Our chat w/ Paul T. Goldman creator & Academy Award nominee Jason Woliner on inventive storytelling, conspiracy theories & psychics

Quick link: Listen here

Quick link: Listen here

Today we are honored to induct a new member to our society of storytellers. His comedy writing, directing & producing chops run deep, having worked on some of our favorite shows including What We Do in the Shadows, Parks & Rec, Last Man on Earth, Master of None, Eagleheart with Chris Elliot, the sketch series Human Giant (of which he was a co-creator) & a number of comedy specials, including with for Patton Oswalt and Aziz Ansari. He was also at the helm for Borat’s American Lock-down & Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, which earned two Oscar nominations. Currently streaming on Peacock is his latest creation, something I am calling the show of the year so far, “Paul T. Goldman.” It’s a six-part series that at times feels like Curb Your Enthusiasm-meets-Dateline. A true mystery that twists and turns around the failed marriage of a real character in more ways than one, the titular Paul T Goldman. We know the marriage failed, but who exactly was the con-woman he was married to?

Paul T. Goldman trailer. Find it on Peacock – full series streaming now

I wanted to immediately also give a shout out to another member of the Fantastic Story Society who beat us to the punch here… so, hat tip to David Farrier, who recently interviewed Jason too. I feel David’s and our episodes serve as a good double feature, so we’re happy to share David’s interview here. Any time we are on the same path as David, we’re definitely doing something right.

As fans of the show New Girl, it’s also worth nothing that, though Jason only directed one episode of that show, it happened to be the episode that introduced viewers to Tran, an elderly, mute, Yoda-like fan-favorite character. So, though it was only one episode, it’s somewhat legendary.

Here on this blog, I like to touch on things I wish I could’ve gotten to during the show, but we ran out of time. This time around, we were more surgical, diving hard into the heart of the subject-matter. So, there wasn’t much of big importance that we didn’t cover. However, with a little more time, I would’ve loved to hear a little about Last Man on Earth, a great and slightly overlooked show that ran on Fox from 2015-2018. Jason directed 12 episodes before the show was abruptly cancelled amidst a great cliffhanger. It really would’ve been interesting to see where the show would go next. Also, how did I miss the oppertunity to ask about his appearance as an actor on Weekend at Bernie’s… back when he was about 8 years old.

While journalists and documentarians in general are common guests for us on this show, we also touched on a couple of other common or pseudo science topics:

Conspiracy Theories – Debunking to find the truth
A recent trend of Jason’s work is telling a story, then taking steps to peel the onion to try to find the actual core truth. “Borat: Subsequent Moviefilm” brought up a ton of conspiracy theories, from more established fringe ideas (the Holocaust didn’t actually happen) to more current (and sadly becoming more mainstream) ideas (anit-vaxers or the ‘Blood Libel’-based theory that pedophiles in power consume children’s blood for ceremonial reasons). Though Jason wasn’t involved with the following spin-off, “Debunking Borat” is a great deeper look into these theories to show that most of them date back to ancient times and are largely linked to Antisemitic. It’s an eye-opener. Amazon Prime users can watch that full series now too. The trailer is below.


I think Jason took a viewpoint that’s fairly in line with Max & I in that, ‘hey, we don’t really know – who are we to judge?’

Speaking for myself here, I believe that the psychic ability or ‘intuition,’ if you will, is something that truly exists in all of us to some level, along with some people who are very gifted at this ability.

That said, there are some deplorable people out there who exploit people who are in some sort of a need. That need could be emotional, spiritual, of even practical (‘What’s the next step I should take to achieve a goal?). As followers of our show know, I’m a bit of a fan of Harry Houdini & his quest to take down these fraudulent psychics. Some of these psychics don’t even know they’re being fraudulent (they believe their own BS). A psychic appears in Paul T. Goldman and plays a major role. I won’t say more than that. I’ll leave it up to you to decide her legitimacy. Again, I do believe in psychic ability and have met a few who seemed legit to me, but I’ve met far more who make me suspect.

I know the last few paragraphs haven’t been the most entertaining…. and I find any opportunity at all to bring Bill Burr into the conversation, so here’s a little of him discussing anti-vax conspiracy theories:

Search for the Fantastic Story Society on any of your favorite podcast apps & please do let us know if the show isn’t appearing for you. Or, stream directly from one of the following links:

Time Stamps:
0:00 – Intro – what is Paul T Goldman?
4:33 – 30-Day Screenwriting Challenge, Sundance, writing retreats, LA ghost tour, Galena Ghost Con
8:03 – Inductee, Jason Woliner
9:40 – Finding the truth as a filmmaking theme
11:05 – Conspiracy Theories, Debunking Borat
11:59 – Gravitating to comedy
14:47 – Including behind the scenes moments in Paul T Goldman
16:44 – Paul T. Goldman, kind of a true crime documentary 19:55 – Pitching Paul T. Goldman & the unusual format 23:55 – Teaming up with Seth Rogan & Evan Goldberg, brush with Quibi
27:15 – On set of Paul T. Goldman
33:30 – Releasing on Peacock
39:32 – Becoming friends with Paul T. Goldman
40:52 – Challenging Paul & doing deeper research
42:15 – Watching Paul watch Paul T. Goldman
43:30 – Psychics & ethics
47:16 – Combating conspiracy theories & Conspiratorial Thinking
48:31 – Rudy Giuliani & Borat lawsuits
50:30 – Synagogue scene in Borat
52:02 – Fantastic Story: Escaping a Debutante Ball
56:50 – New Girl & Chris Elliott’s Eagleheart


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