Relationship shows and sex advice columns have plagued the world since the invention of paper. And, over the years, the space has only become more and more cramped with same sounding media that is mostly filler or dirty for the sake of being dirty. Enter Ménage a Trois. No, not the sexual thing; the podcast thing.
Diana Kolsky and Murf Meyer, hosts of Ménage a Trois Radio and real life couple, are a dynamic duo. They host the popular podcast, have a regular show at UCB, act, do standup and perform all other manners of being talented. I was lucky to have a phone call with them discussing their paths to the show.
How long have you guys been doing this podcast?
Diana: We’ve been doing the podcast for a little over three years but we took a nine-month hiatus in between our fortieth and forty first episode.
Murf: Yeah we were producing it on our own for a while then our producer moved onto other things. We started looking at other options and UCB Comedy started a podcast network so that worked out perfectly. We just picked up where we left off after the first forty episodes and now we’re well over a hundred.
You guys said a nine-month hiatus. That’s about enough time to gestate a baby.
Murf: That’s right.
Diana: Except we didn’t make anything.
Murf: We lost the baby in nine months.
Murf: No! It’s not true.
Murf: We didn’t have one. No, no, no. It’s about the time to gestate on some other creative projects.
What else do you guys do? I know Murf, you act. And Diana you produce things and do comedy?
Diana: Yeah I do a little bit of standup. A lot of writing. I do design and illustration as well.
Not a lot of people do that. They just kind of stick with one thing and then go for it. At least you have your hands in several pots.
Murf: Oh yeah. She is a renaissance lady.
Since you’re a part of the UCB podcast network, do you perform over there often?
Murf: We met at a class at UCB years ago and we’ve both been in various improv and sketch teams at the theater for years. We now have our Ménage a Trois monthly show at the Chelsea Theater. IT’s called after dark. It kind of runs in conjunction with our podcast. We do various shows at the theater; different improv shows and stuff.
What goes on during the monthly show?
Diana: The monthly show is pretty rockin. We try to, rather than record a live podcast, we try to try to bring the heart and soul of our podcast to life. We’ll try to do anything from fun dance routines to crazy guests to live nude dancers or strippers. We’ll do sketch comedy games-
Murf: We screen some adult films and do kind of a Mystery Science Theater --
Murf: 69, yeah – over the film to give our commentary. We try to mix it up. It’s not like people are going to watch a live recording of one of our episodes of our podcast.
Okay. So you do weird commentaries like Mystery Science Theater over the porn films? You make fun of it, I assume, right?
Murf: Yeah we have fun with it.
Good. I didn’t want you examining their positions and saying what they’re doing wrong.
Murf: Oh no, no, no, no. They’re professionals. They’re certainly more limber and athletic than we are. We have fun with the plot and…
Diana: The pubic hair, we comment on. We usually figure out the year a movie came out by looking at the bushes.
Murf: Pubic hair is definitely an indicator -- like the rings off a tree – to see how old a porno is.
How much pubic hair is too much pubic hair?
Diana: I don’t think there can be too much pubic hair!
Murf: Yeah. I say “never enough.” Just let it grow natural. See how far nature intended for you to grow. I’m also a hairy man.
I’ve seen you in Broad City so we know you’re kind of hairy.
Murf: [laughs] Yeah.
How well trained are you in improv?
Diana: I’d say we’re both pretty well trained. We did the whole curriculum in UCB and we’re both in acting, which we’ve since stepped away from to pursue other things. It’s really fun but it takes up a lot of time.
Murf: Yeah but we both started taking classes years ago. Since we don’t write our podcasts, having those improv instincts is great with different guests. We have different topics we bring up to talk about but we never write our script. It’s great to be open and say yes to whatever it is our guest is brining to the episode. It helps having the improv background.
How did you guys get hooked up with Chris Gethard?
Diana: I’d taken a class with him many years ago. And then I’d taken another class with him and that’s where I met Murf. He was our teacher, originally, and then we all became friends. Murf’s obviously a panelist on The Chris Gethard Show but I do character bits for that show. And Gethard actually performed our wedding ceremony. We went form student teacher relationships to friends.
Murf: Yeah to Justice of the Peace marrying us at our wedding. [laughs]
Diana: Our pastor.
How is it working on that show? Especially with it being someone who’s so close to you in real life?
Murf: I think it’s great. The whole vibe of that show has always been [kind of] a family. It’s just a bunch of fucking weird people that get together and test the limits of whatever they’re uncomfortable with and try new things out. It’s always been swing for the fences and, maybe, come up short mentality. But we try different things so I feel like it’s been a very important environment of trying out different shit so we’ve gotten Gethard as a guest on Ménage before and it was a very open [time]. It was one of our earlier episodes so it was good to get him on so we can…. we know each other so well personally that there’s not much that we can get into that’ll be off limits.
Going off of that, what’s it like having someone like Gethard or Ilana [Glazer] or Amy Poehler or Horatio [Sanz] on the podcast as opposed to somebody who’s not as well known?
Diana: It’s pretty much the same. What we may lack in close, personal relationships with certain famous people, they’re really professional. They’ve been doing this for so long that they know what they’re bringing. I find that both are enjoyable.
Murf: Yeah I also think that, because of a lot of the people in the New York comedy community we’ve started to hang out with and talk to over the years, that it’s great to have comedians on. When we first started doing the podcast, we didn’t want to just have comics on all the time so we talked to chefs and politicians and a lot of musicians that we’ve really loved. Those are the people that are honest and who are themselves and they don’t come in trying to be on or trying to be funny. We found that some of our favorite episodes have been with some people that are maybe not performers or comedians in that sense but they are talented and accomplished in their own right. It’s nice to get a new cross section.
Speaking of honesty, when you get these real people on, are they willing to open up as far as their sexual lives?
Diana: We have a pretty lose policy on the podcast where we never ask too many questions. We find that people share as much as they’re comfortable with. Most people do have one or two great sex stories and they’re excited to tell them. We’ve had great episodes where people don’t delve into their own histories or sexual personalities or feelings. [They] just do great commentary on the topics we bring up and then we have other people come in and tell us that they masturbated on the subway twenty minutes ago.
Murf: It’s definitely cost effective. We share enough of ourselves. We’re actually a couple in real life so we share those kind of anecdotes and that day to day stuff. I think us being honest with each other and being open with the audience gets people pretty open in general. We never try to pry anything out of them. It’s usually some pretty fun stuff.
Diana: Everybody’s got stories.
Murf: Everybody’s fucking. Or, if they’re not fucking, they’re trying to.
Being a comedian and improviser, and switching between this podcast and going on stage, is it a little bit more difficult to talk about this stuff when you’re the only person on stage? Or when you’re with a group of people and you’re in a scene and you’re trying to get to this darkly [sexual] place?
Diana: I don’t think we try to go to a dark, sexual place in our other projects. I wouldn’t say that that’s an issue.
Murf: I think the reason we started doing this project – and a lot of the time the topics go off [of sex]. We start at something that’s based in some sort of topical, sexual ballpark. But a lot of the times, we end up going off the rails and talking about [other stuff].
Diana: We always end up at horse stuff.
Murf: We always end up there within an animal centric topic. But I think a lot of it ends in our personal stuff, which is not always sexual in nature; we just kind of say what’s on our minds.
Diana: With improv or sketch, it’s either written or you follow people on stage. I don’t think we have any kind of sexual agenda.
Murf: Oh sexual agenda! [laughs]
Diana: I don’t think we do! We get our ya ya’s out on the podcast.
What was it like being featured in Penthouse, one of the premiere magazines of all time?
Murf: I was very pumped. I remember swiping a lot of Penthouses when I was a younger man. You know, twelve or thirteen years old trying to figure it all out. I always loved Penthouse. I was more of a fan of Penthouse than I was with Playboy, just because it’s a little bit gridier; a little bit more of the working class nudie mag I always thought.
Diana: It was funny because you’d tell somebody you’re in Penthouse and they’d be thinking that you’re nude. My mom went and bought it. I think that’s the first Penthouse my mom has ever purchased. Hopefully, not the last.
Murf: Yeah hopefully we turned them on. When we tell people that “we’re in Penthouse but we’re not nude…” We were certainly willing but I don’t think they’re interested in our case. They were just wanting more of an interview.