There’s funny in the darkness

Also the anti-label music label, and Stephen King’s new masterpiece

Hey friends, here are a few things I think deserve your attention this week.


My wife and I have been a little bit obsessed with comedian Mike Birbiglia lately. We’re probably really late on this, but he has a new-ish Netflix special that is just such good, honest comedy. Mike takes his experience with cancer, a serious sleep disorder, and depression, and turns that into comedy that serves as an incredibly cathartic release for those of us who may struggle with similar issues.

In addition to his comedy specials, Mike also recently appeared on a podcast called The Hilarious World of Depression. In Mike’s episode he discusses his struggles, and why making comedy out of dark places can be so effective. He also talks about creative endeavors and how not everyone is going to like you or the things you make:

What I make is not for the people who hate it. It is for the people who get something out of it, and that's who I'm working for.

I highly recommend watching a couple of Mike’s comedy specials and then listening to the podcast as well.


Ted Gioia is one of my favorite authors. His book How to Listen to Jazz is a fantastic resource I recommend quite often. He recently wrote an article about one of my favorite music labels ECM. It’s a label that operates like no other major label in the world, in the best possible way. From The Most Beautiful Sound Next to Silence:

ECM supports the musician’s artistic vision over the course of an entire career. Many ECM artists have stayed with the label for decades without ever winning a Grammy or scoring a hit album. In fact, many hardly generate airplay on jazz radio stations. And when, against all odds, an ECM recording does find a large crossover audience, there’s no apparent pressure on the artist to follow up with similar projects. Music lovers have come to trust the label for this reason; they know that Eicher himself is a music lover, not a cash-driven corporate exec. He operates with his artists on a basis of trust and loyalty, and this inspires the same among listeners, who know that they can rely on his honesty and judgment.

There are so many wonderful ECM records out there, but if I can make only one recommendation, it would be Bay of Rainbows by Jakob Bro, Thomas Morgan, and Joey Baron.


I think Stephen King is incapable of telling a bad story. But even with that high bar, his latest book Later exceeded my expectations. It is such a fantastic story that grows and evolves as the character “gets better at writing”. Stephen always plays a long game, but this story must be one of his finest, ever.

On the work side, I’m currently reading Good Authority: How to Become the Leader Your Team Is Waiting For by Jonathan Raymond. It’s part of a book club we’re doing with our leadership team, and it’s really refreshing so far. The basic premise is that you can’t separate person growth from professional growth, and the goal of a good leader is to lead with empathy for the whole person:

The deepest purpose of a business is to change the lives of the people who work there. The role of leaders and managers is to show people how professional and personal growth are inseparable. The way to get people to be engaged is to be more engaged with them.

I haven’t finished it yet, but am so far finding it really helpful.

For those of you paying close attention, yes I changed the format of the newsletter again. I know, I know, enough already! I don’t know what to tell you, I’m just kinda drifting right now, experimenting with different things, trying to find a format that works. If all this change is too much for you, I totally understand! Please don’t yell at me.