Hanging out with the Muppets, Brett 'Roy Effing Kent' Goldstein and Brené Brown at ACL
“This is ducking mental."
"I mean genuinely ducking mental."
That was Brett Goldstein’s reaction to the very large, very excited crowd gathered at very hot dusk on Oct. 9 at the Austin City Limits Music Festival, all to listen to him and popular lecturer Brené Brown record an episode of her “Unlocking Us” podcast.
No, he didn’t say “ducking,” but I’m going with the autocorrect, my friends, for one of my favorite writers, producers and recent Emmy-winning actors talks a lot like Roy Kent, his foul-mouthed character from hit Apple TV+ show "Ted Lasso," and I ducking love it.
A mix of “Ted Lasso” fanatics, Brené Brown enthusiasts and those of us who are both enjoyed a real treat for about 40 minutes as the Brit and the Texan talked Muppets, vulnerability and more. And you know we did that famous Roy Kent chant.
A few highlights follow. They are not in order from the conversation — the episode of "Unlocking Us" featuring Goldstein dropped on Oct. 20, so take a listen to the podcast for chronology and to hear why Goldstein thinks:
- Brown has better comedic timing than most professional standups — “your hit rate is massive,” he said of her TED Talks and other work
- We all should talk about death more.
- “Drama without humor is not good art.”
- Billy Joel is the greatest.
- “Grease 2” is the best of the “Grease” films.
You have to start with music, y’all
Brené Brown loves music, and Austin greats Gina Chavez and Carrie Rodriguez, who wrote and performed the theme song for “Unlocking Us,” started the show.
“Before we get to Roy, we gotta sing about women,” Chavez said before they launched into Chavez’s “She Persisted.”
Brown asked the two to introduce her and Goldstein's conversation, and they whipped up musical versions of their bios backstage that ended up in the final episode.
How did this all happen?
As Richmond fans know, Brown has been name-dropped on "Ted Lasso." When ACL Fest producers asked Brown to record her podcast live and said she could invite anyone she wanted, she knew immediately who that would be.
“When Brené Brown slips into your DMs, you have to say yes,” Goldstein said.
We had the vapors, and not just from the Zilker Park heat.
Is 'Ted Lasso' the healthiest creative workplace around?
It sure sounds like it. Goldstein said the writers talk a lot about Brown and relationship expert Esther Perel, and there’s "loads of laughing and crying" in the room.
The jokes are easy, he said; “people being vulnerable and (hoping) no one is going to take the piss out of you — that’s the hard part.”
Brown praised Goldstein’s courage and vulnerability for the chance he took asking to be Roy Kent, after being hired first as a writer for the show. He credited creator Jason Sudeikis for a vision they can trust and being "the final paintbrush" for the show.
And, yes, they’re aware of the backlash for Season 2’s less sunny storylines. (Not from me, Brett!). They knew it was a journey viewers would need to stick with; the whole point is that they’re trying to make people forgivable by exploring why they are how they are.
Season 3 is being written now: “Four major characters die” is all Goldstein would jokingly share.
Before Roy Kent, who he “ducking loves” playing, Goldstein mostly played “nice, sweet boys.” He explained why Roy’s rough, gravelly voice is the way it is: “He’s a cauldron of emotion, and he doesn’t want anyone to know that,” and he’s holding it all in.
Cue a classic Roy Kent “Oi."
Cue the crowd going wild. Again.
But what does he think of Austin?
Goldstein said he went on a run that morning and thought, “The vibe here is like, everyone's cool, but they get (stuff) done. It's like everyone's sort of cool but also like they could build treehouse like that. They've got a digger in the back, you know what I mean?”
'Do you have a problem with the Muppets, Brené?'
Goldstein was teasing when Brown asked about his now well-documented and epic love for the popular characters, and then got sweetly serious.
“The Muppets are like us; we are the Muppets,” he said, and all our hearts grew three sizes. (Yes, a Grinch reference, but a Grinch is a Muppet cousin, in my genealogy, at least). “They’re not great at what they do, but it doesn’t matter, because they love it and they’re family and they have joy.”
That’s what we all should have.
What would he like to do if he got to hang out with the actual Muppets?
“Anything they ask.”
And, finally, how Brett Goldstein stays grounded
His favorite thing is getting into the ocean and remembering, “We’re all specks of dust, and nothing matters.”
He added: “When everything’s a bit too much, just get in the sea.”