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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.

Mar 1, 2018

Jenny Zigrino is still very much a comic on the rise. In the past two years, she has played notable roles in films like Bad Santa 2 and Fifty Shades of Black. Last year, she released her debut album, JZ’s New Album, had her own Comedy Central Half Hour, and co-hosted an IFC digital series called The Filling Is Mutual with Jen Saunderson. In 2018, she’s already appeared on Live from Here (formerly Prairie Home Companion) and has a Web series debuting in March for Comedy Central called Bad Ass Bitches of History.

I covered her when she was getting started in stand-up in Boston a few years back, and for this interview, brought along a mutual friend, comedian and actor Jessie Baade. That made for a fun conversation, talking of course about Zigrino’s current projects and future plans, but also about the body-positive and sex-positive philosophy she applied in her stand-up, the power of burlesque, the isolation of touring, and a lot more.

We started the conversation talking about a podcast Zigrino and fellow comedian Gary Petersen had thought of producing in which they cured their boredom on tour by creating characters inspired by the people they meet. They abandoned the idea, but I’m hoping not forever.

Our featured track this week comes from former podcast guest Matt Minigell, who appeared way back in episode 14 with Mary Lou Lord and Annabelle Lord-Patey. He’s got a new album out now called Guts, and the featured track from that, “Even In My Dreams (I’m Falling),” is available now on BandCamp.