.

Steve Cuden: You’re talking about the hero’s journey, aren’t you? A hero is going to go through all the fires. The hero is going to overcome obstacle after obstacle after obstacle in order to get to whatever it is that they’re trying to get to whatever. So that what you’re talking about is the same thing. Elton John had to go through all of these, things in his life that would have stopped anyone else, maybe, or most other people. He overcomes them.

John Vorhaus: I’m thinking about the word obstacles, and I’m thinking about easy and fun.

Steve Cuden: But you’re talking about his father is putting all this stuff on him.

John Vorhaus: Right. I’m saying if I’m going to have to go through obstacle after obstacle after obstacle, I better enjoy tackling obstacles, among other things.

Steve Cuden: Definitely. Or you walk away.

John Vorhaus: Or you walk away. So my heart goes out to those who don’t have enough support that they have to walk away. But you, earlier you talked about artists who are so driven by their work that nothing’s going to stop them. Maybe. I would like to say, for those who are trying to make it happen in the face of enormous opposition, I’m really rooting for you. Those are the ones I’m rooting for.

Steve Cuden: Me, too.

John Vorhaus: Let me say this to the listening public. If you’re struggling in your practice and part of your struggle is that the people around you won’t let you be in the practice you want to be in. You reach out to me by email. We’ll give you my contact at the end of the podcast. I’ll send you an email. I’ll email you a copy of the book of practice. No charge and no limit. Anybody who reaches out to me like this with the expression I’m in need, I’ll back up my sympathy for you with a free copy of my book.

Steve Cuden: Tell us your email address now, and we’ll put it on the site as well.

John Vorhaus: Okay, so it’s my name. John vorhouse@gmail.com. It really couldn’t be easier. The hard part is remembering the dot, and I think it’ll get there even if you don’t remember the dot.

Steve Cuden: And Voorhaus is spelled V-O-R-H-A-U-S. That’s correct.

John Vorhaus: And if all of that is too complex, people know me from the comic toolbox. So if you can’t remember my name but can remember the comic toolbox, you can find your way to my website, my books, my resources, but also this incredible free offer. Because the book of practice is intended to help young strivers. That’s who I wrote it for. People are starting out down their path, and they really want to have an enriched path. I wanted one when I was young. I wanted a book like this. It didn’t exist, and it’s not like I went back in time to write it for myself. But, boy, I wish I had this book. And I intend it to be and hope it to be, useful for people who want to be on their path toward creative success.

Steve Cuden: Well, I think anybody that reads it will find it to be very helpful. That is for sure. I’m wondering, in the book, you write a phrase that I find interesting. I’d like you to tell us what you mean by it, which is, eternity is right now.

John Vorhaus: Oh, man, I love that phrase. And it’s so true. However we define this, however we put a frame of time around the interaction we’re having now. We can call it a minute. We can say we were together for an hour on a podcast. We can say you and I have known each other since we crossed paths by email a couple of years ago. We can say we exist together in the same moment on earth. But no matter how many of these frames we put around our time, the framework just gets bigger and bigger and bigger until ultimately, we have to admit that this moment in time here is part of all moments in time everywhere, just like every other moment in time. And so if we say to ourselves, I want to have an eternity that looks like a, b and c or X, Y, and z, all we have to do to work toward having that eternity is try to make it happen right now. Because if it’s happening right now, it’s happening within eternity. Let me see if I can illustrate by example. Let’s say for the sake of conversation that I am someone who wants to be a cartoonist. I want to draw cartoons. Boy, if I could draw cartoons all the time, like for eternity, I know that would make me happy. It’s too bad I’m stuck in this graphic design job that doesn’t let me practice being a cartoonist, but I sure would love to live in eternity as a cartoonist. Okay, my proposition is this. If you spend 5 minutes drawing a cartoon, you’re in eternity. If you spend 1 minute drawing a cartoon, you’re in eternity. If you draw a single dot on a piece of paper, you are engaged in the act you want to be engaged in, and the moment of engagement is completely fulfilling. In the moment, there’s no past, there’s no future. There’s only the moment you’re creating now. And if the moment you’re creating now is a moment that you like and enjoy and feel good about, then you have endowed this particular part of eternity with characteristics or qualities that you want it to have.

Steve Cuden: That’s a very big thought, all boiled.

John Vorhaus: Down to eternity is now. Yes, and it doesn’t matter. And I could explain it ten times in over, explain it ten different ways. It still boils down to eternity is now. And that’s something you either recognize or you don’t recognize, which, accept or you.

Steve Cuden: Don’T accept, which is how most great actors try to think that they’re in the moment now. that’s what they mean by being in the moment. It’s now. It’s not what’s in the past, not what’s in the future. It’s now. It’s all now. And that’s really hard for most people to do because most people are thinking about their past or where they’re trying to get to and not about this moment they’re in at the moment. And it’s challenging sometimes.

John Vorhaus: For some people, it’s super challenging. This is what we’re talking about.

Steve Cuden: Explain what a window idea is.

John Vorhaus: Okay, I will explain it. a window idea is not what you think it is. Let’s imagine that we have a group of writers sitting around a table, and let’s imagine that they’re on the writing staff of a soap opera that’s been on the air for 15 years. There are a lot of new ideas in that room, and there’s a lot of pressure to come up with new ideas. Indeed. And everybody who wants to come up with an idea in that room has a fear. And the fear is if I open my mouth and say anything at all, someone’s going to say, that’s a stupid idea, or that’s a bad idea, or, we did that idea, in season three and season ten. Aren’t you paying attention? So it’s hard to open the gate to creativity in face of fear. A window idea is an idea that lets you open that gate in the following manner. It’s not I’m going to open a window and let in fresh air. It’s not I’m going to open a window and see things differently. It’s rather this. Exactly. The next words out of my mouth are going to be so bad, they’re going to make me want to open the nearest window and jump out. So if I say to the room, I have a window idea, everybody else around the table understands. I don’t trust it myself. I don’t much like it myself. I’ve already established that I disavow myself from this idea, or I disavow the idea. That means I’m safe to voice it. Here’s a window idea. What about evil twins? And everybody laughs because we’ve done evil twins ten times, but somebody says, hang on a second. What about evil triplets? And we realize we’ve never done evil triplets, and suddenly the bad idea has created a bridge to an idea that’s actually worth something. How did we get to the bad idea? By calling it a window idea, which gives us the freedom to voice the bad idea without fear of judgment from the self or judgment from other people.

Steve Cuden: I want to draw a parallel to that, to what I think of as good taking. it’s frequently part of the process in Hollywood in particular, but, in other forms of art. But is writers. You go into a meeting and you get notes from people, or you don’t go to a meeting and they send notes to you. You get notes. And it is very common for those notes to either make no sense or be counterproductive or just plain stupid. That’s really common. And I think over the years, as I took more and more notes, some of which were helpful and many of which were not, that I got to the philosophy for myself that I’m going to sit there and I’m going to absorb and take the note, no matter how ridiculous it may seem to me at that moment. Because what would happen over time is just thinking about the note later, I might trigger some new notion. That was very useful. That’s sort of what you’re talking about with a window idea at the same time, is it not?

John Vorhaus: With a lot of generosity of spirit toward the people giving the notes? Yes, because what you’re really saying is, give me all your bad notes, I’ll make something.

Steve Cuden: No, I’m not really saying give me your bad notes. I’m saying I will accept your notes. come hell or high water, I’m going to accept your notes. I’m going to think about your notes. Even if I think half of them are just foolish. You didn’t read the work. You don’t know what you’re talking about. Even if I’m thinking that at the time, I will at least give it some thought, and maybe it will trigger something else. And if it does, great. And if it doesn’t, I just let it go.

John Vorhaus: I think that’s a very healthy attitude and a very productive way to take notes in a meeting. My analogy is, when I’m taking notes, there are two things I will not allow myself to do. Argue or explain.

Steve Cuden: Exactly. That’s exactly it. You don’t argue or explain. You accept the note, period. And the only way that I think is a good way to argue with the note is to ask questions, to say, well, now, what if this happens? Won’t that happen? And let them think about what their note is so that they can correct themselves. I like that approach for me personally.

John Vorhaus: let’s put them together. Three rules for having a great note session. Don’t argue, don’t explain. Do ask questions. It’s such a simple recipe. If I can just get out of my head still the emotional noise that says, no, I have to fight back or I’m going to lose respect or lose self respect. If I can just be present in the moment and humble in service of the work. Those are not easy things to do. But then I can follow these three rules. Never argue, never explain, always ask questions. It’s so simple, but so hard simple because I couldn’t make it simpler. We couldn’t make it simpler. Never argue, never explain, always ask questions. What else can there possibly be? But also don’t fear.

Steve Cuden: I love Mel Brooks’take on it. If you’ve ever read his book all about me, which is his autobiography, he explains in there, there’s some situation where he goes into a studio meeting, and they give him all these notes, I mean, all this stuff, and I can’t remember which movie it was, and he just nods his head and says, yes, thank you. This is great, and walks out and does not take a single note, doesn’t use a single note that he got, but then he goes back and gives them the work that he wants to give them, and they all think that he took their notes. So that’s a way to approach it.

John Vorhaus: Well, as people in the craft of screenwriting, we know that we’re in a craft that is collaborative. Yes. We will be dealing with people who are going to have opinions on our work. We always have to figure out how to navigate the space between, ouch. My feelings, and that’ll hurt the work, because if you give me a note and I say, that note will never work, it’s got to be clear in my mind what I’m fighting for. If I’m fighting to be right and feel better about myself, I’m going to lose that battle. Sure, if I’m fighting for a vision of the work that’s different from your vision of the work, and I think it’s important to the work that I go in my direction, then I’m in theoretically in service of the work. But I have to know that I have to be sure about that. And if you’re a young writer, it’s hard to be sure. You haven’t been in that situation enough times to know, that is for sure.

Steve Cuden: And sometimes you have to work your way through whatever your ego is, too, even when you’re in service of the work, because you’re coming at it from your point of view, not necessarily the one and only point of view. So, there’s still a certain amount of ego involved, and you have to consider all of it. And it can be tricky sometimes. It can be really tricky sometimes, because you’re also dealing with somebody on the other side of the table who also.

John Vorhaus: Has an ego and insecurities of their own. you know, and I know that I played a lot of poker, and one of the things I extracted from my poker experience was a real keen sense of mind reading. I was never any good at it at the table, but I understood that whatever I was thinking about at the table, 90% of everybody else was thinking the same stuff. And I took that out of poker and put it into a lot of other situations. If I’m getting notes from a producer and I’m feeling self conscious because I’m not sure about who has power in this relationship or who’s going to fight about what. I can be reasonably sure that the other person is feeling the exact same way. And if I have that awareness, then I can start making choices that are in both of our interests and move toward where we really want to be. This is something else I talk a lot about in the book of practice, the goal of seeking a win win situation. Win win, where everybody involved gets something out of whatever happens, and nobody loses.

Steve Cuden: That’s the ultimate best way to resolve.

John Vorhaus: Anything, which is why your strategy of asking questions is so seductive, because it will yield better information, but it’ll also tell you what it will take to make the experience rewarding for the person who’s answering the question. I think about a project I was on not too long ago where my producer and I were having a ridiculous fight over whether the character’s name should be Luzia or Luisa. And this is in German, by the way, not in English. It’s either Luiza or L-U-Z-I-A. Okay? And I don’t know which one I was fighting for or why, but it suddenly occurred to me, all I got to do is give this guy a win. I can give him the character name, and he’s going to feel better about working with me, and I’m not losing anything at all.

Steve Cuden: Exactly.

John Vorhaus: Letting Hm go of something that’s best let go of.

Steve Cuden: Anyhow, if it doesn’t impact the storytelling, what’s the difference?

John Vorhaus: But even if it does impact the storytelling, remember, it’s all choice. And if what you’re really about is making choices and not caring about whether they’re good choices or bad choices, you’ll have a lot more room to take on other people’s choices, because you won’t care which version of the story gets made as long as it is a fulfilling version of the story. We talked about this earlier, that old windbag Aristotle. First you got to do this, then you got to do that, and then you got to do the other thing, and then the experience is fulfilling. All right, so if you and I want to make, a horror in the Skye movie the next version of snakes on a plane, we can argue all day whether it should be tarantulas on a plane or cyborgs. on a plane, let’s say. Right? But at the end of the day, if we’re successful in our goal of making a scary movie off the ground, it won’t matter whether it’s tarantulas or cyborgs. We will have worked on it long enough for it to be satisfying. Tarantulas or satisfying cyborgs in a studio.

Steve Cuden: They’Ll just turn it into a train.

John Vorhaus: I’ve had that happen, too.

Steve Cuden: I have no doubt.

John Vorhaus: I wrote a scene where the climax of the scene was the fiery explosion of a houseboat. Like, we’re going to go down to the waterfront, we’re going to blow up a houseboat, and it’s going to be spectacular. It ended up being, smoke bombs inside a trailer, inside a, mobile home, and a particularly shabby mobile home at that. I understand it. It’s a production choice. You got to make production choices sometime.

Steve Cuden: Well, frequently it’s about money. That’s a whole other issue.

John Vorhaus: Of course it is, and that’s a whole other issue. But then you have to be, I mentioned the phrase earlier, generosity of spirit. You have to have a lot of generosity of spirit to function in the collaborative world of movie making. Because everybody’s got skin in the game and everybody’s need is different from yours. I met a guy who was a set painter, and his whole thing was, I’m personally responsible for the success of friends because I painted the purple walls.

Steve Cuden: Well, whatever will floats your boat, if that’s exactly.

John Vorhaus: And from his perspective, he might not be wrong. Who knows? I’m not going to disrespect that person. It’s wrong of me to do so. Maybe this is just me trying to be woke in my golden years, but, I’m making fun of somebody for being a slave to their ego. That’s really what it is. The joke I just made was, look at that guy over there being dumb about his ego. I’m dumb about my ego all day, every day.

Steve Cuden: Aren’t we all? Take a ticket and get in line.

John Vorhaus: Exactly. So if I can have generosity of spirit and not make fun of the guy who thinks the purple walls made friends successful, if I can feel better about him, be more generous to him, be more accepting to him, I’m going to be a whole lot more accepting to myself. And it is for sure true that the more accepting I am of myself, the way more effective I will be in my practice. I can’t think of anything that will help a writer write more than just plain old everyday acceptance of the self.

Steve Cuden: Yeah, I wish I had had more of that when I was younger, but that came with maturity.

John Vorhaus: Me too. That’s why I wrote this book, because it’s all about that. The framing of the book is with, awareness and acceptance of passion and purpose. You can have fantastic practice. That’s what’s on offer. That’s the promise. But awareness and acceptance. I have to know who I am, and I have to accept who I am. Passion and purpose. I have to know what I love, and I have to know why I’m doing it. There’s a lot to figure out there, but it’s not a destination. It’s a journey where eternity is now. So if I spend the next moment thinking about awareness and acceptance, I’ve created awareness and acceptance for myself in eternity, at least to start, and it all gently flows outward.

Steve Cuden: I want to take that as your tip, your last, final tip. You’ve given us an enormous number of tips, but that one is just right on the money, and it encapsulates the whole evening, just what you just said. I, would want to ask you, in all of your experiences, can you share with us a story that’s either weird, quirky, offbeat, or just plain funny?

John Vorhaus: I believe this story is not true. Let me start by saying that I don’t believe this is. Let’s call it an apocryphal story. Okay. A writer goes into a, story meeting with a producer, and the subject at hand is the writer’s script about a man who struggles with the choice to not have children. A guy’s getting a vasectomy, and the note he gets from the producer is, I love the story about this guy who gets a vasectomy. Just one question. Does it have to be a man? now, here’s the part that I want to reflect upon. I’ve told that story, that joke, let’s call it, for decades, and it always gets a laugh, and it always pokes fun at, the producer who gave a bad note. That’s the joke. Producer gives ludicrous note. But you and I, we were talking before about what looks like a bad note isn’t necessarily a bad note. Right. The producer is actually looking past the physical act of the vasectomy. What that producer is saying, what they are saying, I’m going to be careful about my pronouns, is the core of that story is someone is making a choice not to have children. You, the writer, have made the choice to have that person be a potential father. I am, as the producer, am asking, what if you make a different choice? The challenge is still the same. Should I or shouldn’t I not have children? But what does that choice look like if it’s a mother making it rather than a father? And as the producer, what I’m really telling you on a subtext level is I’m much more interested in the version of the story where it’s a woman, not a man. But since I’m not an articulate, smart ass writer like you are, I can’t put it in ways that make sense to you until days or in some cases, decades later.

Steve Cuden: It could also be that that producer has just done a huge deal with a female star and is looking for a way to make it a woman.

John Vorhaus: Right. The proper response is not, blow me, I’m out of here.

Steve Cuden: I’ll think about that. The proper answer is think about it.

John Vorhaus: No, you already nailed. The proper answer is, what makes you think that? What does that look like? what do you have in mind? Does it have to be a man? Because you’re asking me to make a choice. You’re asking me to say, yes, it has to be a man, or no, it doesn’t have to be a man. I’m not going to make that choice. I’m just going to bat the ball right back at you.

Steve Cuden: Right, exactly.

John Vorhaus: Steve, have you ever played the game where people only answer questions with yes, Steve, can you imagine playing that game right now?

Steve Cuden: I think we’re doing it to a certain extent, are we not?

John Vorhaus: There you go. Is it not clear to you that only one of us is doing it so far?

Steve Cuden: John Vorhaus, this has been so much fun, and I really am so appreciative of you being on the show with me today for the second time. We’ll ultimately, inevitably do, one more of these, no doubt. And I really, truly thank you for your time, your energy, and certainly your wisdom. I suggest anyone that’s interested in figuring out how to be a, success in their own desires, that you pick up the book of practice and read it, because it’s not a long book, it’s not hard to read. It’s, full of great wisdom, and I highly urge you to get it. John Vorhaus, I thank you so much for being on the show today.

John Vorhaus: I thank you for letting me be here. It’s been a pleasure, as always.

Steve Cuden: And so we’ve come to the end of today’s StoryBeat. If you like this episode, won’t you please take a moment to give us a comment, rating, or review on whatever app or platform form you’re listening to. Your support helps us bring more great StoryBeat episodes to you. StoryBeat is available on all major podcast apps and platforms, including Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Spotify, iHeartRadio, tunein, and many others. Until next time, I’m Steve Cuden, and may all your stories be unforgettable.

Executive Producer: Steve Cuden, Producer: Casey Georgi, Announcer: Javier Grajeda
Social Media: Mina Hoffman, Design & Marketing: Holly Reed, Reed Creative Group


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