Writing Jokes with Ari Mannis (Indoor Soccer Shoes)

The biggest challenge was finding other people who were as weird as me who wanted to do the trip.

[@arimannis on Twitter]
Ari Mannis

What’s your name and where did you grow up?

Ari Mannis, I grew up in San Diego, CA.

What’s interesting or uninteresting about San Diego?

I don’t know that there was anything specifically interesting about San Diego. It’s a great city with nothing really bad to say about it; good weather so I played a lot of sports outside. I went to a private Jewish elementary school then went to a public middle school, then got sent to a Military High School in Roswell, New Mexico; then I went back to public high school for my last two years… thats kinda interesting I think.

What did your parents do for a living when you were a kid?

Mom is a Personal Injury lawyer, dad is an ER Doctor… so I am quite the disappointment.

Why did you first want to start performing comedy? What was the first joke or bit you tried on stage?

I have always loved watching comedy and wanted to try it but I finally got the nerve to try it because I saw a TBS Comedy Competition in college… so I signed up. First joke I did on stage was about cutting down a tree. I have completely rewritten it and still use it. Someone also animated the story for me.

Ari Mannis and his team plan to skateboard across the country to raise awareness and money towards kids at-risk.

SkateAcrossUSA seems like such a grueling, righteous endeavor. How did you come up with the idea? What were some of the biggest challenges?

Oh man, so much to say about SkateAcrossUSA, when I transferred high schools I was a loner and got really into longboarding, I would skate everywhere and just decided I wanted to skate across the country because I wanted to be extreme. The biggest challenge was finding other people who were as weird as me who wanted to do the trip. I had to cancel the trip several times due to people being pussies and bailing. It was definitely grueling but one of the best experiences of my life, especially the second trip from Santa Cruz to San Diego.

Can you explain how Indoor Soccer Shoes came together?

Really it came from me and my friends Hormoz Rashidi and Matthew Siegan sitting in a room together smoking weed and wanting to shoot dumb videos. We are inconsistent but definitely plan on making more sketches, the real issue is we are lazy. Also Hormoz got a girlfriend so I don’t get to see him as much. The pros and cons of meeting a lady.

The gang meets up for a book reading.

You do a lot of fast food reviews online. Where is your least favorite place to eat in LA? What are some of the misconceptions about eating on a budget?

I love junk food/fast food. My least favorites are probably Del Taco, Subway, and Jack in the Box but I still eat all three. I would say a misconception is that fast food is cheap. Its only cheap if you limit yourself to a few items off the value menu but when I go to fast food I pig out and usually spend 10+ dollars. Reading my answer makes me want to do pushups right now… I need to get healthier.

What do you like or dislike about the comedy scene in Los Angeles?

There are a lot of great shows in LA, great comedians, industry, and producers. You can find almost everything you need, if I need to cast a sketch or find writers, producers, etc…

However I do not like a lot of the terrible terrible open mics at coffee shops and weird venues that are terrible for performing. I do not like bringers shows. That being said, there is a real community amongst the comedy scene. All my best friends are comedians or related to the industry somehow and I have a hard time relating to anyone else.

Were you at The Comedy Store during the shooting last week? There is such a huge dichotomy between comedy and violence, so it’s really unsettling to hear about that. What are your thoughts on what happened?

I work at the Comedy Store and happened to be right there behind the front door when it happened. I am not really supposed to talk about it. Although all the info from the event has been posted online on blogs and such. I’ll just say it was really sad what happened, it was traumatic for me that night but I am glad none of my friends got hurt and I am glad the show that attracted the murderer to the venue has been canceled. I think it brought everyone in the community closer together in the end.

What are some projects you’re working on now?

I have a lot of sketches written that I would like to shoot one of these days if I can find the time. I built a Podcast Studio at the Comedy Store and would like to start doing my podcast Unlicensed Therapy more often. Me and my comedian friend Steven Garza wrote a Mockumentary we hope to make. Also of course hope to continue building my stand up and get validated with industry credits of some sort. I guess it feels like a lot of things but nothing all at the same time.

What’s the dumbest superhero name you can think of?

Captain Dicknut, off the top of my head.

Why are jokes funny?

To me jokes are funny when they make you think of something you can relate to in a different way. Twists, turns and the unexpected. Then of course I also love absurdness and dick jokes. Dick jokes are always funny. That isn’t how I wanted to end the interview but you know what I am ok with ending on a dick joke.


Ari is a comedian (@StandUpTalk) adventurer (@SkateAcrossUSA) more and he also likes Taco Bell.


Interview by Zuri Irvin (@withzuri)

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