Podcast Profile: Diabetics Doing Things with Rob Howe

DDT Podcast After my brief Podcasting 101 series for the Dallas Comedy House (DCH) blog, I received a few questions from friends and readers about how to get their own podcasts started. However, the hardest part of doing something new is actually starting. That’s when I decided I would write profiles of DCH performers and community members who have podcasts of their own, showing by example that everything is just a fun and wild downhill slide after recording your first episode.

This week, I profile Rob Howe’s Diabetics Doing Things. Rob performs with Dairy-Based and Primary Colours, but I had the pleasure of being a student in his improv Level 2 class. I heard through the grapevine at DCH that he had a podcast of his own in which he interviews people that share his experience of having Type-1 diabetes and refusing to let that put any stop on their lives. His podcast is filled with inspiring conversations that make me want to take the bull by the horns. (But figuratively… not literally… I don’t think bulls like that.)

Hi, Rob! Thank you for doing the thing. Please tell us what inspired you to make a podcast Diabetics Doing Things.

Super excited to be able to do the thing! OK, so I've been super fortunate in that I've had some pretty amazing experiences in my life, whether in athletics or travel, etc. and I also have Type-1 diabetes. And more often than not, people think that T1D is this debilitating disease that takes away your hopes, dreams, and future. So I found myself thinking that someone should be telling the stories of the things people with Type-1 are doing OUTSIDE of their diabetes. So I started Diabetics Doing Things.

One of my favorite moments from the podcast is from Episode 2. You're talking to Scriven Bernard about dealing with other people who ask the wrong questions about diabetes and you say, "What's the right question to ask?" How do you find those "right questions" to ask during your interview podcast?

I have a sort of boiler-plate interview list to get people comfortable with the types of questions I'll be asking, but what's great is that while most of the episodes start the same, they always end up a little different. It's amazing to hear about the different challenges that my guests have overcome throughout their lives, and the great things they're doing in spite of and alongside their disease.  

I know you more as an improviser and instructor through DCH, but Diabetics Doing Things is more grounded in what life is like as a diabetic, something that could be considered a very serious topic. I'd love to know more about the dichotomy of recording this podcast as opposed to performing with a troupe. Does the comedy lend itself to the vulnerability of the subject, and vice versa for your performance?

There's so much about everyday life that's funny. I guess the main difference between the podcast and performing is that I often don't know my guests. Sometimes it's the first time I've talked to them so it takes a little while to develop a rapport. My troupe mates are also my soul mates so we can skip all the intros and get right down to having fun. While life as a diabetic IS a serious topic, I think some of the best comedy comes from those serious, unique, poignant moments that people share. So while sometimes the discussions are vulnerable and serious, more often than not my guests and I end up having a good laugh at our own expense.

Every beginning (and occasionally some seasoned) podcasters experience some mishap during recording or editing, either by our own hand or a forced computer update. Do you have an example of podcast failure during the recording or editing process?

Oh, I definitely do. I was doing an interview for Episode 009 and my guest was from the U.K. so we had the usual scheduling challenges associated with different time zones and we had this amazing conversation on a Sunday afternoon and as soon as we hung up on Skype I realized I had only recorded like 30 seconds of the interview. I was super embarrassed and felt really unprofessional, but I just asked if we could re-do it, and she was more than accommodating.

What advice would you offer for those who are interested in podcasting? (Or as I like to call them, "Podawans.)

My biggest piece of advice is to make your podcast about something. If you can define your audience, and really appeal to them, you're more likely to have enough success to keep you motivated to continue. Other than that, you've just got to ask for things. My podcast success has been 100 percent due to the help of others. Most people are more than willing to help you if you ask, so you just have to overcome that fear and ask away. On the tech side, starting a podcast is super easy. Your phone is a great recording device (full disclosure: I use a USB microphone and GarageBand) and there are tons of great software out there available for free. So figure out what you wanna talk about, then do it!

For more information about Diabetics Doing Things, visit diabeticsdoingthings.com. You can also download episodes from iTunes via your podcatching app of choice.

KC Ryan is currently a Level 5 student at DCH. An office worker by day, she spends her nights writing, improvising, recording podcasts, and having existential crises. She’s a co-host of Parsec Award-nominated podcast Anomaly Supplemental about general sci-fi and fantasy topics. Her greatest achievement so far is convincing her husband to watch Project Runway.