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Spud Goodman remains a basement weirdo

30 Years of Pepto Bismol and Apathy

Spud Goodman flanked by Chick Hunter, left, and Uncle Steve. photo courtesy of Spud Goodman

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When I brought it up to Spud Goodman that his talk show has existed, in one way or another, for almost 30 years, he seemed genuinely shocked. In February of 1985, The Spud Goodman Show premiered on local public access television.

"Gosh, I'm not joking, here, but nobody's ever said a word, and it never even crossed my mind," says Goodman. "I don't really think in those terms. Wow!"

During my conversation with Spud Goodman, he took a moment to say that he was unclear whether he was doing this interview in character or not, and to explain that that's why he was so scatterbrained.

To get everybody not in the know onboard, Spud Goodman is a "television host" who got his start in Tacoma, on public access in the mid-'80s. His gimmick, such as there was one, was that he was a complete dick to every person he interviewed. Armed with a bottle of Pepto Bismol, a spatula and shades, Goodman was an early incarnation of aloof hipsterism. Even though he garnered fans (whose call-in responses he would decidedly hang up on) and big guests, Goodman always remained perpetually cranky and too cool for school.

"The character that I wanted to play had no interest in discourse with the guests, or really anything, to have no affect, " says Goodman. "It's interesting to look back at the early tapes, because it was pretty extreme. I was as disengaged as a host could possibly be, but still conveying some sort of narrative. I modified that, as years went on, but the start of the show was me having no interest in continuing the model of what talk shows are. ... The character I wanted to do was not real likable. To this day, he's probably not the most personable person."

To be clear, I know Spud Goodman's real name, but to reveal it seems counter-intuitive to what he's been working so hard to establish all of these years. If a cursory Google search doesn't reveal it, then it's a secret well kept.

In the past year, Spud Goodman took his show, in all its complicated mythology and public access sensibility to podcasting. Finding his home on the Northwest Convergence Zone - a local hub of Internet radio and podcasting - Goodman reinstated The Spud Goodman Show, complete with its cavalcade of usual suspects (buddy Chick Hunter and Uncle Steve included) and celebrity interviews.

I had the opportunity to sit in on a live recording of The Spud Goodman Show, which so happened to feature an interview with Richard Lewis and a performance by Gold Records, not to mention an interview with the fellow from Red Green, which feels like a kindred spirit to The Spud Goodman Show. Surprisingly, Goodman tells me, he hadn't watched an episode of the Red Green show prior to doing research for that interview.

"A year or so after, Wayne's World came out, and people were thinking that maybe we had borrowed from that," says Goodman. "We actually were in a basement, and then we found ourselves at the Eagles Club. It was a very cool space. And we stayed there until the channel went off the air. ... My lead in, when we first started, was the reverend Jim Baker and Tammy. I was happy as hell. But the reason why I went up to Seattle is that the channel went off the air. There was no outlet in Tacoma, whatsoever."

This past week, I sat in on a live broadcasting of the new Spud Goodman podcast on the NWCZ network. What I was met with was an intimidatingly produced hour of theater of the mind. Spud and his collaborators put far more effort into their projects than is evident in the majority of chat-show podcasts that dominate the scene. Mostly, I was struck by the hardcore efficiency that pops up in producing this live entertainment - a trick learned by Spud in his days as a live television performer, and honed through years of semi-obscurity.

Spud Goodman is a local figure, but he also reflects thousands of public access weirdos. The trick is that he's our weirdo. And, although he doesn't realize it, he's coming up on an anniversary. No one can ever run out of Pepto, hint hint.

Listen to The Spud Goodman Show at 7 p.m. every Thursday on

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