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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 24, 2017

<a href="" target="_blank">Joe DeRosa</a> is the perfect subject for the Department of Tangents Podcast. He’s a talented comedian, as evidenced by his <a href="" target="_blank">new album and special, <em>You Let Me Down</em></a>, and he’s got a couple of podcasts himself, so he knows better than I do how to approach them. He does <em>Emotional Hangs</em>, which grew out of his old <em>Down With Joe DeRosa</em> podcast, with fellow comedian Kurt Braunohler. And he is co-host along with Patrick Walsh, of the horror-themed <a href="" target="_blank"><em>We’ll See You In Hell</em></a>, which used to be on the <a href="" target="_blank">Fangoria</a> network, but since the <a href="" target="_blank">troubles at that venerable publication and the questions about its future</a>, has moved to <a href="" target="_blank">Headgum</a>. He’s a big horror fan with very specific and solid opinions, and he also writes short horror stories.  

I sat down with DeRosa in the green room at Laugh Boston, and we spoke until he literally had to get up and go onstage. You can hear the first two comics onstage in the background here. DeRosa had a great set, with very little material still left over from the current special. We got to talk about comedy audiences, what DeRosa likes and doesn’t like in a horror film, and even a little about another one of his loves, hip-hop music.

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