The Interview Series // 11

toddlamb

What does one say about writer and artist Todd Lamb (http://web NULL.mac NULL.com/lambtodd)? This guy is an enigma wrapped in a mystery wrapped in a girl’s hoodie. He’s one of those guys who has ‘a finger’ in a lot of ‘pies’, but above all else is a genuinely funny guy. And when we say genuinely funny guy we actually mean fucking hilarious man of steel with balls the size of Obama’s brain. Before settling in New York City, Todd spent his years at three highly awarded US ad agencies, has written for several publications, had books published, directed TV commercials, done his fair share of stand-up comedy and has a world record for sitting on Whoopee Cushions recorded on Jimmy Fallon live. He’s also writing and developing an animation series called the Bloody Band Aidz. Did we mention he won an Emmy? No? Well he’s got one of those too. So although he may be an enigma with big balls, he definitely knows how to get shit done and win praise for it. We talked over email and this is what happened…

Junior: Hey Todd. First thing’s first, we heard you won an Emmy? Is it real?

Todd: Not only is it real, it’s shiny, golden and buried in my parent’s basement. When I lived in San Francisco, I stored it in my refrigerator to guard my beer and yogurt. Now it’s in Chicago, in a box until further notice (forever).

Jr: You’ve worked at W+K Portland, Goodby Silverstein in San Fran, and Mother in New York. How did you go from uni student to working at three of the world’s great agencies?

T: “The world’s great agencies”. That’s funny. They’ve done great stuff, but it’s important to know that these are businesses, just like a pet store or a fruit stand. You should be aware of that. This isn’t a bunch of hippies sitting around a commune, cracking jokes.

The one thing I did do is go to school, worked hard, finished school, and now I write every day. Writing is such a great skill to work at and grow with. After you find your voice, you can expand endlessly on it for your whole life. Great writers are unstoppable. No one can touch them.

Jr: We’re getting so bored of advertising. We’ve been doing a lot of ad interviews lately. How do you feel about advertising as a non-vapid alternative guy with a beard and some sense who’s seen some success in his career?

T: I had to look-up the word “vapid (http://www NULL.yourdictionary NULL.com/vapid)” to know what you were talking about. (Editor’s note: Sorry man. Next time we won’t use a thesaurus.) I can tell you this: I do have a beard. That makes me the object of every straight woman’s desire and every lesbian’s secret fantasy.

Advertising can be an amazing way to make things and collaborate with talented people. When the stars line-up: agency, client, co-workers, ideas—that feels nice. But, you should be very picky about who you give your ideas to and who you spend your time with. In the end, surround yourself with nice people that you genuinely trust, and you’ll be OK.

Jr: You’re freelance now, and it sounds like you’ve been quite busy. For the younger freelance readers out there, (who may be writers, designers, film-makers, photographers, etc) have you any tips on making contacts and picking the right jobs?

T: I just read in a book about chess that the word “freelance” comes from a soldier who would take his sword wherever they needed him, to fight in return for payment. Hence, the word “free” and “lance” together. I like that. I don’t have any advice other than freelancing is 100% gambling. It’s unsteady and with no guarantees. So you better be brave and you better be OK with falling flat on your face. But I recommend everyone try it, it is a different way to live.

Jr: Ok, so writing. You’ve done quite a bit of ‘extra-curricular’ writing outside of your daily work…

T: The idea of “extra-curricular” doesn’t exist. Writing is writing. Everything is valid and every form (ads, television, short films, books, magazines, the internet) needs good, humorous writing. Nowadays it’s all the same. This is a great thing for young people because there are so many choices.

Jr: We hear you’ve been working on an animation series about band-aids. We have friends who are super keen to start writing scripts and pitching them but have no idea where to start. What’s the process been for you so far?

T: It’s called the Bloody Band Aidz (http://www NULL.bloodybandaidz NULL.com) (www.bloodybandaidz.com). We developed it for a cable network. TV show development is a crazy thing. It takes people years to get a show on the air. Whether you’re Andy Richter or Dave Chappelle or someone else, the fame doesn’t always help you in the development process. It’s kind of like a two-year version of pitching an idea for a magazine article, but there’s a good chance you won’t get to do the project. So, if you want to try inventing a new TV show, know that it takes patience.

Jr: Man, we saw you on Jimmy Fallon (http://urdb NULL.org/Content/RecordDetail NULL.aspx?id=374) too, and we’ll go out on a limb and say it was a wince (http://urdb NULL.org/Content/PostDetail NULL.aspx?id=6) – just for the record. How did that whole shebang come about?

T: There is a thing in NYC called the Universal Record Database (http://urdb NULL.org/) which is a monthly event on stage where people can break world records. It’s part stand-up comedy and part “feats of strength”. So, Jimmy Fallon’s producer saw some of the videos on the site and asked us to come on the show. It was a great time. Jimmy Fallon is such a nice guy. He was so gracious to his guests. To watch him work is amazing.

Jr: We should probably say something about the Chris posters (http://web NULL.mac NULL.com/lambtodd/iWeb/todd%20lamb%20/Todd%20Lamb%20Notes%20From%20Chris NULL.html). The story has become a bit of a sensation (http://www NULL.theage NULL.com NULL.au/national/artist-blasts-poster-plagiarist-craig-20090316-8zh2 NULL.html) down here is Oz. We need the hits so bear with us. Why did you do them in the first place and how do you feel about the dude who ripped you off?

T: I did “Notes From Chris” (http://web NULL.mac NULL.com/lambtodd/iWeb/todd%20lamb%20/Todd%20Lamb%20Notes%20From%20Chris NULL.html) to make people laugh. It’s that simple. To make people’s day better and to entertain myself along the way.

So, some guy in Australia tried to steal the posters, even word-for-word in some cases. I think the act of taking someone’s ideas and claiming them as your own is the lowest thing a human being can do, other than crapping on the hood of your neighbor’s car. Desperate people do things like steal. But thankfully, the guy who tried to steal my idea got exposed by the media and called-out as a thief.

“Notes From Chris” is my ongoing project, so you’ll see more of them soon around NYC and online. Stay tuned to www.toddlamb.net (http://www NULL.toddlamb NULL.net)

Jr: And finally, say there’s some budding comedy writers out there who are keen to be a sponge and learn their shit. Got any suggestions for books or mags or movies they should be sponging?

T: Albert Brooks, Woody Allen, Conan O’Brian, Letterman, Freaks And Geeks, Mr. Show. I find 30 Rock to be totally amazing and brilliant. The list goes on forever and everyone has their own comedy taste. No one is right and no one is wrong.

Get a Netflix account and watch everything funny that was ever made. Then get some sleep, have a cup of coffee, think real hard, and go make some funny stuff.

Written by Junior
Originally posted on: 02/04/2009