I love Mike Schmidt.
Mike Schmidt is a brilliant comedian and fantastic storyteller. Mike was one of the founding cast members of the award-winning podcast “Never Not Funny” and currently hosts his solo show “The 40 Year Old Boy”. He has a natural genius comedic timing and the ability to improvise a tale that circles and circles and reaches an often hilarious and sometimes touching and emotional end. I have had the joy and pleasure of not only listening to his podcast every week for the last 4 years or so (I jumped in late) but seeing him perform his incredible one-man show and then hang out with him for hours after the show ended. Mike is gracious and friendly and absolutely hilarious. And like most comedians, Mike has some damage. I see a lot of myself in Mike – a short temper, struggles with weight and relationships, struggles with success and a lack thereof. Mike has found an outlet though, and the world is the better for it.
I love podcasts.
I didn’t, initially. It took me a while to warm up to the idea of them. I started listening to comic book related shows and quickly graduated to comedy shows. Of course at the time, the only one I knew about was called “Never Not Funny”, and you had to pay to listen to that one. Eventually, not only did I start subscribing to that show, I bought some of the archives, including the 1st season which featured Mike Schmidt. From there it was a short jump to find “The 40 Year Old Boy”. It took a few episodes to get into it, but once I got the rhythms of the show and used to the idea of a show done entirely by one guy talking, I was hooked. It quickly became my favorite show.
I do three podcasts. They’re dumb, they’re fun and the most important topic any of us talk about through all three shows is that Superman looks dumb without red underwear. Real life rarely seeps through, and when it does, it’s inconsequential. I like my shows, but they’re not required listening.
The 40 Year Old Boy is required listening. Particularly the newest episode “Almost” (Year 5, Episode 49).
“Almost” is at times brilliant, incredibly funny, incredibly moving and touching and ultimately brutally heartbreaking. Even now, just remembering the show, I am tearing up. Podcasts are mostly dumb fun, and even the “serious” ones are dry and tedious. Mike – by exposing raw and powerful emotions and honesty – elevates podcasting into an art.
The 40 Year Old Boy is not the most successful or popular comedy podcast around, but when everything comes crashing down, his show will be looked upon as one of the best, and it’s episodes like this one which will be a benchmark of not only what this show can achieve, but which podcasting as a whole can accomplish.
I can’t recommend this show – and this episode – enough. It’s tough to get through and there is no real satisfying conclusion, but that’s not what it’s about. It’s about a human experience and the price we sometimes pay for it.
It’s beauty. Soul-destroying beauty.