Those words were Tweeted to me by a comedian named Dylan Brody.
Dylan wasn’t talking about his art—although I’m sure he approaches that in a similar fashion—he was talking about how he lives. As a complete thought, he was saying: I just try not to suck as a person.
I have never met Mr. Brody.
Truth be told, I’ve only interacted with him twice. The first time was a couple years back when I interviewed him for a comedy-based website. That’s what I did; interviewed comedians to promote their upcoming releases. He had a new CD—Dylan Goes Electric: Live at the Throckmorton—and I was giving him a publicity nudge.
The disc was great, Mr. Brody was personable (and thoughtful), and that was that.
Our second exchange was a couple weeks ago. My newest comedy CD—I Might Not Be Joking—had just come out, so on a whim (and the desperation of having no promotional machine backing me), I fired off a handful of emails to comedians I had interviewed in the past. “Don’t know if you remember me, but I’m trying to push my own project now …”
The next morning, I woke to find my release was #27 on the iTunes Comedy Chart.
I was stunned. My disc was surrounded by Dane Cook, Jim Gaffigan, and several other household names. How had that happened?
I got online and discovered I had a few Twitter notifications; one of them was from Dylan Brody: “My fellow comedian Nathan Timmel has a new CD out…”
That went to Dylan’s 12,000 followers.
I hadn’t put much thought into the initial request; it was more a crossed-fingers “Well, it can’t hurt…” but Goddamn if it hadn’t paid off thanks to the benevolence Blanche DuBois depended on.
The next day, the affable Jim Capie joined in the fun. Jim is another person I have never met; he runs the Twitter feed @Stand_Up_Shots. Basically, if he finds a comedian’s meme funny, he sends it out into the world.
(Unlike other sites I could name, Jim leaves the comedian’s name and credit on the meme. His passion is promoting comedy, and comedians. He doesn’t crop off a comedian’s contact info or try and take credit for someone else’s creativity.)
Like with Dylan, I’ve never met Jim. We’ve exchanged pleasantries—he’s Tweeted jokes of mine; I interviewed him in an attempt to raise awareness for @Stand_Up_Shots—but we’ve never talked about life like friends would. Our exchanges are pleasant, but brief.
Jim responded to my plea for help with a Tweet to his followers. All 48,000 of them.
That put my CD inside the top 20 of the iTunes Comedy Charts.
The reason these two events struck me as so overly kind is: at the same time I messaged Dylan and Jim, I was petitioning my actual friends for support. I had contacted dozens of them: “Hey, any Tweeting or Facebook-sharing of the link to my CD would be appreciated.”
While many, many kind people did help, a few just… didn’t. These were people I had broken bread with and had known for years. It stung a bit when they didn’t reply. Conventional wisdom says you’re supposed to count on your friends, not strangers, for support.
When thanking everyone for their generosity, my friends generally responded with, “Dude, no worries!” Jim Capie replied with an upbeat “Good luck selling this thing, and congrats!”
Dylan Brody was more reserved: “I just strive not to suck.”
In my book, anyone helping another—friend or stranger—doesn’t suck at all.
Quite the opposite, in fact.
Photo: Getty Images