Stephanie Wittels Wachs is the co-founder of Lemonada Media, host of Last Day and author of best-selling memoir Everything Is Horrible and Wonderful: A Tragicomic Memoir of Genius, Heroin, Love, and Loss.
Harris Wittels (April 20, 1984 – February 19, 2015) was an American comedian, writer and podcast. His book is Humblebrag: The Art of False Modesty.
ZAK: Whoa, I just realized this. Today is the one -year anniversary of The Best Advice Show. We are more than 250 episodes in. Here's to another at least 250. In honor of this one-year celebration I would love to your advice. Give me a call on the hotline at 844-935-BEST. Ok, lets get to today's show. I never met Harris Wittels but in my mind, we were dear friends. I get the feeling he had the effect on people. Even if you've never heard his name before, you've you've probably laughed at Harris' jokes. He was a writer on Parks and Rec. and the Sarah Silverman Program, Master of None and Eastbound and Down. He also hosted one of my all time favorite podcasts, Analyze Phish, in which harris, who loved Phish more than most things, spends hours and hours trying to get his co-host, Scott Aukerman, to like Phish too. The band Phish I'm talking about. Harris also invented a word. Before harris, we didn't have a word for an ostensibly modest or self-deprecating statement whose actual purpose is to draw attention to something of which one is proud. Yes, the humblebrag. We have harris to thank for that. Today is 4-20. Harris' birthday. Harris Wittels was born on 4-20. That this is a fact makes the world worth living. Harris died in February of 2015 when he was just 30. Since that time, Harris' sister, Stephanie, has flown her younger brothers flag. In the wake of his overdose, she started a podcast, Last Day in his honor and subsequently she co-founded a media company called Lemonada which recons with the messy, ugly, hilarious, painful parts of living so very well. And so, today, on Harris' bday, I'm here to talk to Stephanie about just one of the many pieces of advice Harris left us.
STEPHANIE: He used to say quit future-tripping. And one of our dear friends from high school got that tattooed on his arm. And its become this kind of mantra for a bunch of very high strung, anxious, neurotic people. And I think what it means is that very cliched, like, live in the moment and you can't control what happens tomorrow. So I love that advice and I have internalized and tried to abide by that as much as possible. There's been a lot of things that have happened to me in the past 5 years, 6 years that, you know, pre-COVID, that would have caused me to future-trip...have caused me to future-trip.
ZAK: What does your future-tripping look like?
STEPHANIE: Oh, it's movies in mind. I direct them. Star in them. Produce them. Sound-design them. Edit them. They are sprawling. There are multiple sequels and I can just really get caught up in anxiety. I have very intense anxiety. I'm medicated for it. God bless medication. But, I can seriously spiral out on if this, then this and it's not real. It's not steeped in reality. It's steeped in my version of reality. It's steeped in a lot of fear and for me fear is about everything that we can't control. Everything that's unknown. And the thing about life is, it's all unknown! It is all unknown. I am talking to you right now...in five minutes, I have no idea what's gonna happen. I can predict based on prior experience living my life everyday but I truly do not know. So, that's what it looks like for me.
ZAK: Next time you're getting ahead of yourself. Directing movies in your mind. Just think of Harris and his advice. Quit future-trippin'. If you don't know Harris' work, give him a Goog. He was one of the greats. You can listen to Stephanie's podcast, Last Day, wherever you hear The Best Advice Show. Thanks, Stephanie.