Podcast Episode 15-2: Firsts! (Annotated)
Hi, I’m Craig The Intern, and they make me transcribe these every week. Everything’s going great so far! I still don’t understand how to number these, so let’s call this one the second episode 15. And there are four people talking on it. Anyway, it’s about first things. Which usually come first, so I’m told.
The Guests: Matt Bennett and Brenda Song
Mack can see the monitor now, so he is going to abuse that privilege and yell as loudly as possible. This week’s theme is “firsts,” and here to discuss such things are Matt Bennett and Brenda Song, both of whom grew up in the acting business. Matt (Cohen) first met Matt (Bennett) at Comic-Con, and they bonded over Point Break at Cinefamily. I’m going to have to go with surnames here with two Matts.
Brenda and Mack first met on the set of Dads (they love talented painter Martin Mull, whom Mack describes as Norman Rockwell meets the apocalypse), but now they’re costars in Changeland, that Seth Green movie which we are going to talk about a lot. Brenda was initially put off by Mack because he had a man-bun, but in his defense, he thought he had invented it. Everyone discusses neologisms they try to make happen, like “sascrotch” and “fanchapstick.”
Mack and Brenda discuss the compound they stayed in for Changeland, and how the bungalows were like an amusement park where everyone felt like spoiled brats. Cohen came to visit, and immediately cracked the case of how one of the couches actually pulled out into a big bed, which nobody had figured out. On the other hand, he couldn’t figure out sliding doors, and thought he was trapped in a hotel room for 14 hours. Thailand taught Brenda how to play gin rummy and how to drink.
The first “first” topic is first acting role they ever booked. Cohen kicks things off by saying nothing, ever, though he does cop to Jay and Silent Bob’s Super Groovy Cartoon Movie. Mack mentions the off-Broadway play After-School Special, and the good reviews there led to the rest being history. Bennett tosses out a bunch of his credits too fast for me to make out all of them or which one is first, but he does say he wants to be the next Eric Bogosian. First paying gig was a commercial for MTV: a PSA called “Be the Voice.” Brenda’s first commercial at age 5 was for Little Caesar’s, and she got to meet the Caesar puppet! Being able to read at age 4 was what sealed the deal. Whereas Mack got the Uncle Buck part by going between John Candy’s legs. Wait, what?
Cohen asks everyone who their idols were when they were young: he wanted to be Zack Morris from the Zack Attack episode of Saved by the Bell. Brenda wanted to be Cindy Crawford coming out of a red Lamborghini, and wouldn’t take her medicine one time when she was sick unless she could go to modeling school. And that was how she got started in the business. Bennett picks Jason, the Red Power Ranger, whose actual name is Austin St. John, and everyone thinks that sounds porny. Mack’s pick is either Lion-O from ThunderCats or Kermit the Frog. As far as humans, though, he liked Bender in The Breakfast Club.
After everyone says Bennett was the Screech of his TV show, the conversation turns back to porn, as they tend to do, and whether or not Dustin Diamond used a stunt dick.
What was the first grown-up book everyone read that they really connected with? Brenda picks The Diary of Anne Frank (“always too soon”). For Mack it was Catcher in the Rye–required reading that he says hooked him…but he has never actually finished it. Because once he reads the last chapter, he’ll be done with the book. He has, however, read all the rest of it multiple times. Cohen once again gives his logline for the book. Bennett praises There’s a Monster at the End of This Book! as ground-breaking fourth-wall kid lit, but when he was ten he read Fahrenheit 451, and learned not to trust the government. Cohen in second grade did a book report on John Grisham’s The Firm, because he grabbed it off his parent’s shelf for an assignment where he was allowed to do anything. Brenda was so nerdy that when she went to Toys R Us, she’d go to the book section.
First rated-R movie? Brenda says THE Nightmare on Elm Street. Cohen’s first rated R movie was The Good Son, followed by Demolition Man. Bennett was determined to see Detroit Rock City, but his first R movie turned out to be The Matrix, which his mom kept pausing to ask if he understood it. Mack remembers seeing The Exorcist at age 5, knowing instinctively that it was fake. He never was able to completely suspend disbelief until he became an adult and got drunk. Brenda recalls being terrorized by her parents threatening her with Medusa and Misery‘s Annie Wilkes if she was bad. Cohen was disciplined with the threat of boarding school; later, his brother got into college by writing an essay about Matt’s destructive influence on him. You can do that?
Childhood fears in general: Cohen feared highways, because he thought they were high up. He also thought baby showers were actual communal showers. (I hope he never heard anyone say “dickhead” at this formative age.)
There’s a Hello Fresh commercial that Mack and Cohen rock, and probably make go much longer than it needs to with lots of specific examples. I’m sold. Or would be, if they paid me anything.
Mack says he’s not afraid of Joe Pesci. Even though Joe Pesci has literally scarred him for life with a toothmark. But in happier tales of mouths on skin, everyone recalls first kisses, except Cohen, who got his in a Truth or Dare game at camp and he can’t remember who. Brenda’s was on a TV show when she was 16 and also got pied in the face. Bennett’s was a sloppy seconds. Mack’s was in first grade and named Michelle Rodriguez, but not the Fast and Furious one. He was six. His next one was on the set of My Girl, but it wasn’t with the queen bee. That would have hurt.
Stories about being bitten by bunnies are shared. How we got there from bee stings isn’t clear, but creatures whose names begin with “b” may have a propensity to attack. Mack’s wife was permanently scarred by one, as if by a lapine Joe Pesci. Bennett talked about being metaphorically scarred by a bloodhound that emerged from the darkness of a bar’s back room. First pets among this group were mostly fish, but Mack of course was given a hamster named Mike by Lukas Haas. As happens when you’re Mack. Brenda had an iguana. And you can’t discuss first pets without coming up with your porn name. This is how we learn Brenda doesn’t have a middle name. Bennett wants to keep his a secret.
First days of school are discussed next: why they made Brenda barf (not what you think), and the silly hat Mack was forced to wear. Then first CDs, and you’ll never believe which Robert Altman film’s soundtrack Cohen’s was. Bennett bought the Insane Clown Posse’s The Great Milenko based on the fact that they wrestled in WWE, and was shocked when he brought it home to find it had the parental advisory sticker.
Everyone, it seems, was traumatized by being left in cars or stores by their mom. Except, of course, the star of Home Alone, who figured out quickly that mom would have to go through the front door at some point and he could wait there. Lucky for her, he was not waiting with paint cans on strings.
First-time driving stories lead into THE GAME, and this week’s category is Things Associated With Water, Brenda vs. Bennett. “The word water” might just be Brenda’s most triumphant entry. Matt and Matt then try Things Related to Japan, and you’ll see that video on our social feeds soon, so no spoilers here.
Finally, Mack & Matt (Cohen) plea for Kelly Kapowski to appear on the show as a guest, and a few voicemails from the hotline get played. Either that or I aurally hallucinated strange and profane people talking to me from the ether.
4:05-4:48 Attempting to describe the artistic greatness of Martin Mull paintings.
18:48-`9:12 A description of Justin Timberlake in a beauty contest.
38:20-39:33 Matt Bennnett’s surprising childhood fears
44:26 How Joe Pesci literally bit Mack and left a scar.
48:08-28:45 The truth about the bees on the set of My Girl.
1:00:48 Mack’s Myspace top 8
Here’s the Little Caesar’s commercial with five year-old Brenda:
Eric Bogosian is a character actor and solo-performance monologuist, perhaps best known for his play that became an Oliver Stone film, Talk Radio, in which he stars. He’s also the bad guy in Under Siege 2.
This is “Zack Attack.” It is not for the faint-hearted:
And if you want to see Martin Mull’s paintings for yourself, go here.
Contact the Guests!
Image: Flickr/Lenny Valentine