Talking with Jake Fogelnest about His New Earwolf Podcast ‘Fogelnest Files’
If you like satellite radio, cheeky Twitter/Tumblr antics, and watching people yell at tweens, then you probably already know who Jake Fogelnest is. If you don’t like any of those things, but you do like podcasts, then you’re gonna wanna figure out who he is real fast because Jake Fogelnest has a brand new podcast debuting this week on the Earwolf network that’s ready to finally be the one thing your picky self actually likes.
I’m not used to describing new podcasts because most podcasts are generally pretty similar to each other (insert host’s name here chats with his/her friends about whatever’s on their minds), but comedian/DJ/social media luminary Jake Fogelnest’s new show, Fogelnest Files, is a different breed of podcast than some of these run-of-the-mill chatfests. In each installment of the new monthly show, Jake plays clips of rare pop culture artifacts from his private vault for him and a pair of comedians to discuss in front of a paying audience of American citizens. The first episode of Fogelnest Files, with guests Julie Klausner and Chris Gethard, is available on Earwolf and on iTunes now.
I recently got to interview Jake Fogelnest, and he monopolized the conversation to shamelessly plug his new show:
So, tell me about your new podcast.
What it is is I have pulled a bunch of clips from my archives, which is all these DVDs and videos that I’ve had forever and also the Internet. There used to be a show called Night Flight on USA in the 80s. It was on late at night, and it was on for like 5, 6 hours, and they would just show the most random stuff. You used to click around the TV dials and see things and be like “Well, what the hell is that!?” The days before there was a program guide that was on screen, you’d just click and go, “What is this!?” and you’d either tape it or never see it again. That sort of thing doesn’t exist anymore. So, pulling from the history of pop culture, I’ve just pulled like different clips of things, and I’m gonna show them in front of an audience at UCB with a roundtable of friends and comedians.
The first episode is me, Julie Klausner, and Chris Gethard talking about punk rock. I played things like the New York hardcore kids. All the kids in the 80s that were into hardcore bands, they were on The Phil Donahue Show. It didn’t go well. Some clips of the television show Quincy in the 80s. They did a punk rock episode. It’s ridiculous! So I pulled some clips from that. The Ramones on Regis and Kathie Lee. GG Allin doing The Geraldo Show. Just all of these things from the 80s when punk rock was misunderstood. And what those clips do is sort of allow us to have a funny discussion about pop culture. It’s also me bringing out things that maybe people have forgotten about, maybe things that people didn’t know about ever, or just things that are really kinda cool. We look at cool stuff and then have a funny conversation about it. That is really it. I’m gonna do it live at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in Los Angeles monthly, and we’re gonna put it out every month through Earwolf.
It seems like you’re a hip guy and you’re good with technology. What took you so long to get a podcast? Were you resistant at first?
No, I wasn’t resistant at first. First of all, I’m on the radio, which doesn’t take a lot for me. I’m on microphone every day. I don’t have any problems. I like it. It was sort of like, ‘Okay, if I’m gonna do a podcast, what is it gonna be?’ I was hesitant to start doing a podcast because I’m a podcast listener and a podcast fan. I didn’t want to give people another fucking podcast to listen to. Already, people are gonna listen to Marc Maron, they’re gonna listen to Tom Scharpling, they’re gonna listen to Julie Klausner, they’re gonna listen to Nerdist, they’re gonna listen to Todd Glass – God, I hope they listen to Todd Glass – and Comedy Bang Bang. There’s all these great podcasts to listen to, so I was like, ‘Well, if I’m gonna start one, what’s gonna be different about it? What’s gonna make it not just a bunch of people in a studio doing bits?’ And I didn’t want it to be a thing where I was interviewing comedians because, well, that’s covered.
If I’m gonna start a podcast, I had to bring something to it that nobody else can bring, and what nobody else can bring, I realized, was this vast knowledge of pop culture and stuff that I have. I’m gonna play a bunch of weird clips and weird things that people have either forgotten about or have never seen in the first place, and what I’m gonna do is provide the context and backstory to it. And those clips and those stories are gonna lead to very funny discussions. [In] the first episode, with Julie Klausner and Chris Gethard, I showed some clips of GG Allin, and that leads into this great story where Chris Gethard is saying his brother went to see Merle Allin and the Murder Junkies at a wrestling event in Philadelphia. The whole thing ended in a gigantic fight with Merle Allin just calmly sitting at his drum set, sticking his drum stick in and out of his asshole. It’s a conversation that’s not gonna come out of thre comedians sitting in a studio talking. It would never come up otherwise. We got into a discussion about H.R. Pufnstuf [being] more prog rock than punk rock. Just allowing these clips and the backstory to all of these weird things that I’ve been collecting… to inform discussion and just create funny conversation and bits.
With shows like Tosh.0, it’s like, “Hey, take a look at this weird Internet video of a cat!” and then there’s a rape joke. Why does it have to be a weird Internet video of a cat? Why can’t it be the trailer to a movie called The Tingler, where Vincent Price drops acid in 1959? I would rather show a clip of Vincent Price freaking out on LSD and have that lead to a weird discussion than pretty much anything else on the planet Earth. There’s just more out there than what’s on the Internet. It’s sort of like, ‘Let’s do an Internet thing that is informed by stuff before the Internet existed.’
So, how are you adjusting to life in L.A. so far?
I love Los Angeles. I should have moved here forever ago. I’m very lucky. I feel like a lot of my friends moved out here, and they didn’t know anyone. I was one of the last people of my generation to move from New York. So, I moved out here, and all of my friends are out here now, so it’s just a lot of fun. And also, I’ve made a lot of new friends. I love Los Angeles. First of all, it’s really nice every day. It’s really nice every day. There’s no situation where I’m going into an underground tunnel for transportation purposes, and the tunnel is filled with assholes and smells like urine. That’s out of my life now. I would much rather live here than anywhere else on the planet Earth.
Also, I’m in a town now where they show Night Shift and Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid on the big screen, and that’s like no big deal. You can just go to The New Beverly, and they’re showing Night Shift on film. I don’t know, where else in the world can I do that? Why would I not love Los Angeles more than any place else in the world? I just feel very happy here.
The podcast is inspired by that. All of my friends are here, and I have access now to – the things I’m gonna do with the podcast is I want to reach out to weird celebrities that live here. Maybe people would never think to have them on a podcast. Sure, of course, I’m gonna have Paul F. Tompkins on the podcast. He’s the Mayor of Podcasting, of course, but it’d be really cool to reach out to somebody like—I’m obsessed with the idea of getting John Ross Bowie and Eddie Deezen together. Eddie Deezen is an actor. He was in Grease, he played Eugene. I don’t know him, but I know he’s in Los Angeles. He was Eugene in Grease, he was in I Want to Hold Your Hand, the Robert Zemeckis movie. In the 70s and early 80s, he was the quintessential movie nerd. I would really like to show some of the stuff he did and some other classic moments from “nerds in film” or whatever, and have John Ross Bowie and Eddie Deezen talk about what it’s like being character actors, being nerd actors. I’d love to create situations like that.
There’s all these musicians out here too that I know from my work with Sirius XM. I think it’d be really fun to pull weird old footage from Shindig! and American Bandstand and just have a discussion with some musicians about why music is awful now and why it used to be so good. Like, why are [things like] the Shangri-Las not happening more and we’ve got to deal with Skrillex? It’s basically an old man yelling at tweens. That’s what I do. It’s just like, “Oh, Jake’s got a bunch of old weird footage of shit, and he’s gonna make people watch it.” I don’t know if it’ll be interesting to anybody, but I really want to do the show. [Laughs] I really don’t know if anyone will care, and that’s the cool thing about podcasts too is it kinda doesn’t matter.
I wanted to do a very specific thing that really is me going through extensive files at home and files in my brain and being like, “Oh, let’s talk about this thing, and why I think it’s important.” [Laughs] Is it completely self-indulgent? Yes, it’s a podcast. Isn’t that the point?
[Laughs] Yeah, but you already recorded one live show. It seems like the audience there was probably interested in it.
Yeah, we recorded the first one in New York at UCB there [with] Julie Klausner and Chris Gethard. It was great. It was just really fun. People really wanted to see what I had pulled. Julie and Chris were so funny and so great commenting on everything. We talked about a lot of current stuff, but then we also reminisced about stuff. It was fun. I feel like it’s a fun, smart show.
I’m excited to do the next one in Los Angeles. The next one is on August 30th at UCB LA, and the guests are gonna be Paul F. Tompkins and Jon Daly, and that’s gonna be great. Just two dudes who are hilarious. It’s hard to put together the show because it’s like “Who do I want to have on? Now, what do I want to show them?” I know I’m going to show some scenes from this movie The Tingler because I just think it’ll be fun to have Paul F. Tompkins talk about Vincent Price dropping acid in a movie in 1959. For some reason, that sounds like an interesting funny thing to do. I don’t know that it will be, but it seems like it.
I’m open to suggestion too, if there’s things that people—it just reminds me, I saw the documentary Shut Up, Little Man! And it made me nostalgic. I remember hearing Shut Up, Little Man!, I remember hearing those tapes and getting a copy of Heavy Metal Parking Lot in a time before the Internet. When it was like, “Oh my God, have you heard of this thing?” And somebody would make you a tape of it and maybe they’d forget and you wouldn’t get it for a few weeks. Then, you would find one thing and that would lead you to learning more about another thing. It was like a hunt. It was a real quest you would go on to find out about pop culture. A great example is there’s this 7” I have that’s stage banter from a metal band called Venom. Basically, it was this tape—Black Flag in 1986 opened up for a metal band called Venom in New Jersey. They’re the most ridiculous band ever. They taped the whole show and edited out all of the music and just made a tape of the stage banter. It’s Venom saying things like, “You’re fuckin’ pretty loud, New Jersey!” You know, things like that. It’s the funniest thing you’ll ever hear. This is a tape that the sound guy for Black Flag made. It ended up in the hands of Thurston Moore, and then Thurston Moore released it as a 7” on his record label, Ecstatic Peace!, and Thurston gave it to me. The Beastie Boys sample it on Check Your Head. That moment on Check Your Head where they go “You’re wild man… wild!” That is from this 7”.
But that was one of those things that got passed around and passed around and passed around. Nowadays, if you want to find that footage, which I have a copy of in my house, you just type in “Venom stage banter” and it’s there on YouTube. There’s something wonderful about that; there’s also something terrible about that. So, I just wanted to do a show that paid honor to a different time where it was just like, “Oh my God, remember there weird things, and you would have to just seek them out.” And hopefully from the show, people will get exposed to all of these weird things that I’ve been exposed to. All these cool things. They’re not always weird, sometimes they’re just cool. Hopefully, they’ll get exposed to these cool things and enjoy the conversation about them, and then they can seek it out more themselves. And for them to do that would be very, very easy. If they like one of the things that we talk about, they can become an expert on it immediately via YouTube. I will shout at them about it because there’s just so much cool stuff that is out there from the world of pop culture that used to be very, very hard to find and now it’s not. So, let’s dig through some of the archives of life and take a moment and really talk about how great some of this shit was.
You work at Earwolf also in addition to having this show there. What’s your position there, and what are your duties?
I work at Earwolf with Scott [Aukerman] and Jeff [Ullrich], basically helping Scott and Jeff out with whatever they need. We’re developing all of these new shows and so much new stuff, and Earwolf’s growing really, really fast. [They] really needed just another set of ears in the place. I happen to have this really weird specific comedy background in UCB, and I also happen to have a really specific radio background because I’ve worked in radio so long. I speak the radio language and then I speak the comedy language. It sort of made sense for me to get involved helping out. So, I consult with them and just sort of work with Scott and Jeff about developing new shows and furthering the company. It’s been really great. I love Scott Aukerman and Jeff Ullrich so much. They’re just so great to work with, and it’s been really, really fun to see Earwolf grow and be a part of that. I came to it as a fan. A couple of my friends do podcasts at Earwolf, I’m a fan of Bang! Bang!, and then, Jeff contacted me. Jeff came and visited me in New York. With me moving out to L.A., it just made sense for me to help out around there with whatever I can creatively. Just being another creative force at Earwolf that understands comedy and radio.
What are your favorite podcasts going?
I never miss an episode of WTF. I have been a fan of [Marc] Maron since I was eight years old. I’ve known Marc since I was eight. I saw him do stand-up at the Village Gate. I’m very excited to do his show on the 28th. I never miss an episode of WTF. It’s great to hear these really wonderful conversations with a lot of my friends and some people that I don’t know well but I’m a fan of or didn’t know I was a fan of. And I just like Marc. I like Marc talking into a microphone. That is always entertaining to me. I think Todd Glass’s podcast is the fucking funniest thing in the world. I don’t know Todd Glass at all. I’ve never actually met him. They’re just having so much fun on that show. It is the most beautiful, disorganized, wonderful thing, and I could listen to it for hours. It’s just so specifically funny. I’ve just never heard so many people having so much fun on a podcast as The Todd Glass Show.
I love Comedy Bang! Bang! I think Scott is one of the quickest, funniest dudes and an incredible curator and just a really original wit. That guy understands structure in comedy in a way that I wish more people did. [Laughs] Paul Scheer’s show [How Did This Get Made?] is great. I love Julie Klausner. Her just talking into a microphone is the most entertaining thing, and her interviews are terrific. Julie is one of my best friends, and her doing a podcast is great – each week, you get to hang out with Julie. And the way she engages with her audience, I think, is so unique.
Above all of these motherfuckers in the podcast game is Tom Scharpling of The Best Show on WFMU, who could not hate podcasts more. You know, he has his select few that he likes. I listen to his show live. I go on WFMU.org and listen to it live. It is three hours each week. Him at a microphone is unmatched. Him on the telephone with whoever’s calling in is fucking [as] brilliant as it gets. Him and Jon Wurster and the new material – these 30 minute comedy pieces that they write every week, which they take their time to do. Tom does a lot of work each week for no money. He makes it seem effortless. He’s an absolute genius, and I’m happy to call him a friend. I laugh out loud every week listening to Tom.
And then, Paul F.Tompkins is fucking brilliant. He puts together a masterpiece in each one. Each Pod F. Tompkast is a masterpiece. I love that he takes his time and really puts out—when one of those drops, it’s so exciting. He’s just great. Those are the ones that I listen to most. I also like my friend Bailey Jay’s show. Bailey is a transsexual porn star, and she’s very funny. She does a great podcast. I’ve been on that a bunch of times. She’s just very, very funny. She does a pretty damn good podcast.
Are you and [Onion head writer] Seth Reiss still working on that Studio 60 oral history?
We really need to. We really need to work on that. The Studio 60 accounts are still alive. Danny and Matt are still tweeting. I did get a text from Seth, it was really funny because he texted me very stressed out about how we’re gonna handle The Newsroom. “How do we make references to it? This is stuff that happened two years ago, but we’re in the present day.” It was my favorite conversation I’ve ever had. Matt and Danny are still tweeting. They’re living their lives. Studio 60 is still on the air. I don’t know what season they’re actually in… They’re on summer hiatus. I think that Matt Albie every other week just writes an episode of Studio 60. Even though it doesn’t go to air, he’s still writing one during the summer.
And Prince has been tweeting, which is nice. [Laughs] I do a thing with Funny or Die for their iPad magazine The Occasional, where we do Prince Magazine. That is my favorite thing to do is tweet as Prince. He doesn’t tweet often, but when he does, it’s important. [Laughs]
Have you had any strange Twitter interactions lately?
No strange Twitter interactions. I do like that Megan Phelps from the Westboro Baptist Church has checked in with me to see how I’m adjusting to L.A. That makes me laugh. I’ve gotten tweets like “How are you liking L.A.?” from the “God hates fags” people. It’s pretty weird. I don’t even know what to do with that. I’m just like, “Okay!” No, just Prince and Danny Tripp. He needs to tweet more, I’ve been busy. My cat has a Twitter, I have a Twitter.
I’m excited about the podcast. I think it’s gonna be cool. It’s definitely a specific weird thing… I don’t know what’ll happen. It’s still coming from the place of “Well, there’s a lot of old cool things that I’ve been collecting over the years, and it’d be cool to show them to my friends and talk about these cool things.” I hope people like it. I’m definitely excited to put them out once a month, and if the occasion happens to put out another one or do something in the studio, I absolutely will… Once a month there will be a show at UCB where I will show stuff to my friends, and it will be funny.
Bradford Evans is a writer living in Los Angeles.