The following was originally published in the Jan. 25, 2024 print issue:
Do most people, when interviewed, write their own introduction to said interview? Well, Christine [editor of the Brooklyn Star and co-host of Don’t Mind If I Don’t] asked me to, so here I am, introducing you to your introduction to our team and my silly little venture outside of my comfort zone. I believe it was Rosa Parks who said, “This feels weird.” And, boy, does that sentiment still ring true today. But these are odd times, as the world continues to descend into about 14 types of madness, so what the hell? If there’s one thing I’ve learned through doing Don’t Mind If I Don’t, it’s that understanding often breeds interest. In our first episode, we tackled the most annoying instrument I have ever heard in the almighty bagpipe. What started as a fun way for me to rag on things I’m irritated by grew into an appreciation and, dare I say, respect for the noble honkbags. And with Burns Night [Jan. 25th Scottish holiday celebrating poet Robert Burns, during which there are lots of bagpipes piping] upon us, it feels right to reflect on all the growth we’ve had through doing this project. After all, I believe it was Robert Burns himself who said, “Stop misquoting people. You already did this bit in the intro already.”
Don’t Mind If I Don’t began as a podcast that ran four years. Last year, two people I greatly admire approached me about making it a TV show, which we could shoot at Manhattan Neighborhood Network and in the wilds of New York City. And speaking of people I admire, please enjoy getting to know the crew of Don’t Mind If I Don’t: me, creator/host Aaron Gold of Bed-Stuyvesant; director Thomas Dunn of Crown Heights; co-host/art director Christine Stoddard of Bed-Stuy (and, full disclosure, community editor of this newspaper); director of photography/editor Jacob Maximillian Baron, formerly of Crown Heights but now of Harlem (traitor); co-producer/production manager Nate Brown of Park Slope; and line producer Bridget Dennin of Bay Ridge.
As editor of the paper, Christine drafted all answers of the questions, dumped them in a Google Doc, and demanded that the rest of the team answer them. They mostly complied. Sometimes Christine answered her own questions because she’s weird.
I know this is painful, but I’m a sadist: What’s your one-sentence pitch for what this show is?
Aaron: Fans and experts of things I don’t like convince me why I am wrong.
Tom: It’s a show about using comedy to learn to (maybe) like something you once hated.
Jake: Aaron dislikes things for dumb reasons, experts like things for smart reasons, who will win?!
Nate: Aaron has a lot of things he doesn’t like, but he’s ready to learn about them from experts and enthusiasts who actually do like the things.
Um, why are you (we???) making this TV show?
Aaron: One part entertaining others through expanding my horizons, and one part this is the only way I would probably try these things so might as well make my pain the audience’s gain and pass the savings on to you!
Tom: Petty hatred and frustrations are the source of all good comedy. Using your knee-jerk jokes as a way to hate something a little bit less is just plain fun.
Christine: Aaron is my boyfriend and I felt like supporting his dreams and [insert more sappy stuff here.] Plus, I like being on camera and designing things.
Jake: Christine is my friend and Aaron is her boyfriend and I felt like supporting his dreams and [insert more sappy stuff here]. Plus I get to play with shiny film equipment.
Nate: Aaron’s such a people person, but there’s a lot of things that he doesn’t like. And in learning to understand why a person likes a thing, it’s an attempt to understand people that we don’t always agree with. Being able to learn and grow, and change your thoughts about something is one of the biggest things we can do as humans. Also, [insert sappy stuff here].
What was your favorite part of making the first episode on bagpipes?
Aaron: Actually playing the bagpipes was pretty fun! I didn’t expect to enjoy that, but hey, that’s the name of the game, right? Also, jumping through the paper at the beginning. What can I say? I like to make an entrance.
Tom: Having two pipists in our studio, holding their ears while the other one readied their bagpipes for the exhibition. They love their instruments, and the culture around them, but they acknowledge that they are still LOUD.
Christine: Our guests were such a delight! And I could ask them whatever I wanted—good news for a journalist.
Jake: The interview subjects were just really fun people behind-the-scenes and the set had a great vibe that day, despite the chaos of a first shoot.
Bridget: I personally loved learning the history of the bagpipes. As someone who went to school for music and has a family that is very proud of their celtic heritage; it was interesting to hear our guests talk about the musicology of the bagpipes.
Nate: I didn’t help with it, but I watched it! You could tell the enthusiasm that guests had for what they were trying to teach about it.
How is the experience of watching the TV show different from listening to the podcast?
Aaron: Hoo boy. Well, for starters, the editing is a lot more intensive. You can get away with a lot more rambling and pausing in the podcast format. Also, finding ways to keep interviews funny and lively can sometimes be a challenge, but Jake and the rest of the team do a great job finding visual jokes to plug in.
Tom: Podcasting is a much more forgiving medium. You can ramble, make faces, reference research notes…you can pretty much do anything and it will be condoned. Not so much with TV. There is a greater expectation to be entertained and you will be judged on your preparedness.
Jake: I don’t listen to podcasts other than having helped edit one about the sex lives of middle-aged divorcées, so I’m going to defer to the others on this one. Shoutout to “Women on the Remake,” though. I learned far too much.
Nate: The medium is the biggest difference for me. Podcasts are such a low-participation form of media. You can be doing anything else while listening to one. They can go on for hours, and it’s just people having a conversation. But TV is a visual medium. You have to be able to answer the question, “Why does this need to be seen and not just heard?” What about it makes it visually interesting? So it’s up to the producers and directors to figure out how to make that conversation at least a little visually dynamic.
What are your hopes and dreams and unicorn fliffy-fluffs for this show?
Aaron: A budget would be nice. One that doesn’t come from my bank account. Aside from that, I’d love to be on a streaming service with a regular production schedule. This stuff takes a lot of time and effort and getting paid to do it all would go down oh so smoothly.
Tom: There are so many things we all don’t like in this world and comedy is still the best way to talk about it without making people feel like they have to eat their vegetables at family dinner. I think it would be interesting to have guest costars with our hosts, so we could learn the petty hatreds of our favorite celebrities, athletes, politicians, etc…
Jake: This is the kind of show that I feel like has the potential to get bigger and more creative with each shoot, especially considering how creative and collaborative the whole team is. Oh, and getting paid more than Taco Bell and free office coffee would be a lovely bonus, but then again, I’d just be using the money on Taco Bell anyway.
Nate: I absolutely want to see Aaron out in the field doing Billy On the Street-style interviews with regular people, to see if he’s alone in his hatred of a specific topic, or if he’s a part of the general consensus. And maybe even a street segment after he’s learned about the subject, so maybe he can go do things like teach the world about how okay bagpipes are!
Do you believe in life after love?
Aaron: Yes, of course! I think getting your heart broken is a great way to shatter a lot of the illusions of a relationship and help crystallize what you actually like and don’t like in reality. I know that’s not a joke but I take Cher lyrics very seriously.
Tom: Very much so. Why just the other day someone ate the last half-sour pickle in the fridge. I still can’t bring myself to talk about it. My wife tells me I am brave to put my feelings out there like this, being so open.
Jake: My heart knows only hate.
Nate: Only if I could turn back time.
And now, dear readers, go watch the first episode of Don’t Mind If I Don’t on YouTube. The channel handle is @dontmindtheshow. So, that’s: youtube.com/@dontmindtheshow. You can do it! We believe in you!