About three years ago, I got really bored during a lull at work…and after fiddling around in iTunes, I discovered something that I had been blind to, the magical world of podcasts. In a matter of weeks, I had subscribed to several, and soon all my quiet moments at work or in the car were filled with hilarious and/or informative original content permeating my ear holes. [Tangent: My love of these shows has reached an insane level. I follow all my favorite hosts on social media, so in my demented mind, probably because I spend so much time with them, I consider them my friends.] My gateway drug [Gateway Doug?] into the cult of podcasts was Doug Benson’s successful show on all matters of cinema, Doug Loves Movies. To honor that aha moment, yearly I go visit my Mecca, a live taping at my local Zanie’s Comedy Club in Nashville. [Tangent: If you care to read about last year’s taping- click here, or the time I got mentioned on the podcast- click here.]
Given that Doug is renowned for his stoner status [Tangent: I mean he was the creator of The Marijuanalogues.], the shows are traditionally taped appropriately at 4:20, so he can umm…prepare. When we joined the line at 3:00, it was already wrapped along the exterior, consisting mostly of dudes in their early 30’s donning hoodies…and a smattering of ladies…also outfitted in hoodies. [Tangent: To be fair, this is pretty consistently the uniform for comedy podcast listeners in general.] Most of those be-huddied line dwellers came armed with elaborately constructed and/or photoshopped nametags like: BeatleJess or Beth in Show. I opted for the classic Mission Kimpossible: Ghost Protocol, my friend Ryan strapped a Ryan II Sign onto his Little Shop of Horrors Halloween costume prop, and I made my boyfriend Jamie this super classy Chasing Jamie sign using my rudimentary photo editing skills. [Tangent: If you don’t understand the significance of the finger traps, I’m sorry- I don’t have the maturity level to explain it to you.]
Why nametags? Well, audience participation is the key reason this podcast is so fun and successful, and the nametags are yet another way to involve those in the crowd and allow them to compete for random prizes supplied by the panel. How does it work? Well, the format of the podcast is that 3-4 of Doug’s famous funny friends, who may or may not share his enthusiasm for film, join him and play trivia games for an audience member of their choice. The guests are never announced formally beforehand, so it is more or less a crapshoot, but a fun one at that.
As we filtered into Zanie’s and grabbed our seats, and after I ordered the specialty drink, the brilliant blue fruity liquid marijuana. [Tangent: I swear I am not a pothead, friends and family…I just like pothead humor and alcoholic beverages that taste like Capri Suns!], speculation at my table ran high on the special guests, and we each concocted our own dream team based on past guests. I shot for the stars: Jon Hamm, T.J Miller, and “Mark Wahlberg” [Tangent: Not real Mark Wahlberg but Daniel Van Kirk’s spot-on commitment to character that pretty much just consists of Wahlberger and Donnie Wahlberg jokes, but makes me giggle so hard I nearly wreck my car every time.] My friend Ryan decided all would be well in the world if only Samm Levine were there. [Tangent: Most know Levine as one of the geeks in Freaks and Geeks, but DLM fans know him as the legendary “Lil Wolverine”, whose knowledge of movie trivia is unparalleled in this forum.] However we all knew these were pipe dreams.
Just as we were daydreaming about our fantasy comedy lineup, the familiar theme came bombasting from the speakers:
“Doug hates candy wrappers, screaming babies, sticky seats with fifteen ads and popcorn kernels in his teeth! There’s still not one that he won’t see ’cause Doug loves movies!”
As always, the lovable stoner warmed everyone up by integrated tweets and telling a few jokes about Nashville before introducing the stellar lineup, which included the ever-hilarious veteran Geoff Tate, the first timer: Mad TV’s Bobby Lee and then the wildcard: Samm “The Ma’am” Levine! [Tangent: For Doug Loves Movies fanatics, that last name deserves about seven extra exclamation points!!!!]. The crowd all collectively shat their pants at this point.
I hate to go to far into detail because I won’t do it justice. it’s online here, and I implore you to listen. However I will tell you, a lot of the episode included Bobby Lee getting schooled by the vets on the intricacies of games like Last Man Stanton, where you take turns naming films a selected actor is in, and The Leonard Maltin Game, where the players wager Name That Tune style on if they can name a film based on a vague description and the cast from lowest to highest billed. After 90 minutes, I felt like a kid after Space Mountain… super pumped, yet somehow disappointed the ride was over.
Luckily, as you know if you have seen his documentary- The Greatest Story Ever Rolled, you will know that Doug and his company of movie nerds are gracious and amazing to their fans. Doug always down to hang out after the set, just to shoot the shit, take pictures and make you realize he’s just as quick-witted when he’s off stage. I highly recommend that when he rolls into your town, that you get your ass to a show… and bring your nametag! In the meantime, subscribe to Doug Loves Movies so you can play along.