Laughing in the face of marriage with Kurt Braunohler and Lauren Cook

Chad White

Comedy isn’t built as a one person show. Yes, a majority of standup acts are one person talking to an audience but there’s an entire avenue of group acts. Improv teams like Chicago’s iO, variety shows, standup groups like Stella – it’s all been done. These all work well too. But a stage like podcasts can further the medium for teams.

Kurt Braunohler and Lauren Cook – once dating and now married – spun off their latest venture from one of Braunohler’s many podcasts. Wedlock is a relationship show dedicated to figuring out how relationships work. Marriage, polyamory, being friends. It’s all talked about. Now, the show is expanding from its original form.

I had a chat with the couple after the first episode posted.

Kurt, this is probably the dozenth podcast you’ve put out. Are you just as happy and ecstatic for this to be another notch in your belt?

Lauren Cook: [laughs]

Kurt Braunohler: I think this one stands apart. [All of my other] podcasts are just people talking to each other and this is a really produced show that has a lot of facets to it. It’s maybe the first podcast we do that gets a little serious. Not in the first episode but later episodes. We get a little serious and stuff. It’s cool. I’m excited for the world to hear it.

It’s not the first wedding, marriage or relationship based podcast out there. Yours fits a niche people need. Matt Mira has a podcast with his wife that fits a niche about trying to get pregnant. And then there’s Totally Laime that’s trying to do something else. But then you guys, you’re specifically talking about your first year of being together. Now that that’s been over for some time, you can focus on new whole ventures for possibly more episodes.

Braunohler: Exactly. We’re excited to make a lot more.

Lauren Cook: Our show is not just about us too. We try to pose a question and take it out in unexpecting directions. Like interviewing a cam girl about monogamy and going to see bonobos to explore our thoughts on the topic. We keep it personal but we also try to blow it out way beyond our sphere.

After recording the first episode, did that change the dynamic of the way you guys speak to each other? Or was it another thing you guys do together?

Braunohler: It is like the latter. It’s something we do together. I think doing the podcast has definitely helped the relationship – especially [in a] later episode where we rent a tantric guru and learn tantric sex.

Cook: [laughing] I think it’s so funny you highlight that!

Braunohler: We also went to a nudist colony where we learned Lauren’s going to become a nudist later in life.

Cook: I feel like there’s been a lot of practical things we’ve learned in an effort to [say] “we did this so you don’t have to. And then it ultimately gave us some tools for our relationship. We talked to a hostage negotiator about tactics for fighting with your partner. [laughs] And I think about that a lot! We fight a lot so we need some controls for getting through it.

Braunohler: And also we did this thing called fight therapy where you actually –

Cook: Physically fight!

Braunohler: -- your spouse. It was really fun too.

Cook: I think it’s helped out our relationship.

I’m so glad that you explained these episodes. I looked at the Instagram last night and saw these pictures, both of you naked, both of you on top of each other fighting. And now everything makes sense! It’s better for me.

Cook: [laughs]

What do you hope listeners take away from the podcast as a whole?

Braunohler: There’s an endless well of interesting places to explore in a relationship between two or more people. I say “or more” for the polyamorous people so they don’t get mad. Mostly for two people. We always say “It’s a show about relationships.” It’s not about marriage or anything like that. The biggest space is the space between two people. I think there’s so much to be explored there. I’m excited to do more.

Cook: It’s a relatable topic too. We talk a lot about past relationships we’ve had before we got together. We have a very different dating history, which is why we decided we want to talk about this. We were coming at a relationship from two different places.

Kurt’s been a serial monogamist for the majority of his life. He’s had three really, really long committed relationships where they lived together and stuff like that. I never lived with anyone before I met him. But I had, like, 700 much, much shorter relationships. I feel like all of this is a great conversation starter.

Everyone will relate to some aspect of what we’re talking about…I think that’s my goal. It’s for people they can relate to this and how all relationships, ending of relationships, and being alone – all that stuff, we all share so much. We all had that experience at one time or another.

Lauren, you said you were somebody who dated around a lot. When did you decide – when you saw Kurt, when you started talking to him – that “yes, I want to come to the monogamy side?” Or is it that you transpose all those other romantic relationships into forced friendships with people?

Cook: Forced friendships? It wasn’t that I was trying to put off monogamy. I think in the dating age of right now, commitment is hard to come by. I find that most people I talk to have my experience and not Kurt’s. It’s not for a lack of desire to be in the relationship. It’s just they didn’t find the right person or you found the right person and they didn’t think you were the right person. With Kurt, it was pretty easy.

I don’t know. I don’t want to sound too cheesy but we had to sort of negotiate the fact we came from two different backgrounds as I’ve already mentioned. I jumped over to his side of things pretty quickly. I was ready. I was like “Let’s move in and get a dog! I’m ready for that!”

How did getting a dog and [later] having a baby change the dynamic even more?

Cook: Oh man! We have such a great dog. And now we have such a great baby. The dog was easier.

[both laugh]

Cook: You fill this one.

Braunohler: When you have a baby, it’s just like –

Cook: You’re in a war together.

Braunohler: Yeah. It’s a totally different world. You feel like a different person. At least for the first few years, they say. We’re only six months in. We’re only just coming out of the shit.

Cook: By “the shit,” we mean you can’t sleep. Our baby is so sweet. She’s really smiley and she sleeps well but it’s still really hard. You have a hard time…it’s like having three full time jobs keeping the baby alive.

Braunohler:  And then also having all of or other jobs. The crazy thing is, while the baby’s been here, we’ve written two TV shows and doing the podcast and I’ve been doing standup and we’ve also been doing other things. It’s been overwhelming. But it’s been really wonderful too. Also, every day you see her come online a little more. It’s very rewarding.

Do you think a couple years down the line you could give her a brother or sister?

Cook: TBD. We’re not even going there yet!

Braunohler: [laughs] Lay off, man! Lay off!

What do your parents think about the podcast? What are they taking away from it?

Braunohler: Has your mom listened to it?

Cook: She’s told me she listened to it. I think it might be a little too much for her because we talk really graphically about sex. I actually prefer she doesn’t listen to it. I have cousins that listened to it. I think they like it. It’s all meant to be funny. We put ourselves out there for other people’s enjoyment.

Braunohler: My dad’s never touched a computer. I don’t think he knows what a podcast is. I’m not worried about him hearing it. [laughs] He literally doesn’t even have an email address.

[all laugh]

Cook: We both came from [single family homes]. We talk about that too. It was difficult to jump into marriage when you’ve never had a blueprint for how the hell it’s supposed to work. Strangely though, to follow your idea. We did interview my grandfather a year ago. He had been married to my grandmother for 72 years. We asked him about marriage. I have that tape; we’ll see if we can fold that in. Combined, I think that was our only successful marriage.

Do you ever find people asking you for advice, thinking you’re the therapist?

Braunohler: No! I think we’re so bad [at this]. The advice part of the podcast is where we flounder the most. We don’t really know anything. We’re just kind of chit chatting!

Cook: We’re trying to get help in most of the [cases]. You could live vicariously through us. Yeah, we’ll give advice to anyone who’ll listen. I just don’t know how good the advice will be.

 Follow Kurt Braunohler and Lauren Cook on Twitter and check out Wedlock, follow it on Twitter and like it on Facebook.