Interview

Calling All Gut Buckets: Learn More About the Hosts of Big Orange Couch

The ’90s were a pivotal decade for Nickelodeon as the network delivered a unique variety of groundbreaking shows still cherished by fans to this day. To that point, longtime friends, Andrew and Joey, are the hosts of Big Orange Couch: The 90s Nickelodeon Podcast. Offering episode reviews, character and show debates, top five lists, retrospectives and a whole lot more, BOC gives listeners a fun and nostalgic look back at not only this special era of TV but the ’90s in general. So, grab a snack and gather around the Big Orange Couch as we indulge in the unforgettable time that was ’90s Nickelodeon.

You guys have mentioned on BOC that an early concept for your podcast would’ve been to solely focus on The Adventures of Pete & Pete. Were there any other shows you considered before you ultimately decided to create a ‘90s Nickelodeon podcast?

Andrew: Probably the only other shows we mentioned which we both know a lot about are The X-Files and The Twilight Zone.  But we knew there were already podcasts for those shows.  I think The Twilight Pwn and The X-Files Files are big reasons why we thought this might even be possible.

Joey: It’s a good thing we didn’t do Pete & Pete. The podcast would have been over 10 episodes ago!

How did you go about coming up with the various recurring segments for BOC such as Call That, What Would YouTube Comments Do and, most recently, Are You Afraid to Name the Episode?

Andrew: Most of this came about pretty organically. There’s so much to work with, I feel like a lot of it just fell into place.  However, this makes me realize Joey did come up with all of the segment names. I give him all credit for that.

Joey: I’m a huge fan of a Twilight Zone podcast called Twilight Pwn. They do a bunch of segments they help round out their episodes. Each segment has its own little jingle and it became something I looked forward to every episode, so I thought it was something that really worked to enrich the episodes.

One of the fun aspects about BOC is that you frequently welcome guests to join your episode discussions, weigh in on topics such as ideal SNICK line-up or ‘90s Nickelodeon family and, of course, to judge your debates. Was it your goal from the start to bring friends on every week, or did that idea arise organically as the podcast progressed?

Andrew: I think it became clear after about one episode that a third person would really liven things up.  One of the major reasons we decided to do this was as an excuse to get together and talk about stuff we were talking about anyway.  So it just seemed natural to bring in friends who lived during the same era who could relate their own experiences.

What were your go-to ‘90s Nick shows to watch prior to starting BOC?

Andrew: Pete and Pete, Are You Afraid of the Dark, Rocko’s Modern Life, Ren and Stimpy, and Doug are the big ones I have often revisited and plan to continue revisiting outside of the show. I keep finding something interesting and inspiring in all of the shows, but in those ones most of all, even twenty-five years later.

Joey: Pete & Pete and Are You Afraid of the Dark were the ones I’ve most been drawn to over the years. During the brief run where Nickelodeon ran the channel GAS (games and sports), I really got into GUTS and Legends again.  

Why do you think ‘90s Nickelodeon is so highly regarded compared to any other other era from the network?

Andrew: I think that these shows came along at a very special moment, when people were still trying to figure out what television really was.  As a consequence, a lot of creative people, who probably never would have gotten a chance otherwise, were given the freedom to explore new ideas without restraint.  It’s a perfect example of what can happen when people work on things they love. The result was what I still think is some of the greatest, weirdest TV ever produced.

What do you feel makes BOC stand out from other podcasts?

Andrew: There are a lot of great podcasts out there.  If anything makes us stand out I think it stems from the passion people still have for these shows and the place it holds in their lives.  It’s a shared experience between people from all over the world. I have a friend who grew up in Trinidad who recited the words to The Recycle song from Rocko’s Modern Life from memory.  90’s Nick is this weird thing that connects people in ways I don’t think anyone could have predicted.

Joey: We definitely love the topics we’re talking about. I’ve never walked into an episode dreading the subject. I think people share in that joy. I also think we’ve worked hard on trying to offer a variety of episodes. We do debates, favorite lists, episode reviews, year in reviews, perfect lineups, interviews, award shows, and most recently we wrote our own Nickelodeon episodes. We’ve tried everything in our power to prevent the show from feeling stale.

Are there any ‘90s Nick shows you’ve changed your opinions on now compared to when you watched them growing up?

Andrew: I’m definitely fonder of game shows now.  As a kid I couldn’t wait to move onto a cartoon, but today I find a lot more to like about them, which I never thought would happen.

Joey: I wouldn’t say in drastic ways. Pete & Pete is as good as I’ve always thought. AYAOTD a little clunkier. Clarissa feels a little funnier. Hey Dude a little worse. And rediscovering Fifteen is an absolute joy. The Nicktoons might have lost their luster a little.

You guys interviewed the co-creator of The Adventures Pete & Pete, Will McRobb, and alluded to plans to interview more guests down the line. Who would be some other guests you’d love to interview someday?

Andrew: I’m excited to talk to anyone who played role in producing anything 90’s Nick, but Joe Murray is someone who I think would be particularly interesting to hear from.

Joey: I would love to talk to anyone from AYAOTD. Kirk Baily (Ug from Salute Your Shorts) would be fun. I guess anyone. It’s fun to see the mindset of people who were actually involved in all these things that have left such an impression on so many of us.

Can you give the listeners a peek behind the curtain when it comes to preparing for and recording BOC each week? For example, how far in advance do you typically watch the shows you discuss? Do you record in person?

Andrew: We do record in person at our top secret location. I usually watch the shows a few days in advance, but a lot of times I almost don’t need to because some of it is still so memorable.

Joey: We try to plan about two episodes ahead at all times. So at any given time we have 3 episodes in mind. Sometimes we record 2 episodes in the same night if the episodes aren’t too daunting (episode reviews are the easiest to double up on). For episode reviews I will usually watch the episode 3 times. Once just to remind myself/see if for the first time. Second time to write down my thoughts and third time to do my stray observations. If I can still do a third viewing without dreading it, it’s usually a good sign for the episode.

BOC will be celebrating its one-year anniversary soon. Have there been talks about what type of episode you’re planning to do for this milestone?

Andrew: I think we’ll be able to come up with something pretty special, though we tend to only plan a couple episodes ahead.  Part of the reason for that is to get a feel for what people are most interested in.

Joey: We did our 2017 retrospective, which kind of was a special episode, more about the podcast itself and what we had enjoyed thus far. We don’t have anything concrete for our 1-year anniversary. Suggestions are always welcomed!

As you’ve mentioned on BOC, both Rocko’s Modern Life and Are You Afraid of the Dark? will be returning with a one-hour TV special and a feature film adaptation, respectively. Do you have any expectations for these revivals, and are there any other ‘90s Nick shows you’d want to see rebooted?

Andrew: I am cautiously optimistic about RML and AYAOTD.  What we’ve seen of RML already looks great, but there are so few good horror/sci-fi anthology shows to begin with, I’m worried about AYAOTD.

Joey: And throw on Clarissa Explains It All and Blue’s Clues now. I think it’s nice Nickelodeon is acknowledging the generation of kids now raising their own kids with some of this stuff, but it doesn’t excite me too much. I’ll definitely check out the AYAOTD movie, but I’ve mostly abandoned the expectation that Nickelodeon could ever be as fresh and daring as they were in the 90s and that most of this stuff is a crash grab.

What would each of you say is your favorite BOC moment so far?

Andrew: This is a copout, but I’ve really loved every moment of the show, with the exception of some of the preparation. That first episode of Weinerville was not my favorite.

Joey: Interviewing Will McRobb. Andrew and I entered into this as something that would be just a fun hobby with some friends, and that’s still what it is. So that episode felt surreal, to talk to someone like Will, who we both admired so much, for this podcast that we just made up out of thin air. It was really cool!

What are you most looking forward to for the future of BOC?

Andrew: I’m really looking forward to getting to some of the shows we haven’t talked about much so far, like Angry Beavers, Rocket Power, All That.  And we haven’t talked AYAOTD in a while. I’m always up for that.

Joey: Though they require the most prep work, I really love doing versus episodes and there just seems to be endless options. Versus are the most fun in-person episodes to do. There’s a whole element of being in the same space, debating, that I’m not sure the podcast captures or not.  I also really enjoy doing the Years in Review, and listeners have seemed to dig them too.

Do you have any advice for people interested in starting their own podcast?

Andrew: My advice to anyone with podcast or any other aspirations is to start doing it.  Google what you need to get started. Do the best you can and you’ll learn as you go.

Joey: I think pick something that you really, truly would want to talk about every week or month, or whatever. Something that doesn’t get old to you. Something you’re passionate about. I think podcasts that work have a couple of elements: Fun concepts, passionate hosts and a willingness to include its audience. If you have a really good friend(s) to do it with, that eases the stress as well.

I’d love to give you guys a few quick versus questions before we wrap up. To kick it off, who would you prefer to have as a brother: Big Pete or Little Pete?

Andrew: It’s gotta be Little Pete for me.  I had a younger brother so I guess I always identified with Big Pete.

Joey: Big Pete. Such a complicated, quirky character. I guess we’re going to have to do this versus now aren’t we?

Who’d be your preferred best friend: Gerald from Hey Arnold! or Skeeter from Doug?

Andrew: That’s one of the toughest choices I’ve had to make since we started this.  They are both so great. At the end of the day I gotta go with Skeeter.

Joey: Yep, great one! Definitely another versus here. I think Skeeter seemed more fun to hang out with, pure energy, but Gerald seemed less stressful to be around. Just so easy-going and supportive. I’ll go with Gerald. Plus, Skeeters family always seemed stressful to be around.

Who’d be the worse bully to have: Angelica from Rugrats or Helga from Hey Arnold!?

Andrew: Angelica would probably be worse because she’s young enough to be merciless.  She doesn’t know exactly what she’s doing yet and she doesn’t care.

Joey: Totally agree with Andrew. Angelica has a ruthlessness to her that is unyielding. Plus, Helga had some real reasons to have such a tough exterior with people.

Who’d be the worse pet: Ren or Stimpy?

Andrew: Stimpy would probably be worse for me personally.  He’s just too messy and disgusting. If Ren was real I think he’d be much easier to handle.  He seems more interested in human pursuits.

Joey: Ren. The sound of his voice. His cruelty at times. His nonstop plotting and planning. I know who Stimpy is. I know he loves life and I could get behind that, despite the mess.

Who would you rather go camping with: the campers from Salute Your Shorts or the members of The Midnight Society from Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Andrew: Oh, man. That’s a great one. I don’t even want to pick, but it was part of my New Year’s resolution to be more decisive on these.  I have to go with The Midnight Society. I always loved the idea of telling scary stories in the woods. It’s like the fantasy a kid has, while SYS is the reality.  If I get a chance to experience the fantasy, I gotta take it.

Joey: I’d rather chill with the Salute Your Shorts gang. They really feel like a unit. More activities to do with fun personalities I think. Midnight Society seems ok, but there is kind of a lot of rules to be in the Midnight Society and a lot of snarkiness between the members. Plus, the Midnight Society didn’t really camp. 25-minute stories and then off into the woods. I think I could really develop some friendships with Donkeylips, Sponge, Zee Zee, Ronnie and Telly!

Last but not least: Describe BOC in one word.

Andrew: idon’tknow

Joey: Nostalgia.

You can find BOC on Apple Podcasts and Podbean as well as on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Feel free to share your favorite memories of watching ’90s Nickelodeon as a kid. Until next time, thanks for reading, gut buckets!

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