There’s, of course, nothing funny about the shocking wave of state governments working to strip trans people of their rights. Why, then, was it a recent topic of conversation on the June 15 episode of Michelle Buteau and Jordan Carlos’s comedy podcast “Adulting?” During the episode, recorded live (as some of “Adulting”‘s installments are guest ALOK — a non-gender-conforming writer — emotionally discussed some of the recent actions taken against supporting trans people in their home state of Texas. ALOK mentioned their book, “Beyond the Gender Binary,” is being targeted among publications the Texas Republican legislature wants to ban. Then, they followed up that harrowing fact with a joke about Marie Kondo’s “Spark Joy” home tidying guide somehow being omitted from the ban list.
Pairing levity and humor with thoughtful discussions of some of society’s most pressing issues is not a new concept, but it is one that Buteau, Carlos, and their guests have perfected through “Adulting,” back in its second iteration following a pandemic pause.
“It’s important for us to have these conversations that you can’t necessarily have at home — like every hard or difficult or awkward conversation I’ve had with my mom wasn’t after a sex-ed class,” Buteau, 45, POPSUGAR tells. “It was because of a scene in a movie or an episode of television. And so, I think the arts matter more in a way that we really give them credit for.” Of course, Buteau notes, the need for sensitivity (“Nobody wants to f*ck it up”), but asserts that “once you provide a safe space, it’s just like, ‘Okay, then all we should be doing is learning and laughing.’ “
Buteau — who people may recognize from her stand-up or films like “Always Be My Maybe” and “Marry Me” — has been learning and laughing with Carlos, 44, since 2019, when they kicked off “Adulting” via Exactly Right Media Network. Their goal with the podcast is to tackle “the responsibilities we have and don’t want” in a format that can hopefully feel like “group therapy,” she says. “It’s us trying to get through life together.”
Of course, not everything covered is quite so serious: a July 6 episode is titled “Do You Need to Wash Your Dishwasher?” Buteau tells POPSUGAR that she doesn’t believe there’s a age when one should be fully certain transformed into the mythical adult (“We’re learning and evolving,” the comedian notes) but “I do think there is cut-offs with certain things that you should definitely know. Like, I don’t think I’ll ever know how to fold a fitted sheet properly. But I do know I should be changing my sheets every week. You know what I mean?”
The entire experience of working with Carlos for “Adulting” was always special, made even more so by the changes wrought by the pandemic. Says Buteau, “I’m really learning the value of liking your friends, loving your friends, working with your friends that are really talented people because as a comedian or any type of artist that you are, you’re going to know a lot of people in that field and I feel like a lot of us get bogged down by the jealousy and insecurity of it all.”
“I really love working with my friend and someone who also understands comedy and is just trying to get through life like me.”
She continues, “But honestly, if someone else is successful, never f*ck up yours. If anything, it makes it bigger and brighter. And so, I really love working with my friend and someone who also understands comedy and is just trying to get through life like me.”
And getting through life, we all are. Buteau says that with this second go-round, she has come to prefer their live shows — the star and Carlos work hard to “be in the same room,” but so does their audience. “The laughs, they really mean something . . . and that just isn’t Jordan and I, this is the audience, this is people who have worked from home, have homeschooled, have been vaccinated, and have been isolated from their families. So, it’s like, that guttural laugh just hits different. So, while we are talking about very real and dark situations that we’re going through, oh man, when we can make fun of someone who looks like a bad manager at Home Depot , ooh child, it tickles. It tickles me.”
Now, Buteau is preparing for exciting upcoming turns in the new “Clerks” movie and a still-untitled Pamela Adlon project with Ilana Glazer, while keeping the funny going on “Adulting” with new episodes, weekly. “I love being around like-minded people because then, we understand again, efficiency and play and life circumstance, but to be a fan of someone to be working with them, it’s just a masterclass of life,” she says of her many projects . “It’s the stuff that you don’t learn in an acting school or a television production program. It’s the actual living part of it.”
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