For over one hundred episodes of The Worst Idea of All Time podcast, listeners around the globe have enjoyed weekly installments chronicling the strange voyage of two young New Zealand gentlemen. Tim Batt and Guy Montgomery raised eyebrows, interest and the attention of mental health professionals when first deciding to watch Grown Ups 2 and talk about it every week for a year. They then followed this up with the somehow more problematic Sex and the City 2, and have now kicked off with their third and final season, watching Zac Efron EDM DJ pic We Are Your Friends. We caught up for a chat about the show, and check in on Tim and Guy’s overall state of mind – mostly for comparative purposes when hearing them in the inevitable depths of despair later this year. As if embarking on the new season wasn’t enough, they both have shows in this year’s NZ International Comedy Festival – including a live taping of this actual bloody podcast.
FLICKS: Have you watched ‘We Are Your Friends’ yet?
TIM BATT: We did the first viewing yesterday.
Great, so it’s really happening.
TIM: It’s different, very different. After the first season of watching Grown Ups 2 for 52 weeks, we watched Sex and the City 2 for the first time. We were like, “Holy shit, this movie isn’t Grown Ups 2, it’s awesome. This is a real movie. That’s great.” Then obviously you’re pretty familiar with our state by the time we got to the end of the 52 weeks of Sex and the City 2, the movie really turned against us in a big way. I’m dubious but we have just watched We Are Your Friends for the first time. We’re like,”This movie, cracking pace for most of it, people are actually acting in it, not without its flaws, but this feels good.”
GUY MONTGOMERY: People have said to us,”I think you’ve accidentally chosen a okay movie.” Even the word good has been used.
I’ve seen the film, I reviewed the film for Flicks, and I gave it a two star review.
TIM: I would not agree with that review at all.
Would you go up or down?
TIM: Definitely, I’d give it, I think, four. Wait a minute you meant stars out of five?
That was out of ten? So you’d give it two as well.
TIM: Yeah, I probably would actually.
Now that you’ve agreed with me that’s good, but you’re looking at the film from a completely different point of view because you’re going, “Well this is the maiden voyage of many revisitations”.
GUY: It’s almost like an arranged marriage. So maybe the first night is like, “Well we can work with this”. This is definitely a better arranged marriage than the previous two.
The mental disintegration in the first season was great. It sounded like you were realizing that you’d gotten in over your heads.
TIM: But quite quickly I think. Sex and the City 2, I think that definitely snuck up on us more. It was in those early ones of watching…
GUY: I think only the first part’s really like “yeah, this is what a new movie feels like”, and then we were furious. The other thing that happened is we took two months off this year which we didn’t do last time so it’s fresher. I was really excited to get back on. I’m champing at the bit to get back on at the podcast. I really am. Lots of people have been like, “Hey guys, when’s the next one coming out? I’m still here waiting for you.”
You used the expression “early ones” before. Is that a vague description, or do you catalogue the viewings?
TIM: Yeah, by ones I mean single digit watches.
So you’ve some kind of a bell curve in your head of torment and enjoyment then right?
TIM: Yeah, being in the 30s is probably the hardest bit because you’re over halfway and it’s just too many times to have seen a movie in that short space of time. It’s also that the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t anywhere near close enough to give you some relief. For me, it’s around that sort of 36, 37, 38, 39.
GUY: Those are generally the craziest ones.
It feels as if you are both on a different equilibrium of how you’re coping as well. It’s sort of on the back end of each season that you’ve both completely run out of any hope. Maybe those are the toughest episodes because when one dude’s a bit more up from one the other, there’s a bit of saving grace or the possibility of a good fight, but it’s when you’re both just rooted that it’s a bit of a tough slog. Is that fair to say?
GUY: I think I felt like doing Sex and the City 2 through the first 10-15, maybe 20, I was quite fearful. It was so early and it was just every week it was just hammering at us, like “this is what you’re doing”. To be honest, the way that I remember it, I watch the movie, talk about it with Tim, and then generally never revisit any of it again. It sort of just all becomes one malaise of one. I can remember some episodes, like moments when Tim and I had a really good fight or something. Whenever one of us is feeling down, I think it’s very important that the other one prods the open sore because there’s not really a lot of opportunities otherwise to have access at that low ebb and also be able to be like, “Yeah, and it gets worse.” I think there’s sort of a public duty to explore that.
TIM: Yeah, definitely but we’re talking in some very lofty terms. It’s important to remember that this was in the context of our stupid podcast. That’s very safe space, so if someone is feeling a bit low or fed up with the whole thing, you’re totally right. It’s the duty of the other person to needle into there and draw out as much pain as possible because that’s funny, that’s comedy.
That’s something that can only further establish the strength of your friendship, right? Isn’t that what a good friendship does, kick their mates when they’re down?
TIM: That’s what friendship’s about. It’s weird , a weird format for friendship. It’s all about humiliating other people.
Jumping to how the podcast has been received overseas, I really like how that side of our national psyche is being exposed to a big audience, particularly somewhere as carefree and pro-therapy as Los Angeles. What have your Americans been like as you go through the pits of despair on the show?
TIM: They’re really supportive. Americans. Americans as fans are really good, they got great fan culture across everything over there. Whether it be sports, or television, or comedy, or music, they’re just good at being fans of something. Podcast fans are quite a specific, condensed pocket of truly fervent fans. They’ve been so wonderful. Reaching out and seeing us, and all these wonderful messages. If we sound particularly down they would be like, “Hey boys, you sound real rough this week. Just want you to know we love what you’re doing, we really appreciate you, you’re doing the Lord’s work out there.” There’s a lot of people telling us we’re doing the Lord’s work.
GUY: Lots of people calling us heroes, lots people calling us brave. It’s much appreciated, it’s inaccurate, but it’s much appreciated.
TIM: I haven’t articulated this before, even thought about it, but I think that with the differences between podcast fans and movie fans and music fans, music fans are a little closer to what we have. They’re very similar to us, like they’re the same kinds of people. The whole barrier to entry with podcasts is so low that it’s just normal people making them. We’re just two dudes who are comedians and making it. With people who are movie star fans, the divide who the movie star is and the life that they lead and the fans is like a chasm, a massive gap between them. With us, when we made our first trip to America, we had a few people reach out to us, fans who were like, “I want to show you around my work. I want to take you out to lunch and stuff.” We were like, “This’ll be fun. We get to meet real crazy on us”. We meet with them and they’re fucking awesome people who have got these incredible lives. They have animation studios or they have incredible careers in the creative industries. They’re like us but they just fans of the podcast.
GUY: They got to hear us discover not only what we were doing in terms of how to make a podcast together but also in terms of discovering the base that we created with the podcast format. I think it’s quite satisfying especially for people that got on earlier. You’re totally on the journey.
That’s a great point. It has evolved at its own rate and you’ve run into dead ends and come up with your own solutions. I like the way segments have kind of grown and the regular elements of the show have come together. Everyone’s been on for the ride with you guys.
GUY: That’s what’s so good. That was born on the very first episode because Tim and I talked about the idea and I was like, “Okay, well, can we start doing it soon?” and Tim’s like, “No, we’re doing it tomorrow.” And there was no pressure about it at all so it all did happen naturally. You hear it all worked out. That’s the good thing about podcasting because you hear it all. Some people edit but Tim just sorts the levels and then it goes up, never taking anything out. With one episode, Prawn Salad [Episode 29 of season one]… I was like “I don’t know if we should release this”.
TIM: That was just after we got a shout out from Paul Scheer and we got a whole lot of new listeners in the first episode and that’s what they would have experienced. Just half an hour of incomprehensible giggling.
GUY: Chemically enhanced episodes.
TIM: Unsolicited, someone from the Guardian just wrote an article 39 or 40 episodes into Sex and the City 2 so we got a lot of the intelligentsia of Britain on board and the first episode we put out just by chance after that article went out was the Five Hour Energy one. Yeah so it was a whole lot new listeners on board just being like “what the fuck”.
GUY: That’s the most downloaded episode isn’t it?
TIM: Yeah, I think it’s the number one downloaded episode, I need to dive back into the stats. But it’s important to not be precious about the podcast. We were back stage for the final episode of season two in New York City in the theatre we were in. We were just having a last chat about what we would do. We still didn’t know what movie we were going to do for season three, but we knew there was going to be a season three. We just made the rule backstage there. We had a bit of a short list with eight, nine, ten things on it, and we just said “whoever first says out loud a movie that we like better, that’s it”
GUY: I think it’s important.
TIM: It is important.
GUY: It’s important to not think about the fact you’re going to be with it for a year. That’s how the podcast started, it was like a snap decision. It wasn’t any projection on what it would a year from now. It was, “well, this is what we’ll start doing”.
TIM: Sex and the City 2 was just based on it being the funniest reveal of a movie though, and I cut this little video up from the film. It’s all about commitment to a very hastily made decision.
GUY: We talked about, for season three. Tim didn’t have time to cut the video but for season three doing another retrospective video and then just have the Sex in the City 2 poster come up again. And do it another 52 times. Quite seriously, because that is the funniest possible video but it would also… Well, the relationship had gone sour. Not with each other but with Sex and the City 2 and it wouldn’t have been possible.
It wouldn’t have been fair on ‘Sex and the City 2’ for you guys to put the film through that experience.
GUY: Yeah, I actually think you’re right. It’s certainly not fair to put it through the wringer for 52 weeks in a row and to do it for another year. It’s already dead.
One of my favourite things about the podcast is the notion that the film is kind of this entity that exists outside of time and just happens every time you watch it. Hearing you guys potentially believe that that was happening and looking at the individual performances each week – “he was great this week:. Whether you genuinely believe that or not, it certainly comes across to the listener like it’s existing in a time slip.
GUY: I do genuinely, genuinely believe it. It’s for, I think, my own sanity ironically, because if they’re bringing something different every week then it’s easier for me to bring something different every week. It might not necessarily be true, but every time you watch a movie you watch it differently in some way. You don’t necessarily watch the same bit of action in every scene. There is an opportunity for it to exist in that time slip. With Sex and the City 2 there’s so much space and everything, between dialogue, in every shot. It’s just so big and just wide and vast. You really have look beyond because it’s just these four insufferable friends talking to one another for two and a half hours in various different ludicrous settings. You do go out of your mind. You have to find the other stuff that’s happening.
TIM: Fuck, I would love to see if people could actually research it, look into this a bit more and then name the phenomenon after us in the podcast. I articulated this idea in the first season in one of the episodes that you do get to a point when you’re watching the movie so much that your brain actually can’t focus anymore on the foreground, what you’re supposed to be looking at. So you just perfectly, naturally, pay attention to anything else that’s happening in the scene. I think it’s because the human brain loves stimulus and new information and it’s like, “No, I’ve fucking seen this. Give me some new data.” It’s scanning around, looking everywhere but where the movie wants you to looks and that’s where shit gets real interesting. Especially partnered with the slightly Gitmo nature of what we’re doing. We end up just spinning these big stories about what these tiny little characters are doing.
GUY: You already wasting your time. If you’re going to watch the same movie every week for a year, you might as well do something with it. There might as well be something more happening than usual. We’re seeing the movie in a way that no one else gets to see it. None of the people who made Sex and the City 2 knew they were also creating an apocalyptic battle for global domination to underscore these four women trying to revive and maintain their friendship. If they did, maybe the movie would have been a critical and box office smash instead of the absolute dog it was.
TIM: I wonder if they’d understood what they’d make it better.
I reckon what could make a taping better this season is to talk about ‘We Are Your Friends’ in a nightclub with all the dancefloor lighting on.
GUY: It’s our last season, so we should push the boat out as far as we can. Like, we should do something like that because the thing is it’s part of We Are Your Friends. The whole going out, getting loaded, and trying to have sex with people – I did it. I was not very good at it. But when I was in University, or when I first moved to Auckland when I was just finishing University, I lived with two people who were trying to be DJs and through proximity to other people doing it, sort of tried my hand at that lifestyle, and I hated it. It was so bad and empty and… I guess if you’re good at it maybe it’s fun and satisfying and fulfilling but if you’re not, you’re just having some rat poison and going home and not falling asleep until five o’clock.
I think you’ve just put your finger on an essential truth of ‘We Are Your Friends’. When I reviewed the film, I got a bit bored watching it, which doesn’t recommend it to you guys 52 times. If the only thing going for this lifestyle is hedonism, why make it boring?
GUY: For it to be the genre movie it presents itself as being it just needs to go fucking full tilt on it and go, “This is fucking awesome. We’re 23. We’re on drugs. We’re having sex with the hottest women. We’re playing these bad tracks.” But the movie makers sort of take like a half a step forward and half a step back and they add all these morals to it and these consequences to your actions but they lose their freedoms.
TIM: Half of it being it was just like fucking awesome. Trainspotting‘s a bad example but just that commitment to a thing.
GUY: Yeah but I feel like it was going great: “Oh my God, life is amazing”. Zac Efron is going to be the biggest DJ in the world and have sex with all the good looking women and then it’s like, “Ah fuck, we’ve only got 20 minutes of movie left and nothing has gone wrong. Problems, problems, problems.”
There’s two reasons why I think you’re cheating by choosing this movie this year in comparison to the ones that had come before it. One, it’s probably a better example of a film, like as a film it’s actually a film. And one could believe these other two aren’t actually films.
GUY: Yeah and we’ve yeah felt like that and we noticed that but also it’s like this is the last year and it’s like who knows what happens if you watch a film that actually is a film 52 times.
TIM: Some people on our Facebook got very offended when we announced that it was going to be We Are Your Friends, because it’s not a sequel and it’s not that bad. It’s like, there’s no real rules to this.
GUY: Whose podcast is this?
TIM: Well, it’s all of ours, mate. It’s all of ours and I do love existing with that spirit in mind. But ultimately, we can’t pander, we can’t look at analytics, because this whole thing is just going on, coming up with a fucking daft idea and running with it. So we just got to keep doing it.
Here’s another reason why I think you guys cheated with the selection of this film. And that’s Emily Ratajkowski. In your most uninspiring moments watching those other films, there’s so little to cling on to But here you’ve got an incredibly gorgeous actress to fall back on.
GUY: That ain’t me man.
That’s a safety net that didn’t exist in some other films.
TIM: I so disagree with that premise and I know you say that half in jest, but I’m not even going to take it. I don’t believe that there’s any kind of respite. You could make this same argument with Grown Ups 2.
GUY: The stipulation that all women in that film must wear pushup bras pretty much provides the same sort of thing as what you’re talking about in We Are Your Friends.
TIM: I understand the crux of the point but I think you underestimate what we’re doing here. It’s art! It’s bigger than your base instincts! It’s bigger than all of our dicks, Steve!
I’m glad. It’s good to be wrong.
TIM: It’s not wrong. It’s a disagreement. No one’s wrong.
GUY: There’s one funny shot in it. Zac Efron is explaining electronic music and how to work a crowd. He’s talking about the 128 beats per minute is what aligns with the human heartbeat or whatever. And as he says it, it’s like “cue a shot of Emily’s chest!”, and then transition to her heart beating inside it.
TIM: Art. Master stroke of being able to get away with a tit shot. The content is pornographic and they’ve tried to slip the content into something else. It’s very clever. But it’s not that clever.
That attitude sets you up pretty well for the next year. Great things have come from those previous seasons. You’ve got that fan base, you’ve had awesome experiences during live shows in L.A. and then New York. First of all though, you’ve got shows in the NZ Comedy Festival. What are those shows and why should people come to see them?
GUY: Mine is called Guy MontgoMERRY CHRISTMAS. It’s a Christmas show and it’s a huge departure from anything I’ve done before. It’s not stand up. It’s sort of almost a Christmas variety show. There’s a myriad of special guests and special moments. And as far as the New Zealand festival goes, I feel like it’s pretty outside the box. It’s pretty different from what you’d probably get elsewhere. I think I’ve probably had some people who liked my stand up come along and be pretty thrown off by what I’m actually doing. It’s really fun to do as well because I’ve just done a full month of stand up in Melbourne and so it feels so fresh and exciting to do something which is sort of different from anything else. And where else do you get to hear about Christmas in May?
TIM: And I’m doing a show called Vote Batt which is within the New Zealand International Comedy Festival but it’s actually not a comedy show. It’s a series of political rallies that I’m conducting to try and launch my political ambitions and campaign in this country, the Motherland. New Zealand.
So, they’re both skewing pretty conceptual. Think that’s got anything to do with the fact you’ve been living inside the constraints of a concept for two years now? Or is it just pure coincidence?
TIM: It’s hard to say because I think it’s bigger than just us as well. It’s our peers, makes sense for us as part of a lot of the younger -I don’t quite know how to categorise where we are – in our comedy clubs in New Zealand now.
GUY: Nic Sampson’s show is Nic Sampson’s Fallen Down a Well, and he’s presenting the show from the bottom of the well and Joseph Moore has become a dad. The show is called So… I’m A Dad. And it’s Joseph Moore is talking about parenting. I don’t quite know why. I saw Rose Matafeo’s show Finally Dead last year. I was like, “That looks like fun,” and while I didn’t consciously know that I’d do something that was a concept show, it was at the back of my mind bubbling away. And I just think there’s so many white guys doing stand up shows at the moment. We’re all doing pretty well. We’ve got lovely partners. We’re just loving life. But I mean, it’s good as well, because then we do, you have to fucking like reach right over here instead of talking about your shitty ex. It’s like, life’s going pretty good. So I’ll at least get real absurd on shit.
TIM: I also just want to say on the record, I feel like we’ve been talking for the last 45 minutes about how popular we are. The show’s not that big. We’ve definitely got a lot of listeners and a fanbase in the States that can allow us to go over there and shit but we’re not Serial or anything. We’ve gotten to build sections of people around the place who’ve managed to crack on to us through one method or another but I wouldn’t say we’ve fucking cracked it yet.
Well, look at that. Isn’t that just such a kiwi way to finish?
GUY: To undermine everything.