Ari Shaffir: I had wanted to go out and see the world for a while, but the show was a big commitment. And Duncan said, “well, tell them fuck it and just do it.” But I needed to be responsible to the people who worked on the show. So, I filmed my special with Eric, we finished work on season three, I edited my special in November, we had already lined up half the comics for the next season and I knew we wouldn’t be filming again until June. So, I told Eric to find the rest of the comics for season four and promised to be back in time for the next season.
Duncan Trussell: I knew from my understanding of Ari, who’s this wondering free spirit, that it was like taking a wild animal and putting it into a zoo. I mean, mixed into that wild spirit is this technical, ambitious person, but it seems obvious that he’d be getting stressed out. I got to his house in New York I saw him throwing a couple of things from each drawer into what looked like a pretty small backpack. And I knew he was going on a plane to a random country in south east Asia. I asked if he knew what he would do, did he have a plan, and he just said “no, I’m just going to walk around.” And I watched him just walk out the door like Jack Kerouac. I said bye Ari and he disappeared for 4 months. It was beautiful to see him just shrug off and take a big plunge into the great unknown.
Bert Kreischer: I love Ari but there’s a lot of explaining that goes into being friends with Ari. I don’t get his personality, I don’t get his decisions some time. If you get too concerned about why he does the things he does, why he takes off, why he gets rid of his phone, why he only has an iPod shuffle, you’ll lose the joy of Ari. He appeals to your sense of autonomy and independence, that thing that defined us as young comics.
Ari Shaffir: I told Sam I’d locked myself out of social media, email, and changed my phone so no one would be able to contact me. She was very upset. I told her my mom wouldn’t know where I am either, does that make you feel better? And she was like, yes, it kind of does.
Sam Saifer: The term disappears works. Ari was somewhere in the world having an adventure. Eric pretty much took on all the responsibilities. I went after names we wanted because I have those relationships. But for the most part Eric took on everything during those four months.
Eric Abrams: Ari had been planning for a while to take a trip out of the country and completely checking out. He was as unreachable as a person could be in 2017. And I didn’t know when he was coming back. So Brian and I booked the show, so I’d already started taking more control of the show. Ari never contributed to the writing of those opens opening sequences anyway.
Ari Shaffir: I sent a letter letter to Sam and Eric because I knew they wanted to do a show at the Wild, West comedy festival and record for Third Man Records. So I said in the letter, if you book it, I’ll check the website and book a flight home.
Sam Saifer: I think he was a little nervous, but we had a him in a very good company of storytellers.
Ari Shaffir: We did a run through storytelling show at Zanies, then I did pretty bad at a stand-up show, and then we recorded the Third Man Records Show. And they never released the record because they said it was too long and I wasn’t working on the show to edit it down. I was like, please let me edit it, I’ll get it to the right length. Because it was such a good show. We had Liza [Tryeger], Bert [Kreischer], Sean [Patton], Nate [Bargatze], and Ali [Siddiq], who told that mushroom story and I joined him on stage for that one.
Ali Siddiq: At Third Man Records in Nashville, I did that story for the first time, and I think I rushed it on the TV show. The live version, the album version, and TV version are all a little different. The live version and the album version have more detailed and feel less rushed.
Ari Shaffir: And that was the last official This is Not Happening I ever did.
Sean Patton: Ari basically came straight from Asia to the festival. Didn’t go back to New York, just straight from the airport to Nashville. He had neck beard and smelled like travel, just like spices and leather. Had a bag full of filthy clothes. And we hung out, my little brother came to hang out at the festival. I asked when he was going back to New York and he said, I don’t know.” Ari couldn’t check prices because he just had his flip phone. So, he borrows a computer and realizes, tickets are expensive right now. I offered to take him back to New Orleans with my brother and he came along with me on this road trip to New Orleans. And we get to my house and my mom and my sister are both huge fans of The Bonfire. My mom loves Jay but claims to dislike Dan because “he’s always doing the dumb voices, he should just use his own voice.” But they know Ari from that show and he came back to my parents’ house, we all have dinner, and then Ari and my mom got high in the garage together. We spent a couple of days in New Orleans and I’m just showing him the city walking around. Ari was of course shirtless, I wouldn’t dare. And then we got on a plane together and went back home to New York, first time he’d been back in four months.
Ari Shaffir: We had a plan to do a tour and mix and match different comics based on where people were when we got to that city. But then everything went to shit.