Hustle Hard Interview Project: Gene Hong

To celebrate my 32nd birthday, I started the Hustle Hard Interview Project. Each month for the next year, I’ll be interviewing one Hustler who embodies a skill or a quality I admire. I hope to uncover some gems that bring me one step closer to being a fully-formed adult.


I discovered Gene Hong while clicking around on Twitter instead of doing honest work. I’m not gonna lie: Reading one tweet turned into checking his entire Twitter stream. I appreciate a good laugh, and Gene’s tweets are refreshingly original and consistently funny. Gene is an accomplished writer, actor, and producer who majored in chemistry and environmental science in college, but decided to pursue a career in writing after a summer writing internship. “If you’re spiritual, you can call it a gift. If you’re not spiritual, then you can call it a skillset. But whatever it is that you’re good at, you have to do it, and that becomes your contribution. “While I search for my own way to contribute, it’s thrilling to see others like Gene who are dedicated to honing their talents and taking “big things poppin'” to a whole nother level.

EJL: What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given, personal or professional?

GH: I went to Six Flags last year and rode X2 four times in a row. It was awesome, but it gave me a huge headache, so my friend gave me a few over-the-counter pain relievers. My headache was immediately gone. That’s probably the best Advil I’ve ever been given.

EJL: I think you misheard my question. What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

GH: Oh. No matter how little or much success you get, always be kind.

EJL: And writing advice?

GH: Writers write.

EJL: So do you write every day even when you don’t feel like it? Do you go by time or word count?

GH: Yeah, I pretty much write every day. Weekdays, I write for a TV show, so the only time I have to work on other projects (features, pilots, etc.) is nights and weekends. I don’t go by time or word count as much as the general feeling of having accomplished enough for the session.

EJL: The TV show you’ve talking about is NBC’s Community, right? How has your experience been this season?

GH: Community has been great. I’ve met some incredibly talented and nice people. I got to write an ambitious musical episode this year, which has been a blast.

EJL: What are some challenges you’ve faced in Hollywood?

GH: The biggest challenge I’ve faced in Hollywood is understanding San Vicente Boulevard, which curves diagonally and cuts through both the north-south and east-west streets of Los Angeles.

Also, racism.

EJL: You don’t seem very crazy to me. Strike that. It came out wrong. English is my second language, and I have trouble communicating sometimes. Wait, was that racist? Let me try that again. What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?

GH: This might be one of those “the answer’s in the question” questions because actually, being a writer can be therapy for certain people. There is so much out of our control in Hollywood, especially if you’re an aspiring artist. Writing at least gives you some semblance of control, something tangible to quantify your work, which can be therapeutic.

Also, racism.

EJL: Your tweets are hilarious. I have to make a concerted effort not to retweet every single one. Have you had any interesting opportunities or interactions because of Twitter?

GH: I’ve actually become real-life friends with a couple of people through Twitter, which I think is awesome. The coolest interaction I’ve had is finding out that Jerry Seinfeld follows me, then tweeting back and forth with him. I didn’t have to humblebrag that to my friends, I just straight-up-bragged about it. So cool!

EJL: I recently saw a friend tweet, delete, and rework a tweet three times. Do you ever do this?

GH: All the time. No.

EJL: Your longtime best friend/roommate happens to be Maroon 5’s Adam Levine. In what ways does having a friend committed to his own creative pursuit influenced you?

GH: You know those people who after you spend time with them, you feel drained? Energy Vampires? Adam’s the exact opposite of that. He’s extremely energizing and positive which makes for a great creative environment.

EJL: Do people in your personal life get nervous you’ll include your shared experiences with them in your work?

GH: I don’t think so. I’d never share anything negative about the people in my life. But that does remind me…this one time, I watched Adam kill a hobo.

EJL: Tupac or Biggie?

GH: “Ain’t a woman alive that can take my momma’s place.” -Tupac Shakur

I FUCKING LOVE PRESENTS giveaway #2. I fucking love presents. Maybe you do too. To celebrate this holiday season, I’ll be doing a giveaway each week until the end of the year. Get connected on the Flourish in Progress Facebook page, on Instagram (username: flourishinprogress), and on Twitter (@ElizabethJLiu) for updates and random (t)hug life thoughts.So many of y’all raved about this skull necklace on the Flourish in Progress Facebook page that I’ve decided to give one away.
TO ENTER: Leave a comment below with your favorite TV comedy show. What makes it a stand-out show to you? Only comments left on THIS blog post will count. I’ll announce a winner next Monday. LAST WEEK’S MYSKIPPER GIVEAWAY WINNER: Carolyn Hampton. Please email me at flourishinprogress at gmail dot com.

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  • the Blah Blah Blahger

    AWESOME interview…I love that he drops solid writing advice betwixt and between the funny.

    My fav tv comedy is How I Met Your Mother…but I’m quickly falling for The Mindy Project!

    Also, racism.

    • Sooz K Allen

      Agreed…awesome interview!

  • Makila Ison

    Gigolos! Oh wait. The Mindy Project. It makes me simultaneously cringe and laugh.

  • funkeefresh

    I still watch Martin because he his hilarious, just his while demeanor and tisha campbell is cool too. Wazup wazzup wazzzzuupp

  • Abi K.

    How I Met Your Mother! New Girl is hilarious too. And these shows are so funny I can watch the same episodes over and over which is a rare thing for me. Can’t wait for next Mondays post. :)

  • Elena

    Ellen! Or Chelsea lately. Word.

  • Melia

    Uh…first…I love skulls more than life itself, so I’m crossing my fingers, toes, legs, arms in hopes that I win this baby. Second, great interview! I just followed this guy because of you, one more fan! That being said, I’ve got to go with How I Met Your Mother. I love their laid back, honest, hilarious friendships.

  • Chonie

    The Big Bang Theory is the shizzz….I can barely understand the scientific jargon but laugh my ass off all while feeling completely uneducated.

  • Sooz K Allen

    Currently, The New Normal. It’s so unforgiving and harsh!! I love the biting wit, and there’s even a little warmth to it that makes my heart happy. Then again, the harshness makes my heart happy, too. Lol My all time favorite is Three’s Company. I love the physical comedy that John Ritter possessed. His facial expressions, the campiness of it…just pure genius and hysteria.

  • Kayla

    My favorite comedy show is The Office. I can watch and research episodes like its my job. Also, it always reminds me to laugh at my own crappy job once in a while :P

  • Leigha

    I’m gonna have to go with ‘The new adventures of old Christine.’ It’s how I envision my life in 10 years: 40 year old single mother who spends more time with her ex husband than current boyfriends. Well meaning but batshit crazy and continues to wonder why she can’t keep a man. Just like my life now. But funnier.

  • steph leung

    Hi Liz! I absolutely LOVE CSI Miami, I discovered it this summer when I went back to Hong Kong for an internship and almost died at home. Although some of it is a bit predictable, or even just plain inaccurate, I think it’s great and I soak up every single grotesque minute of it HAHA.

    Also, Lie to Me is really good too.

  • Maria

    The Office has got to be it! It’s so dumb I just have to laugh. And I love John Krasinski!

  • agentsme

    Loved Seinfeld and Married with Children – what stands out is that I can’t believe how long ago those were on the air and realized that I hardly watch TV shows and don’t know any of the “new” shows… sigh…

  • Laura B.

    My favorite sitcom has to be “Waiting for God”. It is the embodiment of how to be old, still kicking ass and taking names. It is wonderful to have reached the age that I can pretty well say any damned thing I please and people will either think I’m a wise old woman or bat-shit crazy.

  • Victoria

    “Arrested Development” is DEFINITELY my favorite tv comedy! In addition to it being very original and the smartest comedy I’ve seen, I also thought it was ahead of its time. I’m so happy it’s coming back on Netflix!

  • NextInLine

    Fav has to be….so sorry but Friends still slays me. There was nothing better than Joey trying to keep Chandler’s and Monics’a secrets after the London trip. Plus Chanandler Bong. And the turkey on Monica’s head. And Tom Selleck. And the Ross clone. And of course Smelly Cat.

  • unitedstatesofbecky

    Well, my favorite TV comedy. Hmm. Still “Friends.” I’m afraid it will always be “Friends.”

  • Serena

    I love sex and the city. The writing and acting are hilarious.the lessons still ring true 10 years later.

  • Kimbie

    Big Bang theory. Totally hilarious!

  • Candice Franklin

    Modern Family is a must! I mean really, who has a leave it to beaver family anymore anyways?

  • alexandra

    I love Modern Family. Cam Cam Cam. Who is better than Cam.

    I also love this series you’re doing, Liz. The people you’re meeting. Following this guy on twitter now. He is HILARIOUS. Seriously hard not to RT everything.

  • RChilcoat

    I love Modern Family. It’s a show anyone can relate to no matter what type of family they have. There is also something funny about real life and the crazy shit that happens to us along the way and Modern Family is great about bringing the funny out in life.

  • Becca (aka SMC)

    The New Girl. Maybe it’s the all around quirkiness of the show, maybe it’s just Zooey Deschanel, either way it consistently makes me laugh, and forget about my worries for a little bit….

  • HarriHood

    This is an amazing interview! Hilarious and insightful! I love Community!

  • Darla

    Its tough narrowing it down to one but only South Park can make me laugh out loud when I’m all by myself. Only South Park can get away with insulting and making light of religion, the president, Oprah, you name it and have it coming from the mouths of children. How can you not laugh when Cartman says “How bout we sing Kyles mom is a stupid bitch in D minor.” Or “You so much as TOUCH Kitty’s ass and I’ll put a firecracker in your nutsack and blow your balls all over your pants!”
    That show is downright brilliant AND Primus performs the show tune. :D

  • Sissy

    That 70’s show. It’s so amazing. Good humor, good characters, and what I wouldn’t have given to live in that time period.

  • Michelle Davis

    Is Louie a comedy? It cracks me up and makes me think at the same time. Each episode is a little gem.

  • Jen

    I am currently obsessed with “The New Normal” because I’ve had an irrational love for Justin Bartha since ‘National Treasure’, but in my mind the greatest comedy ever is vintage “Saturday Night Live”. It’s been a giant ball of suck for a while now, but past sketches such as these will continue to make me chortle like a coked up whore every. Damned. Time.

  • A Life Less Ordinary

    OK, i now love Gene Hong.

    FAVE comedy show right now is Two Broke Girls. Totally stand out for me because it’s real… in a perverted, thug kinda way. Kat Dennings makes me pee myself…

  • Kimberly Seitz

    LOVE Two Broke Girls …. Max’s attitude and sass KILLS me and has my laughing constantly! Love how she is a no-nonesense tell it like it is kind of girl! She never disappoints! Such a great show for 2012!

  • Lisa

    Friends. I still laugh at the reruns, even as my boyfriend leaves the room muttering “oh god, not this show again…”

  • Frank Stangel Jr

    my name is earl. definitely. it reminds me of home

  • Barbara M.

    FAvorite comedy show, eh? I really liked Cougar town – because they were ridiculous, it was set in Florida and it was so mindless you didn’t have to think about anything else (which is pretty great when life is hectic).

  • Amy Housman

    New Girl becuase I could be Jess in all her awkwardness. It’s also one of those shows that makes you laugh out loud even when you’re by yourself and even though I work from home now I call my old coworkers just so we can quote it back and forth to each other every wednesday morning.

  • L-Train

    I don’t watch TV. Just gimme the goddamn necklace.

  • RealMommyChron

    Louis. We don’t have cable, so my husband and I watch whole seasons at a time of most shows that we get into, but whenever I just need a hearty laugh (which is often lately) we put on Louis. Nobody makes me laugh harder or more consistently than Louis CK! (Although Gene Hong made me laugh throughout this interview! Will have to follow him on Twitter now.) :)

  • Melis Lopez

    The Big Bang Theory totally cracks me up- mostly because I work with a bunch of science type guys EXACTLY like Sheldon Cooper. Bazinga.

  • Corina Streekmann

    The Jerry Springer Show…– for times when you need to confirm that your family is normal.

  • Lori Kim

    The BIg Bang Theory!! I’m in love with the Sheldon Cooper character! I want to have his babies, even though he is gay in real life! We would make the most awsomest smarty pants babies in the world!! Fine, I would have an orgy with all the characters on this show and have all their babies!! I think I might be slightly hormonal.

  • kim

    30 Rock. I’m not even sure it’s on the air anymore (I watch it on Netflix), but I kind of have a thing for Tina Fey.

  • :Danielle

    Nice interview. Not only did I pick up some good tips about writing, but it kept me laughing as well. As far as my favorite TV comedy goes, It would have to be Two and a Half Men. Well that is as long as Charlie Sheen can stay out of jail long enough to keep filming it. Regardless of how much he is always losing in court; I guess in his eyes he is still WINNING. However, Workaholics is a good second. After one episode I was hooked! Word of advice though, as funny as their pranks might be on the show; DO NOT try them if you work in a real office setting! Don’t get me wrong, I found it hilarious but my fellow co-workers…well not so much. So on that note, good luck to everyone else. It was nice reading through everyone’s comments. I haven’t seen some of the shows listed, but I might have to give them a try.

  • Kristin B.

    Best advil= best advice…love it.

  • FearlessFibro

    I taught my friend, Tomoko, to parallel park—the key is, those things on the end of cars? Bumpers. Not avoiders. Proceed as such.

  • chick_in

    I enjoy Monk (is that a comedy?) and Modern Family. I watch drama most of the time though, as those shows allow me to think my life is totally easy & sane.

  • jaymi

    I’m partial to hot in cleveland, the plot isnt amazing but BETTY WHITE!!! need I say more?

  • Sheryl

    WKRP in Cincinnati. Period.

  • Connie Forcey

    Thanks for sharing Gene with us. I needed a little cheer today; yesterday was the second anniversary of our daughter’s untimely death. I will try to catch some re-runs of Friends this week. It was her favorite comedy series, and one of mine, too. Of the shows currently on air, I’d have to choose Modern Family.

  • Erin

    How I Met Your Mother – i can identify with almost every character at some point and I love their wild shenanigans.

  • Nadine Steidl

    I have to say my favorite is “My Name is Earl”. The idea of redemption as humor just got me laughing and thinking. Plus the physical humor left me laughing so hard that I hurt!

  • Danielle H

    How about top three in no specific order: Modern Family, New Girl, and Parks and Rec. Awkward situational humor at its finest. Also, today is my 25th birthday and I’m obsessed with skulls. So, I win, right? *fist bump* Thanks, thuggette.

  • Heidi

    I actually think Community is the best TV comedy show out there right now. Because it’s relateable and also so far out there that it’s entertaining. Perfect combination.

  • mwheatcraft

    I hate to admit it out loud in writing, but I still love watching “Friends” and spend more time watching it with my daughter than watching my granddaughter. Arg. It was a great ensemble. There. I really like the necklace, and I think Phoebe would too.

  • Aurelia

    2 Broke Girls – It is too funny! It works after a long day at work.

  • Janellybean5

    I have recently gotten hooked on 2 Broke Girls! I love that they say “vagina” a lot. :O) They are crass and funny and seem like the kind of broads I need to hang out with. They would make my life so much more fun!

  • Amy Enriquez

    I love Futurama!
    Comedy? Check!
    Animation? Check!
    Sci-Fi? Check!
    Lewd and crude humor? Double check!
    Bender Rules!

  • Cassandra Stanke

    Sweet necklace! It’d go nice with my holey cashmere :)
    My fave comedy tv show is Big Bang Theory – gets me every time.
    Def following this guy on Twitter now – thanks!

  • Alison

    That’s a hard one, but maybe The Cosby Show and the reason is that growing up I had a difficult home life and I always wanted to be a Huxtable. I still do.

  • Tara D

    My current favorite show is The New Girl. Because I see a lot of myself in Jess, but I see a lot more of my husband in Schmidt.

  • Megan Boone

    King of the Hill, hands down. Hank keeps it real!

  • Beth Ann Silver-Villarreal

    All time favorite is Weeds. Always has been, always will be. From the beginning to the end, things changed dramatically and it kept me entertained throughout all 8 seasons. That’s why it was my favorite.

  • Nanette Crow

    Yo, Girl! Long time no comment. I still read your blog each and every week. Just been super busy. I actually became a grandmother on Sept. 25th. Can’t believe I’m old enough to be a grandmother! lol I will always love and relate to Sex In The City, but as far as a current show I love MODERN FAMILY!! I come from a very dysfunctional family and yes, we are still dysfunctional to the point that we barely speak lol Anyway, Modern Family does my heart and soul good because they are all dysfunctional in “real life” ways. One of the characters in particular I can relate to….. Can you guess which one!! Love the skull necklace too. Just ordered a skull bracelet from Amazon!!

  • Misty

    Well, currently I LOVE Community. Not just saying that to suck up. It’s true. My all time favorite probably has to be Friends, though. I’ve seen each episode a bunch of times, and watched it religiously all through college and beyond. It was indeed Must See TV. :)

    I really really REALLY would like to win that necklace. Just so you know.

  • Vivian

    Wow, that’s so cool that he’s BFF w/Adam (SO HOT). Gene is also pretty funny and I’ve added him to my Twitter list for Humor tweets lol. It’s so cool to see Asians making it in Hollywood and such, just showing the world what they have is great.

  • chemegirljaime

    right now it’s “2 Broke Girls” .. I just fucking LOVE Kat Dennings… every week it just kills me where I`m almost fucking peeing.

  • Elizabeth Barnes

    Current shows: Modern Family, Big Bang Theory, and New Girl. Old School shows: Will and Grace and Gilmore Girls.

  • Rachel

    Great interview! I’d have to say Modern Family – if you’re married with kids and have some dysfunction in your family (who doesn’t?), this show cracks you up and warms your heart.

  • loveandbacon

    My favorite comedy TV show at the moment is the League. It’s just so … wrong, yet so right.

  • Lex

    Wipeout. Because people fall down and I’m immature (and potentially cruel).

  • KittyMcTaco

    I love ONLY comedies so there are too many to choose from: Key & Peele for their subtle thugness sprinkled in with their brilliant humor, Mashup, because let’s face it, TJ Miller is everyone’s favorite buffoon, Workaholics because these dudes are super dope yet mega lame at the same time….

  • Ariane Trelaun

    Louie is my favorite comedy, although this season it went past Comedy and entered Genius. Also, Parks and Rec makes me laugh my ass off, as does Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Great interview, btw. The necklace is total gravy.

  • Shannon Jones

    Parks and Rec is, without a doubt, the funniest show going right now. I think I am in love with Ron Swanson……PS – Thanks for your weekly hilarity – you inspire me and make me laugh! :)

  • Johi Kokjohn-Wagner

    Modern Family is probably my current fave. Great interview!

  • Jess G

    I gotta say Family Guy. I got mad love for a family with so much fucked up dysfunction that the dog Brian gets human poonani on the regular. Not to mention their last name is “Griffin” ~ the best last name ever :)

  • Jennifer Folmar

    I loved “Flight of the Conchords.” Totally worth watching. :D

    • Sooz K Allen

      Hahaha hilarious! I still sing the songs.

  • Jessica

    Communitu. It is one of the most creative shows on television. What other show makes an entire community college into a blanket fort?

  • Hope Good

    There are so many good ones, but I think my all time fave is 30 Rock because I can identify with Liz Lemon who is just a gal trying to make it in this world, surrounded by flunkies. Yeah, that sounds about right.

    • Sooz K Allen

      Can you believe I’ve never even watched that?? And I love all of the actors. Hmmm…maybe I should get Netflix :-/ not to mention I walk by rock center often.

  • Erika Miller

    My favorite show is new girl. Sometimes I feel like my life is exactly like hers, and that show helps me realize that I am not completely weird. That my weirdness can be used in humor. Also it cracks me up every time I watch it.

  • Kerstin Peterson

    Raising Hope is my far-and-away favorite comedy of all time. If you haven’t watched it, you must!

    • Sooz K Allen

      I do love that one, as well. It’s surprisingly funny and endearing!!! Bert is so dumb…I love him. Lol

  • Shannon Potts

    i know it sounds weird, but my favorite funny moments are in Supernatural. It’s not a comedy, but when they do their ‘funny’ episodes they are so tongue in cheek hilarious it’s just awesome. i love people that make fun of themselves, take all the goobery weird stuff the fan fiction people put out there and turn it around into making their show even better….so, if i don’t get chosen for the sparkly skull, i would totally be okay with one of those Fuck the Fuckers t-shirts ;)

  • Mariaelena Gonzalez

    Always Sunny In Philadelphia, because watching them bumble around makes me feel better about myself, until I remember that they own a bar and all I own is a half empty box of tic tacs and a broken ipod, and then I have to go lay down for a while.

  • Sooz K Allen

    Oh…also, Raising Hope because its SO cray!!! Like, really, are people that stupid? Yeah, probably. Lol it gives me The LOL’s. and even though its stoopid…there’s always a “message”. And Firefly….I miss it. Great wit with swashbuckling scifi excitement.

  • Alexandria Campbell

    He is hilarious!