For 8 Seasons, the former police detective turned private investigator Adrian Monk, solved crimes while searching for the murderer who killed his wife, Trudy. With OCPD, (Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder) compounding his issues, Monk dealt with crimes in his own unique way. I recently spoke with both Will Choi and Keiko Agena about their hysterical Monk podcast entitled Drunk Monk Podcast.
Each week, actor/comedian (Choi) and Gilmore Girls star (Agena) break down the classic TV series. They feature special guests and of course…lots and lots of alcohol. You can follow their weekly shenanigans on Twitter
How did you the two of you decide on doing a Monk podcast?
KEIKO: We were really just floating the idea around one night after drinking. It didn’t start as a serious idea… just a last minute conversation before I dropped Will off at his place. But it was so silly. Who would do a podcast about a show that you just can’t find anywhere? Seriously. It’s not on Netflix anymore. Please, Netflix executives… I know you are reading this. #BringBackMonk. But the idea just kept making us laugh and it is something that I knew I would continue to be interested in over time. I have always said that Monk is my favorite show. I’ve watched it many times and I can’t get enough of it. Tony Shalhoub deserves all of the praise that he got for that show. His performance is incredible. Will had never seen an episode. We thought, let’s try it out, do a test taping and see if it was any good. Whether that first taping was truly any good or not has yet to be determined but we laughed when we played it back and it was so fun to do, we thought, what the hell, let’s do this.
WILL: We went to a bar and talked about how fun doing a podcast would be. Since Monk is Keiko’s favorite show, we thought it’d be a crazy yet plausible idea to do a podcast about Monk while drinking alcohol. We wanted to do a show that focused on Monk, but also included improvised characters and stories from our real-life experiences (with an Asian-American perspective). I think that makes our show a little different from other re-watch podcasts.
Drunk Monk? Explain to our audience, the “Drunk” portion of the show.
KEIKO: (laughs). TITO’S VODKA. That’s my staple at least. Will drinks a quarter of a Stella Artois and will get a buzz. He will say it’s because he hasn’t been getting enough sleep but don’t buy it. Also, TITO’S VODKA executives… I know you are reading this. Send us stuff. We (I) will drink it and tell all of my famous friends. Oh, also, there’s something that happens when we drink. I’ve always felt that if we were given this kind of outlet, a space where we can make our own rules, we should bring a truthfulness to it. I know that sounds strange because a large part of our podcast taping every week is improvisation and we are “lying” I suppose… but a more important part to me is that we have some moments where we are really being honest about who we are, revealing something personal about ourselves and sharing our real opinions. And, uh, alcohol really helps with that. At least for me. I am probably more myself on this podcast than I am in any other arena.
WILL: Before we record the actual podcast episode, we watch the TV show episode beforehand. During that time, we’ll fix a drink while we watch, so by the time we hit record, we’re feeling it. We’re still waiting on that Tito’s vodka sponsorship.
Now Will is watching the show for the first time, while Keiko has watched it before. How is that dynamic working out?
KEIKO: It’s a good thing. I am probably too much of a fan so it’s good that Will can offer some perspective. I suppose you wouldn’t want to hear two people just gushing all of the time.
WILL: I think it’s now a common podcast dynamic where one person is a long time fan while the other is watching it for the first time. I try to view the show as objectively as possible, which is why we thought it’d be fun to have a “Plot Holes” section and talk about things that didn’t make sense in the episode. It provides a common ground for us because some plot holes are just so absurd. As for our dynamic with each other, we were already friends beforehand, so it was made sense to host a show together. We’ve really gotten to know each other better since starting the show. Maybe more than we’d like…
Listening to the podcast, Will said that if he weren’t doing the podcast, he wouldn’t have watched the second episode after watching the pilot. Will have you changed your mind since watching the show? And what didn’t you like about the pilot that made you say that initially?
KEIKO: I think Will has definitely changed his mind. I thought that he would, but I was worried that he wouldn’t. There are definitely a lot of things that don’t quite line up in every episode and we kind of cover them with a segment called “plot holes”, but for the most part, I think that the characters won him over. I think that initially he didn’t like it because of the procedural nature of the show. He is a big LOST fan. I don’t know why I think those things are necessarily opposites, but in my mind that makes sense.
WILL: At first, I was hesitant about the show, only because the procedural nature isn’t what I normally enjoy in a TV show. I felt like I understood what the show was all about by the pilot. Shows like CSI or Law & Order don’t interest me very much because I like to watch shows that are serialized and have a long narrative story. I felt the mysteries were going to be the focal point of the episodes – which is still true, but when it peppers in the overarching plot of finding out who killed Monk’s wife, Trudy – that’s the most interesting part. Now that we’re two seasons in, I’m much more invested and have a stronger opinion about the show and the characters.
What are you favorite alcoholic beverages?
KEIKO: I’ll have TITO’S VODKA on the rocks, or with olives, or with coke… Will sometimes has wine or beer or vodka. Also, it depends if he has to go to work after the recording. One thing that we have tried to maintain is getting our guests their favorite beverage when they come on the show. So now we have a little bit of a liquor cabinet going at Will’s place (which is where we record). Gin, Rum, Whiskey… we have a little bit of everything now.
WILL: Insider tip: If I drink a beer (usually a Stella), it’s because I have to go to work or an event after we record. If I’m drinking something with vodka or rum in it, then it’s party time. I’ll usually fix up some kind of soda/vodka drink. We tend to forget to say what we’re drinking during the episode, but know that we’re at least drinking something!
How often do you both record the show?
KEIKO: About once a week.
WILL: It depends. Ideally, we shoot for twice a week. Our schedules can be unpredictable because we’re actors, so it that doesn’t always happen. We do make it a priority to record at least an episode a week.
What are you favorite episodes of Monk so far? And least favorite?
KEIKO: Favorite episode has to be Mr. Monk goes to the Asylum. My least favorite is Mr. Monk meets the Playboy. However, I think that my favorite podcast episode to record was the one with Demi Adejuyigbe (@electrolemon on twitter) Mr. Monk and the TV Star. It was so fun because first off, Demi is hilarious and his multiple characters that showed up during the taping was totally “on point” and secondly, he is a true Monk fan. He is knowledgeable about the whole series and at one point he (as Randy Newman) sang the entire theme song. I loved it!
WILL: There have been some great episodes! I think the show really finds its stride starting from season 2. “Mr. Monk and the Three Pies” is absolutely solid. That’s the episode where Monk’s brother (John Turturro) Ambrose shows up. I also really liked “Mr. Monk Goes to the Theatre”. My least favorite episode is “Mr. Monk Meets the Playboy”. It was the weakest episode of season 2 in my opinion.
What are some of your favorite podcasts that you listen to?
KEIKO: I like Lauren Lapkus’ podcast “with Special Guest Lauren Lapkus”, “Improv4Humans” by Matt Besser, “Don’t get me Started” with Will Hines and Anthony King, “This American Life” – of course, “Gilmore Guys” with Demi and Kevin…
WILL: Right now, I’m obsessed “Spontaneanation with Paul F. Tompkins”. PFT is incredible. I’ve also been into “Batman: The Animated Podcast” and NPR’s “Hidden Brain”.
You’ve had some pretty cool guests on the show so far. Who would you want besides of course Tony Shalhoub to be on the show?
KEIKO: ANY of the cast would be phenomenal! Personally, I want to meet Bitty Schram… just because I think she is an amazing actress. Andy Breckman (show creator) would be incredible!
WILL: Having Tony Shalhoub is the dream. My hope is that he comes on for our final episode and provides the voice for our silent intern “Toby”. Internets, make it happen. But besides all the series leads, another person I would love to have is Sarah Silverman, who showed up in a previous episode. I hear she comes back for another one later, so it would be incredible to talk to her about that. We also hear that Matthew Gray Gubler (Criminal Minds) is a fan of Monk, so we’re scheming a plan to get him on the show…
Did you know there is a series of Monk books written by Lee Goldberg that are set after the series ended? Have you ever read these and if so, what are you thoughts?
- Note: for info on Lee Goldberg’s books, click this link!
KEIKO: Oh! I didn’t know about those. I got two books from the Monk series that Hy Conrad wrote as a secret Santa gift. (Plus a huge bottle of Jim Beam). It was the perfect thing! I gobbled up both books. I will have to check out the ones that Lee Goldberg wrote.
WILL: I haven’t read them yet.
You met, Tony Shalhoub recently. What was that experience like?
KEIKO: I could barely hold it together. I just want more of it. Is that possible? I want more Tony Shalhoub in whatever package that comes in… infomercial, new series, hologram, gif for my phone, neighbor, godfather, friend, best friend, star of a new movie, newest star wars villain, country singer… I could keep going. Just more.
WILL: We did get to meet him, but very briefly! He was speaking at USC and we were able to attend that event. Keiko got to ask Tony the final question of the night, which was very exciting for her. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to tell him about the podcast because our interaction was so quick. He was very kind and even let us take a picture with him.
After this podcast, do you have any plans to do any other shows?
KEIKO: Yes. Whatever show Will wants to do. 😉
WILL: Oh boy, if all goes according to plan, I believe we’ll be done with this podcast by the end of 2017? I don’t even know what life will look like by then. Will Trump be president? Will all the bees go extinct? Will Monk get a Netflix revival and we end up having to record even more episodes afterwards? WHO KNOWS. Keiko & I haven’t talked about doing another show after we finish Monk. We jokingly mentioned doing a Buffy/Angel rewatch on an episode, since I’m a big fan of those series and Keiko’s never seen them. BUT my favorite show is LOST, so…
Do you have any advice for new podcasters?
KEIKO: Do it on a topic you like. Do it with someone you like. Drink. DON’T buy the large bags of salt and vinegar chips at the store… you WILL eat the whole thing, even if you don’t mean to…. every time. Make an intro song, twitter/instagram/facebook page, professional artwork, date for a launch party BEFORE you even start. That way you are committed to doing it. 😉 Be you. Tell the truth. Share it with your weird friends.
WILL: If you have an idea that you love, no matter how specific or niche it is, just do it. The great thing about podcasting is that it doesn’t take much to get started. And once you have that idea, don’t be too precious with it. It doesn’t have to be perfect from the get-go. As with anything creative, things will evolve the longer you do it. So just get started!