To date, few people in the entertainment industry are anything like Spud Goodman. The host of the retired late night “The Spud Goodman Show,” Goodman was somewhat of an unusual figure. He was the polar opposite of the snarky Jay Leno, or the smiling David Letterman. Goodman had his own brand of off-the-rails, bizzaro humor that made his show one worth remembering.
Joined by an oddball cast of characters, “The Spud Goodman Show” acted as more of a humorous sketch comedy program rather than a late night talk show. It ran for several years on various channels before calling it quits in the late 90s. Now, Goodman has taken his signature spatula back up, and is once again taking sips from his handy bottle of Pepto Bismol as he begins work on rebuilding his identity.
Tacoma Weekly caught up with Spud in some basement far away for a quick interview and, more importantly, to ask him where he’s been.
Tacoma Weekly: We’re here with Spud Goodman, and Spud’s been MIA for a number of years now, so I gotta ask…where you been, Spud?
Spud Goodman: Well you know, I was in retirement. Kind of a clichéd term, but I decided to hang up my spatula 10 years ago. Gosh, has it really been 10 years? My producer, Lori Madson, was on my butt and wanted me to come back and do a project or two and she talked me into it and here I am now.
TW: Where have your friends been? Joe? Chick? Your parents?
SG: Accordion Joe is in Spokane now. He’s had some health issues, but he’s doing okay. He calls in on our new radio show from time to time. My mom is doing well, my father has passed away – he passed away about five years ago. My sister is still up in Seattle, my uncle’s up in Gig Harbor.
TW: We are in a basement now, and you said yourself that you got your start working in a basement. In fact, you still do a lot of your work out of basements, so is it somewhat nostalgic, or do you have stories from that time?
SG: Well, we did start in February in 1985 in Tacoma in the basement of an apartment building. Yeah, about 16th and Union? We started there but the showers running and the toilets flushing caused innumerable delays in taping, so we ended up moving to the Eagles abandoned building. We were in that basement for a couple of years in Tacoma before we went off the air and moved our operations up to Seattle.
TW: So “The Spud Goodman Show” has always been a bit of an oddball on the air. But in your opinion, what was the thing that truly set you apart from others? What was your most defining characteristic?
SG: The show was actually conceived as kind of an antidote to all the happy talk shows of that era. Frankly, it was launched with a “we don’t really care” – you know, it was a like it/don’t like it. We didn’t have any money invested in the program there were no risks! So we threw it out there, if people liked it fine, if they didn’t fine. Its not really the IDEAL way to start a show. Just in case you’re listening out there kids, don’t follow in my footsteps.
TW: So, you’ve been with the local Tacoma radio station NWCZ for how long now?
SG: Just started actually. Did the third show last night. I just have the best to say about the people at NWCZ. They’re amazing people. They’ve pulled off this operation with no financial help from the community and they made it a success. You know, it’s just really amazing. So it’s pretty cool to have been asked to be involved.
TW: Can you give us a bit of a story on how you got involved in the radio station?
SG: Well, part of the reason I came out of retirement is to get involved in the local music scene. It’s always been a major part of the program. I’ve always built my show around my musical guests, so I wanted to get involved with something with connections to the local music scene. So we decided to do a video podcast. I think today they released our second one, which features the Seattle band Seeing Blind. Now, we’re on to the next video podcast, hope to get that out in the middle of September. But the idea was to kind of team it up with a companion project, which is we decided to go with radio and we were graciously invited by Darrell Fortune to be a part. Even if it doesn’t work out, its fun you know.
TW: Since you are getting more and more involved with the local music scene, how do you feel about music from back when the show was at its peak to now? What do you think we can expect from the future?
SG: Since we do date way back, prior to the explosion of the so-called Seattle scene, it was something to see as a spectator, you know seeing a band that hasn’t even played a gig being wined and dined, and asked to sign deals. Those days are over. You just don’t see that now… The record industry has changed and those days are never going to come back and it’s probably for the best.
TW: You’ve been talking a lot about the Seattle scene. Following that wave of hype, it really gave Seattle its own identity and affected Washington’s image overall. How do you think the view of Washington has changed around the world?
SG: With music and pop culture everything is circular. Before Seattle it was Athens, Georgia and I can go on and on and on and there’s the “Hot Spot,” but you know, Seattle had some legs. To this day it still does. It’s a big part of tourism for the city of Seattle. The tourist trade supports it and I think that it isn’t the sports teams or anything like that that brings people to Seattle – it’s going to be that scene, that history, the essence of the city.
TW: One of the most important aspects of the show was always the musical guests. As you get bigger, who are you looking forward to having? And as the show grows in popularity, do you want to get bigger acts on?
SG: What I would prefer to do and my plan is to book upcoming bands. Yeah, back when I was on the show we did national touring bands but they don’t really need a whole lot of help selling their products. We’re kind of irrelevant to them but I think we can be a bit of help to the bands that are working their ways up. And that’s it, that’s all we want to book, upcoming Northwest bands.
TW: You’ve been writing a lot recently. Can you tell us what you’ve been working on?
SG: As far as writing goes, I am probably just focusing on the blog. I’m probably not going to work on plays or anything. That was for fun, and we didn’t make a whole lot of money off it. We did some stuff for the fringe festival (and) we drew a small audience, but nope I’m going to focus on the radio show and the podcast and hopefully find an audience to really help those upcoming bands that we try to support with the show.
Learn everything there is to know about Spud Goodman, his podcasts, blog and more at http://www.spudgoodman.com.
Sean Contris is a student at Wilson High School. Oftentimes he comes too close to embodying the classical, and often times stereotypical, persona of a young male writer. Sean enjoys listening to a wide range of music and locking himself in his room to read sad Russian novels.
Spud Goodman sat and had a chat with Tacoma Weekly contributing writer Sean Contris, which you can see at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LBhPs1XsJhs&feature=youtube_gdata_player. Listen to Goodman live every Thursday from 7-8 p.m. at http://nwczradio.com/.