The duo announced they are leaving Los Angeles last Monday due to the overwhelming impact of Covid-19. Lee has headed out to Milwaukee and Joey has returned home to New Jersey, where he grew up, to raise his younger daughter.
This is unsurprising given the mass exodus that we are seeing among celebrities in California. Another podcast star, Joe Rogan, is heading to Texas to be away from the mayhem that is Los Angeles.
The Church Of What’s Happening Now began its first year starting at 5.00 am, with Lee Syatt pulling all-nighters as he worked at his editing job and Joey Diaz hitting the bong for all of us to enjoy! A bit too early if you ask me, but hey, that’s half the fun isn’t it?!
The podcast mainly revolved around the tales of Joey’s criminal past and the lessons he learned and shared with all of us who tuned in. A parent-less immigrant and convicted criminal who spent several years in prison wanted to create a space to air his grievances, be truthful about who he is and show the impact of his past behaviours. More importantly he demonstrates that you can change, that people deserve a second chance and you can be a different person than who you were yesterday.
Lee Syatt, the producer of the podcast was only 23 years old when he joined Joey; it was a spectacle to behold as we watched him grow up in the church. From his old girlfriends, his addiction to lizard meat Subway sandwiches and tripping out on LSD with Ari Shaffir, Lee was always there for the church family to have a good laugh with. It was always good fun and never malicious. That is what the podcast was about: family, enjoying each other, having a good time and evolving.
Throughout the course of the show it evolved from the dynamic duo doing live podcasts from comedy clubs, having fans call in on the podcast and top level comedians, fighters and musicians. Joey would often have his old friends or previous criminal buddies call into the show and talk about the craziness and outlandish times they had while growing up in New Jersey and New York City. The absurdity of these tales must be heard first-hand to even believe them; and to have been verified by another party is amazing in of itself. From corrupt cops, the resort town of Snowmass village and dealing with out of touch Los Angeles people, the church covers it all.
Never scared to tackle pressing issues such as the Me too movement, Black Lives Matter or the death of his best friend Ralphie May, Joey and Lee had an ability to address these issues not in a comedic way but in an honest and down to earth manner. This gave an inside look into their own minds, their own experiences and circumstances.
It is my disposition that their raw style of podcast approach in being whom they were inside without trying to please or work an audience is what ultimately created their success story. No other podcast, in the history of podcasts will consume 2000 mg of THC live on the air for their fans to enjoy.
Other times it was as Joey Diaz playing an old record such as Black Sabbath or Judas Priest to drop knowledge on those younger generations who never experienced these world-renowned bands.
Of course many people know Joey as a traveling comedian who plays all over the country. Through the inside look he gave to his grinding away to becoming a comedian, from living off $8 a day, showering at the YMCA, living in a car, being homeless and parentless, Joey showed us what it meant to be to be down and out but also to never give up on your dreams and to keep pushing forward if that’s where you want to go. That was my biggest takeaway from the podcast – one day you could be sleeping in a park and another day you have a Netflix comedy special; life can change so fast as Joey reminded us all many times. You just need to put in the work.
As the podcast evolved so did Lee and Joey’s lives, with Lee being a bachelor and Joey now having young daughter, Mercy. Joey and Lee produced documentaries, number one comedy albums on iTunes, garnering over half a million subscribers on YouTube and a savage group of die hard church family members.
In the past two years the podcast again evolved to be more about practical advice, with less guests and more of Joey giving his real life examples on how to be a better person, getting out of bad circumstances and to believe in yourself. If anything, I connected more with this 55 year old criminal, than any other podcaster, simply because of his pure honesty and ability to verbalize what one has to do to improve their circumstances and their lives. Zero sugar coating, no attempt to appeal to the masses, just being your unique authentic self; which is all we should strive to be; a better version of ourselves each and every day.
With the recent podcast discussing the importance of family, working outside the box, reinventing yourself and following your heart’s desire, these are just a few of the topics the church personally helped me understand with another more experienced perspective.
Though it is unfortunate that the podcast had to end because of this pandemic, as cliche as it sounds all good things must come to an end and this is no different. There is talk that the podcast may happen once per month but it is unclear as of now. Podcast fans of Joey and Lee will forever be grateful for the morning joints, the stars of death and Tony Bennett.
I know that Lee and Joey will go on in their own separate worlds but hopefully will rekindle this connection perhaps in the future and podcast listeners will experience nostalgia.
As Joey Diaz always says, “much love; it’s a beautiful day to be alive.” Remember that.