'This Would Be Heaven For Me': An Evening with Dennis Prager and Adam Carolla
Radio creates a one-of-a-kind intimacy between host and listener, so both men have cultivated profoundly loyal, if dramatically different, fan bases. It's fun to picture elderly Jewish ladies shuffling past tattooed frat boys in the lobby of the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center. Fans from both camps came from as far away as Arizona and Hawaii to see and hear their heroes.
As an example of the fond relationship fans have with Carolla: When he mentioned his Guatemalan nanny, you can hear someone say, "Olga!" (In Toronto, a photo of his step-grandfather flashed on the screen and half the audience bellowed the old guy's nickname, "Lotzi.")
Likewise, Prager's listeners came to know his parents, Max and Hilda, over the years. Listeners looked forward to his mother's annual appearance on the show, and they expressed their grief when she passed away. Meanwhile, the saga of Prager and his unlikely one-time fan Luke Ford is an object lesson in fandom gone horribly wrong.
Perhaps because of that very loyalty, I detected a little friction between the "teams" during question periods.
Some atheists in the audience responded sourly to Prager's positive comments about religion. A believer directed a cranky, corny "Hitler vs Mother Theresa" question to Carolla, and an atheist did something similar to Prager.
Overall, though, the audience expressed appreciation and enthusiasm. And why not? Carolla and Prager brought out the best of each other, during a wide ranging conversation about marriage, history, work, happiness, parents, the death penalty, pornography, welfare, the afterlife -- not to mention Little League and Jewish food.
Carolla's jokes inspired Prager to make some of his own, while Prager pushed Carolla to get serious.
Carolla fans who miss his extraordinary chemistry with Loveline's Dr. Drew will appreciate his rapport with Prager.
(And if you don't know what I'm talking about, spend a few hours enjoying pirated "best of" Loveline recordings compiled by "Superfan Giovanni" to see why these two equally unlikely partners deserve a spot in the Radio Hall of Fame. But a warning: these old shows can be addictive.)
We learn that Prager's wife can only fall asleep if what he calls "the Hitler Channel" is on in the background. Carolla compares Israel to the roommate who just wants to study but shares a house with five berserk meth-heads.
At the end of the second show, a fan addressed Prager, and spoke for many in the audience:
In the first show, you were saying you were gonna work on Adam, and get him from being an atheist to an agnostic and hopefully at one point, have a belief.
It's something I'm gonna hope that you do, as a believer, because hearing you guys talk, believing in heaven, I want you guys there. Because I would love to sit and watch this for eternity. That would be heaven for me.
(An Evening with Adam Carolla and Dennis Prager is a 2.5 hour audio recording, available from AdamCarolla.com)