Tag 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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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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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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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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Brendan talks religion

I work retail, as discussed earlier in this blog. I go to ring a customer up and she’s wearing a technicolor star of David necklace.

Me: I saw your necklace, are you Jewish?
Her: Well, let’s just say my boss is a Jewish carpenter!

Part of me wanted to be like “Whoa, you know Marty Horowitz? He did a great job on my parent’s cabinets.”‘ Instead…

Me: Oh okay.
Her: Yea, they really look at me confused when I go to the JCC [Jewish Community Center].

Now I’m kind of annoyed with this woman. As we talk more, she round about tells me that if Jesus was Jewish, then she kind of sees herself as a Jewish Christian.

Me: Do you read the Bible much?
Her: ONLY LIKE EVERYDAY LOL!!!!!111
Me: Are you familiar with Paul? I don’t know which letter it is [turns out to be Romans 11:17], but he makes the analogy about Christians being a graft of wild olives on to the tree of olives that is essentially Judaism.

Generally speaking, I find faiths living together in harmony a wonderful thing. But in this situation it pisses me off.

In short, Paul makes the argument in Romans that the Christians of the time were not Jews, that Jews have a special connection with God, that they are HIS chosen people. Christians, at the time of Paul [and maybe moreso now] were a bunch of barbarians doing all kinds of weird crap, and they thought that just because Jesus saved them, that made them honorary Jews, so they started doing things like getting circumcised. Because apparently, if you’re a new Christian, the first thing you do when you see Jews is say “Hey! Look at my dick! I’m one of you guys now!”

And they’re just like “oy…”

This is all moot if you’re not a fan of Paul’s work and feel like he over-legislates Christianity. That’s perfectly fine. But this zealot already claims that she reads the Bible every day, I just wish she would read only what’s in there and not go and start making inferences and what not. The thing is, I’m not even religious. I just know the rules, and if you start getting all preachy, I hold you to the rules more than other people.

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Stand-Up Comedy Night at Margarita Grill

When you think of stand-up comedy, a few archetypical images come to mind.  A spotlight highlighting the comic from the audience (years ago, literally a light created from heating up lime, hence a lime-light), a microphone and a sea of darkness that makes up the cavernous groupthink that is the audience.  Its perfection is the comedy club.  Locally, this can be seen at either Cozzy’s Comedy Club, or The Virginia Beach Funny Bone. The comedy club is the comedy equivalent of a lab setting.  Literally all distractions are minimized.  All focus is centered toward the stage.  All a comedian need do is not mess up the jokes he’s crafted.  Because chances are, if you’re on stage at a major room like the Funny Bone or Cozzy’s, you’ve put a huge amount of work into finding out which of your silly thoughts will make an audience erupt with laughter and which ones will just make people uncomfortable.

All of this work takes place at open mics/workshop nights.  These are shows that, the crowd is not  going to be exactly the same as an “A-room” crowd.  The audience usually doesn’t pay, very often the venue isn’t necessarily a business that has comedy other nights of the week.  If a comedy club is the perfect laboratory of comedy, workshop nights are the field study.  The result is that the comics work even harder.  While a comic can pick through his quiver of arrows to draw from when he’s doing a showcase show, he must experiment at an open mic.  They must engage the crowd even more.  The fruits of this labor are much like the work of Babe Ruth… you might have a lot of strike-outs.  But in the end this is how you become a home-run king… of comedy.

The root of all comedy is creating tension and relieving it.  Why did the chicken cross the road… (you’re dying to know)… to get to the other side (relief!).  At an open mic there is an omnipresent subconscious tension, so when a joke is funny (which really is more often than not), you will never laugh as hard in your life.  Additionally, when a joke works, there is nothing like the first time it’s ever told.  If you have ever enjoyed comedy, this is a sneak peak into the creative process that you might not have ever known about.  Louis CK, probably the best comic working right now, begins every one hour special he records with a few open mic appearances.  From there these jokes develop into theatre shows, and later into one new hour of material.  In short, if a comic ever wants to make anything of him or her self, they need the perfection that only workshop nights can create.

With that in mind, I’d like to invite everyone to come out to the workshop night at Margarita Grill this Wednesday Night.  Margarita Grill is located at the intersection of Virginia Beach Boulevard and Great Neck Road, just around the corner from Pollard’s Chicken.  For the GPS-ers and GoogleMaps people, it’s located at 2340 Virginia Beach blvd.

The show starts at 9pm, runs Wednesdays and is absolutely free.  I’ll be hosting.  See you then!

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Girls who place all of their self worth and value in personal appearance bother me

I’m not saying I like a girl who doesn’t care about how she looks. No sir, as a matter of fact, I’m quite happy silently mentally nitpicking various aspects of a woman’s appearance and deciding which aspects I do and do not care for. Ladies, if you see me eyeing you, half is thinking, yea, I’d hit that, but the other half is thinking something like “put on a bit too much make up today did we? What are we trying to hide?”

I like a girl who takes pride in how she looks. It’s a sign that she respects herself. What bothers me is women who put TOO MUCH stake in how they feel they are perceived visually. What I’ve noticed the most is, for better or worse, it seems like a girl who has at one time not been happy with their weight and not received attention from men that other women do. A lot of the times, when women lose weight, the desire to get guys’ attention metastasizes into something more toxic and sad that just scares guys like me off.

Example, I went out with my brother one night. As the drinks START flowing, this girl starts getting louder. A few more drinks, she starts getting flirty, talking a lot about herself, her talents at work, about penises and how they look huge in her hands since she has tiny hands. We walk to another bar, she whispers to me “I used to weigh 215 lbs” (she’s like 5’3). A few more drinks and she’s REALLY flirty. A few more and she’s pulling her shirt down and exposing cleavage, reaching for people’s crotches. A few more and now this bitch is crying. 10 minutes later, this chick is a train wreck, crying, yelling at the guy behind the counter who sells pizza like “how DARE YOU?!?!?! HOW F-ING DARE YOU!?!?!!” What the hell could a pizza guy do? Hell the worst thing he could say is something pizza related.

Another chick I know. She looks okay. A lil overweight. If she concentrated on eating right (a well-balanced diet lower in processed foods), getting 8 hours of sleep, and a long term plan of lifting weights and doing cardio, she’d be happy as hell in a year or so. Now, bear in mind, she’s not hideous, not a complete brown bagger. And she has good facial features. But the thing is, if you were to look at this girl’s Facebook, it’s like this:

“What’s wrong with guys?”
“I just wish guys around her liked me.”
“God, I’m horny, I wish there were more guys around here with a job, a house and a comfy bed” (meanwhile this girl’s still living at home).

You just wish you could tell these girls like “hey, you have a great rack, something going for you that most people don’t. But really deep down… personality wise… you have bad breath.”

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“New Choice”

Basically, every time you say something, the MC has the power to shout “New Choice” and you have to make up something new off the top of your head to replace what you just said. The language can get to be a bit much at times, but… you’ll see how much fun it is.

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Worst Food Ever, or “Rich People Will Pay Ridiculous Amounts of Money To Eat Things They Shouldn’t.”

The rest of this rant is based on the following article : Women flock to take horse semen shots.

This link probably makes you ask a bunch of questions. I will try to answer some of them. No, this blog is not going to be about equine moneyshot scenes. No, these girls are not shooting up horse loads intravenously. Yes, they are drinking horse semen.

It seems the subject of the story, Chef Jason Varley, serves horse semen shots at his restaurant.  First of all, at what point did he arrive at the conclusion that horse semen was something to be served at a restaurant?  Like, was he sitting there thinking to himself, “what’s the most nasty thing I’ve seen in a teen sex romp comedy?  Oh yea, that one scene in Van Wilder where they trick a bunch of idiot frat boys into eating bulldog semen!”

Or was he simply shopping around and happened to see horse semen next to his eggs at the local organic farmers market and said to himself “here we go! Now that’s a new ingredient!  Pure eau de vie de Mr. Ed!

One wonders if he had to call the supplier of the stuff and have a conversation where he said something along the lines of “hey, this is chef Jason Varley. Yea… I was wonderring if this semen was food safe? Hello? Hello? Hello?” Because, frankly, if someone called me up and asked that, I would hang up on him. Unless it was Richard Gere, as multiple urban legend stories have told me that Mr. Gere is a fan of eating things like this, and/or animals.

At what point, if you are in a restaurant and the waitress offers you this, do you still continue eating there?  If someone were to buy a shot for you, it would, definitely, be considered a gag gift by this blogger.  The strangest thing of all?  It’s expensive.  Apparently the going rate for [food grade?] loads is 20 vials for 300 dollars.  How big is a vial?  I don’t know.  But that breaks down to 15 dollars per vial… or is it vile?  The best thing about this, is that it’s making some creep of a man ridiculously rich.  Because, well, most naturally occuring horse semen, one would imagine, ends up in mares or the peritoneal cavity of Kenneth Pinyan, aka Mr. Hands.  But no, this semen ends up in vials.

This means there’s someone out there whose job it is to jack off horses, save the horse semen, and then pour it into vials.  I don’t care who you are, you have to be weird as hell or have the worst high school guidance counselor ever to be the guy whose job it is to masturbate horses and save the end product.  I could see the guy in high school… his friends getting ready to go to college, join the Army, or apprenticing for a trade… and he says “I’m going to jerk horses off and sell the product!”  And as his friends ran from him, he just screams “I’ll be rich!  Rich I tells ya!  Rich!”

15 dollars, wholesale, per vial.

And then people pay to drink it.

A fool and his money are soon parted.

And well, some people apparently pay to consume horse loads.

I still want to see Andrew Zimmern down a few of these.

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Filed under Check this out, Comedy, Food, Rants, Wine and Spirits