Death Wish employees standing in front of Punxsutawney Phil's home


“It’s the spectacle, the weirdos. It’s Phil’s faithful followers is what keeps the dream alive every year.” - The Inner Circle





Death Wish Coffee travels to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania to experience the spectacle of Groundhog Day first hand. There is even Science as Jeff and Dustin discuss the math behind the movie and just how long it would take Bill Murray's character to become a master at anything. Plus they are joined by Mike Brown and John Swedish as they tour the various sites and are on hand for the seasonal reveal of the groundhog in the early morning of February 2nd.


We got the honor to talk with some of the hallowed members of the Inner Circle - the men in top hats that conduct the traditional proceedings every year. We discuss the ins and outs of Groundhog Day with the Chief Health Man, The Thunder Conductor, The O-Zone, and The Rainmaker.


Speaker 1: Death Wish Coffee presents "Fueled by Death Cast", the world's strongest podcast, with your hosts, the incredible Jeff and the amazing D Man.

Jeff: Okay campers, rise and shine and don't forget your booties, 'cause it's cold out there today.

Dustin: It's cold out there every day. What is this, Miami Beach?

Jeff: Not hardly. And you know, you can expect hazardous travel later today with that blizzard thing.

Dustin: That blizzard thing. That blizzard thing. Oh well, here's the report. The National Weather Service is calling for a big blizzard thing.

Jeff: Yeah, they are. But there's another reason why today's especially exciting.

Dustin: Especially cold.

Jeff: Especially cold. Okay. But the big question on everybody's lips ...

Dustin: On their chapped lips.

Jeff: On their chapped lips, right. Do you think Phil is going to come out and see his shadow?

Dustin: Punxsutawney Phil.

Jeff: That's right. Woodchuckers, it's Groundhog Day.
All right. This is the incredible Jeff.

Dustin: And I am the amazing D Man.

Jeff: And we are standing on the stage for Gobbler's Knob for Groundhog's Day. The night before Groundhog's Day Eve night.

Dustin: Got it. Yeah. So tomorrow all the magic goes down. They're going to pull Phil out of this hole here that we're looking at right now. It's locked up right now so we can't slide snakes in there to grab the unsuspecting Phil. But we got a nice sculpture to our right that's absolutely beautiful. We got our compadres, and this is going to be a blast. I'm really excited about this.

Jeff: It really is going to be a blast. It's pretty incredible to look across this field and know it's going to be filled with probably 5,000-6,000 people as early as three in the morning, and we'll be here hopefully if we're not too far gone. But we won't be. We cannot wait to see the groundhog go. But we are here. We're here with Mike Brown of Death Wish Coffee himself, right?
Hi, Mike.

Mike Brown: Hello. Hello.

Jeff: What is your prediction for what's going to happen with the groundhog tomorrow?

Mike Brown: Contrary to what everyone else believes. We're going to have an early spring.

Jeff: You heard it here first. So my money's on Mike instead of the groundhog. Do you agree, D Man?

Dustin: Now I'm going to the other way. I'm going winner side now just to be a jerk.

Jeff: Okay. Okay. Finally. John, what do you think?

John Johnston: I think they pull out a dead groundhog.

Dustin: Does that mean the ... Is that the first sign of the apocalypse?

John Johnston: It's the apocalypse.

Jeff: Okay. Well, we have lots of different predictions. So we're going to find out what happens. We'll be talking about it as it happens on this podcast. So stay tuned.

Speaker 1: Science.

Jeff: So real quick, science-wise, Groundhog Day has been in effect since the 1800s when it came over here from Germany, and also, it is a beloved movie starring Bill Murray.

Dustin: So what were they doing in Germany? They were just wrestling groundhogs?

Jeff: No. It was actually a badger I believe and they ate him after he predicted the weather.

Dustin: That's pretty savage.

Jeff: Yeah. But what's cool science-wise is someone took the time to figure out exactly how long Bill Murray was stuck in the movie Groundhog Day reliving the same day over and over again.

Dustin: Right because he relives it so many times. He knows everybody's move. He knows everybody backs story. He masters the piano. He masters chainsaw carving on ice. I mean, how long does that take? You have to master everything. That's like 10,000 hours. So figure it out from there. So somebody actually broke it down?

Jeff: Somebody broke it down actually from a site called Obsessed With Film, and they said that their quote is 12,403 days. That's 33 years, 358 days he was stuck in a time loop.

Dustin: Wait. How many years?

Jeff: That is 33 years.

Dustin: That's not too bad.

Jeff: That's a lot to spend on a single day though.

Dustin: I think I would have gone at least like 50 years before I started trying to kill myself.

Jeff: Right. And the reason why they're dealing with this is if you've seen the move, one of the adages is that it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something.

Dustin: Yup.

Jeff: So obviously he became an expert at chainsaw ice sculpting carving.

Dustin: Yup. There's a name for that I'm sure.

Jeff: Right. And he also learned to play the piano incredibly well. He learned French even though they didn't say that he became an expert at it. They broke all of that down and added in all of the days that he was there. Like we saw him die a couple times putting a toaster in his bath tub, going over a cliff with the groundhog. But he also said he was stabbed and shot and poisoned and all those things.

Dustin: Burned and yeah.

Jeff: So they added up all those days together and got that number. I think that's a pretty crazy scientific fake fact for Groundhog Day.

Dustin: Do you ever think he got like morbidly curious and just kind of got bored and just started finding creative ways to kill himself?

Jeff: I mean, if you're stuck in the same day for 33 years, yes. Definitely.

Speaker 1: Wake the cup up.

John Johnston: Okay. My name is John Johnston. My inner circle name is Chief Health Man.

Jeff: That is so cool. So what does that entail for you being in like as an inner circle member?

John Johnston: Well, as far as the Chief Health Man part of it goes, it's an honorary title. I basically inherited it from my father. He was in the club for 49 years. When he retired, after about three years, I got into the club. They anointed me the new Chief Health Man. I have absolutely nothing to do with the health of Punxsutawney Phil though.

Jeff: That's good. That's good. So you've been doing this for a very long time. I got to ask, is it the same groundhog? Is the groundhog hundreds and hundreds of years old?

Dustin: Jeff, it's not immortal. It's an immortal groundhog. It's not how it works.

John Johnston: Punx Phil is immortal.

Jeff: There it is. You heard that.

John Johnston: He's not only immortal but he is infallible. Every year we have a picnic. In that picnic, we have a ceremony where Punx Phil drinks the elixir of life, a secret formula known only to the handlers of Punxsutawney Phil. It's passed down from handler to handler. With every sip of the elixir, he gets seven more years of life. Punx Phil is at least 131 years old.

Jeff: Wow. That's incredible. So what is your favorite thing? As a member of the inner circle, you get to see it all and do it all. What is your favorite thing about Groundhog Day?

John Johnston: Well, you guys just pulled me out of this place for this interview.

Jeff: What is this place again?

John Johnston: Well, this place is called The Burrow.

Jeff: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

John Johnston: And it was actually started by one of the guys in the inner circle.

Jeff: Oh.

John Johnston: But right now it is jammed packed full of people having a great time.

Jeff: It is so much fun.

John Johnston: In the middle of winter, and really where else are you going to do that?

Dustin: Not back home.

John Johnston: Except in Punxsutawney, right?

Dustin: Yeah.

John Johnston: So you come in, you stay up all night. In the middle of the night, you're up in the Knob in the middle of the woods standing in mud and snow with thousands of other screaming people, and they're all having a blast. That's the fun part about Groundhog Day.

Jeff: Yeah. Well, this is our first time ever down here. We're dressed as dueling Bill Murray's. We're doing our best, and we're having the best time. I just got to say thank you so much for coming on the podcast and talking to us for a minute. I got to ask, what fuels you to keep doing this every year? You said you've been doing it for that many years, what keeps you going? What gets you excited every year to come back and be part of the inner circle?

John Johnston: Well, the thing that I really love about it is seeing the people. New people, guys like you coming up here. I met somebody, a couple from San Francisco tonight. The one guy was a Marine. He helped build the Shanksville Memorial.

Jeff: Wow.

John Johnston: Yeah. And just people who put this on their bucket list and come around and just experience it and have a great time.

Jeff: That's the best.

John Johnston: That's why I do it.

Jeff: That's the best. Putting awesome stuff out into the world. Well, again, thank you so much for taking time out. And let's get back to the party.

John Johnston: Absolutely.

Dustin: Yeah, thank you, John Johnston. Thank you very much, brother.

Jeff: Can you please tell us your name and your inner circle name?

Dave Gigliotti: Dave Gigliotti, the Thunder Conductor.

Jeff: And that's probably the coolest name ever, right, Dustin?

Dustin: Yeah. What makes you the Thunder Conductor?

Dave Gigliotti: Well, what the President of the Gobbler's Club gives you your name when you're initiated in, and my job coming in, they knew what they wanted me to do. They wanted to put me on stage and entertain the crowd. So I conduct the thunder, which is the thunder being the crowd noise.

Dustin: Has there been a Thunder Conductor before you?

Dave Gigliotti: There have been others on stage that entertained the crowd, but none as the Thunder Conductor.

Jeff: So how long have you been the Thunder Conductor?

Dave Gigliotti: This will be my 10th Groundhog Day.

Dustin: Wow. That's crazy.

Jeff: Wow. That is really cool. So what fuels you as the Thunder Conductor to do it every year and come back out and get that crowd riled?

Dave Gigliotti: You feed off the crowd, but, I mean, you do it because of Punxsutawney Phil. Perpetuating the legend, and Phil has his moment in the spotlight. But so many faithful followers come out from so many places, so far away, and they get onto the Knob at three o'clock, at two o'clock. And Phil doesn't come out until 7:15, 7:30.

Jeff: Right.

Dave Gigliotti: So what are you going to do with them? So you get out there and you just keep them awake. You keep them alive. And you just pump them up, and they pump you right back up. I mean, just look at those people standing in the freezing cold in the middle of winter, in the middle of the woods to watch a groundhog. It's not about anything other than just having a good time with other people that are having a good time that are with other people that are having a good time, and there's just passion about that. It's just about living life in the moment, being there all together, all at once with nothing else. All the distractions, all the rest of everything in your life, everything in your days, it's non-existent at that point and time. And you'll see it. If you get to the knob and you see what happens up there, that is my expression of what happens is those people express themselves so fully in the moment that they forget all the shit that bogs them down that's bad, and they only think good. And to be part of that, I just pumps me up that much more to make it happen.

Dustin: So we heard that Punxsutawney Phil is in fact immortal. He's been alive and he keeps drinking his elixir. Can you give us the secret ingredient to his elixir?

Dave Gigliotti: Of course I could not do that. That is a secret. It doesn't work on humans anyway. We've tried it as some of our inner circle members. The big win maker, the big flake maker of past, you see them. No chance. Humans tried it. Doesn't work.

Patrick O.: But Phil's actually 27 years old. It worked like a Benjamin Button on him.

Jeff: Oh, okay.

Patrick O.: Because he accidentally drank it one time.

Jeff: We have another inner circle member right here. Would you mind saying your name and your inner circle name on record?

Patrick O.: I am Patrick Osikowicz, the O-Zone. Inner circle member of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club.

Jeff: Wow. You guys are legend.

Dustin: So, wait, wait, wait. What makes you the O-Zone?

Patrick O.: Well, my name is Patrick Osikowicz. Everybody calls me Pat O. So my weather name could be nothing else other than the O-Zone.

Jeff: So you're the newest member.

Patrick O.: I am.

Jeff: Is this your first year?

Patrick O.: No, no. This is my second Groundhog Day.

Jeff: Incredible. So what fuels you to keep coming back and doing this as the O-Zone in Groundhog?

Patrick O.: It's the spectacle. It's the weirdest, like you guys. It keeps everybody coming back. It's not us. It's Phil faithful followers that bring the crowd in.

Jeff: Wow. Wow. Thank you guys so much for being on Fueled By Death Cast, and we cannot wait for all the festivities that happen in only a few hours, a few short hours. Groundhog Day.

Dave Gigliotti: And you know what we get to find out this year, 2017?

Jeff: What's that?

Dave Gigliotti: We get to find out if Death Wish Coffee can make the Thunder Conductor more fun.

Speaker 1: Welcome back to the show.

A.J. Dereume: I'm the Rainmaker because ... Well, I had my dad's name bequeathed to me. He was in the inner circle, and he made it rain every time we went on vacation. And that's how he got the name.

Jeff: So for the record, tell us your actual name, and then tell us your inner circle name.

A.J. Dereume: Well, my actual name is A.J. Dereume, and my inner circle name is Rainmaker.

Jeff: So how long have you been a part of the inner circle?

A.J. Dereume: This is my eighth year I believe. Something like that.

Jeff: Incredible. So what fuels you to keep coming back and bringing it for Groundhog Day? Like to do what you do with Groundhog Day.

A.J. Dereume: Well, it's just fun. It's just fun, fun, fun, fun. I mean, we were up at ... We were at the Knob until midnight last night, back up there at quarter to five this morning, and I won't go to bed til quarter to five p.m. tomorrow.

Jeff: Because we're going up there early in the morning, and we're all going to be ...

A.J. Dereume: I'm leaving here and going there. I'll be there by two.

Jeff: That's incredible. We heard a rumor that the groundhog is actually immortal, and he drinks an elixir every year to stay immortal. We got to know. What's in that elixir?

A.J. Dereume: Well, and it's not that he's immortal. The elixir gives him seven more years of we say longevity.

Jeff: We did hear that.

Dustin: Yep.

A.J. Dereume: I mean, eventually, I mean, I'm sure that like whatever number that has gotten to at this point, this year he had like four sips. So four times seven, add that up and whatever. He's going to be around for a while.

Jeff: Awesome.

A.J. Dereume: As far as ingredients go, the only ones that know that are the handlers.

Speaker 1: Oh, welcome back to the show.

Dave Gigliotti: I need your help. I'd like to be able to tell my children and grandchildren that on February 2nd, 2017, I stood at Gobbler's Knob with the inner circle and Punxsutawney Phil and screamed at the top of my lungs, Happy Groundhog Day. Are you with me?
All right. Raise your hands in the air and scream with me. Happy Groundhog Day.

Jeff: The weather is about to be predicted.

Dustin: I'm cold. I'm hungover, but we're here, Jeff. We're here in the midst of this ritual.

Jeff: We are.

Dustin: Oh, man.

Speaker 9: God damn, gopher, get out of your hole.

Dave Gigliotti: I see him.

Jeff: Does he see? Does he see his shadow?

Dustin: Oh, shit. He's dead.

Jeff: Oh, no. He's not dead yet.

Dave Gigliotti: Come on, boys. We need something.

Jeff: Oh, no. D Man, you might be right.

Dave Gigliotti: He's filling. He's hollering. Phil is feisty.

Jeff: Feisty Phil.

Dave Gigliotti: Ladies and gentleman, Punxsutawney Phil.

Jeff: There he is in all of his rodent glory.

Dustin: Is it moving?

Jeff: I think it's alive. Yes, he breathed. I saw him.

Dustin: Oh, he just shit.

Jeff: He pooped.

Dustin: Oh, he's losing him.

Dave Gigliotti: Oh, don't look good, guys.

Dustin: Uh oh.

Jeff: Uh oh.

Dustin: Uh oh.

Dave Gigliotti: Okay, big guy, come on. Look at me. Phil. Phil.

Jeff: They're screaming at the rodent hoping to get a response.

Dustin: This is more like an interrogation.

Jeff: No response yet. We might have to wait until next year for the weather report.

Dave Gigliotti: Ladies and gentlemen, he has made his prediction.

Jeff: Oh, here it comes.

Dustin: The moment we've all been waiting for.

Dave Gigliotti: Here ye, here ye. Now the second day of February 2017, the 131st annual track of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, before one of the largest crowds in the history of the Groundhog Day. Punxsutawney Phil, the sincerest prognosticator of all prognosticators was awaken from his burrow to the cheers of his thousands of faithful followers. On Groundhog Eve, he directed the President and the inner circle, his prediction scroll, which reads. At Gobbler's Knob on Groundhog Day, we celebrate a world wide holiday. It's mighty cold weather you've been braving. Is it winter or is it summer you're craving? Since we've been up all night and starting to toddle, I, Punx Phil, shall not doddle. My faithful followers, I clearly see a perfect, clear, shadow of me. Six more weeks of winter.

Jeff: More winter. We're so sorry to report to all of you but there is more winter on the way. How do you feel, D Man?

Dustin: Shitty.

Jeff: Yeah, me too.