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We Spoke to the Comedian Trying to Raise a Million Dollars on Kickstarter to Start a Podcast

If you pay the full million, you get to be the first guest.

by Josh Androsky
09 August 2014, 5:00am

All photos and GIFs by Megan Koester

Comedian, Parks and Recreation writer, and Twitter master Joe Mande hates Kickstarter. He also really, really hates the glut of lame podcasts. In an effort to combine two things he can't stand, he created a Kickstarter page for a podcast that he claims will cost a million dollars to produce. To quote the man himself, "If you pay me 1 million dollars, I will host a weekly podcast where I interview comedians and musicians and shit like that."

With a mere seven days left, he's raised more than $20,000 (£11,920), which is about two percent of his end goal. He's so close, he can literally smell success. Where will all of that fat scratch go? Paying the crew and talent? Purchasing a state-of-the-art recording studio? Procuring the services of various prostitutes? I sat down with Joe over a slice of pie to learn more about this worthy project (and also uncover the truth about Benghazi, at last!).

VICE: Let’s talk about the Kickstarter. The Million Dollar Podcast Kickstarter. Was it in response to the potato-salad thing, or how did it start?
Joe Mande: Kind of. I think people had just started talking about that. I was drunk at a friend’s wedding, kind of ranting about how boring podcasts are, and then, similarly, how retarded Kickstarter is. It just seems like so much work to have a podcast, and the chance that yours is going to be one that people think is relevant is just… it’s so small. So I think I said, flat out, you’d have to pay me a million dollars to host a podcast. Then, since we were already talking about Kickstarter, I was like, “Oh, yeah. That’s it.”

So there’s no way it’s going to get funded.
I mean, we’ve got a week left. I’m an eternal optimist. But there is a rewards section. If you donate the full million dollars, you can be the first guest!

I saw that. Also, it doesn’t let you give rewards for more than $10,000 (£5,960).
Yeah, so I had to put a parenthetical.

Right, honor system. If you donate $10,000, that’s great, but you won’t be the first person.
You won’t. I am somewhat aligned with the Koch Brothers, so all that one of them has to do is drop a million dollars. They probably have that in their wallet. So you know, I’m still hoping that it’ll happen.

Do the Koch Brothers get any proceeds from the shirts?
Yeah, all of the money goes to Alberta tar sands [laughter].

'Cause they need it, man! All of that shit is so funny to me, but it’s also terrifying that it would take you just slightly Dennis Miller–ing where all of a sudden...
I like you using that as a verb.

You get DMZ'ed, and whatever post-irony pendulum swings to the point where maybe you start to believe it?
Oh, man, I’m looking forward to that.

Do you think it’s like, “Once I make this amount of money, I’m crazy?” What do you think it would take you to actually—I mean, I don’t think people would know at first that you’re not joking.
What’s great is… I know what you’re saying, but I haven’t made that turn yet.

Real quick, let’s just do a little tangent about Benghazi. What are your thoughts on Benghazi?
I think Hillary lied, and people died. I write that graffiti all over Silver Lake. Have you seen that? Actually, no, I don’t. I just take credit for it. Some psycho is spray-painting, “Hillary lied, people died” all over Silver Lake.

Do you think it’s real? Does it have the crazy font? Does it look like it was someone who went to art school who made it?
Kind of. It’s too manicured. That’s a great bit, though—to go to the dog run in Silver Lake and write Benghazi buzzwords all over. I love it. I just bought a T-shirt last week, and it has the Bazinga logo. And it says “Benghazi.” I saw it months ago, and I didn’t buy it because I was mad I didn’t think of it.

You telling me that really pisses me off, because I’m very similar. What do you think Jim Parsons has to do with 9/11?
Not a lot. I don’t think he orchestrated anything. He was probably just a small cog. He wasn’t the Jim Parsons we know now, you know?

No, I know. He’s changed. My favorite thing about you on Twitter is when you find corporations or 9/11 or whatever tragedy—what part of the corporate voice makes that so funny, when they try to be sincere?
My favorite thing is that there’s this weird feeling of obligation on their part to, like, chime in. Whether it’s something sort of somber, or even if it’s just like, “It’s Valentine’s Day!” Someone at Charmin has to be like, “Yes, it is Valentine’s Day. We have to do this.” You don’t have to do anything. It’s so weird. I got into a dumb spat with a blogger in New York who clearly had a job like that and was, like, vehemently so upset: “The people who have those jobs are people too, and they’re just trying to churn out stuff. They’re writers too.” Come on, man. Jesus Christ.

You’re not, like, hating Dave who works at Charmin’s social media. It’s the brand, and they get to hide behind it. I’m sure they say, “I’m a writer,” not like, “I do Charmin’s Twitter.” So that has to go both ways.
I had writing jobs that I wasn’t proud of, but I certainly wasn’t making that my bio. You know?

That whole thing about chiming in: I think it’s really interesting that corporations and shows and these non-human entities—well, according to the Constitution now, they are human entities—they have to chime in. But also, I think it’s really interesting that they’re also forcing us to chime in. You can’t really just be an audience member and watch a TV show anymore. You have to hashtag. Does that affect you? Do you get notes, like, “Hey, we’ve got to get the audience to make more tweets?”
Well, there is, for Parks and Rec, a digital side where that’s their own thing. None of the writers are in control of the Twitter account or all that, and I don’t think we really have any say in what hashtags pop up. I don’t really know how that stuff works. I know for Kroll Show, we just make fun of all that. But we have really funny people who are in charge of the Instagram account and the Twitter and all that stuff, so there are ways to control it so that you can still be creative and funny. I do think it’s a weird obligation how on every TV show, you have to lock it down on Instagram and Facebook. All that stuff. If you don’t, then someone will do what my friends and I do, which is that if a movie doesn’t have one, we will snatch it up and do a fake Twitter account for whatever.

I’m friends with a couple of dudes who made a movie called Yeti. It’s a gay love story.
Yeah, I know those dudes very well!

Yeah, Eric Gosselin and Adam Deyoe. That movie is unwatchable. It’s legitimately funny in parts, but it was a student fim. What was that story?
I lived with all of those guys in Boston. It was a project Adam and Eric were working on. Adam owed me, like, $250 (£149) for a heating bill or something and just wouldn’t pay me. I needed the money. And somehow we came to this agreement that he would pay me the money he owed me if I would be in his movie, which up until that point, I had refused a hundred times to participate in. So I said, “Fine, I’ll be in your movie,” but I knew it was called Yeti: A Love Story, and it was about an abominable snowman who rapes people in the woods or whatever. So I was like, “I’m not getting raped by a yeti. And I’m only working one day.” So I worked something like a 17-hour day, because that’s how that production was, and I play a character named Joe. I’m the first one to die in the movie because of my demands. However, that ended up meaning that I’m running naked through the woods, essentially, getting chased by a hunter who thinks I’m the yeti. So now I’m shot to death by a guy in my fucking boxers, and they’re covering me in corn syrup for blood. I was just in the woods, like, “What is my life?”

You were in college.
Right. I also got the $250 from Adam, but he didn’t provide any food for anyone for the whole day, so I ended up spending like $200 (£119) ordering pizzas for everyone, because it was like, someone needs to step up here! So I lost $200, was covered in corn syrup, but that was also the night the Red Sox started their run.

Was that the night they beat the Yankees?
Yes! And they started the four game win streak. So I feel like I can kind of take credit for that, because I went through a lot that day. And the whole time I was like, “No one’s going to see this; it doesn’t matter. Who gives a shit?” And then they came to LA and sold the movie to Troma and now it’s available on demand, and once a week someone is like, “I think I saw your balls on Xfinity.” Jesus Christ. Also, the funniest part is that places are reviewing it, because it’s Troma, and multiple reviews were like, “It’s pretty funny, but this guy Joe is the worst part.” I’m, like, the closest one to a real actor! I’m not a real actor, but I’m the closest one to real entertainment, and I’m consistently considered the worst part of that terrible movie.

That’s so funny.
That said, they’re making Yeti 2, so that’s very exciting.

I was in Yeti 2.
Any similarities?

Food, no woods, Red Sox are in last place.
Well, yeah. Right now.

No, they did it right. Everybody was fed very well, and no one was cold.
Yeah, I made a big stink about that, so…

Do you regret it at all?
Yeah. Every day [laughter]. I mean, it does make me laugh. If you go to my IMDB page, my first credit is this Troma movie. And I love those guys. I guess that was part of my college experience or whatever. But yeah, I can’t believe they sold that movie. I can’t believe it’s a thing. It’s very embarrassing.

Eli Roth helped Kickstart Yeti 2.
Kickstarter, man. 

I mean, who have you got for your Kickstarter?
Um. Well. None of these people have donated, which is saying a lot, but Seth Rogen and John Mulaney have said that if it becomes a thing, they’ll be on the first episode. And Ezra Koenig said he would do the theme song.

Do you have to pay them at all?
Oh, I mean, I’m taking the million. I earned this.

You're on your way. You're Dennis Miller–ing right now.
What's mine is mine.

Follow Josh and Megan on Twitter.

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