Episode 36: Doug Benson
The standup comedian, star of Super High Me, co-creator of The Marijuanalogues and host of The Benson Interruption and Doug Loves Movies stops by to talk about his history with Paul, pot, parents and heartbreak. And of course the special role that movies play in his life, especially in dealing with his sometimes smothering, worry-filled mother.
Paul: Welcome to Episode Thirty Six with my guest Doug Benson. I'm Paul Gilmartin, this is The Mental Illness Happy Hour an hour of honesty about all the battles in our heads from medically diagnosed conditions to every day compulsive negative thinking, feelings of dissatisfaction, disconnection, inadequacy and that vague sinking feeling that the world is passing us by. You give us an hour, we'll give you one hot ladle of awkward and icky. But first a few notes. This show is not meant to be a substitute for professional counseling. I'm a jack ass that tells dick jokes. Think of this not as the doctors office but hopefully a waiting room that doesn't suck, A great place for just general information or to find out how to get help is the website psychcentral.com. You can go straight to that or we have a link on our website which is mentalpod.om. I've talked about the forum for this show before. You can access the forum through our website. A lot of times people will post a thread about a specific topic related to something that's fucking with us. And one that really kind of lit a lot of people up, in a good way, was talking about social anxiety. Dread of going to a party, or being in social situations or small talk. A person in the forum named Amber wrote that “it takes all of my energy just to maintain a superficial conversation. I come alive when I can talk about things with real meaning, but I cannot get past the barrier of small talk without needing to completely shut down afterward.” I wrote back that I felt like she was describing my experience to a T. 'Cause when that gray blanket of depression settles in and nothing is bringing me joy – that small act of small talk, it feels like lifting an anvil. If lifting an anvil could also manage to feel phoney. And all I want to do is climb into bed. Because in those moments, being in bed is the only thing that doesn't feel like an effort. That I can't fuck up, and that I don't have to fake.
Paul: I'm here with long time friend Doug Benson. Doug and I met – what was it. 1910? I'm very bad at years.
Doug: I'm awful with years also. So I'll confirm 1910.
Paul: If you listen to any of Doug's podcasts you'll know that he does have indeed a terrible memory for years. Years or just everything in general?
Doug: Mostly years. You know I remember – like I'm not - The aspect of the Leonard Maltin that I'm good at is knowing who the actors are. The years mean very little to me.
Paul: The podcast that Doug's referring to, most people probably know but some of you might not, it's called Doug Loves Movies. And it's a really really popular podcast. And really entertaining. He has guests on and they play this Leonard Maltin game where he reads a review of one of the movies that Leonard Maltin has reviewed and then the people have to try and guess which it is. But there's a structure to it where you bid on how few names you can guess the movie in. There are other rules to it as as well. But it's very entertaining and he has a lot of comedians on.
Doug: Some have told me it's unnecessarily complex, that game.
Paul: I don't think so. I don't think so. Because I think for people that listen to it a lot they like having all the different variables that could happen. So you know I've listened to a half dozen episodes and I love it when somebody says 'Oh I can guess that in negative two names.' Which means you're not going to be given any names, you're going to have to name the names in order. The first two names.
Doug: Yeah if they think they've got a handle on it based on the clues and the year and stuff they can jump to that. And lots of people do. I love it. I think its really, if I didn't enjoy playing it then I would be screwed. Because not only do I play it on every episode of the show but now when I'm out doing my live shows audience members want to play.
Paul: Oh when you’re doing stand up you mean?
Doug: Yeah. When I'm out on the road just doing stand up they people, bring, you know because at the tapings here in LA people bring name tags to get picked to be played for but out on the road they get to actually play. So they'll get up on stage whoever my opening act is - usually Graham Elwood but sometimes it's other dudes. I'll have that, my opening act play against people in the audience
Paul: Are you still doing clubs, are you doing theaters?
Doug: It's a mix of comedy clubs, rock clubs and theaters. Plus an occasional college. An occasional crazy college that's like let's get this well known stoner to come talk to the kids.
Paul: And how is that, because colleges can be horrifying if people aren't excited to come out and see you.
Doug: Well I found a new way to get their attention at the colleges now. I douse the front row with pepper spray. I bring a pepper spray hose.
Paul: Do you reveal the can of pepper spray with a flourish before you spray? I like – that's,
Doug: I show everyone what it is. This is about to happen.
Paul: Oh my god.
Doug: The way that guy casually, that clip they keep showing on the news, the way that he just casually sprays people in the face with such an intense amount of that stuff. He just does it so casually. And then the argument was the police felt like they needed to do that because the situation was dangerous. They felt like they were in danger.
Paul: That is so ridiculous. Should pepper spray, shouldn't just by it's very nature, should you ever be using pepper spray if you don't have to use it in a hurry?
Doug: Yeah. If you can casually use pepper spray that's probably -
Paul: You shouldn't be using it. But we digress. The purpose of this podcast obviously is to talk about what's going on with people. And any battles that they might have in their heads. And I was a little - I had asked you to do this show back when we were doing a festival in Portland. And I didn't hear back from you which happens a lot of times. Because people are so busy or they don’t want to try to come up with the words to say 'I don't want to do your podcast, ' or ' I'm uncomfortable doing your podcast' so they just don't respond. So I wasn't offended that you didn't want to do the podcast, And then I bumped into you backstage at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater a couple of weeks ago and you brought it up and said that you were willing to come do the podcast now. What in your mind changed and made you decide that you felt like you wanted to come do it.
Doug: Well I've heard about, you know I read the – which I shouldn't do, that's one of the things I should probably avoid in my life – but I read that thing they do on the AV Club site,
Paul: You too huh?
Doug: And the Onion's AV club site where they, it's called Podmass - and they review everything. So I've been reading about, because I certainly don't have time to listen to podcasts but I think it's - I read it every week because I want to know what these people are saying about me and all of my friends who have podcasts. But then also what they say sometimes just you know, it just really stings, or it just seems like craziness. You know, because any individual listening to a podcast they're going to get something different from it. I've read about myself, they'll say something like – 'Oh Doug didn't seem very interested in what was going on this week.' And I'll be like how? I'm -
Paul: I've never been more interested.
Doug: I've never been - I was very engaged on that particular episode. So you disagree with what they walk away with, but it's still interesting to get their take on things. But also it's interesting that I've been reading up on your podcast and from week to week it seems that the ones that they sort of praise the most are the ones where somebody really opens up to you. And the ones where it's more, where there's less mental illness, let's say, to be discussed then it's not - they don't rave about it as much. But they consistently seem to like you and the show. And also I've just sort of gotten the vibe over a period of time that it's ok to come on and not have a history of mental illness to draw from.
Doug: And so I've sort of opened up to the idea. Like there's another guy that's been asking me to do a podcast that's about religion. And I just flat say no. I will not do it. And he still keeps asking me.
Paul: Pro religion? Anti-religion?
Doug: Just about religion. You know? I just don't want to sit and say anything one way or the other about it. Especially for an entire podcast. Because I'm just not, I'm just not a religious person to begin with. You know I was never interested in it, and now -
Paul: And yet you wear a pope hat. Which is so disconcerting.
Doug: Well you know it's easier to cut through LA traffic if you have a pope hat. And a -
Paul: Plexiglass around your golf cart.
Doug: Plexiglass golf cart.
Paul: Well I'm glad that you're here. You and I go back to probably I guess it would be about 1995. I was working in the marketing department of the WB. It had just launched and I was writing ads for these just lame – I'm sorry to say it, I shouldn't shit on other peoples projects. But the shows weren't great.
Doug: They had four sitcoms on one night. Was how they launched.
Paul: It was Muscle, The Wayans Brothers, Unhappily Ever After which was just kind of a regurgitated Married With Children. And what was the other one?
Doug: Parenthood with Robert Townsend.
Paul: Parenthood with Robert Townsend. And it's not necessarily that these sitcoms were pieces of shit. They just - not a lot of new ground was being broken. And so as comedians we're kind of obsessed with breaking new ground, pushing the art form forward. And so, here we are writing ad copy for these shows that we don't really respect. So it was kind of this brotherhood of cynicism and snarkiness. But you and I and Andy Kindler, and Roger Rittenhouse, and who were some of the other comedians that went through there writing.
Doug: Well I ended up bringing in lots of people. Because one of the things that would always say to me is, you know 'we've got this project coming up, hire some writers.' So I'd just hire buddies and then get them to submit stuff with varying degrees of success. One of people, one of the most thoughtful and hardworking of all of them was Alex Reed.
Paul: I remember Alex.
Doug: Now he's like, he moved on to be a writer on Malcolm in the Middle. And now he's on the new Patricia Heaton show The Middle, I think. I think he will only work on projects that have the word middle in them. But -
Paul: I see his name all over the place.
Doug: But he was a really good guy and really worked hard. And did a good job for me every time I asked him to write some stuff. Roger Rittenhouse of course was great. Yeah, so -
Paul: Roger maybe one of the best one liners ever. I'll always remember a line that he wrote, it was a sketch show, an African American sketch show he had been hired to freelance for and there was some woman that had stretch pants on, and she had a big back side. And Roger wrote the line 'that ass wants out.' It's like Roger in a nutshell. Who would come up with the joke that would make the room fall over. But again, I'm digressing. So it was this kind of cool, this cool environment that, this comedy heavy environment that you and I kind of got to know each other in. But we never really became close. We kind of ran in different circles, they overlapped a little bit. So I've never, even though I've known you for sixteen, eighteen years I've never really gotten to know you beyond the passing friend level. Are there people in your life that get to know you on a deeply personal level? Or do you kind of keep your emotions in check a little bit.
Doug: I think I'm pretty open with everybody. But I don't know how deep it goes with any individual. I guess, you know, I'm on the road a lot with Graham Elwood lately who I met through you. I used to come to, every year you've have a fourth of July party.
Paul: I've known Graham for ever.
Doug: Yeah you'd have a fourth of July party and all of your wacky comedy friends from Chicago came -
Paul: Jimmy Pardo, Graham Elwood, Mike Schmidt, Pat Francis.
Doug: Yeah. It was a whole bunch of dudes. And I became friends with all of them though you and coming to the fourth of July parties. But like Graham I just saw at the fourth of July party for a few years in a row and he always wore that red, white, and blue weird fringed vest and so I always thought, 'this guy's a lunatic.' And I'd have fun hanging out with him on the fourth of July, but we didn't really become friends until we started running into each other when we both started getting more time over at the Improv Comedy club here in town. We'd see each other there a lot. So anyway, I'm on the road with him all the time so I imagine one could say he knows me pretty well.
Paul: Graham is a very open person. I had him as a guest on this podcast. He is very able to talk about his emotions and what's going on with him. Everybody gets sad. Do you talk to people when you get sad? Do you ever say to somebody, 'I'm sad.” Because, I'm having trouble picturing you having that kind of conversation with somebody.
Doug: Yeah. I guess if a specific thing happens to me I guess I would talk to someone about it. Like I've also had over the years, I've had various writing partners. Or people that I work with. And in show business when you work with someone or write with someone, that ends up being, you spend a lot of time together. So those people I guess I may talk about things like that. But not really, no. It's probably incredibly unhealthy of me to keep it all bottled up. But also I've been insanely lucky in terms of the amount of specific tragedy that's entered my life, has been minimal. Extremely minimal.
Paul: Well you know one of the things that I believe and we talk about on this show you don't is – you don't necessarily have to have tragedy happen in your life to feel fucked up inside. Sometimes it's just the absence of a kid getting what they need is enough to kind of fuck you up. Parents that were distant, or an elephant that was in the room that was never discussed. That can really kind of screw kids up. Plus I think genetically some people are born really sensitive. Comedians happen to be I think in some ways more sensitive than other people. Most observant people are which comedians have to be to survive so I think that combination sometimes - But what was your, you grew up in San Diego? What was your family life like?
Doug: It was – you know, I'm sure -
Paul: Brothers? Sisters?
Doug: One brother who was older. By a few years.
Paul: Wasn't he like a jock or something?
Doug: Yeah. He was on the football team and also he surfed and you know, he had like this mustang that he was always working on in the garage. And you know lots of -
Paul: Are you sure you're not thinking of The Outsiders?
Doug: Yeah, lots of, pretty active with girlfriends and stuff. We were really sort of opposites and I think it sort of pushed me to a nerdier place, and certainly the place that I'm at in being a comedian.
Paul: Did you try to fit in with his, how much older was he than you?
Doug: He was three years older. So the crucial year that made me realize that my brother was important to me was when I became a freshman in high school and he was a senior. And we moved from one part of San Diego to another part of San Diego right before, two years before that. So Junior high school I was sort of adrift and really just kind of not terribly happy. Like I'd say those are probably the only years of my life that I was unhappy.
Paul: Like what do you remember feeling from those -
Doug: Just not really fitting in. You know, it's when you first have to stand around in the gym. You have to have gym class and then you have to shower together and all that stuff.
Paul: That's the worst.
Doug: I never felt great about that. I never felt in gym class I was – I kind of in those two years I went from a scrawny kid that wasn't very athletic to a kind of a chubbier kid that wasn't very athletic. And having the coach make you try to do a pull up in front of everybody, and you can't even do one, it's just like, it's so aggravating. So 'cause, I've never been, I've always enjoyed different athletic activities. You know that's where I sort of was able to get back in shape in high school because I really got into things like racket ball. I found sports that I was ok at and could play.
Paul: So you weren't opposed to the aerobic part of it, you just didn't find any kind of way to fit in in the traditional football, baseball, basketball.
Doug: I wasn't lazy. I was the kid especially in the summer time I was always out in the street playing some sort of football or baseball or something with the other kids of the neighborhood until we got yelled out to come in because it was too dark.
Paul: I have to say there aren't many people I know who smoke large quantity of weed that get as much shit done as you do. I can't think of anybody that even runs a close second.
Doug: Well I certainly do most, I mostly do things you can do while you're high. So that helps. I'm not doing anything that being high makes it more difficult.
Paul: Well, I don't know if I would agree with that. Because there are lot of things you do high that when I smoked pot I couldn't have done. I could never perform high. My top lip would always stick to my teeth. And I would forget what the next word was of my act so - I would remember it but it would come at a, (I don't know who that is) the words would come but it would come haltingly and it was just awful. And I would just look at people who would go on stage stoned and would think: How do you do it? How do you? But I guess if you're smoking it enough, it's not that big of a change for you to go on stage high.
Doug: You're sort of used to it. The first few times I performed really high, you can't get out of your head. You're just thinking the entire time: 'Oh everyone knows I'm really high.' But that was when I would talk about pot but it was more, it wasn't like, I wasn't so open about it. Once I became really open about it – now I can't be anywhere without somebody coming up to me and going - 'Man you're so high right now.' Even if I'm not. So it's sort of become, the whole world is sort of my enabler in that I can go ahead and be high whenever and whenever and chances are no one will be offended by it.
Paul: Right. Do you ever feel the pressure of having that image of being the stoned guy. That should I ever want to quit smoking pot it's going to be hard to do it.
Doug: It'll be annoying more than hard. Just because everywhere I go people want to smoke with me. So if I decided to officially quit and then have to say to people 'I don't smoke anymore.' I'd have to deal with their disappointment every time I say it.
Paul: And it would not be a brief conversation.
Doug: And it would always be like 'Yeah but come on, just smoke with me this one time.' Or you know, 'cause it's - there are so many people out there who feel tremendous shame or a little bit of shame about smoking that like I'm a figure that makes them feel ok about it. Makes them feel better about it. Because I am successful, I'm happy, and I'm having a good time. But I'm not doing anything to hurt myself or others, theoretically. You know, in my personal relationships one could argue that smoking so much can hurt those.
Paul: Let's talk about that a little bit. What - can you give me an example of where you think it might be holding you back in your personal relationships? You're talking about between you and the women you date?
Doug: Yeah I don't think it's holding me back any more because I'm just, again, it's so - It just comes with the territory. No women are trying to go out with me that also want to get me to stop smoking pot. But when I was living with one, that wanted me to stop. That was, that was a terrible time.
Paul: This is the women that I know. Back when we first met.
Doug: I lived with her and she didn't want me to smoke and I really loved her and I thought it's important to me to try to make this relationship work so - I do a monologue about it in the show I did The Marijuana-logues.
Paul: Do you still do that show?
Doug: Every once in a while. Like we did one in New York earlier this year or last where I sat in with one of the original guys Tony Kameen. And then we had someone sitting in for Arch Barker because he's just, he's in Australian all the time, he's so huge down there that he never wants - he comes back to the States just to see his family.
Paul: He comes to the States just to have people leave him alone.
Doug: Yeah, leave me, he gets a little peace and quiet for a few days when he's here.
Paul: So you were living with this woman.
Doug: So anyway in the play I talk about how I just, after a while I couldn't do it anymore. Because the combination of wanting to naturally 'cause I like it, the combination of wanting to do it and then that oppression of being told that I can't, sort of lead to me just sort of smoking whenever I wasn't with my girlfriend.
Paul: Because it makes it more delicious. That's what I've found. When the stakes for something kind of go up and then it's you know, 'you can't do this.' It makes it so much more attractive.
Doug: Yeah and I was hanging out with comedians who smoke pot so I would just go off and smoke with them all the time. And then -
Paul: Would you have to hide your highness when you came home?
Doug: I would try to come home and not seem high.
Paul: And you love to be referred to as 'Your Highness.'
Doug: Yeah. I'd try to come home and not be high in front of her. And a lot of times I would get away with it. You know because I do smoke enough that I don't, I don't act like ablathering idiot every time I'm high. Especially after coming home from being high all night. By the time you're home and sitting around for a bit you stop smoking, you're probably not so high anymore. But at some point she sort of would catch on and kind of yell at me about it. And then we sort of, we came to an agreement that I could smoke when I was with my smoking friends but just not, I couldn't, I would try to not be high around her. And that worked for a little while. But you know, it's just - what really was the final straw with me and her was not that, it wasn't about smoking with my friends, it was about preferring to be with my friends. Whether I was smoking with them or not. And once you, I feel like that if you're in a relationship where yeah sure you should love your friends, you should want to be with your friends but if you want to be with your friends and the girl your with, your significant other not be there - if you’re looking forward to that, that's bad.
Paul: Then you've fallen out of love and you're just afraid to hurt someone's feelings at that point.
Doug: Oh yeah. Cause we were living together. And we had financial times, the entire time we were dating. One of us would get a pretty cool gig and start making some money and then the other would would get a good gig - but neither one of us, we were never on solid footing. Like we're both making the same amount of money. And then when I was working at the WB. I was making a pretty good living for a - And it was consistent.
Paul: Especially for a road comic. That was like a job from heaven for us road comics. Cause we got to stay in town and it was headlining money.
Doug: Yeah. So I was at home all the time. I wasn't out on the road like I had been. Which also puts a lot of stress on a relationship. When you're gone and the other person's just sitting around waiting for you to come back. So I was home all the time and had a decent job and was making decent money. But she was struggling a little bit more than me. And so, I would always have to, she would always be home whenever I came home. Day or night she would be there.
Paul: Right. Did that also make it more difficult to break up because you thought 'she's a little financially dependent on me right now.'
Doug: I thought it was unfair to kick her out at that point because there had been been a few times where she either helped pay the rent or paid the rent. And so I felt kind of like I owed her that. And also I just knew that, and it proved to be true, that she would be very upset if I tried to break up with her. So once I did it I just had to really be strong about it and just insist that, you know - But the trouble is then, there had been points in our relationship where I had said out loud things like 'We should get married.' And you know and let's get - One time we were in Vegas and I was like 'let's just do it right now, let's get married.' And she was like 'really?' And I'm like, 'yeah let's do it.' And then we started to look into it and it's just like - you can't really just run in and get married. It's not as easy as you think it is.
Paul: You actually have to go to city hall.
Doug: Blood tests and stuff. So for whatever reason that slowed us down. But then, but then when you break up with somebody and then they can say back to you: 'But you wanted to marry me?' Yeah I did. I'm glad I didn't.
Paul: I was just crazy.
Doug: I made the right call.
Paul: That was the keno talking. Maybe the worst game ever in Vegas. Was there a feeling after you broke up that you knew what you wanted and didn't want in your next relationship?
Doug: Yeah but -
Paul: Have you had a serious relationship since then?
Doug: Two. Two. And they were both awhile ago. And they were both, they were like, they were my, they sort of set me on the path of maybe being single for the rest of my life.
Paul: What about them made that?
Doug: Just cause I managed to get together with two girls in a row who were younger than me and certainly had a lot to live for and a lot more to do with their lives than just be my girlfriend. And so - but when they moved on as they naturally should have, I'm not ultimately mad at either of them for moving on - but when they did it was like having, you're having the rug pulled out from under your whole -
Paul: They fucked you up when they left. Were you living with either of them?
Doug: One was practically, we were practically living together. That was the second one. But the first one never moved in, we just and it didn't last for too long. It lasted for about six months.
Paul: But it was intense.
Doug: Yeah. And it was just like - I meet women all the time now that I go – that's exactly, ten years ago that's exactly somebody I would fall madly in love with and then when either they weren't interested in me or they were for a period of time and then they moved on, I would be devastated. Like I recognize it now. People that are performers, people that are very extroverted, very pretty, very you know, just -
Paul: You're attracted to extroverted women in particular you think?
Doug: Well I just, you know, it's like, women who just don't have anything to say ever, or don't, or aren't there like– that's the thing that I liked about both of these girls is that at least in the early going we always had stuff to talk about all the time. And it was mostly because, I don’t want to call them crazy but they just needed a lot of, you know - They were both stand up comics.
Paul: And would you say they were wound tight?
Doug: Yeah. They were both stand up comics. So they both wanted to succeed at that. They wanted to succeed in show business in general. Make a living. But they were also pretty women who - like that was the trap I found myself falling into is that - and this happens to female comics more than male comics. Female comics date dude comics because they like funny guys and they're funny themselves. So they fall into that more than, like most guy comics figure out 'Oh I should just be the funny one.' I shouldn't date a hilarious girl or a girl who's aspiring to be hilarious. Because then it's, it’s a bit much. But at the same time, I personally am attracted to that just because -
Paul: You want somebody that can make you laugh.
Doug: I want to laugh too.
Paul: I mean I've been married to a female who used to do stand up and she's now a writer. We've been together twenty-four years. And the best part of being with her, there's many good things about being with her, but the best part is that she truly makes me laugh, she can make me spit food out. Any comedian brings that baggage cause all comedians are fucked up on some level. So they bring that baggage to the relationship so it's like this trade off. Do you want someone who's stable but not necessarily interesting or funny, or do you want someone that's super funny but that's going to come with some kind of baggage. So it's like a trade off either way. I would rather have a little bit baggage and somebody who's funny because they can always work through the baggage. But you can never become more interesting. Does that make sense?
Doug: I am unfortunately, I am a sucker for personal charisma.
Paul: Yeah. Why wouldn't you, you go through life once.
Doug: I want to, but you know what I mean, There was a point where I could, I would settle for nothing less than a women that I thought was going to be a big star. I was almost like a casting director.
Paul: Why does that strike me as a dangerous, when you look for a girl that wants to be a star aren't you ever annoyed by that narcissism in her? Or you're charmed by it?
Doug: Well it, maybe annoyed by it but then charmed by it in that I enjoyed their drive and I wanted to see them succeed. So I was, I fall into that thing that you know being older certainly makes that happen naturally when you're ten years older whoever you're dating. But also the, I just like, I like helping someone to like - with all three of the women that we've been talking about I would be running lines with them for their audition the next day. And telling them what, how to wear their - what I think they should do, what they should wear and how they should – if someone's right there like that, that you're practically, that you're living with or practically living with and they've got something important like that I would just become - it's draining but at the same time it's exciting to feel like you're helping someone.
Paul: Let's back up because I feel like we didn't talk about it enough. The environment that you were raised in. What was your relationship with your parents like?
Doug: It was pretty good. My dad was maybe a little distant, maybe not quite as loving as a father could be. But pretty good about, you know, always wanting to throw a ball around in the yard, and always interested in - He just had to have two or three jobs all the time to keep us afloat. Because my mom was, she used to be a registered nurse but then she eventually just became just went into housewife mode and just took care of the house and me and my brother. But so he was like, he was super into sports and I never really got into like, you know, my dad would watch golf on tv and be fascinated by it. I'd always be like – who cares. And then some of the other sports he liked watching are basketball and football. I'd kind of get into it but more or less I was always the kind of person that I enjoy sports more when I'm there seeing it happen in person. I love most sports. I'll go watch most stuff in person.
Paul: Have you ever seen an NHL game in person?
Doug: Yeah. Yeah.
Paul: Pretty amazing isn't it?
Doug: Yeah. It's really fun.
Paul: I would imagine, I've never seen it high but I would imagine high it would blow your mind. The speed and the power that those guys have.
Doug: Yeah I just mostly when was I was a kid. Because there was a - I was trying to remember the other day when Graham and I were talking about it -
Paul: The Ice Dogs?
Doug: There was a hockey team in San Diego and their mascot was a penguin I think? But I forget what they were called. So we'd go see that on occasion. We went and saw a lot of – we'd go and see the Padres and the Chargers quite a bit.
Paul: Did you feel like you connected to your dad? Or like you just were barely hovering above just disappointing him.
Doug: Well he really loved, he was very supportive of me being in school plays and stuff. And then when I got into stand up comedy he was very supportive. And probably came to see me perform more so than anybody else in my life. So that was great. He was, there was very little push back from my parents on me being like - 'well I'm going to move into LA and get into show business.' And then a few months after that - 'Oh I'm going to be a stand up comic.' They were certainly concerned but also they weren't paying for anything. It didn't cost them any money for me to move away and try to get into show business. So the fact that I just made subtle inroads over the years kept them pretty happy. But I'd say about my mom, part of the reason maybe I wasn't as close to my dad as I could have been, is that my mom was very.... I'd say smothering? She was so there for me for pretty much anything I wanted.
Paul: Sometimes more than you would like?
Doug: Yeah. Definitely. Definitely like moving out was definitely my opportunity to get away from that. Because I lived with my parents until I moved to LA at twenty-two. So I was going to junior college in San Diego and living at home 'cause we had a fairly big house and the downstairs was just two bedrooms and a bathroom and an entry way. So I would just chill down there and I could get away with - My parents were like, when I see tv shows where the parents get mad cause a girl sleeps over? I was just always like - oh man I had it good. 'Cause my parents never yelled at me for having girls over and you know, from sixteen years old on.
Doug: I could have girls just come stay over. They were usually like a girlfriend that they'd meet and get to know.
Paul: Like a platonic friend or a girl, like dating -
Doug: Like a real girlfriend. Yeah.
Paul: And they were allowed to spend the night at your place? Are you kidding me?
Doug: Uh uh. Because here's the thing -
Paul: Why would you need to get high to escape that?
Doug: Well that's the thing. I didn't - Getting high didn't cross my mind until I was out on the road being a professional comic and hanging out with -
Doug: Yeah. I didn't start smoking weed in earnest until I was about twenty-eight years old.
Paul: Are you kidding me?
Doug: Yeah. That's the - we buried the lead. That's what I always tell people when the subject comes up. 'Cause in interviews I'm constantly being asked, 'When did you start smoking?' And I didn't until I was twenty-eight.
Paul: What made you not want to smoke pot before then?
Doug: Not, it just didn't – and it's the weirdest thing. I owned Cheech and Chong albums when I was a teenager, listened to them over and over again.
Paul: This is crazy. This is crazy.
Doug: You know, would watch everything that had drug abuse and weed in it, I would watch. But I never, like in Junior College I would just have the typical drunken nights.
Paul: Hadn't even tried it.
Doug: “Cause I just, I always manged to find myself in kind of a nerdy crowd. You know, from high school to junior college to the first five or six years I lived in LA. I just hung out with non pot smokers. That's just how it happened. I never knew anyone -
Paul: So it was more of an environmental thing, it wasn't available.
Doug: I never knew anyone who did it.
Paul: I see. So but you think if your friends had been smoking a ton of weed, you would have started then.
Doug: I think so yeah but I don't know. I mean, I've also never really spent any time with anyone who does cocaine on a regular basis. So I've never even tried that. And certainly obviously even stronger shit like heroin and stuff I just never – even when I've known like a wild man comic for some reason that comic has never tried to get me to do coke or try anything crazier than drinking or smoking.
Paul: So what was it about weed then that just made it so, something that you wanted to do all the time. At twenty-eight – was there something specific going on in your life when you were twenty-eight that it just kind of filled a void? Or...
Doug: I think that I had, you know, I had already figured out that you can only get crazy assed shit faced drunk every so often. Like doing it, If I'm in comedy clubs every night and I'm always just drinking every night? That's just not going to work. To this day I still drink, I never quit drinking but I try to keep the hangover days to few and far between.
Paul: I see. Does the amount of alcohol you drink, does that, has that ever been a problem? Like mornings where you wake up and you're like, 'oh what the fuck did I do.'
Doug: Yeah that happens on occasion. Like where you go oh this is a day where I actually have to get stuff done and I'm really hung over. So it sucks.
Paul: How about when you're actually drunk? I mean like, I remember you and Graham back when Graham was drinking, you guys got tossed out of a casino in Vegas or something?
Doug: No that was Pardo, that was Jimmy Pardo.
Paul: Oh that was Pardo. Back when Pardo was drinking. That must have been right before Pardo quit.
Doug: But that was one of those nights where and you know I see people going through it all the time. At comedy shows, if someone's out of control I'll get them out of the show. And then you know that the story the next day is Doug Benson's a dick. He threw me out for no reason. And that's how Jimmy and I felt about that night in the casino. What did we even do to get - ? Why did we get thrown out? And then you start to think about it. And we were just - not only were we relentless, we were actually funny. We were two guys, two professional comedians, drunk. And like the pit boss we kept giving him a hard time. And you know how, Jimmy Pardo giving someone a hard time sober is pretty intense.
Paul: And pit bosses love to laugh.
Doug: They have the best sense of humor. But it was the dumbest little casino and it was so funny cause I got up to go to the bathroom or Jimmy did, one of us did, yeah I guess I went to the bathroom. And when I started to head back, what they did was they had two different security guys say to each of us separately to not only leave but they made us leave through different exits. So we had to like walk around the building and find each and then just be like, what just happened? Why did we get thrown out?
Paul: We're good guys.
Doug: Yeah we're just having fun.
Paul: We didn't even get to our closer.
Doug: But I've seen since then a million times somebody so drunk in Vegas and they just let them keep gambling. And they just, and they really tolerate it. So we must have been so horrible. That the guy was just - we must have hit him on some personal level. You know how Jimmy is with the nicknames. We were calling the guy some name and it was probably something that like maybe his first dog was named that and it died or something. Something didn't sit right. So next thing we knew we were thrown out. But that next day I don't know, I don't even recall how particularly hung over I was. I just, what I hate now is, it happens every four or five months, I'll have a night where - people are sending shots up to me, or after the show people insist on doing some shots. And you just don't keep track of how much you've have to drink. And then the next day not only are you hung over, but also you have that -from this time to this time, from this time to when I woke up this morning in my clothes, I have no idea what happened. Those black out periods. And I recently had a black out period that was fortunately for me, recorded as a podcast.
Doug: Yeah. Where I was, we went to Graham and I went to Baltimore to do Doug Loves Movies. Amy Schumer and Anthony Jeselnik came in on a train and the four of us, it was those three comics and me doing a Doug Loves Movies in Baltimore. Huge crowd. But Graham and I, our plane got there late. So it was one of those things where our plane landed after a long flight, we ran to our hotel rooms and got cleaned up and ran over to the show. We got to the show about an hour late. And we just ran right up on stage and people started sending shots up. And Graham doesn't drink at all. So he didn't have anything to drink. But Anthony and Amy and ,I but I got even more hammered than then because I was on a completely empty stomach We just proceeded to all get crazy, crazy shit faced. So then when I woke up the next day, I only remembered up to a certain point in the podcast. And the rest of the night I have no idea what happened. But I got to listen to the rest of the podcast and hear how ridiculously drunk I was.
Paul: It was bad?
Doug: It was really bad. I think I tacked a little apology onto the beginning of it.
Paul: Were you like slurring your words by the end of it? Or were you just -
Doug: Yeah. I got very repetitive 'cause we were trying to play the Leonard Maltin game and I would just keep recapping what was happening unnecessarily. But amazingly we got through the whole show. I forgot to say the closing line I usually say. But then, I also got to see all these pictures of me taking pictures with fans 'cause they put them on Twitter after the show. I've got one that I kept, where it just looks ridiculous how clearly drunk I am even in the still picture. So that one was a real – I got to watch out for that. And then recently in Portland I did some what they're called, they're called hash oil hits out of a bong. And I don't - I mostly use a vaporizer at home now.
Paul: That's why you looked so stoned in Portland.
Doug: That was a different time in Portland. That wasn't -
Paul: Oh no it was San Francisco that I think I saw you. It was San Francisco or Portland I saw you and your eyes were the tiniest red slits, I think I'd ever seen.
Doug: Well San Francisco is certainly a good town for that.
Paul: So I interrupted. You were doing hash oil hits.
Doug: And I went out and did a podcast in Portland. And the crowd's energy was great and it went really well. But then when I put it on the internet people were like – 'what's wrong with you. You sound so out of it on this new podcast. Like we're used to you being high or drunk or whatever but this was out of control.' And I was like, really? I thought it went great. And I listened to it and the – we always hire different people to do the sound when I do road shows. And in this particular case the audience wasn't miked too great. So like their enthusiasm was kind of taken out of the equation. You couldn't hear how raucous or, at least this is how I remember it, you couldn't hear how raucous and appreciative the crowd was. And then I actually sounded like, that the speed had been slowed down. To a degree where I can't even imitate it on purpose. It was really just like - 'hey.... every.....body....how's.....' It was so crazy. It sounded like I was underwater. Or somebody had messed with the sound or something. And it was just that way for the entire episode.
Paul: But it was just you being really high.
Doug: Being really high. But also like taking the crowd, you know anytime the crowd is really reacting big you can be so small as a comic. You can practically whisper when the crowd is going ape shit for stuff.
Paul: So it sounded like you weren't matching the energy the crowd needed, when in reality it was, it was – but then again it was -
Doug: Everyone that was there was fine with it. Everyone in the audience. No one complained – oh you were too fucked up. But listening to the podcast people were like – what is wrong with you? You sound so.... Like I was on – cause it was around the time that there was a lot of talk about Michael Jackson and Propofal. You know, was Conrad Murray your doctor? Did you just see him right before you went on stage?
Paul: I love by the way and I'm going to do something really hacky which is say something that I've actually said on stage before - But as great as a musician he was he should be in the junkie hall of fame because if you think about it - he went out to score drugs and he came back with the doctor. I mean how fucking awesome is that? If you're a junkie it doesn't get any better than that. You've got the guy living in your house that gets you high.
Doug: Yeah and then the guy's defense was - he did it himself. He took that surgery grade anesthesia that is never in anyone's home for any reason. He got me to have some of that available so that he could then take it without my permission. Without my expressed permission.
Paul: Where is my fault here?
Doug: Yeah, what did I do wrong?
Paul: How often does the thought, if ever, occur to you – I need a break from the drinking or the smoking. Or does it never?
Doug: It never, well that Portland show made me realize that like taking big bong hits of hash oil hits or whatever it was, I've got to know my own zone. I'm just used to - I use a vaporizer at home all the time so that's really nice on the throat. And then when I'm out and about I'll just smoke whatever with whoever. But doing that in the dressing room, also we did a stand up show earlier that night it was a two show night and that guy was back in the green room the entire night getting me and whoever else wanted to high. Which is like, most comedy clubs you know they're either like - could you please go outside and do that, or.... but they don't have a guy, there isn't a guy who's stationed there to get you high unless you're performing in Humbolt or something. Or this one show I do once a year in Oklahoma City where the women who own the - I guess they own the venue? They're involved in someway, have a whole elaborate set up backstage and they're just excited I'm there and want to get my high every time. Which is great and I really have had like, ninety-seven percent of my shows have been good while high or a little drunk. But when that line gets crossed over I recognize it and I'm embarrassed by it and I want to adjust accordingly.
Paul: And are apologies doled out the next day?
Doug: Yeah, yeah I tried to like on Twitter, I kind of said: 'Apologies to everyone at that comedy club in Baltimore' because I knew that when you're black out drunk you're probably not - Like Amy Schumer said at one point she came over to me with a cup of water and tried to hand it to me and I just knocked it out of her hand. And I was like, 'you were pretty drunk too, are you sure I did that?' And she's like, 'Yeah that's exactly what you did.' Ok that's pretty shitty. I mean, but also though kind of funny.
Paul: What are some kind of recurring negative thoughts that you have if any towards yourself?
Doug: Well right before we do this can I just go back, because I think we, I think people think they're listening to a couple of stoners because I started to get into why I started smoking at twenty-eight.
Paul: Oh you did.
Doug: I never really answered it.
Paul: I love that the stoner fucking remembers it more than the - well let's also remember that I smoked for thirty years and did a lot of damage to my brain so there's a lot of resin still in there. So why did you -
Doug: Just living does a lot of damage to your brain. Like I know plenty of people, like you know like Graham Elwoods never smoked weed at all. And when we're sitting around together I remember some things, he remembers some things. Memory's just going to go regardless.
Paul: So, twenty-eight.
Doug: So yeah twenty-eight out on the road, see I didn't become like a non-stop or wake and bake kind of stoner until maybe three or four years after that. When I started at twenty-eight I was just smoking, I was the mooch stoner. The guy that only smoked when he was with people who had it. So there was like, you know there would be chunks of time of varying lengths that I would not be around people who had it. But then like I just eventually became that person that's be like he'd show up, I'd show up at like Brian Posehn's house and be like - 'where's the weed buddy?' And he'd kind of look at me like, 'that's all you ever ask me any more, you know like every time I see you.' Or you know what I mean, the other people that always had it I could start to feel a little resentment. You know? In fact one birthday Tony Camin bought me one of those dugout things that you can put the weed in and then you have that little fake cigarette that you dip in it. He bought me one of those.
Paul: The dugout.
Doug: It's like, here you go, here's that for you.
Paul: So you can buy your own pot.
Doug: There was so pot in there, you know but yeah. And then I eventually started growing -
Paul: So you were twenty-eight at that point?
Doug: Twenty-nine, thirty something like that. But I really did spend a few years being just smoking it when it was around. Which I have a lot of friends that are that way now. That like if I have weed they'll smoke with me.
Paul: Ok. Let's just stop for a second. Maybe I'm crazy here, but somebody that's showing up and their first thought is always 'hey where's the weed' they're running from some feeling. What feeling do you think it is that you were running from, or are still running from that makes it so tempting to want to bend reality a little bit.
Doug: I just think I'm just a fun junkie. You know that, because I sat down with a psychiatrist and had several long sessions while we were making Super High Me to sit down and really try to talk it out because I had certainly never seen any kind of shrink or anything. And then on top of that for it to be specifically about, well let's try to figure out what it is about weed. And the only thing I kept saying to the guy during the thirty days that I was sober and the thirty days that I smoked constantly, the only thing I kept saying was just that, I just think it's fun. It's fun for me to smoke. So when I'd show up at another comedian's house or at a comedy club and tried to find the comic who has the weed and get them to smoke me out, was just like, it was just trying to - I wouldn't show up at a funeral and try to find somebody. You know what I mean? But any other place where fun times are supposed to be had... I think it was my way of sort of self-medicating in terms of, it certainly helps me with an overall anxious feeling.
Paul: Ok, well let's talk about that, that anxious feeling. What, can you talk about that, or describe what that is?
Doug: I think this goes back to my mother being such a, you know being so there for me but also taking care of me too much. Was that I just, she was quite the worrier. She's always worried. To this day, I don't tell her when I'm flying, I just call her when I land.
Paul: Because she will worry about your flight.
Doug: Because she will worry the entire several hours I'm in the air but if she doesn't know yet until I get to the place then I call her up and go 'I made it.'
Paul: Can you give me some snapshots from childhood if you can remember any that kind of exemplify her smothering or her excessive anxiousness?
Doug: Well in terms of smothering I could quite literally get up in the morning, and go into the bathroom for a few minutes and then come back out and my bed would be made. She really -
Paul: Just hovered.
Doug: Took care of me. Yeah, like really, you know she took care of the house. She's like - even now she lives in an apartment by herself but she, it's just very - she's always always cleaning, always making sure everything is in its place.
Paul: Does she ask you a lot of questions about her life that kind of feel invasive?
Doug: Well that's what happened when I was like in high school and college is she wanted to know everything all the time. And I started shutting her out of certain things. I wouldn't just talk to her about my sex life or whatever. But we still remained pretty close, and then when I moved to LA since San Diego is so close I see her five or six times a year and we talk on the phone a lot. Going into adult hood I've been more closed off and like, and also because you meet so many people and so many things happen to you and especially show biz related things I just feel like there's some things I can talk to her about and other things it would just take too long to explain what the hell I'm talking about. Or about, just talking to her about working at the WB it's like I would just give her the highlights because it's just like...
Paul: Look I get it, my mom could be described as smothering certainly at certain points in my life. And I know that feeling of the phone rings and you see it's her number. And you're just, a feeling of dread would come over me and it's not that I don't love my mom, it's just, it's an ordeal. You feel like you're disappointing them on a certain level because you can never give them enough of your life to satisfy them. Did you feel that applies with you and your mom?
Doug: Yeah and both of my parents when I would come to visit and stuff, they - what they want is your presence. They don't necessarily want to have any kind of intense interaction the entire time. Just being nearby is important to them. And that's, fortunately that's something I've grown to understand little bit more so I try to appreciate that. But it was just always weird to me when I would go visit them and they would sort of, go about their business happily because they were just happy I was there but they wouldn't - But then the flipside of that is when they just sit there and question, after question, after question and as a touring stand up comic, the questions aren't that different from my parents as they are from everyone I meet, everywhere I go. And it just, that gets exhausting after awhile. So that's another area that I kind of started shutting my parents out a little bit on, getting into every little detail of what my work is like. You know?
Paul: Do you have any painful memories that jump out when you think back to being a kid or growing up with your parents? Any memories that when it starts to come up you just kind of want to push it back down and go - Oh God, I fucking, that sucked.
Doug: I might have many of them but ones that are, any that are coming to mind right now - I'm not saying they don't exist but I just don't -
Paul: That's not necessarily what I'm asking -
Doug: I think I know what you're saying. I think I know what you're saying.
Paul: Something where you were just like I got to get the fuck away from this 'cause this is just bugging the shit out of me.
Doug: Well, like, my father's favorite criticism to go to when he'd see me do stand up on tv was he's always say 'I don't know why you have to say stuff that's dirty. '
Paul: I think that's pretty standard though.
Doug: Yeah, super standard. And then, but my mom's was always got on my nerves a little bit more because she would always go to the 'why weren't you on more? And why isn't it your show? Why is someone else hosting that thing that you came on and just did a few minutes on.' Those things can eat at you.
Paul: Did you ever get the feeling that your mom, and this is a really fucked up question, but did you ever get the feeling that your mom almost wished that she was married to you more than your dad?
Doug: (laughing) I don't think I ever had that feeling but now that you mention it... no I don't think so.
Paul: Did you get the feeling that your mom paid more, was more interested in your life than your dad's life.
Doug: Yeah. I definitely got that feeling.
Paul: Ok. I think that was maybe the way that I wanted to phrase that. 'Cause I think a lot of, you don't know that there should be a boundary there as a kid intellectually. But you feel it in your gut as something you just kinda want to get away from. Is that, does that apply to you?
Doug: I think that's what I, I think I was happy, I think I stayed with my parents as long as I did, like lived in the same house with them because I was so spoiled and because they sort of left me alone out of a combination of knowing that's the right thing to do but also because they had their own stuff to do. Especially my dad was like, worked quite a bit. But we always had, that's one thing that kind of lead me to eventually having my own podcast all about movies is that's the one thing that always held us together as a family was just that my parents took me to movies from day one and never stopped. And now like Thanksgivings coming up here in a few days and I'm going to go, that's just what we're going to do. I go see my mother in San Diego and we go see a movie. Whatever she wants to see so I have to sit through some horrible stuff sometimes.
Paul: That's so funny that you mention that though because when I go to see my mom there is, nothing feels as soothing as watching, stopping the conversation and watching something on tv so she'll stop talking and asking me questions about myself. So that makes perfect sense to me that movies would kinda become that thing where you're giving your parents what they - aside from the awesomeness of movies which is enough for you to fall in love with movies to begin with. But the icing on that cake, it makes sense to me, is they're get to be around me and I get to have a little boundary for two hours.
Doug: Yeah, well that's where a TV gets a little tricky, watching it in a living room gets a little tricky because sometimes they'll just start asking questions anyway.
Paul: Start piping up.
Doug: But if you're in a movie theater, if they're going to ask anything, it's going to be something like 'who is that?' They're confused about some kind of plot point or something. It's not about me and my successes or short comings. But I just think that the reason I brought movies up at all is just that for the entire time my dad was alive and my mom to this day -
Paul: When did your dad pass a way?
Doug: A few years ago. But we always, that would come up in pretty much every conversation either in person or over the phone. Is like, what have you seen, what do you think of it, what do you think of this, what's going to win the Oscar? That was, that was -
Paul: Are those enjoyable conversations? Or is it along the lines of 'who books your gigs?'
Doug: Yeah well sometimes it gets a little, you know, it's very frustrating when your parents completely don't get a movie that you adore and vice versa. But also like especially with my mom over the years it amazes me sometimes some of the things she likes. Because she really does find stuff of quality. And enjoys it. She recently just went through, because she goes and gets, she rents DVDs from the library, and she recently watched all five seasons of The Wire.
Paul: You're kidding me.
Doug: And apparently understood what was happening. Like 'cause the language on that show -
Paul: Wow. It is the densest -
Doug: I don't know why a seventy year woman would have any idea what was happening.
Paul: Shocking. Shocking to me. That is - first of all one of the greatest series ever made but one of the most dense, like I almost wore out the rewind button on TIVO watching that.
Doug: Yeah 'cause the jargon amongst the street kids with the drugs and the cops. And then when the mayoral campaign and everything.
Paul: So subtle. So subtle.
Doug: Such a smart show. And also violent and also you know scary and sad. And so the fact that she just ate that up, like that's the thing. My parents have both always been into great storytelling and interesting characters and going to the movies. So that's the one thing they gave me that like we've been able to... you know like now every year I get screeners for movies and you're not supposed to share them with anybody, they make a big deal out of it, but it's just like she's my mother. So she's always like every time I go to visit, 'What movies did you bring me?' And I'm like 'what movies are you going to give back right away and not tell anyone that you watched.' Because I don't want to - FBI could come knocking on my door.
Paul: Do you ever feel like, do you ever feel any guilt that you’re not giving, letting your mom in as much of your life as she wants and you're disappointing her on a certain level.
Doug: I think it's impossible for me to let her in as much as she would like to. But I also, I don't think they're that much disappointment from her end because she's never been – This is how much of kind of a worrier she is. She just looks at Los Angeles as like a much more horrifying, much scarier place to live than San Diego. Which is like yeah, San Diego is arguably safer but also has plenty of areas just like LA where it's not safe at all. And in some of the safest neighborhoods in all cities -
Paul: Crazy shit can happen.
Doug: It's dangerous because people can just cruse in and do something fucked up a part of town that's nice.
Paul: Or a rich person can snap and kill his wife and a waiter.
Doug: Yeah, exactly, exactly. So it's like, that's one thing I've tried to get over, is just the idea of thinking of any particular city or place is being more dangerous than another, But my mother has, both my parents just visited me in LA once or twice. It was always on me to go down there and visit them. And my mom lived with my brother, my mom and dad both lived with my brother and his wife up in Seattle for awhile. And they hated it. Because they hated coming from San Diego. They just hate the bleak weather. And also just sort of being stuck, because there was a house out in the middle of the woods. it just wasn't, my dad eventually forced them to move back down to San Diego just 'cause he wasn't happy there. So since my dad died I've been kind of like, 'Mom, why don't you go live with my brother again?' And she's just like, 'I like San Diego. I like living here.' And it's just like, and she never, she's never once brought up to me what the cliche that you would imagine would happen -
Paul: 'What's it like up in Los Angeles?'
Doug: 'And why can't I come live with or near you?' She never, ever, ever brings it up. It's just not something she wants to do at all. And she certainly doesn't expect me to move down and live in San Diego. So I don't think she's disappointed and I think she's happy but It does frustrate sometimes that she's not living near or with me or my brother. 'Cause it's like it's weird to me that she's on her own. But I'm starting to learn from traveling so much and not being in a relationship for awhile that maybe that's something she's passed down to me. I'm pretty comfortable with being alone.
Paul: Is there anything else that you want to talk about before we wrap this up?
Doug: Let's do the fear off.
Paul: Oh ok. You feel like you can Miles Davis some fears?
Doug: I can try, I can try to come up with - I definitely have some fears. I don't know, we'll see how they fit in terms of, if they're too big or too small.
Paul: Hold on one -
Doug: All right, so....anything I have a fear of. I've had a growing concern about car accidents. 'Cause I was in one where someone else was driving and we got hit pretty hard. And the other guy got put into an ambulance and I just stood there and watched. Like I was fine. But ever since then, I don't let anybody that I don't know or that isn't a professional driver drive me anywhere.
Paul: That can't be convenient going on the road being a stand up. Because normally the comedy club sends -
Doug: That's what happened. They sent some kid, it wasn't the kid's fault or anything but it just sort of - Now when I'm on the road we either get a rental car and like Graham drives the rental car a lot. Or, you know, taxis. And In a lot of cities I actually know somebody.
Paul: I have to say in the six months I've been doing the show, maybe the healthiest fear I've heard so far. You know what that may be the closest one to common sense that I've heard yet.
Doug: So just any time I'm out driving I like having the control myself, I love to just drive myself. But any time I'm doing it, I'm very cognizant of just how many other people that are driving that for various reasons have no business driving.
Paul: They could be texting, drunk.
Doug: Drunk or upset about something. Have you ever driven somewhere after a break up or something?
Paul: Yeah you're like I just want to swerve into the oncoming traffic.
Doug: And there's just so many things, and then just typical stupidity or just not, just the surprises that could happen. Like if a squirrel runs out onto the highway and someone hits their breaks too hard. So like, I'm just, I've just become very aware of, it just seems more driving in cars in all cities in this country just feels more dangerous to me than flying or being on a roller coaster or anything like that.
Paul: Is that fear heightened or lessened when you're high?
Doug: It doesn't -
Paul: It doesn't affect you.
Doug: I mean I guess maybe I probably might be a little less anxious if I'm high. That's the great thing about having people drive you around. At least you can get high and sit there and not have the responsibility. 'Cause I think if they do legalize marijuana, I think it should be treated similarly to alcohol. You shouldn't be high when you're driving a car. But anyway that's where that fear sort of came from, is just having an actual incident where I had the same feelings you had had. I always thought it weird to just have somebody, in this case he was just an open miker that the guy asked to give me a ride. And the kid was thrilled to give me a ride. Like he was excited. So he that extra thing to worry about. Being thrilled to be driving around with me in a car. I don't need that. I want confidence. I want a professional driver.
Paul: You don't want somebody who's constantly looking over at their three o'clock with dreamy eyes.
Doug: Yeah, Yeah. I don't want him to want to make out with me. I want him to just get me to the radio station.
Paul: I'm going to read a fear of a listener 'Cause I have spent most of my, I would say about a hundred and fifty fears I've revealed so far on the podcast. This comes from a listener who's name is Sean. And he says “I'm afraid my joints,” not your joints, like joints, “are going to keep getting exponentially worse despite having not done anything to stress them.”
Doug: I – this is probably a big one, I fear for the future of this country.
Paul: That's a big one that I have too.
Doug: Yeah, it doesn't seem, It's seeming like the political process is just a big fat log jam that's not, that doesn't exist to help anyone.
Paul: It seems like there's two parties beholden to corporations pretending that they're both not to varying degrees.
Doug: Yeah. It's like the democrats are a little better at pretending they're not being -
Paul: Beholden to -
Doug: - Beholden to anyone but they are. That's why, there's this new, there's some crazy Democrat in Florida who's trying to get, the occupy wall street has gotten him to come up with a new rule to try to pass as a law that corporations should not be allowed to make political donations of any kind.
Paul: Yeah. I think that would be great.
Doug: That would be fantastic. But that's not going to go anywhere because all the politicians are getting their money from corporations.
Paul: Well you know corporations were created with the, under the presumption that can be treated as people. They should be given the same rights as a person. And somebody had a great sign that said I'll believe corporations are people when Texas executes one. That kind of sums up how I feel about it. If you want to be able to be treated as a person, then you should be have to be punished like a person. Who's turn is it?
Doug: It's your turn.
Paul: I guess it's my turn. Sean says, “I'm afraid I'll never be a father.”
Doug: Oh ok, well I'm afraid I'll be a father.
Paul: Sean says, “I'm afraid if I ever do become a father I'll screw my kids up worse than I am.
Doug: I'm not worried about screwing them up as much as I am just am worried about worrying about them. You know I think that -
Paul: You've inherited your mom's worry.
Doug: That's what I got from my mom I think I'm a worrier and as it is now I can just worry about pretty mundane things instead of a person. I've got another one, you can go next.
Paul: Sean says “I'm afraid I will gradually lose my hearing like my dad and it will do the emotional damage that it did to me to my hypothetical kids.
Doug: Wow he had emotional damage from his father -
Paul: Not being able to hear him.
Doug: Damn. That's pretty heavy.
Paul: What was your fear?
Doug: Oh my next fear would be, it's just a general commitment to a woman fear. That I just don't, I shouldn't say I'm, I'm comfortable with it, but I'm guessing that's why I'm not trying very hard to get into another relationship is because I'm afraid of being in one.
Paul: You're comfortable with your choice of not being in a relationship because the fear underneath it is fear of commitment and responsibility to another person.
Doug: Responsibility and then you know eventual, potentual – potentual! Potential abandonment. I don't like the idea of someone being able to just go 'Hey I don't want to be in this relationship anymore.'
Paul: So it's the fear of you feeling the abandonment or you abandoning them and hurting them feeling the guilt.
Doug: I'm not, sadly, I don't feel that bad about abandoning them because I don't think that I would. I think that's my problem is that once I get into a relationship I kind of dig in and want it to never end. Even if it's bad for me.
Paul: The pain of abandonment, what does, can you describe what that feels like or what you think that would feel like? Or did you experience it in your last two relationships? Was it a feeling of like – abandonment?
Doug: Yeah. It's just weird that that person just decides to not be there for you anymore. And then they always want to give you the 'let's just be friends.' In both cases these girls wanted to continue to hang out with me and all of my friends. And in both cases they did that for awhile, much to my chagrin.
Paul: What was that like?
Doug: I hated it.
Paul: What, can you get more specific? What did it feel like? What did it make you feel?
Doug: It just made me, it makes you feel stupid and embarrassed. Because when that person wants to show up at every party that you go to with your friends and they want to try to like, and you have those stupid arguments with them where you go, 'these are my friends.' And they're like, 'yeah but they're my friends too now. I've grown close to some of these people.' And it's like, yeah but just give me some fucking space. And they don't give you that space. And it's just aggravating and sad and frustrating. And then, eventually they move on anyway. They defend something, they work so hard to try and keep something that they're not going to ultimately want anymore anyway.
Paul: Because they don't value it as much as you did because they were your friends to begin with.
Doug: Yeah and they may still sort of keep in touch with certain people and stuff. But both of these girls have pretty much faded from, I don't run into them anywhere I go to be with my friends.
Paul: Is it fair to say too that part of what makes that sucky is that you feel like they're not respecting any pain you might be feeling at you having been broken up?
Doug: Yeah. No, they should definitely just, if they want, any time you break up with someone who wants to keep going the best thing you could do for that other person is just cut them off cold turkey and not deal with them in any way shape or form. Just get out of their life completely. And that person will kick and scream and beg you to come back into their life and they'll keep reaching out to you, but you’re doing them a huge favor if you just completely drop the hammer. The whole like, 'we should stay friends, or let's stay close, ' that can come about over time. I'm pretty friendly with one of my exes. I don’t see her that often but when I do I'm happy to see her and can talk to her and stuff. The other one that I don't ever see, if I did I think I'd been better now than I would have been for a year or two after it happened. I think I even, I sent an email two or three years after the last break up saying, it's the most fucked up stupid thing to send to somebody, I just sent her an email just saying I'm never going to get over you. She had completely moved on, new boyfriend, I think now they've maybe even had kids and stuff. But at that point I just really needed to say that because I really thought it was unfair the way she left me but the way she left me was just how people leave people. They just move on.
Paul: Was there any particular details to the circumstances that you thought were especially painful or cruel that made you say that?
Doug: I think it's just that I just got so hurt by it so badly that I just clung to the idea that I'm not going to be able to have what I had with her with anybody else ever again. Just because I won't be able to trust somebody enough to get in that deep. But then with some time passing I'm like, oh yeah she probably, I can see why she didn't want to be with me anymore and I don't blame her. And right now I don't want to be with her.
Paul: What were the reasons that you think that you could see her point of view?
Doug: Just that, just the things about me that a girlfriend, that when you – she started to lose interest in me when I started holding on too tight. When I started being like -
Paul: Like how?
Doug: You know, probably being more of a parent than a boyfriend to her.
Paul: Because of the age difference or just that's how you are.
Doug: Both. I think both. But mostly that's just how I am. You know, like a lot of like - one of the last arguments we had before we broke up, cause I think we broke up in November? One of the last arguments was, I was going out of town and she, I saw what she was going to wear to a Halloween party. And it was too revealing in my opinion as a dad and as a boyfriend. You know so you have that discussion about - I really don't want you dressed up like a total slut at a party I'm not going to be at or at a party I'm at. Either way, I don't think of you that way and I don't want others to think of you that way. Even though she's a beautiful young girl she should enjoy it while she can. So now I feel shitty for even saying anything but it's one of those things where at the time you can't stop yourself. You know you can't just sit there, and that's one thing I feel like -
Paul: Feelings don't obey logic.
Doug: No. And that's where I really feel bad for all the dad in the world with their daughters. Because letting your daughter leave the house in a skimpy outfit, that's -
Paul: It's got to be frightening.
Doug: That's not a good day.
Paul: Especially because you know what it was like being the guy in the party looking at the girl in the skimpy outfit.
Doug: Yeah how great that is.
Paul: And thinking to yourself, I don't want a long term relationship with her, I just want to get those clothes off. Or maybe yeah I want a long term relationship -
Doug: I think I want a long term relationship.
Paul: I think I want a long term relationship but in the mean time I just want to get those clothes off. I'm going to do and say whatever I can to do that. I think that's probably scary. Whose turn is it?
Doug: I think it's yours. Or Sean's. Sean's got a long list.
Paul: Oh he does, he does. Yeah I get some people sending me like sixty, sixty fears. Sean says: “All my guidance counselors in middle school and high school were right and I'll never make it to a four year university.” I guess he's a young guy.
Doug: I don't like that part about everybody was right. Like I didn't make it into a four year university but I also didn't encounter too many people along the way that would say, You're not going to make it. My grades weren't that great in high school which was weird because I loved to read and I loved learning. And I was super into the drama department and journalism and debate, all that stuff and did fairly well in all that stuff. But just sitting in a classroom and learning Geography or History or whatever? Math? I had no patience for it whatsoever. So Sean must be pretty young if this is a current fear for Sean.
Paul: I think so.
Doug: You know, there's a lot of people Sean saying on TV now that the college system is not working as it should. And just because you have a college degree does not make your life any easier in many cases. And in a lot of cases these days colleges are training everybody - you could become a teacher. They're not teaching you what you need to know about computers to get rich and succeed in this world today.
Paul: I've got a theater degree. That's, that basically means I spent forty thousand dollars to have to fill out an extra line on a resume.
Doug: And the life time of debt that you get thrown into by going to a proper school in this country is also incredibly not fair. So – so I'll put a new fear in your head. Be afraid of all the debt you're going to have for having gone to college.
Paul: So your fear.
Doug: I think I'm hitting the bottom of my fear barrel.
Paul: Is it always a little maltier at the bottom of your fear barrel?
Doug: Yeah. It doesn't taste as good but you still finish it.
Paul: And it always reminds you that it's October.
Doug: Yeah, I'm afraid that the seasons will, that climate change will create no seasons what so ever and we won't know exactly when a good time is to break out pumpkin flavored things.
Paul: On that note, that's a perfect one to end on. Doug thank you so much for coming by.
Doug: Thanks for getting me in touch with some of my fears.
Paul: Absolutely. You're always, should you discover more of them, should you discover another layer of the Octoberfest fear lager, you're always welcome to come back and talk about some stuff. I've gotten a couple of emails from people who would like to hear some repeat guests. So put that in the back of your head. But in the meantime, thanks for coming on and congratulations on all the success with all the stuff you're doing.
Doug: Thanks dude.
Paul: It's really cool, it's really cool.
Doug: We'll have you over on Doug Loves Movies soon.
Paul: I look forward to it. Thanks.
Paul: I've got a couple of things before I send you off, a couple of things I wanted to say. Remind you that there are a couple of different ways you can support the show financially. You can support it by giving us a donation through paypal. You can use our search link to buy stuff at Amazon. Amazon gives us a couple of nickels, doesn't cost you anything. You can support us non financially by going to Itunes and giving us a good rating. That really really helps because that boosts our ranking and that brings more people to the show. You can buy a t-shirt. We have Mental Illness Happy Hour t-shirts for sale. All of that is available at the website mentalpod.com. Well seeing as it's Thanksgiving I thought I'd be remiss if I didn't list some things that I'm thankful for. I'm thankful for Stig Greve who runs the website. Martin Willis who helped me launch it. Michael and John who help keeping the spammers out of the forum. My wife Carla for always giving me great feedback. All of my past guests, my future guests and whatever energy in the universe it was that gave me the idea for this show. Because on days when I'm feeling like a piece of shit and I have no worth, something about doing this gives me a sense of purpose. Makes me feel less alone, makes me feel less broken and makes it worth getting up out of bed. And finally, I want to say that I'm grateful for something that a lot of people will never admit that they're grateful for. And that's Rob Lowe's sax solo from St Elmo's Fire. Anybody who saw that was changed on a molecular level. We'll never be able to look at the saxophone the same. We'll never be able to look at anybody dressed in a ridiculous amount of doo-dads and be the same. When he raised his fist at the end of the solo and declared 'let's rock and roll,' we knew we were powerless. We had no choice but to rock and roll. So if you're out there, I don't want to end the show on sarcasm, if you're out there seriously and you're feeling stuck and broken and alone and like there is no hope, there is hope. You are not alone. It's around the corner, it just takes a little bit of effort, and it never comes on the time schedule that we want it too. But if we keep working towards it, it will come. So thanks for listening and happy Thanksgiving.