Damon YoungThe Pittsburgh-based writer began his literate travel with Very Smart Brothas (VSB), a blog helium co-founded with Panama Jackson successful 2008, and helped tally for implicit 10 years. In 2019, Young released his book, What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir successful Essays,
Now, the multitalented columnist is adding a caller instrumentality to his skillset: Podcasting. Stuck with Damon Young, a caller podcast by Crooked Media, Spotify, and Gimlet, explores the interior workings and intricacies of Black culture, which includes the exploration of perchance uncomfortable topics similar sex, race, gender, and class. Joined by a rotating formed of Black writers, critics, and comedians, Young’s discussions are some superior and hilarious, but astatine the extremity of the day, they are an authentic and thoughtful look into the anxiety-generating moments of his life.
Digital Trends spoke with Young astir his caller podcast, however helium explores anxiousness and vulnerabilities, and the value of accessibility successful his writing. Young adjacent shared his occupation with Hollywood erstwhile it comes to its depiction of hoops successful movies.
Note: This interrogation has been edited for magnitude and clarity.
Digital Trends: What was the inspiration down this project, Stuck with Damon Young, and wherefore did you take to bash a podcast?
Damon Young: That’s a comic question. The inspiration? With the podcast, it was thing that was ne'er truly an aspiration for me. I’m a writer and that’s my thing. I’m not 1 of those writers oregon radical who deliberation of penning arsenic a means to an end. Writing is the extremity for me. With podcasting, I’ve been asked and approached aggregate times implicit the past respective years to bash one, and I declined each time.
But erstwhile Crooked approached, I conscionable was a instrumentality of their wide ethos and their wide vibe. I had done immoderate things with them successful the past, too. The thought that we ended up coming up with for a amusement was thing that was successful enactment with the enactment that I americium doing with my writing. I’m exploring these vulnerabilities — self-consciousness, neuroses, and anxieties — and truly conscionable asking wherefore implicit and implicit again. Why bash I consciousness this way? Why did I bash this thing? Why bash we consciousness this way? Why does this happen? And so, you know, the podcast conscionable gave maine a antithetic lexicon. A antithetic dialect for exploring these questions that I research successful my writing.
Were you expected to commencement this podcast earlier the pandemic?
Yeah, the archetypal program was to driblet it successful the outpouring of 2020. You could astir apt find immoderate worldly online astir the motorboat … past the pandemic hit, and that changed everything. For this peculiar show, it was somewhat serendipitous. Maybe serendipitous is the incorrect connection due to the fact that it was a planetary pandemic wherever truthful galore radical person died, but it worked retired for us. It allowed america to alteration the operation of the show, wherever pre-pandemic, it was much of a consecutive interrogation amusement wherever I bring radical connected and we research these topics. But, it was a akin format to 10,000 different podcasts.
Whereas now, we get to beryllium back, excavation in, and fig retired what’s much aligned with what we’re trying to do, and besides what is somewhat unique. We came up with a format that past involves a scripted essay. It involves 2 interviews. It besides involves a skit that’s astir similar a palate cleanser successful the mediate of the episode. Sometimes, the skits are ridiculous crippled shows. Sometimes, determination are radical calling in. One of the skits successful the radical show occurrence is maine really calling Quaker Oats to settee an statement astir whether grits are meant to beryllium eaten with brackish oregon sugar. I virtually telephone Quaker Oats. People person asked maine if it was a skit similar I had idiosyncratic acting arsenic lawsuit service. No, that was the existent radical astatine Quaker Oats who responded to my call.
When listening to the podcast oregon speechmaking your articles, it plays similar an informal therapy session. You constitute and speech done your feelings. Then, the assemblage reads oregon listens to your takes travel to beingness successful real-time. Why did you determine to get precise idiosyncratic successful some your columns and podcast?
I mean, wherefore wage for therapy erstwhile you tin person radical wage [laughing]? My book, What Doesn’t Kill You Makes You Blacker, came retired successful 2019, astir about 3 years agone to this day. When you constitute a memoir and you’re a idiosyncratic similar maine … I’m not Barack Obama, right? If I were to constitute a memoir oregon if I were to constitute thing personal, thing first-person, radical don’t springiness a crap astir my biography. They don’t attraction astir wherever Damon Young went to school, erstwhile Damon Young met his wife, oregon wherever Damon Young lives.
So for idiosyncratic similar me, if I’m going to constitute oregon bash immoderate benignant of first-person narrative, it has to research those vulnerabilities and those neuroses and those anxieties adjacent though not everyone has had my background. Not everyone is simply a 43-year-old achromatic antheral from Pittsburgh who played assemblage hoops oregon whatever. Everyone has experienced doubt. Everyone has experienced fear. Everyone has had immoderate benignant of a travel to get much comfy successful their ain skin. Some people, you know, evidently instrumentality a small spot longer than others.
So I conjecture my reply to the question is there’s nary constituent successful doing what I bash unless I get arsenic heavy arsenic I could perchance get. That close determination is what makes it the astir compelling. I consciousness similar that specificity, wherever it adjacent becomes somewhat esoteric, is what really makes it universal. Where if I conscionable tried to support it precise superficial, precise crushed level, past yeah, possibly much radical would, get it connected a aboveground level, but you’re not truly catching anybody.
In a previous interview, you discussed accessibility successful your writing. The thought that a student could recognize your speechmaking conscionable arsenic overmuch arsenic the feline disconnected the street. This thought is that anyone tin work and recognize your enactment due to the fact that it’s accessible.
The assemblage that I person successful caput is me, right? So I effort to make things that I would beryllium funny successful reading, things that I would understand, things that, you know, possibly don’t beryllium and that I would similar to exist. I’m not an academic. Although I bash work enactment from academics and enactment that tin get truly heavy into argumentation with this precise wonky information and worldly similar that. That’s not who I am. When I marque a enactment that’s accessible, that’s conscionable maine being existent to myself and thing that again, if I were connected the different side, I would admit consumed.
As a erstwhile assemblage hoops subordinate astatine Canisius, I work your portion astir the White Men Can’t Jump reboot with Jack Harlow. I’m not arsenic harsh arsenic your critique connected Harlow’s hoops abilities, but I recognize your reasoning that Hollywood tends to formed actors who person small to nary acquisition playing basketball. Why not bring successful a hoops adept oregon adjacent formed hoops players successful these roles?
For context, there’s a White Men Can’t Jump reboot, and Jack Harlow is acceptable to beryllium starring successful it. And truthful my contented is not needfully his acting. He could beryllium the adjacent Brando, I don’t know. I conscionable person a bony to prime with hoops depiction successful movies due to the fact that they support casting actors who are not bully astatine basketball. There are actors who tin hoop. There are actors who tin play basketball. Mahershala Ali played Division I Basketball. Woody Harrelson successful the archetypal White Men Can’t Jump could hoop. Denzel Washington successful He Got Game could play a small bit. So determination are actors who tin hoop. Why not formed the actors who are good?
I conjecture the comeback would be, well, Jack Harlow played successful the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game, and yeah, I saw him play successful the All-Star Celebrity Game [laughing]. I don’t privation to consciousness similar I’m picking connected him due to the fact that not everyone is bully astatine basketball, and that’s fine. But again, if you are expected to represent idiosyncratic who was bully capable astatine hoops that you could competently hustle existent ballplayers, which is what White Men Can’t Jump is about, past you should beryllium bully capable astatine hoops that you tin hustle existent ballplayers.
I deliberation astir this taxable akin to however Ben Affleck thought astir Armageddon. He asked Michael Bay wherefore it was easier to bid lipid drillers to go astronauts alternatively of grooming astronauts to go lipid drillers. Wouldn’t you thatch astronauts to beryllium lipid drillers?
Look astatine a movie similar Blue Chips. They had Shaquille O’Neal and Penny Hardaway. These guys play basketball.
Again, I’m not adjacent saying you person to get NBA players, but determination are capable actors who tin hoop that you tin usage them. In Finding Forrester, Rob Brown could play basketball. Duane Martin successful Above the Rim was a truly bully hoops player.
Just look astatine Winning Time.
They recovered guys who tin hoop connected that show. It’s comic connected Winning Time, 1 of the guys [on the show] I really utilized to coach.
Oh wow. Which one?
It’s the occurrence wherever Cookie is dating the feline who runs the footwear store. Remember that episode?
Magic benignant of bullies him connected a playground that day. Well, I cognize that guy. I coached him erstwhile helium was similar 11 oregon 12 years old. I was coaching this District League hoops squad present successful Pittsburgh. He’s doing different enactment too, not conscionable Winning Time, truthful it’s bully to spot him retired there.
What tin radical expect successful aboriginal episodes of the podcast? Who are immoderate of the upcoming guests, and what topics are you going to cover?
This past week, determination was an occurrence with Samantha Irby, who’s the bestselling writer of Wow, No Thank You., Meaty, and We Are Never Meeting successful Real Life. She’s astir apt the funniest writer alive, I think. So I person her connected and I person Mehrsa Baradaran, who is an economist, to speech astir wealth and immoderate of the anxieties I person astir wealth and increasing up without much. Now, I person a spot much [money] truthful immoderate of the neuroses and the anxieties that travel with the whiplash of ne'er having it, and present having it.
I person different episodes with Marc Lamont Hill, Jemele Hill, Jamilah Lemieux, Kara Brown, Kiese Laymon, and Imani Perry. Just immoderate truly dope, truly comic radical to speech astir topics ranging from intelligence wellness to governmental show and grief. We’ve already had episodes that talked astir sex, religion, and parenting. So again with each topic, we conscionable research immoderate of the deeper anxieties and neuroses. Sometimes, radical are amazed by wherever we go.
I’m arrogant of what we’ve done. It astir feels similar an audiobook with guests. I’m looking guardant to radical getting a accidental to perceive to what we person this week oregon what we person successful the adjacent fewer weeks.
New episodes of Stuck with Damon Young arrive each Tuesday connected Spotify.
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