Spending an hour listening to "After Action with Max and Paul" –a podcast about national security, military life, and other random bullsh*t – is like spending an hour with Max and Paul themselves. While you're listening, you genuinely feel as if you're hanging out with your best veteran friends... if your best veteran friends are prominent members of the Marine Corps veteran community, that is.
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Max Uriarte is the mind behind "Terminal Lance," a Marine Corps-based comic strip he created while he was still in the Corps. He also created Terminal Lance's crowdfunded offshoot, "The White Donkey." Since being published in 2016, "The White Donkey" has become a New York Times bestseller and Uriarte is working on an "omnibus" of Terminal Lance strips.
Paul Szoldra is the creator of Duffel Blog, the military-themed satire site that's so popular with active duty personnel, civilians, and veterans from of all branches. He just released Mission Accomplished: The Very Best of Duffel Blog, Volume One.
The two are very busy. And they are really good friends. And it shows as you listen to their podcast.
"Me and Max hang out quite a bit and we always have these conversations" Szoldra says. "We're just talking about the news or what's going on in the military space, and it always bounces around so much. One day we both realized, hey, we should record this. This might be something people would like to listen to. So, we did."
For all the joking about their other projects, they are extremely grounded in reality and it shows in what they choose to talk about — some of the most divisive wedge issues among the military-veteran community. The Trump trans-ban, North Korea, and whatever else may have come up that week, for example.
The issues many veteran-related blogs and websites are polarized about Max and Paul laugh and riff on – then they inject a dose of reality or humor to the discussion.
Maximilian: I think what's funny is men ... we can get super feminist, political about this because this is sort of a larger issue too. ... You know, men get so worried about women's genitals. They're like, "How are they gonna handle their period?" Let them worry about it.
Paul: They already go to the field. They already go to basic training.
Maximilian: "They're bleeding down there. I don't know, it's a problem. What are they gonna do? I don't think they should be there." I don't know. They handle it.
Paul: "And they attract bears. You know that, right? It's science. Okay?"
Maximilian: I think there could be a discussion about the logistical difficulties, but it's one of those things where we're so past the point of debate. You can't go back with it now. Right now it's more like, "How do I make this work?"
Paul: Yeah, and everybody's still yelling about, "Women shouldn't be the infantry." It's like, well-
Maximilian: They're already out there.
It's not all about serious issues with Max and Paul. The same conversation recounted above eventually evolves into a discussion about women in the infantry in "Starship Troopers," movies in general, and then dragons.
Tune in to the podcast to find out how.
As with most discussions that turn to politics, not everyone will agree with Max. Or Paul. Or Max and Paul. But what you get is a really hilarious and irreverent back and forth that will make even the most closed-minded person crack a smile. They may even rope in one of their Marine friends via phone or Skype (in their second episode, they call Jack Mandaville, star of "Range 15" and outspoken "former Marine").
"We're sort of both leveraging our kind of pseudo-celebrity status to get the coolest guests that we can get," Uriarte laughs. "We got a lot of great people coming on the show. Everyone seems to like it a lot."
But there is something for everyone, not just Marines. And not just veterans. Max and Paul are two very talented, educated, and witty individuals — and it shows in their work, especially "After Action With Max and Paul."
Here's Mandatory Fun's interview with Max Urierte in which he explains the "After Action" podcast.