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The Department of Tangents Podcast


Years ago, playing a sort of improv game with friends in which we all picked super powers based on our personalities, I dubbed myself “Tangent Lad.” I was not a very strong superhero, and I could not defeat a super villain on my own, but I could distract them with Monty Python quotes and football trivia. I have many times since apologized to an interview subject in my capacity as a journalist by saying, “I am either very good or very bad at tangents, depending on how you feel about tangents.”

I had a rough time coming up with the concept and naming this blog/podcast. I knew I wanted to create a place where I could address things I’m passionate about – comedy, music, and horror. Finding a name that communicated all three of those things proved a bit impossible. I bugged my friends, and they all tried to help. To no avail. Then I thought, maybe I’m approaching this from the wrong angle. Maybe my lack of focus should be the focus.

As a journalist, I have written for The Boston Globe since 2000, starting out writing CD reviews and then writing a regular column on comedy for seven and a half years. I still contribute there, and to Kirkus Reviews, and other publications. I’m also a musician, and released my debut full-length album, Blue Skies and Broken Arrows, in March of 2015. And I’ve been publishing short horror fiction for a couple of years.

I like to climb into things I love and see how they operate. That’s what the Department of Tangents is for. I’ll be writing regular features, essays, and news bits about the big three – comedy, music, and horror – and offering clips from people I’ve taped interviews with over the past nearly twenty years of writing. Some of the best parts of the interviews I’ve done have been completely off-point and inappropriate for print. I’ll get to explore more of that here. I’m also hoping to convince some friends to tell me about the things they love that I might not even know about, and pass that along to you.

The DoT podcast might be short or long, depending on where the conversation leads. You cant purposefully create an interesting tangent in conversation – it has to happen naturally. But I can confidently forecast that there will be moments in the individual podcasts where things veer off wonderfully.

The main thing here is love. To write about the things that make I’ve loved forever, and some new things that might stand the test and be around, at least for me, for decades to come. I’ve had to be critical in my writing at times, and it might not all be nonstop roses here, but in the end, what I really want to talk about is the good stuff. That’s why I will regularly write about things I think are “Perfect,” even if someone can demonstrate empirically that they are flawed. Still perfect to me.

Also, fish.

I hope you, dear anonymous surfer person, will come to expect only the highest-quality, free-range, grass-fed tangents. And I hope some of you love the same things I do and find it useful. Or at least a welcome distraction until the others get here.

Feb 25, 2017

For twenty years, <a href="http://www.andykindler.com/" target="_blank">Andy Kindler</a> has been making hamburger of sacred cows with his State of the Industry Address at the <a href="http://www.hahaha.com/en" target="_blank">Just For Laughs Festival</a> in Montreal. It's the king of comedy festivals, and a bit of a party for stand-up comedians and anyone in the comedy business, and sometimes, Kindler winds up making fun of things people in the room have worked on. When I spoke with him recently, he said he tries to do it in the spirit of a roast, but there are some things that make him legitimately angry. He just released <a href="https://www.amazon.com/State-Industry-Address-Just-Laughs/dp/B01NAWZFYX/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1488014941&sr=8-3&keywords=andy+kindler" target="_blank"><em>State of the Industry Address (Just For Laughs 1996)</em></a> in digital formats, chronicling his first address. He had no idea then it would become a staple of the festival. He was just trying to build off the success of a "hack seminar" he'd done the previous year, teaching comedians how to reach peak mediocrity. There is genuine ire in there, for executives who wanted to make comedy "pretty," or brand all black comedy "urban," and anyone who wanted to turn comedy into anything less than the art that he loves.

In Episode 21 of the Department of Tangents Podcast, I spoke with Kindler about how the Address has evolved over the years, and some of the details about the 1996 inaugural edition. We also talked about his new gig hosting season four of <a href="https://www.hulu.com/comedy-dynamics-coming-to-the-stage" target="_blank"><em>Coming To the Stage</em>, a stand-up showcase on Hulu</a>, political comedy, and Kindler's beginnings as a stand-up. I also learned that he started out as a musician before he was a comedian, and that he still writes. There may be a musical album somewhere in the future, though nothing is imminent. And if you're interested in the show Kindler mentions at the end, it's called Stand-Ups Give BAC, benefiting the <a href="https://www.brooklynautismcenter.org/" target="_blank">Brooklyn Autism Center</a>. The show is February 28 at <a href="http://www.carolines.com/" target="_blank">Carolines on Broadway</a>, and you can find more info at the <a href="https://www.brooklynautismcenter.org/" target="_blank">BAC site</a>.

After the conversation, stay tuned for a gorgeous <a href="http://www.birdsofchicago.com/" target="_blank">Birds of Chicago</a> song, "Remember Wild Horses," from their latest album, <em>Real Midnight</em>. I spoke with Allison Russell and JT Nero, the husband and wife team at the center of the band, early in February before a gig at Cinema Salem, and they are next week's Department of Tangents Podcast guests.   

You can listen to and/or download the podcast from the Libsyn player below, or click to the iTunes icon to download and subscribe.