Michelle Buteau And Jordan Carlos Dish About Their Exactly Right Media Podcast, The Circle, And More - Exclusive Interview

Brace yourselves, everyone, because Michelle Buteau and Jordan Carlos are back! The hit duo who brought the smash podcast "Adulting" to life are back on the airwaves starting June 8, and they're sure to take the podcasting world by storm yet again. After a two year hiatus, the host of Netflix's "The Circle" and the "Everything's Trash" actor are tackling some of the biggest issues facing us these days, bringing episodes with a twist of humor and the backing of one of the most prominent podcasting teams around: Exactly Right.

The brainchild of Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff, Exactly Right Media hit the ground running due to the success of shows such as "My Favorite Murder" and "Tenfold More Wicked." Now with an impressive roster of content all under the ERM umbrella, "Adulting" is finding a home among hosts including Paul Holes (#hotforholes), Steven Ray Morris, Bridger Winegar, and Chris Fairbanks — so to say that Buteau and Carlos are in good hands is an understatement.

Ahead of the first episode of "Adulting" dropping on ERM, we sat down with Buteau and Carlos to pick their brains about the podcast series, returning to the hosting gig after two years away from the mic, the issues facing our world, and so much more. Though we chatted about serious topics, heartbreaking news, and important issues such as how many pairs of underwear you should take on vacation with you, Buteau and Carlos had us absolutely cracking up — a sign that "Adulting" is just the series you need if you're looking to laugh at the world and everything in it.

How did Adulting find its way back on the air?

Before we jump into the details and the nitty-gritty of the podcast returning after two years, I'd love to know how you got started with this opportunity and how it presented itself to Exactly Right after two years of being off.

Michelle Buteau: I wish there was a more romantic way of saying it — just like when people ask me how I met my husband, I'm like, "I got drunk. It was a one-night stand." But the truth of the matter is that we wanted to bring the podcast back, but we didn't know how. We keep getting DMs from people who enjoy listening to the episodes over and over again from Season 1. We were asking other podcast companies, "What's up?" and it never felt like a good fit.

[We] didn't even think about ERM. Because I know the ladies and the other strong-ass boss women that worked there, one of their employees hit me up and was like, "Hey, you still want to do something with this? Is this a thing?" I was like, "This is weird that you asked me this right now, because we were talking to people that are not the right fit." I wish it was easier to find a place that didn't give a platform to nonsense misogyny, transphobia, whatever the f**k it is, but Jordan and I are like, "Where are the good people?" Then I'm like, "Oh, right — my friends, they have their own company." That's how it went down.

Jordan Carlos: She's leaving out one small paragraph, which was we had tried to shop it around. There were no good fits, and then somebody came out with her Netflix special, and then things changed. That's when ERM came calling and we were like, "Okay, this is a good fit." We didn't have to convince them to dance with us, basically.

That's a huge aspect because you're pros at the podcast — it's not like you were starting from the ground up. You had an established sound; you had established listeners. You were bringing quite a bit to the table, I would imagine.


Carlos: Indeed.

The hosts' individual success added another layer to their podcast

I did a little bit of research before sitting down with you –

ButeauUh-oh. I paid the parking ticket.

Your last episode was titled, "How many pairs of underwear do I pack for a weekend?" This is a very important life question.

ButeauIt holds up.

So much has changed since then and now — I think that came out in November 2019.

Carlos: I still don't think that the number of underwear that you should pack has changed for a weekend.

Oh, no. It's at least 20 pairs, right?

Carlos: Yeah. At least 20.

Buteau: It depends what kind of day you plan on having, honey. I don't know your journey. I have definitely left underwear or Spanx at a party or a bar — definitely stripped off Spanx at a friend's wedding and left it in the bathroom. Never had the audacity to ask for it the next day though. B***hes be like that. It's like, "No, this is where I leave you with Tina Fey. You left it."

Oh my gosh. With that in mind, was it daunting at all for both of you to take on this podcast again, especially given Exactly Right's influence in the podcasting community? [Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff] are big names. They're growing exponentially.

ButeauI don't think that was the hard part, because real recognizes real. We are not out here living in hashtags — we are fully-realized adult people becoming more and more adult in our mid-forties. I know we look so good because "Black don't crack" and "beige don't age"; I will never stop saying that. But it was time management, mostly, because the kids are getting older [and] the government's becoming less useful. There's still a quarantine. We're still less booked and busy, so that was the big thing. But we're all in good company, which is good.

Carlos: That was the hardest part. We had a lot more free time. It's probably the burden of success — Michelle's got a show on Netflix now, hold for applause — and I'm doing a show. Things just change. We had a little more time and maybe we didn't know. We're learning what overwhelmed really means, because we were like, "Child, I'm overwhelmed" — I had to take my child to the park. But now there's so much going on that it's insane, and when you pack on all the other realities going on, it's a lot.

Buteau: It's a lot. I don't know why we sound like Viola Davis in "Doubt" when we're tired, but okay. "Child," "overwhelmed" ... Who was I?

Carlos: I usually fan myself.

ButeauI bring out a tambourine — that's how I really worked through it.

What did Michelle and Jordan's early creative process look like?

Walk me back through how you came together and got the podcast back on its feet, and those early days collaborating with Exactly Right. Harking back to stuff that you'd done years ago, what were those early days in that creative process like?

Carlos: She had to hunt me down and find me. I was in a bad way.

ButeauHe was like the one Black friend in "Hunger Games" that said, "Do you want me to shoot you, b***h? Let's go." We do stand-up, but we love doing the live shows, so we did a handful of live shows. We even did a handful of live IG Story situations, because people were checking in on us, which was really sweet and necessary. You need to check on people. I was out here asking people for their favorite quote and they're like, "Uh-oh, we got to see if she's okay. She wants the quotes." We never stopped, but we always felt like this should be a thing, and I'm glad that it is now still.

Absolutely, and your podcast stands out for a number of reasons. It's not only hilarious. The two of you together is comedic goals, but also, it's full of lessons in this heartfelt way. With that in mind, the past two years have been so unpredictable.

ButeauTraumatic, if that's a word too.

I don't want us to get into too crazy of hardcore issues, but with the pandemic, are you planning on addressing it in the podcast? Do you think it will intertwine into topics in general? It has redefined so many aspects of life at this point.

ButeauIt has.

Carlos: I don't know. What do you think, Michelle?

ButeauWe've talked about it so much already in shows, even down to the single people that either are guests or in the audience — the fact that it is safer to suck a salty dick than hug your grandma. That's f***ing crazy. Let's talk about it. People who have been quarantined together, whether their relationship was on the rocks or not ... that has been fascinating, and the people who have found themselves or a new hobby or the "Eat, Pray, Love" of it all. 

"Adulting" is always this thing that we're going through together, and nothing is more collective than this COVID bulls**t. It's not like there's necessarily a COVID episode. It is what it is. Right now in everyday life, it's baked into all the things, whether it's your dirty mask or the person that felt comfortable enough to sneeze by you — don't do that — all those things.

Carlos: We'll never have an epidemiologist on it, but it's definitely a relatable experience.


Carlos: Yeah, now you get back to us. But it's more like we're all living this together. You pick universal things that are relatable and like the "kitchen table" issues that come up, which then maybe scaffold or ladder up to bigger ideas. That way, you make sure that you start with something that's eye level with everybody, and you're meeting everybody where they're at, and not trying to pull off or talk above people's heads.

The hosts of Adulting don't think the show is a form of escapism, but community-building

I'm mindful of the politicized nature of it, but I was wondering if you have plans to address any of the chaotic things that are going on in the world. It's always been chaotic, but ... even yesterday, that was the two-year anniversary of George Floyd. We have the horrific news coming out of Texas. We've got Roe v. Wade. Collectively, there are so many issues that we're facing that feel heavy, but I'm wondering if you have intentions of "Adulting" being an escape from that, or if you want to intertwine those topics and bring a comedic lens to it.

Carlos: I wouldn't ever think it's an escape. When I was a kid, I used to always be fascinated with the fact that people like Bob Hope would go out and perform for the troops during World War II. Those were people that were facing death every day, but they needed their spirits raised. Am I comparing myself to Bob Hope? Yes, I am.

ButeauPlease do, hun. Please do.

Carlos: Yeah, I'm doing it. But what gets lost in the sauce is the people's experience, because we are buffeted by so much and looking for control in our lives, and it's not there. At least in our live shows, it almost feels a little bit like church. We're going to get to it, but we're going to be together in it.

We understand that so much of our democracy is under attack, but for these moments, it's not an escape. It's not an escape. It's that in this space you can find like-minded people that relate to you and see you eye-to-eye — and hopefully empower you as we, together, collectively, walk on. It's that we march together, that we make calls to our intransigent government together, that we strap it on and do what we have to do every day together. But we can make you laugh, and also deliver a message, and give you encouragement as well.

Buteau: It's so hard to not make a strap-on joke. But that was beautiful.

Michelle and Jordan intertwine comedy with real-world issues

It makes me think of "My Favorite Murder," which was the child of Exactly Right. In that show, Karen [Kilgariff] and Georgia [Hardstark] specifically address hard issues — mental health, addiction, the politics of taking a life. It can be so heavy, and they present it in a way that's funny and heartfelt and also very poignant. I've learned some incredible lessons from listening to them. I've listened for three, four, five years now.

ButeauWow. That's amazing.

Carlos: To be able to handle and to go through the sine curves ... That's the thing about comedy. The thing that makes it show a little bit different is usually ... In comedy, you want to keep it laughter, laughter, laughter. But thankfully, with a friend like Michelle — someone I can trust and someone I've known for so long — we can go through the sine curves of emotions. You can cry on stage because there is so much pain and there is so much trauma that we deal with every day. We all play our parts in the struggle, and in the journey and looking for connection within the show, sometimes it's going to get uncomfortable. 

I'll give one example. Something Michelle dislikes is the notion of Zwarte Piet, which is in Holland. If there's a Dutch person that's come to see her, she'll call them out. She'll call them out and she wants to know — she'll take an inventory of how they feel about it. Does it make my butthole pucker? A little bit, but we'll get through it. It's important to Michelle. It's important to Michelle, just like I brought up my friend's suicide, and five minutes later we were laughing because that is life. I've grown stronger as a performer and comedian because of this show, because sometimes you have to have –

Buteau: An outlet.

Carlos: Tough conversations.

Michelle and Jordan reflect on the struggles facing today's society

There's something so poignant about presenting difficult experiences and then seeing the silver lining of it. The fellow Netflix special comedian Hannah Gadsby is one of my favorites, with her breakout in "Nanette." She presented horrific experiences and had us crying laughing in our seats by the end of it, which is such an art. There's such an art to what you do.

Carlos: What do you think, Michelle?

ButeauI appreciate you saying that because a lot of people will deem it as not comedy. It's like, "Look, it's not that we can't be funny. We can be funny as the day is long, but if you're not sincere, if you're not talking about real s**t and at least your experiences, then what is the point? There is no point. Do something else." Especially in this climate, especially the PTSD off of Trump and everything that continues to happen, it would be crazy for us three Black performers — we have a really great in-house DJ called Don Will, who's amazing.

But I'm performing with two Black men on stage. "What's your experience every day, walking down the f***ing street?" That would be crazy not to bring up, for better or worse. Everyone is feeling that. People have worked so hard to be in those seats, and by that, I mean they have isolated themselves, they have followed the rules, they have worn the mask, they believe in science, they have gotten the vaccine.

Those shows, especially the live shows, feel so much more important because we've all worked really hard to get to be in that room together. You'll feel that when you listen to the podcast more than before. Before, it was very fun, but this is a bigger space, and it's more meaningful.

Also, what I love is that because of COVID and our schedules, we get to do a lot of in-studio recordings and remote recordings, which has been really fun for us because that's what we do anyway. But there's always rosé and a couple of kids involved. So let's record it and make some money and change some lives.

What do Michelle and Jordan want live-audience members to take away from Adulting?

You have a live show coming up June 5. With that in mind, this is a new foray into your live show space. What are you hoping people will take away from that experience specifically?

ButeauAll the things. A really good show or a good song will have you quoting it. Whether it is you see yourself in that question or you learned something you didn't know before, or ... My favorite thing is when people actually get to think outside themselves, because one thing that was evident to me in the pandemic is that everyone was really out for themselves. 

I think about what life is like for someone that doesn't look like you for two whole f***ing minutes, whether we're talking about gender or race or whatever the f**k it is. What we need more than ever — we as people — is f***ing compassion for someone who doesn't look like you. I hope people take that away too, and then also have a good f***ing time. Wear something cute. I'm so tired. Look, you have a closet full of clothes you haven't worn for two f***ing years. Put something cute on. I'm not saying you have to iron it, but come correct.

Carlos: Exactly. I like to see the face of the people that are real customers. That makes me happy, and it makes me think that I'm doing something beneficial for people, that people are actually getting something out of what I'm saying.

I can't wait to see Michelle's new outfit. Michelle always comes with a new 'fit. It's always a good time. And then she always gets her rosé with ice. It makes me think that even in a dark time ... Listen, you can't have light without darkness. Even in a dark time, we create that light, and it's always good to have that moment with Michelle. Honestly, it's just a catch-up, and y'all are invited. That's what it feels like with [Michelle]. I can't wait to catch up with my homegirl, because she's sleek. Catch her if you can.

ButeauThey can't. I'm like Leo DiCaprio in all them movies.

Carlos: I just want a good hangout. We've had ... Michelle, didn't somebody almost die at the last show that we had?

ButeauOh, yes.

Carlos: We still had a great time.

ButeauWell, they got in the ambulance safely. If you didn't do the follow-up, and you're like, "We still had a good time," party over his body ... no.

Are you guys coming to LA for a live show at any point?

Carlos: I have a sweet tooth for [venues] Largo and Dynasty Typewriter, so I'd love to do those places. But to answer your question, I hope that people get encouragement. Our shows are all about encouragement and checking in. I hope that we've gotten through this. We're all still here. We're going to put one foot in front of the other, we're going to fight for getting back to just basically zero in this country ...

ButeauLike an emotional weight trainer. Let's go.

Carlos: Absolutely. Give me three more.

Michelle dishes about her experience hosting The Circle

Michelle, I love "The Circle." I've watched it since Season 1. Can I pick your brain about that experience and this season that just dropped? We've got an amazing cast of characters. I'm excited to hear about that experience of what that has been like for you. Did you predict ... what, four seasons later? Five seasons later?

ButeauIt's been picked up for a fifth, so there will be five seasons on Netflix. That's amazing. It's made by a British production company. They're so wise when it comes to social experiments. Incorporating social media is ... You have to deal with it whether you want to or not. It's very fun being a part of the show because I'm my sassy, snarky self, and they're like, "More, please." I'm like, "Absolutely." 

It's very fun working with the British company too, because I'm able to add the -isms that a British person couldn't. I love the casting. I get DMs all the time: "Can you hook me up with the show?" No, I cannot. I love you, you're great, you are enough. I have nothing to do with casting. 

They do a really good job at it. They do a really good job at producing a different strategy every season. The Spice Girls took me out. I had no idea. They send me cuts to watch, and I have no idea what's happening until I'm watching it too. And I love who won. I don't want to give spoilers away, but ...

Carlos: Uh-oh. Scoop.

ButeauI love who won.

Carlos: Who won?

ButeauDid you watch the finale?

I haven't yet. I can't wait.

ButeauI cried. I was like, "Stop crying. No one's here for that," but I cried.

Jordan reflects on his comedy career and upcoming projects

Jordan, I wanted to talk to you about your career. You've done "The Colbert Report," and you were on "The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore." Your career has centered around comedy, but in what ways are you hoping to excel from this podcast and then challenge yourself creatively moving forward?

Carlos: That's great. This podcast definitely gives me a lot of fodder for the cannon. It gives me scenarios, situations, and affirmation that I'm not crazy. It helps me trust my gut a lot more because of connection. I take that into my writing, so right now, I'm writing and acting on a show called "Everything's Trash," which will premiere July 13 on both Hulu and Freeform. I play a dad in it, and a brother, and I've taken a lot of the real-life situations that are in a marriage and I bring them there. I've also written for the lovely Michelle Buteau before, for "First Wives Club." I took a lot of experiences [from] Michelle and being on "Adulting."

ButeauThat's all we should say. Oh my God, what a great interview. Thank you, everyone.

Carlos: You can't bottle sass, but you can definitely try. I tried to bring that to the scripts. That's what it does for me. You have a little notion in your ear, like the germ of an idea or a joke, and then you try it out on a show like "Adulting" and then maybe bring it to another platform.

The first episode of "Adulting with Michelle Buteau and Jordan Carlos" will drop on Exactly Right on June 8.

This interview was edited for clarity.