Developing Ghostbusters, Aykroyd and Reitman ran into trouble filling the role of Winston, the fourth Ghostbuster, which they wrote for Eddie Murphy. Beverly Hills Cop scuppered that plan, but that turns out to have been fortuitous: on the DVD commentary, the filmmakers admit that Murphy, for all his stunning accomplishments in laughmaking, would have pushed the viewing experience into comedian overload, with each comic/actor jockeying tiresomely for position. Now, there’s a podcast that many Max Funsters love, most podcasters love, and many comedians secretly love, but it is a podcast that, alas, this particular Podthinker only likes. I hear snippets every few months, I have fun, I laugh, I think — but I’m not begging for more. The podcast I speak of is none other — here comes the heresy — than Never Not Funny. My problem? Comedian overload. Just an eensy bit too much comedian.
Mike Schmidt used to be part of of the NNF pack, but tensions arose and he rode into the sunset, memorably appearing on Jordan, Jesse Go! afterward to tell his most horrible gym stories. Listening to Schmidt paint a mental picture of middle-aged men swallowing pool water and aggressively deodorizing unspeakable body parts, I found myself wanting more. Nearly a year later, he answered my prayers with his very own podcast: The 40 Year Old Boy [iTunes link], inoculated against comedian overload by virtue of the fact that, behind the mic, it’s Mike and Mike alone.
Mike Schmidt is one of those guys to whom a lot of stuff happens, and who does a lot of stuff to others. He’s weighed 500 pounds. He’s had surgery to lose those pounds. He’s smashed a guy’s face into the House of Blues’ corrugated tin wall. He still hasn’t graduated high school. He’s blasted a six-year-old with a bag of bell peppers. He’s helped a friend break the school ceiling. He’s picked a fight with Rick James. He’s visited a swinger’s club with a buffet of deviled eggs. He’s lost a photo of his wang in cyberspace. He’s cut off communication with most of his brothers. He’s crammed his mouth full of sushi only to spit it out in the bathroom. He’s sung “Don’t You Want Me?”, badly, to a married crush 18 years his senior. In his fifth decade, he still lives like a thrillseeking kid: indeed, he’s a 40-Year-Old Boy.
He tells these stories and many others, beginning with an assessment of some seemingly mundane recent life event and swerving, digressing, looping and doubling back to touch on a countless harrowing, horrifying, humiliating — and, to go for quadruple alliteration hat trick, hilarious — tales of his own existence and others’. Speaking of digressions, I’ve gone on a few too many myself lately, so I’ll keep the Podthought short, savory and to the point: one man simply speaking into a microphone while his producer cracks up in the background, whether said producer is the angry-wife-having comedy nerd Eric of the early shows or the squealing burlesque dancer Lily of the newer ones, does not sound like an engaging format. But it is. Mike Schmidt is a master storyteller, and boy howdy does he have stories. In fact, I’d planned to review another podcast this week, but I was so rapt by Schmidt’s storytelling skill — one nearly lost these days — that I just jumped the tracks and wrote up his. If that’s not an endorsement, what is?
Format: one comedian talkin’
Running since: April 2008
Frequency: slightly more than weekly
Archive available on iTunes: all