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Podcasts Featuring Actors & Creatives

This is more of a “part 1” to a post that I began but realized I could turn into multiple articles. I wrote this over multiple writing sessions in April but since my daily writing & posting habit didn’t happen in April as intended, I eventually decided to move it to May. I’m getting a head start on the month by starting at the beginning of the week.

You likely binge TV but do you binge podcasts?

I do.

When I discover a podcast I like I often listen to past episodes to catch up. I might not listen to every single episode, but generally, I go through most.

If you’ve been following my other posts here (on Medium or my blog), you’ll see that my inspiration to write often comes from podcasts.

I’ve binged a couple of podcasts recently. One was Acting Real with Kat Foster; another was Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend with, of course, Conan and a friend.

I’ve previously shared that I like podcasts with actor interviews. I find them fascinating and often prefer them to talk show appearances, from which they differ in many ways.

On talk shows, guests have a few minutes to promote their latest project — whether it’s their most recent TV/film project, their new baby care line (I’m thinking Dax and Kristen with Hello Bello) or their new cannabis product line. They are there to promote themselves or their product and do so in an efficient way.

Furthermore, you might think that the conversation between guest and talk show host is an impromptu, regular conversion, but it’s not. A producer interviews the guest in the days leading up to the appearance so that the show can be adequately prepared and look professional. The guest shares stories, anecdotes and other interesting bits with the producer. The producer then discusses these notes with the host, and they plan the segment. Some stories stay, some go, some become gags.

The conversation isn’t organic. It’s not scripted exactly, but it’s planned.

If it weren’t, the talk show would probably turn into a chaotic shit show.

I heard one actor say that she always hopes that the second telling of her stories — the storytelling on TV — is as good as the one she’s told the producer.

As far as I know, there’s no pre-interview for podcasts, but there is research done by the host in preparation.

Thirdly, on a talk show, guests are “on”. My theory is that when you only have a few minutes, and you’re in front of a live televised audience, you need to concentrate your personality so that it’s intense — like concentrated orange juice.

For example, I recently saw Dax Shepard on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and, in retelling a story that he’d previously shared on his podcast, Dax gesticulated wildly and punctuated words. It was amped up.

My theory is also that the nature of podcasts allows guests to relax a little. Sure, they need to monitor what they say, and yes, there is an audience.

However, 1) They often have 45 minutes or more of airtime and 2) Unless it’s taped in front of a live audience — which seems to only be reserved for “special” episodes — there are maybe a half dozen people in the room. These people include the interviewer, their producer and perhaps a sidekick to the interviewer or co-interviewer and maybe the interviewees PR person.

I suspect that the energy is quite different. I imagine that having more time and fewer people takes some of the pressure off for some people and allows them to be more authentic. I especially like hearing comedians being “real people” on podcasts and also hearing thought-provoking and more profound statements.

Celebrities, they’re just like us! They have imposter syndrome and neuroses!

This opening up to authenticity is why podcasts often inspire me to write blog entries. There’s a vulnerability that comes out. There are often opinions or new pieces of information that inspire me.

Not everyone has to be Oprah. You don’t need her Supersoul Sunday talks to get inspired.

During an interview with Bruce McCulloch, Marc Maron recalled interviewing Iggy Pop on his podcast. He said that Iggy started the conversation as Iggy — taking off his shirt just because — but then settled into Jim Osterberg, his off-stage self.

He‘s got to occupy Iggy Pop and Jim Osterberg… Henry Rawlins makes a distinction that you’re either talking to Iggy or you’re talking to Jim…Jim’s a very smart man.

I was well into writing this piece when I heard the Maron-McCulloch interview a few weeks after it got posted. Maron’s statement about Iggy Pop/Jim Osterberg is significant because it’s a reminder that performers are people, performing. Musicians are performers. Comedians are performers. Actors, performers.

Even if they don’t have an apparent separate stage persona like Iggy and Lady Gaga (Stephanie) do, even if they perform under their real name, it doesn’t mean that the person they present on stage is the person they are at home.

Was Jessica Simpson genuinely that dumb or was it all an act for her persona and reality show? When Brittany lost her shit was it staged or was it a young adult losing her shit, in public where she seemed to live? Sorry for the older references, but I’m in my mid-early 40s, so that’s where my frame of references are. Would Justin Beiber be a more current example or are we past that time too? Miley Cyrus? Drake?

I’m so out of touch with today’s musicians and only hear about the news of super-famous people because that news is everywhere and I read headlines and social media and watch news programs. I know of Arianne Grande and her engagement to and then break-up from Pete from SNL.

The reason I mentioned comedians above is that as I was typing, I thought of Andrew Dice Clay, aka Andrew Silverstein. Love him or hate him, “Dice” is a persona that, according to his own words (heard on a podcast, of course), is a parody of people who are not him.

Often, what makes a comedian funny is the recognition that he or she is NOT acting as “themselves” in their stage performance or persona, and thus their performances shed light on people who are the way that the performer is pretending to be (e.g. calling out misogyny). It’s an expression of irony that calls people out on their shit and brings awareness to issues in a comedic way. It’s called an “act” or “performance” for a reason.

Woah.

It’s not all that different from the tradition of clowning that uses masks to point out the absurd. Clowning is a centuries-old art form.

So, to hear an actor 1:1 on a podcast, being authentic, talking about their childhood, their failures, the lessons they’ve learned, the trouble they’ve been in their insecurities, their challenges, and more, it connects with me on a deeper level.

Authenticity has become a buzzword, but it’s one that I enjoy.

We will never truly know someone we’re not acquainted with, and those stories — like photos on Instagram — are still selected, but sharing one’s inner self is a vulnerable act that every human being can identify with.

I’m going to end this one here and keep it going in the next post with a podcast interview that was posted in early February, and I heard in early March. These are evergreen, of course, so the timing isn’t significant.


Other posts I’ve published that were inspired by podcasts:

[Note, this are on Medium, because I’m cross-posting this.]

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