Offscreen, Rainn Wilson—Dwight from The Office—has become a kind of pop-guru for the Web 2.0 set. In 2009, Wilson and friends Joshua Homnick and Devon Gundry created SoulPancake, a media company designed to provide an interactive experience for people to “Chew on Life’s Big Questions” (says the tagline): religion, philosophy, art, culture, science, humor, life, death, you name it. And the refreshing thing about it is, while Wilson is of the Bahai faith himself, his organization is unaffiliated with any particular religion. So it’s a safely ecumenical space for atheists, agnostics, and the growing number of "Nones" to interact without any danger of proselytizing or religious inside baseball.
SoulPancake has produced a best-selling book and scored a content deal with Oprah’s OWN network, but it all grew out of a rather simple idea—a video series called Metaphysical Milkshake. Billed as a “travelling talk show,” Metaphysical Milkshake is as low-concept, high-appeal as Jerry Seinfeld’s web series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”: Basically, Wilson drives around in a beat-up seventies stoner van and picks up celebrities like Joseph Gordon-Levitt or lesser-known internet stars like blogger and “twitter funny girl” Kelly Oxford, (who calls his ride “a sweaty rape van”). Then he dishes with them about some deep and some not-so-deep stuff. And thanks to some cheap special effects, the van magically transports them wherever the guest wants to go.
A couple days ago, Wilson picked up conceptual prop-comic Demetri Martin (or the other way around). They gabbed about comedy archaeology, getting mugged for beliefs, and drawing the state of their souls. Watch the short episode above and subscribe to the SoulPancake YouTube channel to see them all and more.
Josh Jones is a doctoral candidate in English at Fordham University and a co-founder and former managing editor of Guernica / A Magazine of Arts and Politics.