An extra special episode of The Wandering Bard, in which Cal holds a conversation on storytelling with Joe Fisher, creator of the popular sci-fi audio drama Midnight Burger. Cal and Joe chat about Prince, Shakespeare, and the Devil; the terrors of the Metaverse, the safety of the multiverse, and the future of storytelling.
An extra special episode of The Wandering Bard on Stories from the Hearth, in which Cal holds a conversation on storytelling with Joe Fisher, creator of the popular sci-fi audio drama Midnight Burger. Cal and Joe chat about Prince, Shakespeare, and the Devil; the terrors of the Metaverse, the safety of the multiverse, and the future of storytelling. This episode marks the first creator-to-creator interview hosted on Stories from the Hearth.
The Wandering Bard is a bonus mini-series on the fiction anthology podcast Stories from the Hearth, and is a space for host Cal Bannerman to explore the history of storytelling, as well as the people behind it. In this episode Cal meets a writer, podcaster, director and producer at the forefront of the independent fiction podcast scene: Joe Fisher of Midnight Burger.
Watch the full interview with Joe on YouTube, here.
Listen to Joe's podcast Midnight Burger, here.
Support Stories from the Hearth on Patreon, here.
Support Midnight Burger on Patreon, here.
YouTube: Stories from the Hearth
Fire Daemon Character Artwork by Anna Ferrara
Anna's Instagram: @giallosardina
Anna's Portfolio: https://annaferrara.carbonmade.com/
Thank you for listening. Please consider following, subscribing to, and sharing this bonus episode, and please do tell your friends all about Stories from the Hearth.
Joe Fisher: Facebook just unveiled the Metaverse or whatever, which looks like a living nightmare to me. You know what I mean?
Cal Bannerman: My god, yes.
Joe Fisher: But at the same time… it literally does!
Cal Bannerman: Storytelling always will have a future because, as you say, it’s coded into our genes. We have to tell stories. We tell stories to ourselves about everything and anything every day, just to get through the day.
Joe Fisher: The idea that all possible worlds actually exist, but just on a different frequency. And how, every moment you’ve been alive exists forever.
Cal Bannerman: There’s something not quite right.
Joe Fisher: Right, exactly. It’s like when something… when a, you know, when a Southern Baptist sees something not quite right, they see the Devil. You know.
Cal Bannerman: Right, exactly.
Joe Fisher: And then other people just see something not quite right, you know.
Cal Bannerman: Yeah.
Cal Bannerman: So, the question being, Is storytelling for you more about escapism, or a call to action? Or a bit of both?
Welcome to an extra-special episode of The Wandering Bard, a bonus historical and educational series on Stories from the Hearth, examining the history of storytelling and the people behind it. On today’s episode, I was lucky enough to sit down with another independent podcaster, Joe Fisher of Midnight Burger. Joe’s show Midnight Burger has been making waves in the audio drama scene, reaching 50,000 downloads in its first year, and attracting myriad fans (including myself) who cannot help but become infatuated with Joe’s motley crew of characters.
I invited Joe onto The Wandering Bard so that we could have a chat about storytelling: what it means to him, what the future of storytelling might look like, and why, during the pandemic era, it has become more important than ever. We discussed whether life might be infinite, how podcasting might just be the most revolutionary art form ever, and the role of religion in a diner which travels through space, time, and the multiverse.
I had an absolute ball chatting with Joe, and I implore you to go check out the first season of Midnight Burger, wherever you get your shows. Interviewing other fiction creators is something completely new to me, but it’s something I’d like to continue doing. However, I do need your support to keep doing it. I want Stories from the Hearth to host a variety of storytelling content, but only the support of fans and patrons can give me the time and space I need to grow this show into something even more special. You can support me on Patreon, and earn yourself heaps of exclusive perks at the same time. Just head to patreon.com/storiesfromthehearthpodcast, or hit the link in the description down below.
You can watch my conversation with Joe in full, on my YouTube. There’s a link in the description for that, too.
Well, shall we begin?
Cal Bannerman: Hi, Joe.
Joe Fisher: Hey, how are you?
Cal Bannerman: Yeah, very well. It’s lovely to meet you. So you're in LA, is that right?
Joe Fisher: Yes. Los Angeles.
Cal Bannerman: Bright and early?
Joe Fisher: Bright and early. Yeah. I always get up early, though. Ever since I had a child several years ago. I always get up early in the morning, and I just never really changed. He's much older now, but for some reason I never got out of the habit of waking up early in the morning.
Cal Bannerman: I can imagine. Hey, it's a good way to get things done.
Joe Fisher: Sure.
Cal Bannerman: Thank you very much for stopping by. I'll introduce the section of my podcast a little bit, and then we'll crack on and have a nice little conversation.
Joe Fisher: Sounds great.
Cal Bannerman: Fantastic. Well, thank you very much for joining me on Stories From The Hearth. This is a section of the podcast called The Wandering Bard, where I take a bit of time each month to kind of explore the nature of storytelling, the history of it and the people behind it. So, recently I've been looking a lot at the ancient forms of storytelling. Chinese shadow puppetry, hula dancing, the Griots of West Africa as well, which was super interesting. And I look as well at like, the Whys. Why do we tell stories? What do stories do to help us form culture and protect that culture? But I wanted to shake things up a little bit and bring on somebody who has been making waves in modern storytelling. So I think today I'll call this episode instead, The Wandering Burger. Because, you are the creator, host, director and writer of Midnight Burger, which is an audio drama following a time, space, and dimension-spanning burger joint, with a motley crew of characters which I've fallen in love with. So, I hoped you might introduce yourself a little bit and just tell us a little bit about your show.
Joe Fisher: Yeah. So my name is Joe Fisher Fisher, and I've been a writer since I was a kid, I suppose like a lot of us have. And, Midnight Burger sort of came about because during the pandemic, what had happened is that I thought that there would be a nice project to pass the time. So what I did was I approached a friend of mine over at Earbud Theater, and I said, “Hey, I have a three part mini series that I'd like to do. I know plenty of actors who are doing nothing right now.” And so, we produced a three part Sci-Fi show called Omega Station, and it went really well. And that was three episodes. And this was me naively thinking that would get us through the summer. And then by then the pandemic will be gone, and everything will be fine, whatever; it will be back to normal. And then here we are with things still not back to normal. So at the end of that, I sort of approached the same company of actors. And I said, let’s just do something that’s open ended. So Midnight Burger, I'm not exactly sure where it came from exactly. But there it was. And I sort of designed the characters for the particular company of actors, and just kind of went from there.
Cal Bannerman: Interesting, it seems to be that there is a lot of pandemic influence in Midnight Burger. Of course, Gloria loses her taqueria at the very start, which is why she's on the hunt for this job and turns up at Midnight Burger. But Midnight Burger also seems to be kind of a safe haven for her. Obviously, the concept, which is brilliant and allows for that open endedness, is that each day the restaurant opens somewhere different in the multiverse. And whilst there's all this chaos kind of going on outside, it seems to be that there is this kind of safe haven. If that's an allegory for the pandemic, then did you find that perhaps making the podcast was your safe haven, so to speak?
Joe Fisher: Yeah, it absolutely was. There's this terrible part of me that actually functioned really well in the pandemic because it was sort of springtime for misanthropes, you know what I mean? But I knew that that would be ultimately sort of unhealthy for me. And so I had to reach out, which is not something that I do very well. And so I reached out to old friends of mine, and I was trying to remember because I think we were all pretty miserable. And I was pretty miserable. And I tried to recall a time when I was not miserable and these particular actors that I'm working with, I worked with them sort of during the most creative time of my life, a very fun sort of constantly-creative time in my life. And so I decided to reach out to them again and try and get some of that feeling, you know, back for myself. And yeah, it was sort of the idea,
as we all, kind of descended into the pandemic, I think there was a sense that nobody's safety, that your safety is an illusion, really on any level. And I started to just look at the entire universe and try and think of “what is the safe place”. And then I thought, oh, my God, there isn't one.
Cal Bannerman: So let me create one.
Joe Fisher: So let me create one! And just the idea of the world being just a big gyre of chaos. And so what do you cling to? And what it becomes is you cling to other people who are also in the same situation as you, you know?
Cal Bannerman: Yeah, absolutely. I think for me, that's kind of always been storytelling. Storytelling and stories have always been that sort of safe place in the universe because in some ways, they're not in the universe. They exist, well, of course they are, but they exist in our own projection of whatever the universe is and can really be.
Joe Fisher: That's how I started. I started making up stories when I was a kid, and my life was kind of odd. And storytelling for me became a way of sort of normalizing my existence. Making up stories is an incredible way to give you a place to go when you're stuck somewhere, especially when you're a kid. And then that slowly became sort of a lifelong thing. And it's still that way to this day for me, too. It's still a sanity tool. It's still a mental health tool for me, for sure.
Cal Bannerman: I think, historically, storytelling has been a mental health tool as well. It's always been the focal point for community for one, in all different forms. But certainly when I've been studying these various histories of storytelling, the one unifying factor is that it brings people together. And in the past that's been a physical necessity. A wandering bard came to town, and you had to go and gather around the town square and listen to them, or go to the tavern. I wondered – because you obviously took, like I did, to podcasting to tell this story – so, I wanted to ask a two part question. Firstly: Why podcasting? Because Midnight Burger, I feel, would work in lots of different forms of storytelling. And also, with podcasting, since that takes things into a digital space and not a physical one, how do you think that affects that sort of bonding of community that storytelling is so good for?
Joe Fisher: I think the main thing for me about podcast, I think when I was first starting out, if the technology and the availability and with so many people adopting the technology, I think if that was around when I was first starting out, I may have been only doing this. For me, there's always been a particular sort of romance to a desk and a microphone. And I think that came from Spalding Gray. I don't know if you're familiar with Spalding Gray, but he did a lot of one man shows in New York City back in the 80s and 90s. The whole set was just him and a desk and a microphone, and it was just him telling a story. And I was like, wow, that looks like a really great gig for some reason. I don't know why.
Cal Bannerman: It's the comfort.
Joe Fisher: Sure! So, there was this part of me that was kind of unfulfilled by not doing it in the first place, and then in the second place, the access to making it happen. The ability to make a podcast happen is fairly low. You don't really need that much to it. And so because of that creativity and telling a story and a creative endeavour goes down to its purest form, because what it should be is an artist creates something and then puts it out into the world and everyone decides whether or not it's relevant. But I think what you have a lot these days is… it's like the Fran Lebowitz thing. It's like, there's too much democracy in art and not enough democracy in politics. In between you and the realization of your vision, there are way too many people. So getting those people out of the way and just putting out what you put out is incredibly rare. And podcasting is one of the places where you can do that with a lot of freedom.
Cal Bannerman: Yeah. Absolutely. I think even in those historic art forms that I'm talking about, it's still kind of rare. I mean, even though now you have all of the machinery of capitalism in the way there, you have the politics of Fame and influence as well, which stand in your way. Like, I have pals who are fantastic illustrators, but who know that there are other pals who have more followers on Instagram and soa are more likely to get a publishing deal because that's a free ad campaign, all of this stuff. But I think that's always kind of existed in some sense. Like if you were a hula dancer, you couldn't just go out and perform. There were very rigid rules which surrounded that. If you were to be a Griot in West Africa, you had to be born into that, Your dad had to teach his son to do that. So something like broadcasting, or pirate radio a little earlier, it does! Yeah. Absolutely. It gives us the ability with fairly little money to put our stuff out there.
Joe Fisher: Yeah.
Cal Bannerman: I’m definitely; I find it very inspiring that another independent podcaster, who's doing this with a fantastic cast, but you're writing it, directing it, producing it, like, alongside Finlay Stevenson - is that right?
Joe Fisher: Yeah.
Cal Bannerman: That's a hell of a lot of work. Do you enjoy all of that storytelling, or do you find parts more challenging than others?
Joe Fisher: Well, it's got to be sort of necessarily aggravating. Without the sort of aggravation there, it wouldn't be worth it somehow. I'm not sure how. It is sort of the most creatively rewarding thing I think I've ever done in my life. But at a certain point, you get used to the pain. It becomes a necessary part of it. And you do kind of get to like it. You do sort of get to like the aggravation of: you're looking at a pile of audio files and then you have to make it into a show, and you just sort of crack your knuckles and it becomes part of your process. The pain becomes part of your process. And if it wasn't there, you wouldn't know if you were doing anything or not.
Cal Bannerman: Yeah. This is a very good point. And with a regular nine to five, you would be experiencing plenty of pain without the payoff, I guess, in many senses.
Joe Fisher: Yeah, sure!
Cal Bannerman: Whereas with this, as you say, there are challenging parts, but you get to be creative every day. And that is a rarity.
Joe: Yeah. I think the ultimate goal - and I don't think that anyone has ever really achieved this, maybe like Prince or someone like that – but it's like, the goal is to create more culture than you consume.
Cal Bannerman: Right.
Joe Fisher: Which is nearly impossible.
Cal Bannerman: Yes, of course. Especially if you watch as much TV as I do.
Joe Fisher: That’s right, exactly! So you look at people like Prince who allegedly wrote two songs a day his whole life.
Cal Bannerman: Wow
Joe Fisher: Yeah. It's something to aspire to. No one will ever get there.
Cal Bannerman: Of course.
Joe Fisher: You know what I mean. But I think that's definitely something that you should try for. That should be the brass ring, I think.
Cal Bannerman: Absolutely. Listen, I had a question about the future of storytelling. Because obviously, Midnight Burger deals with the future in all its infinite possibilities. And I wondered, being as that you are finding great success in podcasting and in audio drama, where do you envision the future of storytelling? Where do you envision storytelling going? Now that we have this as a medium.
Joe Fisher: It's sort of like asking, Where do you see eating food going? I think, because there's very few things in our world that we've been doing since we became human beings.
Cal Bannerman: Right.
Joe Fisher: So we've been making food for each other, and we've been sleeping with each other. And we've been telling stories to each other. Those are the three things that we've been doing longer than literally any other thing. And so to sort of say, what is the future of storytelling? Are we afraid it's going to go away? Are we afraid that suddenly we won't tell stories to each other? We won't ever stop doing that, because the thing is that every human being is a storyteller. Even if you're not making up the story and telling it to someone else, you're always telling the story of your own life to yourself. You are always placing meaning on things that are happening. You're telling that story to yourself, maybe not to somebody else. But every human being is a story. And you are the writer of that story, each individual. So to say, that does storytelling have a future and things like that? It's sort of like saying, does humanity have a future? Do human beings have a future? Which sometimes is questionable.
Cal Bannerman: Yeah, definitely questionable.
Joe Fisher: But it always survives in some form or another. I mean, what's amazing right now is that you have all these just… Facebook just unveiled the Metaverse or whatever, which looks like a living nightmare to me. You know what I mean? But at the same time…
Cal Bannerman: It really does.
Joe Fisher: But at the same time, you'll read an article in the Wall Street Journal that says that people consuming podcasts and stories like these is only going to increase in the coming years. Like those are the forecasts, which can be a little frightening, because here comes the people wanting to ring money out of the entire situation. So that's always what could possibly go wrong. But it is interesting, like in the middle of all of these advancements, something that's actually gaining in popularity is the simple task of someone telling a story in your ear.
Cal Bannerman: Yeah. It seems to me like… Because, interestingly, I was kind of going to ask whether with the increase in sort of immediacy and the desire for immediate gratification, with TikTok videos and things that are so constant and bite size, whether long form storytelling you felt was safe. But I think we've kind of talked about. I think you're right. I think storytelling always will have a future, because as you say, it's coded into our genes. We have to tell stories. We tell stories to ourselves about everything and anything every day just to get through the day. But that is interesting that these things are on the rise.
Joe Fisher: But it's also like when something becomes popular or something becomes desired, there's always going to be the desire for the opposite of that thing.
Cal Bannerman: Sure.
Joe Fisher: Yeah. Right. And the thing about podcasts and audio drama is that, and storytelling, is that it's kind of anti-internet. A long story can't go viral. It sure isn’t bite-sized. It's delivered through the internet, but it's almost anti-internet. You have to sit there, and you have to listen, and you can't do anything while you're listening, because if you're not listening, you're going to miss something.
Cal Bannerman: Yeah, for sure. In a second.
Joe Fisher: So the popularity of things like Midnight Burger these days, I think, has to do with the fact that maybe for some people, the internet is a bit much sometimes. Maybe it is kind of taxing sometimes to take in everything in one minute bites. And maybe you do need a second to sit and think and engage in something that's a little more complicated and a little longer and a little more meditative.
Cal Bannerman: Yeah. Absolutely. It kind of seems as well, like, within Midnight Burger, within the diner, there is almost that representation in Effie and Zebulon Mucklewain's old timey radio.
Joe Fisher: Right.
Cal Bannerman: Because, without going toward the end of the season, they are an old timey radio, or gospel radio show, which is super grounded in this very specific, like quiet, calm (to some degree) place in Arkansas, which is going on all the time, despite the fact that Midnight Burger itself is roaming the multiverse and coming across monstrous beings and robots called Steve. So it seems like you've kind of integrated that into Midnight Burger itself. That sort of dependency on the quieter, more long form storytelling.
Joe Fisher: Yeah. Effie and Zebulon do kind of keep you more to a particular place. And I'm not even sure what to call that place, but I'm kind of interested in from time to time in the show, I kind of explore, like how the language of religion and science overlaps sometimes. So having a heavily-scientific Sci-Fi environment and hearing what the interpretation of that is from a couple of gospel preachers from Arkansas in 1925 is kind of what keeps me interested in that particular mechanism of the show.
Cal Bannerman: Interesting. Well, that brings me to another question I was going to ask, which is that religion or at least Earth religions are fairly rare in science fiction. I mean, if you look at something even as expansive as like Ian M. Banks’ massive universe that he creates, there are faiths and religions, but generally they are as alien to us as the aliens and the science, the hard science, that there isn't a grounding in a religious dogma which we understand and can relate to, either personally or fairly directly. So how did it come about that you brought that in? Was it for that juxtaposition of ideas?
Joe Fisher: Yeah, I think so. I’m not a very religious person myself…
Cal Bannerman: Likewise.
Joe Fisher: I don't go to any sort of Church and prayer is not a part of my life, and neither is anything like meditation or some sort of ritualistic behaviour. It's not really a part of what I do with myself. But I do think, though, that the majority of people in the world do have some sort of religious practice. And I think that that comes from somewhere. And regardless of how you may feel about the institutions that surround that particular religion practice or those particular beliefs. It comes from somewhere. And what I'm interested in is does that come from somewhere? That: is it trying to express something that they have a hint of, but they can't quite put their finger on. We're about to record episode one of season two tonight.
Cal Bannerman: Oh, exciting!
Joe Fisher: Yeah. And it's very exciting. But in that episode, there's this kind of crossover where we talk about a lot of the ideas that Michio Kaku talks about. The idea that all possible worlds actually exist, but just on a different frequency, and how every moment you've been alive exists forever in space and time.
Cal Bannerman: Sure.
Joe Fisher: And they're all simultaneously happening right now. And the idea when Effie and Zebulon interact with that idea, they see it as an expression of eternal life, the same expression of eternal life that you would hear in their religion. And I wonder sometimes the reason why we talk about those things and where that idea actually came from is because we actually had a hint of how the universe works, and we expressed it through religion.
Cal Bannerman: Yeah. I have queried similar things myself in the past and in episodes, story episodes of Stories from the Hearth. And I wrote one called Spirit, and like yourself, I'm not raised in a religious family. I'm not religious really in any way. But I wondered about this sort of spiritual connection that people do feel to the universe around them. And I wondered if, through our scientific endeavours to explain everything, we often kind of discount a lot of really spiritual thought, including, for example, eternal life. And yet now, as you're saying, with Michio Kaku talking about being eternal life in the sense that there is only a present, thus all life is happening simultaneously, and therefore, in some senses, there's eternal life. I think that's a really fascinating take on that dichotomy between religion and science. And certainly in Midnight Burger, it helps to kind of just frame things again. It allows you to see that there is no one right answer. The way that Ava sees the Leifs who visit and the way Leif sees them, and then also the way that Effie Mucklewain sees them are all different and yet kind of grounded in the same understanding that: something's not quite right.
Joe Fisher: Right. Exactly. When a Southern Baptist sees something not quite right, they see the devil.
Cal Bannerman: Right. Exactly.
Joe Fisher: And then, other people just see something not quite right. But they're not wrong. It may not be the devil with horns and things like that, but the intention is there, and the gist of it is there.
Cal Bannerman: Sure. It's a story you tell. It's a character you reference in order to convey a simple warning that is very understandable even to an unreligious person. If you say that something’s demonic or devilish, then you know what the meaning is there.
Joe Fisher: The message is delivered for sure.
Cal Bannerman: The message is very much delivered. One of the things I was going to ask you, was that having to look at your cast list and also the production team of you and Finlay, there's a clear kind of 50/50 gender split. And you have Gloria, played by Siouxsie Suarez, who’s effectively your protagonist. I feel like she is us, right? She gives us the grounding. So I just wondered if you might like to talk a little bit about representation within a Midnight Burger, because that's always something that I kind of strive towards with Stories from the Hearth, trying to keep it kind of queer-focused. But that's my own personal experience shining through there. Is representation something that you considered when writing it, or was it just a natural kind of process of which characters fit which actors?
Joe Fisher: It's funny. I remember when I first started out as a screenwriter. There was this… What you have is you have sort of like, your sample script, and everybody reads the sample script, and then you go around Los Angeles and you drink every water bottle in town, and it's all just a million meetings that never go anywhere. Right? And the sample script that I had was a Sci-Fi sort of adventure script. And the main character was a woman. And the amount of times that I was commended for the main character being a woman was shocking to me, because I didn't do it deliberately. It wasn't something that: “I'm going to make this bold choice”, but it was regarded as something that was like, wow, you have put a woman in the middle of a big budget Sci-Fi movie. That's amazing that you've done that. And I would just say, what are you talking about?
Cal Bannerman: Like, have you seen the aliens? They're crazy!
Joe Fisher: I grew up with Ripley. You know what I mean?
Cal Bannerman: Yes. Exactly.
Joe Fisher: And some of the greatest Sci-Fi movies in the world have had a woman as the main character. So I guess it was never something that I was consciously... I don't know. It's never something I do consciously, but it's something that… Why would I want a group of people in a story who will have the same perspective? That sounds incredibly boring to me.
Cal Bannerman: Yeah.
Joe Fisher: So, when you do see stories that are sort of… Screenwriters love to just sit around and bitch about whatever. Because they’re the most unhappy people in Hollywood. And I remember a friend of mine sort of saying like “Yeah, my manager says I need to add another female character and it's like, God, I already have one.” You already have one!? I don't understand how you have this… how you want every character to sort of have the same type of perspective and be kind of the same way. It's like, Effie and Zebulon in a Sci-Fi world. I mean, it's that juxtaposition that makes things so great. It's the clash of perspectives that bring about drama and bring about opportunities to have conversations about a lot of different things.
Cal Bannerman: Absolutely.
Joe Fisher: So you kind of have to do that. I just never really did it for me. Personally, I never really did it sort of deliberately. It was just like these were the… you need that diversity of voices in anything you do.
Cal Bannerman: You absolutely do. And more people would be good to listen to that and employ it. Certainly, I think, with genre fiction, genre audio drama, fantasy, Sci-Fi, certainly. For me growing up, that was always my jam. And I think that it showed me the importance, the innate importance of those different points of view, those different perspectives, because writers like Ursula Le Guin or Tolkien, even. I mean, for all it remains a fairly male-dominated world, in Tolkien's work, they're not grounding it really in reality or in their own biases or the biases of society around them. You're blowing everything up! You’re in a burger joint that is in, like, the last Ice Age. There's no reason for there to be any kind of hierarchical structures or heteronormativity or homogeneity unless it serves a purpose for the story. Right? As you say, it kind of just has to happen.
Joe Fisher: Yeah, absolutely.
Cal Bannerman: I'll leave you with a couple of last questions. One of the things that obviously stories have to do is to entertain. I feel like that's kind of the reason you're writing them: is to entertain yourself in the first instance…
Joe Fisher: Right.
Cal Bannerman: But they tend to have ulterior motives, too. And I know certainly some of the episodes I particularly loved of Midnight Burger were The Ad Man Cometh
Joe Fisher: Sure.
Cal Bannerman: I don't know if it's an It’s Always Sunny reference, or not, but it kind of feels like that. It's great. And Solitary, Poor, Nasty, Brutish, and Short. Lots of other episodes of Midnight Burger too. But they seemed to comment very specifically on our society now. Obviously, with the rampant advertisements in Ad Man and in our lack of, I guess, running around and catching animals anymore in Solitary, Poor, Nasty, Brutish, and Short. So the question being: is storytelling for you more about escapism or a call to action? Or a bit of both?
Joe Fisher: It's definitely a bit of both. And I don't know about a call to action, because if someone were to say to me, okay, well, what do we do? I'd be like, I don't know. I don't know what to call you to. And even older Leif in episode six, he says something. It's like, you get to a certain age and you begin to wonder, Am I changing the world or is the world just changing?
Cal Bannerman: I like that one.
Joe Fisher: I don't know what impact an individual has on the great wave of consciousness or the planet Earth. I don't know how to do those things, but with those two episodes that you cited - episode five and episode nine - it's actually the same actress as a guest star. It's a friend of Jennifer Morris, Jess Morris, and you can actually see her character in episode five kind of turning into her character in episode nine because she makes this speech where she says, Look around you. Do you see a thing done right or a thing done wrong?
Cal Bannerman: That’s a really good speech.
Joe Fisher: I don't know about a call to action. It's just the things that I say to myself. And you want to say it out loud, because what if someone else is feeling the same way and they think that they're the only one who's feeling that way? So in terms of escapism, I don't write from a particular perspective myself. I don't have like, I don't have a very strong identity that I write from, which always gave me kind of an inferiority complex because there are so many writers out there who have such an interesting story themselves. It's just like I don't have that interesting story. I'm actually kind of a boring person. But then I read about Keats, talking about Shakespeare. He was talking about how Shakespeare had something called… he called it negative capability, which was the ability to dissolve your identity in a story. Right. So Shakespeare, the things that were so great about him is that he could tell the story of the Prince of Denmark. He could also tell the story of the Moore of Venice. He'd also tell a story about a guy turning into a donkey. He could do all of these things and you didn't get a sense of him. You didn't get a sense of his personality. He disappeared. So negative being the absence of self.
Cal Bannerman: Of course.
Joe Fisher: And it's kind of both for me. I do want to lose my identity in the story, but at the same time, sometimes I need to say something. So, Midnight Burger kind of becomes both of those things for me.
Cal Bannerman: Yeah. So, without enforcing your identity in the story, by allowing the story to speak for itself, whilst still saying those things. I think those things come from a place where people are more likely to listen because they're not being lectured at by the author. They are… characters that they've fallen in love with are saying something that they go: “Yes, I get that, too.” I think that's brilliant. Listen, Joe, I have to let you go soon because the powers that be on Zoom are probably going to kick me off.
Joe Fisher: Ah yes, the Zoom Gods.
Cal Bannerman: The Zoom Gods! But, when this episode comes out, it's the day before season two launches on your Patreon…
Joe Fisher: Oh, great!
Cal Bannerman: And the public season two launch is November 29th. Is that right?
Joe Fisher: Right.
Cal Bannerman: So, thank you so much for coming on. It's really lovely to talk to you. I’d love to talk more.
Joe Fisher: Thank you for having me, I had a great time.
Cal Bannerman: Yeah? Good. I'm really glad. Thank you for chatting. I can't wait to check out season two. What can we expect?
Joe Fisher: You can expect… Well, we have a bifurcated story now in season two. So Casper is somewhere out there somewhere.
Cal Bannerman: Yes!
Joe Fisher: And Midnight Burger is actually kind of being hunted by a particularly nasty alien race. So we wanted to do a bit more Sci-Fi epic this particular season. So there's going to be some fun stuff like that. There may or may not be a space pirate at some point. Be prepared for that.
Cal Bannerman: Fantastic. Great stuff. Well, yeah. Thank you so much for coming on Stories from the Hearth. Hope you have a great day. Good luck recording episode one later on, and keep in touch.
Joe Fisher: I definitely will.
Cal Bannerman: It's great to chat to you.
Joe Fisher: Definitely
Cal Bannerman: Awesome.
Joe Fisher: Talk to you soon.
Cal Bannerman: Okay, Joe, take it easy.
Joe Fisher: All right. Bye bye.
Cal Bannerman: Bye.
Thank you so much for listening to this extra special episode of The Wandering Bard (or should I call it The Wandering Burger?) on Stories from the Hearth. I really hope you enjoyed my chat with Joe. I think you should definitely go and check out Midnight Burger straight away because I know that you're going to rip through those ten episodes just in time for the second season to come out on the 29th of November. Do let me know what you thought about this episode too, since it's completely different from all of the episodes I've done so far. Do you want to hear more of this? And if you do, maybe you could consider checking out my Patreon by hitting the link in the description down below. It would really help me if you could rate and review the podcast or this episode on whichever podcast player or app you use. Share it with your friends and family, and if you want to support this venture even more, then as I say, join me on Patreon. Until next time, I've been Callum Bannerman and you've been listening to The Wandering Burger on Stories from the Hearth