#116 Avenue Q
The original post for this episode can now be found here.
Transcriptions by: Masha Latvinava
Avenue Q – Episode #116 – November 19, 2020
JESS: Hello, I'm Jesse McAnally.
ANDREW: And I’m Andrew DeWolf.
BRIANNA: And I'm Brianna Jones.
JESS: And welcome to Musicals with Cheese, a podcast where I try to get Andrew and Bree to like musical theater. Andrew, how are you doing today?
ANDREW: Oh, well, you know, I'm living my best life. I just sometimes feel like that there's, you know, there's nothing to do, you know? There's no way up.
JESS: Are you looking for your purpose?
ANDREW: I suppose you could say that. I don't know if there is one, you know? What do you think?
JESS: I think the answer is truly in puppets and puppetry.
ANDREW: So instead of trying to find my purpose, I should be trying to find my puppets...
JESS: Avenue Q! Cue the thing.
ANDREW: Hit the music. It’s time to light the lights.
(Avenue Q ad plays)
JESS: “Avenue Q is a musical comedy featuring puppets and human actors with music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx and book by Jeff Whitty. The show won Best Musical, Book, and Score at the 2004 Tony Awards. The show has been praised for its approach on themes like racism, homosexuality, and Internet pornography.”
ANDREW: And we're gonna not praise it for all those same things.
JESS: You know, you bet it, buddy. “The musical premiered Off-Broadway in 2003 at the Vineyard Theatre, co-produced by the Vineyard Theatre and The New Group. In July of that same year the show moved to the John Golden Theatre on Broadway, where it ran until 2009, playing for over 2,500 performances. It then transferred to the off-Broadway New World Stages, where it played until 2019. Major productions have been staged in Las Vegas and the West End, and the musical has been staged and toured in several countries around the world. A school-friendly script has been produced” - and it's awful. “The principal cast includes four puppeteers and three human actors. The puppet characters, Princeton, Kate, Nicky, and others, are played by the unconcealed puppeteers as the costumed human actors interact with the puppets.” Andrew, what did you think of Avenue Q?
ANDREW: Oh, you know, it was - there was some funny stuff. And then there was some not funny stuff. And there was puppets. I like puppets.
JESS: Got to say - We are a very pro-Muppets podcast here.
ANDREW: If we're in favor of anything, it's puppeteering. I mean, I was even lenient on that emo show because of the puppets. Like, if there's puppets, we go easy on it. So you know - if we're critical of this show, there's a reason. And it's because they didn't do the puppets well. I mean, for God's sake, they didn't even try. The people are just standing there and the puppets... Like, put them behind something. What are you doing?
JESS: I mean, I get that. What is that? Is that really what bothers you with this show?
ANDREW: That's my main criticism of this show. There is nothing else wrong. The main problem with this show is that the puppets are onstage, invisible with the person puppeteering them. What do you think Jess? There's nothing else wrong with this show. That's the main thing.
JESS: Nothing else. Not the blatant racism – A-okay. And homophobia.
ANDREW: Jess, you really think a show that would win Best Musical, Book, and Score in 2004 could be racist and homophobic?
JESS: You know, maybe. Just maybe.
ANDREW: Okay. Everyone is a little bit racist. I don't think anyone could deny that. So, I feel like the show is just accurate. What's your argument against that, Jess?
JESS: The thing is, it says “It's okay that you're racist. In fact, don't stop it.” The song really should be, “Yeah, we're all a little bit racist, but we should acknowledge it and be like, ‘Yikes. Let me try to do better.’”
ANDREW: Well, that's not funny, Jess. This show’s trying to be funny.
ANDREW: It's absolutely... You can't... So, the girl wants to open a school for monsters and only monsters get to go there? That is racist. What the fuck?
JESS: Avenue Q. What is it about, Andrew?
ANDREW: It's about a guy named Princeton, who's a little shithead. Okay? This guy, he's a big fucking asshole. He went to school for English. I mean, that's the type of person we're talking about right now.
JESS: My brother graduated with a BA in English.
ANDREW: Exactly. So basically, this little shit fuck, he moves into Avenue Q and he wants to figure out what to do with his life. Okay? That's the plot. There's really not much else to it.
JESS: What about Kate Monster?
ANDREW: Kate Monster is a racist that wants to open up a school for only monsters where no one else is allowed to go. She's a segregationist. And that's her goal in life. The end of the end of the show, she gets to open up her school for only monsters because that's what they like. That's what they want to do. Um, Princeton and Kate date each other. And then they hate each other. And then they date each other. And that's the plot. There's a side plot where Bert and Ernie are living together. And Bert is gay and a Republican, and he won't come out as gay, but everyone knows he's gay because he's a Republican. And then he eventually comes out as gay and no one is surprised. Ernie becomes homeless. And it's hilarious. Hahahaha. Isn't that funny? He's homeless. And then he's not homeless at the end because he becomes gay lovers with Bert.
JESS: No, he finds his doppelganger and makes him gay lovers with Bert.
ANDREW: That's true. Ernie couldn't even become gay himself. How progressive. He has to find a clone of himself that is gay. And then that's the whole plot. I think there's another thing with internet porn, but it really doesn't -
JESS: You forgot to mention the racist neighbors.
ANDREW: Oh, yes, there's neighbors. One of them is a horrific Asian stereotype. And the other one is, well, he's only attractive to Asian stereotypes. And he thinks he's not racist because he married an Asian stereotype. Jess, we gotta talk about this. Okay? What is in the show, Jess, that you want to talk about so badly that you think hasn’t aged well?
JESS: Um, let's talk very briefly about just the overall politics of this show, where it feels very much like, “If you just wait, everything will pass over and the bad things in life will stop.” And it is a, overall, a privileged way of viewing yourself where no matter what you're gonna do, eventually it'll blow over. When a lot of times, things won't blow over. Those 500, 600 kids aren't going to get out of those cages if we just wait and wait for things to pass over. And our privileged way of being like, “No, it’s okay to be racist casually to everyone. And that's fine, and it's okay. That's fine.” It's the kind of libertarian belief of South Park.
ANDREW: This show is more South Park than Book of Mormon is.
JESS: I see that. Book of Mormon is more racist, though.
ANDREW: Book of Mormon is more racist, but it's almost mocking itself. Whereas with this one, they're just very open with like, “it's cool to be racist, as long as it's to everybody, you know? As long as you're racist towards everyone, it's fine.”
JESS: So, you talked about the plot. The plot is really about Kate Monster and Princeton, and their relationship growing. And then you have all these other vignettes that are happening around it, which are acting more or less as lessons to... Like, Sesame Street lessons. Thus, the puppets. So instead of like, “Wash your hands before you eat,” it is, “Hey, everyone's racist. Even Gary Coleman.” That joke aged well.
ANDREW: Who is Gary Coleman? He made grills once?
JESS: That's George Foreman. Gary Coleman made grills on the Drake and Josh show though.
JESS: The Gary Coleman grill. Yeah, but now he is a dead man because his wife pushed him down the stairs.
JESS: That's what happened!
ANDREW: Do they put this show on anymore?
JESS: Yes, they do. And they don't change the Gary Coleman part because lot of people forgot he died.
ANDREW: Okay. Gary Coleman. That's funny. All right. Well, there's some important songs that I think you have to go over in this. I mean, you've already touched on Everyone's a Little Bit Racist. I feel like we got to talk about that segment before we even go to anything because that's the most –
JESS: I feel like that's all we've talked about. But yeah. Literally, a lyric is, “Everyone's a little bit racist, sometimes. That doesn't mean we go around committing hate crimes.” Like, that is the methodology of this song. Like, “Everyone makes pre-assumptions based on race. It's fine. It's funny, and it's hilarious.” You tell black jokes. “Oh, no, it's just fine.” You tell Polish jokes. “Oh, it’s fine.” I think that the Mexican busboy should speak goddamn English. “Oh, that’s hilarious.”
ANDREW: Yeah. Until like, suddenly, everyone starts basing their political policies around that. And then, “Wait a second. This isn't good.”
JESS: This is taking place from the point of view of “We solved racism. We won. Mission accomplished.”
ANDREW: Yeah, well, racism - I mean, that's just like a, you know, minor things. Like, you know, oh, if you think black people can jump higher. You know, whatever. There's definitely not anyone out there who thinks that black people have low IQ scores and commit more crimes than white people because they just can't control themselves and they’re animals, right? People don't think that.
JESS: Especially not famous YouTubers.
ANDREW: Oh, I feel like especially now, this show has aged so poorly.
JESS: It hurts to watch. It is uncomfortable to watch. It feels unpleasant and edgelord-y in the most recent way of describing edgelords, which is actual Nazis.
ANDREW: Yeah, I think one of the other ones that I cringed very hard at was Schadenfreude, which, literally, they're just using that to describe the feeling that, “Hey, it's really funny to mock people who are recently homeless.”
JESS: I feel like they wrote the song before they had the situation.
ANDREW: Sure, that could be true. But in the show, the situation is: This person is now homeless. And Gary Coleman, I think, is the person who's mocking? Is that right?
JESS: Yes. The character of Gary Coleman.
ANDREW: Gary Coleman thinks it's absolutely hysterical that someone is now homeless, and they are not going to help them.
JESS: Yeah. Nobody helps their newly homeless friend. Nobody. In fact, they're seen as a blight onto society.
ANDREW: Yeah, a blight onto the society, and in fact, possibly helpful to the society because everyone can look at them and feel better about themselves. They can laugh.
JESS: Yeah, I mean, the only schadenfreude I get recently is just watching Trump have a temper tantrum about not winning the presidency. That feels good. But then it stops feeling good because he's gonna try to get a coup.
ANDREW: I feel like Schadenfreude, in all actuality, is supposed to refer to the misfortune of someone else. But usually someone else who, like, deserves misfortune?
JESS: Yeah, there's a balance in the hierarchy where it's someone higher being brought down a peg. And not someone who's lower than you getting brought even lower, lower.
ANDREW: Yeah, it's like, you're not gonna laugh because your poor neighbor gets evicted and is now homeless. Like, that's ridiculous. And especially right now. I mean, we're on the cusp of a eviction crisis. Watching this show and watching that scene was like, “Man, okay. Yeah, you think you think that's really funny, don't you?”
JESS: What do you think of the character of Kate Monster, the one that you jokingly called racist earlier? Like, actively racist?
ANDREW: I mean, I wasn't joking. I think that having a segregated school for one particular type of person is a little bit overtly racist.
JESS: It’s a slippery slope.
ANDREW: It's not... if you're trying to say, like, affirmative action or something like that, it's not an actual solution to the problem, and eventually could become the opposite of a solution to the problem. It could just be an expansion on the problem.
JESS: Yeah, I see what you're saying. I brought this up before and I kind of want your thoughts on it. So, Kate Monster - that is her “goal”. Princeton's goal is to get the vague idea of purpose. Whereas that's a very vague, vague idea of something. Whereas Kate’s is very concrete: “I want this thing.”
JESS: I think that the Kate Monster school for monsters was a very late edition, brought up by someone watching the show and being like, “This girl's only goal is to fuck this dude. And she's just boy crazy.” Because outside of like, everything else, all she wants to do is fuck Princeton. That is her goal. To be in that relationship with him. And even so much that in the group “I want” song of It Sucks to Be Me, that's all she brings up is “I don't have a boyfriend. It sucks.” So she's already –
ANDREW: Yeah, she doesn't bring up the school for monsters thing until the Everyone's a Little Bit Racist song.
JESS: Exactly. And that it doesn't really come up again until the very end.
ANDREW: Yeah, I could definitely see that as a very late addition to just not have it be that her only goal is to fuck the main character. Because that's obviously not what you want your secondary lead to have.
JESS: No, no, but it feels like this show is a step away from being that. And the thing is, for as immature this show is - and it is very immature. Let's be very clear about that. It is a very immature show.
ANDREW: Which is fine. That's not at all what I’m complaining about.
JESS: That's not the problem. The thing is they handle the relationship between Princeton and Kate very maturely. Like, that is a mature, realistic relationship. And the reason it doesn't work out are normal human things of different wants and different aspirations for what they want to be right now. Like, the scene where he's like, “I just want to be your friend.” And she's like, “I've got plenty of friends. I don't want friends right now.” Like that, that felt real, like honest, like actual relationships shit.
ANDREW: She was getting friend-zoned, and she didn't have any of it.
JESS: Exactly. So seeing that, and how maturely and emotionally palatable that is, and then the Rod and – uh, Bert and Ernie.
ANDREW: Yeah, Bert and Ernie. I forget what they call – It’s Rod and Nikki. Yeah, that one is... I don't think they did that very well, honestly.
JESS: Well, that's still stemming from, “The joke is he's gay and Republican. Waawaa.”
ANDREW: Womp womp.
JESS: Closeted homosexuality is hilarious.
ANDREW: Yeah. Well, part of it is like, everyone knows he's gay, which I think is a little bit of a bad, uh –
JESS: It's a bad look.
ANDREW: Cus, you know, that's kind of the, “Oh, well, all gay people - it's so obvious when they're gay because they talk like this. And like, you know - ”
JESS: Or they read a book on musical theater. Like, that was the reason why he was “gay”.
ANDREW: Yeah, it's like, you know, I don't know if that's a good thing to put into your show. I don't know if I could say... if I could point to a moment where they're like, man, they really handled the gay thing poorly.
JESS: I think it's the overall experience. Like, the shame for one. Like, he is ashamed of being gay. So, he tells them all that he has a girlfriend in Canada.
ANDREW: Yeah. Which I think... I mean, if you want to, you can pass it off as them making fun of the fact that he's Republican and that’s why he’s ashamed.
JESS: They mention that he's Republican once and then he doesn't say any of his beliefs. Like, maybe like they could have done something about Christianity or something... At least that would be something, but no.
ANDREW: They don't really tie it in at all. I think maybe it's supposed to be implied, so they're not straight up saying, “Oh, gay people don't want to come out of the closet. It's only because this guy's Republican, you know, he's ashamed.” But it's not really obvious if that's what they're going for. Also, why make him a Republican? Is there actually a reason? He doesn't talk about what he believes at all. The only reason that I could find that they said he's a Republican is because it's funny that he's gay and Republican, though he never actually says anything explicitly anti-gay either. It's not like he's some sort of anti-gay activist or something.
JESS: See, that would actually be some comedy that you can kind of get behind nowadays. The anti-gay super fucking Westboro Baptist Church type.
ANDREW: It’s like, recently, when the when Jesse Lee Peterson was tweeting out gay porn.
JESS: That happened?
ANDREW: That did happen 100%. He tweeted out a video of a guy eating another guy’s ass. Absolutely beautiful.
JESS: You got a link to that? So, you know, for educational purposes.
ANDREW: Oh, yeah. For educational, I'll put it right in the chat here for you.
JESS: Ah, thanks. Oh, that's great. Look at that. Diving in there.
ANDREW: Oh, he's digging in.
JESS: I’m so glad you had that at the ready, just so I could –
ANDREW: Well, you know, I keep it here for research purposes, just in case it comes up.
JESS: All right, another question, because this made me uncomfortable as a human being adult. So, Princeton gets Kate Monster super drunk and then has sex with her. That's a rape, right?
ANDREW: I mean, yes. But also, I don't know if that's what they're going for in the story here.
JESS: Well, the thing is, it's done by the Bad Idea Bears. Like literally, that's their names. They’re like, “Take her home. She's wasted. Yeah.”
ANDREW: True. Yeah, you're right. You're right.
JESS: It’s fucked up. It made me sick to my stomach. And I hated having to sit with Princeton for a character - as a character - for the rest of it. And sure, she didn't regret it the next morning. But still.
ANDREW: Yeah. Although, doesn’t she get fired from her job because of that as well?
JESS: Yeah, because she had a job thing the next day, and he's like, “No, just get drunk with me and fuck me all night.” I hate it. This show, I get why people responded to it. I get why it was such a breath of fresh air compared to the Wickets in the world. But my god, the things that happened in the show make me sick to my stomach. You know, I feel like they don't do at all enough.
ANDREW: I thought going into this it was gonna be set up more like a Sesame Street parody. And they just kind of don't do that.
JESS: Now, you and I are in our 20s.
JESS: This show should be made for us.
ANDREW: Well yeah, I watched Sesame Street a bunch when I was a kid.
JESS: Not even that. Specifically what the show is trying to say about recently graduating from college.
ANDREW: Oh, yeah, that as well.
JESS: And not knowing what you do and your aimlessness just going around in the world.
ANDREW: Looking for your “purpose”.
JESS: Exactly. Like, the song that hits me the most - and outside of the show, because I listened to the cast album many times before seeing the show - is I Wish I Could Go Back to College because I kind of feel that. It was easy. It was nice having the structure of things to expect, things to prepare for. And it's hard to leave that after you've done it for like, what, 20 years of your life.
ANDREW: I hated college. Jess, have you found your purpose yet?
JESS: Can I tell you the story? And this is me opening up about my post-college life.
JESS: Me and Bree graduated on the same day in the same room in May of 2018 from our college. Yeah, we were like diagonal seats from each other as we walked up. It was great. And then after I graduated, I went right into a full-time job, which was a lot better than a lot of people that I graduated with. And I was very blessed to have it. But I went into a real deep depression because what do you do? Basically, the voice I heard in my head every day I went to work was, “Don't forget this is forever. This is your life no matter what job you're at. This is what life is gonna be like. Doing this every single fucking day until you die.”
JESS: And nothing was fulfilling about my life. Yes, technically, I was doing well, I was doing fine, but I was unfulfilled. And then in September 2018, I text you, Andrew, and we started up this podcast and it gave me something - a schedule, something to work on, something to put my time and energy into, and my emotional value. And it made me feel a lot better and I don't have any of those deep-seated depression feelings of post-college life ever since then. So, thank you, Andrew and Bree, for giving me my purpose.
ANDREW: Your purpose is to talk about musicals online.
JESS: What about you?
ANDREW: No one has a purpose, okay? Let me let me go on a rant here for a sec. There is no such thing as purpose. Purpose is a myth. It's made up. A fabrication. You are all fed this myth because they want you to work until you're dead. And they want you to think, “Man, that's my purpose.” You don't have a purpose. You weren't born here for a reason. And you're gonna die here for no reason. Just accept that and the sooner you accept it, the happier you'll be.
JESS: This is our performance of No Reason from Beetlejuice the musical.
ANDREW: We ain't got no reason to live.
JESS: We're all gonna die someday and it'll be great.
ANDREW: Your death will be the most important day of your life.
JESS: So, um, let's compare, um... Our opinions to those of New York theater opinions in our favorite segment on this show - It is time for Breeviews.
BRIANNA: How do you expect me to want to read something from the New York Times or from Mr. Ben Brantley, when Andrew has just depressed me? He said that the most important day of my life is the day I die.
ANDREW: You know, the most important day of Ben Brantley’s life will be the day he dies as well, so.
JESS: Holy shit. Jesus Christ.
BRIANNA: I just don't understand, guys. Went from a great night to a depressing one.
ANDREW: If Avenue Q has taught me anything, it's that what we're all waiting for is to rejoin the void.
BRIANNA: All right. Well...
JESS: Maybe we should put a warning like, “Hey, if you're not feeling great, maybe don't listen to our Avenue Q episode.”
ANDREW: Look, I think some people are waiting to hear this. They want to feel better about themselves. You're not a failure. Okay, you can't fail. There is no failure. Failure is a myth.
BRIANNA: All right. Time for Breesviews. No more slacking off here, boys.
ANDREW: Tell it like it is.
BRIANNA: The New Yorker described it as “an ingenious combination of ‘The Real World’ and ‘Sesame Street.’”
ANDREW: What’s The Real World?
JESS: The Real World was an old TV show where people would talk about living in a house together on a beach.
ANDREW: Is that what this show is like?
JESS: Not at all. I think they just wanted to mix something-modern-and-early-2000s-and-a-little-bit-racy with Sesame Street.
ANDREW: Ah, yes. They could have just said it's like South Park.
BRIANNA: But with puppets.
JESS: I mean, it kinda is, though. It’s too on the nose.
BRIANNA: And then the New York Times chief theater critic Ben Brantley said, “In the savvy, sassy and eminently likable ‘Avenue Q,’ which opened last night at the Golden Theater, an idealistic young man stares into the audience and sings, in a voice shiny with hope, ‘Something's coming, something good.’ But it is in its songs and performance that Avenue Q plays most piquantly - ”
ANDREW: He just made that word up.
BRIANNA: I think he did. “ - on the contrasts between the world according to children's television and the reality of adult life. The nature of the twinkly songs, unfailingly tuneful and disgustingly irresistible.”
JESS: So, Andrew, do you agree with those critic reviews?
ANDREW: I've never seen the real world so I cannot comment on that. Ben Brantley likes this show way more than I would expect him to.
JESS: Can we talk about that for a second?
JESS: Let's talk about the full Tony year that this came out.
JESS: So, in this year, it was up against Wicked, one of the biggest shows ever and still one of the biggest moneymakers on Broadway.
ANDREW: It's a pretty good one.
JESS: Yeah. Taboo - which was by all means a flop, but a well-received flop.
JESS: Caroline, or Change.
ANDREW: That was okay.
JESS: I think that's the only great musical out of all of these.
ANDREW: I mean, what did Ben Brantley think of that one?
JESS: So, we're gonna chat for a second about this. So, the person who runs the Broadway Podcast Network, Dori Berinstein, she made a documentary about this entire Tony season, following all these Broadway musicals on their race to win the Tony. And in that, they have this great section that I'm going to send Bree a clip sample of where they have all the Broadway theater critics in circles talking about what they think should win and why things shouldn’t win.
JESS: And Ben Brantley called Wicked preachy, said Caroline, or Change is bad - like actively bad-and-they-might-give-it-best-score-only-because-they-don't-know-what-they're-talking-about. And called Wicked boring. Like, all these people.
ANDREW: Everyone called Wicked boring.
JESS: Yes, they said it was long, lugubrious, and horrible. Everyone hated Wicked.
ANDREW: Absolutely fair. I mean, I watched Wicked, and it actually was pretty good. I don't know what they're talking about.
JESS: And their concerns about Avenue Q was, “This is a show for nobody that goes to Broadway. No 20-year-olds are going to Broadway.”
ANDREW: But they all thought it was really good.
JESS: They all thought it was really good. And that baffles me, because even watching this and trying to put myself in that time, it doesn't feel special to me. It's just puppets say fuck.
ANDREW: It really just feels like a South Park episode. I honestly feel like the South Park movie that came out around the same time would have probably been more poignant if they put that on Broadway.
JESS: Stephen Sondheim called that one of his favorite musicals of all time.
ANDREW: The South Park movie?
ANDREW: It's honestly - it's really not bad. And I feel like... I don't know. This show is just... It doesn't have any good takes.
JESS: It feels hateful. It honestly feels mean.
ANDREW: And there's not really an actual parody of Sesame Street going on, unless you're of the mind that parody means “Do the thing, but they say fuck”, which in my opinion, is not a parody. Just because you have the visuals of something and then they say mean words, that doesn't make it into a parody. Like you can't just say, “Oh, it's Scooby Doo, but it's a parody because look - Fred says fuck.”
JESS: That was gonna be the Scooby Doo movie when James Gunn originally was brought on.
ANDREW: (imitating James Gunn) It’s like, “What if Fred said fuck? Sick. It’s a parody, bro. You don't get it.” It’s like, you're not making fun of the property at all. Like, what about this mocks Sesame Street?
JESS: I think it would have been interesting to try to start this off as Sesame Street after the money is taken away. Like, after PBS gets defunded or something, and it eventually just gets run down and real life hits. Like, that at least would have been an interesting take. But here, it's just the real world, Gary Coleman, and puppets exist.
ANDREW: Yeah, I would have liked to see more of like, the segments that Sesame Street does. But like, in a way that's like, “Oh, it's like a more cynical message though. They're not as optimistic about the world and whatever.”
JESS: But the thing is, they are very cynical in their messages. They do have segments that are like very cynical, but it feels more like cyber bullying and edgelord shit.
ANDREW: What do you think the best moment of this show is? Like, if you were going to recommend something that describes the whole show and is the best possible representation, what would you put in?
JESS: You see what I have is... My favorite part is not a representation of the show. My favorite part is the end of Act One, and that's There’s a Fine, Fine Line where she is broken up with by Princeton, and she's just like, “Well, fuck, like, it's a fine line between a good man or a friend and a lover and all that and I gotta figure my life out while I'm still in my prime.” Like, it is a legit, pre-midlife-crisis crisis. And I think it's really good.
ANDREW: Yeah. But really, the best representation of the show is The Internet Is For Porn.
JESS: Yes, that is technically the best representation of the show and what it could have been. But it’s also a representation of the time it came out, where the internet really was just like, you go on there for five minutes, and then you leave. Instead of like, you doomscroll all night on your phone that goes with you everywhere. It was a thing you do in your house.
ANDREW: The internet is for porn, though. I mean, that is actually accurate. That's why that song is funny. That song is funny, because yes, everyone does just use the internet for porn, even now, to this day.
JESS: Yeah, but I feel like... I find it strange that Kate Monster takes a very anti-porn stance.
ANDREW: Um, no, she's just taking the “I don't want to know that my friends are looking at porn all the time” stance.
JESS: She literally says, “I hate porn”. Like, those are words that came out of her mouth.
ANDREW: Okay, well, I mean, we already know she's a racist. So, is it really that surprising that she's anti-sex?
JESS: Brianna, do you find most women have an anti-relationship with porn? Like, I felt that was a stereotype, in the early aughts, like “girls just don't like porn, they hate porn.” And now I feel like that's being erased and being reconsidered.
BRIANNA: Yes, I do think that that stereotype or taboo is kind of going away.
JESS: Do you watch porn, Bree?
JESS: It's great, right?
BRIANNA: Yeah, I think really, any woman I've really talked to or kind of knew on a personal level like that probably also did. I think maybe it comes later in life. Like most young men, you know, are looking at porn at a much younger age than young women. But now it's so accessible. And it's on platforms like Twitter that I think women and girls that are younger and younger seeing it as well.
JESS: Well, I think a lot of young women got it fed into them that it is anti-woman. And now with things like OnlyFans, it is women taking their sexuality and their bodies and using it.
ANDREW: I think there's an argument to be made that there are forms of pornography that are exploitative, explicitly. Although, I don't think that that's all. And I don't think it's a good idea to be anti-pornography, simply because there are some forms that have been corrupted by like, you know, big industry interests.
JESS: I mean, yes. And speaking as the person on here that probably doesn't do porn, like, enjoys porn the least by the status we've set up on this show previously - I don't always understand it, but I do kind of love the empowerment, embracing of pornography I'm seeing from young women as of late, which is pretty cool. And men, of course.
ANDREW: And you know, you can't exploit anime girls, so that's always okay.
JESS: No, no, nope, nope, nope, nope. Nope. That's bad.
ANDREW: I don't know what you're talking about. Anime girls are drawings, Jess.
JESS: Nope, I see the slippery slope you're taking this down. I see the evil in your eyes right now.
ANDREW: Where do you think I'm gonna go with this, Jess? Anime girls? It's fine. All right. We gotta go to a halftime here so we can talk about the songs.
JESS: Didn't a fucking youtuber just come out and be like, “You know, drawing underage girls is fine in anime, because you know, it's just a drawing.”
ANDREW: “It's just a drawing.”
JESS: People are fucking disgusting. I have a line.
ANDREW: Bro. If it's okay to draw pictures of dogs and furries, then anything's okay.
JESS: But what about monsters?
ANDREW: Monsters? Okay.
JESS: But as long as they're not all in one school.
ANDREW: As long as they don't all go to the same school... If you open up a school only for monsters and it's popular, what's gonna happen there? You know? You're just gonna get more schools for monsters. You're segregating yourself. You're making a problem.
JESS: Alright, let's go on to a mid-show announcement. Let’s listen to some advertising.
ANDREW: Advertise to me, daddy.
ANDREW: What do you do with a BA in English?
(What Do You Do with a B.A. in English? plays)
ANDREW: So, Princeton is singing about how useless his degree is. And honestly, what are you going to do with a BA in English?
JESS: Why do you even get an English degree? I'm sure we're gonna have like five “I majored in English and I am a very successful novelist.”
ANDREW: You know, that's excellent, and good for you. And I don't have anything else to say. I'm really proud of you. Great job.
JESS: You did better than any of us, I will say that.
ANDREW: Honestly, honestly proud of you. Keep up the good work. Always go to school for what you want, and not for what anyone else tells you to do.
JESS: My favorite line in this - and it's such a short song, It's like three lines, really. But literally, it's like, “I can't pay the bills yet because I have acquired no skills yet.”
ANDREW: It's true. College is worthless, except to make people hire you.
JESS: A little bit. And basically, if you acquire a skill, and you can prove you can do it, you don't really need a college degree?
ANDREW: Yeah, the problem is no one will even allow you to prove that you can do the skill unless you have a college degree, so.
JESS: Yeah, and unless, once again, How to Succeed In Business Without Really Trying, you just rely on recommendations and failing upward to the top.
ANDREW: Yeah, well, yeah. There's two ways to succeed: nepotism, and... uh, I'm sure there's a second one.
JESS: Nepotism and ass-kissing. Alright, It Sucks to Be Me. Which is more or less an opening number and a group “I want” song, except done much worse than in The Band's Visit.
(It Sucks to Be Me plays)
ANDREW: Yeah, they all come out and they tell you why it sucks to be them. And honestly, stop complaining. What the fuck?
JESS: Yeah, Trump's not even in office yet.
ANDREW: Yeah, and also, there's too many characters in this song. Like, do we really need to know why it sucks to be Christmas Eve or Gary Coleman?
JESS: I mean, the Gary Coleman is kind of the punchline to this entire song.
ANDREW: I guess. is Gary Coleman the landlord?
ANDREW: What a dick.
JESS: He’s dead. In real life.
ANDREW: He got pushed down the stairs. No. Actually though, don't make fun of Gary Coleman.
JESS: Yeah, Gary Coleman is an easy target, even back then. That's punching down, a little bit.
ANDREW: They thought it was funny, they're like, “Well, what would be funny to name our character?” and someone was blurted out, “Gary Coleman”. And then that's what they went with.
JESS: Tim Allen would be the funnier character now.
ANDREW: Tim Allen is the funniest name you could ever have. All right.
JESS: It's two first names. Hold on, I'm not done talking about this.
ANDREW: Oh, okay. What else you got?
JESS: I want to bring up something to support my hypothesis that the Kate Monster monster school was a late edition. Because if this is supposed to be the “I want” song for what these characters genuinely want –
ANDREW: Why doesn’t she bring it up?
JESS: Well, she does bring up what the songwriters probably thought she wanted, which was a fuck, “I want a boyfriend. It sucks to be me because I don't have a boyfriend.”
ANDREW: (sings) I don't have my bf.
JESS: So, that that is peppering in my theory that the monster school thing was added very late in the game. To try to give Kate Monster more agency in her own story. Because it does just feel shoehorned.
ANDREW: It's also brought in at the worst possible time. Because it's brought up in the song Everyone's a Little Bit Racist, basically as an example of how she's racist.
JESS: Yep. Which we're talking about now. Everyone's a Little Bit Racist.
(Everyone's a Little Bit Racist plays)
ANDREW: Okay, Kate is racist. Princeton is racist. Brian is racist. Christmas Eve is racist.
JESS: Gary Coleman is racist.
ANDREW: Gary Coleman is racist.
JESS: We don't know in real life, but probably, because everyone’s a little bit -
ANDREW: They all... I don't know.
JESS: They revel in it. They revel in their racism.
ANDREW: We've talked enough about this song, but the point is, the song takes racism and turns it into something that is to be viewed as mundane, and mostly harmless.
JESS: Yeah, banal.
ANDREW: That’s not really how you should view racism. Even mild racism should be seen as something that you're working to correct, you know?
JESS: Which is why I kind of like that we've changed our language as a human race. Like, things that are a little bit racist are now called microaggressions, which I think is a good way to phrase it in a way that it's something that you correct. And try to limit in your own preconceptions.
ANDREW: So basically, what we're saying is, I'm going to cancel the fuck out of Princeton and Kate, and I'm going on Twitter to ban them.
JESS: Hashtag puppet hatred.
ANDREW: Hashtag canceled. No - On the real though, I feel like they wanted to do something that was just kind of tongue-in-cheek, a little bit funny. But I think the direction... The way that white supremacy has kind of come back pretty heavily throughout the world... I'm not even just talking about the United States. Like, there is white supremacist parties in a lot of countries now that are all making waves in a way that they were not doing back in 2004. I think people got a little bit complacent, they got a little too used to like, “Hey, racism is kind of irrelevant now.” It's not.
JESS: Yeah, and this show... I honestly don't think this show should be really put on anymore in the same way that... It is structurally sound. It is a structurally effective musical with all the beats that makes sense. It is a show that on its skeletal remains is good. It's the content inside of it that makes me sick. The same way as How to Succeed In Business and Carousel.
ANDREW: Alright. The Internet is For Porn.
(The Internet is For Porn plays)
JESS: You like this song.
ANDREW: I think it's funny. There's not really any content to it. I think the Trekkie Monster is kind of a humorous character.
JESS: That's the only one that feels Sesame Street-y to me. Like, he feels like properly Cookie Monster-esque.
ANDREW: Yeah, he's a Cookie Monster. it's funny. He's funny. This song is pointless. But -
JESS: It's not. It's not. It becomes very important later.
ANDREW: But it has good humor to it. This is honestly the only song that I kind of laughed, even like a little bit at, because there's just a lot in the rest that's not that funny.
JESS: What? You don't find If You Were Gay hilarious?
ANDREW: Not particularly.
JESS: No, no, it’s not.
ANDREW: I mean, I've seen that joke done a lot. You know? Like, where it's just kind of lampshading that, “Hey, I know you're gay, but you won't come out.” I feel like I've seen that before. I don't know. I feel like Book of Mormon did it better honestly.