The Dork Side of the Force

I spent a good few hours yesterday listening to one of my favorite podcasts. It’s called The Dork Forest, and it’s hosted by Jackie Kashian. I don’t listen to it very often, just a couple of times per year, but when I do listen, I binge. I usually listen when I’m doing something round the house, like cleaning and tidying. I hate cleaning and tidying, but it’s not so bad if my mind is off in the Dork Forest while my body is doing the mundane housework. The idea behind the podcast is that Jackie interviews fellow comedians about their “dorkdom”. This is the one subject that the interviewee is completely obsessed with.

The Dork Forest is a safe space for them to talk about their connoisseurship of some odd subject for a whole hour, in conversation with Jackie, without being judged or thought any less highly of afterwards. According to Wikipedia:

New episodes are released once or twice a week. Recorded in her living room in Van Nuys, the show features 'dork on dork dialog' between Kashian and her guests about their favorite obsessions—commonly referred to by Kashian as 'dorkdoms'. Guests have included Paul F. Tompkins, Jen Kirkman, James Urbaniak, Jimmy Pardo, Aisha Tyler, and Mary-Lynn Rajskub. Fans of the show refer to themselves as "Rangers Of The Dork Forest". In 2010, the podcast changed from a live format to pre-recorded, with superior audio quality and a new theme song, "Welcome to The Dork Forest", written by Mike Ruekberg.

I like sci-fi so much that I write it. The books I write belong to a series called Dark Galaxy, which starts with Galaxy Dog. Here are the first two lines of Galaxy Dog's blurb, so you can get a feel of the kind of thing these books are:

What starts as an ordinary invasion of an alien planet brings to light an ancient archeological site of huge importance. A young man called Knave makes a life-changing discovery there and rises from a lowly position as an infantry trooper to become a player among the powers of the galaxy.

The entire series is ripsnorting space opera in the style of Doctor Who and Blake's 7, and they are available to buy from Amazon. Just click the link and take a look.

Kashian performed her first live Dork Forest in 2011. One of the shows I liked the best from my most recent binge listen/cleaning session was the episode Jackie did with Andy Erikson. She’s a lot of fun; here’s her review of Starbuck’s unicorn frappuccino. In the talk with Jackie you could here her excitement about her dorky obsessions, which are Pokémon Go, wizard camp, and Harry Potter. Her excitement at going to wizard camp and getting to pretend to be a wizard just gushed out of the radio. I was listening on the crappy speaker of my phone but the enthusiasm was there, all the same. You can listen to the episode on Soundcloud... the link to it should appear below.

There’s a lot of talk about unicorns and Jackie sounded to be very much on Andy’s wavelength, which I like, but if that doesn’t sound like your thing, Jackie will talk to pretty much anyone about pretty much anything. There are lot of examples of more macho subjects that people dork out about. One episode that I remember is from a few years ago.

In this episode she talks to Mike Schmidt and Andy Peters about wrestling. The show went long, almost two hours of nerding about wrestling, and they hadn’t even scratched the surface. I’m not a huge wrestling fan, but listening to these two guys, and hearing all the obscure stuff they had to talk about was a delight. So, next time you have a toilet to clean do what I do, and listen to the Dork Forest. about wrestling. I remember learning a nice new word from the Wrestling world, kayfabe.

Here’s why Wikipedia has to say about kayfabe:

In professional wrestling, kayfabe is the portrayal of staged events within the industry as "real" or "true", specifically the portrayal of competition, rivalries, and relationships between participants as being genuine and not of a staged or predetermined nature of any kind.

In general anything shown on a professional wrestling show is to some extent scripted, or kayfabe, even though at times they try to present it as legitimate. Kayfabe was fiercely maintained for decades, but with the advent of the Internet, the wrestling community has become less concerned with protecting so-called backstage secrets and typically maintains kayfabe only during the shows. It’s these fascinating details about a subject that make listening to The Dork Forest such a joy.