Monday, June 22, 2009

Jeff Kreisler's Get Rich Cheating

Jeff Kreisler couldn’t have timed the release of his new book, Get Rich Cheating; The Crooked Path to Easy Street, any better. After all, as Kreisler points out, cheating in business, sports, the entertainment world, wherever you choose to apply his advice, is recession-proof. Kreisler, who grew up in Amherst and has written for The Daily Show’s Indecision08 Web site and Jim Cramer’s TheStreet.com, will be at the Borders on School Street at noon today reading from the book, with a couple of other New England readings Tuesday and Thursday.

How long have you been working on this book?

About 2.5 years, conception to publication. Probably 8 months of writing, the rest was publishing industry nonsense.

Did you have to add anything in last minute as the "financial crisis" became more of a national focal point?

Actually, I already had almost everything about the crisis in there, it just didn't have that label. all the scams and lies - all the taking advantage of people's desire to get rich or have cheap homes or easy credit - all the secrecy and obfuscation in the financial markets - it was all already out there in the world and in there in the book... it just hadn't caused 10% unemployment yet.

I did write one chapter specifically about the crisis which is a step-by-step recap of all the tricks I advocate and how they were used leading up to the crisis - sort of a "see, I told you could Get Rich Cheating". I also added some last minute stuff about Madoff & Blagojevich, but they fit pretty easily into existing sections.

Were you writing to a general audience, or to a business audience?

The first version was for more of a business audience. A lot of accounting jokes. I'm not kidding. Please kill me. BUT THEN I got a new publisher - Harper Collins - and they wanted me to expand it beyond corporate crime. Good decision. Now it covers cheating throughout culture, with a way for anyone to get rich in any industry.

Showbiz, sports, politics, and, of course, business. There's sooooo much cheating. Every day something new (Daily Cheat Chats on
http://GetRichCheating.com)

Is there anyone or any book in particular that inspired the tone?

I think it came from that old sense of "if you don't laugh, you'll cry." Just writing my weekly business column - and therefore reading the business news every day - kinda overwhelmed me with all the crap that's going on in that world. And, of course, as a struggling comic, I want to get rich quick... and there were a ton of those books those days (especially about real estate).

Another take-itself-too-seriously screaming-at-the-top-of-my-lungs rant about what's wrong with the world wouldn't work, so why not flip and advocate doing all these horrible things, and do it like those get rich quick late night infomercial guys. (Have you seen our infomercial? http://getrichcheating.com/?p=158).

(Some say the voice is somewhat similar to what Colbert does, but I wouldn't say that was an inspiration, just a flattering coincidence).

I haven't seen too many humor books that actually cite sources -- did you do any research specifically for the book or did you use sources you were reading anyway?

I've always been one of those lunatics with stacks of newspaper clippings piled everywhere. Was worried it was a sign of dementia until I sorted through them for some citations. Now I feel okay.

I actually did a lot of research just for the book. If I thought some company had done something, I needed to be sure... and if I wanted to find someone who'd done something specifically stupid, I'd go look and usually find.

Lotta research. Princeton degree: Engage!


Who is the Greatest Cheater?

I got the most pleasure out of Enron. They just had everything.
Arrogance, manipulating workers and investors, crazy excessive spending, yelling at grandmoms, using Star Wars characters to fake transaction, making up whole industries, doing nothing, ties to GW Bush, awesome defenses (after they found an email which said "shred the documents, they're onto us," CEO Jeff Skilling said he was just "being sarcastic." Genius!), and, of course, Ken Lay faking death and vacationing with Elvis and Hoffa.

What made you decide to pursue stand-up after studying at Princeton, Exeter, and Virginia Law School?

Drugs.

Seriously, I've always been interested in politics and culture and the formation of society and the interaction of man... and there isn't really a profession where you get to blab about that - at least not one it's easy to get into. In comedy, you can do whatever you want, as long as it's funny. Works for me.

Also, I'm delusional about comedy. I idolize the notion of the court jester, he who speaks power to truth as long as he's funny and wears curvy shoes. I think - especially in our culture - satire can inform and help make smarter citizens.

Oh, and I'm the stubborn youngest kid and I like a challenge.

When did you live in Boston?

Summer of 1999. Grew up in Amherst, came here often. Am here right now. (Reading at Borders).

What advice would you give to your old boss, Jim Cramer, now?

Shhhh, don't speak.

What kind of personal fortune have you amassed doing stand-up?

You ever heard of "money?" That's mine.

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