Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: “Frank and Erik Internet Famous”

Posted by Maximum Fun on 26th July 2009

Your Podthinker has admittedly bandied around the label Two Twenty/Thirtysomething White Guys/Girls Bullshitting About Culture (TTWGBAC) quite a lot, but not, he would submit, without good cause: TTWGBACs seem to constitute an overwhelming plurality of the podcasts out there. But over time, a subtler taxonomy has revealed itself within the TTWGBAC. Though the untrained ear may perceive them as all about basically the same topics — the same bullshit, as it were — one practiced in the TTWGBAC-listening arts can distinguish all sorts of shades, all sorts of subtleties, a bit like Robert Parker telling one Bordeaux apart from another of the same vintage or, to a lesser extent, a Star Wars fan explaining to you the differences between two particular Jawas.

Frank and Erik Internet Famous [iTunes] [RSS] falls into the subgenre most accurately called “A Dude’s Life”. These podcasts grapple with all the big questions that plague, er, a dude, in, er, life. Where to point your crotch on a standing-room-only subway train? How best, exactly, to go about “sexting”? How do we deal with cockroaches too big to step on even while wearing shoes? What did we do before the age of free-flowing internet porn? Marriage: something we’re headed for, or are we damned to eternal adolescence? How sad are strip clubs? When is it right — nay, necessary — to up and start punching?

Though they’re the show’s co-hosts and stars, about Frank and Erik your Podthinker has somehow managed to learn surprisingly little over the episodes. They’re both New York guys. They both work at magazines. Erik is very, very tall. Frank has muttonchop sideburns. Erik has occasional “rage issues.” Frank is enviably laid-back. Erik lost his virginity to a waitress. For some reason, your Podthinker assumed Frank was black for a while there. Occasionally they spice things up by inviting guests, such as Laura and Dina from Hey Girl Hey, or streaming live. It’s quite similar to the previously Podthought-about Low Budget FM, though with a great deal less talk about action figures and great deal more talk about coital mishap. They both place on the same side of another TTWGBAC divide, though: that between comedy and hangout.

You’re likely to have noticed, if you’re into the genre at all, that some TTWGBACs are more deliberately about comedy and some are more focused on hanging out. The also previously Podthought-about Uhh Yeah Dude lies pretty far on the comedic end of the spectrum; Frank and Erik is a hangout. That’s not to say that isn’t a funny show. It’s amusing indeed, but the point seems more to be about creating a verbal environment where kickin’ back, tradin’ jabs and sharin’ personal stories are all higher priorities than going for the big laffs. That’s no bad thing; podcasters constantly, desperately hunting for the lines that kill tend to grow tiresome almost immediately. Listening to Frank and Erik is like listening to a couple of sharp buddies: they don’t need to impress you, but they sometimes do anyway.

All that said, your Podthinker now believes it’s high time to curb the production of TTWGBACs. Though halting the tidal wave is clearly a pipe dream, perhaps it can be slowed somewhat. We’ve got enough of these things. Thus, he hereby calls a moratorium on the coverage of TTWGBACS in Podthoughts, at least until it feels right to resume it. In the meantime, can any readers recommend a good philately podcast? Any good podcasts about philately?

Vital stats:
Format: hangout-inclined TTWGBAC
Running since: December 2008
Duration: 25m-80m
Frequency: near-weekly
Archive available on iTunes: all

[Questions, comments, ideas, suggestions or threats for Podthinker Colin Marshall? colinjmarshall at gmail.]