Today we get to read the 20 Questions of one Jeff Cannata... One Jeff Cannata? I mean THE Jeff Cannata. I became aware of the exuberant Mr Cannata is ages ago because of The Totally Rad Show. After that podcast called it quits I lightly followed Jeff around. He would guest and interact with people and shows that I followed. His content creation orbit intersected my content consumption orbit and it was always enjoyable when our arcs intersected. Then I found myself following him actively again with his podcast, We Have Concerns. That podcast is a combination of improv comedy and odd tech news. It really does defy description. Now I am a fan and supporter of that podcast.
So without further ado, my 20 Questions with Jeff Cannata.
I have always enjoyed maps, and that is why my first career has been as a cartographer. When I was studying geography, I really enjoyed the concept of a "geographic story." For example, I was born just outside of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. As an Air Force Brat my family moved to Montgomery, Alabama and stayed there a few years before moving 2 hrs north to just to the northeast of Birmingham, Alabama in a town called Center Point. I went off to Kent State University in Northeastern Ohio where I met my college sweetheart. We both went to grad school in Columbus, Ohio at Ohio State, and have lived in the Greater Columbus Area for almost 20 years now. Question 1: What is your geographic story?
My geographic story isn't nearly as varied. I lived in one house my entire life, until moving away for college, My father still lives in that very house, in Antioch, California, up in the East Bay Area. I went to college in Santa Barbara at U.C.S.B., then moved down to Los Angeles, where I've lived ever since.
That is surprising. You seem not especially California centric... Question 2: Do you travel much? If so, what would b your "go to" travel spot?
Absolutely! My wife and I love to travel. In fact, this year for Christmas, instead of physical gifts to each other, we decided to just take a small trip. It really is our favorite thing to do. We got engaged in Australia, and married in Italy. Last year, we traveled to Portugal and France. If I had to pick a favorite, it would be difficult to choose between Tuscany and Provence. Both are magical places. But rather than returning to spots we love, we both still have so many new locations we dream of visiting. So, it is much more likely that our next "go to" trip won't be someplace we've already been.
I love traveling, but I haven't been able to as much since the kids have come along. I am a bit jealous of your travels though. All of that traveling sounds amazing.
So, here comes my typical and extremely important Question 3: Cake or pie? Which specific kind and why?
This is perhaps my favorite question in the known universe... and I have a definitive answer: PIE. A thousand times, pie. Even bad pie is better than most cake. Now, I've had some extremely impressive cakes. There is a place here in Los Angeles called Susie Cakes that makes an amazing marble cake. And the Nothing Bundt Cakes chain serves up stellar cakes, too. But the very best pies? They obliterate the very best cakes. The perfect pie crust, flaky and delicious, with any number of wonderful fillings - I'm a sucker for Pecan, Blueberry, Peach, Key Lime, Pumpkin, you name it. There is a place near my house called Simple Things that makes a Salted Caramel pie that is to die for! Inside the lid to their pie box they stamp the words, "You Make Good Decisions". I couldn't agree more. My own mother's Chocolate Pie is simple and perfect and one of my favorite things in the universe. You have hit upon one of my favorite topics: sweets. And pie in particular brings no end of joy to my life. I'm not gonna turn down a good cake, but pie is almost never bad and frequently divine.
I love enthusiastic answers for this question. You are the first person to have ever been vehemently on team pie. Most of my pie choosers always say "Of the two, I prefer pie" and the people who choose cake would hip-check a 3 yr old out of the way to get some cake. I love the enthusiasm.
I think many people who choose cake are really choosing frosting. Question 4: Do you think frosting would take pie to the next level or ruin the delicate balance of flavors and textures found within pie?
Man, I don't know. I do love frosting, but I'm not sure it has a place on most pies. Cookies, on the other hand, benefit greatly from frosting. A nice frosted sugar cookie is pretty great!
I have some thoughts in regards to cream cheese frosting helping out on an apple pie, and some other flavor combinations I have been ruminating on. I could flip some of the cake-eaters to the side of pie. I've got ideas.
You clearly have multiple interests in pop culture, science, technology, and gaming. Question 5: Is there a specific topic that you cannot help yourself but to consume it? What topic above all others calls to you?
Boy that's a tough one. I find myself pulled in so many directions. I think I'm naturally curious, and have a genuine love of learning. I think I might be more successful in my career if I wasn't interested in so many diverse topics. I find myself wanting to do everything, and would probably do better to focus on one thing. Politics fascinates me, and I love sports, travel and culture, as well as all the things you mentioned. I think perhaps if I had to choose one, gaming might be the closest to my heart. My lifetime is pretty much the lifetime of video games, and it has been so interesting to mature alongside an entire industry, to grow up and see pong turn into arcades, turn into home consoles, turn into mainstream entertainment media experiences. And with real virtual reality at our doorstep, the future is bright. I think that interactive experiences have the potential to change the world as well as provide entertainment, and I'm so fascinated by what is possible. But in just the last 10 years I've become obsessed with analog gaming, too. The way in which learning systems can inform you of how things inter-operate from the inside, and the way simple rule sets can engender deep strategy. I love board games, and it has been irresistible to deep dive into the hobby tabletop explosion that is occurring now.
Oh, the questions only get tougher from here. Get some paper, this is going to take calculations. A train leaves from Chicago at 11:13AM while in Cincinnati...
I have to say that I was expecting "video games" as your pop culture item of note, but I did not expect the turn to the tabletop experience. That was surprising. Question 6: What was the last tabletop game you purchased and what was the last one you played?
I purchase entirely too many Tabletop Games, entirely too often. I'm sure I have well over a hundred designer board games now, and the collection continues to grow. It's a problem. I think the most recent purchase was a Kickstarter game called Roll Player, although I also have a new expansion for my favorite game of last year (T.I.M.E. Stories) on pre-order to pick up this Thursday. The last one I played was last night - it is called Loop, Inc, another time travel game, actually. I try to play at least one board game per week, and often many more. I love the tabletop experience.
I would think the coordination aspect of tabletop gaming would be the most limiting factor. I love that you are able to make that kind of event happen weekly. Question 7: Do you have a regular weekly gaming group, do you force your wife into playing tabletop games with you and any neighbors who make eye contact, or is this weekly "game" one you play with yourself to ensure your winning? How are you able to wrangle at least a board game a week with the complicated schedules of modern life?
You're right, that part is tough. And the answer is all of the above, mostly. The only thing I don't ever really do is play board games solo. There are solo variants for many of these games, I'm just not particularly interested in that experience. I enjoy the social aspect of tabletop the most. But yes, I have several regular game groups, I wrangle my wife into 2 player games all the time, forcing her to try the new game that just arrived on my doorstep, and anyone who expresses even a passing interest in venturing beyond Monopoly or Clue has me throwing all kinds of strange and complicated games at them. Anyone who visits my apartment inevitably sees the massive shelves full of games and probably wonders about my sanity.
Question 8: Do you think that the "massive shelves full of games" is the primary red flag for your sanity? Or is there something else that would tip people off? What other outward manifestations of your idiosyncrasies might puzzle people?
Oh man, I think red flags to my sanity might be a Pandora's box you might regret opening. :) There are probably quite a few idiosyncrasies that would come off as odd to others. Thankfully, my wife is getting used to them. I tend to sing little songs about whatever I'm doing. I am obsessed with words and grammar, to the constant annoyance of others. I run marathons - I'm sure that is a red flag for my sanity for some too. Doubtless, there are many I'm not thinking of now. It really is a question better directed at my wife
Everyone has things that are red flags. When I was younger and non-parenting a philosophy of mine was "funny over nice." That is quite a red flag. Quite a red flag indeed.
My wife is a runner. She has a handful of marathons under her belt and a 50k trail race as well. She is definitely insane in a wonderful way... Wonderful in that way that made her want to marry me, but I am pretty sure she runs to create some time just to herself.
Question 9: Aside from the physical fitness aspects, why do you run?
I fell in love with running for a number of reasons. I like the alone time. It's fun to get outdoors, to be in nature, and turn on a podcast or audio book and just go. I also became enamored by the concept of doing something I didn't think I could do. Finishing a race is thrilling, and there is such a sense of community from everyone doing it, who all understand how difficult it is. Good people, good feelings, and healthy living. It's pretty great. Now, if it just wasn't so hard in the knees.
Running on roads is crazy hard on knees. My wife only wants to do trail runs now. Otherwise he knew swells up and she aches for days. Plus it seems the trail running scene seems nicer.
Question 10: fill in the blanks: I find that I am mostly ________. Others find that I am mostly ________.
I find that I am mostly looking for new projects. Others find that I am mostly busy. It always surprises me when people describe me as being so busy, because the t doesn't feel like I'm doing enough things.
Even from the outside, I can tell you are doing things. I think you may be dealing with the curse of the self employed person, constantly on the look out for more work. Your free time will evaporate right in front of you soon enough. Babies tend to have that effect on people.
So, recently I have noticed that you have been getting into openings of marquee movies such as Star Wars Ep VII, Batman vs Superman, and (most recently) Captain America:Civil War... Question 11: How have you gotten this super power? And how can I get it? Have you been doing this for a long time and I just did not realize it?
Haha, well, I review movies for a living, so I'm fortunate to be able to attend early press screenings. Been doing so for 9 years now. It is certainly a perk of the job. :)
I noticed that you deftly avoided the "how can I get it?" Portion of the question. A high tide raises all boats, Jeff. A high tide raises all boats...
So you are a movie critic, you host multiple web shows, host a traditional TV show, and you have multiple podcasts... Question 12: is there a type media that you would like to do that you haven't done yet?
Well, as an actor, I'd still very much like to do a big, mainstream theatrical film. I'm also really interested in doing more voice work. I've done some animation for the web, but a voice on an animated series would be a dream.
I would love for you to break into voice work as well, but from what I have heard out here in Ohio drifting in on the easterly breezes is that VO and voice acting are incredibly hard to break into.
Here we are at the dreaded Question 13: Do you have any superstitions or rituals? For example when I was fencing in college I would practice toe touches by flicking a piece of athletic tape off the floor with my epee. That in and of itself was not ritualistic, but the rhythm I would get into would be both calming and help me to clear my brain of non-fencing stuff.
You know, for as much of a skeptic as I am about nearly every kind of "supernatural" thing, it's pretty odd how many little habits and rules I have for myself. Especially when I'm doing a play. If a performance goes well, I tend to do the exact same pre-show rituals the next night, down to touching things and wearing things. It's like I'm a baseball player on a hitting streak. I know it's silly but I do it anyway.
It is very interesting when people decide on replicating those small little details. I know I used to do that back when I played soccer as a kid. In many ways I miss having that kind of ritual in my life.
You call yourself a skeptic. I have heard that skeptics are pessimists with the hope that something is real. Of all the supernatural things that are out there, Question 14: is there a supernatural concept/idea/creature that you would absolutely be overjoyed to find out is real?
I suppose I'd have to say alien life. It seems wildly improbable that there aren't countless other forms of life in the galaxy and the Fermi Paradox (which I'm fascinated by) tells us that the fact that we haven’t seen any evidence of them should worry us. It would change so much in the world to discover life out in the galaxy - I hope it happens and I hope it happens in my lifetime. But I'm certainly a skeptic about any theories that posit it has already happened and the government is covering it up. As far as other supernatural stuff goes, an afterlife would be nice, too. I ain't getting any younger. :)
I have always wanted Bigfoot/Sasquatch/yeti to be real. I love the whole idea of a large primate out there. That idea is super enthralling. Plus, the underground lizardmenare going to make sure we never find out about the illuminati's contact with alien life. All hail the underground lizardmen.
You are quite the proponent of Virtual Reality. Question 15: which VR platform do you think will take hold of the popular culture?
That's a tough one. I think we are still in early days. At this point, Playstation VR seems to be in a strong position, simply because it will have low lowest price and fewest barriers to entry. I think Facebook/Oculus is in it for the long haul, though, and I wouldn't bet against their resources. Of the 3, I think Vive offers the most interesting play experience at this moment, but has the weakest corporate structure behind it. Hopefully we will know more at E3 in a few weeks. Ultimately, I have no doubt that our kids and their kids will think of these kinds of experiences as the norm rather than the exception. Being present in the digital world rather than staring at it is just too compelling not to take over at some point. I suspect they will laugh at flat computer screens with bafflement.
I am not sure our kids will make fun of most the tech that we have currently. I remember the tech my parents had as a kid and think about it fondly and am always impressed with how far we have come as a technological society. Our kids will make fun of our parents' tech. I think it skips a generation. The rocks my grandparents smashed together to entertain themselves as kids make me giggle whereas thoughts of the blinking 12:00 on my parents' top loading VCR bring a wistful sigh to times gone by.
I think I might jump on the VR train after a few generations of the tech have come out. By that time the systems should have miniaturized enough and the bugs should have been worked out. I wish I was typically an early adopter, but it seems that I am much more a bandwagon jumper.
Question 16: Is there a question you were expecting me to ask that I haven't?
Ha! Boy, I wasn't sure what this was going to be, so no, I don't think there was a question I expected. As we've gone through, I've enjoyed not knowing where you were headed :)
I would love to say I know where I was headed, but that is categorically not true. These 20 Questions often end up going all over the place. I have found the more I try to force the direction on a conversation, the more boring that conversation becomes. I have about 7 questions that I ask everyone, but beyond that it is anyone's guess where this will go.
Since we started this questioning process, it came to light(at least to me) that you are about to have your first baby. One thing that I enjoy finding out about is how people decide on what to name their child. I understand that you may not want to divulge the little one's name, because that is insanely private and people have weird comfort levels in telling others that the think the name they have chosen for their child is terrible. I honestly do not need to know the kid's soon to be name, but I love hearing how a couple decides on a name. My wife and I poured over baby-name books for years and had a bevy of options on hand prior to our wee ones being born. Just before the birthing time, we had the names narrowed doing to 2 each time. The first go round, we waited to meet the baby to give him his name, and just prior to the birth of our second tootsa we decided on her name. Question 17: How are/did you and your wife choose your impending progeny's name? (how's that for out of left field?)
Naming a child is such a formidable process! Of course, everyone has an opinion, and I tend to feel the pressure of setting up a path for his entire life. Names are powerful things. We both have a desire to honor our family traditions, and would like to connect him to a relative somehow. It is a lot to manage. We've got several frontrunners for names, but we've made a decision not to settle on one until we've met the little guy.
Naming a kid is incredibly daunting, because it really can be a bit of self fulfilling prophecy. We are dealing with that just because of naming one of our pups Chewie... He chews on everything. So I suggest you do not end up naming your child Chewie or Poopy or Farty regardless of whether or not it is a family name.
Now it is time to turn the tables. Question 18: are there any questions you would like to ask me?
What has the experience of doing this 20 questions with people taught you?
First is that the people who agree to do these 20 Questions are by and large nice, patient people. It seems like I am being a bit a bit pandering here, but this process is not a trivial task. You and everyone else who has spent the considerable amount of time are saints. You are the best.
Second, everyone is very complex. Sometimes it takes a bit to get to the complexity, but everyone has layers like a layered thing such as shale.
Third, Cake eaters will shoot their neighbor in the head for more cake.
Question 19: What are you taking from these 20 Questions that you did not bring in with you?
I guess I would say an appreciation of having a conversation like this over an extended period of time. It is an interesting way to do it!
It is a very interesting process. I have started this 20 Questions process with people who have gone through some serious life changes over the course of the conversation. There have been a few people who have found out they were going to have kids. There has been an interview where the person I was conversing with had a family emergency and had to return to Australia. It is really fun to read back through the conversation and see how life has changed over the course of the conversation.
This has been wonderful. I have really enjoyed it, and I hope you have as well. Question 20: What's next? Be as vague or concrete, as close term or long-term, as philosophical or grounded as you want.
Well, the most significant what's next for me is becoming a father for the first time. My son is expected Sept 8th, and that will obviously be a huge lifestyle change. I'm excited and nervous and not quite sure how it will affect all of the other things in my life. From a career perspective, I'm always looking for new projects, and hoping to do new and interesting things as both an actor and a host. I love the shows I'm doing now, but part of what makes my living so fun is that it is always shifting. I'm hoping the next few years bring lots of cool new challenges.
You have taken your first step into a larger world....
Having a child automatically re-prioritizes much of your life. Parenthood brings many things that did not need to be clear before into a stark clarity that was previously impossible and inaccessible. I am sure with how thoughtful you seem to be that fatherhood will be a good match for you. Congrats, things only speed up from here.
I am also positive that you will continue to create very enjoyable content for everyone to consume to their heart's desire.
This has been an absolute delight for me, and I hope that you were able to enjoy this process as well. Everyone should follow Jeff on the twitters, instagrams, and his website. Jeff is an amazingly nice man, and I am grateful to have had this long and intimate an interaction with him.
Thanks Jeff! Listen to his myriad of podcasts and consume the media he is creating. If I can suggest any one of his properties that he has put his name on, I would suggest the podcast “We Have Concerns.” It drops a couple of times a week and is only around 20 minutes in length. Every episode gets at least 4 solid laughs out of me and a derisive snort. So worth your time.
I made cassoulet last night in my new badass Dutch oven
It was really good
Later this week, I am making Skimpy Shrimpy
I don’t really know what that is
But imma gonna make it
The pups love doggie daycare
Sometimes I think they love doggie daycare more than us
The new job is going really well
I dig it
It has been a bit on the hotside lately
Nope, don’t like that at all
Brexit is a terrible portmanteau
Have a great week everyone