harveyjames (harveyjames) wrote,

Before & After I Saw Them: #2, Jesse Thorn & Jordan Morris

As a comic book artist, I listen to a lot of podcasts while I draw. I can't help but build a mental picture of the radio personalities I listen to , so I'm going to illustrate and examine this process- what did they look like in my head, and how did my perception of them change once I knew what they looked like?

The Sound Of Young America is maybe the first podcast I ever got into. TSOYA and its sister show Jordan Jesse Go! were the first time I heard the format that I've since heard repeated many times- in-depth interviews with creative people who might not get the attention they deserve, and informal chats with comedians and other funny people. There's a thousand shows doing the same thing, but man! It's a good gateway podcast. It introduced me to a lot of stuff I went on to check out and love to this day.

As before, I've written a bunch about the thought process behind today's image after the jump.

[UPDATE 17/11/11] I feel like it would be remiss not to add a disclaimer, here: a couple of people (not least the subjects of the caricature themselves) have expressed their distaste at these drawings. It's been pointed out to me that my caricatures are unfair and severly unflattering- having checked their photos again, I realise that there's a ring of truth to that. These drawings may be just too negatively slanted to be taken in the spirit with which they were intended. Jordan and Jesse are two normal-looking guys! It's entirely possible that my radar was totally off. The write-up below reflects my initial impressions of the two hosts- it seems, though, that my impressions of the 'real' Jordan and Jesse suffer from just as much funhouse mirror distortion as my imagined versions.

So the show painted a very clear picture in my mind of who these people were. Jordan and Jesse have perfected a very traditionalist, old-timey style of radio which serves as a counterpoint to the pop culture references and boner gags that are the backbone of their comedy. Jesse Thorn has a honeyed, golden radio voice that British humorist Chris Morris once accused him of affecting for the show- Jordan Morris's voice sounds very young and chipper, and provides a perfect counterpoint. I guess it's easy to see where their nicknames, 'America's Radio Sweetheart' and 'Boy Detective', respectively, came from.
I imagined them looking like this:

All right. Now- later I checked them out and saw a photograph of them. Predictably, they didn't have the movie-star looks I expected. They're easy to find pictures of, though- they're both TV hosts for Fuel TV and IFC respectively. Now- I'm not the greatest caricaturist I know. People tend not to like the drawings I do of them, so take this with a pinch of salt, but they basically look like this:

Though they're not bad-looking dudes, Jordan and Jesse don't inspire the same kind of confidence with their personal appearance as they do with their voices. Perhaps as a result, I started to pick up on things in the shows I hadn't noticed before. I started to notice the disdain and lack of respect that certain guests on Jordan Jesse Go! occasionally show to the hosts. A number of professional comedians who came on the show seemed to never miss an opportunity to belittle one or more of the hosts- particularly Jesse- or treat them as low status, in a way that often seemed more like bullying than playful ribbing. Maybe now I knew what they looked like, I was looking out for this.

As someone who spent his life up to about age 25 with tremendously bad skin and crooked teeth, I know a thing or two about physical insecurity. Noticing their appearance led me to question their overbearingly self-confident way the hosts carry themselves, and my mind jumped to the conclusion that it might be a way of compensating for their own insecurities and lack or self-worth. Perhaps I was just projecting.

Furthermore, on the show Jesse's sexuality is often called into question. At first, I thought nothing of it. When I saw what he looked like, however, I think I understood- he really does have the appearance and demeanour of a fancy gay gentleman. Jesse married his childhood sweetheart who he'd dated since school- was Jordan really only joking when he suggested on the show that they were a 'couple of beards for each other'? I now began to wonder!

Even if they don't look like movie stars from the 40's, nothing could change the fact that Jesse and Jordan seem like genuine class acts and nice guys. Their show is an institution in podcasting. If you'd like to listen to their show or go to see about getting tickets to one of their MAXFUN conventions, go to http://www.maximumfun.org .

Tomorrow, the final installment for the time being- my drawings of Scott Aukerman from Comedy Bang Bang!


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