On February 7, 2019, my favorite podcast Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave released their spectacular 400th episode. In this day and age that may not seem like much of an achievement but with the cast of characters behind this endeavor 400 is a milestone.
A little background for those who are wondering what the hell is a podcast. I’m going to turn to Wikipedia for that answer. A podcast or generically netcast, is an episodic series of digital audio or video files which a user can download in order to listen to. It is often available for subscription, so that new episodes are automatically downloaded via web syndication to the user’s own local computer, mobile application, or portable media player.
By 2007, audio podcasts were doing what was historically accomplished via radio broadcasts, which had been the source of radio talk shows and news programs since the 1930s. This shift occurred as a result of the evolution of internet capabilities along with increased consumer access to cheaper hardware and software for audio recording and editing.
I first became aware of podcasts in 2013. I had gotten tired of the radio playlist years before and often listened to talk radio and National Public Radio. One of the Programs that really fascinated me on NPR was an outstanding program called Radiolab. I eventually went to the internet and found out I was able to listen to past episodes on their website. I continued to do this for a year or so listening to many NPR programs while I played video games. I know it sure drove my girlfriend and future wife batty. Sometime in late 2013 I purchased my first smart phone. I wasn’t to impressed or happy with the device until I discovered that I could get an app that let me listen to programs I liked by downloading them to my phone. Suddenly a whole new world opened. up to me. I was able to listen to my phone while on the road driving between locations and even while I counted money from the Jukebox’s and pool tables at each location.
One night in February 2014, I’m perusing Netflix and I watched this program called Comic Book Men. I really enjoyed it. The main person I recognized was Kevin Smith, who I knew as the character Silent Bob from Dogma and Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. What I didn’t know at that time was that he was also a director of both films along with a few others I was to learn about very shortly. Kevin owned the location where Comic Book Men was filmed and was lifelong friends with two of the stars. I was fascinate with the program and really enjoyed it especially Bryan Johnson and Walt Flannigan.
During each episode the cast would gather around a table and discussed what happened in the store that week. For the first six episodes I devoured one after another. I noticed the table had microphones in front of each individual and I began to wonder if they were also taping a podcast that might include more material not shown on the series. To the internet I went and discovered Smodcast.com.
Suddenly I was pulled into a world I have not left since.
Jay and Silent Bob Get Old with Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes. Recorded in front of a live audience where Kevin and Jason started out discussing Jason’s battle with addiction as a way to hold him accountable and has turned into so much more than a group therapy session. Each episode Jason will reveal how many days he has been drug free.
Smodcast with Kevin Smith and Scott Mosier. Kevin and Scott can and have discussed any and everything including taking a humorous ad for a tenant and turning it into a Movie (TUSK)
Plus many other podcast that have come and gone since I first discovered the Smodcast Network. Please check it and them out they are worth the listen.
I started listening to each podcast from episode one and refused to listen to the latest episodes until I had caught up with all previous episodes, some of them dating clear back to 2007. Ten months into my listening experience I caught up with every episode of every podcast I enjoyed and have been faithfully subscribed to each one since my night of discovery.
The crème de la crème of Smodcast, in my humble opinion, was Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave. It started out as an attempt by Bryan Johnson to help battle his demons and give his unique since of humor a forum it deserved. Walt Flannigan, Bry’s friend since the fifth grade, was willing to participate in an attempt to help Bry. Neither participant thought the endeavor would last very long giving Bry’s proclivity to give up on almost everything he ever attempted.
Sometime in November 2009 the very first episode was recorded at the secret stash in Red Bank, NJ. It was released Feb, 21, 2010. Brian Quinn who would later go on to fame as one of AMC’s Impractical Jokers was silent, acting as sound engineer. He would not be included as regular until the 4th or 5th episode. At the time of recording Bry wanted to name the podcast Joint Counter Joint. Walt didn’t like the idea and advocated for Tell ‘Em Steve-Dave since they were both the most famous for the utterance of this line in Kevin’s movie Mallrats. Bryan didn’t want to barter on their friendship with Kevin. We are all glad we are the TESD ARMY ANTS instead of the CJC ROACHES .
One episode in and I was intrigued. Episode two hooked me. By episode three TESD was my favorite podcast, I was listening to 5 or more episodes a day in an attempt tp catch up. By episode #228 in Dec 2014 I had caught up with the current episodes and was a lifelong fan. Of course at this point I supplemented my addiction with re-listening to the entire library.
Anyone who knows me knows I’m not big into “fandom” I like the Cowboys but they are not we. The same goes for the Rangers, Rockies, or any other sport team or entity. I enjoyed but I did not obsess. So what is it about TESD that makes me identify with them so much? In a nutshell its three things.
Bryan Johnson Walt Flannigan Brian Quinn
All three are complex characters and creative geniuses.
Bry battles depression, anger, and the stupidity of the world in general. It is not unusual for him to rant about many things. His parents and the idiocy he sees in social media and entertainment media are common foibles for his ire. He has the uncanny ability to take anything and make an hilarious joke or observation that gets all three laughing uncontrollably. Bry has niece with Down Syndrome who lives with him and he has clearly loved her since birth. His relationship with her is one of his most endearing qualities. If it wasn’t for the podcast and his niece there is no telling what hole Bry would have hidden himself down by now.
Walt is the sanest person he knows. He runs the Secret Stash with an tenacity to pull every dime he can from the sweaty hands of each and every individual he deals with. Walt will argue a point he believes in to the death. He will also argue any point he doesn’t believe in just to bust balls or for a laugh. In the early days he didn’t want to be on the podcast but he made a promise to Bry that he would stick around for as long as it lasted. Sometime before episode 100 Walt realized the potential of TESD and the faithfulness of its listener base and has put his heart and soul into making TESD the best it can be, coming up with games, commercials, and many projects to reward the TESD ARMY. It was Walt who first mentioned that we are all ants and will never be anything but ants.
Q was just suppose to be the sound guy. One day he started talking on an episode and the die was cast. A former firefighter and now Impractical Joker, Qs first love and devotion is to TESD. The very first podcast vinyl album was his idea and project. Much like Walt he is not above espousing a contrary idea to make something funnier. He created the all inclusive Four Colors Demons Club.
I didn’t even break the surface in my description of these three men
I identify with this trio of friends. They know each other well and are not afraid of offending anyone when they bust each others balls over the littlest thing. This form of humor is how I always interacted with my friends because it is much easier than admitting just how much you truly like and respect each other and there is something special about someone you don’t have to worry about having a filter around. When I listen to TESD I feel like they are my friends and there is nothing I would like to do more than sit and bs with all three for hours on end. I fact I have had dreams where we just sit around and talk.
Much like me and my few friends they also playfully antagonize guest and outsiders with quips, jokes, and observations.
I feel sorry for the many guest and various characters who enter the arena and attempt to match those three for wit and humor. Very few stand up and hold their own. Dave Windorf, Maxwell, and Frank Five are treasured guest who know how to just be themselves in the TESD universe. Others like Sunday Jeff and Ming Chen know they are not on the podcast to be witty, but to be a catalyst for the humor that will arise from their interplay with the three main players. Probably the most polarizing and misunderstood guest on TESD is Gitemstevedave, who tries so hard to match wit Bry, Walt, and Q that he ends up failing horribly alienating himself from the TESD ANTS.
It would take a book to explain the complexity of the TESD run of episodes and the growth of all three. Not to mention charity episodes, bonus episodes, Christmas episodes, audible books, vinyl records, movies, television series, and merchandise.
I just wanted to pay a small tribute to the boys.
I am contemplating adding new section to this blog where I discuss TESD episodes.
I am just an ant. I’ve always known I’m an ant. I’m proud to be an ANT in the TESD anthill. I buy the T-shirts and Merchandise because I want to support the guys and be an TESDANT.
Episode 400 was outstanding. I know many didn’t believe it would last this long. I know it can’t last forever, but for as long as it does I am along for the ride. Here’s to many more years of TESD.
Thank You, Bry, Walt, and Q