Have you guys heard about Podcasts? They are a technology that lets you listen to really, really long MP3s! On your MP3 player! It's sort of like radio, but it takes up all the space on your computer and there are often a lot of long, awkward pauses.
While I sort of appreciate the technology, I'm pretty indifferent to, or annoyed by, most Podcasts. And whenever someone tells me he or she is working on "a podcast" I'm not exactly sure how I'm supposed to react because there is often a great dissonance between what they're saying and what I'm hearing. It sort of works like this:
ACTUAL WORDS SPOKEN: "I'm working on a Podcast!"
WHAT I THINK I'M SUPPOSED TO HEAR: "Soon you will be able to search for my name on iTunes which means I am literally on the brink of making it right now, Hollywood-style!"
WHAT I ACTUALLY HEAR: "Hey, guess what? I removed the tube from my old television set and now I'm going to put my face inside the space where there used to be a screen and act out funny little skits. I will be a superstar in my own make-believe TV universe!"
So, keeping that guarded reaction in mind, please try to embrace the significance of this next statement: I listen to the "Guys With Feelings" Podcast with nearly religious devotion. I really love this Podcast. Not just because it features Jason Nash, a very funny and charming performer I sort of know from New York, and Jeff Bumgarner, a funny and charming writer I know a bit better as the husband of my friend, Maureen. Or because it features incredibly lively and frank and not-even-remotely-esoteric discussions with some of my favorite comedians and friends. (Like this week's multi-show discussion with Jen Kirkman, who I miss a bunch.) Oh wait. It is because of that incredibly lively and frank etc. stuff I was just talking about a second ago. And unlike other call-in shows with well-known and interesting guests, Guys With Feelings holds up incredibly well when it's just Jeff and Jason talking about their own lives, minus the fancier inclusion of Hollywood comedy writers, performers and other so-and-so's. That is a lucky thing.
So I listen. All the time. And I do so with a very specific personal investment I'm sure many of its listeners share, which is imagining these people are all my friends, squeezed into a restaurant booth with me, and having a loud, animated conversation while I just quietly listen and agree and eat french fries. It's actually a bit awkward for me to admit this. I haven't experienced anything like it since I was in summer camp, and used to really get excited whenever I had a chance to sit around and listen to a few camp counselors sitting around and casually speaking to one another, outside of the context of instructing campers. I loved it. I was outside of their circle but felt inside it for just a moment. Guys with Feelings is a lot like that. Remote but private and conspiratorial.
Jason and Jeff have a lot of silly, regular segments in their show—kind of borrowing from the radio model. They have frequent visits from a newly sober friend in a recurring segment called "Dry Times With Toph." (It has its own theme song, of course.) There's "How Does Oprah Introduce..." which is beyond my comprehension, but funny nonetheless as Jason tries to mimic Oprah's over-the-top style of shouting her celebrity guests onstage.
But my favorite segment of the show is "THE ESSENCE IN A QUOTE," a terrible name for a really great idea. Last week I listened to the GWF hosts play this game alongside actor Matt Price and the Sklar Brothers and was completely transfixed. The game works like so: Jason or Jeff names a TV series or Hollywood film and you must distill this show/film down to its absolute essence through a single line of dialogue, pronounced with appropriate dramatic and regional inflections in place. The dialogue shouldn't be an actual quote but, ideally, a line that would make perfect sense in the show/film. Some of the examples were really excellent, like one of the Sklars' run at the Sean Penn film, ALL THE KING'S MEN (a fictionalized account of a poulist Southern politician modeled after Huey Long): "Y'all have a voice!!!"
After a while I couldn't help playing along in my head, and I guess you can see where this is going. I sort of secretly dream about calling into GWF but in the meantime, here are my submissions for "The Essence in a Quote":
THE DEPARTED: "You'll know when I can't trust you anymore, Mickey, because you'll be dead."
THE GUARDIAN: "How do you expect to rescue people when you can't even save yourself?!!"
THE GRIDIRON GANG: "You think this is just a game to these kids?"
STUDIO 60 ON THE SUNSET STRIP: "Let me ask you all a question: do you want to make television, or do you want to make history?"
DEXTER: "You might say I have *unique* insight into the killer's mind."
HEROES: (in answer to the question "How did you do that?") "I wish I knew."