We may be ready to welcome 2024, but for many of us, our hearts remain in the 90’s. In the last few years, there has been a resurgence of 90’s and early 00’s culture, from clothing to television shows. One of the best call backs to the 90’s are these “rewatch” podcasts that are cropping up. Mark Paul Gosselaar started a “Saved by the Bell” podcast called “Zack to the Future” in which he brought in a critical fan to co-host with him. Andrea Barber and Jodie Sweetin have “Hola Tanneritos!” which they co-host as they walk down memory lane episode by episode of Full House. My personal favorite has been “Pod Meets World,” hosted by Danielle Fishel, Will Friedle, and Rider Strong who were 3 of the 4 stars of the 90’s sitcom “Boy Meets World” (BMW). 

If you didn’t know, BMW basically raised me, along with a few other 90’s shows. Naturally, when this podcast came up, I jumped at the chance to follow it and meticulously listened to every episode after watching the corresponding BMW episode. I have become so invested in not only their stories about what filming was like, but their lives on and off stage as well. 

Something that Pod Meets World has done, which most other rewatch pods have not, is tour. When they announced the “Kids Wanna Jump” tour, I was floored. They came to LA in November and it was every bit as fabulous as I could’ve expected.

If you listen to Pod Meets World, you know there are a ton of inside jokes, some of which have stemmed from the BMW days, and others which organically came about as the show went on. Picking out these hidden and not so hidden gems is a big part of the fun of listening to the pod, and was absolutely a huge piece of the live show. 

What I loved most about the live show was that it wasn’t scripted, and it wasn’t routine. It was not merely the hosts doing a “rewatch” episode live or even them bringing on a guest for the bonus interview episodes they do regularly.  Each live show has its own character and its own story, and they are all a bit different. It is almost as if we are attending a game night with friends. 

When I arrived, I perused the merchandise, toying with the idea to buy. Each of the items is a call out to some joke they’ve brought up with the show, so each item had a different memory attached to it. After spending some time looking through the merch, I walked into the theater and found my seat. I had jumped at the chance to attend the show when I saw a single front row seat available. I had no need to bring a friend along, I was happy to join this audience on my own from the comfort of that great seat!

Of course, I sat down and others around me were immediately chatty. The fandom for Pod Meets World is friendly, almost as if we are old friends. Much like it feels when you get the chance to chat with Danielle, Rider, or Will. That down to earth feeling is a staple of the 90’s and perhaps one of the things we are searching for in the nostalgia.

As we were waiting for the show to start, I heard a scream coming from backstage. A collective yell from at least 3 voices. Immediately, audience members, myself included, sat at attention. The signature scream that preceded the BMW taping now also starts the Pod Meets World live shows. The adrenaline that sound sent through me, the anticipation, knowing they would be coming out any second.

And then they did. Danielle Fishel, Rider Strong, and Will Friedle graced the stage to a roaring applause. A quick hello and then a word from Danielle: we are heading back to the 90’s which means, no phones! Initially, the panic sets in. “How will I document every second of this night if I don’t have my trusty phone!?” Danielle reminded us that one of the most charming parts of the 90’s was that we were not glued to devices at all times. But, before we were forced to put away our phones, we did get 1 opportunity to take a few pictures of the cast on stage. And from then on, the phones were put away, and it was officially 1994.

One of my favorite parts of the podcast, which also showed itself in the live show, is the banter between the hosts. The response Danielle and Will Friedly gave to Rider Strong’s story about renting an apartment which had to have been previously occupied by a dominatrix was comical. Of course, it was difficult for either Danielle or Will to follow up that story, but hearing about their early LA days was a nice cherry on the podcast.

Of the many stories they told from the time of their BMW days, one I had never heard before was the “boyband” performances that cast members did regularly. Fishel divulged that Strong, Friedle, Ben Savage who played the “boy” Cory, and Matthew Lawrenece, who joined the cast in season 4 as Jack Hunter, would open each tape night as a Backstreet Boys cover band. The best part? They had footage…the audience was treated to film of these 4 performing the iconic “I Want it That Way”. The clothes came off and the voices toned up and it was nothing short of amazing…

The live Pod Meets World shows are known for their costume contests. Some of the costumes attendees come up with are stellar and on point with the inside jokes of the show and podcast. The hosts glanced through the audience and pulled a few on stage so that the audience could vote for their favorite. Of course there were a few Cory, Shawn, Topanga, and Erics in the audience.  Probably my favorite from the LA show was the set of incarcerated audience members, (which is a call back to Friedle recalling that one live taping of BMW included a field trip from a local prison which Fishel and Strong remember nothing about). Sadly, my costume (Dean of Boris college-the fictional college that Eric ‘gets into” his senior year before realizing it is fake) did not stand out in the crowd, but got a great review when I was able to talk to the hosts later in the night.  More on that later. 

No Pod Meets World live show could ever be complete without a live retelling of a scene from the show itself. Of course, there is an important missing character so auditions had to be held to find the right Cory. Three audience members were chosen and given a famous line that Cory had said in the show. Each gave their interpretation and the hosts and audience chose the winner. After a wardrobe fitting, Fishel, Strong, Friedle, and “Cory” played out a scene in which Cory and Topanga got married. Likely the most entertaining part was the fact that the audience member was able to spontaneously complete Cory and Shawn’s long and drawn out handshake step by step with Strong. It was a solid performance indeed.

At this show, there were some amazing guests. Not only dd they have BMW royalty, William Daniels, who played George Feeney for the duration of the show, but they also had Daniels’ wife Bonnie Bartlett, who played the Dean in the later seasons of the show, as well as Full House sitcom starts Andrea Barber and Jodie Sweetin. Sweetin and Barbere talked a little about their own sitcom as well as what it was like to be on set at a famous show in the 90’s. The two casts then had to review pictures of cast members from the opposite show and give context to who they were in the show. This was made much more hilarious by the fact that none of the cast members of either show had watched the other show at all. Listening to each of them come up with a completely random interpretation of a picture on the wall was hilarious and wildly entertaining. Watching Rider Strong, who has admitted time and time again that he was not into the pop culture shows of his heyday fabricate names and backstories for pictured Full House cast members was a highlight of the night. 

A very personal touch to the show was William Daniels’ attending a live Q and A during the show. William Daniels was a man of very few words, but when he spoke, the entire theater became silent and listened. The amount of reverence the rest of the cast has for him is a joy to see. Daniels shared what he considered his most memorable line of the show: “I love you all”, which were the very last words uttered in the 7 season series. Daniels talked about his character, Feeny, being very careful with his words and actions around his students, but those last words embodied his true feelings for these particular students. It was really nice to hear him speaking about his character and his relationship with his students. 

Another nice touch to the evening were the individual characters each of the hosts displayed. Friedle reprised his role as “Plays with Squirrels”, a nature-loving, free-flowing side to his BMW character Eric, who made an appearance in the last season. As small as his time was on the show, his impact was quite high. Strong approached a dark stage, shy and timid, and began reading poetry to the crowd. A nod to his character and himself, it was a nice appreciation for an art that was overlooked when we were kids watching the show. Fishel ended the show, coming out dressed as her season 1 character and performed the routine to “Donut in the sky”, which remains a famous scene between Fishel and Savage. This scene in the show was one which cemented Topanga as the strange, off the wall girl that would eventually steal Cory’s heart. Of course, Strong and Friedle had to join the party since this was the end of the show, and came out with streamers, jumping and dancing around Fishel as she finished the poem. 

Following the show, those who had chosen to purchase VIP lined up for their chance to Meet and Greet Fishel, Strong, and Friedle. It seemed that every person in the theater had chosen to do VIP, and for good reason. These 3 are a joy to talk to and really make you feel at home. When it was my turn, I had a chance to say hi and hug each of them, before explaining my costume. I showed them my T-Shirt which had my made up Boris College logo on it, my name tag that included my title of Dean, and the 3 certificates I held in my hands. In the show, one of the jokes was that the college shipped out it’s diplomas a day or two after the acceptance letters, which was a signal to Eric that it wasn’t a legit institution. Each of the hosts received a printed (and then crossed-out and hand written) diploma signifying their time at Boris. This earned laughs from all of them and Friedle even asked if they could hold up their certificates for my picture. 

Before I left them, I got a chance to remind them that they are inspirational humans for so many reasons, including the ease with which I can relate to Fishel and Strong’s stories of parenting in the world we live in, as well as Friedle’s courage in sharing about his mental health struggles. Those few minutes with the hosts was a precious ending to a fantastic night. One I hope to emulate again some time. 

The Kids Wanna Jump tour is still going and you can get tickets to see them live HERE

If you can’t make a live show, check out the online streaming through VEEPS of their 30th anniversary Live show in the hometown of BMW, Philadelphia. 

And make sure to check out the podcast wherever you stream your podcasts!