GET SMART WITH ADAM CONOVER OF THE TV SHOW “ADAM RUINS EVERYTHING!”
Can COMEDY change the world by changing minds? Plenty of science studies have proven laughter helps us learn faster and remember more. But what about the ANNOYING guy at the party who ruins EVERYTHING with a point of view that might not seem intuitively accurate… until you find out he's actually right!
I had an absolute blast talking with Adam Conover from the hit TV show, “Adam Ruins Everything” recently. In case you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t heard of him, Adam is the host and investigative comedian on a comically inventive yet unrelentingly serious quest to reveal the hidden truths behind everything you know and love. He takes on topics ranging from the workplace and voting to forensic science and security. Not only does he give you fun facts to share with your friends, but information that will make you see the world in a whole new way.
Adam says “Adam Ruins Everything” is VERY much based on a younger version of himself. He knew he annoyed a lot of people. He was very outgoing, but in ways that would disrupt the flow of a class or people just hanging out, and he often felt unable to interact with people socially. On his show, he’ll share a big idea and the audience’s reaction is “Oh, my God, why do you tell me this?” Adam turns big reveals and his disruptive know-how into positive comedy.
As a Capability Amplifier, Adam is bringing truth and knowledge while showing the audience how to have a better mind for checking and investigating facts.
He’s fascinating and fascinated — always curious. Joel Zadak, his agent told me “Adam is a voracious information junkie, always reading, always asking ‘why’, always growing, that’s why he’s so good at what he does…”
Meet Adam Conover …
Adam developed his creative skills doing comedy in New York for little or no pay. In college, he was in a sketch comedy group with a bunch of his college friends, in the very early days of the internet. We're talking pre-YouTube time! They put up videos on CollegeHumor.com, and they went VIRAL. He and hist team did everything, from making the videos to writing, acting, directing and post production. Adam designed websites, did the visual effects and learned how to compress video. That really gave him a grounding in creative and technical skills.
Adam eventually started doing and teaching stand-up and sketch comedy, writing at UCB in New York, which is when he REALLY came into his own as a performer. And once he started combining comedy and information, he created his own lane where NO ONE was competing with him in live stand-up.
The next step on Adam’s journey was to create, write and pitch “Adam Ruins Everything” and get it picked up by a TV network.
Adam admits that he got VERY lucky when he was pitching to the many, MANY different networks, because someone needs to be buying what you're selling. Everyone LOVED the show, but no one had a need for it until he went to TruTV, which had a specific mandate from higher-ups for an informational comedy show.
Right message. Right audience. Right timing. Also known as luck. But Adam also made his own luck.
What he pitched was exactly what they were looking for, so Adam took that experience and applied it to his current approach whenever he’s pitching ANYTHING. He will make it really good. He will make sure everyone in the room LOVES it … but he won’t let his ego get in the way. He’s prepared to be rejected and doesn’t take anything personally. This allows him to go in and pitch with a lot more confidence because he’s not thinking, “I hope they like it, it's gonna change my life.” Instead, his attitude is “Hey, here's what I'm selling, do you want to buy it or not?”
Fast forward a bit… the show has been a BIG hit, and Adam wants to continue producing it for as long as possible. As a result of the success of “Adam Ruins Everything,” though, other project opportunities pop up constantly. He was recently approached about doing a documentary film, and just launched a podcast called FACTUALLY.
“I think it's the ultimate irony that more opportunities come your way [as you get] more successful,” Adam said. “I realized it was happening as soon as the show was sold, and people started watching it. And I thought, what a perverse thing this is, because when I was doing open mics, I would have KILLED to go on podcasts or to get my name out there. It's sort of like when you're at the bottom of the pit, no one's helping you. It's only when you get towards the top that people start throwing you down a rope. It's like a law of nature, and it makes me think a lot about what my responsibility is to folks who are further down the hole where I was, how I can offer them help, and how I can try to help change the structure of American society.”
Adam realized that something strange happened over the course of his career. In his 20’s, his efforts were very focused on himself and his own career. Now that he’s achieved everything he wanted to, however, his worries have expanded to the world at large, including issues like climate change.
I love comedy, so this interview was a real treat for me. I learned a lot from Adam and I KNOW you’re really going to enjoy his insights and mindset. Click here to listen to the whole episode. Capability Amplifier Podcast.