Rainn Wilson Talks About Life’s Big Questions in His Web Series Metaphysical Milkshake

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.

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