Adam Conover is an American stand-up comedian and television host. He is the host of the half-hour truTV show Adam Ruins Everything, which is based on a CollegeHumor series of the same name.
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Hi, I'm Adam Conover. I'm the creator and host of Adam Ruins Everything on truTV. If you haven't seen the show, here are some clips.
UPDATE: Thanks for having me everybody! I may answer a few more assorted question later, but for now I have to run! A few links: If you like the show, please check out our podcast, and if you want to watch me play videogames, follow me on Twitch!
My dad is a skeptic of your show, saying you only analyze one angle and cherry pick details for your arguments. However, I quite enjoy the show because it sheds light on areas we aren't as likely to look at.
That being said, I recall you doing an interview in which you said you would like to do an Adam Ruins "Adam Ruins Everything" Episode, in which you go back and re-examine past episodes to show how you were wrong or could have improved your arguments. Is this still a plan? I enjoy all episodes, but I'm sure my dad would love this concept.
Here's something I want to be really clear about: If your dad is watching the show skeptically, he is doing it right! I never claim to be the fount of all knowledge on the show - I'm just a curious comedian who's done a bunch of research and is showing you what he's found. But we want the viewer to engage in that same process of curiosity and questioning about the show itself! That's why we put our sources onscreen and list them online; to give you the tools to check our work and do your own research! We're not perfect -- it's certainly possible that we've gotten some topics wrong. And if we're proven wrong, that's a good thing, as far as I'm concerned! That's how knowledge moves forward!
We are totally keeping alive the idea of doing a "corrections" episode -- the only thing in our way is that we haven't yet found enough topics that we're wrong about! That said, this season we are starting to fold this theme into the narrative - there is an episode where Adam presents a point of view, and then is informed in the next act that he has been looking at the issue the wrong way. Keep an eye out for it, your dad might like it!
Is there a specific "adam ruins everything" that you really want to do but havent be able to?
Whats your favorite episode?
I am incredibly proud of our Death episode from last year. Quite a few people have told me that it has helped them get over their fear of death, which is the best thing I could possibly hear about the show.
This year we talked about doing an episode on weight loss and what we culturally get wrong about it, which is a fascinating topic with a ton of potential for our show, but we weren't able to get the research in a place we were happy with in time; the problem is that the state of science on dieting and weight loss is very nebulous, so it's hard to come to strong conclusions. So we decided to take a beat and do it next year when we're able to research it more thoroughly. We have a few other topics like that, that we know we want to do and are going to wait until we can do them properly. Likewise, there are a few topics we wanted to do last year that we waited to do until this year! (Our upcoming season finale about climate change, for instance.)
I wondered, which topic surprised you most when you started researching it?
Honestly, the hymen topic! When this topic came up in our writer's room, I actually didn't know it! My mind was totally blown -- I had been wrong about how the hymen worked my whole life. That's one of the best things about working on this show -- no matter how much you think you know, there's always more out there to be surprised by.
What has been your favorite thing to ruin thus far?
Let's see -- for sheer "holy shit" factor, the original ARE topic on the history of the engagement ring is hard to beat. It's just mind-boggling to people that what we think of as a bedrock cultural tradition was created by corporate marketing less than a century ago. Heck, even I still get astonished when I think about it! And hey, that's the topic that led to the entire show, so it's "ruin" I owe my career to in a way!
has working with the network limited your ability to make meaningful content?
Not at all. TruTV has been fantastic to work with, and has enthusiastically encouraged us to follow through on our most ambitious plans. I mean, our season finale last year was a half-hour show on the inevitability of death that starts with a 3 minute monologue in which I tell the viewer they're going to die. A lot of networks wouldn't have been brave enough to put that on TV, but Tru was!
On top of which, despite being an advertising-driven network, they have been more than willing to let us do pieces on major advertisers like Tylenol and Gatorade. Occasionally we've had a conversation about how exactly to use a particular company's name, but they have always been careful to never get in the way of us telling the truth as impactfully as possible. Heck, this year we are doing a major piece criticizing the cable monopolies (for keeping Americans' internet speeds below those of other countries, among other things), and Tru is owned by Time Warner, one of the monopolies we criticize by name! They have been way more courageous than nearly any other network would be, and deserve all due credit for that!
Hey Adam! Big fan. Been watching since the beginning of the Web version of your show.
Are you anything like your onscreen persona? As in, abrasive (to the characters) know-it-all?
Question 2. Who would win a fight, Goku or Superman?
Also, my fiancé wanted to ask "Hey Adam, thanks for ruining cats. That's not a question, but thanks. :(".
Hi WixepUq! Thanks for the question. My onscreen character on the show is very much based on my real self. Specifically, it's based on the way I felt when I was around 15 or 17 years old; I was full of information and energy, but had trouble connecting with other people, and often felt lonely -- like I was fundamentally different than other people, and that people just dind't like me. It was a rough time! Now, after years of doing comedy and interacting with people, I'm a lot more confident and socialized than I was back then, and don't have trouble making friends -- but that feeling is still a deep part of me! So when it came time to create a comedy character based on myself, it was a natural place to draw from.
And Goku, obviously.
Hey Adam! Big fan.
Is there a topic you would really LOVE to ruin, but you are having a hard time finding supporting facts?
Good question! Our writers' room was really into the idea of doing a "Sleep" episode, because it would allow us to write a lot of crazy dream sequences! The problem was that we weren't able to find that many interesting stories for the episode -- we had one about how people used to sleep differently (much longer) before indoor lighting, but other than that we didn't have a lot of hard, surprising facts to go with. So we backburnered it. On our show, great comedy and narrative ideas always have to take a backseat to the information, as sad as that is sometimes!
I loved the episode where you ruined wine snobs.
Any chance are you going to try and ruin either beer, whiskey, or cigar snobs?
PS, go easy. I love all of those items.
Honestly, probably not -- I feel like the argument about wine snobbery is so easily extended to other forms of connoisseurship that it would feel like we're repeating ourselves! The fact is, aesthetic appreciation just ISN'T scientific and objective -- and that's okay! That's why all these items are so fun to compare and talk about!
How did truTV find you? What was the transition from College Humor to cable TV like?
Short version: When we made the original web shorts for CollegeHumor, we knew we had a hit on our hands, so we put together a TV pitch, then went around to different networks taking pitch meetings and presenting our idea for the show. TruTV was the network that was brave and wild enough to order a pilot, and after they saw it, they liked it and ordered the series! That's the whole story.
The transition has been wild, but wonderful! I'm busier than I've ever been, but I'm getting to say things I care deeply about on the biggest platform possible. It's an incredible opportunity and I'm enormously grateful to have it, so I work as hard as I can at it every day.
I'm happy to hear that there will be a 3rd upcoming year. Woot!
Well, I should clarify: We are not yet officially picked up for a 3rd year of episodes. But I am always optimistic, so I often act as though we are. :)
Adam! I know you! Fancy seeing you here. My question is, how are you?
I'm doing great! How are you?
What fact or idea was "ruined" for you that made you want to start this series?
The engagement ring fact, for sure. That was the first one we ever did -- I actually did this "ruin" as part of my standup act before we even made the first video for CollegeHumor - and it's what led to the whole series.
Love the show, especially it's production style.
How long does it take to produce each episode, and has budgeting been a concern or limit? [especially with that massive TruTV cash rolling in!]
Bonus Q: Since you've been compared to Alton Brown, any chance we'll see a team up with both of you anytime soon?
Thank you for the kind words! Our show is extremely effortful and time-consuming to make! Here's a basic breakdown of the timeline for an episode:
1 week pitching topics
1 week outlining the episode
1 week writing a first draft (research is going on throughout this entire period)
1 month revising the script
4 full days to shoot the script (each of which is a 12 hour shoot day)
3-4 weeks editing the footage, creating graphics, color correcting, etc.
Now, multiply that by the 14 episodes we made this year, and remember that this is happening for 14 episodes simultaneously! It's quite a workload, and one that our staff are absolute superstars for handling.
Regarding Alton Brown: Yeah, people make that comparison a lot. I guess cause we both have glasses and rather square heads? And we both talk fast. I'm a fan of his, obviously, but we've never spoken or communicated in any way! That said, there IS going to be a big cameo on the show later this year that I think everyone is going to be very excited about.
Hey Adam! Is there a topic that you want to ruin but can't because of the show limits?
Nope! See some of my other answers -- there has never been and never will be a topic that is "off limits" as far as I'm concerned; only topics that are harder than others, and that we take some extra time with.
Hi Adam! Love the show.
Are there any topics you wanted to ruin but we're faced with threats of legal action? What about topics you suspect you'd be able to ruin If there was more research supporting your suspicions?
To your first question: Nope! We only do topics where the fundamental research has been done by other people, so we're standing on the shoulders of giants. If DeBeers was of a mind to sue someone, for instance, they would have sued Edward Jay Epstein, the journalist who originally broke the story.
To your second question: I don't really have any in mind! We don't come up with topic and then "see" if there's research supporting them - we start with the research, and let that determine the topics we do.
Hi Adam. Looking back at things you have ruined, have there been any mistakes that you made that you now know? Has your opinion changed on anything?
This is a good question! As I said in another response, I don't claim to have perfect knowledge of the topics I do -- the perspective we present is just what we were able to find after doing our research on each topic, and is always up for revision! I am always open to being corrected on any of our claims. That said, I have not yet had an instance where I feel like we got an idea totally wrong.
The biggest regret I have about the show so far is that in the Voting episode, more people than I'd like came away from the episode thinking "Our election system is corrupt, so now I'm never going to vote!" The fact is, our conclusion was exactly the opposite -- we end with a very clear statement of why it's so important THAT you vote, because democracy is the means by which we fix these problems! (See one of my other answers below for more on this.) Anyone who came away from the ep thinking their vote is useless didn't understand the episode; that said, enough people came away thinking that that I now believe we should have delivered our message differently, and folded in more positive elements earlier on rather than leaving them all for the conclusion. Making the show is a process, and we learn new things with every episode -- that's definitely a lesson we took to heart this year.
Hi Adam, are you single? Asking for a friend.
Nope! My partner is the incredible cartoonist and illustrator Lisa Hanawalt. You may have seen her work on Bojack Horseman!
Hey Adam, loved the web episodes and love the show!
My question is, what topics do you think you're not going to be able to touch upon, sure there will be topics in more serious, less "common sense" stuff that would be better handled by John Oliver... or real journalists if there are still any of those left, but in your wheelhouse of the everyday common knowledge stuff what do you think you and your writers are just not gonna get the execs to give a thumbs up to?
Ah also, is anyone in college humor still in college? Thnx!
Haha, no, no one staff writing for CollegeHumor has been in college for quite awhile! We do hire interns, though, and those folks are still college age! And they even write material sometimes too!
Honestly, I don't think there are any topics that are off limits for the show. Over the two years of producing the show, we've done everything from bathroom hygiene -- a very "everyday" topic -- to the America's terribly broken prison system -- a heavy public policy topic -- to the inevitability of death -- a straight up philosophy topic. I describe us as a "liberal arts comedy show" -- our subject matter is the total sum of human knowledge! There is nothing we can't investigate in a curious, open, funny manner. Same goes for you! Apply your curiosity everywhere!!
Hey Adam. I'm a huge fan and was so thrilled to see your post on Facebook that you're doing this AMA.
1) Will we see Hayley again so that romance will spark? Maybe an Adam ruins the afterlife?
2) What was the worst thing someone ruined for you in real life and do you still do it?
3) Did you sport the Pidgeotto hair before getting into the entertainment industry?
1) Unfortunately, Hayley is dead forever in the world of the show. The reality of death is that it's shocking and final, and we're not going to undermine that!
2) Hard to say! I will say that this flossing report going around shook me a bit. I love flossing!
3) Sure did! I've had this hairstyle for many years.
Hi Adam, can't wait for season 2.
Is there any topic that the network (or any higher-ups) have forbidden you from covering on your show?
Is there any topic you feel will get a second full episode dedicated to it? (My money is on "Sex")
To your first question: Nope! Obviously, they're the network, so we present them with shows we're interested in doing and they give us their feedback on which they are most interested in seeing in a season. But they have never blocked us from doing a topic, ever.
To your second question: Honestly, there is SO much more to do about Cars, I feel like I could do a whole season about it. But I'm really just a crank about that topic -- by the end, I might be the only person still enjoying it!
Any plans to do an episode on the organic industry/GMOs?
(PS my kid loves the episode on voting except now he doesn't think he will vote when he grows up :( )
We have talked about doing an episode about grocery shopping in the future, yep, but I'm not sure what the specific topics will be yet!
And I'm glad he liked the episode on voting! But please tell him that if what he took away is "I'm not going to vote", then he didn't understand the episode. The fact that our election system isn't imperfect isn't a reason not to vote! In fact, as we say very clearly at the end of the episode, it used to be MUCH more imperfect, and the only way we've ever made it better is by USING democracy to improve it -- i.e., by voting! American is and will always be a work in progress, but the big idea behind our system is that it is self-revising -- that we can use democracy to amend the system and make it better! So tell him if he wants to improve the system, the most important thing he can do is be politically active -- and part of that means to VOTE!
Really love "Adam Ruins Everything" and I've noticed video games come up a lot in random moments.
Do you have a favorite video game or video game series?
Oh, I'm a huge gamer! Been playing videogames since I was kid, will play them until I die. It's my favorite artistic medium, frankly. I couldn't begin to list my favorite games, so let me just say that The Witness was one of the best games I've ever played in my life. I actually loved it so much that I convinced the creator Jonathan Blow to come on the Adam Ruins Everything podcast! (The episode isn't out yet -- we'll probably post it in a few weeks.)
Your show is hilarious for sure, big fan! I like the character of Adam in the show because he essentially has this god-like power, omnipresence, and control over the world and the surroundings of the characters that he teaches, but he uses his abilities and talents to educate people not just in the show, but all over the world with the people watching.
My question: will there be an "origin story" episode where we find out what your motivation is to teach all of these people?
I don't want to say more, but the answer is YES.
I only recently discovered your show and it feels like a great spiritual successor to Penn & Teller's Bullshit. Did anyone from your team come from that show and what are the chances of having Penn or Teller appear on a future episode of Adam Ruins Everything?
I watched quite a lot of P&T's Bullshit when I was in college, way back in 2003 or so! I'm a fan of a lot of what those guys do. I've even seen their stage show in Vegas, which was phenomenal. But no, no one from their show works on ours. Though, for the record, I think there is quite a lot of difference between what we do!
Adam, I love the show but don't have cable. What's the best way for a cord-cutter to watch and still support the show and truTV?
Buy the show on iTunes or Amazon!
Do you still work at/with the CH crew? Saw a promo on their channel and was curious about that.
The same production company that produces CollegeHumor's sketches also produce our show! Which is to say, I'm basically making the show with all my buddies from my CH days. It's the best!
Do you follow your own advice? For example, would you decide to not circumcise your son?
Ha! Were I to have a son, I would definitely not circumcise him! That said, I find some topics easier to follow than others -- I still take a shower every day, because I don't "feel clean" otherwise, even though I know it's not necessary! Sometimes these ideas can become so ingrained in us, they're hard to let go of, even when we know the truth! And that's okay, as long as they're not doing any harm -- we're humans, we don't have to be perfectly rational at every moment.
Adam, big fan since your work with Olde English; on a podcast I heard you admit to beating NetHack legitimately... How the hell?
I'm new to the game, but have never gotten past Minetown & Sokoban. Please help this young Hacker!
Haha, thank you! I just got really lucky with a run, I think! Once you get enough momentum you can kind of keep going. I also used ALL the spoilers, of course.
Big fan of the show! After watching the episode on workplaces and salaries, I actually got to discussing salaries with coworkers and we found that several people that did the same job were making less than I was, which gave them the kick they needed to ask for raises.
Have you had anyone else come to you to tell you that your show helped them with a problem they didn't even know they had?
Thank you, PM_ME_UR_ASSES_GIRLS! That's wonderful to hear! Also your username makes me laugh.
A number of people have told me that the Death episode helped them get over their fear of death or their grief at the passing of a loved one, which is the highest praise I could ever hope to receive.
I love your show but I was wondering how much say you have in the topics you cover. How involved are you in the writing process on ARE? And what is something you are looking forward to ruining in future seasons?
We have an incredible writing staff who I could not make the show without, but I oversee every step of the writing process. We have done and will never do a topic that I am not personally interested in, and I review and edit every word I say on the show. It's an incredible collaboration, but at the end of the day I am the person saying the words on television and I take that very seriously!
Adam my boy,
What has your experience been like working at TRU TV? Have you met the impractical jokers?
I have! They are exactly the same funny, down to earth guys in person that they are on TV. Awesome dudes.
First of all... I love you and your show. Let that be on the record.
As for my question...
Are there certain issues or products that you personally live in denial about? (like how most of us still use mouthwash even though you proved halitosis is malarkey, just because we're conditioned to feel like it does something)
Is there a product or action that you still continue to use or do even though you know it's either a scam or completely pointless because it's either a guilty pleasure or because you just can't seem to eliminate them from your life?
Sure are! As I mentioned above, I still shower every day -- can't stop myself, I don't feel clean otherwise!
Hey Adam! My SO and I love the show and I am thrilled that Rachel Bloom was in the first episode! That was a treat for me!
Are there any sources that your team refuse to use for your arguments? Do you consider sample size when sourcing a study?
Also, what hair products do you use?
There are many sources we don't use, yep! We want our sources to be reputable in themselves, so we prefer fact-checked publications that do quality journalism. And yes, we use sample size and consider the validity of the studies we reference as much as possible!