If you don’t already know Duncan Trussell from his work as a stand-up comic, voice actor for characters like Ron James in “Adventure Time” or his regular appearances on “Drunk History,” you need to at least get to know him for his stellar performance as the host of the “Duncan Trussell Family Hour Podcast,” or “DTFH.”
What makes this podcast so particularly spectacular? Well, like “Drunk History,” where people sit down with the host, get drunk and recount influential turning points in history, you are partaking in something both educational and hilariously witty. You’re not only getting entertainment; you’re also hearing thoughtful words of wisdom in a way that our generation is capable of digesting and retaining, given our trained attention spans from media like “SpongeBob SquarePants.”
Every week, Trussell sits down with a guest, and the two just have a conversation. It’s as easy as that. These conversations can take any turn, whether it be discussing narcissism, special forms of meditation or what it’s like to grow up on a commune, but what makes them so special is our host’s brain. There is no other way to talk about him and his show without simply diving right in, with a heaping spoonful of examples of the types of conversations he and his guests embark on, so let’s begin.
First of all, it is always improvisational. Trussell opens his shows in a number of ways; some days, he opens with a rambling monologue, begging you to lend your ears to some otherworldly being he has created in his imagination, convincing you of its existence and its power to suck the life out of your body should you not grant it your full attention. Other days, he is more vulnerable and communicates what has been happening in his life at the moment, never shying away from uncomfortable topics, such as his first steps in polyamorous relationships or the death of a family member.
It is all so pure and unfiltered that his podcast is a breath of fresh air from the highly-edited media that we consume on a daily basis. He gives us the gift of his individual brain, without embarrassment, and it makes the listener feel like a trusted member of his world, given his deep responses to the subjects that happen to arise. The level of trust he provides us with is what allows his podcast to take the turns that it does.
The episodes often become very spiritually-oriented; listening can almost bring you into a state of meditation, as he and his guests share what beautiful knowledge they have stumbled in on their trek through personal discovery. It often enables the listener to truly hear things — things they have been told and understood to be true so regularly in life — and find, for the first time, that they can actually comprehend the results, and consider applying them to their own lives.
For example, there is a very touching episode about parenting with guest and noted comedian, Jay Larson. The two get into such a grand discussion that is not only inspiring and informative, but it’s also able to touch the minds of its viewers and provide advice that can be easily digested and understood, because it is done in such a comical and lighthearted way. It makes you want to take care of anything, just to be able to put into practice what you have just had the pleasurable opportunity to listen to: the sort of conversations that are usually held privately.
Of course, there is an element of comedy that supports every discussion that comes up. And not in a self-deprecating, malicious way; it simply allows us to hear that nothing in this world has been (or is going to be) easy. Everyone is going to fall up the stairs toward their goals, and it isn’t worth it to take those things too seriously.
But there are also times when the show is totally based around comedic situations. Johnny Pemberton, an astounding comedian and close friend of Trussell, is taken on a journey of living hell, as Trussell explains that he’s been under house arrest in the hopes that an AT&T cable person will finally come to install a cable. For three days, the company had been continuously promising they would come to his house during an allotted window of time, and the two comedians pass the time by unravelling whatever crazy stunts have been pulled on the cable person that is making them so late for work.
The episode isn’t made any less explosively funny with the inclusion of an hourlong, unedited phone call the two made to AT&T. The issue is finally resolved and, to celebrate their rewarded exhaustion, they end the call as prank characters to refuel their empty souls.
And let’s not forget the commercials that Trussell performs himself, advertising companies such as Casper, the mattress he promises has the perfect bounce and support for “such ultimate love making” that you are guaranteed to spawn the next Messiah, or Squarespace, the perfect opportunity to hold ultimate power over your evil father by owning a web domain under his name. All of the products that are advertised on the “DTFH” are products that Trussell fully supports himself, which is another reason he is such an honest and lovable host.
So if you have a long drive this summer, and you are looking to expand your mind and cackle like old friends with a group of geniuses you have never met, look no further than the “Duncan Trussell Family Hour Podcast.” Learn something that you can take with you as you navigate future relationships or careers. Get out of your gray bubble of frustration and just … listen. There is no doubt in my mind that you will not be thoroughly entertained.