Insanely prolific stoner comedy god Doug Benson hosts not one, not two, but three regular comedy podcasts, including Doug Loves Movies, Dining with Doug and Karen and The Benson Interruption. He releases multiple episodes per week, records an album every year and tours incessantly in between movie projects like Super High Me. The man is busy. So why all the work?
"It forces me to come up with new jokes instead of relying on old stuff. Not gonna point any fingers, but some comics rarely update their acts," says Benson.
His most popular podcast, Doug Loves Movies, tapes in the UCB Theater in LA. Benson invites a collection of different comedians to participate in a variety of cinema trivia games, including the ever-popular Leonard Maltin Game. When asked to pick his top three favorite moments taping Doug Loves Movies, Benson's answer is ready.
"John Lithgow, John Lithgow and John Lithgow. When that guy came on the show it was amazing," he says.
Benson will host a taping of foodie podcast Dining with Doug and Karen at Limestone. On that show, he samples food along with fellow comedian Karen Anderson. Another regular podcast, The Benson Interruption, was once a show on Comedy Central; it sets Benson and a revolving line of comedians together onstage, with Benson interrupting their sets. He takes it to the next level with The Benson Movie Interruption, which puts Benson and even more comedians in the front row of a movie screened live, wisecracking throughout. Benson will tape an episode of The Benson Movie Interruption at Limestone.
He tours frequently with Graham Elwood, host of the podcast Comedy Film Nerds, along with comedian Chris Mancini. Elwood and Mancini will perform at the fest and record an episode of their podcast - and possibly pop up on Benson's podcast tapings. But when it comes to movies, Elwood and Benson do things separately.
"We rarely even go [to see movies] together," says Benson. "I like to sit close and he likes to sit in the back. Plus, he wants to see every major release on opening weekend. I'm not in that kind of rush for most of the films these days."
Benson isn't scheduled for an episode of Doug Loves Movies, but those interested can listen to approximately two podcasts per week online. Benson often plays a round or two of the Leonard Maltin game at his live shows, so bring your nametags.
More from our Q&A with Doug:
NUVO: Doug, you're like a stoner comedian Woody Allen - (sidenote: does Woody smoke?) - one album released per year, like clockwork. How has this revved up production schedule changed your writing process?
Benson: It forces me to come up with new jokes instead of relying on old stuff. Not gonna point any fingers, but some comics rarely update their acts. And I don't think Woody Allen smokes. He certainly didn't approve of Annie Hall smoking before sex.
NUVO: I've been a loyal D <3 M listener for about a year now - and I'm loving the recent influx of characters. It's quite a different experience for the listener to listen to Werner Herzog or the Recently Retired Pope - most of the time, without looking it up, I don't know who these people are at first and spend most of the episode trying to figure it out. Does most of the audience recognize them on stage immediately?
Benson: Yeah, because those characters are played by comedians who have been on my shows before as themselves. They are tend to be popular characters from another podcast, Scott Aukerman's Comedy Bang Bang.
TJ Miller on The Benson Interruption
NUVO: How many loyal D <3 M are at your show weekly? Do they bring the same nametags or switch it up every time?
The UCB Theatre in L.A. is a small, non-profit space, so there are less than 100 people in the audience. Some people bring the same name tag week after week, like Jordan and his baseball, while other's change it up to attempt to improve their chances of getting picked.
NUVO: In the Leonard Maltin or Build a Title games, many times people seem to have the name of a movie they're thinking of right on the tip of their tongue. How often do you think someone knows the title, but can't answer because of the pressure of the crowd?
Benson: Games are always harder to play in front of an audience, not to mention the thousands of listeners. I've played the game myself a few times on the show and it's exponentially harder with all the people starung at you, wondering why you can't come up with an obvious answer.
NUVO: I spent an embarrassing amount of years confusing Leonard Maltin and Leonard Nimoy, and therefore once asked my boyfriend, "Why does Spock have time to review so many movies?" This is not really a questions, just an embarrassing confession. Actually, here's a question: what do you think a movie review by Spock would be like?
Benson: He would find most films illogical.
NUVO: I am afraid to ask this and to therefore risk angering the celebrity death gods, but the recent death of Roger Ebert got me thinking: what will you do when Leonard dies? (Edited to add: I just looked it up and realized he's only in his early sixties and should be in no immediate danger. My morbid question still stands, however.)
Benson: I will be quite sad and have to change the name to the Leonard Maltin Memorial Game.
Super High Me teaser