If we need to put the experience of this pandemic into a time capsule for future generations to fully understand what happened here, I’d nominate Stay F. Homekins as a fascinating example.
Clearly improv wunderkind + podcast fixture Paul F. Tomkins and his charming, insightful wife, actress Janie Haddad Tomkins must have fallen in love based mainly on their ability to crack each other the hell up. If their pandemic project were simply a window opened on these two cracking wise for an hour a week, I would give it my wholehearted recommendation (sometimes my face hurts from laughing so much), but the layers here are more than meets the eye.
The podcast began as a way for the couple to spend their time trapped at home together. They’ve let us peek inside the very real dynamic of a couple both faced with a LOT of extra facetime while also navigating the very real pitfalls of working on a project together. Their relationship changes and grows right in front of us. Early in the series, there is this sense that Janie is contending with her own voice and sense of self in relation to the success of her husband’s comedy career. Paul seems to start out with clear and established ideas of what “this” is. He’s a boundaried professional and without being condescending, defaults to being the leader. But what is so fascinating and endearing about this project is that over time, they both discover something very unique and special about what it is they make together. Janie reveals real authority in her voice and Paul lets loose his gentle grip and the result is intimate and generous and even life-affirming.
There are some heavier episodes where the two of them let the sadness of the times gush out, not with even a hint of narcissistic self-pity, but instead with intelligence and insight. They use the honesty of their own experience as a way of reaching out to their audience. This podcast truly feels like people trying to do a good thing.
There are occasional BONUS EPISODES that are movie watch-alongs. You can watch proverbial classics at home, such as Urban Cowboy and Interview with the Vampire in time with their commenting. Anyone trapped at home alone is not as alone anymore.
They sometimes hint that their show will end when the podcast ends, but I hope they find a way to keep the show evolving and continue to explore as we return to a more normal life. I bet we will still get lonely and still want to pretend that they are our friends.