Smart Comedy & Finding Your Niche featuring Don McMillan
Don McMillan took the path less traveled, in fact he may be that path’s lone pedestrian. Don came to stand-up comedy from Silicon Valley. A former engineer with a Masters from Stanford, the comedy and problem solving portions of Don’s brain have collaborated to craft a unique act that features a hilarious roast of power point presentations, illustrated, of course, by a power point presentation.
Don’s uniquely relatable brand of stand-up took him to the semi-finals on this year’s America’s Got Talent. With jokes that are perfectly pithy, while maintaining all the elegance of the Pythagorean Theorem, Don has established a Corporate comedy niche that finds him performing consistently for an audience of global brand giants.
Don joins us with AGT behind-the-scenes secrets, success tips and power point dos and don’ts!
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Fritz Coleman (00:05):
Welcome to Media Path. I'm Fritz Coleman. And
Louise Palanker (00:07):
I am Louise Palanker
Fritz Coleman (00:08):
With one week until the election, we at Media Path are proud to remind you that we are conspiracy free media. You can trust our information and you can trust that our guests have been thoroughly vetted. Like today's guest, my good friend Don McMillan, an amazing comedian who just had a successful series of weeks on America's Got Talent. We're looking forward to talking to Don about what that experience was like and how it changed his life. And I know it did, cuz he's filling venues all over America. Don's gonna be with us in just a few minutes. Wheezy, what do you have for us this week?
Louise Palanker (00:40):
Okay, so I've been reading Have you tried that for a
Fritz Coleman (00:43):
I I I'm a I'm a avid
Louise Palanker (00:45):
Reader. Okay, excellent. So this was a book I read. I actually, I read a book. It's called Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger. Ordinary Grace is a New York Times bestseller from William Kent Krueger, about a particularly chilling and illuminating 1961 Small Town summer for 13 year old Frank Drum. I offer you a quote. You'll find this quote on the Amazon page. I'm lifting this quote just so that it's credited properly. That was it. That was all of it. A grace so ordinary. There was no reason at all to remember it yet. I have never acrossed the 40 years since it was spoken, forgotten a single word.
Fritz Coleman (01:19):
What a great line
Louise Palanker (01:20):
It is. Wow. It's, there's tons of gems like that throughout the book. Just so there's gentle wisdom throughout the book. The drums are frank. His awkward and brilliant little brother Jake, his musically gifted sister Ariel, his passionately artistic mother and his Methodist minister father. Their collective mission is ministering to the needs of others. But when tragedy strikes at home, the family fabric is stretched and tested, revealing secrets, twists, adultery, betrayal, and a deep wisdom painfully pulled to the surface. In Young Frank told from Frank's perspective, 40 years beyond that impactful summer, ordinary grace is a brilliantly moving account of a boy standing at the doorway of adult understanding and trying desperately to fix and make sense of a world that is falling apart around him. This book poses the question, when a child becomes aware of the world's complexities, contradictions, hypocrisies, and atrocities, how does he process these enormous concepts? And how can the adults in his world best ease his understanding and compassion? Ordinary grace is by William Kent Krueger.
Fritz Coleman (02:20):
Wow. It sounds fascinating.
Louise Palanker (02:22):
Yeah, it's a great book.
Fritz Coleman (02:23):
All right, I'm gonna talk about vengeance. This is the new, uh, BJ Novak movie, his directorial debut. It's streaming on prime video on Peacock right now. Novak is a writer and director and actor and a comic. Matter of fact, he acted, directed, and wrote on the office for many years. His character was Ryan. He's got a really interesting comic voice that shows up in this film. He calls it an American western neo noir mystery, black comedy. He's the lead. He plays a journalist and a podcaster who travels from New York to Texas to investigate the death of a woman who he previously had hooked up with. It also stars Issa Rae and Ashland Kucher. The movie begins with whip smart comic rep arte between his character and a great cameo with guitar legend John Mayer. Then it morphs into a culture clash between New York and Texas. Sort of a social satire getting into our current cultural and political divides. And it ends up as a mystery thriller. It's fun and smart, and it's got some interesting plot twists. I, I really loved it. I think he's gonna be a great filmmaker in the future.
Louise Palanker (03:27):
Yes. I believe in bj. In fact, BJ and I are open mic mates, so Yeah,
Fritz Coleman (03:34):
You told me that. That's amazing. I didn't know he was doing standard
Louise Palanker (03:36):
That I can call you. You remember your open mic mates, right, Don? I mean, that's like a thing. Yeah. You're like, when one of of them does special, I always saw that. Especially when they,
Don McMillan (03:46):
Especially when they always do better than you. Yes. I never forget
Louise Palanker (03:49):
Those guys. <laugh>. Yep. You're like, I always called it for bj. We knew that guy. That's right. I knew it. Yep. Guy.
Fritz Coleman (03:55):
Alright, let me introduce this guy. Eric. Guest today has been my friend for years. We have done many, many shows together. As a matter of fact, I just opened for him at Levity Live, which is the old improv in Oxnard. He packed the room and then proceeded to bring the house down around the crowded room. He's one of the smartest, most interesting acts. He's an engineer by trade and uses those skills to convulse the audience with a PowerPoint presentation that ain't like the PowerPoint presentation you were forced to watch about sexual harassment at Human Resources. <laugh>, he's been deemed America's number one rated corporate comic. There are many wonderful clips on YouTube from his America's Got talent experiences and his recently recorded dry bar special. Treat Yourself and look 'em up on YouTube. Don McMillan, we're so glad you're here. How are you my friend?
Don McMillan (04:45):
Oh my God, I, I can't live up to that intro. I have to go away.
Fritz Coleman (04:48):
Well, something has to be good about the show <laugh>. Way better than I know. But you just got off the road last night, right? You, you were coming home when I called you on the phone.
Don McMillan (04:55):
I was in, uh, I was in New York City doing a big old corporate gala gig and the Hilton Ballroom in New York. What,
Fritz Coleman (05:02):
How, how many dates a year do you do? Honest to God, I don't know anybody that's on the road more than you.
Don McMillan (05:07):
Uh, I do about 50 corporate shows a year. And then in between that I fill in with comedy clubs. So I'm, I'm, I do three or four shows a week at least. Can I share with you my favorite joke? Nobody's gonna know cuz it was a corporate date. Oh, yes, please. Can I do <laugh>? I I I just, I I have to share this joke cuz I thought it was a great joke. I I actually did this thing at the, this Gale in New York City for the Wings Club, which is the aviation CEOs, all the big wigs from Boeing and Airbus and United and Delta. And they inducted this guy, bill Frankie, who was the, the, the pioneer of ultra low-cost airlines. He started Spirit and Del and um, America West and uh, um, frontier. That's he, he's famous for how low-cost airlines. Right? So Big Gala. My first joke was, we're here to celebrate Bill Frankie at tonight's gala. So your dinner is free, but your fork will be 40 extra dollars. <laugh>.
Fritz Coleman (05:57):
Don McMillan (05:58):
And I couldn't share that with anybody, you know, like that's a private event. I ha now it's, I let it's free on your show, so there you go.
Louise Palanker (06:04):
But I, I would think that your comedy lends itself to specifics so that wherever you go, you're able to like, weave in all those specifics that just make people house I'd
Don McMillan (06:12):
Love. That's my favorite thing to do. Are you kidding? Ask, ask Fritz. I write something special everywhere I go. Confess
Fritz Coleman (06:17):
He customizes and uses pictures of executives and it's really wonderful <laugh>. And let me, I don't, I don't wanna mess this story up. I'm gonna get you to tell it. But you have a great story about early in your corporate career, you were invited to perform at IBM for like 10,000 people and nobody knew who you were. So they advertised you as the vice president of Human Resources who was just gonna come out on stage to update people <laugh> on the state of human resources. And you launch into this PowerPoint. Am I right about that?
Don McMillan (06:46):
Oh yeah. No, I've, I've done a bunch of times. But that, that was ear early on before knew anybody knew who I was because I worked in the corporate world and I watched enough of these speakers who can just, you know, spin a yarn for 45 minutes with no valuable information. <laugh>. Um, that, uh, I got up there and I said, I, I swear at this one too, Fritz. I could have gone the full 45 minutes cuz I was just making stuff up <laugh> about, well, first I, I worked on, you know, interpersonal skills, so I gave 'em all the ins and outs of PowerPoint and how you too many things on the slide. And they were, people were taking notes. I was telling jokes and they were taking
Louise Palanker (07:20):
Notes. There is some useful stuff in there. Yeah, I I've watched it. Yeah.
Don McMillan (07:24):
Yeah. Actually, my, uh, my one video, life After Death by PowerPoint is <laugh>. And it was not made for this purpose. It's used in trainings all over America because I basically just take the, uh, behaviors of people who give horrible PowerPoint presentations and I just, I call 'em out on it. Uh, got too many bullet points, too many animations and, and it turned out to be a good comedy bit and apparently humiliates people in the making better PowerPoint. So it's, I'm I'm helping
Louise Palanker (07:48):
The world. Yeah, no, yeah, there we go. Absolutely, absolutely are. Because I, one of my PowerPoint, uh, peeves is when there's too much text on the screen, because I, as an a d d person, I cannot read and listen to what you're saying at the same time. Those don't both track. So yes, it should be one or two words. And then what you say should be, and there's
Don McMillan (08:06):
And, and Louise, there's people like you who actually read the whole slide. It amazes me. Oh
Louise Palanker (08:11):
Yeah. We, if there's writing in front of us, we read. I'll read your t-shirt. I'll read what's on the bumper sticker of the car in front of me. I will read, when I was first learning how to read, I drove my mother crazy by reading every sign we went by. So yeah, once you teach it, well, my
Don McMillan (08:24):
Favorite thing, and this happens at least two or three times a year, somebody will send me an email after a show and go, you know, during your presentation on slide 54, your numbers do not add up to a hundred percent on your chart
Louise Palanker (08:35):
Don McMillan (08:36):
And I'll go and check, and they're right. I'm going, how did you even, I've been doing that slide for two years. I never noticed that. How did you notice that? Into five seconds? It was on this, on the screen.
Louise Palanker (08:46):
Fritz Coleman (08:47):
It. Your, your material, um, both the spoken part of it and the visual part of it is different. That's why I love it. That's why I like to work, work with you. You and I are totally different and we make an interesting show that way.
Don McMillan (08:59):
Oh, I love working with you. Yeah.
Louise Palanker (09:01):
Oh, you're also, you're both really good at holding little clickers and advancing things.
Fritz Coleman (09:04):
<laugh> <laugh>. Yeah, but I'll tell you what, that's another thing I wanna talk about. Unlike a typical monologist who exaggerates reality, you look at something very logically, and then your engineer's brain takes over and many times a series of Venn diagrams and you parse a topic like an engineer. It's like you find the humor from another part of your brain that a typical comedian does. And that's what makes it so hysterical because it's not as predictable as many immunologists are. It's really
Don McMillan (09:35):
Interesting. Yeah, no, it, it really, it comes from the true engineering part of my brain, which most comics don't have. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> True is true. Which, and if you think about it, what, what about, what do we love to complain about as humans? Things that don't work correctly, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Right, right. And what do engineers do? We thi we fix things that don't work correctly. And so if I look at something and I I observation like, why do you have carpool lanes in la? Nobody wants to be in a carpool lane in la. And then I think of a better way, how about a cell phone lane? How about a lane where if you're on your cell phone, you have to get it in that I come up with a solution <laugh> right away because my brain immediately goes to fixing things, which most comics don't. So I think that's what really separates. I, I I, I, you know, I was an engineer for, what, 20 years, so I can't help that. Right. And I just tap into it. Problem.
Fritz Coleman (10:20):
Stanford graduate, you worked in Silicon Valley, you ain't playing around, but you decided to lower yourself and become a professional comedian.
Louise Palanker (10:25):
Well, you must have always known that you were smart. Did you also always know that you were funny?
Don McMillan (10:31):
I actually didn't know either. I, I, I swear to you, I went to a really good high school and I thought I was mediocre. I really did. And it wasn't until I got to college that I realized that, uh, I actually was pretty smart. And, uh, so, but in high school, because I wasn't, didn't really stand out. I, I did manage to make people laugh. So it, it, the, the bit, the, the comedy part of me started in high school, but then once I got to college, I, I think my brain figured out how to take tests and how to, how I just, I, I somehow figured it out. And I was really good at college. I, it was like number one in my class in college, which I was not in high school. I wasn't, I, I, I, who knows why, who knows why our brain grows the way it does. Right, right. But, um, I, and, and then both combined, sometime in my late twenties, I have, I admit I hit my head or something and they mixed in and I became an engineer comedian. I have no idea how that happened. I really
Fritz Coleman (11:21):
Don't. But you're, you're so brave for another reason. And that is that you are relying on computer technology to work in front of thousands of people and your, your comp, I've seen it happen. Your computer doesn't do what it's always supposed to do, and it crashes in the middle of a show, and then you just do straight standup and you're wonderful at that. But that's a scary thing when stuff isn't going where it's supposed to on your computer in the middle of a show.
Don McMillan (11:44):
I, it, I, it's it. In fact, during, uh, America's Got Talent this year in the roast of Simon. Uh, luckily it was pre-taped. It, it wasn't Live to America. My, the comp the computer just basically shut off and you don't see it cuz they edited out. And I just went to my last joke, which ended up being a great joke. But I, I, you know, as an engineer, I prepare for that. I, I go, if something happens, what do I, I have a go-to. I always have a second and a third plan. It's just the way I am. Ask my wife. I am not fun to live with. Ask my wife,
Louise Palanker (12:14):
<laugh>, you pass out Mimeo Grand. Sorry,
Fritz Coleman (12:16):
Please refer, I want to talk to you about America's Got Talent.
Don McMillan (12:20):
Fritz Coleman (12:20):
Right. Because first of all, to me it seems any, any competitive situation for a comedian seems like a gut-wrenching experience. Oh, I think part of the reason why I, I I, I like comedy is cuz I'm on stage alone. I'm only responsible for my own thoughts and words. I'm not competing with another person in my cubicle for the best sales numbers of the year. There's nothing competitive about it. You compete with yourself. But to go in an an experience like that where you're competing against other acts just seems horrifying. But then I talked to you about it and you just loved it. Well, first of all, you owned the audience. The audience was fantastic to you, even when Simon was denigrating you, the audience loved you. So talk about that experience, what it was like.
Don McMillan (13:06):
Yeah, they were, they were chanting at him. Uh, put him through, put him through. They were very much on my side. Uh, you know, uh, um, yeah, I, I did, I've always been w a good competition comic. I won the, uh, San Francisco Comedy Competition way back in the early stages of my career in, uh, 93. And uh, and that was just a meat grinder. It's over three and four weeks at multiple venues and 30 20 comics. Lots
Fritz Coleman (13:31):
Of time talented people in San Francisco too.
Don McMillan (13:33):
Oh. And just amazing comics. And I think back then I learned, um, and you know, as I, you, you know, too, I'm a golfer and Golfing's very much the same to me. I, I might be playing an opponent in golf, but what am I really playing as the course? I'm really playing the course. So I don't look at it as I'm trying to beat other comics. I'm trying to take this crowd, this golf course, and do the best I can with this in front of me. And if that happens to be better than somebody else, that's not for me to judge. I just try to look at, I just try to focus on how do I take this crowd to a place that, that they get more laughs than they did before I started. And that's the way I view it. I ne I ne like, if somebody beats me in a competition and believe me, I've lost, I didn't win. America's Got Talent. I never hold it against him. I don't think they're funnier than me or they're better than me. It's just, man, that's, I, I, I've done this enough. And, you know, there's great crowds. There's good crowds. There's crowds on your side. There's crowds that on it. Just, it just, you wanna do the best you can do mm-hmm. <affirmative> in that moment. And that's sounding about, that's all I focus
Fritz Coleman (14:33):
On. So go back to the, you know, talk about the audition process the first time you went in there and h how, how does that work?
Don McMillan (14:39):
Well, they had seen my dry bar. So they were interested in me, um, because I was clean. And, uh, so they
Fritz Coleman (14:45):
Explain what a Dry bar is.
Don McMillan (14:46):
Oh, dry Bar is is this online comedy club that's filmed in Utah and it's called Dry Bar because it's, it's all clean comedy, no alcohol in the building. It's Utah. It's Utah for god's sake. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So, uh, they, they look for comics who are, are family friendly. So they, they, when they found me, they were like, you're perfect for the show. Come do it. And I did it. And then America's Got Talent, I think looks there because again, family friendly, they can find good comics. Um, so when they saw me, they, they, they saw my dry bar and they said, uh, you know, it's a negotiation with America's Got Talent. I don't think I'm giving away the, the, the, the, uh, the story here. But they, they're like, I like, I wanna do this joke, this joke, this joke, this joke. And I, and they go, well, we like that one, that one, that one.
And I go, well, how about this one, this one? And I negotiated the set and then put it together. And then I waited. This was the hardest part of America. America's Got Talent. You wait forever. I waited like eight weeks. They kept scheduling me and rescheduling me, okay, we're gonna put you on here, put you on there. That is the hardest emotional part of it. Cuz you try to gear yourself up for a live television show on audition. And then they go twice. They called me. In fact, once I went down to Pasadena, where they film it sat there all day and they went, oh, we don't have time in this show. Can you come back next Saturday? I'm like, oh my God. I lost, like, I lost like 15 pounds through this ordeal. <laugh>.
Louise Palanker (15:53):
Don McMillan (15:54):
And uh, so then, then I do the audition and Simon votes against me and the other three vote for me. And, but I was hap the set was great. I was couldn't it couldn't have gone any better. All the jokes worked. I got le I was, I was thrilled. If that had ended right there, I would've went, ah, great. But then they went, well we think you're gonna come back, but we don't know. Eight weeks go by again. Oh, oh, you're gonna come back. You're not gonna come back. You're gonna go, I'm Square. I for instance, you saw me during then, I must have looked like I was going running a marathon. Cuz I was like, oh, this is the roller coaster from hell. I
Fritz Coleman (16:25):
Just remember you not being able to talk about anything cuz you're sworn to C c
Don McMillan (16:28):
Yeah. And they, because they won't commit to you. They won't see you're on the show or they won't on the show. You're just, you just don't know until like the week before. And then they go, okay, you're on next Tuesday. Wait,
Louise Palanker (16:38):
But I don't understand though, because if you said that three of them voted you through, how, is there some question as to whether or not you're on the show?
Don McMillan (16:44):
Yeah, good question. Louise. You're doing your me, see, I had the same question. I go, they voted me through, well this season, uh, the judges voted 155 people through and there were only 36 spots.
Louise Palanker (16:59):
Don McMillan (17:01):
Is not good planning?
Louise Palanker (17:03):
<laugh>. We need to put that in a pie chart. <laugh>. Really? That is. So
Don McMillan (17:08):
Yeah, they decided it's
Louise Palanker (17:10):
Don McMillan (17:10):
This is the other, what
Louise Palanker (17:12):
Was that? They've overbooked themselves.
Don McMillan (17:14):
They were like, they were behaving as an airline. Yes. And then they, they had to reschedule us on other flights.
Louise Palanker (17:20):
Don McMillan (17:22):
So then they decided they'd voted so many through, they felt bad and they couldn't decide. So they changed the rules midstream and decided they would put 55 people through and do five weeks of semi-finals instead of his quarterfinals and his semi-finals. But then there would be 11 acts, five weeks of 11 acts, but only two would go through. Which in the end kind of is why I didn't do better, because it's just amazing. There's some amazing, how do I, I compete against 55 women dancing in unison making sh I mean it's, I don't even know how I compete against that. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it was, they're the ones who won the show.
Louise Palanker (17:57):
So I have a, I have a backstage, uh, question about that. Yeah, yeah. Which I'm sure all a g t watchers have. So where is everyone and their dancing dogs housed <laugh>? And does the food get better as the buffet line gets shorter?
Don McMillan (18:12):
<laugh>, the, uh, we, we all are in the same room. It is in fact very surreal. Wow. <laugh>, because you're in there with jugglers contortionists of 14 year old girl and her dogs. And you know, I'm just looking around the room and I'm going, this is a, some kind of weird Italian, you know, art film. I'm in
Fritz Coleman (18:32):
<laugh>. It's, it's Clockwork Orange with a
Don McMillan (18:34):
Variety. It really is. Yeah. And, and then they go, okay, now go be funny. And, uh,
Fritz Coleman (18:39):
But are the other racks supportive of you as you're performing? I mean, was there sort of a spirit of camaraderie?
Don McMillan (18:44):
There definitely was. And, and I think it's because we weren't all comedians or singers and everybody else can honestly, I think honestly say, you know, what you do is amazing. It's nothing like me. So I can say that to you. So, you know mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So they were very, very supportive. Everybody was really cool. Actually. The acts were cool and they all know we're going through this hellish thing. So they're, they're all kind of like, wow. Did they do that to you? Oh yeah, they did that to me. Yeah. It's kind of, it's, it's, it's a meat grinder. That's what my wife and I call it. It's a beat grinder.
Fritz Coleman (19:10):
Well, you know, I've, I've, I've learned this from, uh, America's Got Talent and American Idol that you don't have to win to win. And that was, you, you were on there a series of weeks and you became one of the audience favorites because I found this article online and it was the first reaction I'd heard to your performance. And you were voted like number one or number two in audience, uh, support, even though you didn't win the thing. And I texted it to you and I said, this is fantastic. Of course, it has nothing to do with the outcome of the show. No. But it does in introducing you and your talent to America. And
Don McMillan (19:44):
Oh, it's made, it's made an amazing impact.
Fritz Coleman (19:46):
I, I, I I know it has, cuz I'll tell you what levity live, levity live for those of you who don't know, bought all the improvs. It used to be an improv is in Oxnard, California. <laugh>, the, the teaming metropolis of Oxnard, California <laugh>. And it's a huge venue for Oxnard. It's like 500 seats. You packed the place out. People were there early. I thought, wow, the impact of that show is really amazing. You, you built an amazing fan base
Don McMillan (20:10):
Way more than I would've guessed it. Uh, I, I didn't know that many people watched America's G Talent. I watched it cuz I had friends on it. And it's interesting. But I didn't, I, I I, I, you know, I've been traveling a lot. I serious. I mean, I've been doing a lot. I've been doing standup for thir 25, 30 years, and I've done some national commercials and some television. Never have I been recognized as much as after America's G Talent. I walked down to Chicago and now they come up and me go, you're that chart guy. I'm the chart guy. Now you're that guy with the chart.
Fritz Coleman (20:37):
That's okay. If they can put a handle on your act, that's fantastic. You also sold out the Irvine Improv, which I think is even bigger than the one in Oxnard. So that's a great sign. I'm so happy. And there's another thing about you that you are one of those guys who everybody supports. And when you hear that he's having some success, you say yes, they, because you're truly one of the nicest people in the business. And you, you, you're friends with everyone. So there's sort of universal support for your, you know, they people lift you up and watch you, uh, fly. It's, it's really been fun to watch the reaction.
Don McMillan (21:13):
I I really think that was the, uh, the most humbling part of this. Uh, when I got on the show and I would let people know to vote in things like that. People just turned up out of the woodwork who I hadn't talked to in years. Some corporate people I'd worked with, comics I worked with when I was open mic days and would send me messages going, yeah, done. I mean, it just was, that's really cool. You know, it, it was one of those things where, uh, you forget how many people you've touched through the years. And it became obvious to me how many people I've, you know, I have supported me and I've supported them. And it just was really, it made me really appreciate, uh, all of my years in comedy. And, uh, I, if anybody's listening right now, who've I've Thank you. It was ama it was amazing. It was humbling. It was infe infant that was the best part of it really
Fritz Coleman (21:59):
Was. Okay. Now that we've, uh, schmoozed you up really good, <laugh>, do you have any good anecdotes? Any good? Goodbye. I mean, I know you, you've probably signed a non-disclosure agreement, but is there anything, any interesting little side notes you can talk about in the production of the show?
Don McMillan (22:13):
Uh, let's see. Oh, that's a good, it's a good question actually. Uh, uh, boy, I can't, I, there's nothing like, uh, the, the only thing I can tell you is that, um, we must have filmed this is what I re and, and by the way, this made me feel better about my comedy. Uh, I'm gonna preface it by saying that when any comic, if you're thinking of going this show or singer or any kind of act, realize that it's not just about your talent. Th this is a reality show. Oh
Fritz Coleman (22:44):
No. They're building a TV show that,
Don McMillan (22:45):
Oh, and it is, it was so obvious when you're in it, they are building a story around you. We must have filmed six hours worth of video, of which they used a minute and a half in my pre-packaged pit where they, they basically make this, make your character and then they fit it into their show and it's over. It's actually impressive. At the same time. It's kind of scary cuz you realize they're in control. But, um, but uh, it, it, I mean like the, the stuff with engineering and the, uh, uh, they wanted to work that in there, but they wanted to work my son in there. And the way they, they did it was, was really, really interesting. As a nur as a nerd, I was like, wow, this process is pretty amazing. Did
Fritz Coleman (23:24):
They come to your house and shoot in your personal life and stuff? Oh
Don McMillan (23:26):
Yeah. They came, they came and interviewed my son and my wife and didn't use any of it by the way. Somebody, not most of it. Um, but they're really, they're really making a story. It's a, it's as much a, a, a scripted show, uh, before you perform as it is anything. So.
Louise Palanker (23:40):
Right. Cuz I, I think they have these formulas that they know work to have you relatable, to have a certain segment of the population say, I know a guy like that. I know that guy. I understand. I can't believe this is all this is happening for him. I'm rooting for him. Cuz you know, yeah. My nephew's an engineer and you know, it's just like it with the comedians, I think especially they can kind of build this sort of like, like a sitcom. They can just build a character that folks would really get cuz they know that they know that guy.
Don McMillan (24:08):
I'll share this with you. Here's an inside story. I do have one. Yeah. And I don't, I don't think they'll be upset for me telling this story, but <laugh>. But it is the one edit that they made, which I found very interesting. And Fritz, you and I have talked about how of all people, I, I don't think I'm a politically incorrect comic at all. Absolutely. At all. Not. But when I do corporate, there's sometimes they take jokes out and I'm always interested when they take a joke out. Like, how are you? Because I didn't mean it that way. How are you seeing it <laugh> say they took one joke out of my audition that I I still to this day, if you really think about it, it, they don't need to do it. They're being overly cautious. So I do a joke about the fact that there's, uh, 1.4 billion people in China and there's 7 billion people on earth. Therefore, statistically one out of every five babies born on earth are in fact Chinese. So you could say, and you would not be lying. If you've got four kids, you're expecting a fifth. It will be Chinese <laugh>. Okay. That's now I don't think that's at all, at all.
Fritz Coleman (25:03):
No, it's a math joke. It's not a, it's
Don McMillan (25:06):
It's a statistics joke. Yeah. That is in fact ridiculous because that's not how statistics work. Yes. Um, and, but some, I could see how someone somewhere sitting in a corner would go, why? That's anti-Chinese, isn't it? I go, I never said it was a problem,
Fritz Coleman (25:19):
A trigger thing. It's, it's, that's where we are now. That's what I was gonna ask you about. I'm glad you brought it up. I wonder about the sensors and I mean, we're such in such a culturally sensitive moment now. They're probably being overly cautious.
Louise Palanker (25:32):
I think maybe if you had tagged it with, and of course that Chinese kid will be your favorite, but won't be very good at driving. But we'll get into college <laugh>, you know, if you had just tagged it, like to make it like you go, okay, let's really make it offensive.
Don McMillan (25:46):
<laugh>. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>.
Louise Palanker (25:47):
Let, let's just swing for bleachers.
Don McMillan (25:48):
Don't bitter patter. Go over the line all the way. Come on.
Louise Palanker (25:52):
Don McMillan (25:52):
Uh, another one of my jokes. Yeah. In fact, I think Fritz, did you send this to me? The one that said, called me a dark comic? Did you send me that one? No. Oh, another one of my statistics jokes was, uh, 44% of marriages end a divorce. And that sent So scary. Right. 44 go do, we have a 44%. Think of the other side. If 44% of marriages end divorce, 56% of marriages end in death. <laugh>. Now it's just this silly little joke. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. There's one guy wrote this huge article about how oh, Don McMillan goes to the dark side talking about how marriage is death. I'm like, that's not what I said.
Fritz Coleman (26:25):
I think some of the, I think that that's the funniest part of your act, your headline act is when you talk about your relationship with your wife, but you boil it down to science and physics and you've got charts and graphs and it's hysterical. You're talking about the same thing that everybody feels in their lives. You just make, you make it mathematical, which is just
Don McMillan (26:44):
Three. That's right. I try to, I try to model it in, in, in a way that engineers, uh, would and break it down. Right. If you break it down, you can figure out a solution. And so far, when it comes to relationships, it seems unsolvable to me. Can I just say that right now? It's,
Louise Palanker (26:56):
Well, sometimes the graphic, there's no solution. The graphic will just make you laugh out loud. Like, you know where you're going. Like, I walk into the mall, I buy my cargo shorts, I walk back out. But then as soon as you pop on the screen, your wife's the trajectory of your wife. I just laughed out loud. Yeah. Because she went into every store and you just, it's like the scribble of it makes you
Don McMillan (27:14):
Laugh. That's how she does it.
Fritz Coleman (27:15):
And I think that the humor comes from the fact that he sat and thought out this trajectory, honestly.
Don McMillan (27:21):
Fritz Coleman (27:23):
Louise Palanker (27:23):
Great. So I, I have a, um, a technology problem that happened to me last night and I was thinking like, what was that? You know, cuz you have, you know, you're college trained. I thought maybe you could help, not, not me, but like the whole smoke detector industry. You know, maybe come up with some, some solutions that would save lives. Not, not because I was going to die in a fire, but be because I was gonna throw myself out a window <laugh> if the beeping didn't stop. Okay. So I, I
Don McMillan (27:50):
Louise Palanker (27:50):
This problem. Yeah. So last night I come home to the ear piercing tones of a beeping. I change the batteries and all of my smoke detectors still with the beeping. I tend to remove the smoke detectors from the walls. The beeping continues plaster crashes down on me as I shock myself desperately cutting wires to fully disconnect the smoke detectors. Oh, the beeping tauts me still emanating it seems from inside my walls. It's midnight. I'm frantically calling 24 hour electricians. The incessant beeping has lowered my IQ to around 40 <laugh>. And I'm screaming to try and drown it out. But then the screaming is interrupted by the crying and the sobbing. But there was a moment within the madness that I moved an ottoman to look at the carbon monoxide detector that was plugged into an outlet there. This was the offender. I changed the backup battery and put an end to the horror. The beeping of these devices is so damn loud that you are unable to discern from where the sound is emanating. We're just frantic fools stumbling around with Kleenex stuffed in our ear. Is there not a technologically superior way to alert me that I need to change a battery?
Don McMillan (28:56):
I have two things to say about this. Okay. One is, I have a great story about it. And two is I literally just came up with a solution. Literally just now. As you were telling the story, I went, I know how to fix this <laugh>. I'll tell you how to fix it. I'll tell you how
Louise Palanker (29:10):
To fix it. Okay.
Don McMillan (29:12):
Make each detector in your house have a different sound. Ring
Fritz Coleman (29:19):
Tone. Yeah. Like a ring tone.
Don McMillan (29:20):
Fritz Coleman (29:22):
What the walking cat when
Don McMillan (29:23):
Goes off, you go, oh, that's that one. Or that's that one. In fact, today chips are so cheap. You could actually say number one. Number one. And you know, that's number one. Number two. Number two, you can, this is an easy fix. I can't believe they haven't fixed it.
Louise Palanker (29:37):
Me too. I can't believe. And so the other thing is like, if you're in the hospital, hospital and one of the fluids is, is has, you know, dripped itself out, it starts dinging next to your bed. Why is it, I don't know how to change this bag. Why is it not dinging at the nurse's station? So with the smoke detector, I think that when the battery's low, my electrician should receive the alert <laugh> and then schedule an appointment. I, this doesn't have to be my business. I don't have to sit through this. Hell, why isn't there someone I could hire that would please, uh,
Don McMillan (30:08):
I wouldn't tell you the smoke detector story. I don't know if this is that funny, but it's absolutely true. So my parents are lived in New Jersey and I used to go visit 'em all the time and I'd go visit 'em and I, I'm sitting in their kitchen and I hear this cricket and I go, well what's with the cricket? They go, it's somewhere in the living room. It's been there for like six months. We don't know who it, where it is. We looked all over for it. Wow.
I go in, I move, we move all the furniture. All the furniture. We move around. We can't find this stupid cricket, which only chirps every couple of minutes. Finally, I'm like, the third time I've visited 'em and this cricket's driving me crazy. I lift up a pile of stuff when they're, they're, uh, tell you and there's a smoke detector in there. And I go, it's not a cricket, it's smoke detector <laugh>. Wow. And my dad just about destroyed the smoke. Just, he took it and he was just like holding it. And bacon. That's a true story. They
Louise Palanker (30:57):
Just, they're, they're so enraging and they're trying to keep you alive, but they're shaving years off. You're
Fritz Coleman (31:02):
Really alive. They wake you
Louise Palanker (31:03):
Up as you know, with the aggravate. Yeah. And this was at midnight, you guys. I get back to my, I'm, I'm calling 24 hour, you know, electricians. I'm like, I've got my husband on the phone. I'm crying. You know, because it really, it just gets inside your head. It makes you, for me anyway, like that's a trigger that makes me lose my mind. It's so See
Don McMillan (31:21):
That's a good one. I might have to do a smoke detector joke now cause I love stuff that we all can relate to like that.
Louise Palanker (31:26):
Yeah. And that is solvable. But they're like, yeah. You know, <laugh> the number of people. This is saved from a fire for overlapping with the number of people that have bashed their head through a wall, you know, to make the sound stuff.
Fritz Coleman (31:38):
Don McMillan (31:38):
Think now you're thinking like you thinking like me now, <laugh>,
Fritz Coleman (31:41):
When we worked in Oxnard, you, you made a really wonderful comment, which I think is the healthiest attitude about your talent. And you said, I don't necessarily want to be a star. I just love to work. Yeah. And I just thought that was, uh, so many people would become stars if they would just take that attitude and become a star. It's organic and it naturally happens.
Don McMillan (32:05):
So Yeah. I i I don't know how I, I don't know how people, I, I think that's why you have so many stars that get messed up when they get fame because they're not doing it cuz they like it. They, they're doing it to become famous. Then when you get it, then what do you do? You know, it's just kind of hollow at that point. Mm-hmm.
Louise Palanker (32:20):
<affirmative>. Right? I mean, do you have to love the craft of it? It's really clear that you love the craft of it because Oh yeah. You got to like, you know, create these cool graphics that everybody's relating to and seeing their own lives in a new, fresh way. You
Don McMillan (32:35):
Know, Hey, I heard a great interview with Seinfeld once and I, I think, uh, not that I com comparing myself to Seinfeld, but, uh, he, he was saying that his, he's hard to be married to because he's just constantly writing jokes. You know, cuz if you think about his in the minutiae of life, but I, I kind him that way. It's just the way my brain works. I just, when I see things, I immediately think there's gotta be a better way to do that. There's a different way to do that. I just, it's the way my brain works. It's, I just managed to, to market my, uh, my brain function. That's all I did. Really. That's so
Fritz Coleman (33:02):
Cool. I love that. You have to be a disciplined writer too. Your disciplined Seinfeld is the world's most disciplined writer. He writes a couple hours every day. Yeah. So they're, yeah.
Don McMillan (33:10):
No, and I, I'm not like him in that respect, but I am constantly writing and, and uh, you know, I, every I think corporates keep me short cuz when I do a corporate show, I customize so much. I'm writing jokes for every corporate I do. And I've written some great jokes that nobody outside like the, uh, <laugh> the, the power washer industry would ever get, you know, <laugh> Hey
Speaker 4 (33:28):
Don McMillan (33:30):
But did, but, uh, that's why I had to share with you that I airline joke. It's actually one a lot of people would get. But that's a good joke. I love that. Yeah. I thought, I, I I love it when I can. Yeah. When I can bring, you know what it really is, Fritz, and you understand this as a comic and, and you too, uh, for that matter, Louise mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But if you can, we've, we've seen so many comics through the year. Sometime you can take a premise that they have and apply it in a new area. And it's, I don't think that's, that's not stealing. It's, it's reapplying a thought and then coming up with a new joke. You know, it's, it's not, you know, it and I do that all the time. It that that's kind of what that $40 extra thing, you know, for the fork is it's mm-hmm. <affirmative>. It's not a really unique idea, but it's never been applied there before. Exactly.
Fritz Coleman (34:09):
Which makes you happier. A small, intimate venue or 10,000 people in a convention center.
Don McMillan (34:16):
Do you know what a great little crowd is? Better than anything, I think because I,
Fritz Coleman (34:21):
You feel like you're making an emotional connection to
Don McMillan (34:23):
Them. Oh, and I like talking to 'em. I can't talk to 10,000 people. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, I, I love you didn't know me in my early days of comedy Fritz, but before I did PowerPoint, which was a long time, 10, 10, 12 years. I would talk to the crowd a lot and, uh, I wasn't Jimmy Brogan, but, uh, I would <laugh> I would talk to the crowd a lot. And I love to come up with bits off the, the fly. I did this, I still remember this one bit. There was a guy in Rooster Chief Feathers. I asked him what he did for a living in a very, very Jimmy Brogan like, and he said he's a garage door estimator. And I swear I did 10 minutes on that. I just went, how hard is that? Your car is this wide <laugh>, the garage door needs to be this wide
And then I just, I, it just went on and on and on and I, it, it, it really was my writing process on live. And that's the best. It's the best.
Fritz Coleman (35:09):
Do you? Yeah. It's like hang gliding naked. That's what I've heard.
Don McMillan (35:13):
Oh yeah. And nobody wants to see that.
Fritz Coleman (35:15):
No. Uh, and and so you like the smaller venues? Well, that's basically where I've worked with you clubs and small and medium size theaters and it works out beautifully.
Don McMillan (35:27):
Yeah. And we do a lot, you know, Fritz does so many, uh, charity stuff and fundraising stuff, and they're the best crowd. They're just appreciative. They're clearly have good hearts. They're there, there to raise money. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And they're smart. Uh, I, it, those are the, the funnest crowds for me. And
Fritz Coleman (35:42):
How did the PowerPoint presentation, uh, uh, uh, arrive? You started as a straight standard?
Don McMillan (35:49):
Oh, it, it, there, there's, it was a very distinct moment. I remember it very well. It was 1999. Um, it was January of 1999. I was MCing, uh, a three day sales conference for Mentor Graphics, which is a software company that the VP of sales was an old sales guy used to work with when I was an engineer. His name is Don Mosby. And Don brought me in cuz he knew I was a comic. And I'm just MCing and I'm doing my regular act. And then there's this guy whose name, his first name was Herb, I forget his last name. Did this horribly boring PowerPoint presentation. I mean terribly boring PowerPoint presentation. And I turned to Mosby and I said, Don, can I have his slides? And he goes, well, what are you gonna do? I go, I'm just gonna get up there and rip on how bad that was. And he goes, we want you to do that. We hate his PowerPoints. Go do that. <laugh>. So I put it up there and I wrote some jokes to go with all the slides, like different interpretations and it worked so well. Oh boy. It was like a thing went on in my head. I went, why have I not been doing this all along? And that was the day I remember it very well.
Fritz Coleman (36:50):
Do you do all the art artwork for your own slides? Cuz some of them are very, I do complex pieces of art, artistic, artistic endeavor. I,
Don McMillan (36:57):
I do. And it it, and I can only thank Photoshop for that cuz I have no artistic ability. So you, but I am, I, I got really good at, uh, I probably, in fact somebody from, um, a a, an art studio called me about my PowerPoint once and asked me about how I did some of my slide animations, because I really do use PowerPoint outside the norm. And I go, why do you can do this and this and it, the little hacks that I figured out through the years. So
Louise Palanker (37:19):
PowerPoint plugins. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But u usually comedians get joke ideas from their relatives. You get pie chart ideas from your
Don McMillan (37:26):
Relatives. <laugh>, I do <laugh>. I get people send me charts all the time. It's actually pretty funny. But I love charts. Charts. Our chart is worth a million words. A picture's worth a thousand charts worth a million. That's,
Fritz Coleman (37:37):
Ooh. So I, I wanna talk to you about, um, and this is Inside Baseball. Uh, how your bookings changed after America's Got Talent. Because I've just seen it in a couple of club experiences where you've blown up, you're selling lots of tickets. Has d has, has, has it increased all over the United States? Do you find yourself getting uh,
Don McMillan (37:58):
Well in the two markets I care most about the corporate market is, is insane right now. I I I have, I think I have 20 corporates in December between Christmas parties and other stuff. It's just insane. Um, and I definitely tapped a nerve. The cor the, the, the, the corporate people. Uh, they must have family that watches America's Got Talent cuz Comp Industries I'd never heard of. Like I'd always been pretty big in in, in the tech industry. Dells the Apples, they have all hired me many times through the years. But now I'm doing all kinds of industries. I'm doing a, a trucking company. I'm doing a a a a boat and it's just every industry can imagine cuz they need clean comedy. So that's going through the roof. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And then, um, comedy clubs, uh, you know, I've been doing a lot of shows around the country and uh, my, I have an agent, one of the things I got through this was an agent.
Cause I needed help booking all this stuff. And he has worked with other comics similar to me. And what they found is that rather than go in and do a weekend, we come in and do an off night and just do one night and then I can sell out the place and I can really see the draw that America's Got Talent is bringing cuz it's just one night and just me. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And it's, we've been close to selling out almost everywhere. I've gone to, I go to Raleigh this weekend and I think we're close to sold out there. Uh, I'm there on Sunday and that's like the research triangle. So I, I figured I'd do well there, but it's, uh, it was way better than I thought. I mean, it's just, the reach has been amazing. Way more than I thought it would be.
Louise Palanker (39:22):
Well, I think your presentation lends itself so perfectly to corporate. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> and, you know, you can tailor your act and then everyone's relating to what they usually are doing when they're together, which is looking at something on a screen and listening to someone talk, but you're mocking it. So the laughter can be explosive because it's just, it's so close to home. But they're sharing it with one another. They've, they've shared Yeah. They're looking at each other like Yeah. Just like the, you know, that last meeting we were at, like they're, they've shared these ex work experiences and now they're sharing you. Yeah. And it's so relatable.
Don McMillan (39:53):
And, and, and PowerPoint has set the bar really low in terms of not being funny <laugh>. So the fact that I'm funny at all is good.
Louise Palanker (40:01):
Yeah. That, that is
Don McMillan (40:02):
Has, it's been great.
Louise Palanker (40:03):
Have you offended anybody important at any of these events that's come up to you afterwards and not been pleased,
Don McMillan (40:10):
Offended? Oh, I have to think about this for a second. Tell the story that you, I'll tell you this, I'll tell you this story. This is my favorite story about political correct <laugh> correctness because this is so IBM m I'm even gonna tell you who it is. It's IBM because this is so ibm, uh, I did this thing called, uh, golden Circle. It's the top performers for B salespeople and it's in Hawaii. They take 'em there for Hawaii for five days. And it's huge event. Very important. But IBM, I happen to know, cuz I worked for them for many years. It's very controlling, you know, they want, so I had to go through my whole act, you know, I had to script it out. So I'm, they approved it all. I'm going through the rehearsal. Cause we gotta rehearse it right before we present it to the people.
I tell a joke now I'm in Hawaii and I tell this joke and I go, uh, and I'm just talking about all the activities they're gonna do. I wrote jokes about their activities and I go, yeah, and go to Lou Al. Just be careful about the Poy. There's a reason why they call it Poy. Cuz when you eat it, you'll go Poy, POY boy. I mean, stupid little joke. Okay? The minute I tell this joke, I see eight heads gather in like a huddle and they go, hold on. I see a hand go up and go, hold on. And there's this talk for like two minutes. And finally they break. And the one guy, the head person comes up and he goes, uh, we don't want you to do the poy joke. And I went, okay. I, well, why? Well, I'm just curious. Why not? They go, well it's a, it's a sacred route here in, in Hawaii. We don't wanna insult the native Hawaiians. So drop the Poy joke. So <laugh> wow. That's the kind of thing that happens. You
Fritz Coleman (41:41):
Told me another circumstance kind of like that, where this woman, you had to run everything by her in human resources. And it was a whole series of jokes that Oh yeah. That you tell. Do you remember that specific one
Don McMillan (41:51):
Where I don't, this just happened like four or five months ago. Yeah. In fact, I wanna do a bit about it on stage just and see if people can guess what the problem is. Um, this, you know, it's so interesting when somebody calls you out on political correctness and then you see where they're coming from. Do you know what I'm saying? It's like you can see their issues. So I have a bunch of jokes. I I'll give you the best example that I can and I had a great argument that I didn't share with her, but I'll share it with you guys. So I do a thing where I take the terminology in any industry and I, I write jokes, uh, like voice recognition. That's what you rely on after you called somebody and forgot who you were calling. You know, that's what you're like, hello? Could you talk some more? That's the stupid jokes like that <laugh>.
Louise Palanker (42:31):
Don McMillan (42:32):
And then I, my ID is once I attach jokes to your terminology, next time you hear that, that, that term, you'll be talking to a colleague and you'll think of my joke and go, huh. And you'll laugh next week or whatever. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So one of the jokes I do is pop three, which is an email setting, right. Pop three. And the joke is, that's your mom third's, your mom's third husband <laugh> Pop three, pop three, your mom's third. Stupid little joke. Right? Not a, I would've got rid of it in a second actually, but I said, why do you want me to get rid of that joke? She goes, well, it in, it implies divorce and we don't want to talk about divorce.
Louise Palanker (43:01):
Don McMillan (43:02):
Wow. And I thought, yeah, exactly. Wow. Thank you. Thank
Fritz Coleman (43:05):
You. Was big enough to stay there and take that.
Louise Palanker (43:07):
I think it struck a nerve with one individual person, like, well,
Don McMillan (43:10):
Yeah, I know exactly whoever that person was, had an issue with divorce and thought that it might offend some. I, I don't even, I'm not even sure why, but the, the fact that we all de I mean, I don't know anybody who hasn't had divorce in their family or their friends or the, I mean, what we can't talk about divorce anyway or
Louise Palanker (43:28):
Being, oh my point
Don McMillan (43:29):
Being a widow should have been to her was what makes you this really, I think this really tells you a lot. I said, what makes you think that's a divorce joke? Maybe the first two husbands died.
Louise Palanker (43:39):
<laugh>, maybe she killed them.
Don McMillan (43:41):
There's nothing that says divorce in that joke.
Fritz Coleman (43:44):
Oh, that's very interesting.
Don McMillan (43:45):
Isn't that interesting? When I, and when I thought of that, I went, you're listening with your subjectivity. Right? You're not hearing what I'm saying. You're hearing what you want to hear. And that was the best example of that kind of thing.
Louise Palanker (43:58):
Yeah. And I think we all do that. We all, oh yeah. Listen with our, with our own experiential information. But a lot of people try to then, you know, so you'll have your immediate reaction, but then you'll try to broaden it and imagine how other people are hearing the same thing. Some people aren't able to do that. They just
Don McMillan (44:19):
Louise Palanker (44:19):
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah. Go ahead.
Don McMillan (44:21):
No, I was gonna say, I do an Alzheimer's joke and I, I had my mother-in-law, I watched her eight years go down, uh, the, the Alzheimer's path to just horrible experience.
Louise Palanker (44:32):
Don McMillan (44:33):
But when I hear somebody telling Alzheimer's joke, I don't think they shouldn't be telling that joke. What I think is, well that's actually kind of funny actually, cuz if, if you have had anybody with Alzheimer's, you, if you don't laugh through some of it, you, you're just gonna cry constantly. So mm-hmm. <affirmative>, you need to be able to laugh in times of despair. So that's one thing. Second thing is just because it's upsetting to me doesn't mean it, it's upsetting to somebody else. I'm not gonna impose my, my, my issues on somebody else, but people do it all the time. It's just amazing. It's
Louise Palanker (45:03):
Just like, I, I did a joke once, I don't think it stayed in my act, but I did a joke about, uh, my grandmother, like finding out later that my, the reason my grandmother had such a flat personality was that she had received El electroshock or
Don McMillan (45:16):
Louise Palanker (45:17):
Uh, you know, during the forties when they thought that would be a better idea than depression. And I, I don't know what the joke was, but like someone came up to me and said, you know, I don't think that's funny. Uh, you know, my so-and-so had electroshock and I'm thinking I just told you about my grandmother having it. And I was okay enough with <laugh> to turn it into a joke. So like, well, I was so offensive to you when like, no one's saying that, you know, you, we shouldn't have compassion for those who are, who are struggling. But yeah, sometimes if, if something does hit home for someone, they feel like they have the ownership to walk up to you and tell you. I
Fritz Coleman (45:50):
Know. It's also the time we're in everybody, that, that's part of the divide is everybody wants to legislate everybody else's morality. That's exactly where we are politically and spiritually and everything.
Louise Palanker (46:00):
Well, we had Kathy Laman was on, and she said that on a, on a, on a cruise ship, very recently, one person complained about one joke and they told her to, uh, for the rest of the cruise not to do her act again, even though it was scheduled. And I said, what gives one person on a cruise ship veto power over your act? And it was, you know,
Fritz Coleman (46:21):
I've heard that from other people too. If they get one complaint about you, it's over. Which is ridiculous. Comedy's very subjective anyway, you know, and why'd you hire me? You know?
Louise Palanker (46:33):
Don McMillan (46:33):
So yeah. It, it's, it's, it's, it's silly. Uh, it, it just, uh, it, it's, I think it's, it's based in the litigious nature of our society. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Oh, they're afraid they're gonna, somebody's gonna sue or something, and then they don't want that. So they'd rather shut it down. It's just, it's
Louise Palanker (46:48):
Stupid. It's, you know what? I think it is more than that, even Don Yelp. But it's Yelp
Fritz Coleman (46:53):
Louise Palanker (46:54):
Because everyone has a voice on the internet and one bad Yelp review brings down your rating. So they're really afraid of like Twitter and you know what you're gonna say online. I think that's more frightening Yeah. Than, than a lawsuit.
Fritz Coleman (47:05):
Did you start comedy in the Bay Area?
Don McMillan (47:08):
I did. Yeah. I, I worked, I was working in San Jose at a startup company, and, uh, I started, uh, open mics around San Jose and then went up to San Francisco. I did the other cafe with, I remember one night, I think it was my third or fourth night on stage, they bumped me because Paula Poundstone came in and did 30 minutes in front of me. And I went up and con proceeded to eat, eat it for, uh, like five minutes. Uh, yeah, that's
Fritz Coleman (47:31):
Don McMillan (47:32):
So, yeah, boy. But when you're an open micr and that happens, you're
Louise Palanker (47:35):
Like, oh yeah, it
Don McMillan (47:36):
Kills you. Oh my God. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. It was horrible. I was like, maybe I should give this up. Like, that's Paul Poundstone come.
Fritz Coleman (47:41):
I know, I know, I know. I'm here to provide a contrast to the talented person that just, uh,
Don McMillan (47:46):
Fritz Coleman (47:46):
I, that's happened to me. Uh, the Notorious Time hog was Byron Allen, who would come into the Laugh Factory and wanna do a guest set and go on for 45 minutes and just screw the rest of the lineup
Louise Palanker (47:58):
Completely. No, they would call it, they would like proudly, like Damon Waynes is a champion at this too. They call it walking the room. They'd do it on purpose. Oh yeah. They just wanna be up there messing around. Maybe they'll come up with a joke while everyone's kind of like, entranced that they're looking at Damon Waynes until they're yawning. And then they, they walk. But like, if your name is on the lineup after one of these guys walk in, and I've actually heard them telling young comics, oh yeah, one day you're gonna be able to walk the room. And like, people going, why would I, you know, my act is supposed to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. I'm supposed to end on my best joke. Like, why would I wanna do, it's like a power trip. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, it felt like a power trip to me. Mm-hmm.
Don McMillan (48:33):
<affirmative>. Yeah. No, I think it is. Yeah.
Louise Palanker (48:36):
Yeah. So what, what are you working on now? You're just kind of like, uh, when you go places, are people unmasked? Are people like happy to be back together? Do people think that, that the pandemic is over? How are people out there sort of like enjoying comedy right now?
Don McMillan (48:51):
I, I'll tell you, just in the last two months, I, I, I didn't, don't even know there is a pandemic mm-hmm. <affirmative>, uh, it, it, it's just, I don't see anybody wearing masks. I was in Nashville, Huntsville, Tacoma temp. Nobody's wearing masks. It, the clubs are, are, I'm getting, you know, full crowds. It's, it doesn't seem like anything's different. Even airports. Airports are pretty crazy right now. So
Fritz Coleman (49:14):
During the pandemic, were you doing Zoom shows?
Don McMillan (49:16):
Oh, I did so many Zoom shows. I am, well, you know, my setup, that's why I set up the, uh, the, the, the periodic chart in my That's a, that, that thing over there is a tardis. If you're a Doctor who fan <laugh>.
Louise Palanker (49:27):
Oh, okay. Which
Don McMillan (49:28):
Stands for a time and relative, uh, dimensions in space. It's a time machine and it doesn't really work. Cuz I wouldn't be here. If it would, I'd be somewhere in like 1989.
Fritz Coleman (49:36):
I did a couple, and to me it was the most gut-wrenching experience you could experience. Well,
Don McMillan (49:41):
You gotta, you gotta unmute the crowd. You gotta un unmute
Louise Palanker (49:43):
The crowd and, and do and do screen share. Like I'm sure Don does to show his PowerPoints. Right? Well,
Don McMillan (49:47):
Yeah, yeah. No, that's what I do. I do, I do. I can split my screen and I basically do a two man show with my face and my PowerPoint. That, that helps a lot for me.
Louise Palanker (49:56):
Oh yeah. That's cool.
Don McMillan (49:57):
Yeah, no, in fact, uh, I I could probably show you. Well no, you, we can't see we're on the podcast, but, uh, it's, it's pretty cool little software package. I'm glad I invested in because my act better than most comics works on pa works on Zoom. In fact, I'm still doing, I'm doing two Zoom shows the first week of December. This is really interesting too. I am doing shows around the world now, thanks to Zoom. I'm doing one for India on December 5th. I gotta do it at 3:00 AM cuz it's at noon Indian Standard time. Oh no, it's 1230. They're a a half an hour off. That's right. In Mumbai. I have no idea how they got a half an hour off, but, Hmm.
Louise Palanker (50:31):
Has to do with the rotation. There's probably a chart that explains this.
Don McMillan (50:35):
I gotta work on that. I'm gonna explain it at that
Louise Palanker (50:37):
Show. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, definitely. I think that would be huge. So you see
Don McMillan (50:41):
A show for South a South Africa, I mean there's nerds everywhere and uh, oh yeah, I've reached a whole new audience thanks to, to, uh, to Covid. So
Louise Palanker (50:51):
That's, so I call those covid blessings or pandemic blessings. Where you
Don McMillan (50:55):
Well my wife, my wife actually will tell you. She goes and she tells my family, I hear her on the phone going, Don McMillan is the only one who thrived during Covid <laugh>.
Louise Palanker (51:05):
Don McMillan (51:05):
He was, he was already used to social distancing cuz he was an engineer. You went, it was
Louise Palanker (51:09):
Very comfortable with him. It was you and the ring light people,
Don McMillan (51:13):
Louise Palanker (51:13):
Don McMillan (51:14):
Done huge. I did more, more Zoom shows. I was busy. I was, uh, I I wouldn't say I made a lot of money, but, uh, I was busy. I stayed busy.
Louise Palanker (51:22):
But you seem like the guy that they would create a sitcom around cuz you have such a distinct or specific character.
Don McMillan (51:29):
Yeah. Where were you 30 years ago when I moved to La <laugh> mm-hmm. <affirmative>. I, I, I got lucky enough to pitch to, uh, CBS and N B NBC and those guys when I, when I first came, but I didn't have the PowerPoint then. I didn't have as defined a character then. So I think that's really what, it just took me a little while to figure it out. And once I figured it out, I think if I were 30 right now, I could probably sell a show. But since I'm 60, you
Fritz Coleman (51:51):
Would've been a great physics teacher on the Big Bang Theory or something. Uh,
Don McMillan (51:55):
You know, I and Bill Prey to you, one of the executive producers and I pitched a show the year before he sold, uh, uh, big Bang that was basically about, I called it Think Tank. It was about a bunch of engineers who sat around at work trying to solve relationship problems with their relationship problems using their think tank theories. Oh,
Louise Palanker (52:13):
That's so cool. And,
Don McMillan (52:14):
Um, Chuck Lori came in the next year and worked with Bill and said, nah, no, you gotta make it younger and put more sex in there and it's sold. And it became the Big Bang Theory. Holy. Um, but I always thought maybe Bill would call me and, and, and make me with like, what made me, uh, you know, Sheldon's Sheldon's physics teacher and mentor or something Never happened. Absolutely. Never happens.
Louise Palanker (52:33):
All right. So where, where can people find you and, uh, how do people catch? I'm
Don McMillan (52:38):
Right here. Uh,
Fritz Coleman (52:40):
Check. Please check out his YouTube videos. They are very, very entertaining. Yeah. America's number one nerdy comedian.
Louise Palanker (52:49):
Technically funny. And that's your website and there's lots to find on there. Plus you've got a really cool YouTube channel.
Don McMillan (52:55):
Yep. I've got a lot of subscribers on my YouTube and my Instagram has taken off since America's Got Talent. America's Got Talent is really into Instagram. And uh, I've got like 20, 30 million views on some of my Instagram, uh, uh, stuff.
Louise Palanker (53:07):
Yeah. So we'll, we'll find you there and we'll a add all these links on our show notes. And, uh, we just wanna thank you so much for joining us. I'm gonna now read our closing credits.
Fritz Coleman (53:17):
I'm so glad I'm enjoying watching you surf this wave, my friend. Congratulations.
Don McMillan (53:22):
Oh, well thank you. It's, you know, I always love working with you
Fritz Coleman (53:24):
Fred, so it's, I appreciate, appreciate it. Well, we'll do it again. Would you invite me to open for you for $13 at the Ox Star Liberty Live <laugh>,
Louise Palanker (53:32):
Thank you so much for joining us. We would love to continue this conversation with you on Instagram and Twitter where we are at Media Path Pod and on Facebook where our show page's Media Path podcast and our Facebook group is Media Path with Fritz and Wheezy podcast community. You can find full video podcast episodes loaded with bonus visual content on our YouTube channel Media Path podcast. You can write to us at media path podcast gmail.com. And if you enjoy the show, please give us a nice rating on Apple Podcast and talk about us nicely on social media. You can sign up for our fun and dishy email@example.com and we wanna thank our wonderful guest, Don McMillan. Our team includes Dean of Friedman, John Maddox, Sharon Beo, bill phc, Thomas Hubble, Mason Brown, Garrett Arch, and you. Our theme music is by me and John Maddox. I am Louise Lanker here with Fritz Coleman. Be well and be wise and we will see you along the media path.
Fritz Coleman (54:26):
That was awesome. It was just awesome. Oh, that's fun. Hello? We gotta, I listen to that applause. See that? Oh my God, the house is, it's 2,500 people right there. So stay right there. We're gonna take a picture of ourselves in front.