Comedians Tom Saunders, 69, and Scott Blakeman, 65, have a friendship that spans 40 years and 40,000 jokes.
Meeting on the comedy circuit doing shows at places like the famed Comedy Strip in New York City turned into four decades of conversations about everything and nothing. They'd always mulled the idea of doing a podcast, and when the pandemic hit, they decided the time was right.
They launched their daily podcast Getting Through This With Tom and Scott on April 1 and haven't looked back. Their shows cover everything from Blakeman's letters from summer camp when he was 12 to Saunders’ feelings about the imminent sale of his childhood home. They talk about quarantine shortages, take a visit to Nathan's Famous in Coney Island for a hot dog, and just generally entertain each other — and their audience.
It may seem like the comedic banter between Saunders and Blakeman flows effortlessly, but both have the professional experience to make that happen. Saunders, in Los Angeles, produced shows like Arrested Development and created, executive produced and was the showrunner for Raising Expectations with Jason Priestley and Molly Ringwald. Blakeman, in Brooklyn, has done stand-up around the world, teaches a stand-up comedy workshop (Jon Stewart was a student) and was the resident comedian for five years on MSNBC's live coverage of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
Blakeman and Saunders spoke with AARP about what it was like to start a podcast during a pandemic, how they are getting through it and why age can actually be advantageous.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.
What was the catalyst to do a podcast?
Blakeman: We'd have these conversations beyond just being friends and said we should really remember this stuff, this is funny stuff. Now we joke that it took us 40 years to do this because we are both procrastinators. Ironically, at a time where most people are doing less than they did before, or nothing, that was the time we started doing the most we have ever done. We found a [podcasting] app called Anchor and jumped in on April 1st, and every day since then we've been doing a 30- to 35-minute show.
Saunders: Our realm, subject matter is everything, everywhere, always, and definitely includes our relationship over the years. There are very few things in life you want to do every single day. This [podcast] is something we actually want to do, and that alone is amazing.
How do you prepare for the show?
Saunders: We start the night before and work backwards. The opening bit is scripted — like a typical panel show — and you take off from there. Now we compete with each other to see who will come up with the opening bit.
Blakeman: Tommy sits in L.A. and I am in Brooklyn and we are on a phone, and a lot of the show is like our regular phone calls. The only difference is that other people get to hear it. We also have an archive of about 100 pages’ worth of stuff we've done, plus stuff we haven't written down. It's great to start with something. The more we do it, we get a better sense of what we need to do.
Was your age a factor when you thought about creating this podcast?
Blakeman: It's the old stereotype that only high school kids know how to do it. It's not just the tech, we've had long successful careers individually. For us, it's the most satisfying, creative and professional experience we've ever had. A lot of people say, “I am going to kick back and retire now.” We are doing more than we ever have and enjoying it more and getting more satisfaction out of it, so I think that's something. There is never an age where you can't accomplish that.
Saunders: I embrace my age. I used to be a writer in TV, and age is a really big deal there. I became self-conscious and I grew to resent that feeling. [For the podcast] we don't apologize for dating ourselves. Instead, we dive into that, explain, talk about things like the 1964 New York World's Fair. This has been extremely liberating for me from the perspective of relating to your age.
Will you continue podcasting even after we “get through this” pandemic?
Blakeman: We love doing it, and “getting through this” could apply to anything. Although we hope this [pandemic] part will be resolved. We'd like to keep doing it every day and — once such things are possible — do live versions when people can sit next to each other. Maybe books and other things.
Saunders: Unless there is a huge public outcry against it, of course.
You can find Getting Through This With Tom and Scott on the Anchor app, Apple podcasts, Spotify, Stitchr and Google podcasts daily.