Ep. 8: Boy Kitty & Girl Kitty (ft. Ariel Dumas)
Transcription by Colette Arrand. Hire her if you need things transcribed!
Mary Phillips-Sandy: Producer Lizzie, we don’t see her, we only hear her. She could be a 90-year-old man with extremely good vocal skills.
Ariel Dumas: Ohh.
Mary: This whole show could be an elaborate conspiracy to trick me into thinking that producer Lizzie is a real person.
Ariel: [Laughter.] Getting, like, producer catfished. You know?
Mary: Oh, my God. Let’s talk about getting catfished. It could be. It’s not. It’s Let’s Talk About Cats. So, Ariel—
Both: Let’s Talk About Cats!
[UPBEAT, SLIGHTLY FRANTIC ELECTRONIC MUSIC: Let’s talk about cats! Let’s talk about cats!]
Mary: This is Let’s Talk About Cats. I’m noted cat lady Mary Phillips-Sandy. My cat’s name is Grendel, and I’m here with Ariel Dumas. Any relation to Alexandre Dumas?
Ariel: I love to say that I do. That’s never been fact checked, but yes, he’s an uncle.
Mary: Who is your favorite musketeer?
Ariel: Um, the redhead. [Laughter.] I’ve never read it.
Mary: Miranda! Miranda! Miranda, total Miranda.
Ariel: I love Miranda, I’m a total Miranda.
Mary: So we always like to start off this show by asking our guest to introduce us to their cats with a little five word memoir. You have two cats, I know, so you can do one for each. Why don’t you lay it on us?
Ariel: Let’s say Boy Kitty is a goof, and for the other one, Girl Kitty is way mellow.
Mary: Mmm, way mellow.
Mary: Yes, and Boy Kitty and Girl Kitty. Uh, so excellent. I am very excited to learn more about them later in the show. But of course, it is now time, Ariel, for the Cat Quiz.
[UPTEMPO, GUITAR DRIVEN ROCK MUSIC WITH FEMALE VOCALS]
Mary: We’ll get back to the cats in just a minute, but first I want to tell you about a podcast that I really enjoy, and I think you will too. It’s called the Bosscast. It’s hosted by comedian, UCB performer, and Bruce Springsteen enthusiast John Murray. But you don’t just have to take my word for it—the Bosscast was recently recommended by Rolling Stone and the AV Club, two very reliable sources. It is a great show. John loves talking with smart, funny, interesting people who love the Boss, like me. I was a guest on the show, I had a fantastic time. We talked about Bruce, we talked about cats, obviously. I really hope you’ll check it out. If you like Bruce Springsteen and freeform conversation, the Bosscast is the Promised Land. Yeah, there are some puns. Okay, so, it’s on Apple Podcasts, it’s on Spotify, it’s anywhere you get podcasts, and you can stay in touch on Twitter and Instagram: @bosscastjm. That’s the Bosscast, with your host John Murray.
[MUSIC CONTINUES FOR A BEAT, BEFORE FADING]
Mary: Now, I don’t know if you’re familiar, but the Cat Quiz, there’s a prize at stake, and there is no time limit, but you can’t dilly-dally. That’s sort of the rule. You just can’t take all day with this. We have things to do, we have cats to talk about. So the Cat Quiz, I’m going to ask you the questions, you’ve got to give me the answers as quickly as possible. You came up through the Second City, Chicago comedy scene. So today’s Cat Quiz. Chicago: It may be the Second City, but is it also the first city … of cats? Are you ready?
Ariel: [Laughter] I’m so nervous.
Mary: Yeah, you should be.
[CAT QUIZ MUSIC: FAST DRUMS AND RUMBLING PURR SOUNDS.]
Mary: Number one! The Treehouse Humane Society in Rogers Park operates a community cats at work program, which gives outdoor cats jobs at local businesses doing what, Ariel?
Ariel: Keeping the mice down.
Mary: I’ll give it to you on a technicality. They kill rats.
Ariel: Oh, yeah, yeah. Please know that I volunteered at Treehouse.
Mary: You volunteered at Treehouse!
Mary: You get a point for that. You get a point for being a good citizen. Now number two, the great Chicago poet Gwendolyn Brooks once wrote, one reason that cats are happier than people is that they have no what?
Mary: Well no, she wrote that they have no newspapers.
Mary: No newspapers. And this was from, I think it was 1968. I think if it were written today, it would be no Twitter.
Ariel: No Twitter, yeah. But cat Twitter.
Mary: Cat Twitter is pretty great, but it’s run by humans.
Ariel: It is. It should be human Twitter run by cats.
Mary: Alright, we have a true or false now. Cats are allowed at Wrigley Field, as long as they’re confined in a carrier that meets airline regulations for airline travel.
Ariel: I’m going to say false.
Mary: Oh, you saw right through it! That’s correct, false. Only service animals allowed at Wrigley Field, and that is strictly defined as dogs and sometimes miniature horses.
Ariel: Oh, okay.
Mary: Okay, number four. One of Chicago’s hottest bands has been around for over 30 years. It is a super group that formed with members of Third Rail, Heavy Manners, and Big Twist and the Mellow Fellows. They currently play weddings, parties, and just for fun around town. What are they called?
Ariel: Oh, God. Kitty City?
Ariel: No. Cat Power, is that? [Laughter.]
Mary: Oh, Cat Power is not involved. She wishes. They’re called the Chicago Catz, with a Z.
Ariel: Classic. Add a Z to it.
Mary: Okay. Last question. Ariel, it all comes down to this.
Ariel: Oh my God.
Mary: From 1975 to 1976, Chicago was home to a second division pro soccer club that was owned by a local dentist. What was that team’s name?
Ariel: The Wildcats.
Mary: Oh, I’ll give you a half a point. They were called the Chicago Cats, but not with a Z, with an S!
Ariel: [Laughter.] I can’t believe I got every answer right. [Laughter.]
Mary: You did fantastic, Ariel. And your prize is a vintage Marshall Field cat ornament in the original Marshall Field packaging. You will notice that what I’m handing to you right now is not that ornament, but a picture of it.
Mary: Let me tell you what happened.
Ariel: I’m going to cry. This is truly beautiful.
Mary: This is the original, OG Marshall Field, pre-Macys—fuck you, Macys—so what happened was, I bought this from a lady in Chicago. Um, very Chicago excuse—there was a huge snowstorm, she has an old Crown Vic that couldn’t make it to the post office, she had to wait for her boyfriend to come take the package to the post office, so it got delayed. It will be here. We’ll swap addresses after the show. Congratulations.
Ariel: I could cry. This ornament is everything I’ve ever wanted.
Mary: It is everything. It is everything. Alright. So, happy holidays.
Ariel: Oh, thank you Mary. I’m so honored to be here.
Mary: Of course. Of course.
[FAST ROCKING AWESOME GUITAR MUSIC]
Mary: Ariel, we are going to try something that we’ve never done before on this show. It is called Hey, You Should Get a Cat. In this segment, Ariel, you and I are going to convince someone who is listening to this show that they need to get a cat. And today, we’re going to be speaking to Keanu Charles Reeves.
Ariel: Ah, yes. Keanu Charles Reeves.
Mary: Are you familiar? That’s his name. Are you familiar?
Ariel: Yes, yes. Very familiar.
Mary: Okay. So Keanu, hi. Listen, I know you don’t have a cat, and I just want to give a little context. In 2013, Keanu, you gave an AMA on Reddit, and someone asked you the obvious question, which do you prefer, dogs or cats. Very Keanu-esque answer. “Apples and oranges. I’m going to say some days cats, some days dogs. Depends on the cats and the dogs you meet.”
Mary: And I was like, you know, that’s kind of a bullshit answer. Producer Lizzie was like, no, that is Keanu, he’s open to everything.
Mary: He’s not open to cats, because he doesn’t own one.
Ariel: That’s true.
Mary: I think Keanu should have a cat. Do you agree with me?
Ariel: He should have a cat. I feel like he has a very feline energy, and he would do well with a cat.
Mary: He does. Yeah, he does. There’s something about the—let’s go back for a minute. Keanu is immortal, right?
Ariel: Yeah, it’s true.
Mary: So if you believe that cats have nine lives, Keanu could get a cat and they could live in parallel through all the cat’s nine lives, right?
Ariel: That would be so nice.
Mary: They could just keep meeting each other.
Mary: Wouldn’t that be sweet?
Ariel: That would be great.
Mary: I think that would be good for both Keanu and the cat. I mean, it’s got to be lonely being immortal.
Ariel: I think it’s got to be lonely being Keanu Reeves.
Mary: Do you think?
Ariel: I think so.
Mary: There was that sad Keanu picture, when he was on the bench?
Ariel: Yes! That’s what I immediately thought about was like, what if he had a cat in his lap in that picture?
Mary: There wouldn’t be memes, it would just be like wow, I’m glad Keanu is doing so well.
Ariel: Yeah. [Laughter.]
Mary: That’s a really good point. I think the other thing to know about Keanu is that he likes to ride motorcycles.
Mary: In fact, he owns a custom motorcycle company… cat in a sidecar.
Ariel: I was going to say tiny kitty side car!
Ariel: Can you, everyone who is listening, can you see the kitty with the tiny helmet on it?
Mary: Yes, and like, little goggles?
Mary: I mean, I know Keanu is probably not hurting for money, but like, I mean, break the internet?
Ariel: Yeah, it broke my brain.
Mary: I need to like, sit with this for a minute.
Ariel: What kind of cat is in your mind’s eye?
Mary: I’m envisioning a darker cat.
Ariel: Oh, okay.
Mary: A darker cat, but with intense green eyes. Intense.
Mary: Much like Keanu himself.
Ariel: That’s amazing—see, I was thinking opposites attract and he’d get kind of an overweight, just kind of schlubby cat with spots.
Mary: Ohh, maybe.
Ariel: Not like some sort of model.
Mary: You know, it’s funny, like I do think that Keanu does have a great sense of humor, and I think that is something that maybe people forget about him, because he does have that air of mystery about him. But he’s very funny. Like did you see Key and Peele’s movie Keanu? About the cat?
Mary: Oh, Ariel, you’ve got to see it. It’s so good. He does voiceover as a cat.
Ariel: Oh, dang. Oh.
Mary: He meows. And I will say, that is the meow of a man who needs a cat. To me, you can’t be that playful and not have affection for a floofy cat.
Mary: I think the other thing, Keanu, if you’re still listening, which I know you are, Keanu has a lifestyle that can support cats. I looked this up, he owns a home in the Hollywood Hills, it is 5,600 square feet.
Mary: And apparently it has a lot of glass walls with views.
Ariel: Oh, of birds and other things.
Mary: That’s crying out for a cat.
Ariel: It’s wasted, you’re wasting that view on humans.
Mary: You’re wasting it, Keanu. And I know the thing is this, he’s a man of compassion.
Mary: He’s a man of empathy. Why are you depriving a cat of that view?
Ariel: That could be kitty TV all day.
Mary: Kitty TV all day. And I’m not saying he needs to go out and get like eight cats, although he could. Keanu, I think we’ve really made a compelling case for you.
Ariel: Can I add one other tiny argument?
Mary: Please do.
Ariel: The movie The Matrix—
Mary: Yes, I’ve seen it.
Ariel: Which I also just couldn’t remember. I was thinking the Magnus—what is it called, Finding Nemo, because his name is—oh, Neo.
Mary: Neo! [Laughter.]
Ariel: Finding Neo.
Mary: Oh, Keanu, we’re so sorry. She doesn’t mean it.
Ariel: Listen, but I am a true fan.
Ariel: And the moment you know the Matrix is a thing is because you see a cat run by twice.
Mary: This is true. It’s very symbolic.
Ariel: That movie I think really did a number on his career in a good way.
Mary: Keanu, I think you need to—it’s very clear, you need to get a cat, possibly two. You’ve got to build the kitty sidecars, show them the view, and then come on the show.
Ariel: I can’t wait. It’s all set up.
Mary: It’s done. Okay. Congratulations on your new cats, Keanu Reeves.
[TRIUMPHANT GUITAR FLOURISH]
Mary: Alright, it’s time for the real reason we are here. Let’s talk about your cats.
Ariel: Oh my God.
Mary: Boy Kitty and Girl Kitty. You know, but there is something that I want to talk to you about. Um, something very sad that I read on the internet. At 1:20am on October 15, 2013, you tweeted—
Ariel: Oh no.
Mary: “I want a cat so badly. My heart aches when I hear stories about the cats of others.” Um, I think one person liked that tweet.
Mary: Otherwise it got no engagement. Can you take us back to 1:20am at October 15, 2013, and tell us what was happening in your life at that time?
Ariel: Yes. I was probably either on tour with Second City, which means staying in a weird motel in Indiana performing for senior citizens, or I was in my apartment, which was not cat hospitable in any way. I mean, I could barely afford my own can of beans.
Mary: What neighborhood of Chicago were you in?
Ariel: I was in Roscoe Village. It was adorable.
Mary: Okay, yeah.
Ariel: But um, you know, just a lot of meals made out of dry goods.
Ariel: I feel like, I’m sure I was drunk. I had a Jim Beam in a cup and was thinking about cats. Yeah.
Mary: As you do. As you do.
Ariel: The Colbert Report I have to credit for a lot of things in my career, but also to credit in helping me get cats, because—
Mary: Oh, do tell.
Ariel: I finally had the income to support two animals, you know, put them through a good college. Writing for the Colbert Report was amazing, and it involved consuming a lot of Fox News—
Ariel: Unironically. Like, coming home, turning on Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, and just hours of it. And I didn’t know anyone in New York, and it was so, just, did a number on my mind and heart. And I was like, you know what I need to help me in this moment? Two tiny floofballs. You know, my co-worker Mike Brum was like, well you want cats, you talk about them all the time, just get two. And I’m like, okay, I can. I’m 31. Or whatever I was. And I Googled kittens—
Mary: Wait—no, no, you Googled kittens?
Ariel: On Petfinder.
Ariel: Yeah, I Googled kittens, couldn’t find a single listing.
Ariel: It’s hard to find cats on the internet.
Mary: Yeah, they hide them.
Ariel: They sure do. This lady in Spanish Harlem who fosters kittens, who is this insane German woman, she took me into her apartment that was like, full of cats that she was fostering, and in the bathroom was this herd of tiny kittens just jumping all around, and she got out a bottle of wine and, I mean, we’ve mentioned alcohol several times, but I do have to say this woman plied me with enough cheap white wine that I was like, yeah, give me two of these. You know? Agreed to foster two of the kittens, and I got two kittens. So I could like, one under each arm, watch Fox News. And boy did that ever help. I really recommend it.
Mary: Okay, so you’re home, you’re sitting on your couch or watching Fox News. Were you concerned that that was affecting their brains? What was that experience like for you and for them?
Ariel: Well, they would get really close to the TV. They would jump up and sniff Bill O’Reilly’s face, and I was, you know, they’d get right in there, and I would kind of want to discourage that.
Ariel: It’s not healthy for anyone.
Ariel: And also, they’re squirrely. Kittens, you want to cuddle them, but they’re like squirrels. They want to jump and run around. Here’s a trick I found: put a blanket on my lap with like a fuzzy fleece on it, then they start, like, nursing it. And it gets a little weird. So then I have two kitties—especially if it’s like covering my torso, I’m essentially breastfeeding two cats, which is not actually what’s going on, but I am mortified and also kind of relieved to admit.
Mary: I wonder what Bill O’Reilly would say about that.
Ariel: [Laughter.] I think he’s pretty free these days. We could probably call him.
[FAST, DRIVING ROCK MUSIC]
Mary: You’re a writer. You got hired out of Second City to write for the Colbert Report, and then you moved with Stephen over to CBS where you now write for the Late Show, so you’re paid to be creative. Your cat’s names are Boy Kitty and Girl Kitty.
Mary: So why don’t you explain yourself?
Ariel: Okay, so their given names are He-Man and She-Ra.
Ariel: Which, it’s so funny because I tell some people that, and if they’re too young, they don’t know.
Mary: What? The kids don’t know She-Ra?
Ariel: They’re like, He-Man? And I’m like, ugh, come on, He-Man and She-Ra, they’re iconic. But I ended up just calling them Boy Kitty and Girl Kitty. That’s really gender-normative, but they are pretty—I mean, they’re pretty cisnormative cats.
Mary: Sure. I’m just fascinated by this because we’ve had a lot of interesting cat names on this show. I don’t mean this in a bad way—those are the most boring cat names we’ve had on the show.
Ariel: [Laughter.] I am creative for a living, and I leave my work at the office. [Laughter.]
Mary: You know? That’s a good policy.
Ariel: But also, I just—I feel like Kitty, they respond. I usually—I call them just both Kitty, I mean, Boy and Girl, but—
Mary: So how do they know, if you say here, Kitty, how do they know which one you mean?
Ariel: There’s rarely an occasion where I want just one of them, you know?
Mary: Oh you want, okay. They’re a unit.
Ariel: Yeah, they’re kind of a unit.
Mary: Interesting. Okay. Now Boy Kitty is a black cat, correct?
Mary: Do you have any thoughts about the, shall we say, stereotypes of black cats?
Ariel: There’s some Nordic country where they’re lucky.
Mary: Is that true?
Ariel: I think. I want to say.
Mary: Are you Nordic? I don’t mean to make assumptions, but you have—
Ariel: [Laughter.] I mean, I’m sitting here with my translucent skin.
Mary: You have an air of Nordicness.
Ariel: Yeah, no, I am just a watery person from the north. But I grew up with a big, black cat. They’re amazing. I think everyone should get one. they are, I think they’re the best cats.
Mary: They are unfairely maligned. I also, the first cat that I had was a black cat from Chicago, actually, a South Side alley cat that ran into my mom’s apartment and just sat down and was like, yeah, I live here now. And so that was my mom’s cat for the next 22 years, and her name was Midnight. Again, not very creative.
Mary: My mom is not—I love you, mom—but not the best at naming cats.
Mary: I will say this: Just to bring it back to Chicago, there was an infamous incident in 1969 with the Cubs versus the Mets. A black cat ran out onto the field at Shea Stadium and stared at the Cubs dugout for 10 seconds. It was timed. And then after that, the Cubs tanked their season. And so for years, people blamed this cat.
Ariel: That sucks.
Mary: But it goes to show the depth of hatred for black—it’s like no, the Cubs just sucked.
Ariel: I think anyone’s glance in the Cubs’ direction could tank their season, you know?
Mary: Oh! You know, I actually looked back at an interview with some sort of older Cubs players who were joking about all the superstitions and oh, you know, the goat, and blah, blah, blah, none of that’s true—but the cat. I tell you, the cat. That was real.
Ariel: I tell you, if your team can be tanked by a cat, like, your team wasn’t that good to begin with.
Mary: Exactly. Uh, maybe they should have just let the cat coach the Cubs.
Ariel: I think there you go.
Mary: Maybe that would have done better.
[ROCK GUITAR FLOURISH]
Mary: You also are a connoisseur of pet furniture.
Ariel: Yes. Oh my God. You’ve done your research!
Mary: How did you get into pet furniture?
Ariel: I don’t know. I think it’s funny. Like cats lounging like a human on a tiny furniture? I was at IKEA with my boyfriend yesterday and they have those like, you know, the tiny verion of the adult chair?
Ariel: Little baby PÖYÄNG or something like that.
Ariel: And for a second I was like, nope, Ariel, don’t suggest getting that for the cats. Like, I have two different kitty couches.
Mary: Well, one for each of them.
Ariel: As I speak, they’re like, both rolling in a pile of newspaper because they can’t be bothered.
Mary: Of course. Sure. So do you have other pieces of cat furniture? Just the couches right now?
Ariel: I have just the couches. When I moved into this apartment, I only had a few pieces of my own furniture, and I thought it would be funny if cats also had a couch?
Mary: Sure. I want to talk about one of the best DIYs I’ve ever seen. This was a viral tweet. You sewed eyeballs onto a round cat bed, and it made it look very much like your cats were being eaten by a monster. This was really rather alarming, I will say.
Mary: The picture, we’ll link it in the show notes so that everyone else can see it and be alarmed as I was. What was your inspiration for doing this?
Ariel: My family. I don’t know. We did a thing where we make Christmas gifts for each other. Like we called it macaroni necklace Christmas.
Ariel: And this was like, just a few years ago. So we’re all adults. And one of the gifts I gave was ping pong balls with pupils drawn on them, hot glued onto magnets.
Ariel: So what you do is you take those, put them on your metal trash can that lifts open—boom, you’ve got a trash can monster.
Mary: Very creative.
Ariel: And then I thought, like, I got home and I was like, this would be funny.
Mary: Yes. Did the cats enjoy it?
Ariel: They loved it.
Mary: Of course.
Ariel: It’s this felt bed, I think you can Google it. It like, moves when they get in it, so it’s like the monster is chewing it.
Mary: Yeah, because it’s soft.
Ariel: Oh, so fun.
Mary: Did they know that they went viral?
Ariel: No, they had no idea. They don’t appreciate anything I do for them.
Mary: Well that’s good though, you don’t want it going to their heads.
Ariel: That’s true.
Mary: You don’t want that. There is a lot of like, home renovation, DIY TV out there.
Mary: You work in TV.
Ariel: I sure do.
Mary: HGTV should be doing cat furniture shows, right?
Mary: Like, probably you should be hosting it? I don’t know.
Ariel: Oh! I would love that!
Mary: Home makeovers for cat owners, right? Where you make it more—you zhuzh it up for the cats.
Ariel: Yeah, I would love that.
Mary: Like Cat Eye For the Cat Guy.
Mary: That could be you!
Ariel: Oh, I would love Cat Eye.
Mary: What are you doing to make this happen in your career?
Ariel: Oh, I don’t know, I hope my agent and manager are listening.
Mary: Get it out there! I would watch!
Mary: I don’t know if anyone else—everyone who listens to this show would also watch.
Ariel: Wait, can I just say—
Ariel: That in reality, that show would consist of me bringing a bunch of cardboard boxes over to your house and just strewing them across the floor.
Mary: That’s great.
Ariel: That’s like all they want is a pile of trash.
Mary: But that’s great. It’s all—I mean, it’s kind of like Queer Eye, right? It’s not about teaching them to make the most gourmet meal, it’s working with what they have to make them happy.
Ariel: Just go to, you know, the trash room in your apartment building.
Ariel: Drag out a bunch of cardboard boxes, put them in your home.
Mary: You meet them where they are, and you elevate it to the point where they’re comfortable.
Mary: Netflix, get at us.
[AGGRESSIVE, HARD-DRIVING ROCK MUSIC]
Mary: You’re a comedy writer. I know that comedy often means long hours, unpredictable hours, you never know when—especially when you’re dealing with political issues—someone might do something, shall we say, inappropriate that requires commentary.
Mary: Working late night, often late nights, do you miss your cats when you’re at work, when you’re pulling long hours? And do they ever visit you in the writers’ room at the Late Show?
Ariel: Oh, when I got them as kittens I was like—if I started bringing them into work, because we have some dogs at work—
Mary: I was going to say, I know comedy writers’ rooms are often very dog-friendly environments.
Ariel: Yeah, there’s some good doggies at the Late Show, but—there’s not an anti-cat policy, but I feel like by now my cats are too old to—I’ve always wanted to bottle foster kittens.
Mary: Where you feed them.
Ariel: I feel like I could keep a couple of those at work. I mean, I’d take them home, but.
Mary: Under your desk?
Ariel: Yeah. Every two hours.
Mary: Just take them out. You could DIY a sweater, like some sort of carrying thing.
Mary: Right? Where they just sort of ride around in your sweater all day?
Ariel: Yeah, oh yeah.
Mary: In meetings? No one would know.
Ariel: No one would know.
Mary: They’d just be like, Ariel looks a little lumpy today.
Ariel: Oh, she always does. [Laughter.]
Mary: But no one is going to say anything. No, that would be harassment. Have you ever gotten any cat jokes on the air?
Ariel: Oh yeah. Yeah, I have. And you know what’s funny is that I never thought I was a cat lady. Or still kind of don’t think I’m a cat lady?
Mary: I’m sorry, you were drunk tweeting about how much you needed a cat in 2013.
Ariel: I do, but I guess I got cats and I turned into a cat lady, and I guess I was one in my heart. I am passionate about them. And when you asked me to be on this podcast, I squealed. I was like, I would love to talk! Let’s talk about cats!
Mary: [Laughter.] Do you have a favorite cat joke that has gotten killed?
Ariel: I’ve gotten cat names killed.
Ariel: If you ever watch the show, if you hear Mr. Snickers, like that’s one I tried to, I think it’s a funny name for a cat.
Mary: That’s a very good name for a cat.
Mary: Someone out there is going to name their next cat Mr. Snickers because of this.
Ariel: Mr. Snickers, mm-hmm.
Mary: That’s excellent. Actually, there is this trend of shelters naming cats after celebrities to get them adopted. Do you know about this?
Ariel: Whoa, no.
Mary: There have been some Stephen Colbert cats.
Ariel: Oh, that’s amazing.
Mary: At various shelters, and then it’s like, you know, oh, Stephen Colbert loves licking his butt, come adopt him!
Mary: And it works, you know? But it’s funny, because if you Google celebrity’s name plus cats, which I do sometimes, just in the course of researching the show, it will come up, and it’s like a cat in Tennessee or whatever that they’re trying to adopt out. Isn’t that fascinating?
Ariel: Oh, that’s a genius idea!
Mary: Um, I want to ask you, were you responsible for the infamous Acrocats performance on the Late Show in 2015?
Mary: For those who missed it, it is on YouTube, we’ll link it in the show notes, it is one of the funniest things I think I’ve ever seen on television. Um the Acrocats were a troupe of performing cats. Fom Chicago, mind you.
Mary: And they—well, they didn’t perform. They were given an assist by Stephen Colbert, wearing a pair of sparkly, purple I think they were, cat ears.
Mary: It was one of those bits where I remember sort of—it starts and it’s kind of—it seems normal. And then it very quickly goes off the rails. The cats are adorable. I remember crying so hard because it was so funny and the very nice ladies were trying to assist the cats, were trying so hard to get the cats to cooperate, and the cats were just like, you know what? Fuck this, fuck you, fuck it all, we’re just going to sit here. And they did not care that Stephen Colbert was there—
Mary: That the theater was all watching them, that the cameras were on. I remember thinking, who booked this? Are they in trouble? Was it you, Ariel?
Ariel: No! [Laughter.] I wish I could take credit for it, but that day, I think Stephen actually that morning was like—the Acrocats? Okay. Because he’s got so much going on that, you know, Acrocats—the third act of the show is, you know, it’s not the first thing on his mind.
Ariel: And he was like, okay, Acrocats. And the Acrocat handlers had so many requirements. They were just like, okay, well everything needs to be very quiet. And of course the opening to our show is like, crash, bang, boom, yeah. We have a house jazz band—
Ariel: But the performance was as though they just used a fresh batch of cats to try to do tricks with. But you kind of don’t want it to succeed when you watch it.
Mary: Right, no, it would have not been nearly as good.
Ariel: You want it to go off the rails. Because to see—that’s why I love cats, because they want to do their own thing.
Ariel: But the other reason that show is so meaningful is because that was the day after the big terrorist attack in France. And it was such a grief-stricken show and it was so hard to do comedy. And we’d all just been crying and so confused and sad. And then for the end of that day to just be like, here’s a bunch of freaking cats trying to play instruments. It was like—it was the perfect amount of like, harmless chaos that we could all embrace.
Mary: You know, as a cat performance, not great. As comedy? Absolutely perfect.
Ariel: Kind of what you need.
Mary: I think maybe the cats were just operating at a higher level of comedy than anybody could have expected.
Ariel: [Laughter.] Yeah. [Laughter.]
Mary: Like they knew what they were doing. They were like, guys, we got this.
Ariel: It was amazing.
Mary: It was absolutely incredible. I think about this a lot, actually. Are cats just like, something that we use to distract ourselves from the shitshow that is the world, or are they actually a way that we can help make our experience of the world better?
Ariel: Internet cat content is derided as, oh, silly distraction. But I feel that experiencing compassion for something that’s helpless and dependent upon you is a way to enhance your experience with the world and help you be compassionate for others in need. And experiencing a love for a cat is only going to help you have more love in your life.
Mary: I have sort of this little folder on my computer of YouTube clips that I watch when I can’t deal with the world. The Acrocats clip is one of them. And I need that because my brain sometimes can’t handle all of the bad stuff. And it tames me into a very, very, very, very bad place, and I need to get out. And if watching a silly cat video gets me out so that I can function and live my life? You know what, I think that’s awesome. Whatever gets you through the day. And if it’s a silly cat thing, more power to you. I get it.
Ariel: Yeah, 100%.
Mary: Yay! We have some listener shout-outs to do. I want to say hello to Gurnsey, who is listening in Pennsylvania. Gurnsey, FYI, the food is coming, it always does, please relax. Oh, Gurnsey, I think we can all relate to that. Special shout-out to Leap, Roosevelt, and Balll in Brunswick, Maine. Your family says thank you for being mostly patient with your human brother. He loves you very much, even if he sometimes has strange ways of showing it. So thank you for listening Leap, Roosevelt, and Ball. If you would like your cat to get a shout-out on an upcoming episode of Let’s Talk About Cats, you know how to do it: Send me an e-mail, email@example.com. Tell me your cat’s name and where they live and any special message you would like included.
[UPBEAT, SLIGHTLY FRANTIC ELECTRONIC MUSIC: Let’s talk about cats! Let’s talk about cats!]
Mary: Okay, Ariel, before we go, please tell the people listening how they can find you and keep up with everything you’re doing on the Internet.
Ariel: Well anyone can follow me on Twitter. It’s @arieldumas, and that’s it.
Mary: Alright, and we’ll link it in the show notes. And you can find us, Let’s Talk About Cats on Apple Podcasts and everywhere else that you get podcasts. It would be really awesome if while you are there you could rate and review the show. It makes me feel happy, it makes Grendel feel happy, it makes producer Lizzie feel happy. It’s just good all around. So do it, it’s really great. You can also sign up for our newsletter. The first one is going to be coming out soon. So go to letstalkaboutcats.com, you can sign up right there. Once again, I am Mary, my cat’s name is Grendel, our producer is the thoroughly modern Lizzie Jacobs, our theme song is by Poingly with additional music by the English Muffins, our show logo was created by Julia Emiliani. That’s it for now, and I’ll talk to you next time… about cats. Thanks!