The Internet series Drunk Dial delivers what it promises: Inebriated, extroverted advice on the plight of the young and wasted as dolled out by a couple of amateur truth-tellers. But even during the show’s first episodes, it slowly came into beer-goggled focus that the implicit joy of Drunk Dial was less in the standard call-show format and more in the push-pull hysterics of hosts/best friends Jodi Frizzel and Emily Lowe and the canny, rapid-fire editing of producer Jess Gardner.
Having served some actual advice as well coining the Urban Dictionary-ready expression “upstairs dick,” the Drunk Dial team has decided to up the ante with a Kickstarter campaign designed to get them out of Austin and onto the road. (The $5,000 fundraising goal has already been met, but they’re accepting donations through April 27.) The A.V. Club sat down with Frizzel, Lowe, and Gardner to talk about exhausting their fan base, their time-sensitive goals, and plans for season two of Drunk Dial.
A.V. Club: If your show can be heard by anyone and anyone can call in, what are the advantages of taking it on the road?
Jodi Frizzel: Well, I think that most of our fans are in Austin, and that’s because we go out and invite people out and are interactive with them—not only over the phone, but personally. I think it’s really important for us—if we want to become really popular on the Internet or whatever—to get closer to people, because that’s the main appeal. We do so much out and about. People can call us, they can meet us, they can send us shit in the mail—we need face time with other cities.
Emily Lowe: The reason we have any fans is ’cause we’re accessible and the show’s interactive.
JF: They can be like, “Oh I just saw you at the bar and now I’m calling you about this problem I had in the last 10 minutes.” It wouldn’t be as popular if me and Emily didn’t go out and hit the streets and give people our cards. If we were just doing a show on the Internet and were drunk, we’d be like any other show. We kind of force people into the idea that it’s a good idea to call us. Then we might totally insult them or drop the ball, but I think usually, we give some decent advice.
AVC: Do you think that people in this city have a particular set of problems—drunk problems?
JF: I think people in this city binge drink—a lot—successfully more than in other cities. It’s easy to live here, so it’s easy to go out and get totally trashed and live a decent life.
EL: And people are just more open in Austin—it’s a young, sexy town. People have a lot of sex, and casual sex, and drunk casual sex, and that leads to problems, sometimes. Maybe these aren’t different problems, but there’s more of a willingness to talk about them.
AVC: What do you think is some of the best advice you’ve given?
JF: I think one of our best pieces of advice is, “Nobody is out of your league… at the bar.” I think it’s probably true, and has been proven over and over for me personally, and that’s really awesome. [Laughs.] You’ve just gotta have full confidence that everybody’s available to you if you try hard enough. And don’t fuck your family, don’t fuck animals, and don’t drive drunk. [Laughs.]
Jess Gardner: I do think people in Austin do have slightly different problems, in that Austin is such an open-minded city. When we get a call from a suburban town, some of those people are really reaching out and going through something nobody around them understands.
JF: And people from small towns are a little more genuine with their problems, and we have to take them a little more seriously, because they’re actually having an issue. Like if there’s this guy in love with a dude and he doesn’t know what to do because he’s in the army and comes from a small town, we sometimes have to be like, “Okay—this is a serious call.”
JG: Sometimes that’s a hard thing to figure out at 4 a.m. when things have been spiraling out of control.
JF: I’ve literally hit Emily like, “No! This is a serious call—stop texting about who’s going to come over and have sex with you. This person actually needs us right now and we have to come up with something.” She’s more of the advice-giver, I would say.
EL: And she’s the empathizer. She’s the empath. Is that a word?
AVC: It could be.
EL: That’s another thing: One of Jessica’s favorite things about the show is just watching myself and Jody interact and seeing this best friendship. We bicker and are shitty to each other, but then we’re are also ignoring the call because we’re having a love moment.
AVC: In terms of stuff you don’t always agree on—pubic hair and issues like that—what issues come between you?
EL: Sometimes Jodi says, “I disagree!” and then she has nothing. [Laughs.]
JF: The thing is, Emily is pretty much, you know, “Everything is okay. Be who you are and own it, and if you want to fuck three guys in one night and then fuck their sister, it’s okay because you’re just expressing yourself sexually!”
JG: I remember another time when you guys were arguing over having sex with your exes. Jodi was like, “Having sex with exes is great!” and Emily was like, “No!” If Emily goes really hard on somebody, Jodi is like, “All right—this is how I could imagine it being okay, or this is your point and we understand.”
AVC: So what’s next after the tour?
EL: Season one’s our maiden voyage, where we’re just figuring it out and making it happen. And I see season two as really nailing why people are watching us, finding out what they really want, and finding what pieces of the formula are totally necessary and what things could change. It’s not that sustainable—we can’t do this for five years. People would just be over it. Going on the road will show us where to take Drunk Dial next. Does it become a party? Does it become a reality show? Does it become any number of things?
JG: And we can’t wait too long. This project, it is about being young enough and having the energy to sustain this kind of lifestyle. Going on the road is a big deal, because we’ve got a gospel to spread fast before it’s over.
JF: You know how Austin is: There might be a band that’s really awesome and hot for a year, and they’re just as awesome the next year but everybody’s seen them a million times and they just stop going to the shows. It’s the same thing with Drunk Dial. By episode 17, it was like, “We caught you last week, and the week before that.” People just get over shit easily here. That’s another reason we need to get on the road. We’ve really drowned out the East Side.
EL: We try to give some people cards, and they show us the cards in their wallet that we don’t remember shoving down their pants.
JF: We’ve really made a reputation for ourselves, and we’d like to make that reputation in New York and San Francisco as well.
EL: You can totally motorboat me. Mostly we’re going on the road so I can get freshly motorboated.