Pod-Canon is an ongoing tribute to the greatest individual comedy-related podcast episodes of all time.
It’s strange to me that the election of Donald Trump could somehow co-exist with the explosion in popularity of Gil Faizon and George St. Geegland, the Alan Alda-obsessed, excessive-tuna-pranking New Yorkers played by the inspired comedy team of Nick Kroll and John Mulaney on Kroll Show, on Comedy Bang Bang, and now on Broadway.
Then again, it’s entirely possible that Gil and George ran across Trump in various boroughs throughout the 1970s and 1980s, while they were aggressively seeking out cocaine and casual sex and Trump was trying to rob an urchin or some similar endeavor. The “Oh, Hello” guys, as they are affectionately known after their trademark greeting, and Trump represent something both pure and incredibly filthy about the soul of New York but they also symbolize very different aspects of New York. Trump prides himself on being a teetotaler; cocaine is pretty central to Faizon and St. Geegland’s whole deal.
In a gut-busting live performance on 2 Dope Queens, these grope-happy, leering exemplars of unexamined male privilege state right out of the gate, “We support women, we support minorities unless they infringe on anything we want” before continuing, “I hope that someday women earn the same wage as men because that way they’ll smile more.”
Yes, Gil and George are offensive, and racist, and sexist, and horrible, and #problematic, yet delightfully so and their appearance on a special Thanksgiving bonus episode of 2 Dope Queens speaks to our weird political and pop-culture moment. Here’s a brilliant Jewish white comedian (Nick Kroll) and a genius Catholic comedian (John Mulaney, who it should be noted, is dazzlingly in touch with his inner Jew) playing weird, creepy old men for a podcast hosted by a pair of red-hot and super-talented black female comedians in Phoebe Robinson and Jessica Williams – although Williams was not available for this live podcast taping so Robinson handled it solo.
Gil and George are true dinosaurs, relics of a pre-Giuliani era where, in the public’s imagination, New York was essentially a giant skid row of drug addicts, hookers, johns, and serial killers, not to mention porno theaters and dirty bookstores and various other places Travis Bickle might consider a safe space. That all changed when Bloomberg took office and, according to the guys, had a beige carpet placed over the entirety of New York then made the populace take their shoes off. These avuncular survivors wearily concede that despite their misgivings, that did make New York nicer, as did not being able to smoke in hospitals anymore.
Kroll and Mulaney are so funny here, and the podcast is so dense with hilarity, that it’s hard believe that it barely passes the twenty minute mark. The genius riffs start at the beginning, and include a hilarious revisionist account of the riot at Sal’s Pizzeria (chronicled in Do The Right Thing) that posits the violence not as a result of racial tension, but rather of one of the “Oh, Hello!” guys overflowing the toilet after eating an eggplant parmesan and then deciding that it’d be easier to fake a race riot than to own up to their behavior.
Things get predictably filthy. Butt sex is a major topic of conversation, and in a joke at once disgustingly filthy and surprisingly smart, one of the gents observes of one of Motown’s premiere acts, “My big problem with the band The Four Tops is that they weren’t versatile.” Gil and George are a lot more versatile, and flexible, and the episode concludes with Gil and George, who are never reined in by propriety or common decency, proposing a threesome with Robinson. After Robinson understandably gives the proposal a hard pass, these undeterred creeps ask her to act as a “Doula” while they have sex with each other.
Live podcasts can be an iffy proposition but this benefits from the infectious laughter of a crowd understandably overjoyed to be in the presence of these utterly loathsome yet oddly lovable characters, these sour, cantankerous walking ghosts of New York’s regrettable yet distinctive past. This appearance is full of quotable lines and brilliant jokes, like when the gents concede that they get their cocaine from Trump’s “doctor,” a man whose medical credentials and ethics may be questionable, but definitely seems like a guy who would have cheap coke in abundance.
These men aren’t just racist, and sexist, and enraged that the times have changed to the point where they can no longer “jack off at women on the subway” with complete impunity anymore. It’s established that George is a murderer who eliminated, with extreme prejudice, no less than three of his wives – although, as he insists here, “Each death improved upon the death before it.”
Part of what makes the “Oh, Hello!” guys so funny is the specificity and obscurity of the satire. An extended riff on The Jinx, for example, travels in an unexpected direction when it is described as “a millionaire sociopath interviewing Robert Durst.” That’s a line that only registers if you know that the film was directed by the multi-millionaire co-founder of Moviephone, but it is as funny as it is unexpectedly mean.
This is twenty of the funniest minutes of 2016 in any medium. This may have been a terrible year for humanity, but it was a fantastic year for Kroll/Mulaney and their most famous creations, as well as the hosts of Two Dope Queens. In this very special, insanely dense episode of 2 Dope Queens, their very good years overlap in ways that will help you briefly forget what a raging garbage fire society is at the moment.
Photo by Mindy Tucker.
Nathan Rabin is the author of five books, including Weird Al: The Book (with Al Yankovic) and the recently released Ebook “Short Read”, 7 Days In Ohio: Trump, The Gathering of The Juggalos And The Summer Everything Went Insane.