It’s always fun when the Kindle works its way into the public discussion — and Amazon too. Right now Kindle Fire owners can watch a new sitcom starring John Goodman just by going to “Videos” on their Kindle Fire tablets. It’s called Alpha House, and that same show is also available on the web. (For a shortcut, point your web browser to tinyurl.com/GoodmanShow )
The first three episodes are free for anyone, and the whole series is available free to members of Amazon’s “Prime” shipping service. But this all led to a fun conversation that I’d like to stow away in a time capsule. John Goodman appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart to promote this Amazon-only series. And it perfectly captures that moment in time when the world realized: wait, Amazon is producing TV shows?!
Jon Stewart was baffled…
JON STEWART: How does this Amazon thing — I didn’t know Amazon did — did, uh, uh, television shows. Is that a…you click on the site? (Audience laughs) Is that — how… Is that how it happens? Can you use —
JOHN GOODMAN: I don’t know! (They both laugh) I don’t know! I’m selling their product…I’m just a cog in their machine of world domination! I just — as long as they out-point Walmart, I’m cool. No, I uh — there’s a gizmo you buy with Amazon, and then you get free TV with it.
STEWART: Oh this is — so it runs only on the Amazon?
GOODMAN: Yes, as far as I know. (Eyes dart nervously. Audience laughs…)
To watch their whole interview online, you can point your web browser to tinyurl.com/AmazonDailyShow. But what’s really interesting is that John Goodman was wrong! You can also watch Amazon Instant Video on the web (where the first three episodes of his show are already available for free)… The first episode even opens with a funny cameo by Bill Murray!
But then the interview gets into an interesting discussion about how the show is created — and the differences between online and broadcast television.
STEWART: Did they — let me ask you a question. If we go on real TV, we gotta bleep all the **** words out. And that’s the only pleasure of doing television these days, let’s just face it.
GOODMAN: It really is.
STEWART: So here’s how you know if it’s real or not. Do they pay you in Amazon points? If they pay you in Amazon points…
GOODMAN: Who doesn’t get paid in Amazon points?
STEWART: How did they — who was the creator of this program? How did this all…
GOODMAN: Garry Trudeau, the creator of Doonesbury
STEWART: (Audience applauds). Tremendous. That’s wonderful.
GOODMAN: He writes these incredible scripts. They’re very funny, and, uh, Jonathan Alter…
STEWART: Oh yeah!
GOODMAN: Yeah, The great political writer.
STEWART: Writer for Newsweek, and he’s written many different books…
GOODMAN: Yeah, yeah, yeah. He’s a producer, he’s got the political angle on everything, he’s great to have around.
STEWART: That’s awesome. Trudeau is one of those guys, like my heroes, that — growing up and reading Doonesbury and just marvelling at the way he would take these storylines and carry them all the way through with the — you know, the quarterback who’s — working in — all the way through, in Vietnam and everything else. Remarkable guy.
GOODMAN: With the disabled veterans now. It’s an incredible ear. He’s a great writer.
STEWART: Is he on the set? Because I, you always…
GOODMAN: Crossing T’s and dotting I’s!
STEWART: Is he really?!
GOODMAN: Yeah! Yeah… “Well, you left an ‘and’ out of that sentence, John.”
“Hey man, you went to Yale. I don’t argue with that!”
The interview winds down — Goodman says fondly that he went to a state college, and Jon Stewart ends the segment with a burst of enthusiasm. “There you go, brother! John Goodman — never bad in anything.” But maybe because we’re in a unique place in internet history — or because online shopping has become such a phenomenon — they still couldn’t resist making one last joke about Amazon.
STEWART: Alpha House premiers on Amazon.com November 15th, you can watch the first three episodes for free! That’s not a bad deal.
STEWART: And then, uh, you ultimately end up, uh, ordering a power washer! For no apparent reason.
GOODMAN: But they’re damn good power washers!