'I actually did it': Comedian Ivy Le is an indoor person who hosts her own nature podcast
“I love nature shows so much as a genre of television,” Ivy Le says. “I’m obsessed with nature shows. I watch all of them – I watch the prestige documentaries by David Attenborough, I watch the trashy stuff like Monster Bug Wars and Hillbilly Handfishin’. I watch Naked and Afraid, I watch Alone.”
Le’s love of nature shows seems to be matched only by her hatred of actually being in nature. And those conflicting passions led her to create her own nature show in the form of the comedy/documentary podcast FOGO: Fear of Going Outside. “I love nature shows, but I think I’m watching them in a very like trainwreck, rubbernecking kind of way, maybe,” Le continues. “And I feel like those nature experts never ask the follow-up questions that I really want to know the answer to. And it just kind of got to a point where no one's gonna ask these questions unless I go out and do it myself.”
To answer some of those questions, Le became the host of what might be a unique creature in the nature show world – a show about the outdoors hosted by a person who genuinely hates being outside.
“I went hiking in season one,” Le says. “And it turns out hiking – it's just walking, Michael!”
I, perhaps unwisely, admit that I knew that, as I’ve been known to do a bit of hiking myself.
“You hike? Okay. You hike,” she repeats. “How did we let people like you rebrand walking?”
I thought everyone knew that hiking was really just outdoor walking, but now I feel a little guilty for not doing more to get the word out.
In the first season of the podcast, Le set herself a large goal and documented every step in her journey. “I tried to figure out how to go camping from square one,” she explains. “So in season one – spoiler! -- I did go camping. I did figure it out. I actually did it and I did survive.”
Looking to increase the stakes for season two – and emboldened by her resounding success at camping – Le set herself a bigger challenge. “And this season is about, I'm trying to figure out how to go hunting or die trying,” she says. “You know, once I survived [a camping trip], I was like, I mean, how much harder could hunting be? You know, to me, all the outdoors stuff… is kind of just one bucket that I call ‘white nonsense.’ I just don't have enough insight into the outdoors to understand the nuances and [that] there's actually much more than one bucket. There's many, many, many buckets of white nonsense that cannot be contained in one bucket.”
In her attempt to go hunting, Le had to deal with permits, encountered men who advised her on how to purchase and/or build her own gun, investigated the now-legal-in-Texas practice of hunting from a hot air balloon, and wound up as the first female guest on a different, more gun-centered podcast. And that’s just in episode one.
“There were even side quests I had to take that we couldn't even fit into the show,” Le says. “So no matter how much chaos we were able to convey of the real experience in audio, it was actually more. It was nuts.”
Have her new experiences in the great outdoors changed Le at all, making her less of what she calls an “indoor person?”
“Absolutely not!” she says with a hearty laugh. “I go outside when I’m being paid to go outside. The second I’m famous enough to get a show about doing something indoors that I love, I will be gone from the outdoor space!”
While her outdoor adventures haven’t made Le forsake her beloved indoor spaces, they have had that affect on some of her listeners. “Some indoor people have listened to the show and have decided that they're going to attempt to go outside, which was so not my intention,” she says. “My intention is Ivy goes outside so you don't have to.”
Le’s been a bit surprised that her audience isn’t only made up of fellow indoor people, though. “Outdoor people are probably half of the audience now,” she says. “And I'm just like, I don't know why you're here, but… as long as you take your shoes off before you come in, I guess that's fine. But, yeah, outdoor people are super into the show. I don't think they're learning how to pitch a tent from me or anything like that. [Sometimes] individual outdoor people reach out and ask about how can they make the outdoors more accessible to people like me. And I'm just like, man, you know, just stick a roof on it. I guess it's not my problem.”