Listening to this week’s episode of Jordan, Jesse GO! with guest Martin Starr, I’m reminded of how hard it is to deconstruct the podcast. It’s not improv. improv4humans is improve. There someone tells a story, then the guests on the show create a scene using elements from what has been said. But JJGO! has echoes of the form. It’s all about tangents. The conversation focuses on what’s going on in the lives of the hosts or guests, and then Jordan, Jesse, or the guest takes an element of that and runs with it. There’s no formal structure.
Jordan and Jesse joke about how difficult it is to describe their show. The most recent episode opens with them trying to do just that for new listeners. They struggle pinning it down, though, and the discussion quickly devolves into a running joke about Lifetime channel favorite Designing Women. They can’t help themselves.
A perfect example of the show’s ability to meander comes early in the latest installment when Jesse recalls a strange thrift-store discovery. Take out all of the asides and Jesse’s story is uncomplicated: “You remember that weird children’s book I found? I saw another one at the same store. It’s called ‘Jerry Seinfeld Halloween.’ Now I like Jerry Seinfeld, but the cover art was so off-putting I couldn’t open it.”
Outside of JJGO!, this story is useless, but, in the context of the show, a stunning amount of comedy is mined out of it. They cover a man having sex with television star and helicopter Airwolf, Jay Leno’s pretend happiness vs. George Clooney’s genuine happiness, which Amy is Amy Adams, Jerry Seinfeld’s comic book knowledge, lessons from The Evil Dead, and Colin Quinn’s excellence.
Without all of the diversions, that delightful fifteen-minute conversation would have been four sentences about a children’s book from 2002. That’s the joy of JJGo!, though. Most episodes are not married to premises or segments. They also know when to rein it in. Later in the episode, Martin Starr tells a story about being in an S&M club, and the deviations are shorter and rarer because the source material is more compelling.
I love that in this episode Jesse again uses his deep knowledge of hip hop to inform Jordan and the audience. I’d bet the Venn Diagram of the JJGO! audience and WorldStarHipHop.com readers is likely to be rather slim. And Jesse relishes the opportunities to explain this music. Here it happens with the Lil Wayne documentary The Carter. Jesse and Starr make great observations about one of rap’s biggest and most outwardly unpredictable stars. We hear about Wayne’s constant imbibing of codeine cough syrup and the terrifying figure that is Cash Money Records founder Bryan “Birman” Williams.
Hip hop fan or no, JJGO! rewards listeners with a vast collection of disparate knowledge. The episode is also chock full of other references, too—some so deep that they blew by me. Did you know what The Voyage of The Mimi was? Because I sure as hell didn’t. But this show traffics in obscure references and Starr’s presence only enhances the mayhem. He is low energy and not nearly as prone to rambling as his hosts, but his sensibility fits perfectly. Starr has no problem keeping up with the rapid-fire banter of Jordan and Jesse. There are no major events that will likely be brought up again in later episodes, but this week’s Jordan, Jesse GO! is a real crowd pleaser.