Carolla Digital's Bryan Bishop on His New Book "Shrinkage"

Carolla Digital's Bryan Bishop on His New Book "Shrinkage"
  • Ram, this is pretty cool -- we were able (through our buddy Matt Fondiler) to get Bryan Bishop -- or as he's better known "Bald Bryan" -- to come on ReplyAll to talk about his new book "Shrinkage: Manhood, Marriage and the Tumor That Tried to Kill Me." Bryan's website is and you can preorder the book from his site -- but if you're going to do it on Amazon...put a little wind in the sails of the pirate ship.

    Normally, I would want to talk to Bryan about co-hosting the Carolla Show, how the hell he learned to drop sound like he does and why kids SHOULD play tackle football.

    But not today. Bryan, welcome to the blogcast! When did you decide to write this book?
  • I'm very excited. There is so much I want to ask Bryan.

    Bryan, I am, no, we are, massive fans. If I had to pick the number one job (that I would want to do), it would be your job at The Adam Carolla Show (as the "sound\drops" guy), but only if I was as good as you are at it.

    But we'll get to that later. As Zach was saying, tell us about the book and when did you decide to write it.
  • (Keep it in your pants Ram!)
  • Hey Zach and Ram. First of all, thanks for asking me to do this. I think it's a cool idea.

    To answer your first question, I'm not sure when I first had the idea to write "Shrinkage." Probably when I was approached by an agent who said, "You should really write a book." To which I said "Maybe." Then he said, "I think we can sell it to a publisher." To which I said "When do you want it?"

    In all seriousness, I was a Creative Writing major at USC, so the notion of writing a book was kind of always in the back of my mind. I just happened to be lucky enough to get cancer so I had something dramatic to write about.
  • So, as Ram mentioned, you've got what I think many consider a really cool career gig, even before you were a noted author. Many people would switch jobs with you, even if, in certain instances, it meant taking less money.

    I realize this is very personal but I'm wondering if, at any point you've done the following math in your head: "would people switch lives with me, even if it came with the health risks?"
  • At this point, I should denote my drunken replies with #drunk.

    That's a really interesting point. I've never stopped to consider that. Knowing how *I* look at life, i would never take an iffy life expectancy in exchange for a fun job.

  • Way to spend quality time on book discussion Zach *Goes back and counts 1 question* :)

    Also, need to point out that along with Carolla, Bald Bryan hosts an awesome movie podcast all should check out called "The Film Vault"
  • Wonder if this next reply will be #hungover :-)

    Part of why I was really excited to talk to you is that I have an unhealthy obsession with cancer. My wife actually works as a nurse on the pediatric oncology floor at Sloan Kettering and, even though she doesn't bring work home with her, I still hear my fair share of horror stories.

    I'm not a hypochondriac but, anytime I experience pain for more than a few days -- even if it's clearly from playing football -- I start thinking about Joseph Gordon Levitt's character in 50/50.

    Listening to you talk about cancer though, it seems like you've moved past hypochondria to this strangely healthy attitude about cancer and life/death. Is that just your personality or did you make a conscious decision to shape this healthy outlook?
  • Zach, this last question is a good one. Bryan, after listening to you on the Dr. Drew podcast (riveting episode BTW), I understood that you partly made a lot of changes because of what you went through. How did getting cancer, and going from "three months to live" to the tumor shrinking, shape your perspective?

    (As a side note to the above hypochondriac comment, I recommend that you guys watch a show on Animal Planet called Monsters Inside Me. It's about parasites in humans and it's riveting. But it will easily make you a hypochondriac [at least it did that to me]).
  • Re: my oddly healthy attitude towards life/death: I think that's a lot more nature than it is nurture. Ie, that was honestly my initial reaction to the situation, not something I fostered or crafted. I guess it's just my personality.

    Re: cancer shaping my perspective: as I said on Drew's podcast (thanks for listening, BTW), cancer gave me a new appreciation for the mundane and ordinary. I can't tell you how nice it is to worry about the garbage man coming too early rather than worrying about whether you'll live long enough to see your own wedding.

  • I mentioned 50/50 -- which I think did not get enough love -- but I'm curious, since you're a movie guy, were there any movies dealing with cancer or illness that resonated with you? Or any that rubbed you the wrong way?
  • Side point: who wrote the Baldywood jingle and did they intend for that song to get stuck in my head for whole weeks at a time?
  • Mike Lynch and Rich Banks are to credit/blame for the Baldywood theme song. I agree, it is maddeningly catchy.

    I'm glad you brought up "50/50," because I thought it was the best movie of 2011 and the fact that it got zero Oscar nominations - in a particularly weak year for movies - was baffling and upsetting. I was so incredibly impressed by "50/50" - the way it was funny, poignant, insightful, heartbreaking, subtle, and most of all, honest. Basically, everything I hope my own book will be.
  • That's good to hear because I was watching 50/50 and saying to myself "how am I the only one who thinks this is good?"

    Another movie that I thought got no buzz was "This is 40." Up until recently, I hadn't seen it mostly because, after it came out I had heard some negative things, figured I'd wait till it came out on DVD/Netflix/illegal stream and then never followed up. I credit Ram, who forced me to watch it recently, and I was blown away.

    Maybe I've got a dysfunctional family (or just a ballbreaker of a wife), but it was like Judd Apatow was watching my marriage and taking notes.
  • Btw -- how much did "50/50" mimic reality (or, at least, your reality)?
  • I have not seen "This is 40," mostly for the reasons you mentioned: I've heard so many negative and depressing things about it, I just gave up hope at some point. Kind of like "The Counselor," another movie I had high hopes for.

    But - speaking of Judd Apatow movies - let me bring it full circle by addressing an earlier question. You asked if there were any movies about illness that rubbed me the wrong way. Well, "Funny People" with Adam Sandler was a movie with a great premise: A-list comedian gets deadly cancer. Then it inexplicably abandoned its premise halfway through for a far-less interesting subplot about his long-lost love or some bullshit. Outside of Leslie Mann's agent, I doubt anyone thought this was a good creative decision.
  • Bryan. First, I couldn't agree more about "Funny People," should have started that title with "Not So..." I have a good idea, let's get a-list comedians and put them in a movie called Funny People that is NOT FUNNY AT ALL. That rubbed me the wrong way.
  • Bryan back to the book for one second. How come they scheduled the book to come out in May?
  • (Seriously! I'm ready to read this book now!)
  • I'm learning a lot about the publishing industry as I go. Apparently, the process of getting a book published can take forever. In my case, there was the proposal, the offer, the negotiation, the contract, the actual writing, the title, the cover, the photo shoot, the editing, the lawyers, the proof reading... And there's still a lot to do. It's a fun and interesting process, but it can be tedious and time-consuming. From the time I signed the contract to the time the book is published, 16 months will have passed.
  • Btw, circling back, I would encourage you, as a guy who likes good movies, to watch "This is 40," especially if you've ever enjoyed an episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond." They're polarizing in the same way. I have friends who can't be in the room when ELR is on TV and I also have friends that still watch reruns every night because it's so relatable.

    My theory is that a good chunk of marriages, even though they're happy marriages, get by on a healthy dose of hate and yelling (Ram and I both fall into this category). But if you're from a shoutless marriage or a just a unhappy marriage, "This is 40" can be painful. I know Adam was a big fan and I imagine that, based on his descriptions, his marriage is of the happy shouter variety.

    Bryan -- as big as the Carolla audience is, I imagine you also want people who don't listen to the podcast to buy your book.

    (Speaking of which, you can preorder now at Bryan's site

    How did you make sure to include enough "inside humor" without alienating people on the outside? Or did you just say, "Fuck it, I'm writing this book for my core audience."
  • Great question Zach.

    Bryan, without revealing too much (or, please, reveal as much as you want/can), in the book, how deep do you get into your "personal" life in terms of your marriage/relationship with your wife as well as with others in your family?

    I can't wait until May.
  • I probably defaulted more towards writing the book for a new/general audience. Ie, one that was not familiar with the podcast. That said, there are PLENTY of tidbits/inside jokes that the podcast audience will appreciate.

    In terms of personal details in the book... There's a ton of personal and embarrassing information in the book. I mentioned it when Jay Mohr was recently on the show, but his book was a huge influence on me. I tried to have the same level of honesty and self-deprecation in "Shrinkage."
  • Circling back because we were talking about movies that didn't get enough love -- we are after all talking to Bryan -- Friday Night Lights (which was on Showtime tonight) continues to be criminally underrated. The series was phenomenal but the movie was sublime.

    And now back to your regularly scheduled program.

  • Criminally? I dunno. My recollection is that it was pretty well-reviewed. It's definitely one of the most realistic/least-stylized depictions of football I've seen.
  • I think, as far as rotten tomatoes goes, it did pretty well but it certainly didn't get as much acclaim as the TV series. But, as someone who grew up around Texas high school football -- the name Abramowitz just screams Texas high school football right? -- I was really blown away with how accurate a picture they painted.

    Bryan, now that you've cohosted the Carolla show, started your own podcast and written your own book, are there any other creative endeavors that you think, "Hey, I could probably do that too?" Is a screenplay (not even necessarily based on the book) in your future?
  • A screenplay is always something I've been meaning to write. There's even been talk about a second book. But really, my main goal would be to collaborate on fun projects with the friends I have in the entertainment industry. Sounds kind of vague, I know, but I'm lucky enough to have friends who work in so many interesting and creative fields within this industy. And we (I'm talking about everyone in the world) are often forced to work with assholes, so why not work with friends when you have the choice?
  • Bryan, that's definitely a true statement. Why work with assholes when you can work with friends. Hmmm. I might have to stop doing this blogcast with Zach!

    Bryan, I have to circle back to the movie thing.
    First, I noticed that your avatar is of transformers. I love it. And like you, I LOVED EVERY one of the Transformers movies, including "that piece of shit Transformers 2." Do you love the movies because it was your favorite childhood show/toys, like me, or because of the graphics, or the idea that alien robots would just be the-tits?

    And, along the same movie questioning, have you seen The Wolf Of Wall Street yet? And what do you think of it? Unless of course you are going to review it in Hurray for Baldywood, in which case, just give us a taste of your thoughts. (BTW, I read the book and loved it, and recommended the movie to people before I ever saw it, just based on the book. So far everyone that I know liked it).
  • I saw the Wolf of Wall Street today and talked about it on tonight's Carolla Show. So you should be hearing it shortly.

    As for Transformers, I do legitimately enjoy the movies (some more than others), but I imagine that has a lot to do with my obsession with them as a child. If I was my parents' age, I'm guessing I'd feel a lot less passionately about them.
  • Bryan, one of my favorite routines of yours -- and I wish you did it more often -- is your Jack Silver voice. Now I've never met Jack Silver but I did work at a radio station so I feel like I'm inside the joke.

    It's hard to explain to people who haven't worked in radio the overwhelming incompetence at the senior management level. To me, it's the closest the private sector has come to mimicking a government work place. I would love to see you ultimately write something (maybe your first screenplay?) about a radio station. I'm actually surprised that NBC hasn't done an Office/Parks & Rec style show.

    Now could you please regal us with tales of Jack Silver?
  • I've long suspected the same thing. An "Office"-style single-camera show about a failing radio station (I guess I could have just said "radio station") would be great. Maybe I'll write a pilot.

    As for Jack Silver stories, you're just going to have to wait for the book. But if Jack stories are what you crave, it'll be worth the wait. I promise.
  • And an extra motivation to get the audio version!
  • Zach, so true. Bryan, I think both Zach and I are hoping you'd do the audio book and use your Jack Silver voice.

    Bryan, speaking of tv shows. You review movies all the time, but I'm not sure that we know your taste in tv shows. Tell us, what are good tv shows that you are currently watching, or shows that you can't wait until the next season starts.
  • Bryan, you really should sell a version of the audio book that's all the Jack Silver bits stitched together. Btw, I hope your book, in addition to capturing your battle with cancer, explains why every radio station I've ever been to has the most vile and awful bathroom in existence.
  • Ram, I don't watch a ton of TV shows. I kind of willingly gave up on TV at a very young age. Partly because I enjoyed watching movies and sports immensely more, and partly because I looked at sitcoms of the day (80s and 70s reruns) and determined they were crap. Now, that may sound pompous, but honestly, you can't tell me now - in the midst of a true Golden Age of television - that "classic" shows like "The Love Boat" and "Silver Spoons" were any good. Because they weren't. They were all people had. I actually feel bad for people who have such a high level of nostalgia for old TV shows. I want to say to them, "You like THAT show? Because I can recommend 50 movies right now that are god damned works of art that I promise you'll like better."

    Zach, there actually is a scene or two in Shrinkage that takes place in a bathroom. But that's all I'll say.
  • Shitting on TV and talking about sports. Ram totally lost his boner.
  • Haha, ok, well I do watch SOME TV, of course. Along with sports programming like HBO's Real Sports (a show that even non-sports fans should love), I've never missed an episode of The Colbert Report. Far and away my favorite show. Other shows I love and watch as often as I can: Modern Family, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Tosh.0.
  • Bryan,

    Please tell me you've watched Breaking Bad.
  • I hear it's great.
  • Ram is taking down his signed Bald Bryan poster.

    When Bryan Cranston comes by the studio you should hit him up with "I hear Breaking Bad is really good, you know like really really good."
  • Ha. Bryan. You should try it out. It IS a great show.

    Btw. Nice win in the tv trivia Christmas addition.

    Bryan. Are you going to be doing something similar to Ace with the book cover signing where the first however many send you the book covers and you sign them?
  • Zach: I would feel much more comfortable saying that to him than... oh, I don't know... "You were in Drive? I've been shitting on that terrible movie for years!"

    Ram: there has been talk of doing signed bookplates or something similar for pre-orders. If we do anything like it, we will definitely include people who have already pre-ordered.
  • Bryan, this has been a lot of fun.

    Before you go, please leave us with some links and plug anything and everything you're working on.
  • Thanks you guys, it was a lot of fun. Every link for the book can be found here at my website: And if you want to get relentless tweets about it in the coming months, follow me on Twitter (@BaldBryan).

    Thanks again.