“Do you have salsa that’s … wet? Wetter?” asked Caroline Goldfarb recently, at a restaurant in Los Angeles’s Silver Lake neighborhood. She was attempting to distinguish between pico de gallo and a more aqueous version of salsa. “That’s so gross!” laughed Sarah Ramos. “Wet. Wet salsa.”
The two self-described besties and salsa non-experts are the duo behind the podcast This Week Had Me Like, a twice-monthly deep dive into what they’ve dubbed “bizarre celebrity gossip” — delightfully odd stories that are overlooked, or underappreciated, by other celebrity news outlets. Caroline, the host of the show, is the artist behind the mega-popular celebrity-emoji-rainbow-weed-meme Instagram OfficialSeanPenn, and Sarah, the show’s producer, is a writer and actress whom you might know from her work as Haddie on NBC’s Parenthood.
“To me, the epitome of the show is talking about Adrien Brody’s art show,” Caroline explained, referring to a truly odd and very good fish-inspired art show put on by actor Adrien Brody in New York City in early May, discussed on a recent TWHML episode.
“We love looking at celebrities’ other creative outlets. Like Jessica Biel’s restaurant, Au Fudge. Adrien Brody’s art show. Jon Bon Jovi’s pasta sauce,” said Sarah.
“Yeah, that’s, like, the heart and soul of the show. Celebrity pasta sauces.”
Sarah and Caroline, now in their mid-20s, met as teenagers in a kids’ improv class at Second City Los Angeles. Caroline and another friend had already established a presence in class by the time Sarah joined, which was something she immediately hated very much. “I was like, ’They don’t let anyone else talk!!!!!’” she told me, affecting a convincing “whiny teen” voice. “’I wanna get up there and have my moment!!’” It wasn’t long, though, before she realized Caroline was funny enough to forcefully befriend, and forcefully befriend her she did. “I was just like, ‘Let’s be friends.’ In a really abrupt, forward way. ‘Let’s do this.’”
“Sarah’s mom taped all of our shows.”
“Yeah, she taped all of them. They’re bad.”
“They’re not that bad.”
Though they’ve now known each other for almost a decade, and share a comedic sensibility born of improvising with wannabe child actors, This Week Had Me Like is the first project the two women have worked on together. Caroline credits Sarah with the idea that her Instagram persona and love of pop culture would translate to a podcast. “The thing is, that I’m obsessed with celebrities, and so is Sarah, to some extent, and Sarah is one of my main sounding boards for talking about weird celebrity gossip,” Caroline explained. “She was able to envision a world in which it wasn’t just us talking about it.”
“Right. Well, I like podcasts.”
The show, which tapes and has regular, live “very multimedia, very rainbow” events in Los Angeles, brings together a pop-culture “expert” and a pop-culture “plebe” to discuss the week’s celeb events. The plebe is tested at the opening for true plebe-ness, with questions like, “Which of the following celebs does not have chronic lyme disease?” and “Who is Kylie Jenner currently dating?” (Hint: Not Tyga.) The latest episode hosted writer Gabe Delahaye (expert) and actress Brittany Snow (plebe), who, in one segment, were treated to a video recently posted on Dr. Drew Pinsky’s Facebook page.
In the video, the doctor stands before a crowd at Dodger Stadium reverently holding a microphone to his heart. After a few moments, he opens his mouth and begins singing in a voice one could describe as, uh, startlingly baritone: “Ooh say can you seeee by the daawn’s early light, what so proou— .” Caroline paused the video there.
“I’m crying. And I’m also wet!”
“That’s really good,” Snow offered.
“Maybe he’s dying?” proposed Delahaye.
“I’m loving his mythmaking,” Caroline said. “The caption here: ’Dr. Drew takes the mic at a Dodgers game … and you won’t believe what his voice sounds like!’ Posted by Dr. Drew, tagging himself in the caption.”
Every part of the story — the fact that Dr. Drew is singing the national anthem (for the second time at a major league event in 2016), his shockingly low singing voice, the idea that he references himself in the third person on his own Facebook page — is directly in line with the type of “bizarre celebrity gossip” Caroline and Sarah say they’re obsessed with. But the term “bizarre celebrity gossip,” they clarify, is used only for lack of a better one.
“It sucks that we have to use the phrase ‘bizarre celebrity gossip,’” Caroline told me over nachos and wet salsa. “I wish there were a better word for it than gossip, because it’s such a ‘dirty’ word.”
She says the “gossip” tag — which, she’s right, doesn’t seem quite correct — has been a stumbling block on more than one occasion, when pitching the show both to potential guests and larger outlets. “Just going places and having people tell you, gossip is just too small, it’s too niche, it rubs us the wrong way. Especially if you’re going to a group of suits who are men, they’re just like, ‘I don’t get this, I don’t understand what you are.’”
They don’t denounce straight-up gossip (“People will say, ‘gossip’s not really my thing,” Sarah said, “And I’m like, gossip is like a human thing! I don’t believe you at all.”), but they do stand slightly to the side of it. Rather than dish on the private lives of the publicly known, they shine a light on the absurdity of modern celebrity culture, and the way it’s covered by media and consumed by the public. And it isn’t mean. Their coverage is reflective and honest rather than fawning, so there are casualties along the way, but the point is never to hurt feelings; the point is to appreciate the extraordinary. Like Oscar-winner Adrien Brody’s fish-themed art show. Or Dr. Drew singing the national anthem. Or Ashley Benson’s Crocs campaign, which encouraged teens to wear the Croslite™-constructed clogs to prom.
They have pissed off at least one major celebrity, however:
James Wilkie Broderick.
“So,” Caroline begins, “Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick’s 13-year-old son has a very active Insta lifestyle; he follows a lot of meme accounts, I guess. And he was leaving hate on my Instagram. Being like, ‘You’re not funny anymore!’ ‘This used to be funny!’”
“Which we obviously thought was really hilarious.”
“We didn’t realize it was him until someone brought it to my attention, and you click on his OPEN profile, and it’s blurry selfies of him and Matthew Broderick, and you’re like, holy shit, this is literally James Wilkie Broderick.”
Despite herself, and although she saw the humor in it, Caroline said his cyber-bashing hurt. “I’m like, damn, if SJP’s 13-year-old kid thinks I’m doing something wrong, am I doing something wrong? He’s probably a pretty cultured kid.” So she brought it up on an episode of the podcast, where her guest, comedian Esther Povitsky, suggested she “actively get this shit going” and start a beef with the admittedly very young teen. “So I said some pretty vile shit. Just being like —“
“Talking trash on his parents,” Sarah interrupted. “Specifics need not be repeated.”
James Wilkie sent her a direct message not 24 hours later. “I think I remember it by heart. He was like, ‘Hey, I’m a huge fan, I heard you shouted me out on the podcast. Yeah, I just want to reiterate I’m a big fan, I just felt like talking shit on the internet that day.’”
“I think it was, ‘Writing dumb shit on the internet,’” added Sarah, “Because I really related to that. He really articulated a sense of our generation. ‘I felt like writing dumb shit on the internet.’”
From there, the duo requested he record a voice note to play on the podcast, which he did. “He was so down,” said Caroline, “he was like, ‘I love the podcast, I’ll do anything.’ And he sent this beautiful voice note.”
“He was so mature.”
“That’s the other thing. Throughout this whole experience he was one of the most mature people I’ve ever dealt with. He was raised well.”
“More mature than any guy we’ve ever dated.”
Though the story ended with a beautiful and mature voice-note, Sarah says she almost nixed the trash talk that prompted it, for fear it was too mean. (“And then we got the biggest … celebrity … in the world, James Broderick, to respond to us!”) The podcast just had its tenth episode, and they’re still trying to nail down what works and what doesn’t.
“Like, remember when I did the ‘Victoria Beckham only eats steamed spinach’ story?” Caroline asked.
“I think that’s funny, though.”
“No, but remember the guests were like — they didn’t care.”
“Well, it’s kind of hard also when you get straight men on the podcast. They’ll be like, ‘I don’t wanna be mean to Matthew McConaughey!’ And we’re like, we’re not being mean, ugh!’
They’re also toying with folding in some more traditional podcast elements. “We’ve been talking about people like Marc Maron and Pete Holmes,” Sarah conceded, “how they open their podcasts by just talking about … the most boring shit I have ever heard. And you’re like, literally, how are you talking about this?”
Agree. And, well, yeah, they’re trying to do something like that.
“We’re starting to have openings with Caroline, because we want to give the people what they want, which is more of Caroline.” Caroline bristled at the thought.
“I’m just confused,” Sarah continued. “I’m like, Caroline, you have a podcast, don’t you want all your monomaniacal needs to be heard and validated?”
“Not even,” she said. “I want to talk about pasta sauce.”