Aussie Best Friend
Beautiful Stories From Anonymous People #72 August 1, 2017
An Aussie opens up about his family’s history which includes tales of drug dealing, substance abuse, mental illness, sex addiction and trying to find God in a hot yoga studio. Something really special clicks between Gethard and the caller, and not just because Americans love an Australian accent. Recorded in front of a live audience in Baltimore, Maryland on June 11, 2017.
This episode is brought to you by ZipRecruiter (www.ziprecruiter.com/BEAUTIFUL) and Book of the Month: Bound to Delight (www.bookofthemonth.com/STORIES).
Hear the Episode
Hello to all my new friends that I’ll wonder about forever! It’s Beautiful/Anonymous. One hour, one phone call, no names, no holds barred. Hello everybody – Chris Gethard here, your old pal welcoming ya to another episode of Beautiful/Anonymous. Good to – thanks for listening again. Thank you to everybody who’s subscribed and listening. Happy Tuesday, or whenever you’re listening to this if you’re not listening the day it drops.
Very, very excited about the episode here – we’ll talk about that in a second. First, last week’s episode, we had the American Studies major. I went off on American Studies, my experiences as an American Studies major. I had a lot of fun; it seemed like you guys enjoyed yourselves. Many people made me laugh by pointing out that I was ragging on American Studies consistently, and yet I’m doing a podcast that effectively serves as a living, evolving audio chronicle of modern American life, and that maybe I should shut my yap and appreciate that American Studies clearly led to this specific podcast! That made me smile, as I was too dense to realize that.
Also someone named Andrea made me laugh so hard on the Facebook group, Beautiful/Anonymous: the Community (check it out!). It’s fun – over 15,000 of us in there now. It’s a real fun time. People discuss the episodes. Andrea said that she had some American Studies classes in high school, and said, “I shit you not: one of the first assignments was watching the music video for Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” writing an essay on the importance of the meaning behind the video and its representation of American culture of the 20th century, bahaha,” which I also laughed out loud! Of course you can write a paper on “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” a modern Billy Joel song, a late-era Billy Joel song you’re writing papers on. I love that! Someone else also said they’re writing an American Studies PhD on The Chris Gethard Show, which was very flattering and a very nice segue to remind you guys that The Chris Gethard Show comes to TruTV, premieres on Thursday! So set your DVRs right now, help your buddy Gethard out. You might like the show; it’s a very fun, absurd talk show. But if you don’t, here’s what I’m asking you to do: set your DVR season pass anyway, you turn on Beautiful/Anonymous, put your earphones in, press play, let the episode play, help me out with those numbers anyway! Do it up.
Now! This week, we got our, our… We’re putting out second episode from our live tour. I just went on the live tour; you guys have heard a lot about it if you listen to the show. This is our Baltimore show. This is the last one we’re going to put out on the stream. I think a lot of people have picked up – you get Stitcher Premium, you get access to all nine of these things. It’s like a living tour diary of what went down, and people are actually flipping out about this: you use the code “BAtour” when you sign up for Stitcher Premium – “BAtour” – you get a year, not a month, a year for like $4. It's an insane deal. I’ve found people on the internet, people who aren’t even fans of this show, who have found out about this promo code on the Earwolf subreddit. They found out about it, and there’s people who are like, “What? Four dollars for a year? I don’t get it!” I’ll tell you, I don’t get it either, but let’s all benefit from Stitcher’s generosity on this one. “BAtour” if you want to hear the rest of the tour episodes.
Now we’re going to hear the Baltimore one, which I will say – the tour – some people don’t like the live episodes – any deviation from the format – I will say this: this is one of the most touching conversations I can remember having. You’re going to hear some real tough stories; you’re also going to hear me and a caller who just click on a personal level and I’ve not stopped thinking about this call since the day we did it. I’m sure anyone who was at the Baltimore show at Ottobar – thank you Ottobar for having us – remembers this one well. This was a pretty magical call, let alone the fact that the whole crowd locked into it. Baltimore, it was such a beautiful show. Thank you to everybody who came out – beautiful city, beautiful people, and a magical night. Thank you for it, and enjoy the call!
OPERATOR: Thank you for calling Beautiful/Anonymous. A beeping noise will indicate when you're on the show with the host. (beeps)
CHRIS GETHARD: Hello?
CHRIS GETHARD: Hey! How’s it going?
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah. What’s up?
CALLER: This is Chris!
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah! What’s up?
CALLER: How are you, man?
CHRIS GETHARD: Pretty good!
CALLER: I’m good, I love your hold music!
CHRIS GETHARD: You like the hold music, yeah! I curated it myself.
CALLER: That Billy Bragg song, man – so fucking good.
CHRIS GETHARD: Wait, which were the standout tracks?
CALLER: The Billy Bragg song, “A New England,” is like one of my favorite songs of all time.
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah mine too, mine - It’s actually my favorite song of all time.
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah.
CALLER: I think I might be with you on that for today.
CHRIS GETHARD: For today? That’s cool.
CALLER: Yeah, why not? Just for today.
CHRIS GETHARD: (laughs) Well, I’m glad you – do I detect an accent? Do I detect an accent, my friend?
CALLER: Yes, I’m from the deep south.
CHRIS GETHARD: You’re from the – you’re from the deep south of the United States?
CALLER: (unclear) I’m from Australia originally.
CHRIS GETHARD: Ahh! So the (laughs) – you.
CALLER: If you say anything about barbecue or shrimp, I’m going to hang up.
CHRIS GETHARD: Okay! No Crocodile Dundee jokes from me.
CALLER: Just a warning.
CHRIS GETHARD: No, no – nothing –
CALLER: You are toeing the line, mate. You are toeing the line.
CHRIS GETHARD: (laughs) Well hey man, I was agreeing with you! Here’s a list of things I won’t bring up, I promise. I will not bring up Crocodile Dundee. I will not use the phrase, “shrimp on the barbie.” I’ll barely bring up kangaroos, but no promises on that one. I will almost definitely bring up the duckbill platypus, because I need to know what’s going on there. Sound fair?
CHRIS GETHARD: So are you calling from Australia?
CALLER: I’m in the US. I live here now.
CHRIS GETHARD: Oh, that’s cool. Um, well thanks for calling. Is there any –
CHRIS GETHARD: Anything in particular you wanted to get into, or should we just let it flow? Whatever you want.
CALLER: I was just, uh – I’ve gotta say, I think it’s important for me to articulate that hearing the way that you talk about mental illness and mental health, and your experiences with depression and bipolarity, has given me so much hope. I remember hearing a talk you gave a little while ago, and you articulated things that I could never find the words for. So thank you for what you’re doing. I really – it means a lot to me, and I think a lot of people.
CHRIS GETHARD: Oh, thanks. That’s awfully nice. That’s awfully nice. Thank you so much. (audience claps)
CALLER: For me or for you? I hope that’s for me.
CHRIS GETHARD: No, that’s super nice. I did want to mention, you just heard people clap at that. That’s kind – I think you saw when I put out the tweet that we’re – it’s a live show. Don’t be worried about it; everybody here in Baltimore is super nice. The only thing that’s different is they can send me questions on my computer for you, so I might reference their questions. Outside of that? Totally regular episode. Cool? (prolonged silence, audience laughs) Does that sound okay?
CALLER: That sounds good, yeah! Can you still hear me?
CHRIS GETHARD: Great. Well that’s nice! No, I’m glad to help. I – you know, I’m – I was very scared to put that stuff out there, but people embraced it very warmly, and uh – hearing things like that is, you know, a part of why I felt like it was worth going for, that it might – might clear some things up.
CALLER: Yeah, I think there’s something really magical about sharing – that’s really magical about sharing your stories and that magical feeling. I know for me, when I hear someone say, share the exact same experience, it’s like fireworks in my veins, and it’s that magical feeling of “me too.”
CHRIS GETHARD: Wow.
CALLER: You struggle with depression and constantly feeling separate, and outside, and alone, and when you hear someone spark that knife of truth through your heart, it’s like nothing else. It’s the most beautiful feeling, and I’ve gotten that from you so many times.
CHRIS GETHARD: That’s so nice. Thank you. And can I say that the use of phrases like “fireworks in your veins” and “a knife of truth to your heart” are truly flattering compliments. And they’re only amplified in their beauty by your Australian accent. (audience laughs) I mean – Americans in general, I think, are very enchanted by the Australian accent. I count myself among that number.
CALLER: (laughs) Thank you!
CHRIS GETHARD: (laughs) Well now we’re both blushing. It’s just a compliment parade!
CALLER: Now we’re both blushing.
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah, yeah. Well that’s super nice. I’m sorry you’ve dealt with that stuff too. That sucks.
CALLER: Yeah, you know what, man? I’ve gone through it and – there’s a lot of that stuff in my family – drug addiction and mental illness, all kinds of ugly stuff – but I have to say, through my own treatment and my own recovery with those things, I’m really grateful for it. You know, all those things that I’ve lived through have armed me with tools for living and to help other people, and I think through service, I kind of have a sense of purpose in life, which is a kind of beautiful thing.
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah, that’s super nice! I remember once, there was a stretch - and I did not do this, I should say, I thought about it… it’s going to make me sound bad that I got so into this and did not do it – it was a stretch when I was in therapy for a few years, and I started to tell my shrink, “I think I wanna drop everything and go do Habitat for Humanity,” and she said, she’s like, “That’s when I know someone’s on the other side of things,” because when you wanna start helping other people, it’s a real sign that you are pushing through your own – you’re on the tail end of your own stuff. I think that thing you said, service to others –
CALLER: Yeah, exactly.
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah, and you know, then I went in the other direction and I just went and made fucking cash, bro. (audience laughs) I just went and I made my own cash. I said it’s not about them, it’s about me.
CALLER: Fucking do it.
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah, the best thing I could do to help other people –
CHRIS GETHARD: Have a hit podcast, bro. (laughs) Just messing around. No, no, no! I’m on the same page as you. I’m on the same page as you.
CALLER: I get it, but I think that like – what you know, like – maybe you didn’t go and work for Habitat for Humanity, but you did go and do comedy, and you did do things like you’re doing right now, and I think we get to be of service with the gifts we’re given. And yours is obviously comedy and sharing your story, and that is incredibly helpful and better than you ever could’ve done with Habitat for Humanity. You know what I mean?
CHRIS GETHARD: Oh I mean – having recently renovated two rooms in my house, and screwed up every single piece of the responsibility handed to me, no one needs me building them a house! I’ll make the jokes. I’ll make the jokes for the hard-working people that build the houses. It may – that’s funny – this is a tangent, but it’s made me realize I do feel like – and this has been said before, but – I do feel like, you know, comedy is a weird thing, and I kind of feel like in the Darwinism sense, it clearly developed because weak, useless men like me had to find some way that the strong people would give them meat sometimes (audience laughs)
CHRIS GETHARD: So they let them go hunt and kill everybody, and let the strong women do – when the hunter gatherer days – strong men, all the strong people went out and did what they did. Strong women did what they did, and then the weaklings like me were like, “You guys seem tired! Why don’t you kick your feet up, and I’ll take some of the fruits and nuts we gathered today. Thank you for killing the-“
CHRIS GETHARD: “Thank you for killing that Viking hoard, and now, uh – what’s the deal with their boats?!”
CALLER: Let me tell you a joke about ball sacks. (laughs)
CHRIS GETHARD: So can I ask – you brought up that you’ve had some dark times and that you’ve gone on to go into service – can I ask – you said you’ve been in treatment, is that – did you want to talk about that? I wasn't – I’m not sure if you’re just like complimenting me, which is much appreciated, or if you’re opening the door to that conversation on your own.
CALLER: Yeah, I mean I think we can get there organically, but you know – I was born to two drug addicts, you know? Both of my parents have struggled with addiction. My mom was addicted to heroin by the time she was 14.
CHRIS GETHARD: Wow.
CALLER: And gave birth to my sister while she was still loaded, so my sister was born addicted to heroin. And my father – he’s been clean now for 35 years, you know, he’s in recovery a long time. (audience claps)
CHRIS GETHARD: Wow.
CALLER: My father was, um, yeah – my father was clean for 28 years, he was in prison for 15 of those – my entire childhood – and relapsed on meth and heroin at 74 years old, and my sister is doing a really long stint in prison right now, so lots of this stuff in my –
CHRIS GETHARD: Wow, that is, uh…
CALLER: I’ve gone through some really heavy, dark depression, and I think like weeding through the ugliness of what that programming, that trauma does to a person.
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah, I mean that is – you got a – and I mean – right out of the gate, you got handed some things that no one wishes on anybody, and it’s amazing that we’re even on the phone today, so that reflects your strength. I will say this too, not making a joke: there is something serendipitous about your story, and about this call happening in Baltimore, because I think it’s a city that has been very famously, um, ravaged by some of those things, and some people have brought that to light on television, and it seems serendipitous.
CHRIS GETHARD: So did you ever fall into the drugs? Did you ever fall into the drugs yourself?
CALLER: Um, I – I did, yeah. And I think that – I think I – I’m clean, four years now.
CHRIS GETHARD: Wow. Congrats. (audience claps)
CALLER: And I think of my drinking and using as kind of a sense of escapism, you know? I think I was born with a really noisy, like, inner narrative. You know? I used to call it “the voices” as a kid. I remember having to draw a portrait of myself when I was in – (prolonged audio malfunction)
CHRIS GETHARD: Oh wait, hold on.
CALLER: Can you hear me?
CHRIS GETHARD: You’re breaking up just a little bit.
CALLER: - your shoulder (audio malfunction)
CHRIS GETHARD: Uh oh. (audience laughs) Hold on one second. Can you hear me?
CALLER: Can you hear me?
CHRIS GETHARD: I can. Hold on one second. Chris and Justin, is that us or is it him? Do we know?
OFF-MIC: That’s him.
CHRIS GETHARD: It might be you. I’m not sure if you’re moving, or if there’s an area that you know has better reception than another…
CHRIS GETHARD: (laughs, audience groans) Service where I am, dot dot dot… (audience laughs) Less than ten minutes in!
CALLER: (audio malfunction) How’s this?
CHRIS GETHARD: We were able to hear you for most of it, and we were all gripped. And every single person in this room wants to know what that childhood self-portrait was. (audience laughs) So if your call cuts out on us –
CALLER: You ready?
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah, that sounded a little better. If your call cuts out, this will be a historical tease for a loaded episode of Beautiful/Anonymous!
CALLER: You ready?
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah, now – Yeah, there you are, there you are. Welcome back, welcome back.
CALLER: Okay. Well I drew this portrait, I drew this portrait of myself. And on my shoulder was this, like, little army. And the teacher asked me, “What’s on your shoulder?” And I said, “It’s the voices.” Which of course terrified her, and I got sent to a therapist immediately at, like, six years old. And what the therapist said to my mom was, “He’s not schizophrenic, it’s just (bleep) being really cruel to (bleep).” Oh, shit! I just said my name!
CHRIS GETHARD: That’s okay. (audience laughs) We’ll bleep it out! The only people who know are the people in Baltimore and they’re gonna be cool about it. It’s fine. It’s fine.
CALLER: Great. Let’s make sure we bleep that out.
CHRIS GETHARD: Yes, we will.
CALLER: But I think that inner narrative, I think, is kind of common for people like you and I, it sounds like, and that voice says things to me like, “You’re ugly, you’re untalented, and you’ve got no reason to be alive,” and it’s just constantly going on and on and on. And I think a lot of my drinking was about escaping the noise inside my head, you know?
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah. I get it! I get it! I have my version of it, as you said. So drinking – drinking was the road that you went down, huh?
CALLER: A bit of drugging, it was sex addiction. It was all – whatever I could do to stop thinking about me, I would do, you know? And it was normally pretty (audio malfunction) and myself.
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah. And I mean, I have to imagine, I mean I have to imagine being in the situation with your mom and your dad – do you look back – you sound, I mean you sound – there’s so much clarity in your voice now, and there’s so much passion in your voice now and it’s beautiful. I have to imagine – do you look – the thing that’s breaking my heart right out of the gate is, like, uh – I just – I think we’d all – I think everybody’d agree that one of the most unforgiveable things is when a kid doesn’t have a chance and it sounds like you were one of those kids. And that has to suck to think about as you get older, and push through this stuff.
CALLER: My mom is incredibly supportive, and wanted to give me the best opportunities I could possibly have, you know? I grew up in a pretty wealthy area, I guess, in Australia, purely from the proceeds of my father’s drug dealing, which made it feel really unsafe and scary, but, like, I did get a lot. I wasn’t necessarily homeless as a child or anything.
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah.
CALLER: Given the circumstances, I probably had the best opportunity I could have, you know? I found the arts really young, which was a personal kind of place of solace for me in the midst of that ugliness.
CHRIS GETHARD: I will say, in the history of this show, I don’t know if I’ve ever had a situation where there are so many things to talk about that I don’t even know which direction to go in! There’s – where – where would you go? Like there’s part of me that’s like, “Your dad relapsed at 74, what was that like?” There’s a part of me that wants to know, “How did you get out of this?” There’s a part of me that wants to know, the fact that your mom was an addict when she had your sibling, but then she was so supportive to you. That’s fascinating. There are so many fascinating things. Where should we start? Also, what the fuck is up with the platypus? (audience laughs)
CALLER: I think that’s the best place to start.
CHRIS GETHARD: Great, let’s do it!
CALLER: No one knows what the fuck is up with the platypus. No one knows!
CHRIS GETHARD: See, you guys can’t vouch – it’s not – you – yeah, let’s give this one away before we get super heavy. Not that we haven’t already. Let’s come up for air for the – you know, so – it’s not like you – it – do you see – like- when you’re in Australian and you grow up in Australia, do you see a – is that a thing you see on the – like – we’ll see raccoons from time to time.
CHRIS GETHARD: They’re everywhere?! (audience laughs)
CALLER: Yes, like squirrels. They’re everywhere. You can’t walk down the street without either seeing a kangaroo or a platypus.
CHRIS GETHARD: Is this – are you making a joke and messing with me because I am a clearly ignorant American here, or are they like a squirrel-level of ubiquitousness?
CALLER: (laughs) Ubiquitousness. I can’t comprehend that word. Let’s go with that.
CHRIS GETHARD: Oh, you’re going to make me wonder forever! (audience laughs) That’s fair. Here’s the thing I wanna start with for real. How and when did you get out of it, after a family history that sounds brutal? How were you the one that broke the cycle? Congrats on doing that, and knock on wood that it continues.
CALLER: Uh, I mean I think the (audio malfunction) - how much I drank, and using –
CHRIS GETHARD: I gotta stop you –
CALLER: …or lying, or –
CHRIS GETHARD: You gotta, I’m begging you. (audience laughs) Wherever the three square feet are with the good reception, no matter how contemplative we get, no matter how much you want to pace around during this call, stay in the – stay in the safe zone. (audience)
CALLER: Back in.
CHRIS GETHARD: Awesome. So you were saying –
CALLER: Yeah, I think what happened to me is, like, no matter how much I was drinking or using or, excuse my language but fucking, or lying, or whatever I was doing to escape my mind, it just stopped working. It was like the voice were getting noisier, and, you know, the pain in my chest was getting bigger and bigger and, like, it just didn’t work anymore. And I found my way, you know, Twelve Step stuff, and it really kind of changed my life. And then ultimately therapy, and all those different things, which you know, I think I was looking for all along.
CHRIS GETHARD: That’s amazing. And so – someone here on Twitter was just asking, like, did you have a rock bottom moment? It sounds like what you’re describing was that more – it just kind of skidded and you couldn’t find that adrenaline rush anymore. Did it skid – what was –
CALLER: I’ll tell you – I mean –
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah, go.
CALLER: I mean, I’m nervous to talk about this in case this ends up online, and I’ve already said my name, so if you would bleep my name, that would be great, just because this – I’m still nervous to share this stuff publicly, you know?
CHRIS GETHARD: Oh, one thousand percent we’re bleeping your name. If you were, like, talking about your opinion on Alvin and the Chipmunks, we’d bleep your name. No worries, that’s our policy. It will be bleeped, I promise you that. And I’ll also say this –
CALLER: Okay, here’s the rock bottom for me.
CHRIS GETHARD: Great. Yeah, you – but if you don’t wanna share it anyway, you don’t even have to do that. Who cares? You don’t have to, but if you –
CALLER: No, I think I want to. It’s a good story. I think it’s important to share this stuff sometimes.
CHRIS GETHARD: Great.
CALLER: So for me, the way it ended, I had this run of just drinking all day every day, very constantly trying to escape what was happening inside of me. And it just wasn’t working anymore. And so – I tried to kill myself. I made a pretty decent attempt at suicide and I woke up the next morning, obviously alive, um – in a pool of my own piss and puke and blood, and the second I woke up - and I’ve never been religious per se – but I woke up and just sensed that God had intervened or something bigger than me had intervened, because it was up to me, I wouldn’t be on this call with you right now. You know? If it was my decision, I wouldn’t be talking to you. And so I went – I kind of had this deep sense that something bigger than me had saved me, and I went straight to what you do in the city that I live in to try to find God. I went to yoga. (audience laughs) And I didn’t find God there.
CHRIS GETHARD: Wow. Well played, well played.
CALLER: Yeah. And I was really still fucked up. I didn’t find God there. I’m shaking and shivering the entire time. And then I went – I had sex with two people that day, not my proudest performances. I went to Barnes & Noble and got a copy of “The Power of Now” (audience laughs) and “Be Here Now” by Ram Dass. I read through self-help books, all in the space of a twelve hour period looking for something to save me. It was one last attempt, and that night, at like 11:30, I’m at home again contemplating killing myself and writing a letter to my mom just saying, “Look, I love you so much but I just can’t do this anymore. I’ve tried, I’ve tried, and I just can’t do it. I don’t know what happened in the specifics of the next part of the story, if I typed two As and backspaced, or if a pop-up for American Airlines came up with the tail that says AA, but something just came to me that said, “Go to a meeting.” So I googled it and there was one happening down the road from me at midnight, and I thought, “Fuck it, this is my last ditch attempt, and if I don’t find a solution there, I’ll just kill myself.” And I drove over there with a shawl over my head and my socks outside of my shoes so that my footsteps were quieter, um – and I walked in, and this guy at the door said, “Welcome! We’re so glad you’re here!” (audience laughs) And I went inside and I just – I just heard my story and I felt like the same ways I feel when I hear you talk, that maybe I wasn’t so alone and maybe I could survive this pain that I was living through.
CHRIS GETHARD: Well, I’m really glad you did. And I’ll tell you too – the people in Baltimore are too. There’s people right now saying, “Thank you for sharing this story,” there’s people saying, “This is so relatable,” there’s people saying, “I want to acknowledge you’re here today, I’m so thankful for your vulnerability and your story,” so even right now during this live taping, I feel like you’re connecting with people and if and when this does come online, I feel like you’re passing that on. Um – so thank you for that. I will also say, someone is asking –
CALLER: Thanks, man.
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah, of course. Someone is also asking was it hot yoga? What type of yoga are we talking here?
CALLER: It was kind of more intense than hot yoga. It was like traditional kirtan yoga, where you’re chanting “Hare Krishna, Hare Krishna,” like very traditional form of yoga, which people take very seriously in my city. And there I am, like detoxing and crazy and falling over and spasming and crying. It was a bit embarrassing; they all had very expensive yoga attire and I was there in my cut-off jeans and my puke-stained tee shirt.
CHRIS GETHARD: (laughs) I love you so much. I love you so much. You’re one of my favorite callers ever. I love you. ‘Cause here’s why, here’s why – and it’s something I identify with so much. It’s – you knew you’re telling this story, it’s sad, it’s like a thing where we can hear the emotion in your voice. That is the saddest thing. And then for you to phrase it that way and say, “I did what you do when you need to find God – I went to yoga” is that thing of, like, what can you do but laugh? What can you do?
CHRIS GETHARD: And that day sounds amazing! That day when you woke up, and you just went on this desperate blitz, that was making my hair stand up on my arms. You go to yoga, you you have sex with two people, you try to find God twice via that. I like that you gave that one a second shot. You didn’t take a second yoga class; you say, “Maybe the sex thing has another thing to it!” All these things, and then it’s a fucking typo that saves your life. That is, uh – that’s something else. Thanks for telling me that. I’ll never forget that as long as I live.
CALLER: Of course.
CHRIS GETHARD: What would you say, out of all the addictions you fell into, was the one that was most, uh – do they all kind of push the same buttons? Was there one that you look back and feel was more dangerous than others?
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah.
CALLER: Honestly, I try not to get too wrapped up in, like, the substances I was using these days, because I think it’s all the same. My lack of being able to be present for my life is really the most dangerous part of all of this. It’s all attached to the same thing. It’s me not being able to stay still in this moment and accept it, you know? I don’t think that life is the problem – it’s my response to it, you know, and that’s the thing that’s been really dangerous for a long time. You know, even today I find myself falling into dangerous patterns that aren’t necessarily, like, going to kill me, but they’re going to do damage, you know. I feel sad – find someone to have sex with. I feel sad, I get really rageful or whatever, you know? I think that, like, not being able to stay present for my life is the most dangerous thing out of all of that stuff. And I just miss it, you know? One of my greatest dreams came to me a couple of years ago, and I was so stressed and so, like, anxious about what was going on in my life and was trying to get away from it, that I missed this beautiful thing happen. This amazing, life-long dream came true. I didn’t have, like, one second of, “Oh my God, dreams do happen.” You know? Because I wasn’t present for that moment, which is really sad to think back on.
CHRIS GETHARD: And this is a specific – this is not a theoretical, “What if that happened and I was too messed up to realize it?” There is a moment you regret that your emotions weren’t fully there?
CALLER: I mean yeah, I uh – you know, since I was a kid, I wanted to move to America. You know? Like, it was one of my first dreams. I have this picture I drew of myself when I was like seven years old, and I was holding something green, and my mom said, “What’s the green thing?” And I said, “It’s the green card.” Um – I’ve wanted to be in this country my entire life, and I got a green card, you know, two years ago. My dream came true and I missed it. Because I was so busy being scared of the future and regretting the past, I missed what was going on, which was, like, everything I’ve ever wanted.
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah. That’s brutal, man. That’s brutal. But you’re here. You’re here – I agree – I hear – I mean – you are saying some stuff that is actually rattling me in a way that I don’t love, because it’s the same thing. It’s the exact same thing. When you were saying that same thing too of, like, you know, you fall into these things, and you replace one thing with the other and it doesn’t really matter which substance or which activity did it – you’re pushing the same button. Like, I get that. I get that. People say to me too - that’s why I always go so nuts – people say to me, like, “Oh, your comedy is, like, uh, healing you.” No. Me needing the validation of a crowd was as unhealthy as my drinking at a certain point. The fact that I wasn’t taking –
CALLER: Yeah, I hear that.
CHRIS GETHARD: The fact that I wasn’t taking medication – you know, I was 21, 22 years old and I could go to New York City and kill in front of a crowd, and I convinced myself that I wouldn't get that if I did take medication. It was such bullshit, and it’s like, that same thing – it’s that same thing you’re saying of like, we find it somewhere, don’t we? Until we choose not to.
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah, I will say something –
CALLER: Yeah, that’s exactly it.
CHRIS GETHARD: Someone in the crowd right now just tweeted something that I think is really beautiful that they wanted to send you the message – “It’s never too late to celebrate that dream coming true.” You get to still celebrate it. You still have the green card. That’s amazing. Someone else is saying –
CALLER: Yeah, and it’s –
CHRIS GETHARD: Oh no, go for it!
CALLER: Sorry, what were you saying?
CHRIS GETHARD: No, go for it – someone else tweeted, “We all wanna go to Australia!” which I think is funny. Someone’s respond to you always wanting to come here is –
CALLER: Skip it.
CHRIS GETHARD: Skip it! (audience laughs)
CALLER: Skip it.
CHRIS GETHARD: Oh the charm and the – you are peaks and valleys, man. You’re peaks and valleys. Yeah that’s sad that you made us laugh. I love it. I love it.
CALLER: (laughs) Yeah, I certainly – yeah, I did celebrate it. I was going through a pretty major depression, so when I was sober, when I got my green card, I kind of missed it because of that. Since then, I have actually – I had, like, a really beautiful party to celebrate that moment. And, like, I’m doing more of those kinds of things – celebrating what’s going on now, you know? Like, I realized a little while ago, less than two weeks ago, that I’m doing so many things in my life for a future that wasn’t here yet. You know, everything I do in my life is for my career in some way, shape, or form. And I forgot that, like, there are things that I really enjoy doing that I’ve neglected to do because they’re not going to further me toward that goal. And so, I literally – when I saw your Instagram post, I went straight to a magic – coming out of a magic store, because I wanna be a magician, because I used to really love doing magic and doing magic tricks for people. And it’s a really fun thing that I could just be doing right now, not toward any future goal, but it’s gonna make this moment that I’m living more fun and more enjoyable, you know?
CHRIS GETHARD: That’s beautiful. And that’s one of those things that it’s like – you set out to do it, there’s a mechanism, you have to be focused just on that, you have to be focused on just executing that, you can’t be worried about what happened before it, or what’s gonna happen after it – for those 45 seconds you’re doing that dumb trick, the only option is to just do the dumb trick.
CALLER: I mean, Chris, you haven’t seen the trick so that’s enough judgement of how good the trick is or how dumb the trick is. (audience laughs)
CHRIS GETHARD: Oh my God!
CALLER: I do appreciate the sentiment though.
CHRIS GETHARD: You just fucking owned me in front of Baltimore, bro. (laughs) That’s incredible. The sentiment stands.
CALLER: (laughs) It is appreciated.
CHRIS GETHARD: I have a thing – do you want to hear about a thing that I have literally never told anybody in my life? But it’s a thing – it’s a thing that I wanna –
CALLER: I would love to hear that.
CHRIS GETHARD: Even when you just said there, everything becomes about your career – ooh boy, me and you – you called it in the beginning – we are similar in many ways. I get so caught up in it, but there’s a thing I do, and some of this is because my shrink sort of helped me realize it but I just have a real inability to slow down in a way that sounds similar to you, and very often – one of the great things about, uh, being married is my wife is always pointing out when I’m going too hard in that direction, but it’s just so hard for me to turn it off! And I also put myself in these positions where everything’s grassroots, but that also means everything’s on me. I gotta go, I gotta build it – I feel this responsibility. I got the TV show, which is nice, but that means there’s 70 people whose jobs rely on me getting this thing renewed, I got – you know, the podcast, the tour, all these – I’m bringing – it’s nice, it’s nice but my brain never slows down, and there’s this thing I’ve learned to do where it’s like – every once in a while, I will find myself in a situation where I am alone and I will realize, “Oh, this is the part of the day for me.” And I will put my phone away, I’ll put it – I’ll turn it off, or I’ll put it on airplane mode, and I’ll just walk around the block and get where I was supposed to go a minute later than I should have, and they won’t ever know why I was a minute late, but that’s a minute that I had that no one else had, and there was no pressure on it except to walk around the block for the sake of doing so. And that has kept me sane.
CALLER: Man, you are speaking my language. I – I literally did this two days ago, exactly that thing, except it was three minutes and I was doing it purely because I had three minutes to myself.
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah.
CALLER: That’s amazing.
CHRIS GETHARD: And I say in my head sometimes, “This is the part of the day that’s for me.” We are speaking the same language, except you are fortunate to speak it in a very beatutiful accent. (audience laughs)
CALLER: (laughs) Thanks, mate.
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah, I gotta say – there’s – so I mean, there’s so many callers to the show I’ve loved. I’m just going to say this, and I hope this is not awkward. There’s never anyone who I’ve regretted the anonymity more, because I feel like me and you should hang out! (audience laughs)
CALLER: I feel the same way! I’ve felt this since I first saw your stuff years ago, thinking, “This guy and I would be best friends, man!” We totally connect.
CHRIS GETHARD: Really? I feel like we would be! Should we, like, go over some of our hobbies and interests? Like let’s go over some of our hobbies and interests and see if we would be best friends! Like –
CALLER: Okay, you go ahead.
CHRIS GETHARD: How do you feel about professional wrestling?
CALLER: I was obsessed as a kid. I mean, it’s not as big in Australia, but I loved watching it when it was still WWF. I was completely obsessed and my entire bedroom became, like, a cage match, with me throwing myself off of walls and, you know. I’m a big fan.
CHRIS GETHARD: Okay, I know my top five all-time. Do you wanna name your top five all-time and we’ll see if any of them cross over? Maybe I can even whisper ‘em – there’s a guy on stage who –
CALLER: They’re not gonna cross over because my knowledge ends at The Rock. I mean, that was my guy.
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah but I was born in 1980. I grew up with all the stuff before that.
CALLER: It’s not gonna link up. My wrestling knowledge, I hope, doesn’t break the bromance that is growing here. Ends at The Rock.
CHRIS GETHARD: That’s okay. My top five, for the record: Ric Flair the Nature Boy – woo!, Jake “the Snake” Roberts, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase, I like the bad guys, and an outlier that I will stand by – the Great Muta. Thank you, ladies and gentleman. Thank you, ladies and gentleman. Okay, so we both like wrestling, we danced around it – I will tell you, the crowd is giggling because they’re watching watching me get nervous hoping that you like me. (audience laughs)
CHRIS GETHARD: Okay, what’s your test? We’re doing a bromance test. What’s your link in the bromance test?
CALLER: Okay, how do you feel about sci fi?
CHRIS GETHARD: I love sci fi so much! When I was in high school –
CALLER: How do you feel about – sorry, how do you feel about Jodie Foster’s “Contact”?
CHRIS GETHARD: Jodie Foster’s “Contact” – I tell you – I’ve watched it, I’m not going to lie – it didn’t leave too much of a long-lasting impact!
CALLER: Watch it again immediately. The second you get off-stage, you’re going to whatever hotel room you’re staying in, watching it again.
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah! Okay! (audience laughs)
CALLER: This is make or break for you and me, man. You gotta like that movie for this to be able to work out.
CHRIS GETHARD: Okay! I’ll give it a fair shot. I’ll really watch it with an open mind, and –
CALLER: It is a masterpiece.
CHRIS GETHARD: It’s a masterpiece – I mean, I was young when I saw it. Sometimes you go back and revisit things and see things you didn’t see before. I – I – and Jodie Foster, I think she’s really phenomenal – I’m surprised I didn’t like it the first time.
CHRIS GETHARD: What’s your all-time favorite video game? I’m not much of a gamer, but what’s your all-time favorite?
CALLER: Yeah, I’m not a gamer. I never have been; I was much more into books as a kid. I – I – video games was never my thing and I think it was Nintendo 64 as a kid – I had one, and I saved up for it and everything and never played it one time. I just had it as a prop so any friend who came over, I could say, “Oh that’s my gaming console when I’m playing games,” but I never played it once. It’s not my thing.
CHRIS GETHARD: Oh my God, we are so similar!
CHRIS GETHARD: That’s my gaming console. Okay. Your turn in the bromance test. To be fair, other acceptable answers would have been Mike Tyson’s Punchout and Goldeneye.
CALLER: Oh, Goldeneye was the only one that I had. Never played it, but it lived inside of the slot, so I think that links up.
CHRIS GETHARD: (laughs) That’s cool.
CHRIS GETHARD: Okay, your turn in the bromance test. Your turn in the bromance test.
CALLER: Ooooh…. It’s tricky, because I feel like we’re doing so well. I’m honestly quite nervous to ask you a question that you don’t agree with me on.
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah! I’m nervous!
CALLER: It’s like, where does that leave you and me?
CHRIS GETHARD: I’m nervous too, for the same exact reason!
CALLER: I think we have to leave it then! I think that we agree that we’ve got enough, that the groundwork is laid and it’s something beautiful to grow upon, and let’s move on from the bromance.
CHRIS GETHARD: Yes! Yes!
CALLER: I think we have this information –
CHRIS GETHARD: Yes! We’re friends! We’re friends! Yes! I made a friend! I made a friend! Just so you know, someone on Twitter did – did tell me they are also disappointed with me. They said, “Dude, I remember where I was and who I saw Contact with. Disappointing.” People are asking if they can hang out with us. I like that. People are saying, uh, “Three minutes? He’s got you one-upped. Take more time for yourself.” I like that. Other people pointing out – they are saying, “We are watching you fall in love again, in Baltimore.” If you see my body language or my facial reactions, callers, you – caller, you’d be very, very impressed. Someone else also just said, “I think Chris Gethard is falling in love with this caller, just like me.” Someone said, “There’s an emo balloon behind you.” (audience laughs) I don’t know what that means, unfortunately. Oh, there it is! An emo night balloon! We’re in a punk bar.
CALLER: I literally turned around and looked behind me. There is no balloon here.
CHRIS GETHARD: There isn’t. Do you live on the east coast of America? Or the west coast of America?
CALLER: On the west coast. (audience groans) I’m so sorry! When I moved – when I moved to America, the first time I was in New York City. So I was east coast. I came out here for work.
CHRIS GETHARD: We could’ve walked past each other on the street while both of us were taking our private sojourns around the block. We never even knew it.
CALLER: (laughs) Never even knew it.
CHRIS GETHARD: Look at that. So we’ve got 23 minutes left – this one is flying by! Wow.
CALLER: That’s crazy.
CHRIS GETHARD: I love our – I love your, your philosophy, how you got to where you’re at, the way you want to spread it even though you’re saying you’re still in the middle of some tough times. It’s really incredible and I’m glad that we could become friends. I don’t know – what else – do you wanna – here’s the thing I wanna know more about, if that’s okay. Um, you said you kind of lived high on the hog because your dad was a drug dealer, and it sounds like he was pretty high up in the chain, huh?
CALLER: Yeah, I mean he was. He was – he was ultimately caught importing like 115 million dollars of narcotics into Australia. That’s kind of what he went down for in the end.
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah, that’ll do it! Wow.
CALLER: It’s kind of a big deal.
CHRIS GETHARD: So you were surrounded by mayhem from day one.
CALLER: Yeah, and it’s really funny, Chris – I only realized that recently. It’s like – you live through whatever experiences you live through as a child and just count them as normal. And in the past couple of years, as I’ve been able to open up to people and share what my life was like, they’re like, “That’s fucking crazy,” and I never knew that perhaps was a bit of a chaotic and scary way to grow up, you know?
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah, I can – I mean kids manage to normalize so much, right? And you certainly had to, to keep going. What’s your – I mean, you said your dad relapsed. You mentioned that your mom has been very supportive. What’s your relationship with your parents like now?
CALLER: Well my – my mother and father were – it was kind of a fling that ended up in a mate, you know – so it wasn’t like they were ever married or anything. My mom has been clean all my life, and then some, and my father was dealing drugs when he was sober as well, and got arrested. I think he had 15 years sober by the time he went to prison for dealing drugs. And uh – my mom and I are very, very close. I love her very much – much more so ever since I found my way to therapy, and different forms of recovery from those kinds of things. My father and I have a very difficult relationship. I tend to think of him as a very malevolent guy – pretty horrible person, and I think my greatest fear before was becoming my father, you know? He was abusive and he would lie, and he would cheat, and he would steal, and my greatest fear was becoming like him. And I think in the end of my drinking career, what scared me the most was that I was looking a lot like him in my behavior. And then after I kind of – got a year sober, he relapsed after 28 years and was having heart attacks all the time because meth is not good for you when you’re 74 years old. It’s not good for you ever, but especially not when you’re 74 years old.
CHRIS GETHARD: They should put that on the package.
CALLER: Really. Yeah, I think it’s important. Drugs are bad. Drugs are bad. Don’t do them, ever. Or do them, but just don’t abuse them. Uh, yeah. He relapsed when I got one year sober and it was an incredibly confronting thing because I spent my entire life, I guess, hating him, you know? He’s a pretty ugly kind of guy, and my identity, I think, was wrapped up in, “this guy fucked me over.” And so a big part of, you know, my sobriety has been cultivating love, and compassion, and forgiveness, which has been exhausting but freedom for me. And it’s been a difficult, but also beautiful, process, I guess, to not have to carry that stuff on anymore.
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah, that’s incredible. That’s incredible. You got – for someone who’s dealt with as much as you have, and came as close as you did, you got such a good head on your shoulders. It is impressive. Your ability to verbalize this stuff –
CALLER: Thank you. (audience claps)
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah. I mean your ability to verbalize this stuff in such a clear way means you’ve thought – it shows you’ve thought about it so backwards and forwards, and it’s so cool. Someone on Twitter did just tweet that this is the most beautiful thing they’ve witnessed since Jodie Foster’s performance in “Contact,” just so you know. (audience laughs)
CALLER: That is an honor that I will never live up to. I appreciate the idea, and the thought – that is quite honestly offensive to Jodie Foster and Robert Zemeckis, who directed that masterpiece.
CHRIS GETHARD: Okay, fair. Someone is saying in our bromance test that I did have a missed opportunity – how do you feel about The Smiths and Morrissey?
CALLER: I love The Smiths! I love The Smiths! (audience cheers) And I was actually playing a cover of “Panic on the Streets of London” yesterday with a friend of mine. I’m going to tweet it at you, or have someone tweet it at you anonymously, so you can hear it. I think it’s quite good.
CHRIS GETHARD: I would love that. Um, I’m in a Smiths cover band myself. We’re called Mr. Shankly and the Franklies.
CALLER: That’s amazing.
CHRIS GETHARD: What’s your –
CALLER: Is that real?
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah! We’ve played three shows. It started as a joke and now people keep trying to book us. A record label just offered to put out a record! And I don’t know if I should take them up on it.
CALLER: That’s amazing.
CHRIS GETHARD: What’s your favorite Smiths song? (audience laughs) And I know they change all the time, but what currently?
CALLER: Currently, right now, it’s “Panic,” because I was playing it yesterday. I just think that song is so good – the epitome of Morrissey and how great his voice can be. Um, that – “How Soon is Now?” I think, top five for me.
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah. I’ve recently gotten very into – lately, after a lifetime of coming and going on it, I’ve gotten very into “That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore.”
CALLER: Ah. It’s good. It’s good.
CHRIS GETHARD: It is. Because it’s about not laughing at people who don’t have it as good as you, and I think that that’s a really nice sentiment.
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah.
CHRIS GETHARD: Man. Why is this podcast anonymous?
CALLER: Chris, I wish that we had more time because I feel like there are so many other stories that if I were to even mention, like, the headline of, you’d wanna unwrap them, but there’s not enough time, you know? There are so many other things that I think you and I would connect on.
CHRIS GETHARD: Do you wanna –
CALLER: Go on.
CHRIS GETHARD: Do you wanna be, like, a brutal tease to this Baltimore crowd and just list some of these headlines? Just so we all know that there’s some - because we only have 16 minutes left. What are some of the headlines that we probably won’t have time to get into that we’ll all just have to wonder?
CALLER: Okay. We’ll start with this. Um, childhood hit TV star gets married to a person he’s known three and a half weeks; gets divorced five months later. Um – there’s so many more, Chris. Um, what else? Sister’s incarceration. Um – there’s some happy, fun ones; there’s darker ones; there’s really sad ones, really inspiring ones. There’s so much to talk about, Chris.
CHRIS GETHARD: With the amount that you’ve managed to make the dark ones happy and fun, I can’t imagine how happy and fun a “happy and fun” one would be. ‘Cause you got big laughs off of a story about trying to kill yourself! Give us one happy and fun one! I think the crowd, and I think I personally, would love to hear a happy and fun one, just because we think you deserve the happy and fun ones, and we wanna live one of those with you! (audience cheers)
CALLER: Okay. Okay. On second thought, I’m not sure how happy and fun they are. That was –
CHRIS GETHARD: If we are really similar people, the happy and fun one will inadvertently disturb people more than the suicide attempt one.
CALLER: Yeah, okay. I went to – I was doing some work at the Cannes Film Festival in the south of France. I know how ridiculous that sounds. I apologize. Um, but I was out there on a job, and I was staying in this apartment with a bunch of European models and actresses and actors – a whole bunch of people. And there was this one day where I had to – I had a meeting in the afternoon and I was kind of nervous. And I’m hungry – that’s what I do when I’m nervous, I eat and eat. Um, so I was going to the fridge and I found this bar of chocolate, and it looked like something you would find in a gift bag at one of those fancy events, and I eat that. I eat two of those and then I have some bread and some – and uh, I walk down and I still have an hour so I’m sitting in this coffee shop and having a coffee by myself, and I’m sitting there reading the menu, and the next thing I know, my face is attached to the menu. And I peel myself off of it like, “What the fuck is going on?” And I look around and the buildings are getting really big and really small, and really big and really small, and it’s getting really crazy and psychedelic. I’ve got no idea what was going on; I could’ve realized that somehow I’ve induced some sort of yogic breath and made myself like crazy high, like I was tripping. I started laughing to myself, and I look around and realize that everyone in the coffee shop is staring at me with, like, these red eyes, and I’m just like, “This is too fucking weird for me.” So I walk up to the counter to pay for my coffee, and the woman looks back at me and says in a perfect American accent, “You haven’t ordered a coffee, sir,” which freaked me the fuck out, and I’m running down the street. I’m texting my girlfriend at the time, saying, “This crazy inside of me is consuming me. I don’t know what’s going on.” Long story short, the chocolate that I ate was laced with acid, mushrooms, and molly, and I had taken like eight times more than the recommended dose so I was tripping and seeing anomalies for, like, probably a week and a half. It was, like, the most horrifying experience of my life, and also hilarious.
CHRIS GETHARD: Thank you for the happy, fun one! (audience laughs)
CALLER: Yeah, you’re welcome!
CHRIS GETHARD: We are meant to be friends if your happy, fun one ends with the sentence, “It was the most horrifying experience of my life.” (laughs) That sucks! I mean, that’s super scary, especially for someone who’s – you know, an addict, yeah. That’s like – panic-inducing.
CALLER: Oh, it was fine. I wasn’t – I wasn’t sober at that point. So it was kind of, in the end, “oh, this is great. I’m high now, this is wonderful. And I didn’t even have to pay for it.”
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah. Hey, I wanna know – just out of my own personal curiosity – ‘cause you are – this is, uh – quite an inspiring call, and I mean that so genuinely, but just as someone thinking of you – because you’re putting your own story out there in the world and saying, “Hey, I got four years. I went through all of this stuff, and maybe saying it could help some other people.” I think that’s beautiful. It’s just – as someone who’s like, really caring about you right now – what kind of support system do you have now? You got people around who you lean on?
CALLER: Absolutely. I mean, like – all the people that I live with have all kind of been through similar experiences. I go and see a therapist when I can afford it. Um, you know – I do all the things. I kind of ritualize my life so it’s pretty balanced and level-headed, and I’ve put structures in place that I know I need to be able to stay in a place that feels like I’ve got no reason to escape from my life anymore, you know?
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah. And you had mentioned when you can afford it – it did remind me, someone asked a question I thought was pretty interesting. How – what – do you feel like being an addict or the way that programs are built to deal with addiction – are they different in America and Australia? Is it easier here? Harder here? Similar?
CALLER: This is, like, a whole other conversation, but I really feel like especially for drug addiction – and there are people who have had it far worse with that stuff – um, I didn’t end up on the streets like some people do. But it really makes me sad, and I think people in Baltimore understand this. There’s just this really ugly business structure around, you know, people needing recovery from addiction. Where people are actually making money off of people who are really desperate, depending on their insurance policy, and there’s all kinds of really icky, ugly stuff that goes on. In Australia, if you need treatment for drug addiction, there’s waiting lists but it’s covered by the government because of universal healthcare. Whereas over here, there’s companies who are getting – it’s like a 35 billion dollar industry, the rehab industry, which I think is – it’s kind of sad, and a bit scary for the people, like, dying because they don’t have insurance.
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah, I agree. It’s one of the – (audience claps) It is! And I get – everyone who listens to this show knows I’m a New Yorker and I’m a liberal, but that’s one of those ones where it’s like, “Why exactly is this even up for debate if people need to die on the streets in pain?” I don’t get it. I don’t get that one. And I don’t –
CHRIS GETHARD: And I’m not trying to take some political stance – I’m just responding to what you said. It’s like – it is nuts. And – we – and I’ve – I’m – one of the things I find people are always shocked by when I leave America, people always ask me, “Why do you guys have commercials for medications?” And then you think about that for ten seconds, and you’re like, “Oh yeah! That’s fucked, man!” The doctor should tell you what to take because it’s the best thing to take! Somebody shouldn’t be selling it to you like it’s a bottle of Mr. Clean! It’s a totally different thing, man!
CALLER: Yeah I know. It kind of trickles down to all different things. I wanna say that I love this country and I respect it with all of my heart. I’ve wanted to be here my entire life, but there’s things in the system that just aren’t working. For example, in Australia, it’s universal healthcare, so you get sick and the government will pay for it, basically. And the best embodiment of that is cigarettes in Australia. They cost about $39 a packet, because if you get sick with cancer, the government is going to be paying for it. So they tax them really high. Now cigarettes in America are really cheap. Because people end up getting kind of wealthy if you’re sick, which is a really sad and scary thing to think about, I think.
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah. Yeah, it is. Can I – I wanna – here, again – and we’re getting into something intense, I don’t want to just distract it with something silly, but you might be able to help me solve this problem. Or just the thing I’m worried about.
CHRIS GETHARD: There – Beautiful/Anonymous – we got the Facebook group Beautiful/Anonymous, and I’ve asked people, “Where should I go on the tour?” And then people tell me which cities, and that’s how I planned this tour. That’s how I wound up in Baltimore. A lot of people here said they would come, so yeah, I’ll go there. It’s nice. There’s a lot of people – it seems like there’s a lot of people who listen to this show in Australia, and I think that’s so rad. I’ve always wanted to go, and I’m really scheming on how to get to an Australian tour, but there’s one consistent thing I’ve noticed, which is that people from Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, are like, “Yeah, come here. It’ll be rad. We’ll all go!” And people from some place called Perth always go, “Come to Australia, but I know you won’t come to Perth anyway.” Anyone who mentions Perth seems to mention it as this place that like, just constantly skipped and ignored.
CALLER: That’s kind of how it’s thought of, generally.
CHRIS GETHARD: (laughs) Are you from Perth?
CALLER: I’m actually not, no. I’ve got friends who are, but I’ve actually never been to Perth. I hear it’s gorgeous, but it’s kind of a little bit far out.
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah. I’m going to go ahead and say it out loud on the podcast, and whoever has to organize my next tour is going to be so mad: I’m going to Perth, baby. I’m going to Perth. How’s your – I know we don’t have the time to totally get into it, but the fact that, you know, you said your mom gave birth to your sister, your sister was addicted – it sounds like you’ve indicated that your sister might not be doing great. How’s she doing?
CALLER: It’s been a struggle, man. You know, like she was born addicted and she went through all kinds of trauma, you know? Because my mom was still loaded when she was a child. So she was in and out of foster care and lived through a whole bunch of sexual abuse, and all kinds of ugly stuff, and as a result, she ended up, you know, really struggling as an adult and she’s incarcerated and she’ll be in there for – you know, she ended up getting a really hefty sentence and she’s not getting out any time soon. But I’ve gotta say – and like, this is what I think, and I think everything – I don’t know if this is a valid view point because I struggle with this sometimes – everything happens for a reason. Maybe? Or everything happens, given a reason. And I think that what she’s done with the experience is – if she’s out on the streets, she’s using heroin. There’s no two ways about it. She’s loaded, she’s doing the wrong thing. And since this was kind of the only way it could end for her, it seems like, because she wasn’t able to stay clean, and as a result, she’s actually clean for the first time in there. And you can use drugs in prison if you want, but she’s clean, and she’s helping people, and she’s finally looking at stuff that she probably wouldn’t been able to if she had been using instead on the streets. So, I mean, she’s doing the best she possibly can with what she’s got, which is really beautiful. I love
her so much, and I’m really proud of her, even given the circumstances.
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah. Yeah, just hearing that – that’s making the best of a horrible thing.
(audience claps) We’ve got about five minutes left. We’ve got about five minutes left. You’ve blown my mind. I wanna thank you for that. I think this is, uh, one of the most heart-wrenching, but yet somehow one of the most funny episodes we’ve ever had, and I don’t know how you pulled off both but thank you for it. We got five minutes –
CALLER: Thank you so much. I’ve tried – I’ve tried calling so many times. Every time I see the post come up, I run to find a pen somewhere. I’ll drop whatever I’m doing. I was at work the other day, and dropped everything to run, and someone was like, “What the fuck are you doing?” I was like, “Chris is waiting for me!”
CHRIS GETHARD: So you run to find a pen to write it down? The number?
CALLER: To write down the number, yeah. Uh huh.
CHRIS GETHARD: You should just save it in your phone, bro.
CALLER: That would make so much more sense.
CHRIS GETHARD: Well, I’m glad you never got through those other times, because I feel like this one was meant for this live thread. It was meant for this city and these people, and like you just said – everything for a reason – and I think it’s a good example of that. Hey, did you like comic books growing up?
CALLER: I did. I was never big into superheroes but I was big into graphic novels. I mean, I’m quite a bit younger than you, but things I was obsessed with were things like “Y: The Last Man” and “Ex Machina” – things like that, which aren’t necessarily superhero novels, but, you know.
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah.
CALLER: They’re still graphic novels and they’re pretty badass.
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah. You got some cheers. I will say – bringing up indie graphic novels at a punk bar in Baltimore is a good way to do yourself to the crowd.
CALLER: Yeah. Yeah.
CHRIS GETHARD: If there’s any room and any crowd –
CALLER: I’ll tell you what, Chris. You should check out –
CHRIS GETHARD: …That's going to clap for “Y: The Last Man,” it’s the Ottobar on a Sunday afternoon. (audience cheers)
CALLER: I feel like you have to check out – there was this one that I loved, which I don’t think is easy to get anymore, but it’s by this guy Kevin Huizenga, and there was a novel called “Ganges” – G-A-N-G-E-S – that I think you would love. I think we’re very similar, and this would appeal to your sensibilities.
CHRIS GETHARD: Okay.
CALLER: In a big way.
CHRIS GETHARD: I’ll look that one up. That sounds really good.
CALLER: Yeah, I think you’ll enjoy it.
CHRIS GETHARD: You gave me a recommendation of a graphic novel. Can I give you a recommendation of a superhero run?
CHRIS GETHARD: Okay, so I never liked Thor as a kid. I always thought he was a little cheesy, but I’ve been hearing that there was a really great run of Thor that happened right before I started reading comics, but I wasn’t going to, like, go track down the back issues of a series that I didn’t really love the current version of, but now Marvel has this Marvel Unlimited app, and it’s really great, and I can go back and read all the old stuff. The guy’s name is Walt Simonson, and he wrote this run on Thor and it’s really dumb – there’s a guy named Beta Ray Bill, and I saw pictures of him when I was a kid, and I was like, “That looks like the dumbest shit I literally have ever seen,” and then I just went back and read Walt Simonson’s run on Thor, and I’m like, “Yo, Beta Ray Bill is my favorite superhero ever!” And there’s one part – no spoilers – I’m sorry for the spoilers – like, Thor turns into a frog, and I know the sentence, “Thor turns into a frog” sounds like the biggest waste of your time, but it’s like – it just kind of shows everything that’s good about Thor.
CALLER: Honestly, you’re my favorite friend. All my friends in the city are so cool, and it’s so great to be able to, like, nerd out with someone. Thank you for giving me that.
CHRIS GETHARD: Dude, I’m going to tell you something, man – no offense to my other friends, but you’re one of my better friends!
CALLER: (laughs) That sounds amazing.
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah! Like – I feel like most of my friends – either don’t understand what I do, or they also do what I do and that inherently creates this weird – wariness? No – that’s coming out wrong, but you do know what I mean! I just feel like our friendship is like –
CALLER: Yeah, I get it.
CHRIS GETHARD: It’s, like, pure. It just is what it is for the sake of being what it is. CALLER: Yeah. Yeah. We get to be who we are.
CHRIS GETHARD: The phone is going to hang up in a minute and a half and I don’t want it to!
CALLER: Should we close this out singing A New England? (audience laughs)
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah, I would do that. By Billy – This will mark the second time that I’ve sung Billy Bragg’s A New England on Beautiful/Anonymous, but I would love that. Okay!
CALLER: Oh no!
CHRIS GETHARD: That’s okay!
CALLER: Are you sure?
CHRIS GETHARD: Yeah, man! People won’t mind hearing the best song of all time again!
CALLER: Okay! Let’s close it out with this. How many seconds do we have?
CHRIS GETHARD: Forty-seven.
CALLER: Seven seconds?
CHRIS GETHARD: Forty-five! Forty!
CALLER: Okay! Here we go! Thank you, Chris! I love you! It’s been so great to talk to you!
CHRIS GETHARD: I love –
CALLER: Let’s go!
CHRIS GETHARD: I love you! Thank you for sharing your story!
CALLER: One, two, three, four!
CHRIS GETHARD and CALLER: (singing discordantly) I was 21 years when I wrote this song….
CHRIS GETHARD: Oh no.
CHRIS GETHARD and CALLER: (singing in unison) I'm 22 now, but I won't be for long. People ask when will you grow up to be a man, but all the girls I loved at school are already pushing prams. I loved you then as I love you still.
CHRIS GETHARD: (singing) Though I put you on a pedestal –
CALLER: (singing out of sync) Though I put you on a pedestal –
CHRIS GETHARD: (laughs)
CHRIS GETHARD and CALLER: (singing in unison again) …They put you on the pill. I don't feel bad about letting you go; I just feel sad about letting you know. I don't want to change the world –
KEITH: Abra fucking cadabra, Chris! (call ends, audience cheers)
CHRIS GETHARD: Wow! Thank you! Wow! For anyone who couldn’t hear how that call ended, it ended with Keith yelling the words, “abra ca-fucking-dabra,” calling back to the magic. Well done.
CHRIS GETHARD: Thank you so much, caller. I wish that we could be friends. I wish we could be best friends, but that’s not how this show works. I’ll pine for you in my heart from now until the end of time. Thank you to everyone who came out to the live show in Baltimore, and every live show out there. It was, uh – such a good time, that tour. Thank you so much to Ottobar for having us, and Justin Linville, Chris Pierce, Joe Rumrill, the support team that was helping to make that whole tour happen. Thanks to the Reverend John DeLore and Gretta Cohn for helping build this show from the ground up – Jared O’Connell, Harry Nelson, who always help out in the booth. Shellshag – for the music. Wanna know more about me? Tour dates? ChrisGeth.com. Wanna help this show? Go to Apple Podcasts – rate, review, subscribe. It helps so much. That’s all I got – I’ll see you next week with more Beautiful/Anonymous!
EPISODE TRANSCRIPT BY LISTENER CAYLIN L.