Jordan, Jesse, Go!: The Long-Running Podcast Turns Ridiculous Ideas into a Good TimePhoto by Mike Manual Comedy Features Maximum Fun
My favorite podcast genre has always been “two or more funny people trying to make each other laugh.” It’s a bar that was set by Jordan, Jesse, Go!, a show that mimics the feeling of hanging out and goofing off with your best friends. Our podcast pals are there with us, cracking us up through the most challenging points in life. It was a show that kept me company while I was trapped in a cubicle at a menial office job; it was there making me laugh when I needed a break from mourning my grandfather; it was there for me as I went through a divorce, moved out on my own for the first time, and rebuilt my life from the ground up.
Jordan, Jesse, Go! is a comedy podcast hosted by writer/comedian Jordan Morris and Jesse Thorn of NPR’s Bullseye, featuring casual conversations between the hosts and a guest from the worlds of comedy, entertainment, or culture. Fans of the YouTube show Good Mythical Morning may know Morris as recurring character Cotton Candy Randy or from his graphic novel Bubble based on the podcast of the same name. Thorn is known in many circles as “the number one 45 DJ in the public radio community” and recently achieved his lifelong dream of appearing as a voice on FX’s Archer. JJGO! has been around since 2006, making it one of the longest-running podcasts not hosted by comedian (and frequent JJGO! guest) Jimmy Pardo.
I ask Thorn to describe the show in his own words as we sit down to chat over Zoom.
“Jordan and I are friends and comedy partners of 22 years, and our show is about building silly nonsense into a crescendo,” Thorn says. “I mean, it really is about us spinning nothing into something. Like, that is the trick of every episode of Jordan, Jesse, Go! We don’t cover the news. We don’t cover what’s going on around us. We don’t cover topics. It really is about how abstract and ridiculous of an idea we can turn into a good time.”
The chemistry between Thorn and Morris is the show’s heart, as they riff off each other’s jokes. They have a simultaneously silly and insightful rapport, constantly making each other laugh. Morris brings a quick wit, sarcastic sense of humor, and an infectious enthusiasm to the show. Thorn brings a laid-back, affable presence to their conversations, often serving as the straight man to Jordan’s more irreverent humor.
For those wondering if the show is not safe for work, well, it is not. There’s plenty of vulgarity, but as Thorn says, “nothing that will make you feel bad.” Even when discussing more serious topics, a sense of lightheartedness permeates the show. It’s a friendly reminder that it’s okay to take life a little less seriously sometimes and enjoy its absurdity.
The show’s format is simple yet effective: Morris and Thorn chat about their lives and pop culture happenings while engaging with an eclectic array of guests. Within the last year, they’ve welcomed Patton Oswalt, Emily Heller, Eliza Skinner, Chris Parnell, Susan Orlean (writer of The Orchid Thief), and Damian Abraham, lead singer of the band Fucked Up. Since the show doesn’t require a specific watching order and boasts over 780 episodes, I suggest those new to the podcast try flipping through the back catalog for episodes featuring guest names you’re familiar with. Alternately, just start at the most recent and work your way into the back catalog if you’re feeling adventurous and have a metric ton of time on your hands.
In a long-time segment of the show, listeners can call in and leave a voice message when something momentous happens. From attending secret sex parties to discovering your grandfather’s favorite film genre is talking dog movies, the listeners of JJGO! make sure that when something momentous happens, they call 206-984-4FUN.
My own momentous occasion, however, happened after a Jordan, Jesse, Go! live performance on their 2019 “Summer Boys of Summer Tour” at Sleeping Village in Chicago. I had purchased a pair of tickets to the show, hoping to coax a friend into doing the city driving for me, something my anxiety brain can’t stomach. When I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to see a couple of dumb comedy guys making oddly specific references from their niche show, I asked Brittany, the lovely woman I had started dating four months prior, if she was interested in making the trek. We were pretty smitten with each other, finding that being together felt fun and easy. The pressures of life always melted away when we were together, and for the first time in my life, I felt comfortable enough to unabashedly be my real self.
As a former Chicago resident, Brittany took the reins when it came to planning travel and lodging for our first road trip as a couple. When I say she had accounted for all possibilities, that includes having a backup plan on getting to the venue if I were to get severely motion sick on the L train (which, of course, I was.) She had a way of making me feel very safe and protected, so I could concentrate on being in the moment for once.
During the live momentous occasions segment, a woman named Jessica got down on one knee to ask her partner Dave if he would marry her. The room exploded in cheers for the happy couple, newly engaged on stage with their favorite podcast hosts. We all shared a special moment, elated for two strangers we would never see again. It was oddly electrifying.
We were able to chat with Morris and briefly meet Thorn from behind two turntables as he was spinning classic 45s before we headed out to find food and get back to our AirBnb.
We lay in bed that night, whispering and giggling in the darkness.
“So, what if we got married,” Brittany asked me.
“Us? Like, now? Or soon?”
“Like as soon as possible,” she said.
We sat in silence for a moment. When we met, Brittany said marriage was something she would never be interested in. After my divorce, I told everyone who would listen that I would never marry again. But here we were, feeling happy, our faces sore from laughing together all day. Being with Brittany was as healing—I mean, more so—as comedy podcasts had been to me during some of the darkest moments of my life. I couldn’t imagine not listening to her the next time things went wrong. I wanted to listen to her daily for the rest of time.
We married in a private ceremony in the park near our home that September, surrounded by our three closest friends. So, let it be known that dragging your partner to a live comedy podcast they’ve never heard of worked out for the best, at least this one time.
Jordan, Jesse, Go! is part of Maximum Fun, the podcast network founded by Thorn in 2005. MaxFun produces a wide range of podcasts across various genres. Some of the network’s most popular shows include My Brother, My Brother and Me, a comedy advice show hosted by the McElroy Brothers; Judge John Hodgeman, a comedic courtroom show where Hodgeman presides over petty listener disputes; and FANTI, the thoughtful pop culture and political discussion show that analyzes fandom from an intersectional POV, hosted by journalists Tre’vell Anderson and jarrett hill.
I have always found Maximum Fun to be my favorite podcast network, not just because their shows tend to cover subjects already in my wheelhouse, but because the network feels more familial than others. In addition, Maximum Fun podcasts are all creator-owned and audience-supported. The network is also committed to diversity and representation, which is evident in the shows themselves and the network’s broader mission. Seeing a media organization actively working to make its platform more inclusive and elevate diverse voices and perspectives is refreshing.
To kick off the annual MaxFunDrive 2023 (the network’s yearly member pledge drive), the organization announced that Maximum Fun would convert to a 100% worker-owned cooperative this summer. Because the network was built to be sustainable, with its primary revenue coming from member donations, it has continued to be successful. Shifting the business to the co-op model is just another move towards the values the network upholds: supporting independent podcasts and doing it with the support of a great community.
“I have a hard time being proud of myself,” Thorn explains, “but that is something that I think is pretty awesome. I love the idea that in 10 years or 20 years or 30 years, Maximum Fun might still be there and might still be helping creators and that the stuff we make might be making people’s lives better in whatever little way it does.”
The 2023 MaxFunDrive is underway from now until April 2nd. For those in the Los Angeles area, Jordan, Jesse, Go! will perform monthly live shows at the Rose Rock Gallery starting on April 20th – “an auspicious date that we did not choose for that reason,” Thorn says.
Jack Probst is a writer and record collector from St. Louis. He appreciates the works of James Murphy, Wes Anderson, and Super Mario. Send any and all complaints to @jackdprobst on Twitter. He enjoys writing paragraphs about himself in his spare time.