People make the comparison to the Wild West far too easily. They’ll compare anything a little unknown to the “Wild West.” Everything is the Wild West! In the ’80s it was the stock market. Reagan let the bull loose and suddenly it was the “Wild West!!” In the 2000s it was the Internet. The Internet was then a nebulous virtual land with possibilities we could not fathom. It was the “Wild West!!” Turns out it was just going to be a place for ad banners catered to you by going through your email and all the pornography. All of it. More recently it was Silicon Valley. THAT was the Wild West. Look at the people who make up that town! Don’t cowboys come to mind?? This is a comparison that should cease. Why? Because the Wild West was terrible!
It was a time of weak laws (if any), rampant alcoholism, no real dentistry, a total lack of hygiene, few actual doctors, and when you had an issue with someone, you had a duel. The point is, the Wild West was a disgusting time with which we don’t want to associate. Outhouses were considered a solid option if the bucket and water pail in your room would not do. Think of the smells and the sights of this truly awful era.
Podcasts, more specifically comedy ones, are the latest Wild West. A few people in their garages with a recording device and a dream. Yup, that just screams American Frontier, where spitting in a floor urn was cool social behavior. So, as two podcasters, let us skirt that trap and instead parallel it with something more appropriate. Not with the Wild West but instead the rise of mimes. Yes, mimes. Now this is in NO way historically accurate to mimes or their history, but you’ll see it is as close as the Old West.
Miming started with a performer in ancient Greece named Telestes. Now there isn’t much known about his headspace pre-mime, but it definitely can relate to podcasts. So let’s assume, shall we? Telestes was probably frustrated with the entertainment biz in Greece then. He was probably on the periphery of theater but didn’t have the right “look” for the masses. Telestes KNEW he had a voice to get out there, but couldn’t with the way entertainment was set up. Is saying “get his voice out there” the best way to describe a mime’s plight? No. But let’s keep going. This trailblazer thought, I want a way to remedy this
. He probably said to himself: You know what? If they won’t let me in their club, I am going to go out in public in white face and pretend I am trapped inside a huge box. They’ll see.
Now any comedian should feel empowered to spread their thoughts across the world.
Well, at first people probably saw that and said “Uhhhhhhhh… this is really, really weird and will NEVER catch on. Is Telestes okay??” But out of all the people who scoffed, one person saw it and thought, Bingo. That is what I am talking about, T-money.
(Again, yes, awful phrasing by saying “talking”). Then Telestes and the new fan probably met up and had a business lunch/lamb shank and uttered pitches like, “What if you were also pulling on a rope or walking into a very strong breeze?” Or “NO TALKING. EVER.” And after that, they tested it out in the streets. They potentially connected with more people who wanted to try this new art, too. And that eventually gave way to people wanting to see and do this more and more. Next thing you know, EVERYONE is taking the quiet train to mime town.
And that is what podcasts have become. They have become the latest Wild Wes... Telestes. Truly. Podcasts have not replaced stand-up comedy but have added a tree to the orchard of options. And to some, the authors of this post included, it opened a new avenue that we are driving down while the road is being built in front of us.
We, Dave Anthony and Gareth Reynolds, live in Los Angeles and have for quite some time. It’s a weird and competitive city where a lot of stories people tell have little to do with a point and are more geared towards tossing out familiar names or boasting about parties they attended. OR about a famous persons party they attended. Those are the best ones. The culture in LA can make you start to feel more important than you should or feel like a loser when you aren’t. It certainly is a culture where you feel like you can’t produce/write/direct/perform things without the input from the machine: the suits/the people with money.
That is essentially where we were a few years ago. Guys who had worked in comedy for years but felt the way that first mime felt. We couldn’t get parts in the theater so dammit, we painted our faces white and jumped in the box.
People like Rogen and Carrolla and Maron all saw it early and will always be originators of this format. But now any comedian should feel empowered to spread their thoughts across the world.
There is an organic nature to this format. On most podcasts, ours included, nobody gives you notes, wants to add another person for chemistry, or worries about who you will offend or turn off. Nobody cares about your ratings because in this world, you get to make as many episodes as you want.
The story with our podcast The Dollop
is no different. Early episodes are nothing like what our show is now. It started with one host who stood in a garage and pontificated angrily about American treasures like Ted Nugent and Mike Tyson. Realizing it needed something more, he added a second person. And the show that was just a rant about a Tyson- or a Nugent-type character is now a meticulously researched American history podcast where one person reads a “story” to another person who has no clue what they are about to hear. There are running jokes and catch phrases. There is even a cat named José that we added to the cast. But none of that would have ever happened if we depended on executives to believe in us and our ability to “find it.” That is not how it works out here.
And that is what makes it such an exciting time to be a participator and listener. It truly is the new dawn of mimes with voices. Which is also a band we are starting. See? Anything is possible.
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is a stand-up comedian, writer, actor, and podcaster. Besides co-hosting The Dollop
, he's been seen as a stand-up on Jimmy Kimmel Live!
, The Late Late Show
, and Comedy Central. He is a writer/actor on Maron
on IFC. In 2015, he was named Comedian to Watch by LA Weekly
is a writer/comedian who has written for shows on Comedy Central, Fox, TBS, and MTV. He has executive produced shows like MTV's Failosophy
and the Travel Channel's Mancations
The United States of Absurdity
is their first book.