Paul F- Tompkins

Podcasting 101: Choosing Your Format

Podcasting 101 Do you want to build a podcast? C’mon let’s go and—sorry, sorry, dated joke, I’m done.

But seriously, do you want to make a podcast? You should. There are a few Dallas Comedy House (DCH) alums that have podcasts of their own and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t either. Plus, I need more podcasts to put in my feed.

However, the easiest thing to get side-tracked by is the overwhelming information of what equipment to buy, how you’re going to release it, is it possible to monetize it or at least pay for hosting, etc. One thing at a time buddy! I’m going to break down the steps of how to build your own podcast.

First, you need an idea. More importantly, you need to choose a format.

Just like what sort of format is used for shows, picking a format and sticking with it is just as important for podcasting. This would be solo or co-hosted, interviews or self-hosted conversations, informational/educational or entertainment. For the purposes of this post, I’m going to focus on the primary curriculum of DCH—sketch and improv.

OK, starting with the sketch kids: Scripted podcasts are starting to gain a little more traction these days. The Thrilling Adventure Hour, Wormwood, and, the most popular of scripted podcasts, Welcome to Night Vale. First and foremost, all hail the glow cloud. Second of all,  it started as a solo show with weird bits and pieces, eventually extending into a fuller cast with a developed world and over-arching story. However, Night Vale still keeps to its radio show format for the most part. Quick obvious note: Scripted formats are the only time you can have one person behind the microphone. However, I still highly suggest a writing team because stress makes for bad and infrequent episodes. (Which is typically why the worst Doctor Who episodes come from the showrunners, but I digress with opinions…)

In terms of improv podcasts, I'm going to use Spontaneanation with Paul F. Tompkins as my prime example. What I enjoy about this format is that it spends the first 15 minutes as an interview piece. This is pretty typical with DCH troupes like Photobomb, Pavlov's Dogs, and Manick, who will choose an audience member and ask a few questions that will build their shows. However, the interview format is VERY popular in the podcasting world. Nerdist, Marc Maron, Joe Rogan, Tim Ferriss—every one of them is interviewing somebody. So what Paul F. Tompkins does with Spontaneanation is use this interview time to build a personal rapport with his guest, and then the whole of that interview is fodder for the improvised section. Another great improv podcast is Victrola!, an Austin-based group that I interviewed for this year's Dallas Comedy Festival

Now, once you have your basic format, you can spice it up however you like. Do you watch and/or read the news too much? Use that as your platform and get a group of improvisers to discuss and then riff. Are you a nerd that likes to play D&D with your improv friends? Either record your game as it happens while inhabiting your characters, or write out your most recent campaign and have your performer buddies read the script. Have you got a better idea? Then do that! You’re an adult, I assume. I believe in you.

In two weeks time, I'll discuss recording and what equipment might suit your needs as a fledgling podcaster. And yes, that’s the post in which I will discuss how much money you might be spending. Dun dun dun!

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.

Podcast Rec No. 4: “You Made It Weird”

You Made It Weird I have a preference for longer form podcasts, especially since the hours of my day job can be a little too quiet even for me. And while there are definitely some long podcasts out there that I enjoy, I always find myself constantly checking for updates for You Made it Weird. One of the many podcasts under the Nerdist Podcast Network umbrella, host Pete Holmes has unedited conversations with comics, actors, and others about the more awkward parts of life. Some of the usual topics include romantic relationships, family, religion, politics, and comedy. You know, everything you’re forbidden to talk about at the dinner table and therefore really wants to talk about all of that with everybody. This is the perfect podcast for that catharsis.

What episode to start with: “Paul F. Tompkins.”

Maybe I chose this episode because I just listened to it today. And maybe, in addition to that, I find Paul F. Tompkins to be an adorable, dapper funny man. Even so, I feel like this episode is a great summation of what the podcast is in general. Pete and Paul talk about life as stand-up comics, Paul’s experience on the film There Will Be Blood, the discovery that they could just leave a party they didn’t like, Tompkins’s marriage and Holmes’s divorce, and the question of whether or not believing in something is a choice. Plus, this is one of the episodes that is a great lesson in the use of callbacks.

Running time: 1 hour, 43 minutes. That’s actually relatively short considering how long these episodes can run. (For comparison, “Kumail Nanjiani Returns” runs 2 hours, 33 minutes. The longest episode so far is “David O’Doherty” at 3 hours, 40 minutes! What?!)

KC Ryan is currently a Level Three 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.

What We're Loving: Comedy Canons, Televison History, Self-Loathing Doctors, Classical Open Mics

image (3)Each Friday, DCH performers, teachers, and students offer their recommendations for what to watch, read, see, hear, or experience. This week David Allison laughs in his cubicle, Ashley Bright runs for her notepad, Ryan Callahan sees a reflection of himself, and Amanda Hahn finds hidden treasure. Time_Bobby

It’s the best week of the year!  If you’re asking why, then you’re most likely not familiar with Comedy Bang Bang’s yearly triumph known as “Time Bobby.” AND THAT MAKES YOU DUMB.  Comedy Bang Bang is a free weekly podcast on which host Scott Aukerman invites guests both real and fake to join him in conversation.  Each installment of the show is different,  save for some recurring characters and, occasionally, recurring episodes.  Monday, May 12th saw the release of the third “Time Bobby,” a fan favorite episode which pits a Bobby Moynihan voiced orphan child named Fourvel (One less than Fievel) against Paul F. Tompkins’ Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber.  PFT appears often on Comedy Bang Bang because of his quick wit, character range, and phenomenal rapport with Aukerman.  But even though we get to enjoy about fifteen appearances a year of Tompkins on the broadcast, he’s always at his best when he’s paired with Saturday Night Live’s Bobby Moynihan.  Most of the time that PFT joins in on an episode, he and Aukerman are against each other, so it’s a blast to listen to them band together against the Moynihan’s orphan boy.

I’d recommend taking a listen if you enjoy any of the following:

  • Mnemonic Devices
  • Knives
  • STARLIGHT EXPRESS (Note: I bought a sweet Starlight Express poster this week.  Jealous?)
  • Holding back laughter as you listen to podcasts in cubicles

Please remember that there have been previous episodes of “Time Bobby,” so if you’ve been unaware of the franchise until today, YOU HAVEN’T EARNED THE RIGHT TO LISTEN TO EPISODE THREE, SO DON’T ACT LIKE YOU CAN JUST WALTZ INTO YOUR PODCAST APP AND LISTEN TO THE LATEST ITERATION LIKE YOU OWN THE PLACE.  You need to be aware of canon.  The original was released on 3/26/12 (Episode 150), followed by the second on 4/22/13 (Episode 215).  Also, there was an appearance of both characters on season two of the Comedy Bang Bang television show, but Fourvel and Andrew Lloyd Webber were not on the same episode so THE TV SHOW IS NOT CANON.  Listen to them all and you’ll know what to do the next time you’re with a group of people and someone yells K.N.I.F.E. G.R.A.B.! - David Allison

urlThis week I watched America in Primetime on Netflix, a four-part documentary that originally aired on PBS.  The show is broken up into four episodes based on different character archetypes of television: "Man of the House," "Independent Woman," "The Misfit,"and "The Crusader."  Show creators, writers, and actors are interviewed, and most have the opinion that television is the greatest medium because the audience truly gets to connect with the character. (Except for David Chase, who created The Sopranos, who has a particularly sassy and refreshing opinion that 2 hours is plenty of time to get to know a character.)

In the first episode, "Man of the House," Norman Lear, the creator of All in the Family, said something that made me hit pause and run for my notepad: "I take life seriously.  I see the comedy in it.  I see the foolishness of the human condition.  I delight in it and I've used it."  Full disclosure: I ran for my notebook because the closed captioning said "abused" and I loved that, but after reviewing the tape, he definitely says "used."  I still love the quote enough to tell you about it, but I may not have ran so quickly for "used."  Each writer and creator has a similar sort of take on their creation.  They were writing human beings, fully dimensional human beings.  Carl Reiner talks about unintentionally pushing boundaries with The Dick Van Dyke Show because he wrote a character who actually respected his wife.

I'm going to presume that if you reading this on the DCH website that you have some interest in comedy as an art form.  If so, I recommend watching this series.  It's a real peak inside the minds of some of the greatest storytellers of the last 50 years.  It's a testimonial to the fact that character is more important than plot, which you may have heard from time to time in your comedy journey.  Note: DO NOT watch "The Crusader" episode, if you haven't yet watched The Wire.  David Simon lays down some beautiful truth bombs, but there are spoilers galore. - Ashley Bright

house-md-1024x768Recently I resumed an old, bad habit from my college days: falling asleep to TV shows. Instead of reading a book, or letting the stillness of the night watch over me, I've been drowning out my constant inner monologue with the scripted television's aggressive noise. After burning through the first season of Brooklyn 99 and catching up on Parks and Rec and Community, I needed something new to sooth my soul, something comfortable, something familiar, something like House, MD.  I've always been a huge fan of procedurals. They satisfy my inherent need for structure and closure. I loved the show when it first began, ten years ago, but stopped watching somewhere around season four, either because life got in the way or the show's formula (House gets it wrong three times before discovering a secret the patient has kept from him and nailing the diagnosis on the fourth try) grew stale.

Having never watched the final seasons, and wondering how it all ended, I decided to pick the show back up. Naturally, because I have a terrible fear of not knowing things, I started from season one. It's been ten years since I've watched these episodes, ten eventful years in my life. House is still a compelling show, (in fact, so compelling that's costing me sleep. I can always watch one more episode) but compelling for different reasons. When I first watched, I thought House was the coolest character on TV, a total bad ass, the smartest guy in the room playing by his own rules, destroying people with withering  sarcasm while getting high the whole time. Now I see the sadness. The way he pushes people away. The way his selfish actions harm the people who love him most. The way he takes out his self-loathing on everyone who comes into his orbit. Where once I saw so much comedy, now I see tragedy. And I see an accurate portrayal of an addict. The sarcasm is still funny, thanks to Hugh Laurie's delivery and timing. There are times when I see him cut someone down, or deflect a question with a joke and I think, "I should act more like that." Then I remember I did act like that. And it was really lonely. - Ryan Callahan


dariusOn Tuesday night, I needed to find a place to work. With my eyelids getting heavier by the minute and my bed seeming closer and closer by the second, I knew staying home was hazardous to my productivity. Around 10:00 pm, I decided to head to BuzzBrews Kitchen on Lemmon Avenue. I was hoping to find friendly waiters, endless coffee, and plenty of room to spread out my work. What I found was even better. I found live classical music – totally free. Initially, when I entered BuzzBrews, the first thing I noticed was that it was surprisingly crowded. The second thing I noticed was that it wasn’t filled with college students studying for finals. This was an older crowd of people in their late thirties and early forties. Almost everyone was drinking wine. Many men were wearing sport coats and fedoras. There wasn’t a textbook or computer in sight. The third thing I noticed was that the music playing in the restaurant was very pleasant. Quickly after this realization, I noticed the fourth and most important thing: the beautiful piano piece I was listening to wasn’t a recording. It was live. I didn’t know this before, but every Tuesday night from 8:00 pm until 12:00 am, BuzzBrews hosts an open mic for classical musicians. I’m so happy that I found this that I’m downright angry that I didn’t know about this sooner. The casual atmosphere with a touch of class was exactly what I needed to focus on work but still be relaxed. The music throughout the night ranged from a cappella singers to fiddlers to pianists. Some acts were mediocre, but others were fantastic. These hidden talents of Dallas kept my head bobbing, toes tapping, and heart tranquil as I pounded out all the work I needed to finish. I know where I’ll start going every Tuesday night. But from now on, I hope to be accompanied by a glass of wine and a few friends, not my computer. - Amanda Hahn