Celebrated comedian Chris Gethard is stepping out of his usual role as an actor and writer with the debut of his monthly Garden State-focused podcast, “New Jersey is the World.”
As a native of West Orange, NJ, Gethard has contributed to a number of New Jersey-centered projects. Some of which include his collaboration with North Jersey band The Front Bottoms and, more recently, starring in the documentary “Class Action Park.”
The theme of his podcast, which aired its first episode on Jan. 28, is thus not unusual given his background. As producer and host, Gethard creates a lighthearted and conversational atmosphere as he and his guests discuss the state and its many merits.
Happy to announce NEW JERSEY IS THE WORLD. I’m making a podcast about New Jersey that couples with a Patreon that’s a MASSIVE celebration of the Garden State. Sign up in January at the Patreon and get 25 minutes of my stand up you can’t find anywhere else! https://t.co/ncpYIEZWml pic.twitter.com/HhDtxtn8wH
— Chris Gethard (@ChrisGethard) January 14, 2021
Gethard has previously used audio as a medium for curating and delivering content. For this project, he may have drawn inspiration from his current podcast “Beautiful/Anonymous” where he takes anonymous calls from listeners. Now, with a sense of Jersey pride, he is ready to dispense his love for the Garden State.
In introducing the podcast series on Patreon, he writes, “NEW JERSEY IS THE WORLD is an umbrella of projects exploring, celebrating, and laughing at the culture of America’s most ridiculous state … It gathers a bunch of Jersey guys who grew up together so they can combine forces in their quest to break down all things Jersey.”
The minute-long trailer offers a snippet of what to expect from Gethard and his guests. It borrows clips from some released episodes on his Patreon page, where familiar New Jersey voices enter the scene. It seems that the premise of this series is entirely rooted in deconstructing some of the major cultural phenomena of New Jersey.
As the Patreon page entails, the one project is home to three different series: “WO-Town,” “Voices from the Jughandle” and a New Jersey food review by Bergen County’s Don Fanelli.
Though access to the podcast is available through streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music, members of his Patreon are offered an exclusive look into the project and its additional content. For example, those who contribute $10 per month, also known as “The Turnpike” deal, are able to tune in to a monthly “Jersey Q&A.” The description highlights this perk as “a loose, fun as hell, sloppy q and a episode for your enjoyment.”
Salient amongst other features is the call-ins segment where anyone can be a part of the show, as this project “invites you, the public at large, to get involved,” says his Patreon.
The first episode opens with a montage of four voicemails sent to his phone, which lasts for about four minutes. Each carries its own story about New Jersey packed with a certain degree of both ridiculousness and relatability. These shared experiences then become the center of Gethard’s discussion throughout the hour and 32 minutes.
In this installment, Gethard takes questions from callers who ask, for example, why New Jersey is the only state that does not pump their own gas. This highlights the strange nature of New Jersey norms that prompts Gethard’s commentary.
Later in the episode, he discusses WO-Town and the culture of New Jersey’s amusement parks. When setting up this dialogue, Gethard effortlessly creates an air of nostalgia as he offers memories from his own childhood. In doing so, he uses the collective “we,” emphasizing that the feeling or the moment he describes is universal—at least to some extent.
Gethard says, “There is some [amusement parks] that we all hear about as a kid. I’m sure we’ve all been to some … Land of Make Believe. I’ve been there once. I’ll never forget they used to advertise a haunted house … My brother was [there for three minutes and was] panic-stricken … To this day I don’t know what was going on in there.”
Even those who have never gone to this park can find that sense of anxiety and wonder within themselves that Gethard uses to frame his story. The podcast continues in this exact fashion. They capture the emotional intensity of an experience, and this is often supported by some curiosity to know why and how, which is one of the major pillars of these series. Yet, the show does not fail to point out these mysteries by portraying the state as comic relief, though the tone remains celebratory.
Perhaps this shared willingness to laugh at some cultural aspects of New Jersey is the very reason why the podcast works so well in bringing people together—even those who aren’t Jersey natives. There is a mix of pride and absurdity in these stories that are more authentic than it is exhaustive, rendering it a true joy to listen to.
After tuning in, it seems as though one episode is not enough. There will be a second installment of WO-Town available on Patreon where he discusses NJ colloquialism and dialect. Non-participating listeners, however, should expect another segment on streaming services next month.
Have you listened to the “New Jersey is the World” podcast yet? Let us know in the comments below.