Pod-Facination: An Interview With Go Bayside!'s April Richardson

A few weeks ago, I talked about the Go Bayside! podcast, and in the passing weeks it's only gotten better and literally turned into my favorite thing to listen to all week. And luckily for us, host April Richardson is not even yet done with Season One, and has five more seasons ahead of her. Richardson, stand-up comedian and frequent guest on Chelsea Lately, was gracious enough to answer some questions about the everlasting cultural relevance of Saved By The Bell, the podcast, and meeting Mark-Paul Gosselaar.

What was your motivation for making your SBTB love into a podcast? Other than your love of it, why did you want to share your conversations with the masses?
Well, first and foremost, it's entirely selfish: I watch the show on my own all the time, so I thought it would be fun to have friends join me. Also, I've watched it and picked it apart since I was a kid, and there's just so much funny stuff. One of my favorite things to do in life is to just critically pick apart and apply logic to the most benign things, so I always got a kick out being like, "Imagine that happening at an actual school! Holy shit!" And the show is such a pop-culture touchstone for people my age, and is just in the ether for a certain segment of the population, so I knew there would at least be that built-in audience of thirtysomethings like me who saw the show every time they turned on a television after school.

You mention that you have an un-ironic love for SBTB. When you first watched the show, what about it appealed to you? Did you find it actually legitimately funny?
First of all, I think I legit thought Zack was hot. And yeah, there were lines here and there that genuinely made me laugh as a preteen/teen. But honestly, I think I was drawn to its ridiculousness. It was like a Looney Tunes version of what I thought high school would be. But I did truly love it, and never ever acted like I was "above" it or "too cool" for it or whatever; there was no shame. I would absolutely go to school and be like, "Did you guys see that episode yesterday?" and genuinely and excitedly talk about it with people.

You plan on watching the entire series, in order. Do you have specific episodes/moments that you are really looking forward to watching/discussing?
Well, of course every one of my friends is trying to call dibs on the Jessie caffeine pills episode, so I might have to have a whole panel for that one. I'm looking forward to the summer job episodes, because Zack's relationship with Stacey Carosi always seemed pretty terrible, so I'd like to pick apart whatever it is they thought they had in common or saw in each other, and of course I love any and all episodes where the Zack Attack play.

You mention a lot of general themes of the show, including adults playing pranks with and being inappropriate with the kids, cross-dressing as abnormal behavior, and the justification of hating on nerds. Do you think those had an impact on your outlook as a teen?
Haha! Well, I kind of had a problem with authority, a mild one, in that I would call my teachers "dude" and stuff, which could have been influenced by SBTB's lack of a clear adult/child divide. The Zack/Screech thing I sort of got, because one of my best friends in middle school was this very Screechesque kid in my neighborhood who got made fun of all the time, but I didn't care and hung out with him all the time. I don't mean for that to sound like, "I'm such a saint!" or that I was as cool as Zack, because I totally wasn't. But we did have a sort of similar relationship only in that he was always a total goof and I'd be like, "Calm down, dude! It's cool!"

Have you ever read/written SBTB fan fiction? If you could create the perfect SBTB episode, what would the plot be?
I actually haven't! I think I'm too scared to; that shit can get too real. I'm super into Batman also, and I once accidentally read too far in some crazy fan fiction that had Batman getting pregnant with Superman's kid, and I was like, "Noooo!" I did, however, write an entire zine about SBTB for a journalism class in college! I gave the whole class copies as well as the teacher, and totally got an A!

As for the perfect ep, I don't really know. I mean, they're all rearranged combinations of a few elements: Zack and/or Slater coming up with a nuts scheme, somehow adults/teachers/the principal gets involved and help other kids trick someone back, Zack is found out and no one cares and he faces zero consequences really, etc. I couldn't even tell you what my favorite actual episode is! To be honest, I'm not as into the usual ones everyone else loses their minds over: the Jessie "I'm so excited!" one, etc. I kind of like the ones with just like weirder schemes that make me laugh thinking of a teenager coming up with them.

Where do you think the characters are now? Feel free to ignore the College years, wedding movies, etc. if you want.
Hmmm... I think Zack is probably just on top of the world. He's just one of those people who has it, so he will be successful always, no matter what he is doing. He could either be the CEO of some huge corporation or a famous actor or something, but whatever he's doing now, he's dominating it. And I also think he is for real still married to Kelly. I see Slater as a wrestling coach at some high school or something. I think Jessie is an Ariana Huffington type. I bet Lisa would absolutely be a fashion designer, and her stuff looks like the female version of Ed Hardy jams, just bedazzled everywhere. Screech probably works for NASA or would have invented Facebook or something. Mr. Belding likely would have appeared on To Catch A Predator. Let's be real; he's probably in jail.

Anything you want to share about upcoming episodes/upcoming guests?
Well, I am going in order through the whole series. I was going by the DVD set at first, but luckily some kind folks alerted me via email that the DVDs are actually in the wrong order, so I looked online and printed out the real order and have adjusted accordingly. Most of the guests have been and will be comedian friends of mine, although I have had some wonderfully surprising e-mails from people asking to be on, people I never would have expected ever watched the show! It's awesome. I've also got a few musicians lined up, some of them big shit famous folks, but I don't want to ruin the surprise/jinx it. But honestly, I just enjoy having funny people I like on the show, because other than dissecting the episode, I like it when plot points lead us to share funny personal high school stories.

The podcast photo shows you with a picture of Mark-Paul Gosselaar. How did you meet him? What was he like?
I met him a few months ago at a comedy show in Los Angeles called Meltdown, founded and hosted by Jonah Ray and Kumail Nanjiani. My friend Ed Salazar works on the show, and texted me that day like, "You have to come to the show tonight. Just trust me." At first I thought he knew that Morrissey was going to be there. That's what most people I know text me about: Morrissey, but I showed up and it turned out that Mark-Paul was there to do a bit with Kumail, whom he works with on Franklin & Bash. He did the bit up top and then stayed for the entire show, sitting in the audience watching every comedian! I thought that was cool as hell. In the middle of the show, he got up to get a drink or something, and we literally ran into each other, and he immediately gave me this huge familiar hug like, "So good to see you!" and I went, "Uh, huh?" and then he looked at me and laughed and said, "Oh, I'm sorry! You look just like our makeup girl on set at work!" and I laughed and then thanked that lady 100 times under my breath for looking like me/inadvertently facilitating a Zack hug for me. We talked for a bit and I told him I was a huge fan and it was super cool to meet him, and he was so wonderful and lovely. And then, he went out for drinks after the show with some of the comics, and I joined, and we ended up talking a bit more and he could not have been cooler. And I said, "Look, I know this is dorky, but I have to get a picture with you. Meeting you is, for me, like a dude from the '70s meeting that Farrah Fawcett poster in real life!" I did indeed say that. He laughed and again, was so super cool about everything. I'm hoping I can get him to come record an episode sometime. He seems to have such a great sense of humor about the show.

Have you ever tried to contact any of the original writers of the show?
I have not! But funnily enough, several guests I've had seem to know someone who knows someone, so it might be easier than I think! People keep emailing and texting me with stories of how they know someone who was on an episode or their cousin was best friends with this guy or they got to visit the set once and meet this dude, etc, so maybe more people who were involved in the actual show will want to come hang and record with me? We'll see!

Seriously, if you are not already listening to Go Bayside!, you are seriously missing some really funny and poignant podcast moments. You can also easily watch along each week because Saved By The Bell is on Netflix streaming.

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