Julie Klausner and Tom Scharpling Have Podcast Advice for Alec Baldwin

Photo: Forever Dog/YouTube

Alec Baldwin’s Instagram sessions are his scariest video work to date. Whoever gave him access to filters should be questioned in court. In a recent Insta-sesh, the actor lay prone on his back, rambling to the camera about HBO shows he’s been watching (he doesn’t get Westworld, loves the use of the color brown on The Staircase). But then Baldwin outdid himself — he announced he’d be interviewing alleged sex offender and maker of A Rainy Day in New York Woody Allen again, over Instagram Live. He made good on his threat, fawning over the disgraced filmmaker while the latter’s Wi-Fi kept crapping out. It was like watching two Gen-1 Amazon Echos try to talk to each other before any of the bugs were worked out.

Julie Klausner and Tom Scharpling, hosts of the Double Threat podcast, acted as human solar-eclipse goggles, reporting on Baldwin’s recent interview and TV recap videos to spare their listeners the long-term effects of watching these “two ham hocks slobbing each other’s knobs.” On a recent episode, they welcomed Dylan Farrow to try to parse out Alec Baldwin’s rambling, bizarre pop-culture takes and strategic camera angles. Farrow has not done much press since the release of Allen v. Farrow in 2021, and although she didn’t stick around for the Baldwin-on-Allen portion of the ep, she still got one subtle dig in at Allen and had plenty of roast-worthy notes for Baldwin. We spoke to Klausner and Scharpling about the episode, the joy of giving Farrow a space to be goofy and shady, and some, um, “constructive criticism” for Baldwin.

Was this your first time having Dylan Farrow on the podcast?
Julie Klausner: Yeah. I had been in touch with her, but I’d never met her and we had never spoken to her. We tried to get her on the show in the past but this is the first time we ever spoke. She was so great. She absolutely exceeded all expectations of how awesome she would be. So sweet, funny, and smart.

As someone who has also been blocked by Alec Baldwin, do you remember what spurred your blocks? 
Tom Scharpling: I don’t know if I’m blocked by him.

Klausner: Why don’t you go check while I tell you …

Scharpling: I’m looking here … I am now. I was not for a long long time, but now I am.

Klausner: Or you were but now you’re just realizing it. I don’t think it was an incident, but in his mind there certainly was. We were goofing on him. It’s always been in relation to what he does with Woody that’s so fawning.

Scharpling: That was a big thing we did when we did his first Woody conversation on his podcast. That was the first time we did a full exploration of their dynamic and his blowhardery. But you got on his radar first. I think you were the first one blocked.

Klausner: I want to give credit where it’s due to the Double Threat family because our producer Brett Boham got into Twitter more recently than any of us, and he came out guns a-blazin’. It went from zero to a million, much like Alec Baldwin himself will go from not having a temper tantrum to being angrier than any human being you’ve ever seen in your life. In the course of a few seconds, Brett Boham got a Twitter account and within weeks he was pointing out all of the blowhards, the numbskulls, and as Mr. Baldwin would call them, the fatheads.

Scharpling: While the rest of us have been living with a decade of Twitter and have gone through our phases on Twitter, [Brett] basically was pulling a Billy Madison, where all the steps it took us a decade to go through, he was going through in weeks. And one of them was acting out, where he went at Alec and was begging to get blocked, like, I am asking you explicitly to block me, Alec Baldwin.

Klausner: Like in Men in Black when Tommy Jones goes up to the alien and goes, “Eat me! Eeeeeat meeee!” But Alec Baldwin hasn’t blocked Brett.

Scharpling: I guess we were teasing that we were going to take on the latest conversation by Alec and Woody that was going to be online. And that is how Dylan came on that episode, right?

Klausner: Yeah, we were going to do an episode where Alec sees his own invisible bat signal wherein he believes the world is desperate to know his take on the three or four HBO shows we’re watching right now. There was actual demand from our audience to analyze Woody Allen and Alec Baldwin’s Instagram Live chat. So we thought we’d do an episode. And I got an email from Dylan saying, Just so you know, I’d be open to coming on. I’ve been thinking about it. I’d be interested if you guys would have me. 

Scharpling: It was a really exciting and slightly scary proposition because we want to do right by Dylan and we also want the show to be funny. […] Dylan made a sly reference to Woody that I thought was all that needed to be said about him in that segment. Basically I was saying or Julie was saying something about people being fake-smart but actually kind of stupid.

Klausner: And needing people to know that they’re smart.

Scharpling: Dylan said, “Oh, I don’t know anybody else like that.”

Klausner: We needed to recover from that because it really took us out.

She also pointed out that Baldwin might be posting these videos to Instagram from his bed because the angle is hiding a double-chin. 
Klausner: As soon as she said that, I remember feeling like we’re off to the races.

Dylan Farrow is a survivor and an advocate, and it’s refreshing to hear her take this known bully figure down a few pegs.
Scharpling: Absolutely. The whole system of culture seems to be stacked against her in so many ways. It was a gift for us to be able to participate in something that she could have fun with.

Klausner: I think it’s very challenging, post-Me Too, pre-Me Too, mid-Me Too, when she wrote her op-ed piece, not to see things as winner takes it all, and see Woody’s pals like Bob Weide and Alec having the privilege of goofing around with their pals and making yuks in the Hamptons with Larry David and doing whatever it is that Woody Allen does. One of the essential affirming qualities of humanity is being able to have different experiences and emotions, and joy is one of them. And I think her having a chance to goof on a bully, with if not the cool kids then at least the funny kids, means a lot to us.

Was there anything Dylan said that didn’t make it into the final episode? 
Scharpling: No, it was pretty much in real time, right?

Klausner: Yeah, we sent her on her merry way and then Tom and I rolled up our sleeves and started rooting around in pig shit. After Dylan was gone we got to the real work at hand, which was like watching the Zapruder footage over and over again. These two ham hocks slobbing each other’s knobs. Tom points out a few times, it was like someone looking to satirize an Alec Baldwin type of character had scripted this very interaction.

Thank you both for your service, watching that video in full and summarizing it so that we didn’t have to be subjected to it. 
Scharpling: They’re just playing characters now, these two dopes.

Klausner: Woody’s self deprecation is so oddly targeted, because he’s completely right when he says he’s terrible at playing music. But when he says he’s not very famous, why? And when he says he doesn’t know what social media is, it’s just boring, but you’d never know it, looking at the way Alec laughs, like he’s in the movie Shark Tale, which I’ve never seen, actually. Tom, I think the only Woody Allen movie you’ve seen is Shark Tale. 

Scharpling: I’ve seen Antz. 

[Editor’s note: Woody isn’t in Shark Tale but Marty Scorsese is. Woody is in Antz, though.]

It’s similar to what a different generation is going through with J.K. Rowling lately. 
Scharpling: Bad people make good art sometimes.

Klausner: And sometimes bad people make Rifkin’s Festival. 

I’m baffled at this career that Alec Baldwin has been able to create for himself as a play-pretend journalist. He has such an ass-kissy approach to interviewing. Do either of you, as seasoned podcasters, have any professional advice for him? 
Scharpling: Alec Baldwin is just the worst of New York. He embodies what happens when you take the great culture of New York and misinterpret all of it. He just wants to be engaging and interesting and have eclectic tastes and all of that, but he also wants to be cock of the walk all the time. He can’t ever hit pause on his ego. He’s just not equipped to be interested in other people past a very limited point, because he is always Alec Baldwin.

Klausner: My only advice to him as an interviewer is to probably get a soundproof room because we can hear your children crying. And maybe invest in a comfortable chair. I know beds are comfortable, but if you’re dealing with things in a visual media, I think it’s a courtesy to the audience to be sitting up, at least.

Tom, when did you realize you have a masterful Alec Baldwin impression?
Scharpling: I look at the Alec Baldwin thing as a placeholder for the Woody Allen impression. There are 8 million Woody Allen impressions, but I do think that Double Threat has the market cornered on Woody Allen 2022 impressions. My favorite thing about current Woody Allen is nobody’s ever said a thing about him that he’s agreed with, because his worst fear is that he was just some average douche from New York. So he disagrees with any point anyone makes. His worst nightmare is being average.

He’s not like the other girls. 
Scharpling: The word “nor” is key to the Woody Allen 2022 impression, because he’s always like, “I don’t know what that is, nor do I have any reason.” He says “nor” more than any human alive.

Alec explains Instagram Live to Woody by calling it “Radio City Music Hall for millennials.” How would he explain podcasts? 
Klausner: Elaine’s for Gen-Xers.

Julie Klausner and Tom Scharpling Have Tips for Alec Baldwin