Pavlov's Dogs

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.

DCH Reimagined: Canine Edition

A few weeks ago I wrote a post, in which I reimagined a few Dallas Comedy House (DCH) troupes as iconic professional wrestlers. People seemed to enjoy it. Why? I have no idea. But, as a result of that overwhelming support for the piece, I’m bringing the idea back.   So, as requested by you the people, notably David Allison via Facebook comments, in this week’s reimagining we’ll uncover which type of dog some of our favorite DCH troupes embody. Brace yourselves for some pawsitively, doggone, puppy-filled improv fun.  

All right, let’s do this thing!

GoldenRetrieverThe ’95 Bulls = Golden Retriever

People-friendly and full of fun, the six gents that comprise The '95 Bulls are a lot like a precious litter of Golden Retriever pups. Waggy-tailed and easily excited, they're always down to play and offer unwavering support for each other's ideas. Not opposed to chasing tennis balls, these guys are silly and always bring high energy to each performance. To top it off, with a basketball reference as a troupe name, it's only fitting that these guys are represented by the dog that played the beloved Air Bud. Slam dunks for The '95 Bulls. Slam dunks for Golden Retrievers.

corgiSummer Girls = Corgi

If there’s a dog you’d want to hang out on the beach and get drunk with, hands down it’d be a Corgi. And,  if there’s a DCH troupe that you’d also want to have the same drunken, summer experience with, then you can bet your sweet ass it’d be Summer Girls. Like Corgis, they too have cute butts and big smiles. Summer Girls are tenacious and loveable and look cool AF in a boss Hawaiian shirt (see pic for equal Corgi proof). Fiesty and cut, Corgis be down to party and Summer Girls be down to ‘prov.

ShihTzuPrimary Colours = Shih Tzu

Primary Colours is the Shih Tzu of DCH. Before you start shitting on the Shih Tzu, let me just say that these cuddly guys are some the silliest and weirdest dogs around. Their faces alone are enough to make you want to laugh. And, the faces that make up Primary Colours all make me laugh loads with their bold stage choices and willingness to get weird together. Shih Tzus appear to be the cute puppy-spawn of an Ewok and a Mogwai, making them trustworthy and friendly and downright nuts if fed after midnight! It is believed that the same description can be applied to Primary Colours.   

Boston TerrierSamurai Drunk = Boston Terrier

Boston Terriers have two settings: “dapper as f***” and “off the wall insanity.” Coincidentally, Samurai Drunk also shares those modes of operation. If you want high energy, fast pacing, lots of side support, and seemingly zero chill, then Samurai Drunk is the troupe for you. Like the Boston Terrier, the gentlemen of Samurai Drunk are frisky, intelligent, and generally overall entertaining. Fun fact, the Boston Terrier was Helen Keller’s dog of choice. So in my mind, Samurai Drunk would be Helen Keller’s troupe of choice, too.

Caucasian ShepherdPavlov’s Dogs = Caucasian Shepherd Dog

Caucasian Shepherd Dog are also known as “The-Biggest-Freakin-Dog-To-Ever-Exist-Ever-Actually-That’s-Not-A-Dog-That’s-A-Bear-Disguised-As-A-Dog.” Let’s just say, Caucasian Shepherd Dogs are some big-ass dogs. These Russian pups are probs the same canines that the real Pavolv rang his bell for and prayed that they wouldn’t eat his face off after depriving them of food during his classical conditioning experiments. Pavlov’s Dogs are also the big dogs at DCH, comprised of several improv OGs. Just as the Caucasian Shepherd Dog displays natural dominance and leadership, Pavolv’s Dogs have been leading the DCH pack since 1998. Though mighty in size, these Dogs are ultimately a bunch of fun, gentle giants.

catClover = Cat

Not even a dog. It’s a cat. Have you seen a Clover show? For those that may not be familiar, Clover is a group of former Ewing-ites and now one of the newest troupes at DCH. These guys are also the embodiment of everything kitty and cat-like. Like cats, Clover is made up of 10 percent fluffy cuteness, 20 percent distraction by shiny objects or string, 30 percent playful energy, and 40 percent too cool to give a what. You do you, Clover. You guys are purrrfection.

Feel free to post your suggestions for other DCH troupe reimagining in the comments below!

Lauren Levine is currently a Level 5 improv and Sketch 2 student at DCH. When she is not trying to come up with witty things for this blog, she is a freelance writer and editor, an amateur photographer, a Zumba-enthusiast, a dog lover, and an 80s movie nerd. In addition, she enjoys all things Muppet-related, the smell after a rainstorm, and people with soft hands.

Troupe Talk: Pavlov's Dogs

Pavlov's Dogs 1998 was a big year. Snoop Dog released his single, "Woof." Oprah Winfrey is found not guilty. (Way to go, O.) The FDA approves Viagra and Dallas Comedy House (DCH) veteran troupe, Pavlov's Dogs, was born. This week in Troupe Talk, we catch up with P-Dog's seven improv veterans.

Wow. Pavlov’s Dogs has been in existence since 1998. That’s almost 20 years ago! Describe who you were as a person back then so that we can be introduced to the late 90's P-Dog team.

Cameron: Well, I came on board a little after the group was founded. So I've only been around since 2002 (13 years). Back then I had no idea what I was doing, but we had a ton of fun performing together. Improv as a whole was much more "novel" and a lot less of it existed in Dallas, so that had its ups and downs. Emily: I think I was in this weird place of post-college, pre-rest of my life. As an improviser, I was still green but gaining experience. And since spouse, household responsibilities, and children didn't exist for me yet, I probably had more energy and was more available. Dale: The short answer is that I was probably drinking tons of Crystal Pepsi, adding to my compact disc collection and worrying about Y2K. The long answer is trying to get my advertising career going, continue to woo my then girlfriend Emily, and being humbled going from routinely performing for 750 people in college to five people at a defensive driving place in Hurst. Yeah. Chad: *Chad pulls up to interview in DeLorean. He perfectly parallel parks and the butterfly doors fly up - The Cars are blaring from the speakers...a heavier version of Chad steps out wearing a t-shirt with Monica Lewinsky holding a cigar and winking* Amy: I usually still worked my hair in a side ponytail, big bangs, leg warmers...a lot like me in the 80s...and me today. Todd: Angry. Danny: Back then I was 14 so it was all about being awkward. And doing well in French class. And girls. But mostly being awkward.

Once a month you guys feature a student from your home base, Dallas Comedy House. Where did that idea stem from?

Cameron: Not sure where it originated from, but we have been doing our standard end-of-the-month show for a while now and wanted to do something a little looser and more casual for our Wednesday shows. We thought that having a student perform would be mutually beneficial. We would get to know some of the newer improvisers a little better, and they would get a chance to perform with some older veterans that have been around the block. Emily: Do we do this? Wow, we're so nice. It must be one of the shows I don't attend on account of married improvisers not wanting to pay a sitter. Dale: In the spirit of improv, I think someone just mentioned the idea and we all supported it. To mix in a sports metaphor, it can be hard as a student to ʺget the ballʺ with some consistency when everyone else on stage is yelling ʺOoh, Ooh, pass it to me, I'm open!ʺ The nature of this spotlight show is that we're able to enjoy the art of passing the rock to a student who is driving the paint so they can get some of that boom-shacka-lacka. Chad: Since improv is all about making each other look great, we wanted to make a student feel like a star for a night. That's the goal. I remember as a young improviser that I looked up to veteran performers and wished I could have gotten a chance to play with them, so I loved the idea when Todd proposed it. Amy: Chad? Cameron? Todd? Group mind? Not sure, but I loved the idea, too! Because I'm not currently coaching at DCH or performing with other DCH groups, this is great exposure to new people who have joined the theater. I've really enjoyed getting to know these new talented individuals! Todd: We wanted to give people stage time who might not otherwise get the opportunity all that often...and due to the fees we charge the student to be on the same stage with us, it’s a good way to make money. Danny: One of the first things I remember from learning improv is that it's not about you, it's about everyone else. And if you go into it with the goal of supporting your group members the laughter becomes a byproduct of that philosophy. We wanted to feature a student and practice support at the same time. Win, win. Laugh.

While P-Dogs was born at Texas A&M and now calls the Dallas Comedy House home, many of you have trained and performed all over the country. What’s the improv world like in other places you’ve been?

Cameron: I lived in Chicago for six years between the years 2007 and 2012 and improv is everywhere there. I'd say the biggest difference between Chicago improv culture and Dallas improv culture really comes down to volume and history. Improv and sketch comedy have been around in Chicago for 50 years, and comedians from all over the country move there to hone their chops. Dallas' scene is still up and coming, but the community has grown by leaps and bounds. I think improv and comedy in general will only become more popular, and hopefully will see the numbers of performers in Dallas continue to grow. Emily: Performing on Mars was probably my favorite. They're so ripe for improv, and they totally embraced long form. Dale: There are definitely some cities where improv is more a known and respected art form. You get away with some forms and onstage moves in other hub cities that might not have the same reaction here. But, DFW is coming around. Places like Four Day in Ft. Worth and the DCH here in Dallas have done a great job cultivating a community of performers and audiences. It's worth noting, however, that people who hop on stage should recognize that they might be performing for people who have never seen a show, and this performance might be the deciding factor on whether or not they give improv a second chance. So be smart, have fun, and be professional. Chad: Community is a powerful word. Everywhere you go, egos get in the way for true community and I was to the point where I didn't think it could happen. It's not perfect in Dallas, but what has been established by the DCH founders is as close to perfect as I've ever seen. It'll always be a work in process, especially as things get bigger but I love our community. Amy: I've performed in front of a rough crowd at a cage match in L.A. and an indifferent crowd in N.Y., but both were great experiences. Todd: Good improv is universal, doesn't really matter where you experience it. Chicago and L.A. are teeming with people who are trying to make some type of performing (writing, acting, etc...) a major part of their careers. This leads to a higher volume of shows and venues and a larger community. However, larger does not mean better, because when it comes to people, there is no place like Texas. Danny: I remember doing a fun show in St. Louis that was one of the friendliest and most generous crowds I've performed for.

The world would be a better place if everyone followed the _____ rule in improv.

Cameron: Know each other, like each other. Emily: Well, ʺyes, andʺ, of course. Also, the rule of threes. It's a good lesson in moderation. Dale: Metric. Chad: Learn them rules, then learn what type of performer you are, then know your fellow players' strengths, then play within that. But mostly, hold a gun and a phone right. Amy: The world would be a better place if everyone followed the ʺListenʺ rule in improv. At work and in life, people want to talk...or at their best, wait their turn to talk. Few people in my life really listen. At DCH and with other improvisers, I feel we are able to give each other that gift out of habit. I LOVE that about this community. Todd: Bloom where you are planted. Danny: Support is key. It takes everyone working together to create the environment around you, and when everyone is on the same page with that it's magical to watch.

Pavlov's Dogs

Pavlov did an experiment on dogs to prove Classical Conditioning. What experiment and theory would YOU prove if you were super smart Russian physiologist rocking a sweet mustache/beard combo?

Cameron: I would set out to prove that mustaches aren't creepy, but are actually really cool and sexy. (I have a moustache.) Emily: I would prove my untested theory of how holding your breath for 17 seconds after someone sneezes will lower the likelihood of getting sick by 71 percent. Dale: I would focus on a military theory where Russia could plausibly invade the United States by paratrooping soldier and military vehicles into the greater Michigan area. And that a ragtag group of teenagers would in fact pose little to no threat. Chad: Growing the mustache part would be a big part of it. I'd love to have the ability to grow a sweet mustache. I'd totally trick my face into doing that. Amy: I guess I would research how women are able to use more of their brains than men. I would experiment by moving a subgroup of men to a deserted island with only one female to observe their behaviors. And for the sake of the research, let's just say the subgroup is single, intelligent men in their early- to mid-40s (with a sense of humor, of course)...and I guess I would have to be the female...you know...because I'm doing the research. Anyway, we could just set-up this environment and let the experiment run its course...for a decade or so. Todd: I would create a fart-scented vape flavor. I would then wait for someone to blow their Cinnabon/Milk Dud flavored vapor into my airspace and say something like, ʺWhy are you so freaked out, it’s just water vapor.ʺ Then, I would blow my fart flavor into their area. I would then retort with, ʺYou were saying?ʺ Is that a theory? Danny: I would do an experiment on cats and prove they really just don't give a s**t.

What’s your favorite thing about DCH’s new digs?

Cameron: Tommy Lee Brown Man Dip. Emily: Super cool box office. Wait...doors on stage. No...comfy, couchy green room... Dale: The men's room situation has been improved by 10 to sixth power. Oh, and the two stages. And the lights. The themed drinks are nice, too. The panhandlers on Elm seemed to be more hospitable, too! Chad: I love walking in the door and feeling the excitement/nervousness in the air from a bunch of people that find this stuff to be as fun as I do. Amy: The bar area! I love the set-up and that it's become a gathering place before and after shows with plenty of space for large groups to share a drink and/or riveting discussion. Todd: Old or new, there is no place like home. Danny: We are given the chance to MONKEY around on a great stage, to be KING for a day and use our NOODLE with a talented COMPANY of people. (I was trying to say something profound but hide my secret real answer in the words. Shhh.)

Pavlov's Dogs perform at the Dallas Comedy House on the last full weekend of every month and on select Wednesday nights (upcoming August 5 and August 12).

Tori Oman is a Level Five student at DCH. She’s trained and performed with the Second City and iO in L.A. and Chicago. Favorite pastimes include being irrationally competitive at Monopoly, eating an apple in every country she’s traveled to, and being the sole person on this planet that thinks Necco Wafers are a delicious candy choice.