Category Archives: Comedy

How to Podcast

So, CB Wilkins and I have been podcasting for a few years with What’s a Podcast.  Occasionally, after listening to it, other folks ask me how precisely one produces a podcast.  When CB and I decided to try to podcast, we had a certain idea but we didn’t know what a podcast should be.  So, we titled it What’s a Podcast and decided to move on.  That being said, I’ve learned a lot.

Step 1.  Decide What Your Show Should Be

Decide what you want your podcast to be about and what to call it.  If you have thousands of dollars to support yourself already and have the time and brains to do fantastic journalism, you can create a podcast like Serial, This American Life or Radiolab.  Marc Maron has mastered the art of  interview.  There’s countless roundtable discussion podcasts.  What should yours be?  Do you want to just discuss current events?  Should your podcast have a local focus?  Perhaps you just want to present audio of your local event like we are able to do with Tell Me More.

You need to figure out a specific sort of content.  Bear in mind, if you decide to do a podcast about the adventures of antique glass bottle collecting, you might have a very narrow audience.  At the same time, if you just djscuss current events, there’s a ton of people who already do similar podcasts, how will yours stand out?

What’s a Podcast, in my mind, is part Opie and Anthony and part WTF Podcast with Marc Maron.  We do interview but also break each other’s balls.  To our detriment, we came up with what is probably the least Google-friendly podcast title possible.  The only worse titles for our podcast would have been Bing, Webcrawler or Lycos.

Step 2.  Purchase Equipment

This can be as costly or cheap as you want, but you ARE going to have to drop a certain amount of coin to get it done.  As technology progresses, people are in a position to produce audio with incredibly high production values for increasingly lower prices.  What’s a Podcast uses the Alesis MultiMix 4 USB, a four-channel desktop mixer with a USB digital audio interface built in.  I lucked out and found it in a pawn shop for about 39 dollars.

Into this mixer we use cheap mics that run around 20 dollars apiece from guitar center.  I believe the brand is Digital Reference.  They have enough low-end to give our voices a pleasant tone with enough mid-end to keep our voices clear and not muddy.  The mixer only accepts two inputs via xlr, thus if a third or fourth mic are necessary we use a splitter to add more mics to each channel.

Additionally we use mic stands (holding a mic produces a lot of noise  you wouldn’t think gets picked up but does) and I use a spit screen because I have a tendency to speak very loudly and thus the power of the air from my P’s an B’s (plosive sounds) cause spikes in the audio that are very hard to listen to and edit out.

This is not the only way to do it.  Many podcasters instead use portable audio recorders.  Zoom has produced a very compact and efficient unit called the H4 that allows its owner to have 2 compact microphones that allow for stereo recording and the addition of up to two other microphones via xlr input.  The quality is high, the space small, and file size is limited to the size of your SD cards.

One podcaster I know uses a barebones setup of a single usb mic.

Additionally you could buy 6 top quality condenser mics in your acoustically perfect studio into an 8 channel USB mixer with phantom power for every channel, run each mic through a compressor, run it on a mac with Pro Tools installed and use an H4 as a back up just in case your computer crashes… but then again you’re reading the beginner’s guide… you’re probably not going to do that.

Step 3.  Record

What’s a Podcast uses Audacity, but again it is not the only way. When recording, introduce yourself, introduce the show.  Produce your content.  Really, do what works.  But really, big things here:

1.  No dead air unless it’s for dramatic effect like Radiolab does.  That’s why it’s good to have two people on.

2.  Don’t talk over each other all the time.  Admittedly harder to do on a solo podcast.

3.  Have a plan.  Stick with it, but don’t be afraid to deviate from it so you can see where conversation wanders.  You can always fix it in post.

4.  Know when to end it.

Step 4.  Editing

Again, our podcast is edited in Audacity Depending on your desired production value, you may want to play lead in music or an introduction or something like a radio show would call a sweeper.  Or you may not.  You may want to cut out bits of audio that your guest wouldn’t want heard in a public forum such as a podcast.  A lot of that is personal choice. In the beginning of our podcast, we would record for 2 hours and cut it down to one.

For me, I like to play a pre-recorded introduction and then get right to it.  Beyond that, I do practice a few tricks to get my podcast sounding slightly better.

1.  Normalization.  This takes away your peaks without distorting the sound quality too much.

2.  Compression.  This makes some of the quieter sounds easier to hear and reduces the harshness of some of the louder sounds.  Hard to get a feel for.  If you do it wrong, any loud noise crashes to silence afterward and then fades back in or you get a loud background hum between a lull in conversation, but when you do it right, it makes the conversation seem to be at a steady constant volume.

3.  Leveling.  This is like compression but makes sure what should be quiet is quiet and what should be audible is.

4.  Equalization.  We usually drop a little tiny bit of the mid level tone and increase the bass so that the voices have a more pleasant richness.

5.  Normalize it again.  You did a lot of weird  stuff, this kind of helps makes sure it’s all balanced.

This takes a lot of practice to get where you’re comfortable with it, my process might not work for you or be necessary.

Step 5.  Posting it

You’ve created an awesome podcast!  You edited it for 3 hours and waited 30 minutes for a file to render… now what?  You might be thinking “well, Brendan, I get it on iTunes and then I’m famous!  To get your podcast to iTunes (which you will want to do.  iTunes allows users to subscribe to your podcast… it’s downloaded every single time automatically by your listeners as soon as you post it) you have to submit them an RSS feed.

If you’re really good with computers you can upload your podcast to your own hosting site, upload a few files, write the RSS coding and then submit that to iTunes.

But again, you’re reading this article, so you’re probably not.  Sites like Libsyn.com and Podbean take the work out of all this for you.  You simply upload your content to their site through their pre-made back end, submit your RSS feed link to iTunes and then you’re good to go.

 

Now share on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, at YOUR comedy shows, and hope to God someone listens.

Again, check out What’s a Podcast (@WhatsAPodcast on Twitter) at http://www.whatisapodcast.libsyn.com to see more of how we try to do what we do.

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Home Maintenance Sucks

Long time since the last post.  I’ve been busy.  My fiancée and I got engaged (hence the second word of this sentence).  Before that we got a house.  At the time we had the typical dreams of home ownership.  No matter how old you are when you buy a house, there is a common sense of teenage independence.  “Finally!  We can play our music as loud as we want!  We can paint the walls and not worry about paying a security deposit!”  And there is a part of you that wonders about it being an investment that you can eventually collect a slight profit on.

Home ownership is not just punk rock turned up to 11 and rainbows.  Nature is trying to destroy your house every single second of every single day in ways you cannot imagine.

Carpenter Bees

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

This is a carpenter bee.  Now, you know usual bees.  Black and yellow, make honey, they love eating Cheerios.  Enter carpenter bees.  These are bees that can still sting you, but they don’t make honey, they don’t give a fuck about eating cereal, and oh yea… THEY BURROW HOLES INTO ANY EXPOSED WOOD YOU HAVE ON YOUR HOUSE.

Now these sons of bitches annoying.  Most bees are polite.  They make their honey and mind their business.  No.  Carpenter bees say “Fuck you.”  And you say “Agree to disagree.”  And then carpenter bees say “Fuck your house, bitch!”  And then they burrow holes into your shit.  It’s not as though these guys go to Lowes and borrow a drill and carefully place holes in your deck or fence.  No, these little manic fucks hover up to some wood and then just hover and SHAKE THEIR ENTIRE BODIES AROUND, TWERKING LIKE A METHAMPHETAMINE FUELED MOLLY CYRUS WHILE THEIR JAWS GRIND THE WOOD AWAY.  And they don’t work alone.  For every one of these insane bastards  there’s a guard.  The guards don’t sting.  They just float in the air.  Creeping you out.
Crabgrass

Photo Credit: Wikipedia.

Crabgrass is one of those organisms that mankind once had a use for and then got bored with.  It’s like a government project that went wrong.  I imagine a lab where crabgrass was genetically engineered and some general being disgusted and saying “the funding’s run out.  Kill it.”  Someone hits it with a flame thrower and then buries the lab under fifty feet of earth.  The next day, crabgrass is outside of the general’s home at 1am.  The next morning the general is dead.  And now crabgrass has gone rogue.

Okay, so it doesn’t kill anyone, but what happens is this.  One day you see crabgrass in your lawn.  The next day there’s a little more.  Then one day in June your entire lawn is covered in the stuff and you don’t know what happened.  Crabgrass produces 150,000 seeds per plant, so if it gets established… you’re fucked.

Ants

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

These 6 legged fucks.  Carpenter bees work in pairs.  Ants work in thousands.  You see one ant?  That means there’s 8 million more.  If you’re in the south, it doesn’t matter what you do.  Boric acid works.  But every spring, they’re in your house looking for something sweet.  Well, that’s if you’re lucky.  Like bees, some of these motherfuckers come in a carpenter variety and THEY DESTROY YOUR FUCKING HOUSE.

Cockroaches

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

You’re thinking “no, Brendan, I don’t know anything about that.  I’m a clean person, you’re nasty bla bla fucking bla.”  If you’re in the south, you have dealt with cockroaches of some sort.  You might say “no, we don’t have cockroaches!  We have had water bugs though.”

 

This is a water bug:

Photo: Wikipedia

This is not:

Here in the south, we have warmth and humidity.  You know what cockroaches love?  WARMTH AND HUMIDITY.  Whenever spring comes back, flowers come in to bloom, it’s time to mow your yard again AND COCKROACHES ARE ALIVE AGAIN.

So yea.  There’s termites too.  Rain will get in your house and warp wood.  Nature hates you and wants to make your house a disgusting filthy place.  You will have to build fences, mow grass, kill bugs, kill bugs, power wash.  You will go to Lowes and Home Depot and just fork portions of your paycheck that will have you needing money several paychecks into your future.  And that’s if you’re LUCKY.  There is plumbing, Chinese drywall, and her getting bored.  Now because DDT is illegal, BED BUGS ARE A THING AGAIN.

And you have to deal with this all by yourself.  There’s no maintenance you can call.  Mom and dad don’t care.  It’s all for you to take care of.  You literally have nightmares about yellow nutsedge.

And you wake up and you spend more money on your god damn house.

Don’t let the bed bugs bite.

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Brendan Kennedy is headlining Cinema Cafe’s Comedy at the Cafe, 9/27 at 9pm

Press Release:

Friday, September 27th, at 9pm, Hampton Roads comic Brendan Kennedy is headlining his own show, “Love is Not The Answer,” at Cinema Cafe’s Independence boulevard location for one night only. The show ties together jokes and storytelling in a unique and hilarious way at one of Hampton Roads’ best comedy venues.

Brendan Kennedy began performing stand-up comedy in 2005. He has performed in colleges and comedy clubs all over the East Coast. In this time, he has developed a stage presence and style that incorporates both simple funny ideas and hilarious experiences from his own life. “Love is Not The Answer” incorporates these skills to paint a picture of Brendan’s life, discussing his triumphs and shortcomings, and the personal connections he’s developed over time. His material is easy to relate to but takes an unexpected refreshing point of view and makes comparisons one might not expect.

Laura Watkins, writer for HamptonRoads.com and AltDaily.com, describes Brendan as having “…a knack for finding that sweet spot between the totally relatable and the utterly absurd. He’s one of the few young comedians who puts his whole presence into his set—armed with a delivery that is energetic, charming and deceptively effortless, Brendan is the kind of comedian who makes it look easy.”

Cinema Cafe, in recent years, thanks to its workshop night and huge local following, has become an integral part of Hampton Roads’ local stand-up comedy scene. What began as one show on Thursday nights with more comics than audience members has transformed into a show that attracts a “standing-room only” crowd and has spawned an additional night of improv comedy on Wednesday nights.

‘Brendan’s show, “Love is Not The Answer” is one night only, at 9pm, September 27th. Tickets are $5.

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How to be a responsible comedy audience member

If you’re reading this blog, I can assume you have either some interest in stand-up comedy.  That, or beer or any other ridiculous thing I feel that the internet needs my opinions on.  Or you’re my mom.  Hi mom.  Sorry I don’t visit as much as you’d like me to.  But let’s say you have some curiosity about stand-up comedy or my opinions on it.

The last blog entry I wrote detailed how a comic should act at an open mic.  If you haven’t read it, scroll below this one.  Sitting in the crowd, there’s few things worse than seeing someone break simple rules that exist to make the whole experience less awkward for everyone.  Because it is awkward… one person grabbing a microphone and sharing their innermost thoughts in the hopes of amusing you bears such a high chance of failure that will leave the audience wanting to be somewhere else.

Sometimes, the audience itself can be a barrier to the greater enjoyment of the show.  There are some simple things that audiences can do to make sure that their experiences will be as pleasurable as possible.  Most of the time an MC tries to condense this down instead of dragging it out as much as I have, but you came to my site to read this, so now you’re prisoner till I reach the video at the end.  Yea.  Now you have to finish.

Sit down, get comfortable, and prepare to be entertained.  Like an LSD trip, your attitude going into a comedy show is going to have a big impact on how the next couple of hours go.  If you sit there, arms crossed, thinking to yourself “I seriously doubt that these people are going to be able to entertain me,” there’s a huge chance that you’re going to experience a self-fulfilling prophecy.  If you really want to have fun, you’re going to have an absolute blast.  If you’re a miserable son of a bitch who didn’t want to come in the first place and would rather have an IV stream of Busch Light into your arm as you sit on the couch, stay home.

Express your approval through laughter, and your disapproval by silence.  Nothing else, unless specifically called for (for example, if a comic says “by round of applause… ” and then asks a question).  The first part is fairly simple.  Comics have prepared some material to present to you in the form of a monologue with the occasional breaks for your laughter.  If a comic says something funny, laugh your ass off.  That’s what you just paid for, right?  If he or she didn’t say something funny, sit in your chair quietly and stare holes through them with your eyes.  Don’t heckle.  Here’s why: if a comic is bombing and you heckle him, that takes the pressure away from them and gives them an escape route.  If you really don’t like something a comic says, be quiet and let them stew in the broth of their own failure.  Alone.  In the spotlight.

Don’t heckle.  Don’t shout shit out, don’t try to help the comic.  Even if you think the comic is doing a great job, don’t say anything or try to help.  The comic has a specific plan he doesn’t want you interrupting.  If he or she asks you a question, feel free to respond.  Otherwise, the comic is going to think you’re trying to derail him or her and then you’ve become a target to destroy so the show may proceed to the point the comic was trying to reach.  Now your feelings are hurt and no one is happy.

If you liked a comic, let them know after the show.  Now that you’ve finished the show, you’ve paid your tab and left your server a huge tip, stop by and talk to the comic on the way out.  We work really hard to amuse you guys and if someone comes up and tells us, it really makes the whole night amazing.  Your laughter and applause are like a drug to us.  But that can be a fleeting experience.  When you come up to us after the show, shake our hand, buy some merchandise, it let’s us know “yea, that really did just happen, you didn’t hallucinate them enjoying you because the lights were so bright.

Don’t be a douche.  Maybe you don’t know what that means.  You’re good.  Just put a little extra Axe bodyspray on your Affliction shirt.

-Don’t bring cats to comedy shows either.

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The [Now Written] Unwritten Rules of a Comedy Open-Mic

In the past, I’ve hosted comedy open mic nights and found myself getting incredibly frustrated about similar habits a lot of shitty new comics had.  When a venue contacted me a few years ago to run their comedy open mic night, I put together a list of rules for my show that I actually codified into paper and made every comic read before letting them on my show.  Some of them ignored these rules and were not welcomed back, though most comics took these rules to heart if they needed to be told so at all.  Below are the rules that I feel every comic should follow when attending a comedy workshop.

-Do not disrespect the house.  They have been nice to us to let us perform here, recognize that, don’t say anything dumb that will make the venue reconsider giving people a mic and PA system to talk into.
 
-Don’t harass people in the audience.  Consider the fine line that does exist between crowd work and being an asshole with a microphone in your hand.  They’re there to laugh, not to be abused.  Also, as this show is a work in progress.  As such, a lot of people in the crowd might not even know a comedy show was planned.  Unless they’re really asking for attention, leave them alone.

-When you are given the light, your time has come to a close.  Go ahead and rap that shit up, B.  While you don’t have to stop talking and flee the spotlight, don’t go on to a new subject.  Finish your thought and dismount.
 
-You can curse; however, do not use foul language for the mere sake of using foul language.  Have a point to it.  Saying “motherfucker” and “god damn” between every word and at the end of every sentence expedites the aforementioned illumination (See above statement).
 
-Don’t hack.  If you want to say some other comedian’s jokes, save that for when you’re sitting around the water cooler at work.  This will also cause you to go into the light.  The point of going to an open mic is to make you a better comic.  You’ll never be better telling someone else’s jokes.
 
-Before and after you go on, show the performer on stage the respect and attention you would want while on stage.  Keep your personal conversations to a minimum, and if you are going to talk, do it in a way that’s not distracting to the show.  You want everyone’s attention while you’re on stage.  Don’t fuck it up for the next guy.
 
-This is a show.  While open mics are a great opportunity to hone new material, bear in mind people have to watch it.  Be funny.  Don’t try to shock people or do jokes that only you would ever find funny.  A groan is not as good as a laugh, and a “what the hell was that?” is pointless.

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What’s a Podcast: Episode 10: Travis Jones

This week, me and CB had CB’s long-time collaborator in indie films, writer, actor and storyteller, Travis Jones on the show. Not only did we talk about everything, like we do every week, but Travis told some amazing stories about his life, including failed romances that while humiliating are all too familiar and relatable.  Even more exciting is the fact that this is our TENTH podcast, meaning that if two assholes sit down and b.s. with each other long enough, someone WILL listen.

Click here to listen.

Also, in the future we hope to have some really exciting guys on the podcast.  including James Paulk, Chris Dembitz and the great, recently roasted Dan Ellison, the educated redneck (his term, not mine).

Lastly, there’s a Twitter account for the Podcast now @whatsapodcast, so that if you have any ideas you want talked about or general criticism to give me and CB, there’s an easily focused target for your outrage.  Or if you want to show some love, it’s a good place to do so as well.

See ya soon!

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What’s a Podcast : Episode 6

This week we had Laura Watkins, @OneHelluvaDame, on the podcast.  Laura is a blogger for AltDaily.com, a local alternative news blog.  This podcast is all over the place, it’s a little explicit, but it’s one of the funniest hours of audio you’ll ever listen to.

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2 Gigs in the Northern VA/DC Region!

Thursday night, March 29th,  I’m appearing at the next iteration of the Virginia Tech Hokie Alumni Comedy Show at the Arlington Drafthouse. This night is a congregation of quality comics who have gotten their education and life experiences in good old Blacksburg, VA at Virginia Tech.  It’s great because not only do we get to talk about the fun of our being alumni of Virginia Tech, but we talk about where our lives have taken us since Blacksburg.

The very next night, March 30th, I’ll be at Liberty Laughs, in Fredericksburg, VA, taking part in a contest.  Come on out!

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This week’s podcast is up!

Go ahead and click here to go ahead and start streaming it!  This is Episode 3 of “What’s a Podcast.”

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Podcasting!

So, I figured, if you’re into what I’m doing, my attempts at stand-up comedy and storytelling, you might be interested in another project I’ve started: Podcasting.  Me and my buddy CB Willkins have begun producing a new podcast called “What’s a Podcast?”  The idea behind this title was that neither of us had really ever fully researched exactly what we thought a podcast should be.  So this podcast is what CB and I think that people would be interested in listening to.  In essence, we both think a great deal of what’s on the podcast is what we both enjoy, bullshitting with each other and recording the stupid insights we have into each other’s lives.

It’s not on iTunes yet, as we’ve not produced a separate site/feed to host all the mp3’s, so for now, what we’ve done is produced the show and listed it on SoundCloud.com where it can be both Downloaded AND Streamed here.

I’m a bit late posting this, as the link above is to our second attempt at podcasting. If you like the link above, check out our first attempt here: here.

If you have any ideas about stuff you would like us to talk about, questions, and anything in between, shoot us an email at whatsapodcast “AT” yahoo.com.

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