Of Nudists And Bonobos: "Wedlock Takes Relationship Comedy To Some Wild Places
In a new Audible comedy series, married hosts Kurt Braunohler and Lauren Cook explore the lighter side of couplehood.
April 21, 2017
Kurt Braunohler and Lauren Cook first connected on Twitter back in 2012. Cook, an actress, had seen Braunohler, an actor and comedian, doing a stand-up set a local comedy club. She was instantly taken with the handsome redhead and followed him on the social media platform. He followed her back.
“When we finally met in person at a concert in Brooklyn, he said, ‘I know who you are!’” Cook recalls. “But I’m not sure if he did.”
“Of course I didn’t,” says Braunohler.
All’s well that ends well. The two hit it off and, after a year of dating, moved to Los Angeles to make a go of it in Hollywood — a big change. Then they got married in 2014 — an even bigger change. And two weeks ago, they faced their biggest change yet: The birth of their daughter Olive (“Like in a martini,” offers Cook).
The arrival of their firstborn has shifted the dynamics yet again, bringing a mixture of joy, disorientation and, yes, a touch of fear into their relationship. In other words, it’s precisely the kind of milestone their new Audible series, Wedlock, seeks to explore.
Forget everything you think you know about relationship shows. Wedlock will not feature pop psychologists spouting the latest buzzwords or sharing tired tips for spicing up your love life.
For an episode on monogamy, they visited a bonobo habitat — the least monogamous of all primate species.
“The idea is to take one theme per episode and just blow it out,” explains Cook. “We want to explore the full spectrum of that topic.”
And explore they do. Braunohler and Cook take a gonzo — they call it “experiential” — approach to tackling the subject matter. For an episode on monogamy, they visited a bonobo habitat — the least monogamous of all primate species.
“They have sex like 57 times a day,” Braunohler offers with the authority of a Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdomnarrator. “Their hellos, their goodbyes — they just fuck each other. You won’t find that on other relationship [shows].”
Indeed you won’t. Nor are you likely to attend a tantric sex workshop. (The couple later tests out Sting and Trudie Styler’s favorite lovemaking technique and delivers a full report.) Nor will you be taken on a tour — mercifully, an audio tour — of a nudist resort, where Braunohler and Cook strip to their birthday suits in service of an episode on dealing with change.
Says Cook, “We wanted to explore what would happen if suddenly your partner decides to become a nudist.”
The show is not afraid to go to places that might make its audience — or even its hosts — uncomfortable.
In that same episode, they interview a man who married a woman — only to then learn that his wife identified as a man and intended to undergo gender-confirmation surgery. An inspirational coda: The couple, both now male, remain married.
The show is not afraid to go to places that might make its audience — or even its hosts — uncomfortable. So the monogamy episode also tracks down a live webcam model.
“She has multiple relationships with married men,” explains Braunohler.
Cook corrects her husband: “She doesn’t have multiple ‘relationships.’ She has multiple clients.”
“According to you, they are relationships!” he counters. “Maybe not physical relationships but emotional relationships with multiple married men.”
Cook reluctantly concedes, but not all of their disagreements are so efficiently resolved. And so they also dedicate an entire episode to fighting, in which they consult with an actual hostage negotiator for tips on how best to talk a partner into putting down the pistol or stepping off the ledge — figuratively, one hopes.
Beyond just entertaining and informing — two things at which Wedlock consistently excels — the point of the show is to let listeners know that any relationship hurdles they encounter are ones people have grappled with since the beginning of time.
“When you’re in the middle of one of these problems or issues, it can feel very isolating,” says Braunohler. “Wedlockis not necessarily trying help you get over it but to let you know you’re not alone. We’re saying: ‘Look at how many ways people have gotten over this issue.’”
Just as in any healthy relationship, Wedlock’s secret weapon is its humor. That’s something that comes quite naturally to Braunohler, a seasoned stand-up comic and podcaster who has appeared in his own Comedy Central special and just about every late-night talk show.
“I think what’s nice about having a sense humor is it allows you to be more communicative,” he says. “If you can make fun of yourself, you can say things that might make you feel uncomfortable. Being vulnerable and open is often very funny.”
And on that, he’s pulled away by Olive, who’s crying out for her parents from the next room. It’s a comforting reminder that change is good — for relationships, yes, but especially for diapers.