These days, everyone has a podcast.
Whether you want to talk about sports, religion, sex, or pro wrestling (seriously, there are way too many wrestling podcasts), there is a podcast out there just waiting to be downloaded and played while you bore your friends in the car on a road trip. But by far the most popular (which means "best" by high school standards) are comedy podcasts.
Comics like Mark Maron, Joe Rogan, and Chris Hardwick get thousands of downloads each week, as they provide listeners a unique look inside the minds of some of comedy's biggest names. Now the Twin Cities' number one comedy hub is looking to do the same.
Acme Comedy Co. recently launched its very own podcast, NoLaughTrack, which spotlights the club's headlining comic of the week. Since releasing its first episode on May 31, they have put out a new installment every Wednesday evening (ironically, the very first episode featured local standouts Bryan Miller and Pat Susmilch who filled in for headliner Mary Mack when technical issues and scheduling got in the way).
Acme manager Josh Bavlnka is the mastermind of the program, which he says started the way most great things begin -- by bullshitting.
"Every week we get really great comics in here, and a lot of the time the stories they tell after the show when we're all just sitting around are even funnier than their sets onstage," he explains. "They'll share stories from the road, crazy things about their lives, and just a lot more off-the-cuff-type stuff that I thought would work really well as a podcast."
Once he received the buy-in of Acme owner Louis Lee, the next step for Bavlnka was to find the right host for the job.
"It was tough because we needed someone who was sort of a well-known person," he says. "We talked about having another comic host it, but that can get sort of messy politics-wise so we went a different route."
In the end, Justin Severson from the KQRS morning show was selected as the man to helm the mic. As a big-time comedy fan and Acme frequenter, Severson was an easy choice to fill the slot.
"Justin comes down to the club quite a bit and has a relationship with some of the comics already so we decided to go with him," says Bavlnka.
Even though Severson comes from the radio world, everyone involved with the podcast is quick to point out that these recordings are unlike anything you'll hear on the terrestrial airwaves.
"When we have a comic in town for a week, they typically get booked at some of the radio shows to plug their appearance," Bavlnka says. "But that's usually a couple of minutes at most where they hop on, do a few jokes, and take off. The podcast is completely uncensored and runs anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes. The cool thing is that they aren't doing material; they're just having a conversation. That gives you the chance to learn about who they really are, and hopefully get interested in seeing them perform that week."
The podcast has already proven to be a place for sharing (perhaps too much, even), as recent guest Dave Mordal told stories of gas-station robberies, being arrested by his own brother, and the backstory behind his appearance on NBC's Last Comic Standing.
"These guys don't always want to be entertaining; sometimes they just want to talk. This is us giving them a platform to do so," says Bavlnka.
For now, the recordings take place on Wednesday afternoons onstage at the club, with just a few onlookers catching the show live. While there are no imminent plans to try and create a more live event "feel" to the show, much like comedian Doug Benson has done when he recorded his podcast at the club, Bavlnka says the door isn't closed by any means.
"If there is enough interest and if it's a bigger name looking to record, we would definitely consider doing a live audience. For now though, we're just excited to have a new episode to put out each week."
This week's broadcast features Phil Palisoul, who is headlining at Acme now through Saturday. He shares stories about his experience working a "real job," as well as some insight as to his best and worst shows ever (download it now
). The next three weeks of Acme headliners have already committed to recording as well, and Bavlnka says the idea has been incredibly well received.
"The comics like it because it's something different and gives them an opportunity for more exposure," he says. "Plus people are already giving us positive reviews, with over 100 downloads of our first two podcasts. We're really enthusiastic and looking forward to growing it even more in the future."
To download any of the NoLaughTrack
podcasts, visit the website at nolaughtrack.podbean.com
and check back every Wednesday evening for new content.