AVC: You yourself are not a sports fan. Is that right?
PO: No. But nowadaysâ€”and I donâ€™t want to make some dopey cultural statement hereâ€”everyone can be, just by existing in society, a nerd like Paul Aufiero, because we all have a ship that we follow. Even if itâ€™s other people, like on MySpace pages, weâ€™re just as collective of enthusiasts now. That seems to be the world weâ€™re in. In a way, Paul seems like heâ€™s almost this old-school enthusiast, because itâ€™s not the Internet or the Twittering or the text-messaging. It is just flat-out, â€œI will go and worship this team in my own quiet way.â€ Which is a very real way, but itâ€™s almost a form thatâ€™s dying out now. Rob sees that type of fan sort of flickering a little bit.
AVC: Though you could say that he does create this â€œPaul from Staten Islandâ€ persona for the radio thatâ€™s related to him, but anonymous. In that sense, itâ€™s like an Internet persona.
PO: Oh, totally. Thereâ€™s something kind of beautiful about that pure love of things. Like, â€œIâ€™ll show that I love the thing I love by hating everything else.â€ Yeah, Iâ€™m not a sports fan, but I certainly am good to ask about film and food and literature and comic books, so thereâ€™s certainly a big part of that guy in me. And you know, look at the comment threads on The A.V. Club. [Laughs.] Full of delightful little Paul Aufieros. They either want to say how much they love this thing that is being written about, which I always think is beautiful, or what I think is even more beautiful, they have to make sure that the world knows that, under their pseudonym, they hate this thing. They think, â€œIâ€™ve got to go on record.â€ In their minds, there will be an afterlife where theyâ€™re presented with an inventory of everything they could have commented on, and are asked, â€œDid you step up and make your voice heard?â€ Maybe thereâ€™s like a weird commenterâ€™s nirvana. Is there anything different if you go into every comment thread to say that something sucks? How is that different from a guy who goes to church every single week and praises God and rebukes Satan? Thereâ€™s some weird afterlife that theyâ€™re doing time for.
AVC: They have to make their stand on every little thing.
PO: Exactly. â€œI want to be able to get into commenterâ€™s paradise.â€ [Affecting voice of God.] â€œWell, Dr.WhoFan07, there was a blog written in 2004 which stated that Tom Baker was not the best Dr. Who, and you did not get on the comment thread to say what a shithead the writer was. So because of that, you are denied access forever!â€