Mike Flinn (@realmikeflinn) isn’t just a podcast producer and engineer; he’s also an avid fan of the form. “My Pod Week” recaps and reviews the many varied comedy podcasts Flinn listened to or attended live tapings of during the previous week. Enjoy!
Tom Papa’s guest this week is comedian, actor, and accordion player Weird Al Yankovic. He’s a pop culture mainstay with a new DVD out called Alpocalypse. Al is currently on tour with his mammoth stage show that has buses, trucks full of lights, and wardrobe mistresses. Al’s live performances are family-friendly and every time he puts out a new record he gains a new generation of young fans, “Hey mom have you heard of this Weird Al guy?’ ‘Yeah yeah I’ve heard of him.” Al challenges anyone to find a more demographically diverse audience “Who’s at your shows?” “It’s everyone from toddlers to geriatrics.” Tom did a great job of navigating this interview through the rise of a parody artist that became a household name. Al was influenced as a teen by the Dr. Demento radio show. He sent in some bad recordings and much to his shock and amazement he got airplay. The guy that made song parodies on his accordion had gone from Sunday night FM radio stardom to heavy rotation on MTV alongside the acts that he spoofed. He’s had the same band since the early ’80s and they get along great. “We’re all rocketing into middle age together.” Yankovic got a recording contract with Capitol Records right out of college but his first breakthrough hit came with Eat It in 1984. I was 11 years old and I could not get enough of this comedic genius. I was blown away by the detail in his video. The clothes, choreography, and even the lighting were meticulous replications from Michael Jackson’s Beat it. Weird Al was all I talked about on the playground. He knew Eat It was a real international hit when he was on the 34th floor of a skyscraper in Japan and found it on a jukebox full of Japanese music. Until that time Al enjoyed his cult status but now his life had been changed forever. He couldn’t walk out of the house without people going “It’s the Eat It guy!” In 1988 his second Michael Jackson parody Fat came out. “Did you ever talk to Michael?” “Briefly, we never went bowling…” Al found the late pop icon to be sweet and soft-spoken. Many celebrities love the attention from a Weird Al video. Lady Gaga has remarked that being the subject of a Weird Al parody was her rite of passage and he was even referred to as a “modern rock genius” by Kurt Cobain. Success has made a few things easier for Al. As a vegan there was a time when playing state fairs and finding non-deep-fried sustenance was not only a challenge but when he would tell locals he was a vegan they’d react with angry confusion. Thankfully these days the venues are able to accommodate Yankovic’s dietary requirements. He finds it hard to be away from his family but life on the bus is fun. He calls it his “man cave.” Rather than pack his things and check into a hotel for a one-night stay Al lives in the back of the bus and in between towns is able to rest his voice while surfing the Internet and watching satellite TV. Tom and Al remember the early days of music television. Way before TV was reality TV you could just turn it on and watch rad videos from Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Cyndi Lauper, and The Cars. Then that Billy Joel Uptown Girl video would come on and you could either suffer through it again or go grab a Diet Apple Slice and a Jello-pudding pop real quick before Nina Blackwood would purr out some music news.
Sex and relationship expert Anna David is known for her many appearances on Red Eye and G4’s Attack of the Show. Her podcast is a study and discussion on addiction and life in recovery. It covers some difficult terrain at times but Anna is a great host and she always has interesting and funny guests. This week it was comedian John Heffron. Heffron is the winner of the second season of NBC’s Last Comic Standing. His victory came at a very difficult time. John lost his mother and drinking became a way to get through it. Eventually he was able to confront his reasons for drinking and figured out that if he was in a situation where he needed booze to handle it, he would leave that situation. John points out that his path away from alcohol is truly his own and he makes no claim to have an answer to addiction that would work for everyone. Anna and John had a real conversation and came across as two people genuinely interested in helping others by talking about their life experiences. John has a book out called I Come to You From the Future: Everything You’ll Need to Know Before You Know It! He wrote the book with his friend and self-help guide Topher Morrison and together they provide funny and strategic life tips. He also has a new podcast called The State I’m In with John Heffron and his first episode is with original MTV VJ Martha Quinn, check it out.
Mike Flinn is a podcast producer/engineer based in West Hollywood, Calif., for All Things Comedy. The views expressed in My Pod Week are purely his own.