CARTERISMS: The Story of Superego, Pt. 1 -- A Weed-Infused Origin Story

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The Superego team, L to R: Jeremy Carter, Matt Gourley, Mark McConville, Paul F. Tompkins (Photo by Eric Macklin)

This is the fourth entry in a series of essays from actor and co-creator of the Superego podcast, Jeremy Carter. He has been performing improv comedy for over 20 years and the Superego podcast, which was started in 2006 and was described by Splitsider as being "really like nothing else out there".

Before starting the Superego podcast, Matt Gourley and I shared a strange job where we flew first class from Los Angeles to San Francisco to accrue flight points for someone who had discovered a loophole in an airline’s points system.

After our flights, we would rent movies about World War II and act stupid. It was this common ground of stupidity over which we truly bonded, though we knew made quite a team when irritating our girlfriends with hour-long bits as movie announcers (which would become a Superego staple).

We also used to get together and smoke pot. God would we get high! We even had a smoking pre-ritual of first picking up our favorite cookies and drinks, which we followed up with a trip to the video store, where we'd chose only the crappiest of '80s flicks on VHS.

We'd get to Matt's, put his mostly-foam fold-out couch on top of his bed (hence the "Sofa Bed Foundation"), get Rick James-high, and then I'd watch Matt try to figure out how to hook up the VCR. One night we got a DVD and spent an hour trying to figure out why the DVD player wouldn't work; we later realized it was because we were using the VCR remote.

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"Do you realize how much money was spent on this movie?" One of us said while watching Conan the Destroyer.

"The time! The energy! And it's AWFUL!" I said.

"Awfully entertaining!" Matt said.

Matt Gourley and Jeremy Carter of Superego at LA Riot Comedy Festival. (Photo by Liezl Estipona)
Matt Gourley and Jeremy Carter of Superego at LA Riot Comedy Festival. (Photo by Liezl Estipona)

We would watch religious television after our bad movies. It added to the surreal atmosphere of our hangouts, and the shows, featuring preachers begging for money, were just as insane as the terrible movies we had seen.

As a kid, I went to church three times a week and attended the church's private school. It was a JESUS OVERLOAD. Matt had also experienced religious weirdness, and together, we planned to create a fake religious podcast with characters like LeRoy Jenkins.

Before then, Matt and I had done ComedySportz Los Angeles together, which is basically short form improvisation a la 'Whose Line Is It Anyway?' Later, when Rob Schrab (currently directing The Lego Movie sequel) and Dan Harmon (creator of Community) developed Channel 101, a monthly film festival, we began making short films together. But making a 5-minute video takes far longer than you might think, and after a year-and-a-half, we decided to take a break. (Our show UltraForce was the first self-canceling series in Channel 101 history.) After a year we decided we wanted to create something else; something less production-intensive.

The Superego podcast was fleshed out at O'Malley's Irish pub in Seal Beach, Calif.. Matt wrote out the idea for it on a cocktail napkin. And though we originally imagined it as a religious thing, it was Matty's idea for us to set the show up as a psychological study. We wanted to do more than just be preachers, and pretending to be doctors was just the tits!

Then we went back to Matt's apartment, the one with the couch on top of the bed, and got to recording. Our first bits weren't released (except for one on a bonus episode) but after a few months, our baby was born: Superego: Profiles in Self Obsession.

Rarely would we have a plan when recording Superego. We would just say to each other, "I've got an idea." Usually we'd think up things on the spot while we were stoned and write them on a pizza box or whatever was handy. Then we'd press the little red button on our Roland 8-Track and start improvising. Matt would edit the recordings down to 5-minute bits, add some audio "magic" and then compile them for that month's podcast.

After a few episodes, we realized that the key to good bits was to have no pressure -- to try to make it freeform and as enjoyable as possible. We learned to just goof around and if something didn't work, it would be edited out. We could not fail!

Jeremy Carter in his Superego costume
Jeremy Carter in his Superego costume

We tried to record stoned once and it was unintelligible. This led to Matt and I stop smoking pot all together; that, and the time when we both worked at Disneyland and, because we were smoking so much and suffering from residual stupidity, taking the shuttle to the employee parking became a tiny adventure. When we arrived, Matt had forgotten where he had parked and I realized that my car was in a completely different lot. (I later stopped taking the shuttle after I sat in a puddle of "something.")

Yet by then we had a new ritual going on at Matt's apartment -- recording our baby -- and in time it would get us the closest I've ever been to fulfilling my dream of full time employment in the entertainment industry.

But first we needed an audience...

Next up: The Story of Superego, Pt. 2! The Rise in Popularity!