Just wanted to share an incredible piece of writing a fan of the show emailed me in celebration of the 100th episode. I attached a screen grab of her email as well as cut and copied her actual essay below that. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! Thanks for being a part of the journey! Mick
And her is Rachel Newcombe’s essay…
THE MICK BETANCOURT SHOW
from rachel newcombe
100th Podcast Episode
This is what I’ve been telling my friends, patients and colleagues for the past year. “You will want to listen to this podcast,” I tell them.
I tell them if they listen to The Mick Betancourt Show they will not be disappointed.
How could I not fall for Mick, a guy whose podcast’s tagline is: Half Comedy. Half Drama. All Heart. There’s an important detail I tell my therapist friends who have gone to psychoanalytic institutes, I tell them Mick has established an institute too, The Institute for Advanced Hustle. Affectionately referred to as TIFAH. Although it’s not a psychoanalytic institute I tell my friends that Mick’s institute has many stories about civilization and many stories about its discontents. Life lessons that get to the heart of the matter.
Betancourt, host/headmaster of the institute created his podcast show from a life of absences. An absent mother who eventually landed in jail for bank robbery, an absent father who died in his early twenties, a grandfather who died in Mick’s arms when Mick was 14 years old, along with the absences of food, safe shelter, guidance or any form of maternal protection. Mick was a scrappy kid. But a scrappy kid who figured out how to survive.
I tell my friends that Betancourt entered my life through Paul Gilmartin’s podcast the Mental Illness Happy Hour, in May of 2014. I had no idea who he was prior to this podcast. But, when the interview with Gilmartin was winding down and Mick mentioned that he, too had a podcast I knew this would not be last I heard of Mick Betancourt.
“But who is he?” my colleagues ask.
I tell them, “Mick is the real deal.”
The minute I hear the words “real deal” come out of my mouth I know that it sounds like a ridiculous overused cliché so I explain why it works.
These are the things Mick is not:
Here is what Mick is:
I use the word kind twice. This is not a mistake. It’s deliberate. I have listened to Mick interviewed by other podcasters and even if a question seems inane or the host is “off the rails” (Mick’s term) he stays present and doesn’t get cranky.
My friend from New York listens to his first Mick Betancourt podcast:
“Of course you love him,” he says. Later I find out that he, too, has become a regular listener, this psychoanalyst friend of mine. We’ve started a club.
Mick often asks he guests “What is your walkabout?” He describes what this means in the recent episode # 99 with author Jerry Stahl. Micks wants to know how people navigate life, what propels them to walk on the earth, struggles, fears, dreads and hope.
Mick wants to get to know the essence of someone. I do too.
I think all of us on some level want to know how to be, how to wake up each morning and walkabout. How do we do it?
Mick’s podcast points us in that direction. Every Monday Mick gives us another opportunity to hear someone tell how they navigate the world.
I imagine someone asking me to describe Mick Betancourt’s walkabout and I immediately think of the lyrics from a Grateful Dead song:
“Uncle John’s Band”
Well the first days are the hardest days, don’t you worry any more,
‘Cause when life looks like Easy Street, there is danger at your door.
Think this through with me, let me know your mind,
Wo, oh, what I want to know, is are you kind?
This past September I make a plan to attend the LA Podfest and decide to email Mick to see if I can interview him. Mick doesn’t know me yet he responds quickly. “Of course,” he says.
So on a sunny Saturday morning in September I take my first Uber ride headed to Mick’s office in Studio City
This is my hustle.
Interviewing Mick Betancourt.
Nervous about getting stuck in traffic I leave the Sofitel in Beverly Hills early and begin talking to the Uber driver who I find out is a screenwriter. I tell him why I am going to Studio City and who I am about to interview. The driver asks me about the podcast. I describe an interview I just listened to and my Uber driver tells me he took an acting course with this man. Bobby Moresco (Crash, Million Dollar Baby) an Academy Award winning writer, director and producer. During his conversation with Mick, Moresco talks about his life that began in the Hell’s Kitchen section of New York City and how with perseverance, talent and hustle he found his way to Hollywood. It was fascinating. Energizing.
The Uber driver asks me about my life and when I tell him I am a psychoanalyst he tells me about an ex-girlfriend who went to school to be a therapist. Our conversation unfolds, we share stories and when it is time to go interview Mick we exchange business cards. Somehow this encounter that takes place outside of Mick’s office feels fitting. It makes sense. Mick is all about change encounters.
My friends start listening to TMBS.
“You’re right,” they tell me.
So what is it about Mick? What’s his story?
On his IMDb page you can quickly glace at his background: Co-executive producer for Necessary Roughness, Supervising producer for Breakout Kings, he’s worked on other shows –too, Detroit 1-8-7, Chicago P.D., Law and Order: SVU, and also he wrote his own movie, No Place Like Home.
My friend who is a recovering alcoholic listens to her first TMBS podcast.
When I run into her in the produce aisle of our local market we spend 20 minutes in front of the eggplants and carrots talking about the podcast she just listened to, the Nestor Rodriquez (comedian/podcaster/producer) episode. She loved it.
Another club member.
I knew she would like Mick. On his podcast Mick talks about his own struggles with alcohol and drugs, his path to sobriety and being in recovery. He speaks with honesty about his addictions and his guests often share stories about their addictions and recovery.
So here is what happens when I finally meet Mick Betancourt.
He greets me outside of his office, we go inside, and I settle down on a couch across from him. After seeing me fumble around with the recording gadget on my phone Mick offers to use his equipment to record it and later he sends me a copy.
I tell Mick I want to write a story about podcasting for the LA Times and that I want to ask him some questions. I ask if it is okay to have more of a rambling conversation and I am not at all surprised when he agrees.
So for the next hour and a half Mick talks and I listen. I talk and Mick listens.
Mick feels more somber, a bit more serious than he does on his podcast. But his presence is palpable. Within minutes I am following his train of thought, all else becomes quiet, there is just something about Mick that embodies a knowingness about not knowing, when he speaks there is just no artifice.
I hear stories about his childhood friends and their capers and I also hear stories about hunger, loneliness and fear.
Flying back to Seattle a few days later, thinking about my interview with Mick, a persistent thought plants itself inside my brain: Mick Betancourt has experienced far too many traumas for any young boy to endure. For anyone to endure.
Yet, Mick is not bitter. In fact, he leads with gratitude. A lot of gratitude.
Mick’s own hustle and how he figured out how to thrive is what motivates him to do a podcast each week. He interviews people who share their stories of how they became who they are.
What is hard?
What did you have to overcome?
What lessons do you want to share?
Toward the end of our conversation I ask Mick what it is like for him to do interviews and how he gets his guests to open up and talk about adversity and hustles.
Mick tells me, “I trade horses.” Embarrassingly, I’ve never heard this expression so he explains it to me. Mick believes that in order for his guests to open up and be more revealing then he too must be willing to do the same thing. Hence, trading horses. After listening to about 60 of Mick’s interviews this is what I know for sure, Mick Betancourt is a damn good horse trader.
Some of my favorite interviews are with Nikki Toscano; writer and producer, David Rodriquez; writer and director, Joe Sabatino; writer, director, pro football player. The majority of Mick’s guests are in the entertainment field but Mick also interviewed his hairdresser, Jason Edwards because he found his life story and hustle interesting.
There are a few interviews where Mick is laughing so hard he is gasping for air. I love these moments. One that stands out for me is an episode in December 2014. For the second time, Mick was interviewing Nick Santora, writer, producer, director, husband, dad, and author. I listened to Nick’s first interview and loved hearing how he went from New York lawyer, to his first writing gig for the Sopranos and all his shows that followed.
Nick had just come out with a children’s book, I Want an Alien for Christmas. Mick starting talking with Nick and listeners could sense that these two men had a history, a familiarity. Mick was trying to ask Nick questions and Nick was being silly, avoidant and quite funny. The more serious Mick got the sillier Nick became, farting noises included. Mick gave into the mood and joined in with the goofiness. I felt like I was listening to two fifth grade boys during recess except these two fifth grade boys have enough combined talent and energy to light up all of California.
I continue to tell my friends to listen to the Mick Betancourt Show.
Now, in addition to saying, “trust me” I add:
Mick is one of the most inspiring human beings I’ve encountered.
Congratulations on your 100th episode, Mick Betancourt.
I am truly humbled by her essay. I never imagined in a million years I would move somebody like that let alone try and do it a 100 times. Thank you all so much for being a part of this and THANK YOU Rachel for taking the time to let me (and now the rest of the listeners) what you think of the podcast!