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"It was the podcast that made me fall in love with podcasts"
Bridget Todd talks about Uhh Yeah Dude, the podcast that changed her life.
Here is the first segment from the latest episode of Follow Friday, in which There Are No Girls on the Internet host Bridget Todd talks about her crush on Uhh Yeah Dude co-host Jonathan Larroquette.
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ERIC: Bridget, before the show, I gave you a list of categories and I asked you to tell me about some people you follow who fit in those categories. Your first pick is in the category "someone you have a crush on," and you said Jonathan Larroquette, who is on Instagram @jonathanlarroquette. Jonathan is a musician and the co-host of a podcast called Uhh Yeah Dude, which recently surpassed 900 episodes. Jonathan and his co-host, Seth Romatelli, have been making it since 2006.
I've never listened to this. I was trying to read up on it and trying to understand what exactly it is. Do you want to take a stab at explaining Uhh Yeah Dude?
BRIDGET: Uhh Yeah Dude is the first podcast I ever listened to. It was the podcast that made me fall in love with podcasts. I'm probably not exaggerating to say it low-key changed my life.
It's a podcast where, in the tradition of how all podcasts were in the beginning, it's just two funny guys riffing about the news, but it's also so much more than that. Fun fact: it was one of the earliest podcasts. They debuted in 2006 and most people think of Marc Maron as the first podcaster. But Marc Maron, in his interviews, has credited Uhh Yeah Dude as his inspiration to get into podcasting. So it's a very-early-days-of-podcast.
And it's so funny. When people ask me, "What's your favorite podcast?" I wish I could say something that's very high-brow, but it's definitely Uhh Yeah Dude.
ERIC: And so, they've been doing it continuously since 2006?
BRIDGET: Yeah, continuously since 2006. The podcast has all these little mottos and one of them is "2006 for life" because that's when they started. In 2006, I don't think we even had a concept for what podcasting was going to be. We certainly didn't know how the industry would change and how it would become bigger and more professionalized in a lot of ways. We had no idea.
But the idea of starting this thing back in 2006, and here it is, 2022, and you're not only still doing it, but still going strong. They have a small, but very dedicated fan base. Their live shows sell out massive theaters in big cities. I love that they have been doing it for so long.
ERIC: I was reading about Uhh Yeah Dude and reading things written by their fans. It does seem like they have a lot of … parasocial relationships, for lack of a better word.
Their listeners are really attached to Jonathan and Seth. Why do you say you have a crush on Jonathan? What is it that he does that makes him so special?
BRIDGET: You're absolutely right about the parasocial relationships. I hope that mine is not creepy.
ERIC: Not the bad kind.
BRIDGET: The normal kind; the healthy kind. In an episode, he once described himself as "big, hairy, and unreliable." And I was like, "That's so my type!" (laughter) I just realized, I probably should have said my husband is my crush.
ERIC: Too late! No backing out now!
BRIDGET: Too late. He's going to listen to this and be like, "Well, you had a chance to say me and you said somebody else. Interesting." (laughter)
ERIC: So, is it too much of a leap to assume that your husband is also big, hairy, and unreliable or is Jonathan a special case?
BRIDGET: Jonathan is a special case. My husband is not big, hairy, but very reliable. I feel like we all have two wolves inside of us. It's like, do you want to go with someone who is hairy, not big, but reliable, or someone who's big, hairy, and unreliable? I feel like we've all got two paths.
ERIC: That personality, the way he describes himself, that comes through, I assume, in how he and Seth talk about the world. I was reading an essay in KQED written by Lizzy Acker, who's a big fan of the podcast. She says, "They are describing an experience, their experience, and that is the experience of being white, privileged, straight, and male, but also being confused and worried about the implications of that status."
They've been doing this for a long time. This is before the idea of two straight white dudes sitting around and chatting was a cliché or a joke in podcasting. They were pioneers, in a way.
But being a fan of this podcast for so long, how has that changed your outlook on the world or on people like them? How has listening to them changed your perspective on things?
BRIDGET: Oh my God. What a good question. It's so strange. That perspective of straight, white males is not a perspective that I immerse myself in. And that's kind of on purpose because I grew up having to read white men's writing in English classes, and then when I was no longer being assigned it, I was like, I want to immerse myself in something else. I immersed myself in my people and my perspective and people who look like me.
When I first started listening to Uhh Yeah Dude, I realized, I have built up a vibe where I don't spend a lot of time grappling with that experience, or thinking about that perspective. Honestly, their podcast is so intimate and honest and raw, I felt like it was giving me an entry point into a perspective that frankly, I would never encounter.
And what's interesting, I think the essay that you read gets into this. They've been doing this since 2006. I almost, in a lot of ways, feel like we grew up together. I remember in the early days of the podcast, back before we, as a country, were having conversations about things like language and perspectives and how you show up with respect for others and marginalized people, before we were having those conversations, they sounded like a completely different podcast.
As we've progressed as a society, I feel like you hear them grapple with that on the show. There's an episode where they're like, "We've been using the R-slur, just throwing it around, and now we're realizing we can't say that anymore."
It's interesting because I feel like, for better or for worse, we don't really have a lot of spaces where you can hear people grapple with things like that.
I've been in social change movements for a long time and I do think we have this expectation that we expect people to show up with the right ethos and the right language and the right perspective. And I get that, but I also feel like it doesn't leave room to hear the messy conversations of how people become smarter, better, more nuanced, and more thoughtful.
And certainly, I identify with that because I was a hot mess many years ago. I didn't come out of the womb knowing the exact language and the exact right praxis and yada yada. I think that podcasting, particularly the way that their podcast is framed, can be this avenue where you can hear someone deal with things, unlearn things, unpack things, move along. It's just so fascinating to me.
In a lot of ways, I feel like we grew up together. That is the most parasocial thing you could ever say because we did not grow up together. But you know what I mean. I've been listening to them for so long and I feel like I have gotten smarter and they have gotten smarter. We have gotten smarter together. And to have witnessed that and listened to that I think is really special. And we don't have spaces where that can happen in a way that feels okay.
ERIC: I would understand if they decided, "Hey, we're going to delete the first 100 episodes," or whatever, but it seems like they have kept everything, at least maybe for their Patreon supporters. It's possible to listen to that whole journey from the beginning, if you so choose, which I respect. That takes a level of owning up to your own growth and your own past failings that not everyone has.
BRIDGET: Totally. As a podcaster, there's something so … My podcast is a narrative-produced podcast and if I breathe weird, I'm like, "Cut that out." I've taken podcast episodes down for the smallest stuff, but their podcast is not like that. You could go back and listen to their whole back catalog if you wanted, which I definitely respect.
And as somebody who makes a very produced podcast, it's almost euphoric to hear a podcast that's warts and all, where you hear them say the wrong thing, get it wrong, mess up, start again, try again, and apologize. I almost feel like it makes me appreciate the art of podcasting more because that's the stuff that I love about listening to a podcast, when somebody is grappling with something in real time, or learning about something for the first time. Getting to hear that process, I think, is what attracts me to the medium.
ERIC: 100 percent. Well, that was Jonathan Larroquette, who is on Instagram @jonathanlarroquette. The name of the podcast is Uhh Yeah Dude.
BRIDGET: One quick fact: If you're curious if he is related to the actor from Night Court, it's his son.
ERIC: I think I saw that when I was Googling for him. It was like, "No, not that John Larroquette. The other one."