Diving in With the Queens of the Round Table

Aaron Goldschmidt and Francesco Sedita have been best friends for over 25 years, living in New York City, and always there for each other throughout a near lifetime of kitchen table chats—sharing stories about family, college, coming out to their peers, relationships, jobs, pop culture, and just about anything else that beckons their observation. Together, they are The Queens of the Round Table, hosts of the podcast of the same name.

Recently, AQ sat down with the incredibly humorous Queens for a candid chat about the concept behind QOTRT, friendship, and the art of modern communication. 

Francesco… Aaron… I’m honored to be here today with The Queens of the Roundtable. How are you guys, today?

AG: We are good.

FS: Hello.

AG: We’re fabulous and wonderful.

You guys have been friends for 25 years. Take us back to when you first met.

AG: Well, it is important that we’re having this conversation! It’s like an origin story.

FS: The first time we met–or at least the first few times we met–I wasn’t interesting or good enough for Aaron. So, I was ignored.

AG: He was not ignored! I truly only remember meeting him once, not twice! He did not leave a lasting impression, other than I thought he was a little shiny in the complexion… like sweaty, maybe nervous. You know, we didn’t become fast friends that first time. It didn’t happen.

FS: But there was a time before that that Aaron forgets. Oh well…. We met in a dorm room.

AG: Yes, it was the nineties. Yes! Then we really met and became friends in like June of 1994. That was our true meeting and becoming of friends–and that has happened very quickly from there on out.

FS: I think after meeting each other, like six weeks later, we traveled to Disney World together with a few other friends. It’s all very strange and we were doing a lot of drugs together. It happened quick.

It usually does, doesn’t it? You know, the interplay of dialogue between you both is really wild and very frenetic. I get the idea that you two have been communicating like this long before the podcast ever was an idea, right?

AG: Yeah. I think that was sort of the real idea behind doing the podcast, because we do feel….  I mean, everything in the podcast is enormously true. And one of the biggest things about it is that we have sat around the kitchen table for 25 years, just talking about literally anything and everything, from American Express bonus points to true, real family stuff, and true, real life stuff. 

FS: I used all my bonus points!

AG: Oh my God, me too.

FS: I used all mine to go to the Philippines. 

AG: Oh, look at that! That’s good…. I think that as we’re moving further into the podcast and learning more and getting better, I think that part of what we’re trying to figure out is how to replicate [and still make it focused] in that way that we are with each other…. How we can sort of translate that to a bigger audience and to other people is the goal—and getting other people involved in that conversation, because we’re kind of sick of each other by now, so we’re inviting other people into the conversation.

DA: Yeah, but friendship is so crucial to this podcast, isn’t it?

FS: I guess. [Laughs] I was thinking about replacing Aaron with somebody else. 

DA: [Laughs] So at what point were you guys like, ‘Well, let’s do a podcast’?

FS: I was drunk at a bar two holidays ago, in 2018, and I was talking to someone about whatever, and I texted Aaron based on something that I said in a conversation and I said, ‘We should start a podcast called Queens of the Roundtable.’ And that’s kind of all I had…. And then in 2019, we started talking and we’d started to just sort of have an organized idea and sort of sit around with our iPhones recording us, to kind of understand some things about it. And then we made the enormous mistake of buying microphones…. We used GarageBand in the beginning, in Season One. First of all, season one, episode one is mess. But Season One is riddled with not even audio that maybe is so noticeable or so good or so bad but is just riddled with me having nervous breakdowns about it, like every time we sat down to record [Laughs].

AG: I also just think that we wanted to work on a creative project together for quite some time and I think that we wanted one that didn’t really have [to be] high stakes…. With podcasts, it seemed right and the timing seemed good. It was a lot about just learning and taking the idea and really just trying to figure it out. 

In one episode, you guys talk about being of a certain age group where, you know about a lot of new media, but you don’t necessarily know everything about it. Like, everybody knows about podcasting, but how the hell does one get made? 

FS: I mean, with the audio parts, I sort of made it my mission [to figure it out], and it was not always the most glamorous ambition. But as far as actually sitting down and recording and actually talking, I don’t feel like there were any huge stumbling blocks. I think it was more sort of [finding the pace].

AG: I think that it was important for us to learn through the mistakes and the failures. I think it connected us more to the project. Even now, working with someone who is doing a little bit of the sound editing and cleaning up of the audio for us, we’re not really editing out the parts of the conversation that other people would probably edit out. You know, we’re leaving things in just organically…. We really started out, you know, mom-and-pop style and I think that ultimately connects us more to the project.

Were there specific podcasts that inspired either of you?

FS: Yeah, I mean the Dax Shepard podcast was really happening for me at that moment. I think he is an interesting, funny guy, in general, and I liked the interview style…. We both listen to a podcast by these two women, one a very good friend of Aaron’s. It’s called Bitch Sesh, and it’s about the Real Housewives franchise. 

AG: It’s really about multiple shows on Bravo, but it did start out as a breakdown of the Real Housewives franchise…. To be honest, I always thought the biggest podcasts were weird. I am really into music and I didn’t enjoy spending my headphones-on time listening to a podcast. Now that we’re doing one and we decided to do it, I started listening to more and there are some things that I like, some things I don’t. But every time we hear about one, or read an article on one, we’ll share with each other, saying ‘Oh, you should check this one out,’ and we’ll listen to an episode or two, just to get an idea of what other people are doing. 

Francesco, you’re a publisher—how does developing a podcast differ from the type of content you’ve created before?

AG: Wow. 

FS: Whoa. It’s interesting. That’s a good question. I mean, I think the podcast part of my brain that I’m developing is a very different one than the one that I [have] developed for so long. 

AG: You’re like a tech wizard now.

FS: I had done one thing, which is write or edit, for pretty much my whole life. And this thing is like a different compartment, and it’s more about creating and then sort of performing the creation.

AG: Also, we have to be our own producer. I think that in an ideal, fantasy world, someone would be hitting us up and producing our stuff in a way where we wouldn’t have to think about that. They would understand what our hook is, and they would sort of direct us along. So, he and I just sort of picked that up and put it on ourselves– and that is a wonderful thing. It’s also a bit of a bad thing, listening to ourselves, creating adaptations, and having to sort of hash things out together and figure out what is our shared vision. 

What advice would you give other people wanting to start a podcast?

FS: Don’t do it! [Laughs]

AG: I think it’s really just about diving in, because we learned a ton really fast.

FS: And my advice would be, because I still think that we’re working this out: in a culture now where there are 700,000 podcasts available, there has to be a spark at the beginning of it. You can’t just be someone who’s flipping on your computer, recording yourself, venting, and talking about your day, because that is maybe for your YouTube channel. On a podcast, you should really be trying to say something. You should really be a voice for people like you, for people in your community, for people that appreciate the things you appreciate. You have to understand yourself a little bit before you just sort of hit record to understand why you’re important–because, really, everybody’s important. Everybody should have a podcast. But also, nobody should have a podcast. You have to figure out why anyone would listen to you and what you’re saying and who you are. Not everybody’s ready to do that, but I don’t think you could have a successful podcast unless you’re working towards that kind of actualization.