Nothing helps out an important conversation like loudly chewing on candy during it! Comedian Mary Jane French is bringing the world just that in her new podcast “Important Conversations Over Fruit Chews.” The podcast, which premiered on September 24th, features a wide array of guests as they discuss heavy topics like “the gender binary” all while stuffing their face with chewy fruit candy. We had a chance to catch up with the creator to discuss her inspiration, the production process and goals for the future.
Tell us a little bit about Fruit Chews, what listeners can expect and where your inspiration came from.
Fruit Chews is a show idea that I had several years ago, and it was originally born from a love of absurdity and a bit of laziness. The original idea was inspired by how funny I thought it would be for people to try and have a hard hitting discussion while eating very noisy candy. Then I realized no one would listen to that for more than 5 minutes at a time, which made me think, “That’s amazing! I’ll be able to record 12 episodes in an hour.”
The first attempt to make this show was without an audience and it was just me and my friend, L. E. Zarling. I didn’t want to deal with all the scheduling most podcasts come with. We recorded 6 episodes before we got really bad stomach aches and pretty much abandoned the project. We kept saying we’d do another batch and release it, but I think we could remember feeling sick too vividly.
A few years later, the stars kind of aligned for this version of the show to come about. In 2018, I moved to Los Angeles and started hanging out with people who did more clowning-based comedy. They focused on a more raw sense of entertainment than the strict stand-up I’m used to. Hanging around with that crowd and attending their shows made me think about how I’d like to incorporate those sensibilities into a project, and this old idea immediately floated to the surface as something that I could turn into a stunt and unique live experience.
In mid 2019, I met Chris Khatami at a comedy festival in Albuquerque and we immediately hit it off over a love for bizarre entertainment. Later that year, I saw that Chris was one of the producers for the second year of a festival that he co-founded, The Haha Harvest Comedy Festival in Portland, Oregon. I messaged Chris directly to pitch the idea, because I had a feeling he’d go for it and I didn’t have any of the old recordings to submit through proper channels. I’m just lucky that he and the other producers took a shot on me, and gave me a stage and 12 of the other festival performers to be guests!
Have you always had a passion for gelatin snacks or is this a new development?
Personally, I’m more of a milk chocolate gal most of the time. This show really was born out of a passion for entertainment that you know is fun, but can’t quite place why or how.
If you could only eat one type of fruit snack for the rest of your life, what would it be?
If we’re talking actual fruit, I’m going apple. Hands down. Though in the world of candies, I’m a sucker for Welch’s Fruit Snacks.
How are your teeth holding up?
Haha you know, they’re holding up okay! Before ever doing this show I already had one missing, and others a little underdeveloped, but aside from that they’re okay. Luckily for me, I had the foresight to bring a travel toothbrush and toothpaste to the venue when we did the live show, so immediately after we finished, I stumbled to the bathroom and gave them a good scrubbing, which was such a relief, because about 30 minutes into the show, they were so coated in sugar that they would automatically start gnashing and sliding across each other while I was chewing.
How has the production process been? Do you have a favorite episode so far?
Production has been smooth, especially once I finally started buckling down for it. I intended to release the show very quickly, but got delayed just from very basic life and executive dysfunction. Of course when the pandemic hit, that pushed it back farther, but a few weeks ago, I hit a point in my quarantine coping where I started buckling down and pouring myself into projects. It’s been smooth sailing since then. It has to be broken up into small chunks because I can only tolerate the chewing sounds, but so long!
My favorite episode is probably the 6th that will come out on Thurs. Oct. 29th with Dominic Angel. The topic he drew to discuss was “The Gender Binary” and was clearly scared to say anything wrong. Dominic was very sweet the whole time, but clearly uncomfortable on the spot, and I definitely make things more awkward for him. But in the second half of the episode, we both become awkward, because I suddenly became worried that I was pushing too hard with someone who I know to be a sweetheart and who was being really the best sport I could ask for in that situation. So in the end we both became timid and awkward on stage, which I find very funny.
What are your future plans for Fruit Chews?
I’m hoping that once live comedy is safe again, I’ll be able to get another comedy festival to let me put on another live show and subsequently release another season with the performers on that festival as the guests. Ideally I’d like to make a season each year in a different city for a long while.
Check out Mary Jane French and Fruit Chews now!
Listen to Fruit Chews: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/femmes-the-rules/important-conversations-over-fruit-chews