I’ve heard this described as “A Prairie Home Companion for Brooklyn.” Does that fit? And if so, what’s your version of The News from Lake Wobegon?
KA: You could say that. Although just as Prairie Home is about a notional place that exists in hearts and minds all over America, so too do we want Kings County to conjure a version or vision of Brooklyn that exists in cities everywhere. But I probably won’t sing. And our version of The News From Lake Wobegon might be somewhat less weather-centric.
SB: Wait, this is one of those “some people say…” things Fox News does, isn’t it. “Some people say the President swore a goat’s blood oath to secretly destroy the US banking system. Why won’t the White House comment on this developing scandal?”
Anyway, I’ve never heard of Prairie Home Companion or Lake Wobegon or Garrison Keillor and certainly didn’t grow up listening to it like everyone else in America.
Indie rock takes itself pretty seriously; so-called indie comedy does not. How do you account for the easy symbiosis of the two in Brooklyn over the last decade? It’s obviously something you’re excited by, given the make-up of the show…
KA: Good question! That symbiosis is the whole point, right? Of life as well as The Brooklyn Sensibility. Also, I was at an Andrew Bird show at Bell House recently where the audience laughed a lot—and the original Brooklyn indie rockers, They Might Be Giants, are very funny.
SB: The best stuff in either (or any) genre squares the circle, right? Takes itself seriously except when it doesn’t? Respects the craft and hard work and retains a sense of play and looseness anyway? And as far as Brooklyn being a center of that mix—which I totally agree is the whole point—I’ll call Kurt’s TMBG reference and raise him the Beasties, who almost always did it all.
“Brooklyn” has become shorthand for an approach to urban life that prioritizes creativity, curation, and the twin virtues of the Local and the DIY. What is it about this place—and these ideas—that are so compelling to people?
SB: First, our show isn’t about literal Brooklyn, it’s about the thing that that shorthand refers to. People who like the culture coming out of all the Brooklyns like it because it’s (a) good and/or (b) fresh, which isn’t itself as good as “good,” but is still something. People who like the notion of such a place existing like it—this is totally my own bullshit take, by the way—because it’s fun to believe in the myth (the often true myth!) of cultural renewal happening fresh in places where young and/or non-rich people can afford to be. It’s an underdog story.
KA: You got your era of unstoppable globalization and Über-mass-production, you’re bound to get your upsurge of DIY and localism as antidotes, thank God. It’s about the possibility of invention rather than It Is What It Is (the worst single aphorism of the 21st century) and received wisdom and a certain kind of rancid glam.
On the other hand, you mention fancy mayonnaise in the Kings County promo blurb, an artisanal condiment I frankly find ridiculous. Do you sometimes worry that “Brooklyn” is approaching self-parody? (I do, all the time.)
SB: I don’t worry about this because it has already happened. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t lots of great stuff happening as well. Just that you have to be a careful shopper.
KA: I think Brooklyn and “Brooklyn” have at least another decade before the fun-to-self-parody ratio tips too far in the wrong direction.