Follow Friday
Happy holidays!

Best of 2021: Eric's favorite follows of the year

An illustration of a duck, underneath the words "Follow Friday: Best of 2021"
Jump to transcript ⬇️

Today on Follow Friday, Eric Johnson looks back at four of his favorite follows out of the 183 discussed on the show in 2021. They are:

- Alie Ward's "someone you have a crush on," Jarrett Sleeper / @jarrettsleeper
- Alexandra Petri's "someone who's an expert in a very specific niche you love," Josh Fruhlinger / @jfruh
- Mark Chrisler's "someone you just started following," Froot of the Loom / @frootoftheloom1
- The Auralnauts' "someone who makes you laugh," Michael Cunningham / @Michael1979


- Follow us @followfridaypod on Twitter and Instagram
- Follow Eric on Twitter @heyheyesj

Theme song written by Eric Johnson, and performed by Yona Marie. Show art by Dodi Hermawan.

Thank you to our amazing patrons: Jon, Justin, Amy, Yoichi, Shinri, and Elizabeth

Full transcript of this episode
Click to expand
ERIC JOHNSON: Today on Follow Friday, we are looking back at some of the very best follow recommendations of 2021.


But first, today's show is brought to you by Timber, a modern hosting platform for craft-loving indie podcasters. And when you host your show with Timber, you can also get free professional podcast reviews from industry experts. Check it out at

Today's show is also brought to you by Repod, the all-in-one destination for podcasters to build their community. It's a new app that gives podcasters all the tools they need to engage, monetize, and grow. On Repod, you can setup memberships for your listeners, to give them ad-free or bonus content, listener shoutouts, merch, and more. Repod is available on the App Store and Google Play. Search for it there, or go to to get started.


[theme song]

ERIC: I'm Eric Johnson. Welcome to Follow Friday, the podcast about who you should follow online.

Every week, I talk to creative people about who they follow, and why. This is a guided tour to the best people on the internet, led by your favorite writers, podcasters, comedians, and more. If this is your first episode of the show, take a moment now and please follow or subscribe in your podcast app. It's free!

And hey, quick heads up, today's episode is the last one we will be releasing in 2021. We'll have a big celebration for the show's first birthday, at the end of January. But for today, I wanted to look back at the year and replay some of my personal favorite follows, my favorite people who have been recommended by guests on the show.

So, I had that idea and I committed to it without really thinking about how hard it would be to narrow down the list. This year, I've done 41 interviews, which multiplies out to 164 follow recommendations, and that's not including the 19 bonus recommendations you can get at!

So, 183 total … How on Earth could I pick just four out of 183? To make the choice easier I gave myself some rules: It had to be someone I had never heard of before, but I had to have a strong, fun memory of talking about the person with my guest. And it also couldn't be someone who we've already replayed in a previous compilation episode, so my apologies to George Ice Cube.

That brought me down from 183 follows to a much more manageable list of … forty-three. Well, s**t.

So, this is definitely not a comprehensive roundup, there are so many great follows I could have picked today. But I semi-randomly picked four of them and I think you'll like them, too. As always you can find links to all of these follows in the show notes, and a transcript of this episode at

Let's start with a recommendation from Alie Ward, the host of the amazing podcast Ologies. She was one of the first-ever guests on the show, and back then, one of the categories was "someone you have a crush on." I've changed the wording a little since then, but back then, that's how it was phrased. And I was a little worried when she picked her fiancée — like, are we going to have anything to talk about here? But turns out she was not just being nice, and had a LOT of fun stories to share. Here's what she said.


ERIC: 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 WARD: [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 is on Twitter @JarrettSleeper and on Instagram @Jarrett_Sleeper. And he was recommended by Alie Ward from Ologies.

OK, next up is a follow recommendation from Alexandra Petri, the humor columnist at the Washington Post. This was the first person she recommended in her episode and as soon as she started talking about him, I knew we were in for a good time. Here's what happened.


ERIC: Your first pick is in the category, "An expert in a very specific niche that you love." And you said Josh Fruhlinger, also known as The Comics Curmudgeon. You can follow him on Twitter @jfruh or at So, The Comics Curmudgeon, I had not heard of this, but I'm immediately obsessed with it. Explain what Josh does here and why you love following him.

ALEXANDRA PETRI: I feel like we're doing a really good job of establishing I'm a very cool person with hip normal mainstream interests, because The Comics Curmudgeon is for people like me who don't really let a day go by without reading the print comics in the newspaper, in their entirety. I feel like doing that is a fun, yet isolating activity, because you have a lot to say about what's going on with Mark Trail these days? What's happening with Beetle Bailey? All of these very strange, hermetically sealed…

Some of them have been going on for decades, and you pass your comic strip down from one generation to the next. And there are families who are like, "Someday you'll take over Beetle Bailey, my son." That's going on. So it is just a wild, fascinating, novel place. Fortunately, Josh has been doing this for the longest time and it's this amazing blog where you can basically go to it. And he's like, "Here's what the Baltimore Sun comics page has on it today, and here's what I think of Mary Worth."

The frustrating thing about the internet is that people are always getting to the good jokes first, but it's actually reassuring to know that he's always gotten to the good jokes first. And it's like this is someone who's there to make the good joke about the comics so that my day can be... He's taken that off of the shoulders of the other comics readers. So I'm a big fan of the public service that he has been providing for, I think, decades at this point.

ERIC: I think he started in 2004, which is just incredible. Most people can't keep up a blog for a month, including the former president of the United States. So the fact that Josh has been doing this for that long is incredible.

ALEXANDRA: It truly is a public service and it's very funny.

ERIC: There was one recently on Memorial Day where it's the Beetle Bailey comic and it was just a very lame golfing joke and then just scribbled hastily in the margins, "Happy Memorial Day to all who serve," or something like that. And he was saying, "Gosh, you'd think someone might have thought about this, for a military-themed strip, but guess not."

ALEXANDRA: Nope! I think this got a broader [pickup] through the internet, but Barney Google and Snuffy Smith, the 9/11 memorial comic strip that they did is just the stuff of legends.

ERIC: Are they the Beetle Bailey authors, or who are they?

ALEXANDRA: No, they're different. It's set in a little holler and it's full of folks who drink moonshine. And the whole thing is they're in a holler drinking moonshine. It's not in The Post, I think, except maybe on Sundays, but I don't think even on Sundays. I have fallen out of touch with it, so I may be giving you very bad misinformation about Barney Google and Snuffy Smith.

ERIC: Oh, no. How will I ever get by?

ALEXANDRA: But their 9/11 comic; look it up. It's just a masterclass in every choice you probably shouldn't make when commemorating an event.

ERIC: How did you first start following Josh? Do you remember? He's been doing this for so long, maybe you don't.

ALEXANDRA: Honestly, it was one of those things where, like, when you leave a movie theater and you're like, "I want to see what people thought about this?" I was trying to Google; does anyone else have an opinion about..? I think it was Beetle Bailey, and there was a whole website called The Comics Curmudgeon, or somebody recommended it to me, knowing that I'm obsessed with comics.

And he did a Mark Trail live show, which I wish to this day... Give me a time machine. I'd have to consult with the best historians, what's the good thing to do with the time machine? Should I go and talk to Marlon Brando? That's not a good thing, but I would also go and see the Mark Trail live read.

ERIC: For the benefit of readers who are not up-to-date on Mark Trail, I don't know how you could possibly not be, but could you explain for folks... ? I remember Mark Trail mainly as the comic I skipped over in The Post, but can you explain what Mark Trail and Mary Worth, what these comics are, and why they are maybe not what people think about normally when they think about newspaper comics?

ALEXANDRA: Well, my favorite newspaper comic story, and then I will explain both of these because it would be my delight, is: I think the most mail The Post ever got, it was not like somebody wrote a column and they were really mad about it, but because they decided to remove Judge Parker, the comic strip. And everyone was like, "As a newspaper, you can do many things, but removing Judge Parker, that is a bridge too far."

So they got bucket-loads of mail. These are all teetering on the edge of soap opera strips. Judge Parker is a judge. He's got a family and there's a lot going on. Recently, a new person took over who's a very good, funny writer, but attempting to infuse reality into the Judge Parker world, I think, is a fool's errand. But he's doing a good job.

Mark Trail is a nature and adventure outdoorsman-type guy. He's got one of those shirts that have multiple pockets. He looks like a park ranger, but I don't think he's a park ranger. He has a lot of animal facts. Every Sunday, he'll tell you animal facts with a big colorful, illustrated thing about martins, and are they a member of the weasel family, or what are they a member of? He'll put his finger on it.

But he's always hunting drug kingpins. He has his wife Cherry, but there's also this temptress that he sometimes goes on adventures with. My favorite Mark Trail comic strip is not amazingly the one where ... he spent a good like three months of daily strips, just yelling in a cave. It was incredible. But there was another one where he was trying to get to the bottom of a drug-smuggling situation. There's a taxidermied fish and he sticks his fingers into the Plaster of Paris of the fish. And he goes, "That isn't Plaster of Paris! That's cocaine!"

And just the idea that Mark Trail, outdoorsman, was like, "By tasting this Plaster of Paris, I've identified it as cocaine." And that's Mark Trail in a nutshell. Oh, he's got a child named Rusty and a dog named Andy, or maybe a child named Andy and a dog named Rusty. No, I think I got it right the first time.

Anyway, there's a new generation of Mark Trail going on, so a new writer, a new illustrator. And he's cool now, and he's making TikToks. I'm also interested in this Mark Trail, who's maybe the son... I missed when they explained his relationship to the original Mark Trail so I need to catch up on that. But he's fun and he makes wisecracks, and he has a rivalry with a cricket guy.

ERIC: This is some insane continuity. And yeah, these soap opera comics have been going on for so long that I guess if you have been a lifelong reader of Judge Parker or Mark Trail, or one of these, the idea of them stopping is just impossible to fathom. I get that part of it, at least.

ALEXANDRA: And Mary Worth is an old lady who likes to metal and everyone around her benefits from that. It's kind of like Murder, She Wrote, but also kind of not, in the sense that if somebody were to tell you that she'd done a lot of murders, you'd be like, "I'm not surprised."


ERIC: That was the comics curmudgeon Josh Fruhlinger, who's on Twitter at @jfruh. And he was recommended by Alexandra Petri from the Washington Post.

We're going to take a quick break now, but we'll be back in a minute with more of my favorite follows from 2021.


Today's show is brought to you by Timber, a finely crafted hosting platform for your podcast. I tried Timber out recently and I love the clean design: It's super quick and easy to change your show settings, or look at the analytics. And when you host your podcast on Timber, you get access to an amazing, private Discord community called The Edit. That's where I and a bunch of other podcast industry professionals provide detailed, professional reviews of podcasts from Timber users. And when you sign up for Timber, you'll get two of those reviews for free every year. Start your 2-week free trial today at That's

Today's show is also brought to you by Repod. If you are a podcaster, you probably have something like a Facebook group or maybe a Patreon page, but those destinations can only do so much. You need one central place for your listener community, and Repod is that. It's a new app that gives podcasters all the tools to engage, monetize, and grow. So it's sort of like Patreon and Facebook Groups and a podcast app, all bundled together. On Repod you can setup memberships for your listeners like ad-free or bonus content, listener shoutouts, merch, and more. Repod is available on the App Store and Google Play. Search for it there, or go to to get started. That's


ERIC: Welcome back to Follow Friday! Next up on today's best-of-2021 special, we have Mark Chrisler from The Constant, who introduced me to a Twitter account that I now follow religiously. It's a constant source of entertainment. Take it away, past Eric!

ERIC: Mark, I asked you to tell me about someone you just started following. You said an account called Froot of the Loom, which is spelled with two O's in fruit. Their username on Twitter is @frootoftheloom1.

Their Twitter bio makes reference to the Mandela Effect and to things that are being "retconned." Do you want to explain what this account is about, what Froot of the Loom is referring to?

MARK CHRISLER: Yes. I think that at this point, Froot of the Loom is one of the sole reasons that I open Twitter. Froot of the Loom is an account that just pastes comments from a Reddit subgroup called the Mandela Effect.

If people don't really know this, I first encountered this a few years ago with the Berenstein Bears, or the Berenstain Bears, which is what they're actually called. The Berenstain Bears is a series of children's books that many of us grew up with. Many of us recall incorrectly as the Berenstein Bears, because that's a much more natural-sounding thing.

The idea is that we've actually traveled into an alternative universe where when we were children, we were living in the Berenstein Bears' world and then we somehow got retconned. As you said, existence got retconned to turn it into the Berenstain Bears.

It takes its name from this same phenomenon when Nelson Mandela died, in I think 2008, a lot of people apparently believed that they remembered him dying in the '90s. That became this major schism where they said, "Okay. Sometime between then and now, we changed the nature of the universe."

When you follow Froot of the Loom, who gives you the examples of these folks, and they're manically wholesale, you realize more fully than you can possibly imagine that there is just a small but not small enough group of folks who every time they spell something wrong, or misremember a date, or in any way make any sort of minor or trivial error, they go, "Oh, well of course that means that the world has just been changed again."

ERIC: The only explanation, the simplest explanation is time travel, or maybe an alternate universe. It can't possibly be that I was wrong.

MARK: Absolutely. The only reasonable explanation for the world that I live in where ignore is spelled with a silent G or whatever. That's not a good example. I want to look them up. I want to look them up right now so that I can give you a great example of ...

ERIC: This is one that I found when I was looking @frootoftheloom1 on Twitter. It's a screenshot from Reddit. It's a post on Reddit. The title is "When the Hell did Ed Sherman change his name to Ed Sheeran?"

MARK: [laughs] Right. Yeah. That's a lovely one. That's a lovely one.

ERIC: I like the 'when the hell' specifically, where it's like "the utter nerve of this guy."

MARK: Yeah. There's a nonstop cavalcade of aggressive ignorance being trotted out as evidence that something has gone wrong with the world. The moderators apparently on this subreddit have made it, you're not allowed to contradict someone. You're not allowed to say, "I think that maybe it was just always spelled that way," or what have you. It creates this Watt steam engine, a reinforcing loop of bad information over and over again, and it delights me to no end.

ERIC: I definitely was also in the Berenstein Bears camp. I was certain for the longest time that it was stein with an E. Another one, another classic example of Mandela Effect that was true for me was in Snow White. The evil witch is saying, "Mirror, mirror on the wall. Who's the fairest one of all?" Apparently, she never says that. She says, "Magic mirror on the wall." If you had asked me, until I looked this up last night when I was writing the script, I was like, "Yeah, of course she says, 'Mirror, mirror on the wall.'" Did you have anything other than Berenstein bears that's like that for you?

MARK: I have the Snow White one as well. ET never says, "Phone home." He always says, "Home phone." There are lots of little ones like that. Those are all great because there's a catchier version than what actually we experienced, that then became the cultural touchdown.

Which is a really simple and kind of interesting explanation for why we all have these shared errors. Instead of going down that, it's just, well, obviously the universe has shifted in the most mundane and unreasonable ways imaginable.

ERIC: I think the original people reporting the Mandela effect said, "I remember watching his funeral on TV," and stuff like that. It's often, I think, related to some media we've consumed where our brains have just conflated maybe a fictionalized version of a similar person to Nelson Mandela.

There is just some bizarre brain science happening here that I would love to really understand. What is actually happening when we delude ourselves into thinking that there's some retcon time-travel shenanigans going on here?

MARK: I think it's an incredibly Internet-based phenomenon, because in the olden days, people had things like this... I remember my uncle, when I was a kid, thinking that it was called a weather mane, not a weather vane. He was insistent. When everybody was like, "What are you talking about? It's a weather vane," he was like, "It's a weather mane." We all have those little moments.

The difference is when you can go online, you can find people who will validate your odd little quirks and so forth. They become not your mistakes or not things that you believe quietly, that you could grumble about under the table or whatever. They suddenly become things that you can amplify and exaggerate. We can make these strange behaviors louder and bigger and worse.

ERIC: Welcome to the Internet. Our official motto is, we can make it louder and bigger and worse.

MARK: Yeah. That's pretty much right.


That was Froot of the Loom, which is on Twitter at @frootoftheloom1. And they were recommended by Mark Chrisler, the host of the history podcast The Constant.

Last but not least on this best of 2021 special, we have a follow recommendation from the interview I did with the Auralnauts, Craven Moorhaus and Zak Koonce. Specifically, this pick comes from Craven, and it's one of the few times I've made my guests do a dramatic reading on the show. But I think it was worth it. Enjoy.


ERIC: Craven, let's move on to someone you said "makes you laugh", and that's Michael Cunningham, also known as Sir Michael, who is on Twitter @Michael1979. Michael is the author of a book called How to (Almost) Make Friends on the Internet. Do you want to explain what he does that prevents him from actually making friends?

CRAVEN MOORHAUS: Michael is probably the most wholesome troll that exists in the world, he is extremely trollsome. And it's kind of hard to wrap my head around what it is that tickles me about his work so much, but I think it's something about the intersection of how he interacts with the real world and then follows up with people in this digital way.

He's always putting up flyers and sort of baiting people with these very innocuous things in the world, and then they will take the phone number off his flyer and text to him. The way that he lines up his gags, he's the kind of person that you might think that he's a real person doing and acting the way that he is except that he posts his comedy online, and that's sort of the giveaway that he is a comedian.

But he comes off as this innocuous dolt that takes people down a path when they start interacting with them. And the joke is in how long it takes that person to finally catch up to the idea that he is messing around with them or that he's insane. The punchline just is always this perfected piece of comedy. I have to imagine he is just a genius, but it's always so harmless, too, in the way that he is working with people.

So to me, my philosophy is that the world isn't quite interesting enough, just as it is in general, and I always appreciate a bit of absurdity, kind of catching you unaware, and I think he's giving that to people. It's almost like a gift because people just get into this sort of doldrum of life.

Some of my favorite moments are when I read something and it makes me laugh, because of how absurd it is, and then the greatest disappointment is when I realized that I've misread that thing, and it actually says something really boring or lame. I love absurdity, I love things being twisted in a way that's wholesome and ridiculous.

So everything he does, whether it be these flyers that catch people and get them interacting with him where he takes them down these forking paths. He seems to have an answer for everybody. When they're responding to him, he seems to have some way of understanding where the conversation is going to go and a joke everywhere along the road, to get to his final destination.

ERIC: That's the thing, it seems maybe he has a final punchline in mind, but the way he gets there, it's not like he delivers the punchline right after the first person responds. It's a little bit of baiting them along a pathway to where he wants them to go, it's very impressive.

CRAVEN: It's incredible how he does that, he's incredibly deft with how he achieves that. Then he does something else that I love so much: After he has his punchline, there's always like another joke right behind it.

And I've seen him do that so many times, I just figure it's part of his strategy. And that includes something as simple as, he tells his punchline in a chat space, and he'll include in the image the little bit after that. that says "You've been removed from this chat." And he's done things like that so often and he always buttons things up with an additional joke, and that I just love so much.

ZAK KOONCE: The best example of that was when — you referred to me, of course — which is probably his most popular post, the funeral DJ bit.

ERIC: I haven't seen this one, what happens in the funeral DJ bit?

ZAK: He offers his funeral DJ skills, and he's like "I will play tasteful music, everyone will feel good." And he makes a really bad taste, but good case for being a funeral DJ. He's like "I'll bring turntable decks, which I will have soon." But then after this, he's like "My mixtape is attached," there's a physical tape taped of things, and he's like "Please bring it back, it's my only copy."

And then right below that, almost out of frame, is a second post on a bulletin board that says "Need DJ turntables my new funeral DJ gig." So the whole punchline has been laid out in this post, there's this little subtle one in the corner of the frame, just barely, almost out of the shot.

ERIC: That's great. I want to do a little staged reading for one of Michael's Facebook exchanges. I sent you guys the link for this one. So this is a Facebook post in a group, looks like a local community group, and Craven, I'm going to have you play Michael, and Zak you will play Zeke, who has one of the unsuspecting marks in this.

This starts with a woman named Cindy who posted in this community group, "Has anyone here met their partner through an online dating site and not Tinder, etc., actual dating?" And so the initial response is from someone named Laura who says yes, she met her partner Charlie. They'd been in a relationship for two years. "Happy to answer any questions about it." So then, enter Michael.

CRAVEN: "But it's not always a positive experience. Greg, who's the manager of the hardware shop where my uncle works was telling me recently about a bad experience he had on OkCupid, and he definitely wouldn't recommend it."

ZAK: "Well if Greg from hardware says it is bad, it must be bad. Greg's word is gospel, don'tcha know?"

CRAVEN: Then Michael responds, "Zeke, not sure why you felt the need to join in this conversation with an unhelpful comment, but I don't appreciate you making fun of Greg. He's been through a lot in his life. So being made fun of online is the last thing he needs."

ZAK: "Please tell me how I was making fun of hum, I do not know who he is or what his life is, I was joking about the way you spoke about him, like everyone knows who Greg is and go by what he said."

CRAVEN: And then Michael explains who Greg is. "Greg is the manager of a hardware shop and he had a very bad experience on OkCupid, I mentioned that in my posts."

ZAK: "Yes you did, but it had no meaning because nobody knows who Greg is or what the hardware shop is or what his experience was."

CRAVEN: "His experience was that he had worked in various hardware shops for several years beforehand, so he was actually very well qualified for the job, if that's what you're worried about."

ZAK: "His experience on OkCupid, not his work experience," (Laugh and cry emoji three times).

CRAVEN: "Oh, OK, sorry. I misunderstood what you meant."

ZAK: "No worries, I'm laughing here." (Laugh emoji).

CRAVEN: "Laughing at Greg?"

ZAK: "No, of course not."

ERIC: And then a new character, Sadie, enters: "What's the bad experience you had on OkCupid?"

CRAVEN: "Not me, Greg, he had a very unfortunate experience a few days after he joined OkCupid and it still affects him now."

ERIC: "Can you say what it was?"

CRAVEN: "He forgot his password to the site, and he hasn't been able to log in since."

ZAK: (Thumbs down emoji.)

ERIC: Oh my God. I'm so impressed, he clearly knew what the bad experiences was going to be, but it's just such a maze to get there, that's brilliant. Yeah, so to your initial thing, what you were initially saying about him, Craven, I think you called them like the nicest internet troll. I think in my mind, trolls are kind of in that same category as pranksters where a lot of it is like making someone else the fool, making someone else feel bad or embarrassed or whatever. And I think what really works about Michael's comedy is, a lot of it he's playing the character who…

CRAVEN: He is the fool.

ERIC: Yeah exactly, he's the fool. As you said, among people who do this sort of trolling online, this really seems to be the best form of it possible.

CRAVEN: Absolutely.

ZAK: I saw an interview with Johnny Knoxville recently, and he was talking about what he thinks what he make them different from the current crop of pranksters and physical comedy, like trolls like that.

ERIC: What makes Jackass different?

ZAK: Yeah, and he goes "Because we were just messing with each other." None of our antics ever involved anyone else in a way that made them look dumb or put them in danger. Anytime there was a public stunt, it was just them making fools of themselves around other people and making them feel awkward about it. It's so mean-spirited out there right now, just to get the clicks.

CRAVEN: Yeah, I feel like we all need a little bit more Sir Michael in our lives.

ZAK: Yeah, Sir Michael is the one.


ERIC: That was Michael Cunningham, who is on Twitter at @Michael1979. And he was recommended by Craven Moorhaus from the YouTube channel Auralnauts.

Thank you again to Alie, Alexandra, Mark, Craven, and Zak for coming on Follow Friday, and to literally everyone else whose voice you've heard on the podcast this year. We'll be taking a couple weeks off for the holidays and we'll be back with a new episode in early-mid January. So please take this time to go back and listen to any episodes you might have missed, and go explore the amazing work of our guests and the people they recommend.

Happy holidays and a very happy new year to all of you. Thanks so much for listening to my little podcast and making 2021 a pretty great year… you know, such as it is.

Follow me on Twitter at @HeyHeyESJ and don't forget to follow or subscribe to Follow Friday in your podcast app.

Follow Friday's theme music was written by me and performed by Yona Marie. Our show art was illustrated by Dodi Hermawan. Special thanks to our Patreon backers Jon and Justin.

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. I'll see you next year!

Recent episodes:

Made on