Look­ing at the lighter side of this crazy, mixed up world

Calgary Herald - - YOU - ERIC VOLMERS

It’s a tricky time for Amer­i­can co­me­di­ans who want to com­ment on pop cul­ture with­out dip­ping too deeply into their coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal tur­moil.

For eight years, ac­tor/DJ Ralph Gar­man and film­maker Kevin Smith have been skew­er­ing the strange and of­ten ab­surd world of celebrity on their pod­cast, Hol­ly­wood Bab­ble- On, and build­ing an in­ter­na­tional au­di­ence of lis­ten­ers in the process.

They set their sights on the usual sub­jects: Gwyneth Pal­trow’s un­hinged health ad­vice, Lind­say Lo­han’s carous­ing, vir­tu­ally any­thing to do with Justin Bieber. (That bit even has its own theme song.)

But how could any com­men­ta­tor re­sist talk­ing about the most strange and ab­surd celebrity of them all, who just hap­pens to cur­rently oc­cupy the White House?

“We do dab­ble,” Gar­man said in an in­ter­view from his home in Los An­ge­les. “Be­cause there is a big cross-

over now be­tween show busi­ness and Amer­i­can pol­i­tics. When the pres­i­dent is tak­ing a se­ri­ous meet­ing with Kanye West and Kim Kar­dashian, and the guy used to host a re­al­ity show him­self, you can’t help but re­al­ize there’s a con­nec­tion be­tween the two in this coun­try.

“But, also, you get in­un­dated over here with it so much, and our show has al­ways skewed to­ward the lighter side. We like to pro­vide, not re­ally an es­cape, but maybe a re­lief, where we don’t harp on it too much. I think Kevin and I both have per­sonal feel­ings about it that we would like to ex­press. But you have to know the time and place for those things. We’ve kind of dis­cussed it and feel that Hol­ly­wood Bab­ble- On should be, not a safe zone, but a place where

you can go see the show, laugh and not have to pick a side.”

Be­sides, the in­her­ent goofi­ness of celebrity cul­ture isn’t a well that’s likely to go dry any­time soon. Gar­man and Smith will bring Hol­ly­wood Bab­ble-On to Cal­gary’s Bella Con­cert Hall at Mount Royal Uni­ver­sity on Fri­day. The pair has al­ways per­formed their pod­cast in front of a live au­di­ence in Los An­ge­les. But over the years, the show has con­tin­ued to evolve be­yond the con­fines of the pod­cast. Now, it’s more of a mul­ti­me­dia show, with video and theme songs and au­di­ence par­tic­i­pa­tion and im­prov.

Up un­til 2017, Gar­man was the long­time morn­ing host of KROQ in Los An­ge­les. Part of his du­ties in­cluded do­ing a roundup of the en­ter­tain­ment news.

Smith, whose film cred­its as a di­rec­tor in­clude the in­die clas­sic Clerks, Jay and Si­lent Bob Strike Back and Mall­rats, would of­ten make guest ap­pear­ances on the show when he had a new project to pro­mote. Even­tu­ally, he be­came a fix­ture dur­ing Gar­man’s seg­ment, and the idea was hatched to make it a per­ma­nent thing. Hol­ly­wood Bab­ble- On was born.

“I pre­pare the show,” Gar­man said. “I read all the emails that peo­ple send in and col­lect all the sto­ries that we’re go­ing to talk about that week and I put the show to­gether. Kevin has no idea of what we’re go­ing to talk about or say when we hit the stage.

“When we get out there, it’s 100 per cent im­pro­vi­sa­tion of how we re­late to the news that I’m talk­ing about, or how we re­late to each other. So that’s half the fun of us, go­ing out there with­out a net, so to speak, and just rolling with it.”

Gar­man, who also hosts his own pod­cast on Pa­treon called the Ralph Re­port and does a va­ri­ety of voices on the an­i­mated series The Fam­ily Guy, said the chem­istry he has with Smith isn’t un­like clas­sic com­edy duos such as The Smoth­ers Broth­ers or Mar­tin and Lewis.

“Kevin is very much a stoner,” said Gar­man. “He’s the cute, cud­dly, nice one, and I like to drink Jack Daniel son the stage and I’ m more cranky and per­snick­ety. It’s the salty and sweet com­bi­na­tion of our per­son­al­i­ties that just works.

“More im­por­tant than any­thing else, and the rea­son this whole thing started, was be­cause we make each other laugh. We get up there on­stage and I think we laugh at each other as much as the au­di­ence laughs at us.”

Kevin Smith, left, and Ralph Gar­man have built an in­ter­na­tional au­di­ence by skew­er­ing the strange and some­times ab­surd world of celebri­ties on their Hol­ly­wood Bab­ble-On pod­cast.

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