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This week, you’re all gonna be in this experimental film! Provided, of course, that you’re a fan of They Might Be Giants (TMBG) (and are OK with film being… tape? Nevermind). What is it about this quirky musical group that has kept fans interested for over 30 years?

Next week, we’ll put on our robes and wizard hats to talk about fans of tabletop RPGs!

Episode outline

Fandom Facts

Origins:

They Might Be Giants (often abbreviated as TMBG) is an American alternative rock band formed in 1982 by John Flansburgh and John Linnell. During TMBG’s early years, Flansburgh and Linnell frequently performed as a duo, often accompanied by a drum machine. In the early 1990s, TMBG expanded to include a backing band.
Wikipedia - They Might Be Giants

TMBG is known for having an unconventional, experimental kind of music, has released 19 studio albums (including Flood which has been certified platinum), has created theme music for several television shows, and has produced children’s music.

Think you haven’t heard of them? Try one of the following:

  • Boss of Me (theme song of Malcolm in the Middle)
  • Dog On Fire (opening theme of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart)
  • The theme song for Oblongs, and The Wrong Coast
  • Birdhouse in your Soul, Istanbul (Not Constantinople), and Particle Man

Most Active:
Given that They Might Be Giants has been a band since the 1980s, it’s not surprising that the Google Trends data shows a pretty low amount of interest over time. To be fair, unlike many of the fandoms we’ve covered, interest in TMBG was already quite low in 2004. There was a huge spike in interest in July 2004 which corresponds to the the release of their album The Spine, and some smaller bursts of interest probably related to different album releases. Interest now is about 1/10th of the interest from 2004.

Size of Fandom:
They Might Be Giants has sold over 4 million records. Given that information and their 19 studio albums, a rough estimate of fans would give us between ~200 000 and 4 million.

A different (much lower estimate) that gives an idea of the dedication of fans might be the They Might Be Giants Instant Fan Club:

The Instant Fan Club returned for 2015 with an announcement in November 2014. There were initially 2,500 subscriptions available, which were meant to be available until January 5, 2015. All 2,500 spots were filled by December … In addition to the regular level of membership (250) introduced in 2012’s fan club, the 2015 IFC offers a third option “for folks on a budget”, Dial-A-Song Direct ($30).
this might be a wiki - They Might Be Giants Instant Fan Club

TMBG has over 330 000 likes on Facebook, over 65 000 followers on Twitter, and over 2200 subscribers on r/tmbg.

Around the world:
From the Google Trends data again, most fans of They Might Be Giants hail from English speaking countries: By and large, fans are from the United States, but there is also some interest in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and New Zealand.

Did you know that…

  • TMBG is the unofficial band of the TV Tropes Wiki?
  • Melissa Joan Hart (Clarissa Explains It All, Sabrina: The Teenage Witch) got a job because of TMBG:
    “I actually got the job for Clarissa Explains It All because of They Might Be Giants. The producer asked me about music, and I told them I liked TMBG (instead of popular bands like New Kids on the Block). He loved it, I got the job and then they worked TMBG into the show by putting the poster in the room.”
    this might be a wiki - Famous Fans

  • You now know that the band started as two John’s, but did you know that there was a period when there were only Johns and Dans? From 1998 to 2004, the band consisted of the two Johns plus Dan Miller, Danny Weinkauf, and Dan Hickey (Wikipedia - They Might Be Giants)
  • They might be big big fake fake lies? (What’re we gonna do unless they are?)

Last Episode’s Famous Last Words

T
What percentage of They Might Be Giants fans became fans via Tiny Toons?

Z
How many fan made music videos are there on YouTube?

G
After TMBG success with their dial-a-song service, has any band or musical act followed?

The Verdict

T is in.

G is in. 100% in.

Z is in.

This week’s spotlight

Mink Car Cover
At midnight on September 11th, 2001, They Might Be Giants released their album Mink Car. Unfortunately, some terrible thing happened later that day. Ten years later, a variety of internet-famous folks released a full cover album with the proceeds going to the FNDY Foundation.

Funds raised from Mink Car Cover will go to the FDNY Foundation, the official not-for-profit foundation of the Fire Department of New York, established to provide resources for the professional development, education, and training of members of the FDNY.
Mink Car Cover

Some of the artists on the album include Hank Green, The Doubleclicks, brentalfloss, and MC Frontalot.

Famous Last Words

This week’s famous last words around next week’s fandom, Tabletop RPGs!

G
Has stranger things given a resurgence to tabletop gaming?

Z
Is there much (if any) crossover between fans of things like Warhammer and Pathfinder? Do people tend to play one or the other?

T
Has anyone adapted Dragon Ball as tabletop game? (Not a Big Eyes Small Mouth game)

Where can you find us online?

We are everywhere! Most notably though, we like to hang out in a few places on social media:

  • If you want to help us to create more amazing fannish content, become a patron on Patreon; even as little as a dollar a month pledge really helps us out!
  • If you want to be part of our podcast (or just want to check us out), we record our podcast LIVE on twitch.tv every monday at 20:00 Eastern Time!
  • For all the latest updates, check us out on Facebook or Twitter
  • To see the latest hijinx from our conventions or even our daily lives and adventures, check us out on Instagram
  • For our latest convention updates, Let’s Plays, and other in-real-life video, check out our YouTube channel
  • We’re also on iTunes, and Google Play, and would love it if you could leave a review and rating!
  • if you want to reach us, and for some reason none of those work for you, try nick@thenickscast.com
  • You can check out our website; that will mostly bring you back to this stuff.
  • Everything is thenickscast, so if you can’t find us, go on your social network and search for that!
  • … You’re still looking for ways to reach out? You can also use the hashtag #fanthro on Twitter!

What is “Fanthropological”?

How did you read this far without asking this question?!

Fanthropological is an anthropological (ish) podcast where we bring the fan’s-eye view to you! Each week, we take a look at a different fandom, dig up interesting background, trivia, and history, and try to get to why it is that people are a fan. We also try to highlight good causes related to that fandom, and find interesting things that fans have created to share those to the world. Each episode is about an hour. Ish.

Who is “The Nickscast”?

We are the Nickscast! Three products of late-80s / early-90s pop culture who love exploring fandom and everything geek … who also happen to have been best buddies since high school, and all happen to be named Nick. Yes, we are super creative. Dare we say, the most creative.

Ahem

We are Nick Green, Nick Terwoord, and Nick Zacharewicz: We started the Nickscast as a labour of love, and as a place to entertain and to discuss our love of fans and fandom, and all that is shiny and interesting in that realm. It’s what lead us to start our first podcast, our satellite podcasts, Fanthropological, and so much more.

We want to help others learn more about different fandoms, and to create empathy with other fans: We dream of a world where other fans aren’t “those Weird-o’s”, but just folks with different tastes. A world where fandom is full of discourse and analysis, and there are plenty of tools and resources to help. Fans building communities to do good in the world. Because everyone’s a fan.

Credits

Sources

Music / Sound

  • End credits clip from “The End of the Tour” by They Might Be Giants on their Album John Henry
  • All music and sound for this week’s episode were provided by Nick Green!

Artwork

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