I have written about my love of podcasts before and one of the first that got me hooked was "Doug Loves Movies." Hosted by comedian Doug Benson, the podcast consists of guests from film, television and comedy shooting the shit and playing a series of movie-related games, usually while high or drunk.
The highlight of each episode is usually the Leonard Maltin Game, a name-that tune style quiz where participants bid to see how few actors' names they need to guess the title of the movie based on a couple of clues (it actually can get more complicated than that, but since more explanation tends to confuse people, including the guests, I won't go into it here.) Another component of the Leonard Maltin Game is that the celebrity guests pick a person from the audience to play for, so the public is encouraged to bring movie related name-tags along to the show.
Since I figured I should have at least one grown-up outing while I'm in LA, I convinced my sister Amy to go with me to a live recording. We debated about whether we should do the name-tag thing, since from what I understood, a lot of them tend to be pretty elaborate and I figured there was little chance that either of us would be picked.
But in the end, we didn't want to feel left out, so my sister took her old Miss Piggy doll and affixed a "Miss Amy" name-tag to it, and I found an old DVD copy of "Charade", a fun caper movie starring Audrey Hepbun and Cary Grant that takes place in Paris. The cover of this DVD box not only proclaimed '"3 1/2 stars!" from Leonard Maltin himself, but "Intrigue at it's best!" (did you catch the typo?) I covered up Audrey Hepburn's name with my own and we were ready to go.
Unfortunately, we were not ready for how even more atrocious LA traffic gets each year, so we arrived at the UCB theater (where the podcast records regularly on Tuesday nights at 7) much later than we'd hoped. The guy at the door said there was only standing room left, which we were about to take, but then at the last minute he took pity on our shortness and let us actually sit on the stage right next to where the panel of guests would be.
Just like on the podcast, the show starts off with the catchy "Doug Loves Movies" theme song, then Doug comes out to introduce himself and the guests. I have to say Doug Benson in person is pretty much as funny and laid-back as he comes off on the audio version and didn't actually look TOO high.
The guests for this show were actress Brie Larson and director James Ponsoldt, promoting their upcoming movie "The Spectacular Now," Steven Yeun, who plays Glenn on "Walking Dead," and writer-actor Thomas Lennon (co-screenwriter of "Night at the Museum", Bruce Wayne's doctor in "The Dark Knight Rises"!).
In each episode, Doug chats a bit with each of the guests and talks about their new projects and what movies they've seen lately. This portion of the podcast can include a LOT of digressions, but at the show we saw, it was kept pretty tight. Thomas Lennon had brought a bottle of Ed Hardy wine to share, which provided much of the humor in the early part of the show. (Luckily, I have never seen this wine in France as it looked and smelled like red kerosene.)
Since my sister and I were practically sitting in his lap, Tom Lennon he even offered Amy a sip and stroked her cheek. (My sister is pretty cute). He also admired her Miss Piggy name tag and looked at my Charade DVD. The typo tag-line particularly caught his eye, so when Doug told the guests to pick their name tags, he reached out his hand for it, which was a pretty big shock to us. He warned us that he'd never actually won the Leonard Maltin Game, but Amy and I had a feeling tonight would be the night.
I should point out here, that I apparently have excellent podcast Karma since at the only other podcast show I have attended - Greg Proops' "Smartest Man in the World", which recorded an episode in Paris - I got a free t-shirt out of it. And my luck continued, because in two short rounds, Mr. Lennon had won the game and the prize package came to us!
In case you're curious, the prizes included Doug's latest CD, a signed "Walking Dead" comic from Steven Yeun, a biography of Will Rogers signed Brie Larson, a signed copy of the 1959 edition of "The Working Comedian's Gag File" from Tom Lennon (filed under 'Ambition': I made a killing in the stock market. I shot my broker."), a poster of "The Spectacular Now" plus a DVD of Ponsoldt's last film, "Smashed", a VHS copy of "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" and a cock-fighting video from I don't know who. Oh, and we took the empty bottle of the Ed Hardy wine too, since, while I hate Christian Audigier and everything he stands for, it would make a pretty cool lamp.
It really seems like Los Angeles is at the center of a great alt-comedy resurgence, thanks in large part to podcasts, so for those of you who live here, I encourage you to support shows like "Doug Loves Movies" (did I mention it was free?) And creative types, while you're at it, pick up a copy of Thomas Lennon & Robert Ben Garant's practical and entertaining book "How to Write Movies for Fun and Profit," because Tom Lennon is awesome (and, btw, extremely buff in person).
Next cultural outing on the agenda: Disneyland!