Michael Smiley

Meet Team U.K. for this month's episode of International Waters: Helen Zaltzman and Michael Smiley


This interview was conducted and written by Chris Bowman.

The U.K. team for this month’s episode of International Waters is composed of Helen Zaltzman and Michael Smiley. Helen Zaltzman hosts an award-winning podcast with Olly Mann called Answer Me This! It’s a funny and insightful show that is definitely worth your time. She is also a writer and maker of things which are available for your perusal at helenzatlzman.com. Michael Smiley is a stand up comedian and award-winning actor. Some may recognize him as Tyres O’Flaherty from the geek-friendly sitcom Spaced. His role as Gal in the Ben Wheatley film Kill List garnered him the award for Best Supporting Actor from the 2011 British Independent Film Awards and should not be missed. It’s twisted and graphic, but man, is it good. The common thread here is that they are both lovely people. Not to mention funny.

International Waters: Helen, you’re a writer and podcaster, what comes more naturally to you: writing or talking?

Helen Zaltzman: Well, talking takes much less time, so I’d say that.

IW: How often do you hear back about the advice you give to listeners who write in?

HZ: Oh, they’re quite vocal. Some of them are quite grateful, I think others are a little bit hurt. But we’ve probably saved many lives in our podcasting career.

IW: Do you have a particularly memorable bit of feedback?

HZ: We had this 17-year-old guy who wrote to us a few years ago and said, “I’m thinking of having an affair with my 43 year old neighbor who’s my mum’s friend. She sent me some sexy texts so I know she’s up for it”. We said, “She’s your neighbor and she’s married as well. Don’t shit where you eat, basically. And she’s your mum’s friend so they might talk about your sexual performance. Very traumatizing.” He wrote back and said, “Actually I did decide not to do it because she sent me some photos of herself undressed and I decided I didn’t fancy her and also her husband is really frightening.”

IW: Oh God.

International Waters Episode 5: Branaghland

Helen Zaltzman and Michael Smiley in London
Bryan Safi
Helen Zaltzman
Janet Varney
Michael Smiley
A.J. Jacobs

Helen Zaltzman, Janet Varney, Michael Smiley and Bryan Safi join special guest A.J. Jacobs and host Jesse Thorn for the pop-culture quiz where land laws don’t apply and the only way to ensure silence in the home is an all-out war on squirrels.

We also discuss a fifty year old British Busta Rhymes, find out what an Omoplata Crossface might be and get to visualise Helen and Michael in a London studio lit only by vintage screensavers.

A.J. Jacobs' new book is Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection.

Thanks to listener Steve Bernard Jr. for this episode’s Superfan questions - if you think you've got what it takes to write a round of International Waters then drop us a line: iw@maximumfun.org and don't be shy, you can like us on Facebook too!

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