3 razor-sharp questions that slice through awkward conversation


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Some conversations are the verbal equivalent of treadmill sprints, nose pimples, or the formidable task of fastening a fitted sheet to a mattress. And by that, I mean, they’re difficult. When you’re standing there under the razor sharp pressure of a silence that has stretched into an eternity, swiftly changing zip codes feels like a tempting alternative. But grace of Andy Richter and his brand-new podcast, awkward conversation might be a plight of the past.

Podcasts are ubiquitous these days, but Richter’s format diverges from the rest. Three Questions with Andy Richter spends a full hour with one guest and their answers to the following:

  1. Where did you come from?
  2. Where are you going?
  3. What have you learned?

The podcast is new to the airwaves, but so far the comedian and actor has interviewed guests like Broad City‘s Abbi Jacobson, The Big Bang Theory‘s Mayim Bialik, and Russian Doll‘s Natasha Lyonne. The questions are the same, yes, but each person’s experience makes for diverse and thoughtful answers. Plus, Richter’s follow-up questions often push them in unexpected directions (U-turns, revelations, etc.). The chat makes for good listening, sure, but it’s also a good reminder that thoughtful questions can rehabilitate even the most dreadful, hair-pulling conversation.

Lyonne appearance on the podcast, for example, goes deep into the “renaissance” of her career (which started when she landed her role in Orange Is the New Black) and the insecurities that come along with show business. Jacobson speaks to her belief that the funniest forms of comedy are tapped from the truest things about life. And Bialik explores in depth her early childhood.

Overall, Richter’s podcast feels like it’s a radical new way to communicate. Each question is infused with a deep curiosity that, with practice, we could all use as word spice in our own relationship (even the ones that feel like a massive effort) and cut through awkward conversation with ease.

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