Talking to Hayes Davenport and Sean Clements About Their Podcast ‘Hollywood Handbook’
Chances are if you’ve ever admired a television program or were moved to tears by a film, you’ve appreciated the virtuosity of Hollywood A-list it-boys Hayes Davenport and Sean Clements. Last October, the two entertainment prodigies decided to unlock the golden gates of Hollywood to John and Jane Q Public, and reveal their previously confidential industry expertise by launching Hollywood Handbook, a podcast on the Earwolf Network that aims to help listeners achieve their showbiz dreams. In three short months, Hollywood Handbook ascended from the new podcast on the block to weekly must-listen status with its endearing mix of subtle charm and subversive comedy. After exchanging countless emails with a slew of publicists, agents and the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, Hayes and Sean agreed to chat with Splitsider about the possibility of becoming their own podcasting network, outsmarting Justin Bieber, and why Tom Hanks doesn’t have a podcast.
You recently interviewed comedian Andy Daly on Hollywood Handbook and after his appearance Daly was given his very own podcast on the Earwolf Network. Are there any other Hollywood Handbook success stories from guests or listeners you can share?
Hayes Davenport: That’s a very good question. What we’ve had instead is more of the opposite where someone will refuse to appear on our podcast and then they’re never allowed to have a podcast. Like you notice, for example, Tom Hanks does not have a podcast. You ever think, ‘Hmm I wonder why that is?’ He’s a pretty famous guy; people seem to like him. When you cross us, when you try to keep information from getting out there, we have ways of making it so it would be very difficult for you to ever get a podcast from that point on.
Sean Clements: We did inadvertently launch Andy Daly, and best of luck to him.
Hayes: We’re truly, truly rooting for him.
Sean: I hope he finds his way and finds a voice for himself out there. I think it’s more likely, as Hayes said, that someone would either not do the podcast or even be like three minutes late. Like when J.J. came in, I remember he was trying to plug all his stupid robots — what’s his thing?
Hayes: The Star Boys.
Sean: Right. The Star Boys stuff.
J.J. Abrams, correct?
Hayes: Yes, J.J. Abram.
Sean: And he’s talking about his Star Boys stuff, and I just remember turning to Hayes and being like, “This guy’s toast.”
Hayes: Kate Beckinsale, no podcast. Do the math.
Sean: Jennifer Garner married to Ben Affleck. Do you think she wanted that, or do you think we wanted that?
So Jennifer Garner said no to an appearance on your podcast, and her punishment was to marry Ben Affleck?
Sean: Yes, we made her marry Ben Affleck. Then we made Ben do Argo. Not the good Argo, but the bad Argo. From the movie Argo.
Fans of Hollywood Handbook know that your podcast exposes a number of long-standing Hollywood secrets. Has your commitment to sharing this previously confidential information been met with any hostility from your industry peers?
Sean: We’ve run up against some resistance. I think just last night Hayes and I were leaving a taping of The Taste and Christina Fey (Tina Fey) grabbed my arm very hard, pulled my arm, hurt my arm, and hurt my neck and said, “You guys gotta stop.” Now Christina’s a friend; I’m taking nothing away from what she’s done.
Hayes: She’s a true American treasure.
Sean: But, I think it came from a place of fear because she wants to be the funny woman in Hollywood and our message is so inclusive that I think it’s going to open the door for lots of women and underrepresented people to be very funny or make their own movie or TV show — and get your pitchforks out, townspeople, because we know this is not a popular position.
Hayes: I find the situation I deal with the most is a friend will approach me — like I was talking to Josh Holloway the other day, and I noticed he was choking up a little, had some tears in his eyes, and he asked if we were talking about him on the podcast when we said someone was a talentless hack. And I had to tell him that it’s not him, he’s one of the good ones, and that was Topher Grace.
Sean: I think it was just last week that Justin Beeper dressed up like a policeman and tried to steal all the tapes of the show.
You mean when Justin Bieber was arrested for drag racing? That was him attempting to steal tapes of Hollywood Handbook?
Sean: Well, what they don’t say is that in the trunk of his Lambo were all the tapes. One long day, we tape a month’s worth of shows, we ship them down to Florida…
Hayes: Yep down to Florida for processing under a fake name so they’re not stolen. In this case it was “Tumbleweed.”
Sean: They get flown to Europe; they air from Europe just for tax reasons. He thought he could intercept them and well, we were a little bit smarter than Justin Beeper, no surprise. I think he didn’t want young people to know about fame, and I don’t think that’s fair.
Hollywood Handbook is a member of the Earwolf Podcast Network which hosts a variety of different improvisational podcasts, do you find it challenging to produce a more traditional instructional podcast on a network so concerned with comedy?
Hayes: That’s so close to being a really good question. I think what you’re trying to ask is, “Why is our podcast bigger than theirs when they’re trying to do comedy, and we’re just telling true stories?”
Sean: It’s so funny to hear people be honest and just be themselves. Some of these other podcasts are trying so hard to be funny and they’re like doing a voice or a character, but to hear a natural storyteller like a Hayes or a Sean come in and be themselves, that’s the funniest.
Have you felt any resentment from Earwolf because of that?
Sean: Certainly nobody has the fucking balls to say jackshit to our face. The one thing I noticed is that somebody folds my mirrors in. When I get out to my car, they folded my mirrors in. And I think I know who it is, and I don’t expect him to apologize. Jason Mantzoukas.
Hayes: I will say on Sean’s behalf that that’s really dangerous.
Sean: We could at any second take our podcast to one of their competitors or more likely just become our own network.
Hayes: With just our show.
Sean: Right, with just our show and… ‘bye-bye, Earwolf.’ I mean, they wouldn’t have any podcasts anymore.
Hayes: We would take the Cracked podcast with us because those guys are cool. But that’s it.
Sean: Everybody else would have to sit on that fucking sinking ship and go down with it and drown and die.
You two are renowned in the entertainment industry for discovering new talent. Are there any under the radar, up and coming comedians readers of Splitsider should be on the lookout for?
Sean: Definitely. It’s a weird position because we’re gonna probably list off a bunch of names you’ve never heard, and your readers are gonna go, “What the heck? These are just random names,” and if they have the wherewithal a year from now they’ll go back and read this and be like, “These people are all over my screen.” We met a real sweet kid just the other night. Dumb name, Jon Hamm. Now I think this guy is gonna do something. Good head on his shoulders. Sweet kid, funny kid. Doesn’t mean anything to you guys, but he’s good.
Right. But I think we’re looking for people that the general public may not be aware of quite yet.
Sean: Like underground stuff?
Hayes: We love going to little shows that nobody else really knows about and catching who’s next. I saw this really funny guy perform the other day, this guy David Spade. He was doing this little halftime show at Staples that I think was barely even announced beforehand, and the people who show up are the real insiders, and I think everyone there thought this guy has a really bright future.
Sean: Definitely, I thought so. Sort of a wry thing he’s doing that might not play in the flyovers, but for the edgy coast that we frequent, it would work. And my agents send me tapes of guys, George Carlin, Richard Sherman I think is doing some cool Andy Kaufman-type stuff right now…
Richard Sherman the football player?
Hayes: Oh is he playing football now? That’s hilarious.
Sean: That’s so funny to get that deep into something. That’s funny.
Hayes: What a maniac.
What’s the one piece of advice you would give someone who just moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the entertainment industry?
Sean: Probably move back till you’re ready.
Hayes: And I would say from there, reading Splitsider is a pretty good first step. I actually found out about SNL from you guys. That’s sort of why we agreed to do this. You guys are tapped into the underground the same way we are from an insider’s perspective where you can tell the world about SNL…
Sean: Or Caddyshack. Did you see their piece on… I guess there was a movie called Caddyshack?
Hayes: Yeah I read about that. It blew my mind. It’s mostly because of you guys watching the underground networks like NBC or ABC; you’re sort of doing the heavy work for a lot of aspiring industry people out there.
Sean: Well some of us don’t have time and some of us, me, don’t own a TV. So I don’t know how I would learn about some of those shows. Half the time, I’m on set and then I’m also doing my meditations out in nature because I am one-eighth Native American, and so I do need to connect with the earth. So with all that time eaten up, how can I ever find out about these niche shows being made and the answer for me has been Splitsider. Hayes, do you want to throw a plug for Splitsider into the Splitsider article?
Hayes: Yeah, I actually have an arrangement with Splitsider, financially, to plug them during this interview. So let me just quickly make up a tagline right now. Splitsider: Your place for laughs, gaffs and something with giraffes. You can take it from there. You can’t expect me to do the whole thing.
New episodes of Hollywood Handbook debut every Tuesday on the Earwolf website.