Call Seth Romatelli and Jonathan Larroquette on a Friday afternoon and you might find yourself in an unofficial episode of the duo's comedy podcast, Uhh Yeah Dude.
Running since 2006, the show is one of the medium's most enduring, with more than 600 episodes on the books.
During two one-hour episodes a week, Larroquette and Romatelli weigh in on select and sometimes bizarre news items. Together, they explore "America through the eyes of two American Americans." The broad premise allows for topics ranging from football, advice columns, and scientific studies to hip-hop, sobriety, Instagrammable art, and fast-casual restaurants.
It's all fair game, handpicked by Romatelli to maximize comedic effect.
When I call the Los Angeles-based duo — about a week before their Saturday, October 14, show at Crescent Ballroom in downtown Phoenix — they want to talk movies.
Larroquette's between a shift at a secondhand music store and band practice. Romatelli answers on the landline at his East Hollywood apartment, where the two record Uhh Yeah Dude. He's recuperating from a daytime screening of Blade Runner 2049.
"When you make a four-and-a-half-hour movie, it takes a lot of energy to get through it," Romatelli says.
"Is it not good?" Larroquette asks.
"You know," Romatelli says, "I have no idea. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know who’s who. I don’t know what i’m supposed to know. I don’t know what was going on."
Larroquette counters, "Everyone’s saying it’s so good."
"It was so dark," Romatelli says. "I couldn’t see anything. People were doing things. I couldn’t tell who was real, who wasn’t, what was happening, what the allegories — I have no fucking idea. Five hours later, the credits rolled, and I was like, all right ... You’ll have to get back to me on that and tell me what happened."
And we're off. Chatter ensues as to whether the film should be seen in 3-D, IMAX, or neither.
"In other movie news I guess we can quickly touch on, I finally saw It with my dad the other night," Larroquette says. "And, you know, it was good. It’s good. It’s well made. But everyone told me it’s, like, super-terrifying and scary. And it, like, super wasn’t."
"At all?" Romatelli asks.
"Like, at all," Larroquette says. "So is that just like, me being old and like not caring about being killed anymore because I sort of secretly hope it happens? Like, please end this? Fucking, or, is it that the world is so scary and horrifying that the idea of having your face eaten by a clown isn’t as scary as like the things that actually could happen in the theater that we were in? ... I don’t know. It’s good. It’s good. It’s just not scary. And people were telling me, Oh I couldn’t sleep that night. Like, it was terrifying."
Romatelli laughs, "Watch the news if you wanna not sleep."
The conversation is emblematic of the duo’s trademark banter, rolling from topic to topic, straying on tangents, and riffing along the way. Over about 45 minutes, our call touches on Nightmare on Elm Street, why moving in with your significant other might be a mistake, and just how much these two amuse each other — both on the show and off it.
Typically, Romatelli's tightly wound. Larroquette's looser. They pepper personal stories among the news items, relating stories to childhood experiences, pop culture touchstones, and everyday life. The formula has garnered praise from Rolling Stone, Marc Maron, and Splitsider.
The show's often described as two guys simply talking to each other. That's not wrong, but it doesn't get at its heart. There are no guests (with the exception of the occasional parent). But there are recurring themes, inside jokes. There's finesse and nuance. Though it's improvised, the show's definitely produced.
It's what happens in between reviewing the latest USA Today Snapshots and asking incredulous, rhetorical questions like "How's your winter?!" that keeps listeners coming back.
More than 2,000 of them donate around $10,000 a month through the crowdfunding website Patreon to keep the show running and free of advertisements.
Monetization's a relatively recent development in the podcast's 11-year history. The funding has allowed Larroquette and Romatelli to focus on the podcast as their main hustle and up the output from one to two episodes a week.
Which is partly why Romatelli's so confident that the news will keep you up. He's constantly consuming it. Researching for two episodes a week is a full-time gig that requires keeping regular tabs on newspapers, magazines, websites, TV shows, and other assorted media.
"I sort of like to be in the loop, and so I find myself taking in a lot of stuff that I want to, by choice, a lot of stuff that will never go to the show that just takes up time for me," Romatelli says. "But then [there's] having to take in pretty much everything just to sort of have some idea about what it is."
Besides pop culture projects like watching every single new TV pilot, Romatelli aims to keep tabs on pretty much everything in the realm of comedy to stay sharp.
"From someone who takes in a shitload of media and looking at it from the outside, I think the podcast is a pretty unique experience, both comedically but also in terms of what we do together," Romatelli says. "The stuff that we talk about, how we talk about it, I really think it’s unlike anything else."
He curates the news items discussed on Uhh Yeah Dude, and knows when he's stumbled upon something that'll fit the vibe for the show and bring out Larroquette's distinct take.
"That’s where it is for me: When I know he’s gonna say something about this," Romatelli says. "I have no idea what it is, but nine times out of 10 it’s like, fuck, I never would’ve gotten there on my own. We have similar comedic sensibilities. Obviously, we’re pretty much on the same page. But sometimes what we extrapolate out of something is so completely different."
Larroquette says their shared sensibility is what makes things click. "We long ago established that we feel very similarly about things on some sort of ethical plane and also a comedic plane of what we find funny," he says. "And yet our lives are different enough and our interests are different enough that we continue to sort of re-inform one another about different perspectives on the same subject."
Besides upping the show's output, the pair have started performing UYD for a live audience once a month. It's a way to keep fans engaged and involved.
"Seth and I always look at the show in sort of bigger blocks than what people are dealing with on a week-to-week basis," Larroquette says. "We’ve gotta look at it in chunks of two or three years, four years. Not that we plan ahead like that. But that we kind of make decisions based on like how are we gonna do 10 more years? Not how are we gonna do 10 more episodes, you know what I mean? I think that's just because we’re fucking crazy, but also because of the nature of the show."
None of it would work without the pair's friendship.
Recording two episodes a week is a chance for Larroquette and Romatelli to catch up, chop it up, and talk shit.
"Something starts here and then one of us says something that brings it over here, and then we’re talking about something else," Romatelli says. "And this is like the best thing. It’s so much fun. I think that’s what it is: It’s super-duper fun to get to do two episodes a week. Everyone should do a podcast. It’s awesome."
Larroquette laughs, "But don’t."
Romatelli adds, "But don’t!"
It's easy to get sucked into their world — and to pick up on how much Larroquette and Romatelli genuinely like each other. If they weren't recording the show, Romatelli says they could easily spend a 12-hour stretch hanging out and sharing the weird shit they've seen online and on TV. Listening to the podcast doesn't feel far from that.
"The podcast realm is very intimate, I guess because of the ear buds," Romatelli says.
Larroquette agrees. "You are listening to us on a level that maybe you don’t listen to your best friend," he says. "You put these earbuds in, and it's Seth and I in an apartment with no distractions."
After years of episodes, dedicated listeners know the hosts deeply and, besides having a frame of reference for the show's vibe and recurring jokes, they pick up on unspoken tidbits from the hosts' personal lives.
"I always call it back to the Grateful Dead because, I mean, it’s like the only reference point I have about anything," Larroquette laughs. "But you can listen to them as you get deeper into their years and years of recording. And you really do hear the band transform through these changes and with completely different mentalities at certain points."
Longtime listeners are attuned to nuances that newcomers might not catch. "And sometimes that may be a bit hard to decipher for the uninitiated, but to somebody that’s been on the ride with us for a long time, they pick up on shit that I can’t even believe we’re giving off... You couldn’t lie if you wanted to at this point."
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The live shows are on another level — a chance to connect beyond the Uhh Yeah Dude voicemail, as well as the show's social media outlets.
"If I haven’t been able to say thank you on the phone to somebody or thank you in the mail, to say it in person would be even better," Romatelli says. "To actually say fucking thank you. This is the best thing that ever happened to me. I wanna do it forever."
Seth Romatelli and Jonathan Larroquette are scheduled to perform a live episode of Uhh Yeah Dude at Crescent Ballroom on Saturday, October 14. Doors open at 7 p.m., and showtime is 8. Tickets to the 21-and-over event are $28 to $30 via Ticketfly.
Editor's note: This post has been updated from its original version.