I am honored to have Guy Branum as my interview guest this week. He is an accomplished television writer, having worked on Chelsea, Lately and written for Joan Rivers, as well as one of the most consistently entertaining sitcoms of the past decade, The Mindy Project. He also currently hosts Talk Show The Game Show on truTV, on which guests get points for witty stories, just the right amount of name dropping to avoid getting a yellow card, jokes, and applause breaks. It’s a fresh and funny show and reminds me of Match Game in a way that the Match Game revival doesn’t. And he puts his pop culture knowledge to good use on the Pop Rocket podcast on the Maximum Fun network.
The bulk of the interview is about Branum’s new book, My Life As A Goddess: A Memoir Through (Un)Popular Culture. The book shows off who Branum is at his core. It’s funny, compassionate, sarcastic, smart, and poignant. Branum tells the story of how a kid from a small but diverse agricultural town in California went from law school to the entertainment industry, how he came out and dealt with both self-loathing and the reproach of his family, and how important television was and is to him. Along the way, you can learn about pop culture, world history, and mythology, among other things. The goddess in the title is a reference to a particular important mythological figure in Branum’s personal history – Leto, sister and lover of Zeus and mother of Apollo and Artemis. Branum tells of how Zeus’s wife, Hera, cast Leto out of Mount Olympus and cursed anyone who would give her shelter. She was forgotten and abused for nine months. The phrase that stuck with Branum comes when Leto had had enough and “Then she remembered that she was a goddess.” That is a kind of personal mantra for Branum, and we start the conversation with that idea.
You can find out more about him, his tour dates, and what he’s up to at his Web site, GuyBranum.com. Look for the book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever you purchase fine reading material. And watch out for notices about Talk Show The Game Show. The show is currently in between seasons and Branum is waiting to hear if he’ll get the go ahead from truTV for season three.
This week’s featured track is “Everything” from the debut full-length by PR Newman, Turn Out. PR Newman is the solo project of Spencer Garland, the Austin-based multi-instrumentalist who, until a few years ago, had been mostly serving as a sideman in bands like Berkshire Hounds. He played a lot of the parts and wrote almost of the songs, save for “Damn, I Miss That Guy,” written by his fellow Austinite, Willy McGee. I got the album in the mail a few weeks ago and took an immediate liking to it. IT was hard to pick a song to feature, for a few reasons. First, there are a lot of great songs here. And second, Garland is all over the map sonically. Should I choose the cheeky “Let’s Go Meet In A Small Town,” the strange and soulful “Right Here, Yeah, Ya,” the grooving “Here Come the Rangers?”
No single song can represent the range of the album. So I chose the Kinks-like acoustic rocker “Everything,” partly because it’s the designated single, and partly because it’s just impossible not to bob your head along with the thing and try to sing the horn line (I haven’t nailed it yet). You can find out more about at www.prnewman.com and tune in next week for my conversation with Garland.
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