Ashley Burdett spends her days as a hairstylist and her nights as a stand-up comedian. It might seem tempting, then, to suggest her passions are humour and cosmetology. But Burdett’s heart belongs to a deeper, more universal topic: Tom Hanks.
Since February, Burdett has been hosting the podcast Talkin’ Hanks. Every episode, she and a guest discuss a different Tom Hanks film, getting into why the nickname “America’s Dad” isn’t quite adequate to explain the actor’s global veneration.
“I originally started out wanting to do a podcast about Adam Sandler,” Burdett says of Talkin’ Hanks’ inception. “The Wedding Singer, Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore are three of my favourite movies, but every single other movie he’s ever made is total garbage. I wanted to know what other comedians thought about that.”
When Burdett discovered that there was already a podcast dedicated to Sandler’s filmography, she went searching for a new subject. Soon after, she found the true treasure she never realized had been right there this whole time.
“Last year, Tom Hanks was hosting Saturday Night Live for the (ninth) time. I was like, ‘Hanks, of course!’” Burdett says. “He’s had such a huge, long career and he’s America’s sweetheart. He can kind of do no wrong. I realized that out of his 45 or so film credits, I’d only seen 10 or 15 of them. I wanted to watch them all and talk about them with people.”
“These are done by a local crafter named Caitlin Schlamb-Sikora. When I worked at a salon where I was able to charge my own prices, her and I would trade a haircut for one of these.”
“My grandma did this one. When I was little, this painting was in her art room. Her and my papa moved to a new home. I asked if she still had this painting, but she’d given it away. The next year for Christmas, she gave me this. She’d painted it again from memory.”
If I Don’t See Something Really Goddamn Poignant Out There Today, I Will Fucking Snap
“This is done by JD Renaud. He’s a local comedian and artist.”
Tom Hanks shrine
“People forget that, in the ’80s, he mostly did comedy. Bachelor Party, Turner and Hooch, Splash. I just watched one, The Money Pit (from 1986). It’s a slapstick comedy, and his performance is so funny."
Fish tank owl
“I love owls. There’s like 1,000 owls in my apartment. Now when people see owl stuff, they just buy it and bring it to me.”
“This was my great-grandma’s. My dad’s auntie gave it to me knowing how much I liked it. I recently called her to thank her for it and she said, ‘That was your great-grandma’s. She loved owls.’”
Woman with piano
“My grandma had a whole space filled with weird stuff like this. When she passed away, each of us (in the family) went to choose something to keep.
Published in Volume 72, Number 9 of The Uniter (November 9, 2017)