Behind the Scenes of Ba Dum Tess: “But daddy I love him!”

Can we talk about the word mermaids? It’s like…water maids? 

Not to revert to second grade, but Webster’s dictionary defines a maid as “A female domestic servant,” and I aggressively disagree with this application to the mermaid. In my mind, mermaids do no form of service to others domestically, and in fact, are often harbingers of chaos which is mostly self-serving. (Also they’re hot.)

This is where we start episode four of Ba Dum Tess. Finally, a podcast episode about mermaids.

Mermaids in epics and “sagas”, known as Sirens, are usually singing on rocks, luring the silly sailor men to their deaths. They grab them when they get too close, bash them against the rocks to stun them, then drag them down to the murky depths to get merked to death. 

Of course, this is not usually what we think of when we think of mermaids. If we’re honest, most people think of the red-headed Disney tyrant that is Ariel. (Does anyone know her last name?)

In this episode, Trina rants on the whitewashing of their middle school production of “The Little Mermaid.” This is an epic saga of its own in which they were cornered into playing ‘the ocean,’ as represented by a large blue tarp. Perhaps this is why Trina and I get along so well. I also have the shared trauma of auditioning for the role of Ms. Hannigan in “Annie,” and being relegated to the role of ‘Pepper,’ the orphan with one speaking line who clearly was never adopted.

The ocean is like that orphan. If you don’t get that, I can’t stop everything and explain it, so please just drop your questions in the form of five-star reviews on Apple Podcasts.

And who among us hasn’t been in Trina and my positions? GOLD Comedy prides itself on being a place for those who escaped the wretched clutches of the ‘theater community.’ Crawling on bloodied knees and forearms to the welcome embrace of ✨comedy.✨

So naturally, our first guest had to be playwright, comedian, and (Dare we say it?) theater kid, Kaitlyn Goldin. Kaitlyn helped us work through our theatrical trauma and exposed us to the way mermaids supposedly actually look, which is terrifying and decrepit. 

Most importantly, she brought up the hit 2006 coming-of-age tale Aquamarine, starring Jojo and Emma Roberts. Anyone who knows me knows that I almost exclusively listen to Jojo. If you don’t listen to this episode of the podcast, then get out (Leave!) right now; it’s the end of you and me.

Then, obviously–because sex sells–we had to talk about the reproductive capabilities of merpeople. Is there an organ? Is it a swim-over model? You’ll have to listen to the episode to find out. 

The saddest thing in the entire history of the entire world happened while recording this episode. We originally recorded a whole interview with the second guest and then the file was corrupted and lost. I cried. I cried a whole lot: cried in the shower, cried in the kitchen, cried in my Recording Closet™️, and cried on the zoom.

But fine – I had to retape. It was still an incredible interview: I have known our iconic gues, Cookie, for years and years. She has been a mentor figure for me, an inspiration, she gives the best hugs (and that is saying something because I don’t like hugs) and she also tailored my bat mitzvah dress. Life changer. Hero. Icon. 

Cookie talks about the incredible history of the black mermaid, which is the original mermaid. What’s interesting (after being aggravating and shocking) is that someone has asked Cookie if she was a maid to my family, from simply assuming that was the relationship between a white and black person in the south. Here comes that word again, “maid.”

Listen to me here and now, for I make this proclamation only once! Cookie is an artist, a renowned artist whose work has brought her to meet Barack Obama – ever heard of him?

You can hear about that story in this episode. And while meeting Obama isn’t the defining moment of her career, it does help in shutting up racists. That is to say that yes, Cookie has the comforting face and demeanor of the mermaid, but if you cross her and I can guarantee the wrath of the siren. (Me. Me with fins and teeth and the singing voice of an angel.) 

Cookie says, “We are not coming up from slavery; we are coming down from being deities.” 

The range of this episode cannot be overstated – if you wanna laugh and learn at the same time, Mermaids is the episode for you.

P.S. In this episode I start out by comparing Trina to the spider from James and the Giant Peach, but then later as the ocean and I would like to say that the latter is more accurate

P.P.S It is in this episode that I made the world’s greatest pun. “I live under the L, but today we’re talking about being under the sea.”