My spouse and I disagree about comedy. The majority of the comedic content he consumes annoys me. Oftentimes, I get that the idea is funny, but the execution rubs me the wrong way. So, I had some hesitation when he recommended a podcast to me, populated by some of the voices out of UCB (Upright Citizen’s Brigade), an improv group out of Los Angeles.
Well, several years later, I’m still eating my hat. Back then, The Dumbbells was hosted by Eugene Cordero and Ryan Stanger. The appeal to the show early on was that conversation between two good friends vibe you get from a lot of casual, conversational podcasts. This one has the bonus that they are both trained improv comedians, and sometimes the conversation is very funny. However, in my opinion, the show really got its legs after the terrible summer of 2020 with the murder of George Floyd and resulting reinvigoration of conversations around race and racism in the United States. Eugene began sharing his perspective, directly sharing his experiences as a person of color, as an actor of color in Los Angeles, and how his life, his career, his family, and even his training, is impacted by the subtle and not-so-subtle influence of race. Don’t get me wrong, the show continued to be funny, but these moments of substance would be woven in, creating a real foundation of heart for the silliness to bounce off of.
In the last several months, Eugene has been replaced by Erin McGowan, who brings to the show a new energy and perspective. Erin is a woman, and her husband became confined to a wheelchair due to an accident while they were dating, and my favorite moments are when she speaks from her experiences as a woman in fitness or as she and her husband have learned about fitness as he has adjusted to wheelchair-bound life.
I do not consider The Dumbbells to be a particularly evidence-based source of information; and if you give it a listen, I encourage you to use it as a place to practice some healthy skepticism. Both Stanger and McGowen can state some pop-culture dietary and fitness beliefs that can be problematic or just downright incorrect. However, the show is fun, light-hearted, and sometimes even gives me new ideas about how to train or approach fitness with a new sense of humor or exploration. Any other Bell Babies out there? I’d love to hear from you below!