By Jonathan Owens
Steve Lont takes the train daily to his office at a commercial construction firm in New York City. Dustin Saulsbury is self-employed and lives in rural Sanford.
What could possibly bring these two together? The Internet, of course. And the love for a popular television show from the early 2000s.
The pair formed the “Shutty Uppy: Let’s Talk King of Queens” podcast earlier this year to celebrate a show that has received less notoriety than “The Office” or “Seinfeld” but had a similarly long run. The podcast took off, finding a niche fanbase and gaining fans all over the world.
“King of Queens” ran a total of nine seasons from 1998 to 2007. Doug and Carrie Heffernan (played by Kevin James and Leah Remini) portrayed a blue-collar couple living in Queens, N.Y. Recurring guest stars included Carrie’s father, played by comedy legend Jerry Stiller, and Doug’s friend Spence, played by Patton Oswalt, among many others.
The Shutty Uppy hosts met by chance on a Facebook page for fans of the show. Lont posted that he was looking for a partner to start a podcast, and Dustin jumped at the chance. He and his wife, Andrea, had already gained some notoriety on Tik Tok for re-enacting scenes from the show.
“I saw his comment and said ‘he looks familiar.'” Lont said. “I had a few others reach out and say they were interested, but Dustin stood out because I had seen his Tik Toks.”
Steve is married with four teenage kids and Dustin, a baseball instructor in Sanford, and his wife have two young kids. While they live in different worlds, they find similar things they can identify within the show.
“It’s so relatable,” Lont said “It’s just a good half hour to turn your brain off and have a good time.”
“I didn’t really start watching until college,” Saulsbury said. “When I got out of college, my son was about to be born and I found myself watching it more. I was like ‘holy crap, I am Doug Heffernan.'”
Each episode of the podcast explores an episode of the show. The pair and a guest review the plot of the show, talk about the ratings and reviews for that episode, their favorite quotes from it, and quiz each other on trivia.
Its popularity began to rise amongst the King of Queens fandom almost immediately, and actual cast members began to take note.
“I post a bunch on social media about the show and I tag all the actors and actresses,” Saulsbury said. “They started liking the posts and so I decided to message them to ask if they’d be on.”
That led to episodes with four cast members so far. The first was Alex Skuby, who played Carrie’s boss, followed by Michael Kostroff, who has appeared in several shows like “The Wire,” “Blacklist” and “Law and Order: SVU,” Tyler Roth Hendrickson, who played Young Doug on numerous episodes, and Peggy Lane O’Rourke, whose credits include acting, directing and producing, and a stint on Seinfeld.
“People are starting to respond to us a lot more,” Saulsbury said. “We got Patton Oswalt to respond to one of our posts. That was cool.”
“(Oswalt) politely declined our invitation,” Lont added. “He was very nice about it.”
“One day,” Saulsbury injected. “One day we will have him on our show.”
“The ultimate goal would be to get Kevin James or Leah Remini,” Lont said. “With social media people are accessible now. It’s great.”
Just 27 episodes into a 207 episode series, Shutty Uppy has time to make it happen.
Tik Tok famous
The Shutty Uppy podcast isn’t Saulsbury’s only brush with internet fame. He is also a prolific Tik Tok poster, meticulously planning elaborate skits with his wife and kids.
He recently garnered more than 2 million views on a simple video with an allusion to his wife making unfortunate noises in the bathroom in the mornings.
“It just keeps going up,” Saulsbury said. “I don’t understand it. I work so hard on my videos. My wife hates it because I make them do things over and over. I get like 300 or 500 views. Then I do something stupid like a fart video and it gets 2 million.”
“It did take me 20 takes to get that face just right though,” he joked.