Analyze Phish is a weird convergence of two wildly different worlds: podcast comedy shows and music, specifically the band Phish.
For the past four years or so, I’ve listened to an assortment of podcasts that formed an interconnected web of shifting guests and hosts: Never Not Funny, The Pod F. Tompkast and Comedy Bang Bang, to name three.1 They tend to center around the “alternative” comedy scene in Los Angeles, so they all draw on a common pool of very funny people who are good at talking and being funny while doing so. They are, in short, a hoot.
But seeing as they live and breathe the business of show in Los Angeles and Hollywood, it’s no surprise there’s not a lot of mental overlap outside the arena of being able to make me laugh. So it was really weird when the host of Comedy Bang Bang, Scott Aukerman, and one of his frequent guests, Harris Wittels, started a periodic series called Analyze Phish, in which Harris tries to convince Scott to like Phish.
I’m no Phish super-fan or student of music, but I like the way their music sounds. It was my second jam band, after Strangefolk. Music in general has been something I listen to in my lone time, so it’s a personal, “inside of my head” experience for the most part. So it’s really weird to listen to Scott and Harris listen to tracks, usually fractions thereof because Scott cannot be swayed, and try to be funny as Scott knocks ’em down and Harris tries to find something else that will catch his taste.
The personal part comes up when it’s a song I really like. Hackles don’t go up or anything, but when Scott got down on Limb by Limb in episode 2, a perfectly peppy, inoffensive thing, I felt a tad deflated. “But I really like that one.” And, of course, that’s all right, because I still like the song and I can listen to it enjoyment unbesmirched.
I feel worse for Harris, assuming it’s not all just a giant bit. He sounded deep in the dumps by the end of the second episode in the face of Scott’s remorseless disinterest. For the next episode, Harris promised to bring out the jams. I am highly skeptical of anyone in that studio sitting through a fifteen minute jam.
1 Still others include The 40 Year Old Boy, Doug Loves Movies, The Smartest Man in the World and WTF.