My favorite podcast, Walking the Room, has ended. I had a few feelings and ideas I wanted to register.
When I say Walking the Room is my favorite podcast I mean my next favorites don’t even chart – and they are great podcasts. As a professional journalist (not an entertainment journalist) I wrote about Greg Behrendt twice, the podcast once, and Dave Anthony once.
When I was younger, I was not a Comedy Fan. What did I need comedy for when all of my friends were funnier than any club meatheads or altcomedy prima donnas the market offered me? It was similar with music. I didn’t need to go see rock shows when I could see The Jazz Greats grabbing their crotches in Antigone’s basement or Ian playing cante jondo in the gravel lot on the alley opposite Max’s.
But as I got older and this tight group of friends dispersed, and for that matter the musicians I knew either moved to Boise to work in a record shop or became momentarily famous and eternally tedious, I also hit some extremely unpleasant moments in my personal life. Disappointments, losses, and sorrows stacked up and brought my life to a stop. The idea of seeking relief in the tracks of Yuckyuck McGee’s “Jokes About Tongue Kissing” or Precious Goldblatt’s “I’m a Woman But I’m Cursing” was unappealing. I had only been to a comedy club once, some nightmare hall above a Chinese restaurant in Boston where I waited through hours of rage-inducing open mic tedium to listen to two friends, who were awful. I never returned to a comedy club. And for that matter, never forgave those two monsters who dragged me there.
Eventually, though, primarily as a function of covering the cultural influence of technology for my day job, I became aware of comedy podcasting. When podcasting first raised its nasty little head, I remember my friend Marshall talking about how he’d taken his dog for a two hour walk while listening to a podcast on RSS. It’s a miracle I didn’t poke my eyes out just knowing this was a thing. When comedy grabbed hold of it, I thought podcasting may have found a public use it didn’t have before. So I listened to some. Maron’s WTF was good, though my appetite for excrutiating details of young comic’s’ sex lives and walks down other peoples’ memory lanes was modest. Having profiled Greg for our shared university’s alumni magazine I dedided to listen to the one he was doing with his buddy, Dave.
I could not believe my fucking earholes. It sounded for all the world like they were writing dialogue for me, Scott, Steve, Gary, Joe, and Kevin. But unlike those mutants, Greg and Dave were immediate, regular, dependable, and the aural element made them intimates. Their sense of humor was in absolute alignment with my own. I saw my rage in Dave and my self-pity in Greg, my savage caricaturing of perceived idiocies in Dave and my fearless love of what made my heart sing (especially the stuff everyone else hated) in Greg, my tendency to tell stories in Dave and in Greg my hardon for the absurd, my skepticism in Dave and my optimism in Greg.
I followed the story of not their lives exactly, but of that picture they creatively made on the fly out of elements of their lives. Constant disappointment, failure, gratitutde for the love in their lives, moments of nearly losing that love. I saw them get stronger and stronger comedically. I saw Dave start to overcome, then lose grip on his anger and resentment. I saw Greg do the same with addicition. And now I’ve seen them both rededicate themselves to their separate lives. Dave is as funny as he always thought people should think he was. Greg is worth the investment of the entertainment industry, despite his accelerating senescence. They both now have an idea of how good they actually are – something the rest of us have known for a while. And yet, they both remain messy people. I love them because they reflected me – my age, my fears, my disappointments, my humor, my values, my resilience, my mortaility, my creativity.
Things change and we move on. Anyone crossing into their fifth decade (as I’ve done) knows this, or they suffer even more than is our normal share. Dave and Greg have changed and they have moved on. Walking the Room’s a part of their past as it’s a part of mine. It marks, for me, what I imagine is the inevitable moment when I stop listening to podcasts altogether, my listening having declined from as many as a couple dozen in a month to only a few.
All of us who felt a bit less suicidal or alone because of these two dummies have, well we clearly have problems beyond that of a podcast, but we’re grateful to it and them. Why take the time to write about a dumb podcast? Because it’s dissolution left me momentarily, but sensibly, bereft, and “Grief brought to numbers cannot be so fierce / For he tames it who fetters it in verse.” (Yeah, it’s poetry, Dave. Fuck you.) This is not “numbers” (this is) but taking a moment to figure out why it made me sad helped me feel less so.
Whatever contributed to the ending of the world’s best podcast outside of the explanation they both gave online is of no concern to me. I don’t care and it’s not my business. But I hope each of them pays as much attention to the devils inside now that they’re alone as they did when they huddled together in their upsetting little closet
Photo by Paul Armstrong