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Episode 39: Nerdist Podcast
Nerdist PodcastNerdist Podcast

Nerdist Podcast #39: RAINN WILSON

Rainn Wilson enjoys cookies, spirituality, and the band Pavement. Chris enjoys the Cookie Monster, spirit photography and the smell of new pavement. Jonah enjoys cookie mints and spirit-paving. Matt paved over a bunch of cookies, and now their spirits will eternally haunt him.

photo credit: Byron Purvis/AdMedia

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  2. Bryan says:

    Dear Chris et al.,

    I have been meaning to write for a while to tell you how much I enjoy your podcast. I am a professor of philosophy, and one of the things I enjoy most is when you talk about the craft of being a comedian, because it illustrates claims philosophers have made about what makes a life worthwhile. Consequently, I was absolutely delighted when Rainn Wilson started talking about eudaimonia (“flourishing” or “living well”). Aristotle (who made the concept central to philosophy) would not have recognized being a comedian as a form of flourishing. However, later Aristotelians such as Alasdair MacIntyre have argued for a broader conception of flourishing. According to MacIntyre, flourishing lives involve challenging activities that are open-ended, in the sense that both the practitioner and the activity itself must continually grow and evolve. (Playing checkers could not be a part of flourishing, but playing chess could be.) Your descriptions of being a comedian show that it is an example of this sort of open-ended “practice.”

    Anyway, enough fanboy gushing from me. Before signing off, I wanted to ask whether you have a surface mail address where I could have my publisher send you a copy of my latest book (which deals with some of these issues from the perspective of Chinese philosophy). I can arrange to have some cookies packed with the book if that helps.

    Best wishes,


  3. Mr. Josh says:

    why won’t this episode stream? i keep getting an error. Can’t DL either :\

  4. icarus breathes says:

    omg guys i liked this episode till you said anything serious or meaningful and then my precious illusion was shattered because i’m so important #hashtags

  5. Joe Palen says:

    Awesome episode. I especially love(d) the philosophical part(s). I’ve been a user on SoulPancake since “the early days” — and now I’m inspired to become a more active participant — rather than just sitting back and hoping for more of this kind of discussion in the world.

  6. Kelly says:

    Thanks for the great interview with Rainn Wilson. I unsubscribed to his Twitter feed a while back because I found him to be mean-spirited and a jerk, basically. Maybe it was just me. I skipped this episode when it came out, but I had to have something to listen to, and it was there, so…. I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed it. He was thoughtful, warm and funny. I’m not going to resubscribe to his Twitter or anything, but I no longer actively dislike him. I’ll even check out his other work.

  7. Kyle says:

    I listened to this one a while back, but I sometimes have trouble distinguishing people’s voices. Who was it that made the burrito analogy so that I may properly credit them.

  8. Ryan says:
    Ever since I saw this I’ve been seriously considering converting to Baha’i. Its everything I wished would be in a religion.. In a religion.

  9. Ryan says:
    Ever since I’ve seen this I’ve seriously been considering converting to Baha’i

  10. RamblinMan says:

    I loved Rainn in Galaxy Quest and everything he’s done since.

    I didn’t really mind the eating, but maybe its just because everything you guys say is so interesting and at times profound.

    I just really enjoy everything about these podcasts (just started getting caught up). Thanks for the excellent work.

  11. barb says:

    Whaaaa? Cookie backlash!? Take the stick out, nay-sayers, and get over ye selves.

  12. Chris Hardwick says:

    The backlash against the cookie-eating was so overwhelming that some people said they didn’t listen to the rest of the show (people don’t know how to scrub past a few minutes?). In any case, you have been heard and I shall yield. From this time on:


    The masses have spoken.

  13. Archie says:

    I enjoyed the podcast, as usual. Please don’t eat cookies (or anything else) on future podcasts. It doesn’t sound good, it’s hard to make out what the cookie eaters are saying, and you guys sounded distracted while you were eating them.

  14. Matt says:

    Great Podcast!! I love Soul Pancake. I understand the Burrito with me it was with Video games for the longest time. I just switched to bettering my self either mind, body, or environment. Very funny and very introspective. What a happy surprise.

  15. Chuck Wilton says:


    I have listened to every Nerdist podcast. I have to say #39 is by far my favorite. I am not a religious person, nor was I spiritual. However, after listening to you and Rainn discuss the topic, I want to find a way for me to be spiritual, as well as what that may mean to me.

    So what I would like to say to you both is thank you for this podcast. (man I sound kind of corny)

  16. thewisecarver says:

    This episode got me through my World of Warcraft daily quests, thank you!

  17. First Nation says:

    Now I know this isn’t a science podcast, but I couldn’t help but think about the fact that Adam Savage, who is an self-identified “skeptic” and the Bad Astronomer Phil Plait is a big fan of the show are major speakers in the Skeptical movement, I would have thought that Chris might be a little more familiar with some of these more pseudo scientific, metaphysical beliefs. The notions of the experience of connectedness are experienced in more ways than through spirituality. For example, athletes can share this “experience of connection” without any notions of religion or spirituality in sports competition. Personally, I can attain this through martial arts; Muay Thai and Boxing. There are plenty of Atheists who have the potential to accomplish and experience just as much as anyone else who deems themselves as “spiritual”. The thing about the ancient Greek philosophers of science being brought into discussion reminded me how they also didn’t believe experimentation was an effective way to gain additional objective knowledge. In this day and age, we would just say that it’s not science. I always do love the background stuff on comedy and the career of the guests, but I remembered why I don’t want to know personal beliefs of celebrities and famous people I like, I’m often disappointed.

  18. booyay says:

    SOOOOOO I know you hate when people complain about free entertainment, but when I was listening to this one in my car, I raised the volume to what Jonah was saying, and Chris came in closer to the mic and blew out my right speaker. So it’s technically not free right anymore

    In short, I love the show but work on a way to fix the levels so I don’t have to play a song and dance with the volume nob

  19. Jookerson says:

    I was loving the episode until the “spirituality” section, it just felt too much like freshman year dorm hallway talk and kinda derailed what was otherwise a great episode.

  20. BlueBilly says:

    May I suggest a new segment for the podcast entitled: “Hard n’ Deep” in which Chris, Jonah and Matt discussion philosophy, religion and other deep topics. Really, though excellent show the discussion was a nice change of pace and Rainn was really insightful.

  21. LAinWLA says:

    Just wanted Rainn to know that I LOVED “THE ROCKER”!

    I thought it was a very sweet and fun movie, and he was excellent in it.

  22. smartbunny says:

    My first tweet to Rainn was “I love you Fishboy” – because Corpses RULES. He really seems to embrace the Dwight thing, because he likes all the fan stuff. I bet he doesn’t get THAT mad if someone “Dwights” him.

    When I see Chris I’m gonna yell, “Hey Shipmates! SHIPMATES!”

    – Qualsnarg from the Crab Nebula

  23. Manders says:

    I am probably the Nerdist’s only evangelical theology geek listener, so this whole discussion of spirituality is just fascinating. Thanks for this, you guys.

  24. Nate says:

    Oh la la! A Dick Cavette reference! I’m going to make a sweeping generalization and say that Nerdist listeners are (for the most part) highly intelligent and sophisticated people with fine taste in most things.

    I need to leave comments on this podcast more often, the back and forth between listeners is great! Oh, and Chris (if you happen to read this), keep up the good work, buddy boy!