The biggest problem with Leykis is that he spends about 1/3 of his time in full blown, self-caricature. He tries too hard to appease the baby-dicked misogynists who compose a good chunk of his audience. These are the guys who’ve never had sex with anyone but the woman they married and don’t love. Or the thirty-eight year old, pot bellied singles who like to pretend they are players, when in reality, they’re best known as “that creepy guy at the end of the bar.” They listen to Leykis tell it how it ain’t—at least for them. The sexual conquests; the high paying job; the slutty babes; all waiting for men of power, such as they wish they were. They love to hear Tom call a female caller a “bitch” and put women in their place, because lord knows they can’t do it. Leykis will say and do almost anything to make these guys feel good. The low points come when some absolute jackass calls in to offer a freshly picked nugget of stupidity. They guy might be an illiterate, a racist… it doesn’t matter. As long as he’s on the pimps up hos down message, he’ll get a verbal high-fiver from Tom, or a phony laugh at a stupid joke. Why is a man as prideful and intelligent as Leykis not embarrassed by embracing some of these cretins? Is he that afraid of losing even one listener?
The huge “but” is that when Leykis isn’t behaving foolishly, he’s either entertaining or informative. When Leykis has a firm grasp on an issue few can match the concision and effectiveness of his rhetoric. There was even a time when many considered him to be the left’s answer to Rush Limbaugh. Recently the issue of abortion came up. A few levelheaded, intelligent pro-lifers called in with a clear idea of their arguments, but with in two minutes, each was left with nothing to say, or was repeating points already dispensed with by a few words from Leykis. His stance was simply, “I don’t find abortion immoral, in fact I think there should be more of them. The prevailing social norms, the law and the Constitution are all on my side. If you don’t like it, why should I even care?” This is an admirably efficient pro-choice stance. For example, someone says, “life begins at conception.” Leykis says, “not according to the norms of our society, our laws or to my common sense.” This isn’t simple relativism on Leykis’ part. He is putting the burden of argument on those who would change the laws, the norms, the Constitution and who want us to accept an irrational view that is in usually rooted in religious zealotry rather than reason. One caller asked what Leykis would do if the laws and norms shifted and this became a pro-life nation. The response: he would start Abortion Airlines. Leykis in this mode is great fun.
The same goes for his comedic takes on current events and lighter subjects like today’s: GILFs. Occasionally, Leykis will simply offer a noose to callers; call in if you hate the homeless, or if you’d never sleep with a woman who had been with a black man. When they call, Leykis doesn’t confront them, although he will prod them farther into the noose. For the most part, he is simply standing back and letting the ignorant expose themselves to millions. Give ’em enough rope, etc. These segments make for great listening.
The real point of the show, however, is discussing relationships between men and women. You have to be able to pick through the garbage I mentioned in the first paragraph (and there is way too much of it) and realize when Leykis is exaggerating his points to titillate. For example, today he said that Helen Keller would have been an ideal woman if she had been hot. A pretty dumb joke meant to appease the losers. You’ll also hear Tom talk about his wonderful relationship with his first wife. That’s real. You have to be able to make these distinctions to enjoy Leykis.
The heart of the show, however, is loads of sound advice on relationships from a male point of view. For many of us, the advice is common sense. For example, women are almost never attracted to obsequious men. If such a man does find a relationship, most of it will consist of his woman constantly berating him out of contempt. But it’s amazing how many men don’t realize these things. How many guys do you know who get a crush on a girl and become her fawning sycophant?
Last week I was out with a group including one hot chick and one guy who should listen to Leykis and who I’ll call Melvin. We stopped at a gas station and the chick, Melvin and this other dude all went into the store. They came back to the car, got in and the following exchange took place.
Hot Chick: Melvin, go get me some Cheetos.
Well, he didn’t actually say anything. Melvin just got the Cheetos.
I think that this scene is the nexus of what’s so wrong and so right about Leykis. One the one hand, I know that the losers in the Leykis audience would be clamoring for this Hot Chick’s blood. If the story was told on air, they would want Leykis to punctuate it with “that bitch!” I, on the other hand, was filled with admiration for this girl. Not being a misogynist, I am no less appreciative of such a Ruthless display just because it comes from a woman. Not to mention, this scene was the funniest thing I saw all week, if not all month. Hot Chick was just so nonchalant in her demand. So confident it would be met. And it was so fucking absurd. She was really saying, “Melvin, get back out of the car you just climbed into literally two seconds ago and go back into that store we were all just in literally fifteen seconds ago and get me a bag of fucking Cheetos, bitch.” All of that, delivered in a neutral, almost bored tone of voice in the elegant phrase, “Melvin, go get me some Cheetos.” She met my uncontrollable laughter with a blasé look, like you might give to a twelve-year-old who was laughing about the fact that you just turned on to 69th street. To Hot Chick, this event wasn’t even unusual. I’ll admit to falling in love for a minute or two.
So one thing that’s wrong with Leykis then, is the whole bros before hos thing; the fact that he wouldn’t fully appreciate Hot Chick at work. But that wrong correlates to some good advice. Unlike me, Leykis would side with Melvin and tell him, as nobody else ever has apparently, “If you get her those Cheetos, you will never, ever, ever get Hot Chick. Actually, the fact that she would even ask you means she crossed you off her list of potential mates long ago. You’re her poodle. Stop being a poodle before you meet the next Hot Chick.” Leykis offers scores of lessons along these lines, although some specific ones (never spend more than $40 on a date?) can be discarded. The overarching point is that, apart from Mike Tyson, all of us men have an inner Melvin who pokes his head out at least occasionally. Leykis can help you sniff him out and kick his ass.
The trick, in my opinion is not to become the anti-Melvin, that is, the baby-dicked misogynist who’s always looking to run a power trip on women. If you’re really a strong, confident person it seems to me you should empathize with and admire your counterparts and even your superiors of the opposite sex. Perhaps the crux of all of this is the difference between someone who is a big fish in the gene pool, and someone who wants to play the role of one. In any case, I’ve learned a thing or two from Leykis. More often I’ve heard him say something wise and wished I was listening to the guy 10 years ago. Many others have learned much more from Leykis and are happier because of it. Men who are unhappy with their sex/romance lives could turn to many worse sources of advice, just bring several grains of salt.