#52: Taylor Gonda
When it comes to popular culture, Taylor Gonda talks a great game. As co-host of the local podcast These Things Matter, she chats about music, movies and other obsessions with celebrities both local and sometimes national. But there's more to Gonda than These Things Matter: A regular contributor to Denver's storytelling spotlight The Narrators and the woman behind the man for Adam Cayton-Holland's My Dining Room Table podcast, she also spent more than six years as a director and behind-the-scenes ensemble member of the defunct and sorely missed Paragon Theatre company. We invited Gonda to talk up what rocks her rapidly spinning world; find out more from her 100CC questionnaire, which follows.
Kevin O'Brien and Taylor Gonda of These Things Matter.
Westword: If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why? Taylor Gonda: Gosh, well, when I was a kid all I wanted to do was go back in time to join the Monty Python's Flying Circus writers' room, but there's a very specific relationship that collaborators need to have, and though I admire all those gentlemen, I wouldn't dare disrupt their inexplicable chemistry. That would be true for any collaboration -- it's entirely about the chemistry. I imagine that the person with whom I would want to collaborate is still alive, probably not yet famous and only a conversation away from creating something awesome with me. My heroes started out this way. Janeane Garofalo introduced Bob Odenkirk to David Cross because David wanted someone to play basketball with. Tom Scharpling and Jon Wurster met at a concert where they talked about the Chris Elliot show Get a Life (for which Bob Odenkirk wrote). My current collaborator, Kevin O'Brien, and I met at various comedy shows around town. You just never know.
Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?
I am embarrassed to admit this, because as a 33-year-old, I should have gone through my Smiths phase decades ago, but Morrissey is suddenly fascinating to me. I don't want to be like him; I don't like the angry, pompous, indignant old man that he has become, (or maybe anger, pompousness and indignation are only attractive on younger people), but I like how he is the voice of that thing inside you that you don't show to the outside world. He is sarcastic and full of himself, overly dramatic, self-centered and stuck-up, but sometimes you wanna hear that sort of person say the things we all think about at our most petty moments. There's a sick joy in recognizing the sentiments he sings about, even if you would never admit that you've felt those things. Self-pity can be so satisfying. Also, I'm currently working on a theory that he is the modern Louis Armstrong, so watch out for that.
These Things Matter live, with guest Robin Edwards.
What's one art trend you want to see die this year?
I feel that the world is now sufficiently full of the group-of-white-dudes-with-no-set-agenda-talking-about-comedy-or-whatever-comes-to-mind podcasts. I know that's not necessarily art, but if you're thinking of starting one of those, don't. I'd also like to make sure we never call podcasts art, unless you're talking about the Superego podcast. At that point, use as many superlatives as possible.
What's your day job?
I am the Rental Coordinator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver.
A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?
First of all, I'd want to know what sort of stipulations would come with this money. Would this patron require me to put a reference to Himmler in everything I create from this grant? Because I might have a small problem with that. However, if there were absolutely no stipulations or restrictions, I suppose I would travel a lot and go to school whenever the desire struck me. I'd buy a space in which my sister could do her sculpture, in which Kevin O'Brien could start his pirate radio station, where all my comedian and theatre friends could put on shows whenever they wanted, and in which I could have my "Dance Music For Old People" nights. Maybe I want to play nothing but Elvis Costello one night? Maybe it's all '60s garage rock? I have no need to make any money, so who cares? I'd also take bass lessons and go on lots of hikes. You know, I am realizing I could probably do all of this already without lots of money.
Okay, starting over: I would fund whatever needs to happen in order for Tom Scharpling to get the Best Show on WFMU back on its feet.
Live at Mutiny Information Cafe during the High Plains Comedy Festival.
What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?
Make it easier for artists to afford to live in this city. I know that the population is booming and rents are skyrocketing and so everyone's making money, but the lifeblood of a city is its creative culture, and if artistic people are priced out of the city, those who move here will find a husk of a city left. A culture-less void. It'll be 10,000 chain restaurants and corporate shops, and anything of substance or authenticity will be elsewhere. How about a New Deal-style program for housing? Working on income gap equality in general. The city would benefit in innumerable ways.
Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?
Without a doubt, Erin Rollman. She inspires me every time I'm around her. She challenges herself to do things of which she's afraid. She is part of Buntport -- one of the most creatively forward-thinking institutions in the country, but she is also involved in many other artistic endeavors and is a constant supporter of local projects. Plus, she is one of the funniest people you'll ever meet. It is such an honor to call her my friend.
What's on your agenda in the coming year?
Sounds like I've gotta go buy a space for all the stuff I talked about above!
I'm not sure what the future holds, and I don't really have an agenda. When I worked at Paragon Theatre, I would have my next year-and-a-half all planned out, but I try to avoid that sort of regimented life these days. I'd say the only thing on my agenda is to try to be more like Bill Murray who said, "...the more fun I had, the more relaxed I was working, the better I worked."
Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts (comedy/podcast) community in 2014 and beyond?
I think Kevin O'Brien and I will get noticed by the AV Club, or maybe just Patton Oswalt, who will tweet about us and our podcast, and then we'll be outta this one horse town. Podcasting's gonna be our ticket to the stars!
That, or the Grawlix boys are going to take over Hollywood in the next five years.
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