We had the good fortune of connecting with Joe Weber and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Joe, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I’ve always been creative but I never knew how to channel it, or make money off of it. When I was younger, I wanted to be a Chef, so I spent years in kitchens learning new cooking techniques, flavor palettes, and plating. When I eventually achieved my dream of becoming a Chef, it was managing a kitchen at a retirement home, and it wasn’t at all what I had imagined. It’s all administration and management, nothing creative about it. Suddenly everything I had worked my whole life for didn’t mean anything to me anymore, much like how I would imagine meeting an idol who turns out to be super boring would feel like. So after 10 years in the restaurant business, I decided to pursue a career through another aspect of my life that had become my most cherished hobby: comedy. It took a lot of hard work and networking, but finally I’m doing something creative again, and it’s way more rewarding than I had ever expected. I write funny and informative car videos for a YouTube channel and I love every minute of it. Sure, it’s not at all where I thought I’d be by my age – I mean, I wasn’t even into cars when I started – it’s so much better. I get to be creative every single day, and I actually love having the creative parameters of “car content” to work with.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Writing is my main job, but the company that I work for, Donut Media, is small enough that I can basically do whatever I want. If I want to see an episode made, I can pitch it, write it, produce it, direct it, sometimes even co-host the episode. If I have an idea for a dumb song, I can make it and bring it in, and 99% of the time all my coworkers love it and drop it in one of our videos. That’s what makes our videos so special, and I derive a great deal of pride from that. I got to the point I am today because Donut made me feel comfortable enough to pitch some really kooky things, which ended up being huge hits. It felt easy because I wasn’t doing anything I didn’t want to do, but when I look back, I put in countless hours making sure my ideas were worthy of putting out there, and convincing myself in the process. I’ve learned to trust myself and trust my ideas. If you run into resistance, do a ton of research and become an expert, then when you pitch that idea again you can back it up with facts and you’ll also come off as more confident during the pitch. It’s not “fake it ’til you make it”, it’s more like “do your homework because no one else will”.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Ooooh I love taking visitors around LA. People from the midwest are predisposed to hate this city, so it’s always really fun showing them that LA isn’t just Hollywood Blvd. First thing in the morning, I’d take them to get a breakfast burrito and fresh juice at the Tropicana Market in Highland Park. “What a cute market and delicious burrito!” they’d probably say. After that, we bop over to Huntington Garden and walk off our burrito in the amazing outdoor space. After that, we could waste an hour at Galco’s Old World Market browsing their rare and worldly sodas and beers. For dinner, I’d take them to Salazar, a casual Mexican spot near Dodger Stadium with amazing sides like street corn, street tacos and other things that have “street” in the name. After napping off all that street food in Barnsdall Park watching the sunset, I’d take my guest to the Glendale Tap where we would taste small snifters of craft beer while conversing over a bowl of salty shelled peanuts.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d love to give a big shoutout to James Pumphrey, who forcibly got my foot in the door and convinced me that I indeed wanted to be a writer, and not an assistant editor, which I kept insisting on during my interview. I wouldn’t be where I am without him and he’s a big inspiration.