Welcome to the 8th Anniversary Mailbag Continued! There are two reasons for why I didn’t answer every single question on the 8th Anniversary Podcast that I think will make sense to you. First, check out how many questions I received. I didn’t want to turn the show into a two-hour marathon of just me talking. That would be both incredible laborious to listen to, and tough on my voice. Second, anecdotally some of you have told me that you actually enjoy my writing more than my podcasting. (Jerry Seinfeld voice) Who are these people?
Anyhoo! Here we are. I adore my past guests, and they came through brilliantly as evidenced by that super fun episode I just dropped two days ago. So why not keep the fun going and answer every question everyone was goodly enough to send me? Let’s do it!
Of all the trades you’ve discussed, which would you want to do if you weren’t podcasting? Which would you be best/worst at?
First of all, sorry for killing you on this week’s episode, Paul. No hard feelings. Just invite me to Oblio’s next time. =)
If I could be anything from my 380+ shows, and I had ANY talent at it whatsoever, I would definitely be a member of Less Than Jake, MakeWar, Strung Out, or any of the bands I’ve profiled on this show. I have a desperate, hopeless love of punk rock, and the idea of being onstage while hundreds or thousands of people scream your poetry back at you and rock the fuck out is a fantasy I’ll always have. I know that life is challenging – I have interviewed these people, after all – but it’s a life so few get to experience, how could you pass that up?
As for best/worst… let’s go with worst because I’m pretty damn good at what I do now so that encompasses any of my guests in journalism, writing, PR, coaching or the like. I can (and do!) slot into those roles ad hoc already. So, worst? Anything having to do with science. That was by far my worst aptitude in school, and, worse, I never gave a shit. We’d be in chemistry class and the teacher would be like, “This is a covalent bond” and the whole time I’m thinking, “Who fucking cares?” It’s a terrible attitude. I respect science and scientists deeply. Just please don’t make me DO any science.
– do you ever have episodes where you’re like ew this sucks, but have to air it anyway
Oh, sure. I’ve conducted interviews while brutally hungover, and those usually suck based on my performance alone. I’ve not vibed with guests. I’ve had guests with incredible stories that seem unwilling or unable to share them in interesting ways. I’ve had a small handful of guests who led me to believe they were more noteworthy than they ended up being. I’ve had technology betray me resulting in shitty sound quality. There are any number of ways an episode can go sideways.
But here’s the thing… the audience doesn’t need to know that. No matter how an episode goes from my perspective, I treat it like it’s a big deal and give it the gravity it deserves. Because that episode might be someone’s very first interaction with my show. And I don’t EVER want to their first impression to be a bad one. Plus, it might be one of my guest’s only opportunities to tell their story in a forum like this. That matters.
– what’s your spirit animal?
Blue and gold macaw. Jackie usually sees me in my workout clothes, but I have an arm full of very colorful tattoos, hair that I wear high, and a big douchey bandana I fold into a headband to keep the sweat out of my eyes. I like making bold aesthetic choices (and life choices, for that matter), would choose flight as my superpower, and pretty much never shut the fuck up. I am a colorful squawking parrot to my core.
If your cat could a guest on an episode, what would he say? Do you think he likes his job?
Cats are like rich people in that they have pretty much everything they could ever want or need, live a life almost solely devoid of inconvenience, and pretty much never seem happy. Have you spent much time around super wealthy people? They’re almost always miserable. Similarly, cats are always annoyed about something. That’s why cat fail videos are so goddamn funny. Cats are all unearned bluster and self-assurance, so when one of ‘em gaps a jump and flails off a counter, it’s both hilarious and satisfying!
So no, my cat probably does not like his job even though it’s literally the easiest job in the world. He would spend the podcast bitching about me, and especially the dog. Watching the dog and cat together has made me understand why Garfield hates Odie so much. You just want to be left alone, and this relentless, grinning dumbass tries to be your friend despite all evidence to the contrary. Exhausting.
If you could insert yourself into one movie or tv show, ever, what role would you take (or what role do you think you could pull off)?
Well, for starters I patterned myself after these five douche bags during high school, so I like to think I could slot into them with relative ease. Although I suspect Chandler Bing has a higher degree of difficulty than is probably appreciated. Although if I played Chandler all big, gay and foppish like Colin Quinn did on that episode of Saturday Night Live, it would be both fun and easy!
But, in the spirit of the question, I’ll say Peter Bretter (played by Jason Segel) from Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Kristin and I already quote this thing to each other on a near daily basis so the rhythms are natural. Plus, you get to go to Hawaii, have both Kristen Bell and Mila Kunis be interested in you, do scenes where you get to cry, play drunk, AND be funny. Also, puppets! Granted, I’m not nearly as tall as Jason Segel, nor can I play the piano, but fuck it. It’s a hypothetical question, that’s my answer.
Who is your A-number-1 dream guest for the podcast?
What’s your favorite fuck-up?
Well, Kyle, all time it’s hard to top when I failed to record my interview with Sascha from Mad Caddies not once, but twice. That still stands as probably my most colossal failure on the interview front of all-time and will likely never be equaled. But that’s not what you asked.
Early on in the show’s run, I was still figuring out my equipment, and when I interviewed Brandi Shigley in Episode 6, the sound was solely being recorded through my laptop mic. It ultimately sounded mostly fine, but I didn’t figure it out until I edited the thing, and never told Brandi. Sorry, Brandi!
When I interviewed Chris DeMakes, I took the screenshot and realized my eyes were closed (like I was doing a Forrest Gump impression) after he disconnected from the Zoom. The photo of me you see on the page is actually one I took after the fact and stitched together with his. That one was pretty amusing as I sat for a few minutes figuring out how to fix my stupid derp face.
But my favorite is probably my email exchange with the publicist for the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. When they came to town last summer, I requested to interview either Dicky, Joe, or Ben, the three with the longest tenure in the band. The publicist told me that because of Dicky’s contract with Jimmy Kimmel Live, he was prohibited from doing podcasts and asked if I would be interested in interviewing one of the other band members. I reiterated my interest in, particularly, Joe Gittleman, but couldn’t resist adding this:
“Totally understand, although how ever you guys got an exception for Dicky to be on Chris DeMakes [A Podcast], thank you! That episode was one of my faves of Chris’s show.”
Yeah, I’m sure that annoyed the piss out of him. He subsequently stopped responding to my emails after that, and I don’t blame him because I look like such petty dick even though that wasn’t my intent. Cost myself an interview I really wanted to do, too!
Hollywood mines the final convers of media for nostalgia and greenlights a sequel to RAD! Somehow, they approach you to write it. What’s your pitch?
Well, they sort of already did in a low-budget indie movie called Heroes of Dirt that I’ve never seen. But I followed that page on Facebook for a long time and may have even given money to the Kickstarter. I honestly don’t remember, but Bill Allen in the Talia Shire naysaying parent role is inspired.
As for my pitch, I sort of like the idea of showing Cru Jones as a Tony Hawk type who becomes the icon of the sport up through the X Games era. Write some fictional talking head segments from real icons of BMX talking about what an influence Cru Jones is like they did in Pop Star: Never Stop Never Stopping. Even get Hulk Hogan to opine on the famous line the announcer says on Cru’s backflip. But open the movie with Cru Jones going through airport security and the TSA agent being like, “Cru Jones… hey, sort of like that old BMX guy. Wonder what he’s up to now?” Cru replies, “This.” Which actually happened to Tony Hawk.
After that, if you follow the playbook laid out by Creed and Creed II that shows Cru as the mentor and trainer for, I dunno, his sister’s daughter because his sister is in jail for forgery (remember her forging Talia Shire’s name so Cru could enter Helltrack? He foreshadows: “I’m not starting my little sister on a life of crime!”) as a resurgent Mongoose starts fixing tournaments. You can see where this is going. And yeah, it’s formula, but we’re talking sports movie here. There are only so many directions to go, and if you use the Creed movies and Cobra Kai as template, it’ll be highly enjoyable crap!
Pod/Host/Kill: Putin, Trump, JK Rowling
Hey, alright! It’s the sequel to the question I answered on the show where I killed Paul Karolyi, married JD himself, and Podded the DCPC guys Kevin and Art. So here we go again: Who would I choose to host a podcast with forever; who would I choose to interview one time; and who would I just straight up murder?
I obviously gotta kill Putin. That guy can get all the way fucked to hell.
I’m gonna pod Trump because the idea of hosting a show in perpetuity with Donald Trump makes me want to kill MYSELF. I find his energy, worldview, personal manner, and speaking style thoroughly exhausting. I fancy myself a good interviewer, but Trump’s one true exceptional skill is redirecting conversations in his favor, so I don’t have high hopes for what I’d get out of him in my interview with him.
When I shared this question with my wife, she taught me the term “TERF” which I’d never heard before and stands for “Trans-Exclusive Radical Feminists.” I look forward to annoying JK Rowling forever with my support for the Trans Community and inviting more and more of them on our show together! Her anti-trans posturing is thoroughly contemptible (and remarkably stupid), and with every fiber of my being, I’d work to not only bring her around, but get her to apologize for all the past shittiness.
I had the pleasure of discussing comedy of yesteryear with you a bit on our episode together and have had the pleasure of the film comedians you love from the era. But I would like to pose this query: who would you say is your least favorite of the older comedians? And so its not left on a negative note, what attribute about your least favorite can you give them as a point in their favor.
Much like the bands Radiohead and Tool, I definitely appreciate Charlie Chaplin more than I actually enjoy him. The Little Tramp character is too caffeinated and winkingly silly for my tastes. Watching his films, or even shorts, isn’t so much fun as it is an endurance test for me. One thing I deeply admire about Chaplin is that he was always able to layer social commentary, satire, and cultural criticism into his bits. I even referenced Modern Times in my master’s thesis as it pertained to the line “we’re throwing wrenches in the gears” in the Rise Against song “Tip The Scales.” You can draw a line from that specific lyric to both Chaplin and the eco-terrorism book Ecodefense: A Field Guide to Monkeywrenching by Edward Abbey. That’s some long lasting and malleable critique, and that’s super valuable.
And as a fluff question: What is your absolute favorite Golden Age Hollywood Film of all time that is not a comedy
Too easy, Zach. My favorite movie of all-time is The Wizard of Oz, which I wrote about here.
If you had all the money in the world, what’s the first thing you would do?
I’m going to take this in the spirit with which I think the question is intended and assume I’m not suddenly in possession of all the fiscal wealth on earth because that’s not good for anyone, and I’m going to assume this is another way of saying “filthy fucking rich to the point I don’t have to worry about money ever again.”
With that defined, I think more interesting than the first thing I’d do is what I would ultimately do. Because first I’d pay off all my debts, get real estate where I wanted it most, set up my loved ones with whatever they needed, travel to all the places I’ve always wanted to go, throw a kickass concert featuring all of my favorite bands for all of my friends and open Teller’s East near my house so I don’t have to drive across town to eat there. The question becomes: Then what?
You still got a life to live, and if I’m looking to avoid what I wrote about rich people above comparing them to miserable cats, I need personal challenges. There’s only so much golf a person can play and so much liquor a person can drink. So my answer is learning things I never in a million years would have the time or discipline to learn. I’d learn to fly a helicopter. I’d learn to drive a race car. I’d get fluent in Spanish again. I’d learn American Sign Language just for the hell of it. I’d go to Mexico and learn how to make the best goddamn tortillas in the world. You get the idea here. Sure, I like the idea of downtime, but I know myself well enough to know I need to be stimulated, and I have no shortage of ideas of how to fill the days. You feel me?
Define your happiness
Happiness is a wonderful feeling, but fleeting. I’m more interested in fulfillment. And it’s hard to argue against what I have going right now. I have a beautiful and healthy family, a successful business I find stimulating, a forum where I get to exercise creativity free from the confines of anyone else’s input, and perhaps most importantly, a high degree of autonomy to pursue the life I want. That’s what everyone wants, isn’t it? The agency to choose what you do, how you do it, and who you work with?
I still have to answer to people, but mostly I get to do what I want to do, say what I want to say, live how I want to live, play how I want to play, dance how I want to dance, kick and I slap a friend… ADDAMS FAMILY!
That autonomy extends to making lame, dated pop culture references whenever I feel like it. Thanks for suffering through it with me for the last 8 years. Here’s to many more.