Duncan Trussell is a stand-up comedian and host of The Duncan Trussell Family Hour, known for its blend of humor, fringe ideas, eclectic guests, and great interviews. In addition, Duncan has appeared on Curb Your Enthusiasm, Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time, Funny or Die’s Drunk History, and is a frequent guest on the Joe Rogan Experience.
I first met Duncan in April at his You Are God show in Boston at the Wilbur Theater. Duncan and Mikey Kampmann, the tour emcee, were gracious and let Psymposia display our psychedelic propaganda at their merch table. Afterwards, we hopped on the You Are God bus to record this podcast with Rick Doblin.
In October Psymposia hosted Psychedelic Stories with Duncan Trussell in Brooklyn, and then grabbed drinks and watched the second debate…This conversation picks up around there. Catch Duncan, Shane Mauss, and Adam Strauss in April at MAPS’ Psychedelic Science 2017 in Oakland.
Brian: You actually gave Ram Dass a Trump shirt.
Duncan: Yes!!!! It said “Be Trump Now” and had Trump’s face in something akin to the Be Here Now cover.
Not to get too nerdy here, but one of my favorite moments in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy is when they happen upon Tom Bombadil who is this eternal god-like being that lives in the center of a mystical forest. When Bombadil holds up the ring of power, this terrible cursed item capable of destroying the normal way of things in Middle Earth, he just laughs at it.
He thinks it’s funny and not funny in a sarcastic, ironic way but actually funny. This is what awakened beings do with all negative phenomena. They convert it from a lower density to a higher density, and they do it instantaneously and effortlessly. So giving Ram Dass a Trump t-shirt was like giving Tom Bombadil the ring of power.
Just watching him laugh at it transformed its ugly voodoo power into something far less frightening.
Update: President Trump. Still laughing?
YES!!! But it’s a nervous laugh.
The same thing!
How has watching sports helped you cope with this trauma?
I’ve recently become addicted to World Of Warcraft. Not sure if that’s related.
What’s the nicest thing you have to say about Trump?
Trump is a foreshock coming from the impending technological singularity. He’s a blast of novelty resulting from a relatively brand new technology—emails—being hacked and exposing Hillary Clinton’s shadow side, which scared the shit out of people. If you’re afraid of Trump then strap in because as technology continues its exponential acceleration we’ll see things that make a Trump presidency seem like the most normal and natural thing that could have ever happened.
Duncan Trussell, Mike Margolies, Brian Normand, Adam Strauss
I guess Bernie would have won huh?
Who knows! Impossible to say.
Accepting some Trump supporters is the greatest example ever and the definition of radical inclusion in my book.
Inclusion and permission are not the same thing. You include your child as a member of your family, but that doesn’t mean you let him do whatever he wants. As Ram Dass says, never kick anyone out of your heart. This doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to resist them; it just means that you need to figure out a way to lovingly resist. For more info on this, study MLK.
Be radically honest, did you think he could really win? I swear I’m not being snarky.
For a long time I’ve thought that the political system was completely rigged, so I definitely thought Hillary would win no matter what. The Trump victory is like watching a dart trap set up by the Founding Fathers spring into action. For better or for worse the system worked. A massive group of disenfranchised people who feel ignored or pissed off at the status quo peacefully revolted against an entrenched political class. In one night the Democratic Party was peacefully conquered. It’s breathtaking.
Some say Hillary was just too out of touch with most of America. I don’t buy it.
What do you think of the vampire costume she wore during her concession speech?
I think she was completely out of touch.
Read the Steve Bannon Hollywood Reporter interview and you’ll get it straight from the horse’s mouth. Trump’s campaign recognized that the DNC had become an echo chamber and used this to leverage a victory. They were so out of touch that in one of the Wikileaks emails they talk about using Trump as a “Pied Piper” candidate who they thought Hillary would easily defeat. They completely fucked up.
With emphasis on the set part of set & setting, my recommendation is that people stay away from psychedelics at the moment to treat their political depression for fear of seeing horned demons pouring through a dark portal in the White House. Do you agree or disagree with this assessment?
Disagree. Under Obama people were getting slaughtered by drones, illegal immigrants were being deported, medical marijuana dispensaries were being raided, we continued the longest period of war in US history, we entered into an age of mass surveillance through the NSA, Guantanamo Bay stayed open, African Americans were getting shot by the police on a weekly basis, drugs remained criminalized, and as I write this, cops are spraying water on Native Americans in Standing Rock.
I can’t think of a period in my lifetime where contemplating the government on psychedelics ever created a peaceful mindset. Why? Because when you fixate on the government in a paranoid way, you fall out of the present moment and forget the good news that comes from the psychedelic realm. “Everything’s going to be OK. Even if you die, you’re still going to be fine.” Or as Martin Luther King put it: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
*MLK based this quote on 19th century abolitionist and Unitarian minister, Theodore Parker. The original quote is: “I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways; I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. And from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.”
Your thoughts on #Calexit?
I haven’t researched it.
The Duncan Trussell Family Hour is like Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood meets The Twilight Zone. Was this the plan?
Outside of wanting to record conversations with interesting people, I don’t think I had any plan.
Shit! Failed attempt at humor!
Welcome to my world!!
I’ve always thought Tolkien was hip to mushrooms. Their meeting with Tom Bombadil comes after the chapters: A Short Cut to Mushrooms > A Conspiracy Unmasked > The Old Forest.
Yep! Hobbits love mushrooms. And Bombadil was pals with the mushroom farmer Frodo used to steal mushrooms from as a young hobbit.
Have you ever read The Silmarillion by Tolkein?
Why’d you decide to be a comedic philosopher and not a clown?
I barely consider myself a comedian or a philosopher. I would LOVE to be some combination of the two. That would be so great. I would STRUT into coffee shops and just emanate this palatable field of dangerous energy like some cross between Kierkegaard and Carlin. I would have volumes of amazing books that sliced apart all cultural paradigms while inducing high level belly laughs from all who read them. I would make love to Parisian university professors… The sad truth is that I’m really not sure what I am.
Good. Who cares? It’s more fun to make it up as you go along. I’m sure you have an impressive library though. What are some of your treasured books?
My FRANK books by Jim Woodring.
What’s your psychoactive toolbox look like?
It’s made of the skulls of Tibetan monks and when the moon is full, secret repositories fill with liquid LSD which drips out of the silver proboscis of a golden butterfly bee sculpture that sits atop the toolbox. Each drop contains approx. 20 micrograms, which I ingest in the morning with my coffee before I sit down for a day of thinking about what to write.
So you have experimented with microdosing?
Yes I have! I highly recommend it.
Back to what you said about Ram Dass and transforming negative energy. Transforming negative energy and fear in this way is the true essence of rebellion.
Magic is real.
Have you done this before?
It leads to powerful results and a trajectory you can’t see at the time. I had to do it over the period of 3 years after my mother died and I was raided for growing marijuana and mushrooms and faced a 5 year mandatory sentence, which is really why I’m inspired to do this work with Psymposia…to change the way people think about plants and drugs. So thanks for sharing that insight with Ram Dass.
“You express a great deal of anxiety over our willingness to break laws. This is certainly a legitimate concern. Since we so diligently urge people to obey the Supreme Court’s decision of 1954 outlawing segregation in the public schools, at first glance it may seem rather paradoxical for us consciously to break laws.
One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that an unjust law is no law at all.”
You went to Burning Man for the first time and had a very meaningful experience at the Temple. Can you talk a little bit about that?
When my Mom died, we never gave her the funeral that she deserved. We went down to Georgia where she grew up, and my uncle delivered an old school fundamentalist Christian eulogy that went something like “Deneen was a psychologist. I wonder if she’s up there trying to psychoanalyze God…” It was really awful and condescending and just rotten. Then a few days after that my brother and I scattered her ashes and it was really sweet, but there was just us three there. No human community.
So at Burning Man I went into the temple, and all of this sweet grief came pouring out of me, and it felt like I was being supported by all the people who were in there with me, both embodied and disembodied, and it felt like I was given another chance to say goodbye to my Mom and to really honor who she was. It was supremely healing. God bless Burning Man!
Brian Normand is CoFounder, lead designer, and webmaster of Psymposia. He’s a greenthumb, social entrepreneur & occasional trouble maker, focused on changing minds and creating spaces to teach people about plants and drugs.
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