The Flop House, in the words of producer and co-host Dan McCoy (writer for The Daily Show), is “a podcast where we watch a bad movie and then we discuss it.” That “we” includes fellow co-hosts Stuart Wellington (comedian and co-owner of the Hinterlands Bar in Brooklyn, New York) and Elliott Kalan (head writer of Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return), and “unlike Mystery Science Theater, we aren’t riffing over the film, but we just give a synopsis and have a conversation. And hopefully it’s funny!” McCoy insists that they aren’t necessarily looking to “tear something down,” but they “just happen to find looking at bad movies fun.”
We had the pleasure of sitting down to talk with Dan McCoy about The Flop House, the annual holiday celebration of Nicholas Cage known as ”Cagemas,” and how the show has grown and changed over 12 years and 300 episodes.
Getting to Know the Floppers
How did The Flop House start?
Well, Stuart and I went to the same college, and we knew some people in common, but we really only became close once I came to New York. I, uh, needed to know someone. (laughs) So we had that pre-existing connection and started hanging out. He was just really funny and found out we both liked bad movies, particularly bad horror movies. So we would hang out and make fun of horror movies on our own just for kicks, and it became a podcast [for a couple reasons]. Number one: I thought he was super funny. He had no comedy ambitions. I kinda wonder now that since he’s a comedian, I guess, I wonder how he feels about me dragging him into the business. (laughs) But also, I had been looking at doing a podcast. I’d come to New York trying to do comedy, had gone through a lot of UCB [Upright Citizens Brigade] comedy courses, but that system had gotten so big by the time I was around that it just felt like I should make myself stand out from the crowd. The podcast scene had a low barrier for entry and almost no one was doing it back then. So I thought maybe this will be a thing that will become something. It’s the only time in my life I’ve had enough foresight to actually anticipate a trend. (laughs)
You were one of the first bad movie podcasts, right?
Yeah, I could not say with any authority that we were the first. We were the first with any popularity. How Did This Get Made? came along a couple years after and quickly became more popular because they’re all known celebrities. (laughs) So we trailblazed, but it’s kind of an obvious format.
So then how did Elliott Kalan get involved with the show?
Elliott I knew from a small basement theater out by The Bowery in New York. We did a couple shows together, and it turned out we had a similar sense of humor. So, I started writing for his shows specifically, and I found out early on that he had this blog called The Oscars Are Always Wrong. It’s gone now, but he’d been going through year by year, saying this is what won and this is what else came out that year that was better. Elliott’s love of classic movies is more obvious on the podcast. I feel like my recommendations are all over the place, Stuart recommends a lot of weird horror stuff, and Elliott recommends classic movies. But I do like a lot of Old Hollywood movies, so that made me want to be friends with him.
12 Years, 300 Episodes, a Surprising Amount of Growth
So how have you and the show evolved and changed over the years? Were any of those changes unexpected?
The format hasn’t really evolved; we were lucky enough to hit upon something that worked for us early, where we synopsize a bad movie while making jokes and taking tangents off of that. And then we recommend something at the end so we aren’t just haters. As we got more of an audience, we stuck a letters segment in there. But I think we’ve become more sensitive of all people over time. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend people listen to the earliest show because we’re a little rougher. The McElroys [hosts of My Brother, My Brother And Me, another podcast on the Maximum Fun podcast network] talk about, for instance, the fact that interacting with a fanbase over time puts you in contact with a lot of different people who normally wouldn’t be in touch with. I’m not gonna say that I wouldn’t have basic human empathy if not for that. I think I would. But you sort of get a sense of what people care about and what might be upsetting to people. We never want to deliberately upset anyone.
So where would you suggest people start listening? Do you have favorite bits or episodes?
It is tough! I have this impulse to say start at Episode 50 or 100 or something like that, but I don’t think that’s necessarily right. There’s some good stuff in the chaff. (laughs) It’s fun to hear Elliott come on the show for the first time on Episode 8 (I Know Who Killed Me). The Bratz episode is the first time we were just really excited about something we saw, because it was so bonkers and we all kind of enjoyed it. It’s hard to say because I literally forget all this stuff frequently! The other night, my girlfriend was trying to describe a movie to me, and I go to the Wikipedia page and read the synopsis and it doesn’t ring any bells. But the title does! It was Awake, which we did for the podcast, but for the life of me I couldn’t tell you anything about that movie! It’s a Jessica Alba movie and I guess someone’s in a coma? (laughs)
You and Elliott have this sort of playful animosity –
How much of that is legitimate? How much is performative?
I would say… at least 85% of it is performative. He is much nicer to me off-air. You work with people over twelve years who are also your friends, and it turns into a legitimate business, and we’re gonna get on each other’s nerves. There’s a certain laziness to my producing style sometimes that Elliott gets annoyed with. Also, because Elliott is a family man with two children, sort of assumes this position of emotional maturity over me that I sometimes find frustrating. Because, like, I’m older than you! (laughs) So there’s stuff like that, but I don’t think it’s anything to fuss over.
Getting Into the Spirit of Cagemas With Episode #300
Tell us a bit about the origin of Cagemas.
I don’t recall the specific origin other than that we started noticing that we had been doing a ton of Nicholas Cage movies without it being codified into a particular thing. I don’t wanna take credit for it, but I think I tossed out the name Cagemas and then we were like, oh, Saint Nicholas Cage! It’s Cagemas time! I helped because it put this content we were already doing into a specific box, and I think that audiences really like it when things are branded for some reason. (laughs) Since then, I’ve seen Cagemas on the internet as a thing, and I can never tell whether it was parallel thinking or if it already existed when we came up with it, or if we birthed it somehow and it just came out into the world. I do think we predated the internet’s fascination with Nic Cage, like now he’s become a camp object the way that bacon was a meme for a while. I’m not totally comfortable with that because I think we all think that he’s a good actor who just, for financially reasons, makes a bunch of crazy decisions. I don’t want it to be a thing that mocks him so much as we’re happy to see our old friend.
So was the fact that Episode #300 fell during Cagemas just a happy accident?
100%! Here’s the thing. I talked about my lazy producing style. Like, I’m not even sure this is Episode 300, to be totally honest with you. (laughs) I think I may have repeated a number at some point. Everything about The Flop House is somewhat arbitrary, so we’re very lucky to do [Cagemas] on the 300th episode. We didn’t want to do anything that celebrated ourselves too much, because that felt weird, but it was nice to do a Cagemas thing.
Why choose The Wicker Man?
The Wicker Man came out before our show. It’s kind of looked on as one of these peak bad Nicholas Cage movies. It felt more special to have something for the 300th episode to reach back to something rather than just do whatever he churned out this year. But also, at the time it was a bit of a thing on the internet. There’s supercuts of the craziest moments from The Wicker Man, where he’s stealing a bicycle at gunpoint and punching people while wearing a bear suit.
Did you do the director’s cut, which is the version that has the infamous “Not the Bees” scene?
I was not aware there were two cuts! I think Elliott watched one and I watched a different one. When I first watched The Wicker Man, I saw the director’s cut. When I rewatched it this time, I was like wait a minute, is this some sort of Mandela Effect? I could have sworn there was a scene where they put a cage over his head with bees and he yelled “Killing me won’t bring back your god damn honey!” Like, where is it? But then I found out that, yeah, it’s in there, it’s just a different cut of the movie.
What sort of special stuff can we expect for Episode #300?
We had Hallie [Haglund, recurring guest and head writer for Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas] on as a guest and at the end of the show we did a little trip down memory lane rather than recommending movies, but we kept it kind of low key.
And what does the future hold for The Flop House?
I just hope we keep doing it for a while! As with anything that you’ve done for this long, there are moments where one or all of us might fantasize about walking away, but at this point I feel so much obligation, almost, to listeners. People say such nice things about what it’s meant to them that I want to keep doing it. We all kind of recommitted once we realized that it’s gotten to be a big thing. We’re taking it seriously, and we’re gonna do a lot more touring hopefully in the new year. Before we kinda just intermittently did things in New York when it worked out, but now we can literally go around the world.
The 300th episode of The Flop House can be found on their website or on any podcast app on December 21, 2019.
Source: Slash Film