December 1, 2023

Gareth Reynolds and Jake Johnson went from acquaintances to associates at a dive bar within the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles.

As they celebrated after performing in an improv present, Johnson, an actor finest recognized for his position within the sitcom “New Woman,” turned to Reynolds, a comic and a bunch of the comedy-history podcast “The Dollop,” and for no specific purpose requested: “What do you assume? Ought to we pour these beers on our personal heads?”

With out lacking a beat, Reynolds held his beer over his head, and Johnson did the identical. Then, Johnson stated, “we smiled at one another, and doused ourselves with beer.”

It cemented their friendship. “Gareth and I each deeply consider within the bit,” Johnson stated.

So it made sense that when Johnson and Reynolds, who wrote for “Arrested Growth,” started to work collectively on an recommendation podcast, it was not in-depth interviews, bantering and even earnest counsel that appealed to them.

“Different individuals are doing that higher,” Johnson stated.

As a substitute, their twice-weekly present, “We’re Right here to Assist,” presents callers the type of recommendation they could get from good associates at a bar or on a hike — if these associates have been skilled improv comedians deeply dedicated to discovering an answer.

Typically, the recommendation is to drag a prank or lean right into a foolish scenario, and generally it’s extra easy. As with “The Dollop,” Reynolds stated the present was fast and “off the cuff,” not sticking with one construction or matter for too lengthy.

The hosts needed to focus on the absurd conditions individuals face day after day. “I believe random individuals are funnier than anyone else,” Johnson stated. Studying over the issues listeners write in about, he stated, “I can’t consider, through the emails, what is going on in human beings’ lives.”

The hosts by no means select subjects meant extra for a therapist’s workplace, they usually ensure that to ask callers what they consider the steerage on provide, attempting to not assume their reply is the fitting one.

“One of many issues concerning the podcast world that doesn’t entice me is everyone’s actually good and actually honest,” Johnson stated. “All people’s educating you what it is best to do at 6 a.m. to 7 a.m., and the best way to stay your finest life, and the way it is best to put your pants on, and the way it is best to brush your tooth: You’ve been doing it fallacious.”

Reynolds interjected: “It is best to put your pants on, Jake,” at which level Johnson lifted a knee to indicate that, the truth is, he was not sporting pants. (He was sporting shorts.)

Their purpose was to supply, with out the involvement of a studio, a lighthearted and freewheeling present that helped listeners. The present debuted in August and “exploded out of the gate,” Johnson stated. “We’re Right here to Assist,” which has been downloaded 1.7 million instances, has been ranked among the many Prime 5 podcasts on Spotify and was the second hottest comedy podcast amongst U.S. listeners on Apple.

Listeners name in about quirky conundrums, like what to do when your 10-month-old’s day care imposes a uniform requirement with khakis (reply: gown him up like a Goal worker with a tiny pockets), or whether or not it was a mistake to have purchased your boss tickets to an ostrich ranch for his birthday (verdict: sure; don’t do this once more).

The present’s producer, Kevin Bartelt, helps the hosts weed by means of the submissions to seek out ones with the fitting tone.

“We just like the calls the place there’s not actual peril, however it’s important,” Reynolds stated.

Mates and actors, together with Zooey Deschanel and different members of the “New Woman” solid, generally take part.

For a couple of calls, Johnson and Reynolds invited this considerably nervous reporter to hear and chime in on conditions together with: what to do when your husband stretches bare every morning (possibly give him a gown as a present, the hosts stated), and the best way to confront a co-worker in a veterinarian’s workplace about her “plumber’s crack” (maybe a brand new set of scrubs).

With many episodes, it’s anybody’s guess what is going to occur.

As an illustration, there was the time an American man pretended to be Johnson in Edinburgh.

In September, Johnson obtained an Instagram message from a fan thanking him for the recommendation he had given her in Edinburgh. Johnson was confused; he had not been to Edinburgh just lately. After which she despatched a selfie of her with a person who shared a few of Johnson’s options.

It turned out that the person had impersonated Johnson over the course of an evening of ingesting with the lady and a few of her associates, sharing recollections from the set of “New Woman” and even some recommendation for his or her love lives.

Johnson’s “instant intuition was, we must always have this man on,” Reynolds stated.

The hosts tracked down Johnson’s doppelgänger — a poetry-writing extrovert whom they dubbed “Faux Jake” — by means of an erectile-dysfunction drugmaker owned by a buddy who was with him that evening in Edinburgh, and requested him to return on the present to elucidate himself. He performed alongside, and even learn a few of his poetry. (The buddy’s drug firm is now a “We’re Right here to Assist” advertiser.)

“In what world is that this actual life?” Johnson stated, laughing. “To me, there’s nothing funnier. It looks like it is a bit, on a bit, on a bit.”

Simply because the present is lighthearted doesn’t imply the hosts don’t get invested. For the reason that podcast began, they’ve adopted up with some callers a number of instances to see how the recommendation is enjoying out, evaluating themselves to embarrassing mother and father.

“Fifty p.c of our calls, we’ll be like, ‘Tell us the way it goes! Both means!” Reynolds stated. “They’re type of like, ‘Perhaps I’ll name again. I don’t know, it’s getting just a little bizarre, guys.’”

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