Follow Friday
Diversity in science, shy comedians, and the gayness of paint

Alie Ward (Ologies)

A woman with long hair sitting in front of a microscope and showing off a beetle ring, underneath the words "Follow Friday: Alie Ward"
Ologies host Alie Ward
On Alie Ward's comedy/science podcast Ologies, she interviews real experts in topics like trees (dendrology), decluttering (oikology), and crow funerals (corvid thanatology). She's also a host of the Netflix show 100 Humans and a correspondent on the long-running CBS show Innovation Nation with Mo Rocca.

On this episode of Follow Friday, Ward talks with Eric Johnson about unfortunate bird names, the comedian she's afraid to befriend, the time she angered her now-fiancé by calling him a "green banana," and why the corner is the gayest part of the house. Plus: How Ward, as a professional science communicator, tries to promote scientists from under-represented backgrounds.

Follow us:
- Alie is @alieward on Twitter and Instagram
- This show is @followfridaypod on Twitter and Instagram
- Eric is @heyheyesj on Twitter

Who Alie follows:
- Corina Newsome
- Chris Fleming
- Jarrett Sleeper
- Very Gay Paint

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Theme song written by Eric Johnson, and performed by Yona Marie. Show art by Dodi Hermawan. Additional music by Purple Planet Music, starfrosch, and Katherine Chang.
Full transcript of this episode
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ALIE WARD: This is the biggest name drop I'm ever, ever going to say in my life. But because of my science work, I got an invite to dinner at the home of *********

: I'm not going to give away Alie Ward's name drop at the start of the show! But she's right. It's a big one. And it's coming up, today on Follow Friday.

[ad + theme song]

: I'm Eric Johnson. Welcome to Follow Friday, a show about the best people on the internet, and why you should follow them. If you're new to the show, welcome! Every week, I talk to the internet creators I admire most about who they follow online. These include podcasters, writers, comedians, musicians, and more. They have amazing taste and will guide us to the people they find fascinating who we should be following, too.

Today on the show is Alie Ward, the host of the science/comedy podcast Ologies. Her motto is "Ask smart people stupid questions," and on every episode, Alie talks with a different -ologist about their area of expertise.

So for example, she has done episodes about dendrology, the study of trees; oikology, the study of decluttering; and corvid thanatology, the study of crow funerals. It's true: Crows have funerals. But here's a clip from one of my favorite episodes: Cynology, the study of dogs. Her guest, Brandon McMillan, has just told her that his father literally ran off to join the circus after seeing a performance by the lion tamer Gunther Gebel-Williams.

ALIE: "I was like, maybe I should see what this guy looked like, hmm. And so, I picture someone in a mustache, wearing like a wool three-piece suit and a monocle. Incorrect. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God! Oh, the majesty! So, Gunther Gebel-Williams image search returns are deeply gratifying photos of just a lemon-juice-blonde sun-kissed demigod, wearing bespangled, flared, spandex pants, and a matching vest. Hold the shirt! Not needed here. He looks like a wholesome, sexy Billy Idol, but with a cheetah draped around his neck. And if there's one thing you can learn from looking at him, dude can get some tail, and I'm not just talking about elephants. So if this dude swung through my postwar town, I would hop onto a circus wagon so hard, I would break it."

ERIC: You can find Ologies by searching "Ologies" in your favorite podcast app, but we're not really here to talk about Alie's work. We're here to talk about the people she follows online. Alie, welcome to Follow Friday! I'm so excited to have you here.

ALIE: Oh, thanks for having me. It's Friday, this is just the best vibe to go into the non-existent quarantine weekends. [laughs]

ERIC: We are recording on Friday and publishing on a Friday. It's all Fridays around here. It's great.

: [laughs]

: So before we dive in, you've been doing this interview podcast for a long time. You've also done a lot of TV hosting and presenting. You're really good at this. I'm going to unilaterally dub you an interviewologist.

ALIE: [laughs]

ERIC: So let me get some advice from the expert before we get started: How do you make an interview that could be ordinary — how do you make it extraordinary?

ALIE: Oh, this is a great question. And one thing I find is you have to figure out what is going to light someone up. And so, what questions I ask are usually a little bit more personal than they might be used to, or a little bit more seemingly arbitrary. Asking someone ... If they say, "Oh, well, my spouse is also a marine biologist." You could let that glaze over, but if it's the beginning of the interview, it's a great time to ask, "Who hit on who?" or "Did you meet on a boat?" or things like that. "Do you travel together?"

Things that are more personal will usually light people up. And I find that that trick actually works for ... back in pre-pandemic days, at a dinner party, asking couples how they met is always a great way to learn more about them.

ERIC: Everyone has a story. A rehearsed story.

ALIE: Everyone has a story, yeah. Asking those questions. Like, "Do you dream about otters?" if they're an otter expert, those ones that they probably don't get asked very much, but are personal.

: And the person who's really not expecting the question about otters is the tree expert. Just outta left field.

: [laughs] And then that's one reason why I love to ask what movies get it right or wrong because there's nothing like a really impassioned scientist who's about to bust some cinematic flimflam. l remember the very first episode that ever went up was Volcanology and the question of Dante's Peak versus Inferno was one of those, "Oh, okay! Number one..." You know?

: [laughs]

: So I always love it, getting those ones that ...

: You're gonna be there the rest of the day.

: Pretty much! You're just like "settle in, it's going to be a long discussion." But yeah, whatever lights people up.

: It makes me think of that clip of Neil deGrasse Tyson critiquing the sky in Titanic. Have you seen this clip?

: [laughs] Yes!

: When the boat goes down, he's complaining about how "we know exactly what the stars were that night in the sky and they got it wrong!" And it's like, other people are focusing on other things; that wasn't the most important thing in the scene, Neil.

: Yeah. I couldn't help but focus on the drowning babies, for example, but Neil deGrasse Tyson is like, "Wrong constellation!"

: "Stars!" Well, anyway, before the show, I gave you a list of categories. I asked you to tell me four people you follow, who fit in those categories. And your first pick is in the category "someone who makes you think." You said Corina Newsome, who's on Twitter @hood_naturalist. She works for the nonprofit Georgia Audobon. She does a ton of great work in wildlife conservation and in encouraging kids from underrepresented backgrounds to get into wildlife science. So how did you start following Corina, and why do you say she makes you think?

: Uh, well, first off I have to say that yours was the most stressful email I opened all week.

: [laughs]

: It was the one that I sat on the most, and it was one that I probably spent the most time on, on all of my emails. And I have like six jobs.

: I'm flattered.

: And I was like, who do I pick? Who do I pick? Who do I pick? And it was so difficult because obviously there's so many great people, but Corina's someone that came to my mind instantly. I have never met her in person, which is kind of nutty because we've been in the same circles. We've been on one Zoom together for a trivia night for Skype A Scientist, a nonprofit.

But Corina is amazing. I first started following her about a year ago on Twitter, and she really kind of came into a kind of public prominence this past June. She was one of the founders of Black Birders Week. There was an incident with Christian Cooper ...

ERIC: I was going to say ... the Central Park birder.

ALIE: Who is a black birder. Exactly. And so after that, a bunch of wildlife biologists of color came together to raise awareness about how difficult it is and how difficult it's made on them to go out and do wildlife observations in spaces where they don't feel welcome.

And Black Birders Week was a huge success and it spawned so many movements, Black in Neuroscience, Black Ecologists Week, Black Botanists Week, like absolutely ...

ERIC: That's awesome.

ALIE: And it's been so great to have people be more visible about their work. Her website says, "From the block to the zoo to the marsh, and she really loves to represent how accessible nature is in all kinds of environments. But she had one thing that I love that she posted recently on Instagram, January 19th, she posts — and I believe she's Christian as well.

She posted, "Professed Christ-followers: If the center of your theology is not the liberation of the oppressed, justice for people forced into the margins of society, and the destruction of the systems that keep them there, you do not know the God you claim... Furthermore, if you work to maintain these systems, this violent status quo, you are the antithesis of Christ (read: anti-Christ). Funny, y'all be the ones frantically looking around for the 'anti-Christ' and it's you." So she is really wonderful at being outspoken about her beliefs that are really true to her.

And she speaks about social justice and then her next post might be a video of a baby hummingbird that was injured and is a ambassador hummingbird that hangs around the office and drinks from a syringe.

ERIC: Aww.

ALIE: I know! She's just so amazing. She really kind of opens all these doors for people to see everything from nature in city dwellings to marshes, and she really speaks a lot about her own experience, the experience of marginalized people, the intersection of politics and ecology, how marginalized people can be in the sciences.

Ologies listeners will also love her. She was in the BlackAFinSTEM Week episode we did. Whatever she posts, I will ingest it with glee. She's just a really, really great voice to follow.

ERIC: So first, since this is an audio podcast and folks can't see us, we should say that both of us are white. And there's been a lot of talk, especially since last June with the BLM protests about white allyship, right? And so, I'm wondering, as a professional science communicator, you're someone who's very publicly out there, talking about science, like how do you work as an ally? What do you see as your role, or your responsibility to advance the same, same goals that Corinna is doing?

ALIE: Oh, you know, that's another great question. And I have learned so much, you know, even in the past year about how to be a better ally. One thing I love about Ologies is it was always my mission to show all types of scientists and to not be overt about it and not show, like, "This is a podcast for women in science!" and "You might not know that there's an LGBTQ movement in science!" Just to present the scientists and have them represent all kinds of fields, so that people got used to them as scientists and them as people and their knowledge, and not as a representative of a marginalized group, because not everyone shares the same views within those groups.

And so, I've always just kind of, under the radar, wanted to be an ally just by giving my platform to people who deserve to have the spotlight on them. And just absolutely making them feel like rock stars and having people fan over them. And then also, if someone on my podcast speaks about social justice issues, whether it's being the only woman in the room or whether it's being a Latinx — I always say "latine-x" or "latin-x," 'cause I hear it both ways! [laughs]

ERIC: I don't know what it is.

ALIE: One of those things is like ... I feel like I'm saying it wrong either way! Maybe I'll take that back. But whether it's being the only person of color in a room, I pay them for that and I pay them an extra honorarium because that is emotional work that ... if you have privilege, you don't have to do.

So if someone, whether they volunteer it, or if it comes up naturally, or if I just know that there's the knowledge that they are representing someone, then yeah, I pay them an extra honorarium for that emotional labor, because it's deserved.

ERIC: That's really good, that resonates with my own thinking on the topic. I think there's a lot of people who want to be loud and take credit for being an ally, more than they actually care about being an ally.

: Yeah. And if you do ever accidentally exclude someone, and someone brings it to your attention, just being like, "Wow. Yes, I believe you, that that is something that you want to tell me about. And absolutely I'll recognize that from there on." I think a lot of people who want to be allies get upset if they think they did it wrong. That's not how that works! Anyway...

: But yeah, back to Corina, one of the things that I saw on her website is that she's conducting research to conserve the MacGillivray's seaside sparrow. And this is something that ... I don't know a lot about birds. You probably know a lot more from talking to her and other folks like her. But bird names are kind of delightful. Do you have a favorite, off the top of your head, any favorites that you know of?

: Oh my gosh. You know, it's funny because there are some birds who are getting renamed better names ... but I mean, who doesn't love a tit?

: [laughs]

: I mean, a tit's pretty good. [laugh]

: The reason I ask is there's a tweet thread recently that my girlfriend showed me from stu_bot3000. This is a long tweet thread titled, "My favorite species of birds are the ones named by people who clearly hate birds."

: [laughs]

: So there's little bustard, there's the rough faced shag, the sad fly catcher, the ruddy pigeon, the satanic night jar. There's a lot of these.

: Oh my God! That's so good.

: Anyway, I highly recommend that people look that up.

: Wait, do you know about the horned screamer?

: The horned screamer? No, I have not heard of that one. [laughs]

: [laughs] It's not an attractive bird. It just looks kind of like an ashy pigeon, but it's named a horned screamer because they do scream, but it also has a, just like a horn like a fingernail ...

: Oh my God. I just looked up pictures of this. Oh my God.

: It looks like it just has one semi-curly antenna coming out, like a unicorn.

: It's like playing a game of telephone where you're asking someone who has never seen a picture of a unicorn to draw a unicorn. And they're like, "Yeah, this is probably it!"

: Probably!

: Slightly off.

: Just like one wirey appendage out of its head essentially. But yeah, you're right. Birds have great names. You know what else has great names is mushrooms and fungus. I put together something for our mycology episode where it was like, pick the name ... the first letter of your first name and the month you were born, and it'll give you a new fungus name. I think mine was like a slimy witchclaw or something.

: [laughs]

: But they're all real fungus names, but just in combination.

: That's incredible. Well, that was Corina Newsome, who's on Twitter @hood_naturalist. Let's move on to your next follow, Alie. I asked you for someone you don't know, but want to be your friend. And you said ...

: So embarrassing,

: ... Chris Fleming, who's on Twitter @ChrisFluming. He's a comedian, and it looks like his best-known work as a series of videos starring a character named Gayle, which ... I've missed the boat on this. These have millions of views on YouTube. It's all new to me. So all of Chris's work is new to me. Tell us about him and why you want him to be your friend.

ALIE: I think first off, if we struck up a friendship, I'd be like, why is it Fluming and not Fleming?

ERIC: [laughs]

ALIE: Why is your name Fleming and your handle Fluming? I don't know why. I would love to chat over a kombucha with him about that. I have been a fan of his for years, and he writes the most beautiful songs. He has one about how the people who are poly are not the people you want to be poly.

ERIC: [laughs]

ALIE: It's a celebration of open relationships, but also like a "Mmm, not really my type" kind of a thing. He makes wonderful music videos. His sensibility is very unique to him, and I just love that. He's very, very tall and lanky, with kind of a shaggy blonde chin length, shag. He has big glasses. Sometimes, he wears these jumpsuits that look so perfect on his willowy frame.

ERIC: He pulls off a very good jumpsuit look, I have to say, yeah.

ALIE: His dance moves, he's so lithe and nubile. He's at once a tall masculine presence, but also kind of like if you put a child in a taffy stretcher.

ERIC: [laughs]

ALIE: And he's so funny and wonderful, and he lives not too far from me. I found this out when I was at a restaurant last year and he walked in to get takeout and I have never been more celebrity-struck. But he ended up following me somehow in the last year. And I got so nervous. I don't know why he follows me. I don't know how he knows me.

ERIC: He's probably a fan of your work, what's wrong with that?

ALIE: I don't think so. I don't know how. I have, I can't, if he is, he's never said like "I listen to the podcast" or anything. I think we DM'd once about a book that I was reading by someone with the same last name, to ask if he was related, and he said, no, and then I was like, "Very good then."

ERIC: "OK, goodbye forever."

ALIE: Goodbye forever. But I also kind of don't want to be his friend because I don't want to disappoint him.

ERIC: Aww.

ALIE: I don't want to be his friend and have maybe the friend that he is like, "Yeah, we definitely should get together and hang," but he has no intention of actually making plans. I would hate to disappoint him as a friend.

ERIC: I am sure you know this: There's thousands upon thousands of people who think that about you, who love your work and are just like, "I'm so afraid. I could never talk to her. I would hate to disappoint her." I'm just putting that out there.

ALIE: I can't imagine that. To me ... I can't. I feel like I'm capable of loving literally anyone on the planet.

ERIC: And maybe Chris is the same way. You never know. I'm just saying.

ALIE: I hope so. I think if we ever hung out, I would probably not say much. I think I would just try to play it as safe as possible and just try to laugh at the right times. But yeah, it would take me a while.

ERIC: I would be curious, if you were hanging out with him, like as a friend ... I watched some of his videos on Twitter and on YouTube and he has this chaotic, absurdist energy. I assume that must take like a lot of effort just to muster all that and to be that consistently funny and weird.

And so, I do wonder if hanging out with him would be, it would be strange 'cause you're expecting him to like start singing or start changing his costume every few seconds, or just prancing around the place. I don't know. It must be a different experience from watching him as a performer.

ALIE: I would say, he does have a very chaotic and absurd energy. And I would feel like IRL, he would be maybe the quietest person in the room. You never know, like I got a ... this the biggest name drop I'm ever, ever going to say in my life.

ERIC: [laughs]

ALIE: But I, because of my science work, I got an invite to dinner at the home of "Weird Al" Yankovic.

ERIC: Oh my God.

ALIE: I know. I know.

ERIC: Oh my God! [laughs]

ALIE: I feel the same way. I'm jealous of myself about it.

ERIC: [laughs]

ALIE: He has a wonderful daughter who is a science enthusiast, and they watched a science show that I'm on called Innovation Nation and listened to Ologies. And so, through a friend who's worked with them, invited me over just to hang out.

And, Al Ya ... I don't know if I should call him "Weird Al" or just "Al" or "Al Yankovic." Mr. Yankovic!

ERIC: Or you can over-correct to Albert.

ALIE: Albert?

ERIC: What no one calls him.

ALIE: I don't feel like I'm on a first name basis, even though we have eaten chicken together. But so quiet, so shy and quiet.

ERIC: Yup.

ALIE: And he's just kinda what he's like. And so I feel like perhaps Chris Fleming/Fluming might be of the same energy, where it all comes out creatively and then they're very humble and introverted. Who knows? I don't.

ERIC: They say the same thing about Johnny Carson, where at the peak of the Tonight Show, when he was the most famous man in America, that in a private party, he was intensely introverted. Just, hands in his pocket, did not want to make jokes, just extremely shy in every regard. And so it's weird how people can have those very different, you know, dual personalities. Do you have a favorite thing that Chris has done, that you've seen?

ALIE: One thing recently that I watched, that seemed like it shouldn't be interesting ... And in someone else's hands, it would not have been. But he, in a live show, broke down the ending song in Grease, the "I've got chills, they're multiplying" song. A, I watched Grease1 billion times on cable with my sisters. But someone just, in a live show, onstage in a jumpsuit — it's not even a jumpsuit, it's more like a sleeveless romper — wearing like an elegant sleeveless evening romper, shouldn't command as much ... Just awe and rapt attention, just breaking down a movie from the 70s, but he is so funny and just when he ... he'll stop the video and point out where John Travolta looks possessed.

ERIC: [laughs]

ALIE: And it's just his commentary on anything is very charming and wonderful. And yeah, I was introduced to him, his work, through my boyfriend. And so it's not even like a romantic ... through my now-fiancé. So it's not even any like budding romance thing because I'm already attached. But moreover, Chris is out of my league, so...

ERIC: [laughs]

ALIE: I just want to be in his orbit. I just want to be on one group text every. You know, maybe once or twice a month, he'll be like, "Oh my God, carwash is having a special." You know, maybe local neighborhood people. I don't know. I just want him to ask me houseplant advice, couple times a year. I don't even have a lot of houseplants, but I just want to be there for him.

ERIC: That was comedian Chris Fleming, who's on Twitter @ChrisFluming. In a minute, Alie Ward will tell us about her not-so-secret crush and an Instagram account that cracks her up. But first, we're going to take a quick break.


ERIC: Welcome back to Follow Friday. Alie Ward. I asked you for someone you have a crush on, and you said Jarrett Sleeper, who's on Instagram @Jarrett_Sleeper. So I did some serious investigative journalism...

ALIE: [laughs]

ERIC: ... And I discovered that Jared is engaged. To you. So, congratulations.

ALIE: That's true. [laughs] That's true! I mean, I was like, I do have a crush on him ...

ERIC: Yeah! That counts.

ALIE: ... so I'm gonna put him down.

ERIC: Does he know that you're only engaged to him because Chris Fleming was out of your league?

ALIE: I think he'd be like, "I get it."

ERIC: [laughs]

ALIE: Same, honestly. I think if I were to ask, I think we would both have said, if Chris Fleming were to pick either one of us, it would be OK. If we got dropped, we'd be like, "That's fine."

ERIC: Some couples have a list of like, "here's the approved names." And it's just a little list of one for both of you. It's just like, yeah. Chris.

ALIE: It's just Chris, it's just Mr. Fluming.

ERIC: You publicly announced your engagement at the end of a recent podcast. And you described Jarrett as, "The man who wears wigs and short-shorts to make quarantine workout videos." So could you explain that?

ALIE: I can. He wears both of those things. So, Jarrett and I have known each other for 10 years. We met on a rooftop 10 years ago and we hit it off instantly, like love at first sight. The second I saw him, I was like, "F**k, what am I going to do about this guy?" But we have a huge age gap. I am nine years older. I met him when he was 25 and I was in my thirties. And so don't do the math on it. It's fine. I'm 31 now. So it's, everything's good.

ERIC: [laughs]

ALIE: But we broke up a bunch of times in between, because we were in two super different places. I did not want to date a guy in his 20s who was 25, anyway. Like, mattress on the floor kind of lifestyle, and needed to go get hangovers and make bad decisions, and date a lot of people. He had only had one girlfriend before me. And so I was like, you need to go date a bunch of people.

And so, we got back together maybe three years ago, but we've known each other the whole time. I've always had a crush on him. He's always been like the one that got away, that I pushed away. And because he was not ... I believe I called him a green banana when I first met him.

ERIC: [laughs]

ALIE: I was like, there's nothing wrong with ... a green banana's going to be great! You just need some time on ... And he even got very offended by that, but, sure enough, time worked out and we did recently get engaged, and he proposed me on the spot that we first made out the night that we met, which was more than a make-out and was in a public place. So when I say there was instant chemistry, there certainly was. It is not legal to do what we did in Griffith Park the night we met, but here we are.

ERIC: [laughs]

ALIE: [laughs] We fell very head over heels. Anyway, so he proposed there on Christmas Eve with our dog. And so, number one, he is a very physical person. Like, he's a Brown belt in jujitsu and he's like, I had never seen him compete in jujitsu. And I went for the first time this past year, before quarantine. It's so bananas to see someone that you know — as someone cooking dinner and someone hanging out — wrestle people to the ground.

ERIC: [laughs]

ALIE: [laughs] It was so weird! But he's really good at it. And he's just very ... he loves lifting sandbags up. He has ADHD and he gets a lot of his energy out that way, just in physicality. So once quarantine started, he started doing quarantine calisthenics, and now he does it on Twitch at 9:00 a.m. Pacific, every weekday morning, in our garage. He's in short shorts a lot for it. Sometimes, he will dip into the wig bin that we have in the garage. And I think he did one quarantine calisthenics where, it was in a red pajama suit with a ratty wig and a miner's hat.

His name was like Jedediah something and all of his squats were aimed at like mining moves and ... So he's very hilarious and very weird, and if I weren't engaged to him, I would be creeping his Instagram every day for signs that he was engaged to someone else, to break my heart.

ERIC: For people who want to see those calisthenics videos, I just looked it up. It looks like his Twitch name is also Jarrett_Sleeper.

ALIE: Yep. So yeah, free workouts, 9:00 a.m. Pacific every morning. And he does like boxing stuff and leg day and butt day. And we have some gym rings that a gymnast would use, like two O-rings and they ... it looks so much like a sex apparatus that when our garage doors open, I'm always like, "Oh God, I hope people think, I hope people know. That's just, that's just some weird workout ..."

ERIC: "It's just for Twitch,Yeah. Just for, just for strangers on the internet."

ALIE: [laughs] Yeah, and then he's also like a poet, like he has a poetry book that he has an agent for. And they're starting to shop that around. So he's like this very weird combination of like, cries at the drop of a hat when something is beautiful, and writes poetry about things, and also is like a maniac who carries sandbags down the street in order to clear his mind. So he's a weirdo and I love him.

ERIC: Aww. That's adorable. This is something ... You guys are in LA, right?

ALIE: Mm-hmm, yeah.

ERIC: This is something that is, I think, completely normal in LA and for everywhere else in the country, it seems so strange, but both of you are very much public performers. You've done a lot of TV, you do your podcast; he's a poet and he's on Twitch and he's on Instagram. You're both all over the place. Do you ever get competitive about how much attention one or the other is getting?

ALIE: I never, ever do. I don't think he ever does, either. It's funny, because I am so enamored of him and he's such an interesting combination of someone who's really into history and really into language and words and creation. And he's so funny. And I think he's just such a hunk that to me, it's very weird that not every single person on Earth wants to be engaged to him. I'm like a bit of a proselytizer with that.

I want, at some point ... 'cause my career is pretty all-encompassing and he offers a lot of support for mine. Like, he helps set up my podcasts and stuff, but yeah, I am always singing the praises and he's really, really great at helping me get Ologies out the door every week, and trying to help me find a work-life balance. I think that if we didn't like each other, maybe there would be that like [creepy voice] "Oh yeah?" But we're super boring in that we just really dig each other.

But I think, also, part of digging each other is that we do have crushes on each other because we had this tortured seven years of on/off ...

ERIC: When you weren't together.

ALIE: Yes, like forbidden crush! I'm dating someone else, but I'm still thinking of just ...

ERIC: "Remember that night in New York? We'll always have New York."

ALIE: "We'll always have Griffith Park." So yeah, not competitive. And in fact, it's been kind of cool to see lately, as Ologies gets bigger and I do more TV shows and stuff, to be able to recommend him for stuff and watch how that ... because I feel like every career, every person in LA with a career, somebody opened a door, someone gave 'em a chance, you know, whether it was from an audition or whether it was like ... I just feel like this industry is based on a little bit of your reputation or connections. So I'm like, anyone I can help, I'm like, come on up!

ERIC: That was Jarrett Sleeper, who's on Instagram and Twitch @Jarrett_Sleeper. We have time for one more follow today. Alie, I asked you for someone who makes you laugh. And you said Very Gay Paint ...

ALIE: [laughs]

ERIC: ... who is on Instagram @verygaypaint. This is actually two people, Nicholas Scheppard and Jenson Titus, and their bio is "We paint things in a way that is very gay." So, talk about Very Gay Paint and why they make you laugh.

ALIE: Well, this was the hardest one for me to pick, because so many people do make me laugh, but they make me laugh at every single thing they post. They are mural artists, right? They're both, I think, actors and comedians also, but in LA, everyone is 10 things. And so they also paint these really beautiful, sometimes minimalist ...

ERIC: Incredible.

ALIE: Gorgeous, geometric, a little bit like 70s, retro, like muted umbers. Like, beautiful concentric waves on walls, on people's homes.

ERIC: And some of them are like original designs. I saw some like nature landscapes, like mountains and sunrises. I mean, it's incredible stuff.

ALIE: Did you start following them?

ERIC: Not yet, but I'm going to.

ALIE: Ugh! What are you waiting for?

ERIC: I don't really use Instagram. I have the Instagram account for this show — @followfridaypod — but Twitter is my main vice, so I need to get them on Twitter so I can actually see all their new stuff.

ALIE: You know what, when you need a brain break, just go to Very Gay Paint on Instagram. Every mural is beautiful, so A, you're getting beautiful art. B, you're getting thriving entrepreneurship. You're getting vibes of a very cute relationship ... I think they're together. And you're also getting like a little bit of Architectural/Dwell/Apartment Therapy vibes, which is all fine.

And the thing about Very Gay Paint is they could so easily just say "Mural, Joshua Tree." And I would still follow them. But instead, all of their captions ...

ERIC: They're amazing.

ALIE: ... are incredibly gay.

ERIC: [laughs]

ALIE: For example: Beautiful mural of concentric circles. The caption says, "The term concentric comes from the Greek 'kon' which means 'together,' and the Latin 'centri' which means, 'they are being gay.'" And so everything is shoehorned into gayness and how gay paint is, how gay you are if you like it. And what they've done is they've taken Instagram branding to a level that is just parody, that's so hilarious to me. So like "In this photo, Jensen is letting the mural know that being gay is, first and foremost, a competition. And in this cruel gay world, she must compete to survive."

So everything is just, um, a commentary, not necessarily on the work, but in how it is gay. And I just think that it's really hilarious and it's, in a way, like a parody of all online influencer and beautiful room and design porn, as well as "I'm going to take whatever my brand is and just make it first and foremost in every caption." And it just makes me laugh every time.

ERIC: It's very effective because it's both making you laugh, but it's also like, you look at enough of these photos as I did last night, and I'm like, "OK, first I need to buy a house, then I need to hire these guys that they can paint it." You know? It works. So they did this one that was really cool. It was one of those retro designs you were talking about where it's sort of like snaking around the corners of someone's house and the caption is, "Corners of the gayest part of a home, because it's the best place to listen to yourself sing."

I'm very jealous of their, of their Instagram captions, as well. I think that they do so well there.

ALIE: And it's something that you forget because you're so enamored by the artwork, by the time you read the caption and after you've kind of like digested, "Oh God, that's beautiful" ..." I wonder what colors I would" ... "What room would I ...?" And then you, "Oh yeah!" You read the caption, and it's something that is once again, completely taking advantage of their branding. And so, yeah, they just delight me. And they're one of my favorite follows recently. And I feel like even in the last maybe week, they've gotten another 10,000 followers.

ERIC: Good for them!

ALIE: Their following is growing so quickly.

ERIC: Well, the big question I have for you, has your home been painted very gaily yet?

ALIE: I'm so glad you asked. My home is a little curious, I'll say. Curious enough that I reached out to them and was like, "How do I gave up my home?" And they said, "Let's have a consultation." So I'm scheduling a consultation with them to see about getting ... if I can do something about my cis- hetero wall, and just gay it up a little bit.

ERIC: Good. OK, well, I look forward to future updates on that. So that was Very Gay Paint, they're on Instagram @VeryGayPaint. Alie, thank you so much for sharing your follows with us today. This was really fun talking to you.

Before we go, let's make sure listeners know how to find you online. Where do you want them to follow you?

ALIE: You can follow me @AlieWard and that is at Twitter and Instagram. And I will say, you asked about jealousy and my Ologies account now has the same number of followers I do. And I'm feeling a really weird jealousy. [laughs]

ERIC: You're competitive with yourself?

ALIE: Yeah! 'Cause I'm like, well, OK, Ologies has like 112,000 followers, so does my account. But I've had my account much longer than Ologies. And I'm like, what happens if I have more followers on Ologies than I do on my account? Does that mean people like the show more than they really like me, or does that mean I'm just doing a better job on one account? So that is one thing I'm competitive ... [laughs]

ERIC: Maybe we should stop talking about follows on the internet before you spiral into oblivion here. [laughs]

ALIE: So yeah, if you want to follow me first it's Allie, and then you can also follow my show @ologies on Twitter and Instagram, and you can just check in and see who's winning each week. [laughs]

ERIC: [laughs] Fight, fight, fight, fight! You can find me on Twitter at @HeyHeyESJ, and this show on Twitter or Instagram @FollowFridayPod. Visit for a transcript of this episode, links to everything we talked about and more.

Our theme music was written by me and performed by Yona Marie. Our show art was illustrated by Dodi Hermawan. Additional music by Katherine Chang, starfrosch, and Purple Planet Music.

Special thanks to our sponsor Hey, which is making email smarter, better and more secure. Check it out for your personal use or for your business at

Today's show was produced by BumbleCast. You can hire us to help you start a podcast, or make your existing podcast better. We work with creators of all backgrounds and experience levels. Learn more at

That's all for this week. This is Eric Johnson, reminding you to talk about people behind their backs. And when you do, say something nice. See you next Friday.

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