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Ep164 Transcript: Interview with Leanne Linsky

November 27, 2023

Andrea Vahl: From accountant to corporation to full time comedian in New York to now a CEO of an online comedy streaming platform. That’s an unlikely journey, but my guest today, Leanne Linsky has done it all. Listen to how her view of failure has changed the way she approaches her life.

Hello, dreamers. Welcome to the late starters club, giving you the inspiration, mindset, and tools you need to start something midlife and beyond remember, it’s never too late to follow your dreams.

 

Andrea_Vahl: Hello, Late Starters. It’s your host, Andrea Vahl, and I am here with the very funny Leanne Linsky. So I’m super excited to talk to a fellow comedian and she’s had such an interesting journey. So Leanne is a comedian turned entrepreneur and the founder and CEO of the new online comedy club Plauzzable. And when it comes to comedy, Leanne couldn’t be more serious. And I totally get that. I totally resonate with that because it is just such a focused thing. You have to be so focused and you have to just treat it like a business. So welcome Leanne.

Leanne_Linsky: So true. Thank you. Thanks for having me on. I’m very excited to talk to you.

Andrea_Vahl: Yeah, I know. We have so much in common because I just love your journey. Like just going from, the corporate world and then you went to New York to, to be a comedian. You packed two suitcases, moved to New York to do comedy full time. And then. Got your masters. I did not do that, but so, so walk us through a little bit of this journey and what kind of twists and turns does this all took to lead you to where you are now?

Leanne_Linsky: Yeah. So it’s been a really interesting journey. If you want, I can start at the beginning to tell you how I got into comedy and then how I got the Plauzzable.

I actually went, so I grew up in the Chicago area, but I went to school in Vegas. What a place to go to school.

Andrea_Vahl: Yeah, yeah. Right. And another thing we have in common, I, I grew up in Chicago as well,

Leanne_Linsky: Oh, very cool. So yeah, I ended up going to UNLV and when I graduated, I was a bookkeeper of all things. Like, that was my least favorite like, like, why am I doing this? And then another company hired me like a year later to do bookkeeping again. So weird. And I loved it. I, it was a fortune 500. I was there for nearly 13 years and suddenly I was laid off. And. Yeah. And, and during that time, people were like, Oh, you should take a comedy class. You’re funny. Or cause I did a lot of public speaking or, and whatnot. And so I eventually went and I took a class, like a continuing ed class at UNLV for comedy writing, and then later The Second City had a training center there, so I started taking classes at The Second City and I, took my first one, I was like, I’m taking all of them, and. Like not, I took all of them and then I took some of them two and three times. They’re probably like, thank you for the money.

Um, Yeah. And so I did that, but then I had this job that I loved. Suddenly, I was laid off and. I’m like, I don’t even know what to do with myself. They gave me , like months in advance warning and everything, but I kept going in every day. I’m like, I don’t know what else to do. I didn’t. I was like, I don’t know what to do.

Like I’m automatically looking up at this time of day. And so one of my friends that I had met when I was spending time in New York was like, hey, I got a sublet in New York for the summer and I’m going to move out, I’m just going to get this place for the summer and then find a place. Are you coming? And I was like well, I don’t know. And he goes, you said, if you didn’t have that job, you loved, you would move. And I was like, Oh, they were listening. so I’m like, Oh, I go well, I’ll think about it. And he goes, you have one hour. I was like an hour and I was still at this job that I’d been laid off at, I was still showing up. And so I’m walking, I’m like, I’m gonna go on a break, like anybody cared. And I came back an hour later, I’m in. And a month later I had put all my stuff in storage. I packed two suitcases and moved to New York. And yeah, and I’m like, okay, I took all these classes.

Here I am. You know how that works.

Andrea_Vahl: Yeah,

Leanne_Linsky: and we’re so glad you’re here. We’ve been waiting.

Andrea_Vahl: Yeah. . Yeah. Let’s feature you on these shows.

Leanne_Linsky: Yeah, people are like, so are you going to tell Lauren Michaels? I’m like, sure. He’s waiting by his phone for when I arrive. So

Andrea_Vahl: That’s

Leanne_Linsky: I showed up in New York not knowing anything, only knowing my new roommate from some theater classes that like in a summer intensive and here I am and the people we are subletting from they ended up changing their mind and not leaving that summer and they’re like but for the same price, we’ll let you stay in our living room floor. So we’re like, okay. so we, and I was 36, I was like already 36. And I was like, okay, sure. And then I just immersed myself into the whole, comedy ecosystem. And I started hosting open mics and whatnot and did my one woman show. I was there in New York for about nine years. So I did commercials and theater and tons of improv and, you know, and then all of a sudden I moved to LA.

And I find myself spending more time on the freeway than I do at any stage. I’m like, this is bananas! What is happening right now? And people are always like, oh, did you move to L. A. for your comedy? And I’m like I guess you could say that. I moved there for a man and that turned out to be a joke.

So, Another epic, another epic fail. But I’m like, I will not go backwards. Um. So, cause you know, I don’t want to admit and, you know, it was the worst. And yeah, we are producing shows and doing things in, California. And then I was like, it’s a whole different scene, right?

Like

Andrea_Vahl: Right,

Leanne_Linsky: If you’re used to a scene. You’re used to it and you got your network established, but I didn’t, I was new and I, you had to drive everywhere and it was like, that was weird after so many years of not having a car and I really missed all the connections I had made in New York and that was really special to me. So I’m like, how do I connect? And I was like, Skype, we can connect via Skype. Remember Skype?

Andrea_Vahl: Oh, yeah. Right.

Leanne_Linsky: People are like, not, not too keen on that idea. So I was like using Zoom for this other job I had and I’m like, Oh, Zoom. And so 2000, I don’t know, 19 before COVID BC, August, 2019 BC I was using Zoom and I started doing Zoom mics and some people were like, why would I do that?

That’s stupid. And other people were like, it’s amazing. Can I pay you? I was like yes. And then I was like, how do I scale this? How do I, solve some of the other problems? Cause although, the existing technologies are great. They weren’t designed for entertainment. And then COVID happened and everybody’s using existing technologies.

So I went back to school at the age of 50 and got my Master’s in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. And from there I got an incubators and accelerators and I got my first round of funding and yeah. So we launched in December.

Andrea_Vahl: So that’s just, that’s so amazing. I mean, It’s amazing. First of all, that you had the idea of the online comedy before COVID, And when we ended up doing it, I did some online comedy shows and they were rough, but you, but you were on that leading edge.

That’s really interesting. And then what was the, impetus to go get your degree? Was there just feeling like, hey, I had, there’s a skill set I’m missing here or that you just wanted to, have that a little, again, maybe a little bit more serious focus on the business end of things or where did the degree come in?

Leanne_Linsky: There were a couple of things and I, that’s such a good question because years ago when I was living in New York, I remember having a conversation with someone and I’m like, you know what? I think when I turned 50, I’m going to reconsider going back to school, whether I need to or not, like, why not?

Because. Why disengage? Why not learn something new? Why not? I don’t know. It just came to my mind like that would be a really good thing to do. And then I didn’t think of it for a while. Obviously I was doing other things and then when I had this idea and I was dating my now husband, that I ended up meeting, , although I moved to California for the wrong person, I met the right person.

So that was really cool. But he is super encouraging and I had mentioned I really want to do this, but I feel like I’m missing exactly to what you said, some skills, or even though I had majored in business for my undergrad, I’m

Andrea_Vahl: Right.

Leanne_Linsky: been disconnected for a while. But then the other thing that was really important is when you go to grad school, you go mostly for the network that we build and that we meet.

And I thought I would like a mentor because when I was going to networking events and stuff, I was meeting a lot of really nice people, but they weren’t entrepreneurs. They might like do side hustle or something like that, but it was, it wasn’t to the extent that I was thinking, I’m like, how do I get that?

Like a. Bigger, like, how do I build a team? How do I get all this other stuff going? And so that’s really what, what prompted me. And I was like, who’s going to take me seriously? I’ve been doing comedy for all these years. And if I really want to sell my idea. I want some credibility to associate with.

And so I ended up applying for school and I thought, Ahhhh we’ll just throw my name in the hat and see what happens. And I got accepted in the first round. I was like, what? Did they read that correctly? Yeah. And so it’s really a really cool experience.

Andrea_Vahl: yeah, that’s awesome. And I think it’s interesting because I’ve been in marketing now for a long time and I think it is something that I sometimes struggle with is this whole I don’t have a degree in marketing and I’ve done a lot of my own, education, read tons and tons of books, taking courses, but there is something interesting about the officialness of a degree.

But to your point, I think the more important thing is the networking, you know, and I didn’t really think about Um, focusing on that as the main reason to go back to school when you’ve been in a whole different community, for so long, that’s a really great reason to consider it.

Leanne_Linsky: Mm hmm. And it was really worth it. Yeah.

Andrea_Vahl: Yeah. Yeah. My whole thing was like, Oh my God, take a test. No, thank you. You know, write a paper. Uh uh, But . Yeah. That’s, that’s great. So you had talked about the support of family and friends, how did that play a role into all of this? You’re moving coast to coast, you’re doing kind of crazy things, how did the support come into play there for you?

Mm-Hmm.

Leanne_Linsky: Yeah. It was interesting. So I remember when I got laid off that the company didn’t want me to tell people for some time. Didn’t want to create any disruption or panic and cause I had a really good job in a, in a pretty visible role and so I didn’t tell my parents right away either. And.

Then I finally told ’em it happened around the holidays, and I didn’t want to tell him before the holidays. I think I waited until a couple of days after. And they were just shocked because I thought that was my forever career, and then when I decided, so it wasn’t until, and I was still working, like I said, for some time. And so when I decided to go to New York, they’re like, what? My family was like surprised, that’s a big jump. And I’m like I’ll just, rent my house out and make, I’ll come back is what I told them. In my mind I don’t go backwards.

So maybe, after I do all of these things, but they supported me, but they didn’t really understand it because they didn’t. Their lives were they’ve grown up so differently, they’re like several generations ahead of me. So the mindset is different and my brothers both are older than me by seven and eight years.

So their life experience has been considerably different. So all of a sudden I’m like this wild card and they’re like, what is happening? And so that was interesting on the family side and then, but I had a lot of support from my friends and even the company I worked for, I’m still friends with all of them.

We’ve been friends for 30 something years and I, we can make a phone call and pick up where we left off. It’s, it’s that good, people and friendships and so many of them even traveled to New York to come and see me at different times,

Andrea_Vahl: awesome. Mm-Hmm.

Leanne_Linsky: and support me. And so I had a really good support system just from the work environment that I had spent so many years in.

They sent me off with a huge going away party and, contributed to pay for some of my classes in Chicago because I went back to Chicago to take some classes there. And. Just really supportive and then I made all of these new friends who are doing the same thing and it’s kind of like feed off that energy.

So that, that sense, it was fantastic. And then when I met my husband he’s been the, from the minute we met, he’s just been all in super supportive. And it’s you don’t think, I’ve lost my mind telling you my idea. No, he’s no, I see it. And he gets it. And he, he, we’re two completely different personalities, but he’s my biggest, my biggest supporter.

And I’m so grateful.

Andrea_Vahl: Yeah. That’s, that’s awesome. Well, it does create, being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart, you know? and it is. Uh, , you know, I love that joke about, entrepreneurs are the people who work a hundred hours a week to avoid, working 40 hours for someone else or whatever, it’s like sometimes there’s, there’s a lot of work involved.

And and so you need the support of, family, and friends, and it’s hard because there’s a lot of decisions and everything like that. So that’s, that’s really great. That’s really great. And so how has Plauzzable been going? So it launched in 2019, is that right? Or

Leanne_Linsky: Well, I started experimenting with my like minimum viable product using existing technologies in 2019. And then I incorporated and got investors in 2021 and built me, you know, I’ve put a team together and went under development and then we launched in December of, last year, December 2022, and when onboarding, we have hundreds of comedians on there now and who.

So basically, you can go in and it’s like, think of existing software that you use now for conferencing for podcasting or for Zoom or Google Meet. But this is solely for comedy and you log in and you have all the control. You can set your own ticket prices. You can do free stuff. You could use all of the tools and everything on there for free right now. We’re in beta. And fans can log in and they have access to a whole talent directory. They have the show listing like a think TV guide, right? It was all at certain times of day. Everything on Plauzzable is live in real time. So the performance can see and hear you and you can see and hear the performers in the audience.

So it’s like that. And you have all this access in one place rather than trying to go into the internet type comedy and see what randomly pops up. Here it’s all consolidated for you.

Andrea_Vahl: Yeah. That is awesome. And I feel like there’s such a huge there’s I don’t know, maybe it’s cause I’ve, I’ve got more of a lens on it right now, but it just feels like comedy is just exploding in the, the desire for more and more comedy. I don’t know if it’s cause the world is crashing and burning or I don’t, I don’t

Leanne_Linsky: You say that because comedy is actually the second most popular live streaming genre. Only second behind breaking news. Go figure. So people are live streaming. That’s what they’re looking for. It’s either breaking news and then I need some relief.

So.

Andrea_Vahl: Hand in hand right there. That’s great. That’s awesome. Good. That’s so I love that. And and it’s such a, a cool idea too, because I think it’s hard to produce something. With just some of the tools that are out there. So it’s great that you’re making that available for both the comedians and the viewers.

So that’s, that is awesome. Yeah. Yeah.

Leanne_Linsky: Yeah, I stumbled upon doing it. I wasn’t like planning like, Oh, I have to create this business, but I was solving a problem for me. But then in that whole process of experimentation, I learned wow, this kind of creates other problems. Like you said, you’ve been on some, some shows during that time and it was like, Oh, painful.

It’s how do we make it less painful and how do we make it more doable that we can get like the laugh in real time, how can we set it up so like we’re not scrolling through screens looking in a gallery view and things like that so we changed all of that but it yeah it was weird because I stumbled across this change and now I’m like, now I can’t imagine doing anything different because now I have to fix it.

So

Andrea_Vahl: Yeah. Yeah, that’s, and I think that’s it. It’s, what is that necessity is the mother of invention. And, you know, I think that happens so often. I hear that from people who are guests on the show who have, who are looking for something. They’re like, they’re not looking to invent something.

They’re looking for something and find out it’s not there. And they’re like if I have this need, then, probably other people do too. So yeah, that’s a huge, a huge thing. So that’s exciting. And it’s exciting that it’s coming up to your when your anniversary here of launching it essentially. Yeah. So talk about how being older, obviously you. were in comedy when you were, younger, how has being older contributed to the success of launching this new, venture here? What have you found that has helped in being an older entrepreneur? And I say older entrepreneur, and I really.

I, I really, I think the average, I heard something just recently that the average age for starting a business was 42 or something like that. But so I think that we have this idea that only businesses are only started by young, hustler people who have lots of energy. And I don’t think that’s just not true, but how do you, how do you, how do you view that as far as contributing to your success?

Leanne_Linsky: I think it’s made a huge difference. So even going back to school, I was a completely different student in my fifties than I was in my , like teens early 20, like day and night, even though then I thought of myself as a serious student, and so going back now for me in, in that sense, I could put things into context.

And also when we did case studies, I was like, Oh, I lived through that. Like, I already know what happened, you know, like, Oh, what happened to blockbuster? Oh, I can tell you, I still have my card, that kind of thing. But I think you being able to put things into context and into a frame of mind, because experience there’s, that’s priceless as having that kind of experience.

The other thing I think that has made this a really, that the reason I am here is because of all the things I’ve done in my past, whether they were successful or not. I can’t imagine doing this now without any one of those experiences good or bad, honestly, because it informed me on a greater level.

So like working for a company right out of college doing bookkeeping and then going to a fortune 500 and spending 13 years there. Oh my goodness. That is just, I learned so much from people moving from there to market research. And then it was a home building company and then out in the field and construction, like that’s all like just team teamwork um, different environments.

What goes into planning a neighborhood, like we worked on feasibility, like all of those things, although they’re not comedy related, really inform me and how I run my business today. And then stepping out and going and learning comedy, doing that, as you know, right? You’re a comedian. So everything we do when we write jokes is looking at a different, like looking at things through a different lens, seeing a different perspective, um, finding humor in the hard things.

And, and also comedy in general builds, it’s like a masterclass in resiliency. Like how thick is your skin? No laughter. No one thinks I’m hilarious. I’ve done shows in a parking lot, in the rain, where people didn’t show up and people are yelling, we can’t hear you. Like the worst nightmare for a comedian on any level.

But doing all of those things got me here and they, they don’t, I can’t, failure has informed me so much of how to make things, how to do things right. So that’s just a vital, vital part, I think, of building a business is you have to be willing to fail. And then get back up and try again. And I think between the lessons I learned in a regular business environment, but then in comedy and theater, I mean, as an actor in New York, my job is to go out and audition and never hear from people again.

That’s what I do 90 percent of my time there. you know, Is just go out on auditions and be like, yeah, I auditioned. Did you hear back? No,, you know, but I’m. and then to get a callback is like a big win like, you know, if you’re getting callbacks, you’re doing something right. So all of those things, and then, as a comedian, we have day jobs and I, I got the opportunity to manage a theater and run the office and the books and all of that stuff.

What an experience, right? Cause we don’t. I’m like, what life am I living right now? Like I get to perform in the theater and I get to like, you get to see all aspects of these things, like how it’s, how the magic is made. And then, then working for a voiceover studio in New York City and doing all the marketing.

So there’s like all these skills. And then when you’re all of a sudden building your own business, you’re like, wait, how much money do I have? Oh, I have to put that hat on. Hey, I’m doing that today. Oh, I have to do that today, but fortunately I had the opportunity to learn a lot of those things and now I can put them all to good use yet again.

So I think there’s no, there’s no mistakes. It’s

Andrea_Vahl: Yeah. I That is so true. I view that about life as well. There’s no mistakes. It’s all just a, a label we put on something as good or bad, and it’s not either one, it’s a, it’s something that happened and it’s definitely it’s huge cause it all contributes to our experience and it can be even the worst mistake can be something good that we take out of it.

So that’s really, it’s so great. It’s a great way to approach life. And and, and we can always turn it into comedy, you know, win, win.

So you also mentioned that you’ve got a pivotal or Oh shit moment that happened. Is there a story that you wanted to share that changed things for you?

Leanne_Linsky: I think there’s, there’s a few of them, right? So one was, I went through, I went through a divorce I went through a couple,

but I, in my twenties, that’s what I was busy doing.

Andrea_Vahl: Yeah. Again, no mistakes.

Leanne_Linsky: No mistake. I was just, I call it practicing, I want to get into practicing, so I got married a few times. I throw a great wedding. But I remember when I went through my second one, this is before I started comedy for anything, and I remember I was really sad, I was crying, I was, I remember I was laying on my bedroom floor.

Cause you have those moments. And I was like, what have I done? What, what am I doing with my life right now? Like how do I, I just remembered this moment where it’s I have to start doing things different. I can’t keep doing the same things over these same patterns. So I’m going to start saying yes to things.

And I made a

Andrea_Vahl: that’s what got you into that problem. you said, yes.

you said yes to too many times.

Leanne_Linsky: Yeah. Stop saying yes to men. Say yes to other things. Yes. You’re exactly right. I did that. I do. Yeah. I need to be more selective maybe. So I made a list of things I would be willing to say yes to and it things were like traveling and getting outside of my every day and going out and learning and seeing things in the world.

And so I, I decided I was going to be more open to something different, like that I wouldn’t normally choose. And and I started doing stuff like that and that was really made a huge difference. After that day, it’s weird because I remember it. So I can’t tell you what day it was, but I remember me having that moment and I decided I’m going to go to Europe.

And so I went to work that week and I had to go pull permits for some homes we were building. And I told the, the, the woman I would always talk to and she’d do our permitting. And I was like, I’m going to go on vacation. She’s like, cool. Where are you going? I said, Europe. She goes, where? And I’m like, Italy.

I just blurted out Italy. I had no idea. And she was like, when? I go, I don’t know. I haven’t decided yet. She goes, I’ll go. And I was like, okay, next month. And also we made the plan and this is before cell phones or anything. So I sent off a fax. I got a fromers guide at this bookstore. I sent off a fax and to book a, hotel room somewhere, and they never got it.

And I didn’t know that until we got on a plane, we showed up and they’re like, who are you? And so I’m like, we had zero plans and we just went, we had the best. It was one of the best trips I ever took. And saying yes, to things like that, because I knew I had to change. I knew I did things differently. And so that was like a real pivotal moment.

And I started saying yes to things and taking bigger risk like getting married and divorced wasn’t enough. I need bigger, I need to go big.

Andrea_Vahl: more, more fun. I think that’s, I always say we don’t tell stories about the things that go right. I think it’s all a big adventure, right? It’s just exciting and fun and again, teaches you. Resilience and troubleshooting problem solving all of that.

So that is awesome. And, I think by getting out of your comfort zone, it just normalizes that then it’s like, Oh, not a big deal. Where else can we go? So that’s definitely. Definitely the case. And maybe it just leads you to say, sure. I can go to Italy with no plan.

Sure. I can start a company. Sure. I can. So that is awesome. I can’t believe our time. I, this has just been so much fun. It’s so awesome. I can’t believe our time is like up here, but we’ll definitely make sure that people get connected onto your Plauzzable website so they can go listen to some great comedy.

I think I need to get on there as well and get a show on there or something for sure. Yeah. So tell us one thing I always ask every guest is give us your favorite quote or a motivational saying.

Leanne_Linsky: Yeah, so I have two and one used to be on my Myspace page. I don’t remember on Myspace.

Andrea_Vahl: back in the day.

Leanne_Linsky: Yeah, and it was, I think it’s a Wayne Gretzky quote and it says, you’ll always miss a hundred percent of the shots you never take. And I love that. And that meant so much to me. And then the second one is, and this comes from I think her name is Lisa Gold from Actors Connection in New York.

And she she told us about there’s, I’ll just put it in context. I went to all the free networking events I could as an actor, right? And she, and I went to this one and there may be 15 people who showed up and she said, Look around this. She goes, look around this room. She goes, how many people do you think we sent the email to that?

They were invited to this free event. We’re like, she said, I don’t know. It was like astronomical, like 500, 000 people. She said, How many people do you think RSVP, how many think opened it, then RSVP, and she goes and look who showed up 15 of you. She goes, I’m going to tell you right now, 80 percent of success is just showing up.

And you’re going to find that in acting, just showing up, getting the audition, doing things, you’re going to get so much farther than the other 500 something thousand that got the email and did nothing with it. And I think that is so true today. And I’ll add to that by saying, and the additional 20 percent is show up early.

Andrea_Vahl: Yeah.

Leanne_Linsky: Check your audio and video camera set up.

Andrea_Vahl: Yeah. That’s, that is so true. It really is. It’s just like the, the way you go out into life. If you’re, if you’re invested, if you’re taking it seriously, then people see that. And I think you’re rewarded for that. And people, give you opportunities. Yeah. Love both of those quotes.

So awesome. So awesome. Leanne tell our listeners where people can get connected to you and find out more. We’ll have all these links in the show notes too.

Leanne_Linsky: Great. So I would say connect with me on Plauzzable.com and it’s P L A U Z Z A B L E dot com. Like Plauzzable. And you can see all the information and everything there. And if you want to follow on any of the social, you’ll drop those in and the handle is also Plauzzable just to keep it simple.

Andrea_Vahl: Yeah. Awesome. Awesome. Well, Thank you so much for your time, your laughs, your wisdom, all of that. So I appreciate it so much.

Leanne_Linsky: Thank you. Thanks so much for having me. This was fun.

Andrea_Vahl: Yeah. Bye everyone.

Andrea Vahl: Hope that was helpful and make sure you grab the free guide top tools for late starters on the website at LateStartersClub.Com and let’s turn dre

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Late Starters Club Podcast
Late Starters Club Podcast

This is the place for inspiration, motivation, and mindset resets. You will walk away ready to take action with practical and informative advice from some of the most amazing “Late Starters” on the planet.

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Ep169 Transcript: Questions to Kick Start 2024

Ep169 Transcript: Questions to Kick Start 2024

Andrea Vahl: Oh, happy new year. Yeehaw. 2024. All right. I don't know about you, but I love planning out my year and setting goals and really reflecting on how my past year went and being super intentional about what I want the next year to look like. In today's...

Ep168 Transcript: Wrapping up 2023 with Gratitude, Grace, and Goals

Ep168 Transcript: Wrapping up 2023 with Gratitude, Grace, and Goals

Hello, late starters. It's your host, Andrea Vahl And today is Christmas day. And if you do celebrate that Merry Christmas, if you celebrate some other holiday, I wish you all the best and all the joy for that. I just wanted to make a different episode. So today we're...