For those who can’t get enough of my inexcusably verbose essays on pop-cultural arcana, you’re in for a special treat: Now you can listen to me wax esoteric for four half-hour segments!
I recently sat in on the podcast Spinal Tap Minute, moderated by Heidi Bennett and Sean German, which deconstructs Rob Reiner’s classic 1984 comedy This Is Spinal Tap minute by minute. Coincidentally, I’ve written previously about Spinal Tap on this blog, demonstrating how the band seamlessly emerged from the contained narrative framework of the movie—in the absence of precedent for such a fourth-wall traversal—to evolve into the longest-running instance of reality-blurring performance art in the history of contemporary pop culture. (And the joke is still ongoing: Harry Shearer is currently prepping the Derek Smalls solo album Smalls Change.) Tap’s influence on comedic storytelling—from the “mockumentary” format so prevalent in our sitcoms (The Office, Parks and Recreation, Modern Family) to the fictional-character-who-walks-among-us pasquinade of The Colbert Report—can’t fully be quantified.
But it can be more deeply appreciated, and that’s what I attempted to bring to the table during the four episodes to which I contributed. These are my first-ever podcasts, so your feedback—should you take the time to listen—would be most welcome. (Who’s gonna be the first to offer up that dreaded two-word review: “shit sandwich”?) Here’s a content rundown (with links to each episode):
Minute 68—“Become This Larger Cultural Metafictional Commentary”: In which I talk about how I became a Taphead in junior high school, why bands break up at the height of their fame and fortune, and what I learned from Extreme’s Pornograffitti Live 25.
Minute 69—“It Makes No Sense, but for Whatever Reason, It Sounds So Cool”: In which we discuss Mendocino rocket fuel (you’ll have to listen to find out what the hell that is), Spinal Tap at Carnegie Hall (they really played it, because I was there to see the show), and how an obscure 21 Jump Street spin-off fits into all this.
Minute 80—“Two Seans, One Heidi, and a Pizza Place”: Topics include the Folksmen from A Mighty Wind, Norman’s Rare Guitars in Tarzana, and Nigel’s 1992 interview with Guitar World magazine.
Minute 81—“Highly Academic Discussions of Really Dumb Shit”: It doesn’t get any more academically dumb than The Groove Tube, the career of Richard Belzer, and Tap drummer Mick Shrimpton’s little-known twin brother.
The shows are also available free on iTunes.