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Gavin's Underground

Obviously Oblivious (Part 2)

by Gavin Sheehan
- Posted // 2012-12-05 - Hey, there's a whole other part to this interview; check out Part 1 by clicking this link here.



Gavin: Around this same point, you brought in South Philly Paul, a Mediocre Show staple, who morphed into being the third host. How exactly did that happen?

Cat: I think, like with most things, Mike one day said, "Hey, you should come on," and so it came into being. That being said, Mike has an EERILY good sense of what will be entertaining to people, and with SPP's resume from the South Philly Paulcast and Mediocre Show interactions, he stood out as a shining star of comedy. Paul is comically brilliant, and now the show wouldn't be the same without him.

Mike: I've been listening to Paul since I first heard him on the Mediocre Show. Over the years, we met and hung out and became close friends; I seriously consider Paul family. I liked to run his shows within the Awful Show and OO because I knew he listened and I wanted to get him out to as many people as possible. After years of hearing him say he wanted to do a show along the lines of the talk format, I asked him to come on and we haven't been able to shake him since. Paul is a very kind, genuine and HILARIOUS guy. It would've be a disservice to the listeners if I hadn't had asked him to join the show.
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Gavin: Paul, you had been doing things for the Mediocre Show for years. What got you calling into the show at first, and how did you start becoming a contributor?

Paul: Eric and Taylor would request for listeners to leave voicemails. At first, I called as a way to communicate with these guys who I was allowing to influence my formative years. Then, I felt it was an opportunity to express my humor and musical talent with them and other listeners. My voicemails evolved into bits I thought were funny. The first official item I submitted to the show was the trucker-buddy theme. I think Eric might have said in passing one episode that they needed an intro for these crazy voicemails left by the now infamous trucker buddy.

Gavin: You yourself started your own podcast a few years ago. What was it like creating that and producing your own material on a weekly basis?

Paul: I have a comedian's spirit. I usually can see some funny in most situations. Wow, that sounds annoying as fuck typing it out, but it's true for me. When I first decided to create my own podcast, I wanted to have a few in the chamber. So, me and my friend Keith put together the first four-five episodes before I divulged to anyone my evil plan. I liked the simple idea of having each episode be about one thing -- something most people can relate to, then try to make it funny with observations, jokes and phrasing. As the show progressed, I noticed my comedy sense evolving; how I could say certain things differently to get a laugh, mispronouncing words or even constructing my own for comedic effect. Also, I made a conscious effort to incorporate music and people who mean a lot to me personally. In some way, I felt the affection I have for these elements would only make the show more likable. Weekly basis? Maybe at first, but not too much later, I started to realize I wanted to post episodes that I thought were funny and didn't just want to put something out there just for the sake of it. I'm proud of most of my episodes and even think some are hysterical enough to be considered real comedy. Whenever I receive listener feedback telling me how much they laughed at one of my episodes, it makes me one of the happiest dudes ever to know can do that for them and others.
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Gavin: What made you decide to join up with Obviously Oblivious and retire your own show?

Paul: Well, if you listen back to earlier episodes of  OO, you'll hear that I was involved with the podcast from its beginning. In fact, Mike was cool enough to play an entire Paulcast episode  -- Up Your Independence -- during their maiden voyage. Much like my presence on The Mediocre Show, I contributed to the show with voicemails and bits. Eventually, Mike and Christina invited me to join them for an episode, and soon after, due to my brilliant-scary comedic mind and keen fashion sense, I was offered to become a co-host. I accepted their offer because I'd been wanting to be involved in more of a conversational show. So, I thought that I should take the opportunity and see what we could make out of it. At first, I felt awkward and out of place. Mike and Christina have a close relationship and certainly don't need me to keep a conversation going. As the comfort level became more comfortable, I began to relax and concentrate on how to best contribute. As far as The South Philly Paulcast ending, I just felt it was time. The best explanation I have is that I think most of the Paulcasts are really good and I'd like to keep it that way.

Gavin: What's it like for the three of you interacting mostly through Skype and essentially having a traditional talk show without the restrictions of radio?

Cat: Podcasting is the medium where we're free to be ourselves -- we can curse, be human, be whatever we are without fear of losing a job. That being said, it does have its challenges. Doing podcasts over Skype is one of them. Skype allows you to interact with whomever you want globally. There are no limits to who you can bring on or become a co-host with. However, there are delays and other technical limitations. Sometimes when you are talking, the audio from other people doesn't come through and you end up talking over each other, cutting each other out, and you ABSOLUTELY can't sing a song together. I dream of one day being able to sing when Mike goes into his karaoke mode.

Mike: Look, I hate doing Skype shows, but, for the self-funded budget the show has, it's the only solution to having someone you want on your show to be there. It has its moments of absolute frustration when the people on Skype either cut each other off constantly because of the delay or they don't talk because they don't want to cut the other co-host off. Thankfully, two things have happened: Cat got a new router and now has easier access to her buckets of Internet down there in North Carolina, and Paul is relatively close enough to come up for each live show. Recently, due to Superstorm Sandy, Paul did the show over Skype after I demanded he be safe and not drive the 60 miles from Philly to Reading, and it was absolutely brutal. So, Paul is in-studio now, Cat sounds infinitely better through Skype and I'm looking forward to a day when all three of us can be in-studio together. I've been there with each of them separately but NEVER together. The fact that we broadcast on the Internet without restrictions and someone telling me what I can't say is integral to me doing these shows. I say some pretty fucked-up shit sometimes. Do I honestly believe in the things I say? Nope, but people get that I do it for a laugh, for the sake of comedy. If they hate me for it, I'm not worried; I've won over many a listener who thought I was a total shitbag at first. No,w they contact me, thanking me. That's actually pretty rad.

Paul: Well, since we've started streaming live, I've made the effort to be in-studio with Mike. The dynamic is so much better between us now. Unfortunately, Christina is too far away to make a bi-weekly trip. There is a definite disconnect with her not being in the same room with us; it would be such a different show with us together. I would really like us to make that happen at some point. No restrictions are still one of the most alluring things about podcasting. The freedom of being able say almost whatever we want to each other is what keeps things interesting for me and, I suppose, listeners.
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Gavin: The show now has been going three and a half years. What are your thoughts on the show and the impact it's had on podcasting in general?

Paul: I think Mike's decision to have interview episodes is taking the show in a direction of how I would like the three of us to go; more real conversation that organically generates laughs. Obviously Oblivious impacts podcasting, like your favorite cereal.

Mike: Impacts on podcasting are littl- to-none. It's certainly an example of how great sound, original and interesting personalities and the unknown of what could happen or be said can make for a successful show. Are we at the top of the list? No, that will never happen. But do we lose audience? No, even with the things I say. Maybe the show has impacted podcasting because I've been told it seems so effortless and easy and that encourages people to start their own shows. I'm not sure if that's good or bad. I will say this: At my lowest points, the time I'm ready to throw in the towel, out of nowhere someone e-mails or v-mails the show, texts me or hits me up on Facebook, saying the show has helped them through a divorce, a sick child, cancer, a shitty day at work or whatever it is. It's so damned humbling and really puts my life back into perspective. That gives me the energy and the drive to turn the mics on and do it all over again.

Cat: Impact on podcasting? We are but a small fish in a big ocean and, honestly, I'm cool with that. I didn't do it to become well-known. I do it because it's fun, I enjoy who I do it with, and if other people enjoy it, all the better. But I know, just like in life, I can't be interesting or entertaining to everyone and so I don't make that a goal; I don't even THINK about it. I love connecting with like-minded or even arguing with non-like-minded people, but this is foremost an outlet for me to be myself and, yeah, get up on my soapbox. If being myself was in the limelight subject to criticism by more people, I think that would really negatively affect my self-esteem here.
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Gavin: Looking at the medium, what are your thoughts on podcasting today, both good and bad?

Cat: Podcasting is a different creature from traditional radio. It allows more freedom, more expression, more being human. But a lot of people think that podcasting is how they're going to become famous or well-known. I think people with that motivation to do this are going to find themselves frustrated and disappointed a lot. I think if you are looking for anyone's approval through podcasting, you'll be let down. If you're as entertaining as Tha Mike, you'll get some positive reinforcement, but others will want to tear you down. I think to be happy podcasting, you have to accept what it is and know what its limits are. Foremost, you have to do it because it's FUN. That's likely to be the only reward; anything else is just a pleasant bonus.

Mike: Let's start with the bad. Podcasting is the one media that isn't taken as seriously as it should be, partly because the powers that be don't see it as a money-making opportunity. Why? Because the bigwigs at the companies that would advertise are old, out-of-touch douchebags and don't take it seriously. They really should. With social media and these huge podcasts having the rabidly supportive audiences, so much money could be made. Until someone really knows how to break that gap efficiently, podcasting will stay where it is. Sometimes, I wish it would happen, but most times I don't. I don't, because then it wouldn't be that underground, cool, untouched media where people say whatever they want. My recent interview with Kerry from Radio from Hell has made me realize if someone had stake in the shows or owned them, we wouldn't be able to do what we want or say; essentially, be us. The people you hear on the show are the people we are in real life, for better or for worse. These comedians who have clutched onto podcasting have only made matters worse. You have a show like the Mediocre Show being in the top of all the lists for more than seven years, earning every fucking fan they have, and some B-list comedian starts a show and, because they are mildly famous, iTunes pushes their show, gives them advantages that the shows that have been there for years don't ever get. I also think that everyone thinks they should start a podcast because they love listening to them. "Anyone can start a podcast." I hear people say that all the time when they ask me for help setting them up. Yes, anyone can, but not everyone should. There are so many horrible shows for people to sift through. It makes this media really hard to be in sometimes. It's like being the tiny, yellow sun in one of the outer bands of the Milky Way. Sure, our solar system has life and is pretty damned entertaining, but the ETs over on Fucktron 9 somewhere between here and the black hole at the center of the galaxy will probably never hear us because of all the other white noise out there.

Paul: As a listener, I'm very satisfied with the amount of content available. I have endless access to what interests me at my finger tips. The fact that I can hear several of my favorite comedians talk intimately about their lives is a thrill for me and well-worth my time. As a podcaster, I discovered how I can share my sense of humor with people from all over the world, and that's fucking awesome no matter how you slice it. It's still a wide-open medium for whom ever wants a piece of the podcast pie and I'm cool with that. As far as I know we're not going to run out of Internets.
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Gavin: Is there anything you believe could be done to make podcasting more prominent?

Mike: Companies taking a chance to advertise. iTunes realizing that podcasts built their music store on podcasting, in my opinion. Instead of all but hiding and shitting on podcasts, feature them like they would that One Direction shit band or that chick who sings "Call Me Maybe." I want to stress that I'm not still doing my shows because I want to make a ton of money off of them or want to be some superstar. If those are your reasons, save yourself the huge amount of time, large sums of money and the gigantic headaches that this can bring. I do it for the love of broadcasting, making a difference in someone's day, inspiring someone to help someone else out, the community of friends the shows have and a way to catalog who I am in case something terrible happened to me, Anyah could listen and see who her father really was. That's what is important to me. Would I like to recoup the thousands and thousands I've spent? I wouldn't say no, but its not all that important.

Paul: If mainstream film starts incorporating podcasting into their characters lives, I think we would see a big infiltration.

Cat: Advertisement, perhaps. You don't see many signs for podcasts. You don't hear about many podcasts. But there are an endless sea of them out there. In some ways, I think making podcasts more prominent and mainstream takes away from the good parts. The more people staring at you, the less likely you'll feel like you can be yourself. I worry constantly that my employer will hear my podcast and decide I'm not good PR for the place I work. At least speaking for myself, I need a bit of anonymity. But if you're really set on standing out from the crowd, longevity is the way to do it, in my opinion. Most podcasts start up and stop without many people noticing. A podcast that's been going on continuously for six or seven years has stood the test of time and people will notice. Podcasts have very loyal followings sometimes, and the longer a podcast is around, the longer the fan base has to grow and feed off of itself.
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Gavin: Do you have any favorite shows you listen to and recommend?

Paul: The Dana Gould Hour, The Long Shot, WTF and Comedy Film Nerds.

Cat: Cort and Fatboy. Though they're breaking my freaking heart ending that in December. There are enough hilarious shows in their catalog, though, to keep you busy for a very long time, if you wanted to start now. I highly recommend it.

Mike: The Mediocre Show, Cort and Fatboy, The Geek Show Podcast, Star Talk Radio, See You Next Tuesday, The South Philly Paulcast archive, Radio From Hell, Ham-Fisted Radio and the I Am Salt Lake Podcast. I want to give a nod to some friends/listeners who do The Undercover Unitards, Nice Man Podcast and Tales From The Hardside. Check out the amazing books written by SLC's own Bryan Young -- City Weekly's column Big Shiny Robot -- and also by C.J. Bilbrey by searching iTunes. Of course, you should check out the entire, gigantic catalog of The Awful Show, as well.
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Gavin: Where do you see the medium going over the next few years, and do you see it ever overtaking radio?

Mike: I think in some ways podcasting already has. I don't know many people who actually still listen to the radio. That being said, I don't talk to many people who don't know what a podcast is. When I'm asked about my shows, most times I don't talk about them but the entire list of shows above. About 90% of the time, they come back to me, saying thanks for sharing these shows. They actively looked for my shows and found some of their own. I think as times goes on and everything is smaller, easier to get and all digital, it only seems to be logical that podcasting would grow. Even if it doesn't, I'll probably still be doing it.

Cat: I think if it takes over radio, podcasting will end up being more like radio. If that's the main source of audio entertainment, sponsors will want in, shows will compete for sponsorship and we'll have the restrictiveness of radio all over again. I honestly hope it never gets there, or at least only sponsors who have made peace with the free speech going on sign on. Who know? Maybe we're seeing the beginnings of the end of the censorship era where everyone is afraid to be honest, and it'll be encouraged and supported on a large scale by the public and sponsors equally.

Paul: It will become more mainstream, being used for advertising and promotion by established companies and entertainers. For several people, I think podcasting has already taken over radio. I seldom listen to radio, and believe it's the same for a large population.
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Gavin: What can we expect from all of you and the show over the rest of the year and going into next?

Cat: With us? Who knows? As long as it's fun, we'll keep doing it, even though what we consider fun may evolve within the show over the next few years.

Paul: Mike, Christina and I will be touring Europe, but Christina will remain in North Carolina continuing to Skype in with her brand of sciencey talky-talk talk.

Mike: You can expect me to continue to bust Cat's balls until she finally realizes I'm fucking around and learns to not take life so seriously. I'll also do how I always do, choosing the most ridiculous thing I could say over the one that I believe or is more politically correct. You can expect Cat to never get that, get so pissed off at me that you'll laugh your ass off, and, somewhere in there, Paul will be poking me with a stick to keep it up, usually by taking Cat's side. We'll continue to talk about science stuff and everything in geek culture because that's who we are. The interview shows will continue, because, quite frankly, there are so many cool people who I still have to share with the audience. Let's be honest -- it's a really easy way to put out a great show with little effort, and I end up looking like I'm a great interviewer because of it. It's not me. These people are genuinely interesting and likable people. If you're into any of the above or just like hearing like-minded people have conversations that morph into something entertaining or funny, then listen to us, send us some voicemails, interact with us and definitely support the show by leaving us an iTunes review. If you guys do that, then we'll always have a reason to still be here.
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Gavin: Aside from the obvious, is there anything you'd like to promote or plug?

Paul: Watch the series Misfits.

Mike: Support independent podcasts, shows, music, books and art. There are so many talented people out there who are killing themselves for the love of doing what they do. A little support from you would go a long way for them. Seriously, reach out, let them know you are there and you appreciate it. Help out anyone you can who is in a bad situation or less fortunate than you. When people talk to you, really listen to them, don't just wait until "your turn" to talk. Rescue a pet. Seriously, it's fucking amazing and rewarding. Go to ZaxWorx.bigcartel.com; Zack Martinez out there in SLC makes glasses and tumblers out of beer, wine and liquor bottles. It's a really cool gift. For some amazing geek-infused retro artwork, go to SLC resident Kat Kartin. Check out everything me at ThaMike.com and I’m plugging this here before anywhere else: Star Wars fans are soon in for a regularly scheduled audible treat --it may somehow involve a City Weekly columnist.

Cat: Obvious, as in Obviously Oblivious?! I'd like to promote Better Oats Oatmeal. They're so good! Haha ... oh, and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts. That company is just a lot of fun and I can't wait for the Krispy Kreme Challenge this year. Stay tuned to all of our upcoming shows, and shows from Mediocre Show, Geek Show, StarTalk Radio, and Cort and Fatboy while they're still with us.


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