Sunday, February 24, 2013

Bastards I Have Met - A Look At The Doghouse Bastards Radio Show.

In the ever evolving landscape that is internet media, there has been all sorts of programs - both audio and visual - which have come along and staked their claim to a patch of the huge real estate offered by this modern form of media. In the broadcast audio medium alone, there is, quite literally, a dizzying choice for the discerning audio listener to choose from and one can easily find something to suit their individual tastes.

I, myself, tend to gravitate towards comedy, satire and dare one say it - gallows humour.  Though gallows humour, by definition, refers to grim and ironic humour found in desperate or hopeless situations, I tend to look upon it more broadly as a more conversational and observational humour that flirts with a line and invariably crosses over it. 

Ricky Gervais is one such example of a wildly successful podcast that mixes humour and satire together brilliantly in a deliciously offensive - depending on your perspective - and thus hilarious brand of internet radio. Stephen Fry has commanded a similar, large following through his more genteel brand of comedy. Regular visitors to my site will know of my avowed devotion to the New York podcast Keith and The Girl where, their similar free reign to talk about any and all subject matter means they can get away with blue murder (figuratively speaking of course) and thus produce a unique brand of comedy, so blisteringly funny that I routinely find myself in tears of laughter. 

Today, I wish to shine the spotlight on another internet radio show which has quickly and affectionately risen to the top of my weekly audio listening roster and now stands as thee source for the inappropriate humour I crave.

Back in 2011, quite unassumingly, a couple of guys got together in the Scottish city of Aberdeen to lay down the first audio of what was to become The Doghouse Bastards Radio Show. Hosted by long-time door steward Scott 'The Sasquatch' Taylor, and co-hosted by the curiously named Peter "Mr Pink" Pink and Steev "Thunderc*ck" Early, the DHB - as it has become affectionately known - presented itself as a mish-mash of political in-correctness and conversational humour that examines sex, relationships, work, play and life from a kind of intelligent, working man's point of view.

I became aware of the show through my friendship with Taylor himself, although he didn't immediately reveal to me what he was up to at that time. I think he was a little hesitant of revealing to much of the show's existence initially because he was unsure whether it was going to work or not.

Suffice to say, The Doghouse Bastards Radio Show, has become somewhat of an internet sensation, rising to the top of the iTunes comedy podcast charts and routinely logging downloads in the thousands.

For all its outward crassness and "blokey" bravado, it's not hard to examine why the show works

The feel of the DHB Radio Show reminds me very much of the kind of conversation I used to observe among the working men who would congregate at the Pub after a long day at work - particularly those men who worked in the coal fired power stations where I grew up in country Victoria, Australia. To point out a more local example (in terms of the show's origins in Northern Scotland) it's a similar kind of humour that was characteristic of the dockworkers of the Glasgow shipyards which gave rise to the likes of Billy Connolly. Among these hard men, some of the rawest observational humour could be found. It was uncompromising, often inappropriate but at the same time it was wickedly intelligent and required a quick mind to appreciate the thrust of the comedy to be found within, Moreover, it was affectionate with a generous slab of self deprecation...

...which thus made it fucking funny. 

Similarly, the DHB radio show takes that kind of witty, workman's humour and loosely structures it into a two hour long radio show that is part sketch comedy, part observational humour and pop culture satire. 

Helmed confidently and with Billy Connolly-esque comedic timing is Scott Taylor, a career door steward and security specialist, who conceived and produced the show and has almost single handedly converted a room in his house into a professional grade studio that is the nerve centre of the show itself. Taylor is also a talented writer, having contributed to a publication a few years ago titled "Bouncers and Bodyguards - Tales From A Twilight World" that chronicles numerous accounts from career security personnel, nightclub doorman and bodyguards and was something of a sleeper hit when it was released, becoming a best seller around the globe.

Scott "The Sasquatch" Taylor.

Along with Scott Taylor is his acerbic and world weary co-host Peter "Mr Pink" who presents 'via satellite' from his remote studio in the north coast Scottish town of Thurso. An in-joke that has become the hallmark of the DHB is the fact that Peter Pink appears weekly, via video, wearing a pink balaclava and sun glasses and thus the audience who tunes in via the live video stream aren't privy to his true identity. This allows Pink the relative freedom of unleashing his own expletive ridden brand of comedy that is lightning quick and razor sharp. 

Peter "Mr Pink" Pink.

Steev "Thunderc*ck" Early can best be described as the gentleman of the DHB in-studio team - a man who offers affectionately wry observations about life that often come out of left field and routinely reduce the team and listening audience to fits of laughter. Similarly, his somewhat pathetic grasp of anything pop culture pre-1985, is a priceless source of comedy that is mined relentlessly on the show. Steev's appearances on air are broken up by long stints away with his work - but his returns are invariably fodder for stories with a comedic bent.

Steve "Thunderc*ck" Early.

Rounding out the team is a Richie Maynard who Scott routinely describes as the "Monday Night Highlight" or the "Money Maker Maynard". He swaggers into the studio weekly with a voice that is caramel smooth and plays in beautiful contrast to the kinetic energy of Scott and the biting satire of Mr Pink. I like to describe him as the Billy Dee Williams of the DHB Radio Show - Women want to be with him, while men want to be like him. In a similar fashion to Steev, Maynard delivers a nuanced comedic contribution to the on air team that hums with an electric energy and routinely guarantees laughs.

Richie "The Money Maker" Maynard.

Regular contributors to the show include Claire "The Fairy Bastardess" Cooper who is a fire cracker of a woman, an uncompromising lass with a potty mouth but a heart of gold, Jo "Jaybles" Banlana and Tracy "The Flaps" Neilly, both of whom have the most unassuming natures, almost incompatible with the kind of wrecking ball humour the DHB serve up and yet both girls can match wits the boys and routinely surpass them, leaving them speechless. 

The team as a whole have a chemistry that is undeniable. It is clear, listening diligently as I have for the past two years, that all of them enjoy what they do immensely, thus the quality of the show - both from a technical stand point and a comedic flavour - works effortlessly.

I have remarked privately to Scott Taylor himself that, working in the high stress job that I do, I like to blow off steam in such a way that I can remain sane therefore I connect very much with the spirit of that working man's humour that the DHB offers up on the good dinner ware week after week. This is a phenomenon I have observed from many who work in similar industries - from medical, to emergency services, law enforcement and the military - and there is a potent validity to the psychological benefits of the occasional indulgence in inappropriate humour. Indeed, I know of serving military personnel in both Afghanistan and Iraq, who download the show as soon as a fresh episode hits.

The genius of the DHB lies in its ability to "take the piss" out of the hyper serious nature of society and modern culture - especially pop culture - where too much value is placed on celebrity and too much stock is invested in political correctness. 

As a social document, The Doghouse Bastards Radio Show has supreme value because it allows us the pleasure of being able to laugh at ourselves and it encourages us to not take life so seriously.

Subscribe, Shop and Donate to the DHB here.

Connect with the DHB here.

Tweet with the DHB here


Monday, February 11, 2013

Kick Starting Damaged

I first discovered New York comedian and writer Liz Miele through the successful web series Apartment C3 in which she paired with room mates - photographer Chris Vongsawat, fellow comedian Carmen Lynch and Liz' diva cat Pasta to deliver a hilarious Seinfeld-esque weekly video short that followed the minutiae of their lives in the apartment.

Apartment C3 quickly became a staple for me and I was always pleased to see a new episode pop up in my feed. I blogged about the series last year and remarked at the time that it reminded me of the satirical cartoons my grandfather used to read in the newspaper and always laughed heartily with. 

As the demands of the individual players in Apartment C3 rendered the series non-viable, I remained a dedicated fan of each of the players in their singular pursuits and have been really touched that each of them welcomed my fandom and have stayed in touch with me.

I knew that Liz Miele was a dedicated writer in addition to her stand up and acting career and she had hinted to me some months ago that she was working on a project that she had high hopes for. 

I should at this point give a little back grounder on Liz herself.

Liz Miele  is also a Brooklyn based stand-up comic who’s been on the circuit in her home country at - now get this - aged 16! Liz has been profiled in The New Yorker, New York Times, New York Times magazine and New Jersey Monthly. Her stand-up - which combines a cooky and high watt energy with astute and whimsical observation - has also been featured at Live at Gotham and Comedy Central no less. In Apartment C3, Liz shined as the kind of glue that held it all together - the eternal optimist, although there were occasions where she could unleash a Jekyll and Hyde slap down when it was called for. 

When she's not performing on stage, Liz likes running - a lot - and she regularly competes in the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC with her Dad. According to Liz, she speaks three phrases in French.

So, I was hugely excited a couple of weeks ago when Liz announced via her social media platform that she was seeking backing via Kickstarter for the project she had hinted at months ago.

The project is Damaged and it is described as a weekly animated web series about broken teenaged robots that are adopted by humans. The two main characters are Emily and TJ, robots that were given up after they didn't work at their respective factories and are being put through the public school system by their adoptive human parents, Rebecca and Richard. Oh and Emily has a cat, Humphrey, who's a Hitler cat, that hates her.

Liz has conceived, created and written the series and has brought in the significant talents of character artists and animators Adam Record, Ben Luce and Grant Lindahl to give life and visual interpretation to Liz' vision. 

The voice talent Liz has recruited for the series is a who's who of New York's finest comedians and actors including Liz herself, Jermaine Fowler (In Living Color, College Humor), Dean Edwards (SNL, Late Late show with Craig Ferguson, Last Call with Carson Daly), Ted Alexandro (Comedy Central, Late Show with David Letterman), Carmen Lynch (Comedy Central, Late Show with David Letterman, Last Comic Standing), RG Daniels (MTV), Emily Miele (Somethin' Jazz Club), W. Tre Davis (seen off Broadway), Adrienne Iapalucci (Last Comic Standing), Corey Reppond (Great comic and writer in NYC), Joe Machi (Late Night with Jimmy Fallon), TJ Del Reno (voice over artist extraordinairre).

As with any Kickstarter, the viability of the project depends on the interest that can be created and the subsequent donations that are made. And donors to the Kickstarter immediately put themselves in line for some cool incentives for coming on board with the project. 

At the time of writing, the Damaged Kickstarter has already achieved it's minimum required amount to ensure the viability of the project. However, any additional funding to it will enable Liz and her team to deliver a product of much higher quality and quantity going forward. Given the already considerable talents of Liz herself and the artists and voice talent she has recruited, I can vouch for this project setting a new benchmark in what independent artists can achieve. 

Donate to the Damaged Kickstarter Today.


Monday, February 4, 2013

Rebel Force Radio - It's All About The Wars.

Way back in August, 2006, almost by accident, I became aware of a new podcast that was to kick off in the first week of September of that year. Titled "The ForceCast", this podcast began as a weekly round up of news and views from around the world on the continuing popularity and love of all things Star Wars. It was an extension of the popular fan sites TheForce.Net and RebelScum.Com.

Now, those who know me, know just how big a nut I am for anything Star Wars and The ForceCast quickly became a weekly staple. In fact, it was my Saturday breakfast ritual. First thing I'd do upon waking up was to check my smartphone's RSS feed and smile with a twinkle in my eye seeing a minty fresh episode waiting.

For 1 to 2 hours each week, the show - helmed by Jason Swank and Peter Nadel - would take me through the week in Star Wars. What was happening in the fan community, the conventions, new toy releases, the game releases, the discussions about the movies and so on. With the advent of the Star Wars The Clone Wars animated series in 2008, there was fresh Star Wars to discuss as the guys transitioned into talking about the episodes of the series. By then, Peter Nadel had stepped aside from the program and Jason was joined by Chicagoan Jimmy "Mac" McInerney.

Rebel Force Radio Co-Host and Producer Jason Swank.

I contributed a couple of recordings to those early shows in which I related memories of Star Wars from when I was a kid back in the early 80's, a teen during the "dark times" of the early 90's and as a nurse in my early twenties when I nursed a young man who was dying of cancer and whose one last wish was to see The Holiday Special, which he had never seen.

Rebel Force Radio Co-Host and Producer Jimmy "Mac" McInerney.

I always loved the sense of community that both Jason, Peter and Jimmy fostered out of the show and they were the first uber fans I knew of that had a direct line to many of the inside people at Lucasfilm. Jimmy Mac himself, scored the penultimate opportunity when he was granted an audience with none other than George Lucas a couple of years ago and was able to interview him at length. The community was global and through the message boards associated with the show, it flourished.

A new era for the show came just this year - 2013 - when Jason and Jimmy announced the launch of their own show "Rebel Force Radio", separate from the umbrella of TheForce.Net and RebelScum.Com. Fans had little time to digest the news of the guys striking out on their own - not that it really mattered - since the first episode of their new show dropped pretty quickly onto the iPods, Androids and smartphone devices before most even knew what was happening.

Rebel Force Radio brings Jason and Jimmy together as a dynamic team who offer up the world of Star Wars with such enthusiasm and energy that it's kinda like being a kid all over again. With the recent acquisition of Lucasfilm Ltd. by Disney and the announcement in late 2012 of a brand new trilogy of Star Wars films, both Jason and Jimmy are sure to have their finger on the pulse of Star Wars and they will be the news source that many will trust before all others.

Rebel Force Radio is available to subscribe to at iTunes now and has its own RSS feed to which non Apple listeners can subscribe. Their official site will launch shortly and is sure to become thee go to portal for Star Wars fans.

In the mean time, check out the Rebel Force Radio Facebook page and keep up with the gang as they deliver all that is good about "The Wars".


Download my interview with Adelaide FiveAA's Ali Rodda now

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