It’s been said that once a heroin addict reaches 5 years clean, they become “Unicorns”, because of their rarity. On August 13th, Dave turns into a Unicorn. The infamous host of Dopey, the podcast about drugs, addiction and dumb shit has gone 1,825 days without a drink or a drug. CONGRATULATIONS Dave! In addition to keeping himself clean, Dave has spent the last 5 years helping countless others around the globe get and stay clean thru the power of the Dopey podcast.
Dave started the show from his apartment on the Lower East Side of Manhattan when he was just when he was just 4 months sober. His partner Chris, who he’d met in treatment 5 years earlier, had seen Dave’s work on his project The Last Jewish Waiter and wanted to do something creative with him. They both saw the value in laughing at themselves and their addiction and decided to do a podcast on drugs, addiction and dumb shit.
Dave would explain to Vice, “We started the show because I do a million projects and Chris thought one would eventually catch on. I knew how great he was at telling stories and how crazy his stories were. I always wanted to do a podcast without exactly knowing what a podcast was. I just liked the idea of having a 'radio show' I was a huge fan of the Howard Stern Show and knew that Artie Lange's drug portion of the show was hysterical and fascinating. I had listened to those episodes while struggling with drug addiction and felt really kept company by them. I thought a podcast all about war stories would be entertaining so that’s how it all started. It evolved immediately because we were both in recovery.”
Originally the show wasn’t going to be about recovery at all,” Dave explains. “At first I thought it would be funny to do a podcast about the dumbest stuff that we had done in our addiction. That was the idea, and we stuck with that until we recorded an episode where we talked about some of the dumb things we had done, and I realized that we had to say we were in recovery, otherwise we’d be championing drug use. It was never supposed to be a recovery podcast; it became one and the recovery had to be part of the show to keep our conscience clear.”
In addition to keeping their conscience’s clear, they were inadvertently helping others. Dopey listeners were getting and staying clean as a result of the show. Listeners had come for the debauchery but they stayed for the recovery. Dave had gotten his family back and Chris was in school, on a path toward a doctorate in psychology. Dopey was primed and ready to ride off into the sunset.
Then, tragedy struck. On July 24 2018, after nearly 5 years clean, Dopey co-creator Chris died of an overdose. The specifics of the relapse will never be known but it is speculated that a leg injury was a contributing factor. Listeners were shocked and wanted to know what had happened.
“So many people stopped doing the things they were doing because this happened to Chris. And listenership grew, but listenership grew, I believe this because X amount of people had listened to the show and they kind’ve came in and out of the show, whatever. But when Chris died, they needed to hear what happened to Chris.”
Dopey was featured on This American Life about 6 months after Chris’s death and a whole audience was introduced to the show. This particular episode was so popular that it was played again a year later. Dopey appeared in several other publications as downloads increased and a Dopey Nation Facebook group sprung with over 3,500 members.
With 100 solo episodes under his belt, the show’s format is tight and Dave continues to pull in entertaining guests. Dopey surpassed 2 million downloads and each episode averages upwards of 20,000 listeners. Chris, who always had high aspirations for the show, would be blown away by the runaway train Dopey has become. With a heavy presence on Facebook, twitter and instagram and daily Dopey Zoom meetings, the Dopey Nation is a global force.
"It's apparent now more than ever that Dopey's main focus will be addicts living in recovery. Chris's legacy will live on through these episodes, and the lives he touched all around the world.”
Dave is hopeful about Dopey’s future, and continues to work arduously to “get out of the deli” so he can work on Dopey full-time. He has high aspirations for the show. “I want it to be the biggest thing in the world, I want it to cross over in a major way where Robert Downey Jr.’s on it, where Eric Clapton’s playing “Layla” on the show, I want it to be as big as it can be.”
New episodes of Dopey are released every Friday anywhere you get your podcasts. Also check out the new mini episodes, where Dave talks to members of the Dopey Nation, released every Tuesday on Dopey Patreon. Happy Birthday Dave and thank you for everything you do. Stay Strong Dopey Nation!