Shawn Johnson East and Andrew East host a date night in Nashville
Remarkable Nashville couple Shawn Johnson East and Andrew East are planning to host a date night in Music City — and you’re invited.
Johnson East, a former gold-medal-winning Olympic gymnast, and East, a Vanderbilt University graduate and long-time NFL player, bring a live recording of the popular relationship podcast “Couple Things” for a one-night show to the comedy club Zanies on February 3rd.
The couple, who wed nearly six years ago in an intimate ceremony in nearby Franklin, Tennessee, plan to share never-before-heard stories that will give show-goers a glimpse into the dynamics of marriage, parenting, dating and more. Tickets start at $40 before fees, with meet-and-greet VIP packages available for an additional fee.
But on a date night, you’re not just listening to another couple, are you? Ticket buyer expects a small participation, Johnson East told The Tennessean last week. They plan to host couples games on stage, answer questions (the toughest date moment may not be off the table), and give away prizes.
“One of Shawn’s and my favorite things to do is group nights out with friends, so we try to replicate that as much as we can,” East said.
Johnson East added, “The podcast was really cool because our community is actually allowed to build it. We were able to meet many people, hear their stories and [make] really good friends.”
Read on for highlights from an interview with the pair on podcasting, Nashville date moments, and what’s off the table when the mic kicks in.
At the start of “Couple Things”
The East family started a podcast about two and a half years ago, in part to combat tabloid fodder that often comes with life in the spotlight.
With nearly 100 episodes released, they often engage with audiences by airing so-called fame through talks about intimacy, childbirth, relationship red flags, and love languages.
Unlike filtered life highlights that are often shown on social media, they wanted to create a space where it’s okay to discuss messy moments in a marriage, Johnson East said.
“We were both so tired of the perfection that people are trying to paint on social media,” Johnson East said. “If not, then it’s a train wreck and it’s in tabloids. Marriage is not like that. Marriage is really tough and really sticky and nobody showed that.
“We actually want to show the real side of what [a] relationship, and that the harder things are, the nicer it is.”
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On what’s off the table
What won’t the couple talk about on the show? Not much, they agreed.
The listeners relate to real conversations heard on the show, East said; For example a riffing couple who bonded through the show on a 15 hour road trip. They want to address what couples are experiencing without being vulgar or lewd.
“They said we touched on a couple of issues that were hot topics for them,” East said. “They turned and laughed. It was kind of an icebreaker perspective.”
Johnson East added: “We have the most feedback on the [intimacy episode]. People try to make intimacy that raunchy thing. Intimacy is far more than raunchy… [it’s] to actually connect with your spouse. We have expanded the topic. We’ve had so many people come back to us and say, ‘I never thought about it that way.’ and ‘that’s a really nice perspective.'”
However, do not expect any advice. They aren’t therapists, but they often call in trained relationship professionals to answer listeners’ questions.
“We’re trying to steer that very, very gently,” East said. “Our goal is not so much pure advice as it is [discuss] what we’ve been through.”
Back then at the CMA Fest
Showgoers can hear some Nashville-only stories at Zanies next week — like the cross-country commercial that sparked the couple’s nearly decade-old relationship.
Johnson East was living in Los Angeles when her friends set her up for a time-zone-hopping blind-date blitz with stops in Nashville, Chicago, and Southern California.
East’s first date idea? Box seats at the CMA Fest. One problem: he didn’t have any tickets.
“I said, ‘Hey, I have great tickets to CMA Fest,’ and I didn’t have any tickets,” East said. “I literally had to contact half my phone book.”
Spoilers: He got the tickets.
That weekend, they attended a Vanderbilt baseball game — watched from a rooftop across from the field — and gazed at the Nashville skyline from the John Seigenthaler Pedestrian Bridge.
She wanted to spend a weekend in Nashville, but the date went so well that she canceled her trip to Chicago and stayed a week.
“I was over a four-year relationship and my girlfriends had put me on three blind dates,” Johnson East said, adding, “I remember after the first night [in Nashville]I called my mom and said, ‘I think this is the guy I’m going to marry.'”
On go-to Nashville spots
How does the East family – Shawn Johnson, Andrew and their children Drew Hazel and Jett James – spend their time in Music City? A few of her favorite things…
- Nashville Predators hockey games. The pair once ordered bespoke jerseys. East’s says “99 problems” on the back, while Johnson East’s says “Ain’t 1,” a nod to the famous Jay Z song (it was East’s idea, she said).
- Fido, the popular coffee shop in Hillsboro Village. Johnson East’s order includes the Village Scramble Eggs plate and PC muffin.
- Centennial Park. It reminds her of when East was a Vanderbilt sophomore.
- Zanies. Yes — they do a show there, which East thinks is a special moment because they’ve frequented the club to meet comedians like Tennessee’s Nate Bargatze.
For more information on “Couple Things” go live at nashville.zanies.com.