Interview With Tim O'Connor
The Tim O'Connor Show
WORDS: Stu Gomez
After appearances in over a dozen full-length videos, Tim O’Connor has found a second life as the wise-cracking fly in the ointment for the Boardr, Jenkem, and adidas Skateboarding’s Skate Copa series. O’Connor established his credentials as an entertainer early on when he taped the commentary for Habitat’s Mosaic , a raucous 38-minute monologue that came with a disclaimer blaming “mocha frappuccinos,” “pixie sticks,” and “a couple hits of ginseng.” (Duly noted.)
"The Tim O'Connor Show," O’Connor’s podcast (now sponsored by adidas), has proven to be the perfect platform for his showmanship. Guests are treated to a front row seat to O’Connor’s wildly opinionated train of thought, a stream of consciousness that owes as much to improv as it does to the conventions of traditional interview podcasts.
40-year-old O’Connor is now a family man, adding yet another dimension to his uniquely abrasive brand of humor. But you can bet that he won’t be softening his approach any time soon. If anything, we can expect his show, a forum for O’Connor to lambast idiocy, to develop into something even more seasoned. He won’t suffer fools gladly, and we’d be fools not to listen.
When did you become interested in podcasting?
I was toying around with the idea in my head a while back and then, coincidentally, right at that same time Ian Michna from Jenkem hit me up and asked me if I had any interest in doing something like a podcast. I told him I had just been considering that exact thought and I said with little hesitation, “Let’s just do it.” We’ll see what happens even though I have no idea what I’m doing. What’s the worst that can happen? You give it a whirl and it ends up suckin’. Big deal.
Were you already a fan of podcasts? Any shows in particular?
I listened to The Ricky Gervais Podcast when he used to do one a bunch of years ago with Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington. It was one of the first ones in the very beginning of even realizing podcasting was a thing. That would be the first one I can remember listening to and liking a lot. I liked the long-form discussions and how it was both intelligent and funny.
I also liked, and still like, a show called “The Skeptics Guide To The Universe." It’s a bunch of unfunny nerds that discuss science news topics. They’re also dedicated to sorting truth from misinformation; basically highlighting how and why smart and dumb people alike err in their everyday thought, and how flawed the human mind is with sorting through information. People, including myself, are idiots and can learn a lot by learning how to spot bullshit. A good go-to reference is Wikipedia’s “List Of Cognitive Biases” page.
How did you develop the concept for The Tim O’Connor Show? Was there a vision?
I didn’t really develop any sort of concept. I basically just hit record and started yammering away. No plan, really, or vision whatsoever, but I knew I could talk and figured something decent might come out of my mouth eventually if I talked constantly. When you spray everywhere you’ll hit the target once in awhile.
What are your memories of your first show? Were you happy with it?
I barely remember what the hell we talked about but I know I recorded it at Stefan Janoski’s place in Brooklyn with Fred Gall and Jon Newport. I just recorded it off of my iPhone. I had a little ghetto rig that hooked up to my phone but I forgot to put my phone in airplane mode and there was a bunch of feedback from the cell signal. I was fine with it but realized it could’ve been much better if I knew how to record audio properly.
How did the show evolve over the next few episodes?
It got slightly less ghetto but it’s still pretty ghetto. Not sure it’s evolved all that much in all reality. Maybe my podcast is like the VX1000 of audio: rough around the edges… but not purposely designed that way.
Were you comfortable with the interviewing process? What kind of experience did you have with interviewing before you started podcasting?
I was fine with the interviewing process. Feels pretty easy for the most part. Most of the time I do it more like a conversation rather than a textbook interview. And, as a normal social human, I know how to have a conversation. I had zero experience with interviewing prior to starting the podcast.
You seem like a natural showman, but was there a level of performance anxiety involved in hosting the podcast?
I didn’t have any problem with performance anxiety but the one part that felt weird was recording intros. I usually do them locked in a closet at my house away from my loud ass kids. It’s awkward talking to yourself while hanging out in a closet like some sort of lunatic.
Is there already a personal familiarity there with the guests for the most part, or are you speaking to some guests for the first time on-air?
Most of the people that I’ve had as guests so far I’ve had a personal relationship with in one way or another. So there’s that level of comfort but I’m fine with talking to whoever so I don’t think that aspect really matters. I guess it helps with knowing a lot about a guest but I can find something to talk about with most people that don’t one-word-answer you to death. Some people are better to do face-to-face rather than over the phone to get a better conversation going.
Do you remember any episodes that may have taken a surprising turn?
I haven’t had one of those yet but I’m sure it’ll happen at some point. I’d actually like that. If it’s interesting to me it’d most likely be interesting to people listening in.
Was it tricky to get guests to be candid with you?
Yeah, some people are nervous prior to recording which is understandable. It’s an unnatural thing to record yourself talking at great lengths knowing people will be intimately listening in with headphones, in their cars, or wherever, later on. I haven’t been intimidated yet but there might be somebody that would scare me a bit. I don’t think that person exists in skateboarding, though.
Was there a guest you wish you could go back and interview again? Maybe a key question occurred to you afterwards?
The only time I wish I could do an interview again is if I fucked up the audio which happens all the time. I seriously don’t know what I’m doing and can’t get myself to care even though I should. I’m extremely productive about the stuff I want to be productive with and then lazy as fuck with the stuff that doesn’t interest me. I definitely forgot to ask certain people questions but that hasn’t been something that has really bothered me after the fact too much.
Do you have a dream guest?
I think I already had my dream guest with The Gonz.
What is your opinion on the current state of podcasting?
In general I think it’s great. And in skateboarding it seems like a couple of people are doing an awesome job. The Nine Club guys are obviously professional as fuck! They got their shit together.
Do you pay attention to comments on social? Do you find any value in negative comments and trolling?
I see some comments sometimes. I definitely don’t go out of my way to check them all by any means, whether they’re good or bad. If there was a negative comment that was on point or clever I would definitely find value in it. But most comments are as you’d expect and a waste of time to bother reading. I make sure I have no alerts whatsoever on Instagram, both because I don’t care enough and because I don’t want to look at it any more than I already do.
What role do podcasts play in your everyday life?
I listen to a lot of podcasts, mostly science podcasts for whatever reason. Not sure why I’m drawn to that general subject matter. I didn’t care for any sort of science back when I was in school. I think maybe it’s the fact that they’re on the forefront of real universal truths and some of the things that are discovered constantly will sprain your brain. It makes you aware of how limited most people’s minds actually are and how the universe is so much more interesting than anything humans can think up.
I don’t know who this quote is really attributed to but it’s something like, “The more you learn the more you realize how little you know.” It’s been attributed to a few people but it couldn’t be any more on point.
You’re currently in Season 2 now, right? What does the future hold for your podcast?
Yes it’s “Season 2” right now. Whatever that means. I have no idea. I’d like to have a studio where people could just meet me to record. It’s a pain in the ass chasing people down and recording in random places. It’s not convenient at all. There’s nothing convenient about my podcasting setup. Maybe I can figure something out in the near future to streamline all of that. If I could just talk and order a couple people around to do the grunt work I’d be good to go!