The Unofficial Expert podcast is far from a vanity project. But the friendship that yielded it? That was a little bit based on vanity.
“It’s super vain, super simple. We saw each other at an open mic, and thought ‘she’s super pretty.’ ‘She’s super pretty!’ We’re like, ‘I gotta be her friend!’, Sydnee Washington remembers about meeting Marie Faustin. “That’s literally all that it was,” Faustin agrees. Each prolific and hilarious comics in their own rights, they bonded relatively quickly- it’s hard to believe that this fateful encounter took place three years ago. But it’s been a deep three years; “it’s like three dog years,” Faustin calculates. In that three years, the friendship has yielded a number of successful collaborations including an MTV2 series, a series of YouTube videos, and a number of live shows all over New York. It is this tight rapport and deep connection that shines through on the podcast, and likely contributed to Matteo Lane’s assertion that this pair of women should be watched closely in 2018.
Unofficial Expert, developed after ComedyHype found the pair’s videos on YouTube, is the most recent of those collaborations. “Sydnee wanted to talk to people who were experts, and I was like “I can’t do it if it’s not going to be funny. So then it turned into talking to people who were experts in things that you don’t need skills for,” Faustin describes. “We know a lot of really funny people. So because we know a lot of comedians, we just kind of give them something that they’re an expert at, or we ask these comics and they just tell us.”
Each episode features a fellow comic or friend of the hosts, sharing their expertise on topics as relatable as the “tall” expert (featuring Leclerc Andre) or the “open relationship” expert (with Kerryn Feehan), or as specific as the “light-skinned” expert (Langston Kerman) or the “white woman whisperer” expert (Faustin’s own brother, Hugues Faustin). The episodes create a sense of familiarity in listening to that friend who, as the pair puts it, “thinks they’re good at something that you don’t really need skills to do. Like we all know people who think they’re good wingmen, or good at directions or…whatever.” Each week, Faustin and Washington share this “expertise” with their listeners, while maintaining that sense of funny that they wished for at the outset.
When asked about dream guests or dream areas of expertise, plans are pretty loose. Sometimes guests materialize from shows they attend or are featured on – Faustin told the story of hearing a woman talk about leaving her husband at a show, only to later have her on as their “Runaway Bride” expert, which they identify as “the messiest episode we’ve ever done.” Other challenges may be harder to meet; in addition to Salt Bae, Hot Felon Guy, and Issa Rae (“on something so silly that no one knows about her”) Washington badly wants to talk to a fashion blogger or Instagram model to find out how much they’re really making. But ultimately they’re open to, as Washington puts it, “someone who’s lowkey celebrity-ish that doesn’t mind talking to two funny, beautiful black women.” The big get? Wendy Williams. “I’d want to know, ‘how did you get so messy? Was your mother messy? How did it get to this?”
And at the start of a new year, what does the pair have in the way of future goals?
A major one would be to develop and execute a live touring show of the podcast a la The Read or Guys We F*cked, allowing live audiences across the country to take part in the recording process while also addressing Sydnee’s chief concern prior to starting the podcast: “people need to see us!” Faustin sees a live edition as a way to play to all of their strengths: “we’re standup comedians at our core; we know how to put a live show together, we just need people to come.”
They’d hope to find experts in the audience to interview, but making their stories and information funny. No worries about finding someone too serious about their expertise; says Faustin, “we make everything funny because we just roast the person for an hour.” Adds Washington, “the podcast is just a fun way to get to know someone, without making it about comedy or making it about politics. It’s one hour of silliness, fun…and you learn something! Every time!” Another dream project: The Unofficial Expert TV show – think Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie’s early 2000’s Simple Life, but with more intentional humor. “We meet random experts where they are and learn what they’re doing. There’ll be challenges for us, to do their expertise as well.”
But while they work to get themselves out there, you can find the podcast on iTunes and Soundcloud, as well as bonus content on Patreon.