A TBTL Q&A with Luke Burbank and Andrew Walsh

March 10, 2015

Would you like to know a little bit more about TBTL, Infinite Guest’s new daily show?  Good!  I emailed some questions to TBTL host Luke Burbank and co-host/producer/beard enthusiast Andrew Walsh. They very kindly responded.

For new listeners, please share a quick backstory of TBTL.  Its creation, the move to the podcarting, Andrew coming on board, etc.   Feel free to copy your Wikipedia entry.

LUKE: TBTL was the brain child of Luke Burbank and Jen Andrews, two longtime radio producers and pals. (Luke dated Jen’s little sister in high school, mostly so he could hang out with Jen and riff on pop culture.) The idea was to make the radio show Luke and Jen had always dreamed of — something smart, and personal, with long conversations and lots of inside jokes. This also meant it would probably be canceled immediately; hence the name “Too Beautiful To Live” or “TBTL.”

After about two years, this prophetic title proved prophetic, and TBTL was canceled as a radio show. Luke continued on, hosting the show from his home as just a podcast. Fortunately, the listeners followed him onto the Internet, with TBTL managing to rack up lots of downloads and support itself via listener donations. In 2012, Andrew Walsh joined the show as Luke’s sidekick, immediately increasing the show’s bearded factor from 0 to 50 percent.

In the intervening years, Luke and Andrew have been meeting up five days a week, 52 weeks per year, to talk about how they can’t believe anyone listens to the show. The people who like it seem to enjoy the fact that you are hearing two actual friends puzzle through the actual news of the day, and the actual problems and insecurities they face in real life.

ANDREW: I was a huge fan of TBTL when I was a public radio producer in New Hampshire. At the time, I was working on launching a new talk show there, so I was keeping a close ear on other new public radio projects. When I heard Luke was leaving NPR to start a new nighttime show in Seattle, I gave it a listen and became hooked immediately. Years later — through a series of coincidences (or possibly through a series of cunning stalking moves on my part) — I moved to Seattle and started working with Luke at KIRO radio. I followed him around the building and constantly pestered him until he finally realized it would just be easier to make me his new sidekick.

Luke records TBTL in the small, maritime village of Port Townsend, Washington.  All small, maritime villages have dark secrets, as you know.  Please share Port Townsend’s. 

LUKE: The dark secret is that no one here wants anyone else to find out about it, and more than once I’ve had a random elderly woman joke that I need to shut up about Port Townsend on the radio, lest we are overrun with new residents. Pretty xenophobic if you ask me.

Everyone knows there’s a town named Burbank, California.  But did you know there’s a Walsh, Colorado?  Anyway, this is a bad question.  Let’s move on.

LUKE: I’ll leave this one to Beardo.

ANDREW: There’s also a Walsh County, North Dakota. According to the Internet, tons of stuff doesn’t happen there.

(NOTE FROM STU: Walsh County is home to Grafton, the 13th-largest city in North Dakota, which was named after settlers from Grafton County, New Hampshire.)

How did “Catch My Disease” come to be your show’s theme song?

LUKE: That was Jen’s idea. She loved that song and I didn’t have a better idea at the time. It’s really grown on me though.

Did you know Ben Lee is married to Ione Skye?  She was in Say Anything!

LUKE: Yes! Because we had him on the show once shortly after his wedding. Which was in India. We had him on to judge a local high school band competition wherein the bands were playing their versions of “Catch My Disease.” Also, Ione Skye was Anne Veal’s weird religious mom in Arrested Development, the one who keeps making out with Jason Bateman.

Who is responsible for finding the audio drops?  

LUKE: The top of the show, when the music first starts playing, is mostly Andrew. The later ones, the ones that are too loud or have janky fades on the end, are me. Not to brag.

ANDREW: Luke and I both look for audio drops. One of the best parts of the job is finding a little clip of tape that I know is just going to kill Luke. (Wait. That makes it sound like I’m trying to kill Luke … which, officially, I am not.)

Your fans are called The Tens.  Please say something nice about them.

LUKE: We used to joke that we had “literally tens of listeners,” and so that became the way the fans describe themselves. They are, without a doubt, the smartest, most loyal, most creative and most-long-suffering group of fans a podcast could hope for. I am genuinely surprised that they tune in each and every day, but who am I to argue?

ANDREW: Literally the best listeners you could ask for. I am constantly bowled over by their dedication to the show. We stay in touch a lot though Facebook and email, and I sometimes forget that I’ve never met a bunch of folks whom I feel I know so well.

I’m 99 percent sure I used “whom” correctly there.

Who will be your first human guest as part of the Infinite Guest network?

LUKE: We’re going to have [REDACTED] of [REDACTED] on pretty soon, so that’s exciting.  (NOTE FROM STU: It was Kristen Schaal from Last Man On Earth.)

Do you have any ideal guests you’d like to have on?  Like Paul Rudd?  He seems funny and nice, right?

LUKE: We would crawl across broken glass made up of shards of shattered coffee mugs that once had Paul Rudd’s face on them, to interview Paul Rudd. That’s how much we like him.

ANDREW: Obviously, I would love to have Janeane Garofalo on the show, but Luke keeps telling me, “Andrew, you aren’t allowed to use this job just to meet your teenage crushes.” Which seems hypocritical, since he got to interview Patton Oswalt.

Do you listen to other podcasts/podcarts?  If so, which ones/why?

LUKE: Well, I’ve been really digging A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment with my buddy Sherman Alexie on it, and also Home Dunk, with another old buddy, John Moe. Hey wait, I friggin’ know everyone else on Infinite Guest. That’s weird right? How did that happen?

ANDREW: I’ve been digging deep into the Infinite Guest catalog, and I’m becoming of huge fan of Open Mike Eagle, John Moe, and so many others. Outside of IG, I try to never miss Mike Pesca’s The Gist or NPR’s On the Media, if I can help it.