Creator Download: Guy Kelly

How a "stupid" Garfield fan-podcast idea led to global appreciation

Garfield, the iconic orange grumpy cat, is a comic character that brought comfort to many people's childhoods. It's no surprise that when a Garfield-review podcast popped up decades later, those people that grew up with memories of the cartoon tuned into the series partially due to the nostalgia and partially because the hosts were hilarious.

Comedian Guy Kelly launched the "idiot podcast" reviewing Garfield with his wife in 2019 and quickly amassed an engaged following around the world, with one of the reviews on Apple Podcasts saying it "makes me laugh so much I hurt".

Kelly spoke to PodPod about how this podcast came to be in the first place and what he learned from his experience so far.

What is the name of your podcast?

So the main podcast that I run is I Don't Like Mondays, which is a husband and wife Garfield review podcast hosted by me, a man called Guy, and my wife, a woman called Cat. Guy and Cat would have been a much better name because that's the plot of Garfield. And it's way too late to change it now.

When did you start your podcast?

I genuinely don't remember. It was definitely before lockdown, so I can't blame it on the mania that sank in then. I'm fairly sure that I just walked into the living room at some point and said to my wife “I've got a stupid idea. Do you want to do a podcast reviewing all of the Garfield strips?” And knowing my wife, she'd have probably said “No, I don't want to do that. That sounds terrible. Let's do that.”

What advice do you wish you'd been given when you first started?

It's really silly stuff, like knowing how to use my microphone, knowing how to make it sound nice. I know that sounds silly and I've done a lot of voice work. When I do things for remote voiceover recordings, I set things up and I do it properly with sound baffling and all of that sort of thing, but that's very different when it's just one person reading one thing into one microphone; it took me far too long to realise how to make use of the stereo feature in the Yeti Blue microphone, which every podcaster and their dog has, and the realisation that in the software that I use I could set that as two different audio tracks and then play about with the panning so it didn't just sound like you were sitting between two people having an argument on a train but it had a nice little sort of sound stage.

So the first 30, 40 episodes are just this horrible flat mono thing, and I was thinking, "Why isn't this working? Why am I not being picked up?" And it's because I'd changed the settings and not done anything sensible to it, and so I guess the thing that I wish I'd been told is: Do the smallest bit of preparation. Think about what you're doing for even a second before doing it.

How many people does it take to create an episode of your show?

It's just me and my wife and Jim Davis, who haunts us all. We don't do any editing whatsoever. I suppose you could argue that changing the panning on the audio tracks to give a bit of balance counts as editing. But once we hit record, we don't stop until we inevitably talk about Garfield and are exhausted by the whole thing. So every digression, splutter, Cat wandering off to go and eat some easy peelers midway through a podcast, that's all there; it would be a very different product if we edited it, but I think the contempt displayed by the lack of editing is important for the podcast itself. Contempt for not necessarily for the listener…

Do you monetise your podcast?

We set up a Patreon early last year. The main reason we did that was we were releasing an episode about every three months. And it was fun to do, but we never got around to it. Even though it's just an hour's conversation with somebody that I love, things would get in the way. And so we figured, even if one person gave us three pounds a month, that would be enough of a goad to make us sit down and actually churn things out. That's money that they could have spent on literally anything else, and so that way, it kind of bullies us into doing it. We'll never run adverts on it, and for all the nonsense that the podcast is, and it is nonsense, there is a purity to that nonsense and I wouldn't want to cede any kind of creative control. Advertising on it feels wrong, we wouldn't do that.

How do you promote the podcast?

Mainly through Twitter. I've got a moderate Twitter following because I've just been using that to put my inner monologue somewhere for the last 10 years. We've not used Google ad credits or that sort of thing. I've talked about it on my Twitch stream that I run and I've guested on the wonderful Sonic The Comic podcast. But that's been about it, really. I went through the hoops to get it on iTunes and Spotify. But we've done no advertising beyond posting on social media; a little while ago, we were trending in the 50 top podcasts – at number 50. There's a Finnish podcast called I Don't Like Mondays that's about true crime, and I think people were getting confused. Just imagine legions of Finnish true-crime fans tuning in to two absolute idiots talk about Garfield for an hour.

I've got no idea how to advertise this further. I'd love for more people to listen to it because I think it's funny and silly and each episode touches on something quite insightful, and I take great delight in putting nonsense out into the world that might put a smile on people's faces, even if it is desperately stupid.

Who listens to your podcast?

We have people listening across the world, which I find fascinating. UK and America are our biggest audiences. We host everything on Soundcloud; there are some basic insight features on that – seeing that people in the Philippines have been listening, all sorts of people. Again, I talk about it in my Twitch chat; there’s a really diverse audience there and it seems I wouldn't be able to tell you a particular demographic, but at least two separate people have told me that they've had to stop listening to it while driving because they were laughing so much. They became a danger to themselves and others on the road, which I think is high praise.

What have you learned about yourself since starting the podcast?

Something that I've not learned but reminded myself about is the delight in play. My wife and I are very silly people and being able to sit and talk nonsense at each other with a microphone between us gives this almost a sense of purpose. It's just nice to find a space to play; a few years ago, I took a series of improv classes led by the lovely Paul Foxcroft. And that was two or three hours a week where I just get to be silly and play. That's something that people don't do enough of. It's a really important thing to allow yourself to just be daft and sort of on it.

I'm going to say my marriage has become better as a result of my Garfield podcast – what a strapline. Since we started the podcast, I’ve been diagnosed with ADHD, and it's looking increasingly likely that I'm going to be diagnosed with autism; and part of the podcast seems to have become an exploration of what neurodivergence can be. Cat and I have been talking about things like how I can only eat a certain amount of cheese because any more cheese in one mouthful will give me 'cheese mouth'. Then people who are autistic or neurodivergent listen and are like, Oh my God, it's cheese mouth. I know this thing. I've also learned that some early Garfield comic strips are quite funny.

What was the last podcast that you listened to?

There is a video game series called Watch Out for Fireballs! that I take great delight in. I think they really hit their stride and managed to pivot into it being their career when they released a series based on the Dark Souls video games, which was a really granular exploration, area by area. I'm a huge fan of the Dark Souls, Bloodborne, Demon's Souls games, and they went through those in forensic detail, on the network. It's really nice. It's two straight white men who talk about video games, but don't have absolutely garbage politics. They're the sort of left-leaning, liberal good boys. They regularly raise money for the TransActive Gender fund.

And tell me a little bit about your mime podcast.

I decided to release a podcast called Mimecast where for 10 minutes, I mime at my microphone, including taking bows at the end, and I do the miming because it wouldn't be funny if I didn't. One person who listened to it said that she was explaining it to her husband and he said, “Oh, it's just 10 minutes of silence”, and she said, “No, you can sort of hear him shuffling about.” And that was when the absurdity of it hit her to the point that she started actually sobbing with laughter, unable to speak.

It's an absurd thing to do and it costs me the most finite and important resource anybody has, which is their time on Earth; it's 10 minutes of me fundamentally wasting my time to produce something stupid. And I think there's a purity to that. Although I did recently find out that Marcel Marceau released a record doing pretty much the same thing.