Crazy Adventures and Looking at the World Differently with Jeff Seal: PYP 286

Jeff Seal is a comedian, documentarian, adventurer, and undercover clown operating out of New York City.

One of my son Elan's favorite YouTube artists, Jeff points out the hilarity, absurdity, and injustices of life through art and comedy.

When Elan shared Jeff's work with me, I was particularly struck by his videos on dumpster diving and train-hopping.

Both shared a common theme: finding freedom by questioning assumptions about what is and isn't “OK” to do in a consumer society where our supposed freedoms are undermined by unthinking obedience.

I reached out to Jeff partly to learn something from his experience and skill in educating his audience through humor, vulnerability, and art.

The conversation turned into one of my favorites. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

We covered:

  • Jeff's interest in comedy from an early age
  • studying mime in Paris and clowning in San Francisco
  • inspiration from Charlie Chaplin movies and the script of Waiting For Godot
  • “my dad could talk to anyone”
  • the gifts of mild OCD and Tourette's Syndrome
  • the difference between Jeff's danger-seeking and “Jackass”
  • the origins and meaning of dumpster diving
  • “It's like going to a flea market where everything is free”
  • putting dumpster diving in context: research on food waste and climate change
  • adding layers of politics and commentary to his videos
  • why Jeff adds #whiteprivilege hashtag to his train hopping videos
  • “clowns have to be vulnerable… the joke is on the clown, not the audience”
  • creating the Guardian Angels video series and meeting original Guardian Angel founder Curt Sliwa
  • going “Roger and Me” on the 100 worst landlords in New York City
  • the honking video and finding other things “hidden in plain sight”
  • getting more involved with democratic socialism, and Corey Robin's New York Times opinion piece “The New Socialists”
  • how to eat well for health: following Anthony Bourdain's “good ingredients cooked simply”
  • “Just eat real fucking food” vs the mind-bending hacks that pass for weight loss advice
  • tips for sharing and advocacy (“palpable enthusiasm” and “be vulnerable, not didactic” and “don't be afraid of ambiguity in art”
  • the tension between being true to his art, and employing strategies to get more subscribers and monetize his YouTube channel
  • and much more…

Enjoy, add your voice to the conversation via the comment box or audio recording box below, and please share – that's how we spread our message and spread our roots.

Talk Back


Jeff's website

Jeff's YouTube Channel

Corey Robin's New York Times opinion piece: “The New Socialists”

The Honking Video

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