What Pee Cast Blast Learned From Podcast Festivals That Failed

Lauren Lapkus, Scott Aukerman and Paul F. Tompkins perform on stage at the Comedy Bang! Bang! at BAM presented by Vulture Festival on May 20, 2017 in New York City. (Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Vulture Festival)

For years, podcast Comedy Bang Bang held live Christmas shows in L.A. every December until founder Scott Aukerman retired the tradition. But he didn't completely give up on the concept. He revamped it, launching a new end-of-year show: the Pee Cast Blast podcast festival.

ORIGIN STORY

The idea originated after Aukerman held a Comedy Bang Bang show at the Ace Hotel in 2016. That led to a day-long mega-podcast, combining six comedy shows into one event.

Why see a podcast when you could stay home and listen to it?

Aukerman thinks there's an electricity when you're in the room and when he chose shows for this festival, he tapped L.A.'s robust alt-comedy scene to find podcasts that would work in a live setting.

"Those are fun to see live — to go see Chris Hayes interview Ta-Nehisi Coates or something — and it's like two guys sitting in chairs," Aukerman said. "But there's maybe not an incredible, visual live element of performance to it."

Earwolf is all about comedians performing comedy, not just talking about it. That extends to the live show.

For Aukerman's live events, he wants people to experience what they had only previously imagined.

"I listened to [Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner] and I hear the laughs, and I imagine being there in the clubs that they recorded in. I wish I could have been there and just watched this recording. How amazing that would be. And that's what we're offering," Aukerman said.

WHAT MAKES THIS FESTIVAL DIFFERENT?

Some podcast festivals have struggled to find an audience, and Aukerman thinks he knows why.

"There are other podcast festivals that tried to do too much and tried to appeal to too many demographics," Aukerman said. "They'll have a comedy show and they'll have a political show and they'll have a show talking about murder. They're trying to cover so many bases."

He wanted to avoid that with Pee Cast Blast. Oh, and you might win a Cadillac. (Probably not.)

"I would love for the readers to know that it's definitely possible that every single person who comes to this show will leave driving away in a brand new Cadillac," Aukerman said. "The possibility is really there. Probability? I'm not going to speak to that."

CHOOSING THE LINEUP

Peecast Blast also lets Aukerman showcase other podcasts on Earwolf, the network he co-founded in 2010. He likes mixing popular and under-the-radar podcasts but this year, aside from bringing back Comedy Bang Bang, he wanted a different lineup.

The shows include:

"The [shows] that are not as popular, to be able to perform on this giant stage with a big crowd, it's really exciting for them," Aukerman said. "What's very meaningful to one person is not going to be as meaningful for other people but that's what great about these festival shows."

One of the shows he's most excited about is Teachers' Lounge, where improv team Big Grande pretends to be the faculty of a high school. Aukerman thinks it's one of the funniest shows out there and hopes Pee Cast will give it a boost.

"That's what happened last year. People saw a show like Hollywood Handbook, that they hadn't listened to, and said, 'Wow, that was really cool. I'm gonna listen to your show from now on,'" he said.

Aukerman also went outside the Earwolf family to feature podcasts like Doughboys, a show where the hosts share their love of chain restaurants.

"They're just two guys that I've known for a really long time, and I feel like fit in with the general vibe of it," Aukerman said. "And they have a very rabid fanbase, so that was kind of a no-brainer for me."

Another personal favorite for Aukerman is Off Book, a podcast where performers create an entire musical from scratch on each episode.

"When you hear something like that, you kind of go, 'Ohhh, yeah, maybe,'" Aukerman said. "That show was just made for doing in front of a live audience."

HOW A NON-CHRISTMAS SHOW KEPT THE OLD TIMESLOT

Unlike Comedy Bang Bang's annual Christmas shows, Pee Cast Blast isn't holiday-themed. It's just a bunch of great podcasts in one place.

"Why did I even do it at the end of the year last year? I don't remember. And this year, I literally was busy until December 15th," Aukerman said, laughing.

Still, he said, he hopes there's a "general festive sense of merriment" throughout the whole show.

Pee Cast Blast '18 is Saturday at the Ace Hotel.


You made it! Congrats, you read the entire story, you gorgeous human. This story was made possible by generous people like you. Independent, local journalism costs $$$$$. And now that LAist is part of KPCC, we rely on that support. So if you aren't already, be one of us! Help us help you live your best life in Southern California. Donate now.