Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: “Uhh Yeah Dude”

Posted by Maximum Fun on 14th June 2009

They say that less is more. They say to keep it simple (, stupid). Simplify, simplify, said Thoreau. These are broad rules, to be sure, but, in what has become your Podthinker’s humble opinion, they apply just as well to podcasting as they do to any other, healthier pursuit. When you’re putting out a podcast, going elaborate is a dangerous gambit; sometimes you pull it off, but most of the time you wind up with an unholy mess. While what the hosts of Uhh Yeah Dude [iTunes link] do may indeed be unholy, it adheres to about as simple a format as formats get, and good lord have they scored a following by so doing.

Now bear with, because this is going to sound less promising before it sounds more promising. Like Arrive Having Eaten, Uhh Yeah Dude straddles the line between Two Twenty/Thirtysomething Guys/Girls Bullshitting About Culture (TTWGBAC) and Ridiculousness Uttered Flatly, Segmented By Music (RUFSBM), except it out-simplifies the latter genre by not having any interstitial music, and it isn’t even segmented. That is to say, it’s not sharply segmented: the dudes behind the mics simply talk to each other, no breaks, with vanishingly subtle or spun-on-a-dime changes in subject, for about an hour per episode. It’s one solid conversational texture, all the way through.

Given the unfortunate title, this more than likely sounds, to the uninitiated, like a recipe for a meaningless, desultory yammerfest. And to some listeners, perhaps that’s precisely what it is. Thing is, though, the show’s actually quite funny — and it’s not clear why. Co-hosts Seth Romatelli and Jonathan Larroquette — no, not the horny lawyer from Night Court, but it might be his son — don’t make what one would normally call jokes. Theirs could more accurately be called a tonal humor, or at least it would be if the phrase “tonal humor” didn’t conjure so many unpleasant memories of A Prairie Home Companion. It’s worth noting, though, that 90% of your Podthinker’s Uhh Yeah Dude-related laughs are set off by Romatelli’s delivery style, which is tricky to describe but somewhat resembles a foulmouthed, more masculine, more slacker-y version of David Sedaris. At a certain point, the listener starts Pavlovianly chortling at whatever the guy happens to be saying.

Topic-wise, the program is no great shakes, but nor is it impoverished. Ostensibly surveying the United States of America in all its bizarre glory, Romatelli and Larroquette cover and ridicule happenings across this great land including but not limited to the release of Kanye West’s “book”, the threat of a Sugar Ray comeback and whether “Nougabot” counts as a racial slur. And after 170 episodes, they’ve got it down, trading riffs with and blasting through the issues of the day with almost startling quickness. Hence, one supposes, the large, devoted fanbase; they’re admirers of the pure craft.

Vital stats:
Format: two dudes and America
Running since: February 2006
Frequency: weekly
Archive available on iTunes: all

[Podthinker Colin Marshall shakes his fist at all of you who were able to live large at MaxFunCon this year, but vows revenge — specifically, that he’ll be at the next one. Tell him how maximally fun it was at colinjmarshall at gmail.]