The Modern interviewed me for a story that ran in their October issue. Being interviewed is still a pretty new thing for me, as I’m used to being on the other side, and I have a thousand critiques for myself. Instead of listing them, I’ll just present the story. Maybe I’ll list them later. But I really did enjoy talking with them and love what they’re doing with the magazine. Thank you, The Modern!
The Oct cover
pages 18-19 in The Modern
Adam Carolla’s awesome sidekick gets her own podcast — and it’s an instant hit.
By Ronald Sklar (The Modern, Oct 2012)
Keeping up and matching wits with the entertaining hyper vigilance that is Adam Carolla is not a job suited to just anyone. His daily complainfest (available for free on iTunes) is the most downloaded podcast on the planet, and for good reason: it’s funny, it moves fast and it is never, ever boring. That’s thanks to Carolla’s opinionated brilliance, and his willingness to share personal and professional issues (parents, kids, show business, LA, airports, cuisine) with his devoted following of millions of obsessive, devoted Corolladdicts.
Like the boxer he once was, he’s quick on his feet and thinks fast. Between breaths, though, is where Alison Rosen speaks up. She heads Carolla’s news desk (i.e., reading top stories from an iPad).
Reporting the news to Carolla is akin to poking a big bear with a stick. You are going to get a reaction, and it’s often unpredictable, dangerous, and so angry it’s funny. She also puts her two cents in when needed, going the twelve rounds with Adam and making it look effortless (it’s not).
“It doesn’t feel brand-new anymore,” she says of her day job, which she’s had since January 2011, “but it does still feel like I’m learning. I feel like I am a big part of the show, and I know that listeners have a relationship with me as well, but I always want to be there to help Adam make the show that he wants to make.”
The California native is immediately likable; smart, funny, knowledgeable and personable, and balances Carolla like 60 milligrams of Cymbalta. But is he really the man we hear on our iPhone? Or is he just playing Adam to the tenth power?
“He’s the same guy,” she assures us. “It’s not an artificial version of him. It’s just a more amped- up version of him. [Off the mike], he’s all different percentages of the same dynamic.”
With the immense popularity of The Adam Carolla Show, it would only be a matter of time before Rosen was awarded her own podcast, called Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend (available for free on iTunes). In contrast to Carolla’s show, Rosen’s one-on-one talks with guests get deep fast, sometimes even ditching the funny for the serious (not that it’s not ever seriously funny). The gift Rosen has in spades: getting people to let their guard down and open up, even the most superficial and dark people on earth: comedians. Recent guests, who shed some surprising emotional baggage, included comedians Jeff Dye, Andrew W.K., Bobcat Goldthwait, Marc Maron and Chelsea Peretti (it’s still not too late to hear these joints in the archive). Nothing was off-limits in their chit chat (which was more chat than chit), from parental issues to former lovers.
“I have always been very inquisitive and curious about people,” she says. “My tendency, when I am talking to people, is to draw them out. I worked as a journalist for years and I did interviews. So maybe in the course of that, I’ve honed my technique a little more. But people say I am a good listener. And I tend to remember a lot of details about them.”
Part of what charms the snakes out of the basket is Rosen’s willingness to open up about herself as well, with an unabashed look at her own insecurities and shortcomings, of which she claims there are many (she even features a segment of the show entitled “Is it just me, or everyone?” For example: Do you feel pressure to buy the hair products your hair stylist recommends to you?).
“I’m very open with myself,” she says, “and I’m very honest with the things that I struggle with, vulnerabilities or things that confuse me. Because I am that way, I think that it might encourage the guests to be open about what they are struggling with too. I think people can pretty quickly tell from my tone that I like to talk about deep stuff. I’m not judgmental at all, and I think people feel that.”
The show captures a mood, a vibe that couldn’t be matched on terrestrial radio or talk TV, further proving the solid future and increasing logic of podcasting.
“I really think that podcasts have replaced books for a lot of people,” she says, “in the sense that the ideas that you are listening to really get into your head. It’s almost as if these are your own thoughts that you are having, these ideas that are penetrating your brain — as opposed to watching TV or a movie, where you are experiencing it but it is less intimate. It’s the slow unfolding of an idea. It’s just a slower pace and it is more contemplative.”
Her podcast is striking a chord and growing its audience weekly, and Rosen holds the connection together steadfastly.
She says, “Part of the human condition is feeling alone and feeling like a freak. Everyone walks around feeling insecure, feeling like any exchange they just had didn’t go exactly as planned. They could have been smoother; they could have been funnier. But people are so busy pretending that they don’t feel that way or that they shouldn’t feel that way. So that’s what I do on my podcast: that thing that you do that you feel is just you – no, that is everyone. Whatever kind of freak you are, you are much more normal than you realize.”
A friend indeed.
Subscribe for free to Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend on iTunes, or alisonrosen.com Subscribe for free to The Adam Carolla Podcast on iTunes, or www.adamcarolla.com