You could just tell there was a mind meld between Howard and Mayim Bialik when she appeared on his show Feb. 25 (I just heard it on replay. Love that Sirius app).
This is what's so remarkable about Howard. His show pivoted from a deep discussion with Mayim to a very in-depth rundown of this year's Anatomy Awards, handed out by a web site named MrSkin.com to best portrayals of female nudity in current film and TV. (In that spirit the list of Jewish Anatomy Award winners below after the audio-- kvell away).
Mayim, turns out, is a big Howard Stern fan. She tweeted that her appearance was a career highlight, and you can hear it in her voice, she was pumped.
You could also hear in Howard's voice just how into her he was: two very smart Jews, both veteran wrestlers with tradition, with overhearing Jewish mothers, with societal expectations, with the Industry. When Howard nailed Mayim's mother reaction to her divorce, I felt like I was crashing their group therapy.
But it was a group therapy where one sounded like the other. So similar were these two, you could actually play a Stern Show-like game: Guess who said the following lines, Howard or Mayim:
"Any interaction with our mothers annoys us! When it's good it's bad."
"I have a lot of thoughts. I like to learn."
"I'm a neurotic Jew. I need people to love me."
"You're a very intense man/woman."
Answers: Mayim, Howard, Mayim, Howard. But, truthfully, it could have gone either way.
The Howard of 10 years ago would have ridiculed Mayim for her beliefs-- strict veganism, attachment parenting, no diapers-- but the new Howard is himself much more of an explorer. He doesn't eat meat, except for fish, he follows a healthy lifestyle (who didn't buy Dr. David Agus' book after hearing Howard's interview?). Rather than just going for cheap ridicule, he pushed and probed at Mayim's beliefs, challenging but not demeaning. And Mayim-- one of those rare Howard guests who is as sharp as the host-- was more than up to the challenge. There was almost a father-daughter Jewish dinner table dynamic going on (if your dinner table were miked and your daughter had a PhD in neuroscience).
Mayim's explanation of her Jewish tradition was as succinct and thoughtful a pitch for identity and tradition in a secular world as you could hear. The fact that millions of people heard it-- it just makes a brilliant case.
"It's an ancient religion we do a lot of very strange things," she said. But "having a notion of something bigger than myself," she said, keeps her grounded.
She even gave a spirited defense of the "transitional ritual experience" of the mikveh, the Jewish ritual bath. Which, for some reason, Howard thought was filled with milk. (It's not, and here's a picture to prove it.)
My favorite throwaway moment? Listen below to the part where she talks about being a vegan, and she tosses in that she can eat "meatless cholent." How many listeners could have caught that one?
Listen in below:
The (Jewish Anatomy Awards
Culled from the list by MrSkin.com
In the spirit of the Howard Stern Show, we now turn our heads from a deep discussion with Mayim Bialik to the Jewish winners of this year's Anatomy Awards. Those of you prone to be offended, please click over to one of those safe, earnest and boring Jewish web sites now.
Best TV Show - Masters of Sex (Only the winner because of Lizzy Caplan)
Best Pearl Necklace - Shiri Appleby in Girls
Monster Muff - Gaby Hoffmann in Crystal Fairy
Best Handbra - Sarah Silverman in Susan 313