"The cavalry isn't coming. You are the cavalry. Which is what I tell myself in moments where things aren't working." - Ben Morrison
Paul Vato sits down (not on the toilet) and chats with comedian Ben Morrison. Ben has been doing stand up comedy for over 20 years and has discovered the importance of social media to help him land branding deals with major companies. Ben can also fully produce your next stand up comedy special for Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and all of the other streaming services. Paul and Ben also chat about what it was like studying with William H. Macey and David Mamet at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts and his connection to Mark Cuban, the owner of Fireside, where this podcast is recorded in front of a live studio audience.
In this episode you will learn:
1. The importance of using all social media to promote your brand.
2. The major differences and nuances of TikTok, Instagram and YouTube.
3. How Ben turned his disease into a money making business venture.
"The cavalry isn't coming. You are the cavalry. Which is what I tell myself in moments where things aren't working." - Ben Morrison
Ben Morrison is a Los Angeles based actor, writer, comedian and filmmaker. Acting since he was 6 years old, Ben is a graduate of NYU’s TISCH School of the arts where he trained under William H. Macy and David Mamet, and added stand-up comedian to his resume shortly thereafter. It’s been a blur ever since.
A staple of LA area comedy clubs, Ben is a regular at the Improv and Laugh Factory, and most recently wrote and acted in The Telethon for America, a star-studded get-out-the-vote comedy special with Chelsea Handler, Charlize Theron, Natalie Portman and many more.
On camera, Ben is best known for his recurring role as Young Eli David on NCIS, as the lead on a season of MTV’s Punk’d, starring in a season of Mr. Personalities for Marc Cuban’s HDNet, or guest-starring opposite Jon Lovitz and Bill Bellamy on Mr. Box Office.
Additionally, Ben has been seen as a lead in feature films Ouija Exorcism, From the Dead, and FOX’s 30 Nights of Paranormal Activity where he played an eerily good Abe Lincoln.
Paul Vato is an on camera and voice actor, improvisor, podcaster and entrepreneur.
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Paul Vato: [00:00:00] Welcome ladies and gentlemen, to Paul Vato Presents my guest today is Ben Morrison, actor, writer, comedian. Yes, round of applause for Mr. Ben Morrison. Thank you guys so much for being here and welcome to another episode of Paul Vato Presents. Ben, welcome, buddy. How are you doing today?
Ben Morrison: I'm good. It has been a very fun day. I'm launching my first paid partnership video campaign. But I've had problems with the Instagram app, so I'm chatting with meta support right now, trying to get this launched. So it's been a real, like making your way in the world today in 2022 kind of day.
Paul Vato: I hear you. It's all about tech and new platforms. So thank you for joining us on Fireside, which is owned by Mark Cuban, started by Fallon Fatemi. So thank you so much for joining us.
Ben Morrison: Oh, this is a Cuban app. That's why you asked me about the HDNet show.
Paul Vato: I did, I saw connection there and if you don't mind, I'd love to talk about that. I know that you've worked [00:01:00] somehow with Mark Cuban or at least on one of his projects.
Ben Morrison: Kinda. I did a pilot that he picked up and then we shot a series, but it didn't wind up airing because it was when HDNet became AXS TV. We had made a comedy series for HDNet, but then in that process, the format change to live music and concert and ticketing. So it never saw the light a day, some of the best work I've ever done. I still believe.
Paul Vato: Do you have access to that? Could you, "AXS", sorry.
Ben Morrison: There's one sketch online that's just insane. The premise of the show was that I was pretending to be hosting all these different reality shows. So we'd go and do all this crazy shit, as if we were shooting some outlandish reality show. We did some insane stuff. And the one clip, let me see if it's still online, it has to be, that is online now is we taped a live infomercial, invited a real audience for a live infomercial taping of a Yayo Energy Powder.[00:02:00]
Paul Vato: Okay. I think everyone knows what Yayo is.
Ben Morrison: Yeah, there it is. It's online. This thing is cray-zay. I'm gonna send it to you in Instagram chat.
Paul Vato: Perfect. Yayo Energy Powder. Now, did people think that it was a real infomercial or did people get that it was a sketch?
Ben Morrison: I think for most of it, they actually thought it was a real infomercial cause we didn't let on, but it gets so wild at the end a lot of them had to be like, okay. For the duration of the bit they were on board and they were on board until the end, the sketches. It's hilarious and it's pretty over the top.
Paul Vato: Oh my God. I definitely have to check it out. That's too bad that there was that switch from HD to over to AXS you said?
Ben Morrison: I got my revenge. I later won the Cabo Comedy Festival, which got me a spot on Gotham Live, airing on AXS TV, I made it on there.
Paul Vato: Tell me a little bit more about that. Are we talking Cabo San Lucas? Cabo, Mexico?
Ben Morrison: I think it was the last year they did the Cabo Comedy Festival, and that was fun, where they just fly like 40 comics down from LA [00:03:00] and we just run around Cabo doing shows and yeah, there was a comedy competition section and I won that and the prize for winning was a spot on Gotham Comedy Live on AXS. I also got lucky that my tape day it was being hosted by Michael Che. So he's the one that brought me up and, got a great intro from him and the spot was awesome. Yeah, that was a while ago, maybe like six, seven years ago, I think.
Paul Vato: How long have you been doing standup up?
Ben Morrison: I just passed my 22 year anniversary.
Paul Vato: Did you start when you were like five or six, buddy? What's going on?
Ben Morrison: I'm 43, man. I know you don't believe it, I started when I was 20 years old. I had been acting my whole life, since I was a little kid, that's all I ever did or thought I would do and I was halfway through intense theater training at New York University, when I got really hammered one night and blacked out and apparently I booked a standup comedy gig and that's how it all began.
Paul Vato: How did you find out you booked it were your friends like, Hey, you've got [00:04:00] this thing or you actually went up there in a blackout state and did it?
Ben Morrison: No. I was conscious when I did it. As far as the booking goes, I have no memory of it. I woke up the next morning. I was like, what happened? They were like, I don't know, man, but you got a show on Sunday. I was like, you have got to stop letting me drink so much. This is outta hand. But at that point I had always fantasized about doing standup. It was like, like my secret obsession. At that point I was like normally people don't start standup cause they don't have the balls to go out and get a show. I'd have to go and get balls to cancel a show. I guess this was the universe doing the hard part for me. I went up, it was a bringer show, Stand Up New York, July 4th weekend, 2000. That's how I know when the anniversary is. You bring eight friends and it was a train wreck, but I fell in love with it immediately just cuz it was so alien to me and I'd been doing like so much theater my whole life that I was definitely like used to being on stage, it was like going to an alien planet and having to perform. I thought I knew all the rules and it turns out I couldn't even breathe the fucking air. And I was like, okay, I'm intrigued. [00:05:00] And so just did stand up when I could, cuz I was still in school. And then I was the class of 9/11, man, like we graduated right before 9/11 and after that there was absolutely zero acting work in New York, and it remained that way for a couple years, cause all the shows stopped shooting, they just didn't wanna pick up production. I looked around and it was a city that needed standup, bad, and I was like, maybe this is a universe telling me to become a comic in New York. So I just went with it and here we are, 22 years later.
Paul Vato: No wonder you make it seem so flawless and you have such a solid set, at least the things that I've seen you do. And I think, of course that's the thing it's, stand ups, make it look so easy that people think, oh, I can do that. But it's not that it's, 22 years of, that whole adage of I'm an overnight success that only took me 22 years. You do make it seem so effortless, I guess is the thing.
Ben Morrison: What's been really cool has been just what has happened this year. The reason that you found me is I started cutting my [00:06:00] comedy clips and I've always been like a big like nerd, look at my setup, man. I love computers and monitors and I edit and I cut.
Paul Vato: Amazing.
Ben Morrison: Seriously, man. Like I've just, I've been outside of the system, my whole career, but I've had a career cuz I've just had to learn how to do everything because I do love learning how to do everything from cutting to producing to editing as well as doing the comedy. And I had all this gear, like I edit and I've, I always just taped my shows. So I have, no joke, 20 years of stand my standup comedy on tape. So I was like, why don't I just start cutting little clips? Cause it seemed like all of the apps were converging into one thing for the first time ever. It started with TikTok doing the vertical videos. Everyone saw insanely addicting that was so Instagram copied TikTok, then YouTube was like, we want some of that short video pile, so they began shorts and I saw all these competing things that you never knew what to focus on becoming one thing and I was like, I can just cut clips. One video goes three separate places and can get three separate [00:07:00] audiences. It's like the best thing I've ever done. I think the reason it's worked so well is because I'm not like a new comic who knows how to edit, so I'm just taping all of my new jokes. I have, 15 years of standup on tape from traveling all over the country and comedy clubs, just doing real jokes that I've been grinding on for years and just getting them online. I think when people look at my feed and start watching the videos, it's not me just fucking around with crowd work. Almost all of my videos are real actual material and not just crowd work. I have this huge archive of footage to draw upon and because I know how to shoot my shows, I can go up and say, okay what joke hasn't been recent or didn't get enough use and I'll just redo the bit on stage and I'll go and cut it and I'll put it up.
Paul Vato: I feel like at first, and please correct me if I'm wrong, you had to almost choose one platform to really dedicate your time to, but now it's, they don't care as far as you using one clip to put it up on TikTok, put it up on YouTube, put it [00:08:00] up on Facebook, all of them. It's nice to be able to shoot something once and repurpose it across all these platforms. I wish somebody would have something that we could just upload once and it would distribute it to all those platforms.
Ben Morrison: Like a Tweet Deck, the way it used to be before, like logging in became so complex. I dig that, but I think, honestly, if you just automate your upload process, it doesn't have to be a long process. It started with TikTok just doing the videos and then I was like Instagram Reels is the same thing, let's just put this on Instagram Reels. What I like is that you can get four different potential bounces from each clip and not just one clip, one social network, which is cool. Uploading one by one. It doesn't take that long if you just cut and paste a description and stuff like that. So it can be done. There are definite advantages to doing it within each app in terms of how the app treats you. I'm just learning all of these things as I'm doing it. That led to the brand sponsorship thing, with the Butt Wipe company, who makes like the best butt wipes I've ever used.
Paul Vato: Are those the only butt wipes you've ever used?
Ben Morrison: Oh no. I've used all the butt wipes. I have a one man show that I've been doing for [00:09:00] 20 years called the Comedians Guide to Crohn's about living with Crohn's disease, the intestinal disorder, the poop disease, which I got diagnosed with senior year of high school. Because of that comedy show about living with intestinal disease and frankly being in the bathroom all the time. I've developed a whole community of people who have Crohn's and Colitis, who just love bathroom humor, and then I just sent out a joke I already had been doing about why did we ever stop using butt wipes, baby wipes, as in the clip. Like at what point we're like, okay, he is not a baby anymore we can no longer wipe his butt with soft premoistend and towelettes just rubs some tree bark on there, like the rest of America. I just sent the joke out and then they saw it cause of visibility online and then restoried it. I hit him up and I was like, hey, I write and direct, I've written and directed branded for years, I'd love to pitch you an idea and they said "yes", and we launched a little commercial I made for them in my bathroom, today. Although not on Instagram, cuz I'm having trouble with Meta support, but they'll figure it out, I [00:10:00] hope. It's really proven to me the whole, there's definitely a big state change with how entertainment is getting distributed online and it's happening so fast no one really knows what the hell is happening. If you can find your niche, just stick to it, as long as your product is slowly getting better, then you'll get a little following and the people that do follow you are like really into what you do, which is awesome.
Paul Vato: That is amazing. Congratulations on that brand deal and that's going across all platforms as well?
Ben Morrison: It's live on TikTok now so people can check it out. My TikTok handle is the same for anything. BenTheMorrison, one word. It's live on TikTok now and it's like a cute little commercial I did while literally sitting on the toilet in a suit, holding these butt wipes. They legit are the best butt wipes I've used, but it's an example of okay, if I can just keep doing this, if people watch the comedy, which allows me to do shows to tape more comedy, to cut for the people, that I can then pay for this whole existence by creating [00:11:00] fucking butt wipe commercials in my bathroom, then that's dope.
Paul Vato: You have to poop anyways, so might as well get paid for it.
Ben Morrison: Oh yeah, definitely, I've always said that. Every time I do and no one's paying me, I can't enjoy it. That's hilarious.
Paul Vato: I know, yeah.
Ben Morrison: Yeah. That's funny. How did you start doing this? Let me interview you, bro.
Paul Vato: Sure. Yeah, man.
Ben Morrison: How'd you get into having your own show?
Paul Vato: It started with COVID and being locked in and my business closing for, three and a half, four months, I'm in the cigar business. I do comedy. I'm an improviser. I've always wanted to do standup. I've always been such a big fan of standup. I've done it a handful of times. Steve Burn was nice enough to bring me up and I did five minutes on New Year's Eve, maybe three, four years ago here in Vegas. So I say I open for him, almost ruined his show. Gary Cannon, let me know that, which is nice.
Ben Morrison: Yeah. Gary Cannon lets everyone know that.
Paul Vato: He does. He does.
Ben Morrison: Are you connected to him on Facebook?
Paul Vato: I am, and I read his comments. Yes.
Ben Morrison: Oh my God. The flame wars between him, Gene Pompa and Josh [00:12:00] Nasar, muah!
Paul Vato: Ha! Yes. That couldn't be described any better than that. Yes. Gary Cannon was in the show. He was the host. Steve Burn was nice enough to let me come up and, like I said, thanks for letting me almost ruin your show. I did five minutes and it was fun, it was a lot of fun. My background is really in improv comedy, sketch and improv. I studied at The Second City and Improv Olympic, but I've always also been a business owner. I started that first. I owned a gourmet ice cream and coffee shop in the Chicagoland area. The acting thing, did shows like MADtv and Cedric The Entertainer Presents, The Sarah Silverman Show. I was on a soap opera, Bold and Beautiful, cuz I'm both.
Ben Morrison: Beautiful. What'd you do on Bold and the Beautiful?
Paul Vato: I was a bad guy. Of course, I'm Latino. Of course, I was a kidnapper. And then met a casino owner who loves cigars and ended up moving to Vegas where I opened up Vato Cigars in Binion's Casino which is downtown, old Vegas. So I was doing that, but then, when COVID came and we were shut down, I got into social audio and I've done radio. I've done radio in Los Angeles on KPFK [00:13:00] with the Pocho Hour of Power.
Ben Morrison: Is the cigar store back up and running?
Paul Vato: It was for a while and then divorce and, and still COVID, it's hard for people to smoke cigars with a mask on.
Ben Morrison: So now you went through a divorce and you got smoked.
Paul Vato: And I got smoked. That's it, that's it. I do everything, pretty much online take care of my customers online and wholesale to other cigar shops. I discovered social audio as far as like Clubhouse, then Twitter spaces, everyone's adding social audio, then this app.
Ben Morrison: Send some cigars to Rogan, man. He loves them. He loves that.
Paul Vato: I've got a great photo when Bert Kreischer was out here doing the Las Vegas Comedy Festival. I have a cigar that's 18 inches long. I gave one to Bert. I'm going to send it to the guys, cuz now all these standups are into smoking cigars, whether it's Rogan or Tom Segura.
Ben Morrison: It's cause of Rogan. They go on Rogan and smoke cigars. So the image of comics talking with cigars, man, has become like ubiquitous. You're gonna clean up.
Paul Vato: Vato Cigars for all my comedian friends. It's like drugs, the first one is free and then after that you gotta [00:14:00] pay. It's like your Yayo.
Ben Morrison: Energy Powder. Yeah. Yeah. The first packet is free. That's hilarious.
Paul Vato: Thank you, man. Thank you for the inspiration and the motivation.
Ben Morrison: Did you find me on Instagram, cause you just saw a reel?
Paul Vato: Yes, but I'm sure that we have a few friends.
Ben Morrison: Yeah. A lot. I saw it. I looked through your, like I said, you've interviewed a bunch of my buddies.
Paul Vato: When I first saw you, it would've been on Instagram and seeing some of your bits, and I was like, oh man this guy's funny. I hope that Ben is willing to come on at least share a little bit. But you're so much more as far as social media, because I always like to tie the importance of social media, especially what's going on right now. So I'm glad that you brought that up right at the top of the show. I think that it's so important for people to create their own stuff. Thank you for bringing that up.
Ben Morrison: Speaking of social, have you seen the new Instagram redesign it hasn't gone live for everyone.
Paul Vato: I belong to a few groups, especially like from the Clubhouse groups, and they were talking about it. And they've been hitting me up, cause I'm monetized on there. So they've been hitting me up to throw up some Reels, what's the difference, what have they done?
Ben Morrison: It's a big difference. It's TikTok, like [00:15:00] they've removed what was the kind of signature experience of Instagram of just slowly scrolling through reels and posts and videos, that's gone. Now, every post is a full page post that you flick up like TikTok. So a photo post is just a square photo and the captions are down there and you can click on the comments. It does give you more room to actually see the discussion. Kinda. But that's laid over the photo. It's TikTok. They just basically took photo and video and just it's TikTok or YouTube Short. So it's the same format that everyone's moving to, which only further reinforces the fact if you have something you wanna get out there, just start cutting sub 30 second vertical videos and just uploading at least four times during the week to all of these networks and you'll get your following.
Paul Vato: Do you think that's about the magic number or that's the minimum? I've heard is four or five times a day, like for TikTok.
Ben Morrison: It's different for me because I don't go for volume. I'll try to upload one every weekday, maybe [00:16:00]four during the work week. I'm just not gonna do this during the weekend. I don't go for, hey, I'm here's a real, I'm at the store. Hey, here's a real, I'm home. Like every video I upload is a cut, edited comedy piece that I've thought about. Cuz I do all the editing. I do all the captioning. I put time into these because when someone finds one and then they go to my page, it's nothing but curated comedy bits and there's no bullshit they need to wade through to get to why they saw me in the first place. So the effect I wanted to have, which seems to be working with like slow, steady growth is that you see a clip you're like, who is this guy? Click. And then you just start flipping, and every thing is an edited cut comedy piece that I thought you would like, and at this point there's so many of them you'll be watching a lot of standup.
Paul Vato: It works, one you're like, oh, this is funny, this is really funny. Next one, just as funny or funnier. Next one, same. They're all such solid bits. And you're right, you've taken away all the other stuff that, people like, oh, now here's just a photo of me at the store, whatever, they're [00:17:00] all just such solid comedy bits that you've curated. Folks definitely go check out, Ben The Morisson, BenTheMorrison.com, same on Instagram and same on TikTok. Go give him a follow, give him some likes, tell you saw him on Paul Vato Presents.
Ben Morrison: Hell yeah.
Paul Vato: So what's next for Ben, are you performing right now, do you have a set schedule?
Ben Morrison: I live in LA and I don't do a lot of road cause I stay in town cause I run a production company and I'm writing and directing a bunch of shit all the time, but I do perform in LA generally two to three times a week. I just did an hour at Flappers, which was great, little local headline spot. The short answer is, for the live experience, anyone who lives in LA, just follow my Instagram account. I only promote like really good shows that I think are worth coming too, so if you see a an upcoming show and you live in LA, go to it, it'll be a really good time. There'll be some big names on it with me. The plan is I'm actually producing and directing a standup comedy special for another comedian right now, through my production company, Superfunny. We're finishing up production and I might be [00:18:00] in Vegas in a month doing a couple nights of shooting with him. So I'll hit you up when we get there, if that winds up happening, but it looks like it might. So once I'm done creating a standup special for him. I go into production on my own standup special. So I'm gonna crowd fund and produce it myself. Cause I know how to shoot it. I know how to cut it. I have my crew I work with, so I can like, and any comedians who are watching this, like we can make Netflix level specials for under 30k.
Paul Vato: That was my next question because I do have someone that I'd like to connect you with, of course no promises, she's big and she's doing another one person show, so I'd love to throw your hat in the mix. If you have time, she wants to do like an 80 minute thing.
Ben Morrison: That's really why I started my production company, Superfunny. I've never been in the system, I beat my head against the wall for a long time trying to figure out the Hollywood game. And then I just gave up and I was like, fuck it. I just always had standup and I could always make my money directing, writing something, and then I was like, why don't I just start a company to just [00:19:00] do all this under one banner? At a certain point, I knew how to do everything that you would need to do for a production. And then just started making my own little movies and got brands involved and was able to hire my friends to be in them. And now I'm making standup comedy specials and now can do one for myself. The bar of production has gotten low enough and the equipment that's available has gotten high enough to where if you just know how to do your job, like you can be in contention for the streaming services, but now there's an even better argument to be made for just not doing that and just putting it on YouTube and promoting it.
Paul Vato: That's amazing. It's like the perfect storm we live in this such exciting time. Everything you said is just a hundred percent on where you don't have to even wait for Netflix to give you your special, you put it up on YouTube, look at Stavros, with doing his own special and putting it up on YouTube. Brandon, what's his name? Even Brendon Schaub,
Ben Morrison: Are you on The Fighter and the Kid Subreddit? Ohh, mwah!
Paul Vato: [00:20:00] More gold. More gold. I, yeah. Oh, I love it. I love it. I love all that. It's great to see all these people with their own podcasts. That's the other thing, following Joe Rogan's lead and just putting your own content out there and look where it can possibly lead. But right now it's such an exciting time where you can put it up, and like you said, you don't have to go to Netflix. You can just put it up on YouTube and get all these eyeballs on it. People are supporting and you can make a living from it.
Ben Morrison: Yep. In whatever way, I think it's important to really force yourself to understand technology and social networks. If there's one thing I wish I had done a little differently is, just cuz I had never really had a following on any network, social network that is, I just dismissed the whole thing I said " fuck Instagram". And while I still feel that way, once I saw what was happening with the convergence of video on all of the apps, even like the techy of me was like, bro, you know how to edit this thing, this kind of thing. Just give it a shot. And then it wasn't instant success. It was like a slow growth, but I was like, [00:21:00] oh, okay. If you play by where you think the app is pointing the direction of the kind of content it wants and. just establish regularity, like it'll pick up and it does feel good now to cut a joke that I told last night and get it online and have 10,000 people just see the joke, so there is like a feedback loop that happens once you commit to it a little bit that I do see as okay, this is why people do this. Especially just meeting new people and getting opportunities to do sponsorship stuff. It's gonna be a pain in the dick for a while if you don't get views, but just the consistency is important. And for anyone who's listening, this is just shit I've discovered in the last couple months. With Instagram, and TikTok, their algorithm is very different. I have found that TikTok will just jizz in it's pants over a video for two days and then forget it's views in two days. The first couple days are a good metric on TikTok, but Instagram doesn't seem to work that way. It likes to slowly roll a video into the algorithm, get it running [00:22:00] for two or three, sometimes even weeks and then it'll go nuclear, right? There's a video right now that I have, it's two and a half million views that I posted two and a half weeks ago, and it was just 10,000, 12,000 like standard views for me on a video and then all of a sudden, I wake up and there's a hundred comments and I'm like something popped. So for Instagram, just stay consistent with uploading content and don't view your success as how many views you're getting right now, because the consistency will, it seems to me, have it be like that one thing let's really rocket it up. The virality, it seems on Instagram, happens weeks after you post something. So don't shoot yourself, just give it a week and a half.
Paul Vato: To me what's amazing that in the past year, and I've only had a couple videos go viral, one of TikTok with 740,000 views and the Instagram, maybe 220,000 views or something. So for me that's huge and in the past 15 years, since I've been on YouTube, I've had half a million views, but they all came [00:23:00] early when I was putting stuff up, back then you didn't know how to monetize it. I don't even think, it was a way to monetize it 15 years ago.
Ben Morrison: I love youTube, I would say, and this is not an exaggeration, 85% of all watching I do is YouTube. Like my living room TV is a Windows 11 machine. So I'm using a web browser to watch YouTube. I have a tablet that I play YouTube in my bathroom when I'm taking a shit or a shower, by the sink when I'm cooking, cuz I like to watch YouTube when I cook. I watch YouTube everywhere and I've been very involved in YouTube for a long time. And YouTube is amazing, as a platform. YouTube's algorithm is so good at recommending other things that it thinks you like. And it's great for like obsessive hobbyists, like me. Like I'm a gamer, hardcore. I just platinumed Eldon Ring, and I'm at the final boss in Sekiro and he is kicking my ass. A lot of people who are just used to watching when they watch something, they watch, it's only Netflix, either cable TV, Hulu, HBO Max, like it's all like networks type stuff. They see [00:24:00]YouTube as something you only use on like your laptop or your phone, but anyone who just watches, like you have a YouTube app on your flat screen, begin to explore YouTube and type in shit that you really like, and like specific is better. Like you just love like garden. It'll start kicking out videos that teach you some shit. Cause I feel like I learn.
Paul Vato: A hundred percent. I interviewed my friend Jason Paige who is the singer for Pokémon, the original Pokémon theme song.
Ben Morrison: Nice. Tell me, he's getting royalties.
Paul Vato: From his views on YouTube. From the song, you know what, that's an interesting question. I'll have to ask him, but I know that's what he does when he goes to the Comic-Cons, I think right now he's in San Diego, so it's affording him a living, I don't know if he's getting royalties from that song.
Ben Morrison: I have friends who are on the Con circuit, they've been in like a famous project, and you can just, that's a fun life, if you don't mind, like shaking hands with a thousand people a day.
Paul Vato: Hey at 20 bucks or 30 bucks or even 10 bucks a piece I'll shake as many hands as there are to shake because they're selling their autographs and their headshot [00:25:00] for 30 bucks, 50 bucks.
Ben Morrison: 20 bucks to sign my name? That's worth the COVID.
Paul Vato: That's worth it. That's worth. I think it's worth it. I have enough, you can pay for the cure, I don't know. Before I forget, I wanted to compliment you. I don't know if you saw the photo that I used for our cover art, but I loved the fact that you were so committed to it that I believe you actually are maybe pantsless. You really pulled your pants down because one of my pet peeves is people that don't get naked on the shitter when they're doing TV and even Chappelle did it. I remember one of his sketches, the toilet, but he is wearing underwear. You're like, come on you have to pull your pants off. I think it comes from when I did my famous viral video where I photocopy my butt on a copier and I fall into it. I'll send you the link. Maybe you've seen it. I drop trough, so I love the fact that you're actually pantsless and no underwear on the toilet. Like you normally would. You don't see anything of course, to me that just, it's a pet peeve.
Ben Morrison: Literally the branded spot that I released on TikTok today is version number two of that. [00:26:00] Nice bare leg on the can. Yeah, man. We all know how we use the. I ain't stupid.
Paul Vato: I'm definitely gonna start investing in butt wipes. If you ever need an actor, for any of this, I would I'd love to work with you, my friend. Or at least the chance to audition if you'll have me.
Ben Morrison: We'll do a live Fireside audition stream, and kinda a fun idea. Fireside's Got Talent. Think about it, bro.
Paul Vato: Let's do it. Apply to be a creator and I'm sure they'll take you right away. If not, whenever you wanna set it up, I would love to do something with you here on Fireside. And it's a great way to record it. Sometimes you get 10 people, sometimes you get five people in the audience, sometimes you 30 people depending who's here and how much time you, you promote it, but more importantly, it's saved. I can export content.
Ben Morrison: Get a whole podcast episode out of it. Yeah. It's not just about the live experience. It's a live taping of uh podcast. So do you put the video version of this out anywhere? Is that available on Fireside?
Paul Vato: I do. So it's always available on Fireside and when you [00:27:00] export it, you get the video, you get it just like this, where it's video and audio. And then I get my video, my audio, your video, your audio, you can get it with it almost edited where they take out any of the silences. You can get it without any of the sound effects. So whatever way you want it. I just export it, just like this as it. Maybe edit it a little bit, if there's any technical difficulties or if I'm stuttering too much, maybe I'll cut that out or if my guess is, make them look good. Add an intro, add an outro and then put it up. The nice thing is that right now Spotify they're really promoting their video podcasts. I feel like, they push it more, if there's video, on the Anchor App and on Spotify and Spotify owns Anchor. And then it goes to all the platforms all over and I've even signed up for there's one called Gaana, I think that's Indian from India. There's Asian podcasting platforms that are just for curating content. It seems to be working. We have fans from all over the world. [00:28:00]
Ben Morrison: That's amazing. I'd be like, I'm a hit, in Bangladesh.
Paul Vato: How crazy is that gonna be? I'm famous in Germany, man.
Ben Morrison: I just wanna go to Ghana one day, like on a vacation, there's like billboards everywhere. I'm like, whoa, no one told me what was going down in Ghana.
Paul Vato: Ghana's Got Talent.
Ben Morrison: Ghana's Got Talent.
Paul Vato: If you wanna do something out here I would love to do it if you ever have a little bit of time or, anytime you want to come back or if you wanna promote something, I would love to have you on. I also have a friend who just, he signed a first look deal with Sony. So looking for content for them to at least to pitch them and see if we can come up with something, so if you have any ideas for shows, maybe we can get on their slate there and see if we can get something created.
Ben Morrison: That'd be great. That'd be totally awesome. Yeah. Yeah. We're doing it our way. We're like Laverne and Shirley, except neither of us are women. Doing it our way. [00:29:00] Little iPhone goes by, I put a hat.
Paul Vato: Where are you from originally?
Ben Morrison: I grew up in Boston in the South End and then went to theater school. So lived in New York City for eight years and LA for the rest.
Paul Vato: Amazing. Did you work with William H Macy?
Ben Morrison: Yeah. I got really lucky the year that I was there cuz I was in the junior year, so it was only eight kids that year in the advanced program. And William Macy was in town doing American Buffalo at the Atlantic Theater Company where I was part of their theater school. So he loves teaching. So he took on a class and it was us. It was me and eight kids with a semester of acting classes with William H Macy. Three hours every week for a whole semester.
Paul Vato: Wow, that just seems incredible. And then David Mamet , of course.
Ben Morrison: Yeah, he was always busy. He wasn't as much of a teacher as he was just the face of it. But he'd always do his new plays and rehearsals there. Met him a couple times. I remember he was doing like the first run of a new play of his, and it was just the longest day and I sat next to him [00:30:00] and I began nodding off. I had been acting since 6am, and it's in like a black box stage, his wife, Rebecca Pidgeon, was on stage and I just kept don't, David Mamet, he's right next to you, don't, don't fall asleep. Mamet, right next to you. Yeah. We had some really good training, man, really good training. And I still do a lot of acting work and a lot of it's in my own projects. I've always believed in a big old stew of creativity, like one thing informs the other, cuz like now, because I edit, when I'm writing the script, I'm thinking about ways to write it, that's gonna help me out when I'm editing it, and doubly so for directing. I'm the one that's gonna be going through, whatever happens between action and cut. I feel that these disciplines begin to inform each other once you are doing a lot of them in tandem. I like that.
Paul Vato: It just goes to show you the importance of knowing all aspects of your business. Because me as a business owner, I'm not gonna be left in the lurch where I'm going to be able to do everything that my [00:31:00] company has to do, but that's the same thing, especially when you're producing content, because you can shoot, you can edit, act in it. And the nice thing is, you become a little bit more empathetic to other people. So you know what actors need as an actor, you know what the director needs, what editors need so I think it just makes that workflow so much easier when you are open to learning all aspects of the business, if you will.
Ben Morrison: Yep. And even if you don't think you're ever gonna do it, even if you don't think you're ever gonna be an editor, it still helps to learn how the basics of editing work, because whosever editing you will appreciate ways that you make their job easier, and you'll get better shots out of it. No, one is coming to save you guys. Figure it out yourself.
Paul Vato: People say, I'm waiting for my ship to come in. You can't wait for your ship to come in, you gotta swim out to it.
Ben Morrison: The cavalry isn't coming. You are the cavalry. Which is what I tell myself in moments where things aren't working. And I'm like, where the fuck is the calvalry, man?
Paul Vato: They are not coming.
Ben Morrison: Whenever I get down, I'm gonna throw on the Paul [00:32:00] Vato Show and listen to myself, pep me up. I'm like this guy, really, this guy knows what's going on.
Paul Vato: Besides actor, besides writer, besides comedian, I'm gonna have to add motivational speaker to your list of accomplishment.
Ben Morrison: You can order my online course "Get Your Shit Together, That Includes Me", by Ben Morrison.
Paul Vato: Will you include a package of Butt Wipes, please?
Ben Morrison: Oh, hell yeah. I will. Oh yeah. Anyone who wants to help me join the team.
Paul Vato: Wonderful. As we're reaching the end here, how do you decide what your time is worth, do you quote them a price or do you just go back and forth? I don't know if you wanna reveal any of that kind of stuff, I know that it's always "what's in your budget?" And then they're like send us a quote. How do you decide?
Ben Morrison: I think because I've done this enough at this point, I do know how much time it's gonna take, even for something that is seemingly simple. So I just throw out, this is what my costs will be for all of the production. And because I have a production company, that includes location rental, equipment rental, hiring crew. I am set up to actually produce [00:33:00] now. Yeah, just throw out a number that says because I'm writing all the creative, like I know how much time it's gonna take to get the script in good shape and do notes. And then where's the location? How many people are gonna need to hire on this? I know all the units of time that go into this, including, how much time is it gonna be when I'm cutting the thing. I can throw out a number that'll make me happy and make me enjoy the process. I'm guilty of this on my own, and I'm trying to be better about it doing creative work when you feel taken advantage of sucks. It's like the worst feeling, when you're doing creative work for someone else and you feel like you're getting taken advantage of. On the flip, doing creative work for someone else where you feel respected in terms of your own pay is like a great feeling. You're like, holy shit, I get to do this for a living. It's super important, when you go into the bid to throw out something that'll make you feel proud of doing the job. If you get a number then you're like, fuck that's nowhere near what I wanted and you say "yes", that attitude's gonna pervade through the [00:34:00] entire process, including probably making you resent the person that's hiring you in the first place.
Paul Vato: That's right. That's right. A lot of it also sometimes comes from us undervaluing our work. That we don't think that we're worth what we know we are. I think that's great advice. When you're on set and you're doing something for a hundred bucks, you're like, oh, come on. All right, let's get it over with, let's just do it. When you're on set and you're getting paid what you should be getting paid, you're loving it because you get paid to wait a lot of times , you're just sitting around, we're getting paid to wait. The acting is the fun part you give away. More great advice from Ben Morrison.
Ben Morrison: Again, my online course, "Get Your Shit Together, This Includes Me", Ben Morrison. I motivate you and myself.
Paul Vato: I love you definitely have a poop theme going through all of your.
Ben Morrison: There's, there's, there's a little bit there. There's a little bit there, but I have Crohn's disease, I'm literally pulling money out of my ass. So, take that life. I have a joke in the show, and this is true. The moment I got diagnosed with Crohn's, it was the moment I realized I was meant to be a comedian [00:35:00] because I had an incurable poop disease, and my initials are BM. I was like, I get it.
Paul Vato: I get it, BM. Ben, thank you so much, man. As we're winding up I know that you have a hard out coming up, so thank you so much for spending some time with us and sharing your knowledge, your comedy, your final thought or anything else that you might promote?
Ben Morrison: Do you think that porn stars have a "hard in", for when they have to start fucking? We got a hard in at two o'clock.
Paul Vato: I got a hard in at two.
Ben Morrison: We need a hard in and out by 2:05. Okay. Anyway, sorry to hijack you finishing up. Please continue.
Paul Vato: We're partners we're working on our new two person show.
Ben Morrison: Yes, and.
Paul Vato: Yes, and. That's it. Have you studied improv? Have you done anything in the improv world or is that just from acting?
Ben Morrison: From growing up, and theatrical training, improv was always a part of it. I was in an improv [00:36:00]troop after college. Never followed it like via Groundlings or Second City, because you have to decide either stand up or improv, like those are separate lanes and you really don't find any crossover, in terms of people who do this.
Paul Vato: It's great to see though, that you're well versed in both. Normally when I start out, I asked a question about your parents as far as their support, but I think I already know the answer to this because it sounds like you've been acting since you were six years old. So there must have obviously been some support from the family as far as getting you to auditions or getting you to projects and I would imagine, have all been very supportive?
Ben Morrison: Love my family and they were very supportive of all the acting. They allowed me to do it to the degree that I was able to do it and train in that way. Let's just say they were not that excited when I told them after graduating from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, that I wasn't gonna go be the King of Broadway, I was gonna tell dick jokes in the village. There was a long period of time [00:37:00] where they got used to the idea of me being a comedian, especially because in the first five or six years, you just suck.
Paul Vato: Yeah.
Ben Morrison: So it was one thing for me to say I'm gonna become a comedian and then what they did come and see was like, just shitty. I'd been doing comedy for three years. So it was a slow transition. They're happy now that they've been very supportive of the standup. It just took a long time for them to get used to the idea of me as a comic and not like a serious Broadway actor.
Paul Vato: Wonderful. Wonderful. I'm glad that they've come around, if you will. Have you performed in Boston? Cause I know of course Boston has this strong history of standup.
Ben Morrison: Not a lot. Whenever I'm home for a vacation, I'll try to get a spot at The Comedy Studio or Nick's or whatever. So I've done shows in Boston, all of standup for me started in New York City. There was no point in time where I was getting to know the club owners in Boston and running around.
Paul Vato: It almost would feel like a step back. Again, not to insult Boston because I know that they have this strong community but it you're right, if you're conquering New York, why then go to Boston. Do you feel like you need to be in one of the coasts to do [00:38:00] well in stand up either New York or Los Angeles?
Ben Morrison: It depends on what your definition of "do well", is. If you just wanna actively be perform performing standup in a scene that you find a home in and you have no desire to escalate to, I wanna be on TV, I just really love doing standup, then stay where you are, in your community, hone your craft with your friends and a place where you could accelerate to the largest platform in the world, come to one of the coasts. It's really up to where your own level of desire is. It comes down to what will eat you up inside when you're old, knowing you never gave a shot to right.
Paul Vato: Yep. That's right. Time is fleeting. Ben, do you have any final thoughts? Anything else you'd like to share with the audience? Anything you'd like to promote and then I can let you go so that you can continue on your day and thank you for being here and spending some time with us.
Ben Morrison: My pleasure. Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk. If you're on TikTok follow [00:39:00]@BenTheMorrison. If you're on Instagram, follow @BenTheMorrison. I post, generally a new comedy clip a day. So join the fun. If you live in LA, watch out for shows that I do in town and just keep the faith. We got more funny coming.
Paul Vato: Ben, thank you so much. Make sure that you follow PaulVato.com. Head on over there and all my social media's there. More importantly, if you could do us a huge favor and head on over to Apple Podcasts and leave us a like, give us a follow, maybe leave us a review and same with Spotify. Those are the two biggest platform that you could do to help us out. We have a Patreon for only three bucks a month, you can join and help support, less then the cup of coffee. All right, Ben, again, thank you so much and I look forward to seeing your continued success. And again, thank you so much for spending some time with us.
Ben Morrison: My pleasure. Thank you everyone.
Paul Vato: Thank you. Thank you. Bye bye.
Actor / Writer / Comedian / Filmmaker
Ben Morrison is a Los Angeles based actor, writer, comedian and filmmaker. Acting since he was 6 years old, Ben is a graduate of NYU’s TISCH School of the arts where he trained under William H. Macy and David Mamet, and added stand-up comedian to his resume shortly thereafter. It’s been a blur ever since.
A staple of LA area comedy clubs, Ben is a regular at the Improv and Laugh Factory, and most recently wrote and acted in The Telethon for America, a star-studded get-out-the-vote comedy special with Chelsea Handler, Charlize Theron, Natalie Portman and many more. On camera, Ben is best known for his recurring role as Young Eli David on NCIS, as the lead on a season of MTV’s Punk’d, starring in a season of Mr. Personalities for Marc Cuban’s HDNet, or guest-starring opposite Jon Lovitz and Bill Bellamy on Mr. Box Office. Additionally, Ben has been seen as a lead in feature films Ouija Exorcism, From the Dead, and FOX’s 30 Nights of Paranormal Activity where he played an eerily good Abe Lincoln.
He has also served as one of the head writer/producers on 140 episodes of the syndicated comedy gameshow Funny You Should Ask and is the creator of Superfunny, a first-of-it’s kind multimedia comedy show at the historic Hollywood Improv combining live comedy, photos and videos. Superfunny is currently being shopped to networks with 5-time Emmy Award winning producer Eddie Feldman attached.
As a comedian, Ben has made multiple television appearances on Last Comic Standing, Comics Unleashed and AXSTv’s Gotham Comedy Live, hosted by SNL’s Michael Che, among others. In the commercial world Ben has appeared in national campaigns for KFC, Volkswagen, Amtrak, Dollar Shave Club and opposite opposite Nic Cannon and Shaq for a series of Cartoon Network promos that ran in movie theaters nationwide. His voice can also be heard in Marvel Studios Captain Marvel, and he is one of the lead VO artists in Epic Games' smash VR hit Robo Recall.
As a creator, Ben has written and directed commercial campaigns for online investment firm Wealthfront and world-wide flooring manufacturer Daltile, and wrote, directed and starred in a hit music videos for Irish rock band Seneca. As a filmmaker Ben created multiple short films for Al Gore’s Current TV, the short film The Star of Bethlehem, and multiple short films as part of Superfunny Films including Stuck in Jeff, and Proper British Sex which has been accepted into five film-festivals so far.
He is currently repped by The Osbrink Agency for both commercial and VO, Peak Models and Talent for print, LB Talent for Theatrical, and is a member of SAG/AFTRA and The Television Academy.
Download a copy of Ben's Theatrical Resume here : https://benthemorrison.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Ben-Morrison-Theatrical-Resume.pdf
Visit Ben's IMDB page here : https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1102042/