Comedian Doug Benson loves movies, but with podcasting, it's more like lust. And Benson is not alone: Stand-up comedians represent a dominant force in podcasting, using the medium to directly reach their fan bases without having to worry about censorship or the time
And “Doug Loves Movies,” in which Benson brings fellow comedians to his weekly sessions at the UCB Theater in Los Angeles to talk about movies and play a “Name That Tune”-like quiz called “The Leonard Maltin Game,” is a hit on iTunes, where comedians flourish in the online store's podcast section.
“I think comedians are jumping at the opportunity to podcast because there are no rules,” said Benson, who performs Tuesday at City Arts Center. “You can say anything you want on a podcast, and it can be any length you want. Since a lot of people listen at work or during long commutes or trips, they actually want podcasts to be long. The biggest complaint I get about ‘Doug Loves Movies' is, at 45 minutes each week, it's too short. Leave 'em wanting more, I say.”
On the iTunes podcast chart, comedians make up a sizable portion of the popular subscriptions, including Benson's “Doug Loves Movies,” Paul F. Tompkins' “The Pod F. Tomcast,” Chris Hardwick's “The Nerdist” and Adam Carolla's “The Adam Carolla Show.” Some of the hosts such as Carolla and Marc Maron are refugees from radio and have found podcasts to be a far more manageable and freeing forum for their ideas.
Benson, who is bringing along frequent “Doug Loves Movies” guest Graham Elwood for his City Arts Center show, said the comedians who took the leap into podcasting generally take time to appear on each other's shows: Benson has appeared on Carolla's, Maron's and Hardwick's shows, along with “The Joe Rogan Experience,” Scott Aukerman's “Comedy Bang Bang,” Howard Kremer's “Who Charted?” and Randy and Jason Sklar's “Sklarbro Country,” and each of those hosts has reciprocated with an appearance on “DLM.”
But one of the key draws for the podcast is “The Leonard Maltin Game,” which Benson created with friends and fellow comedians Sarah Silverman and Brian Posehn. The game uses the most recent “Leonard Maltin Movie Guide” as its key source, with contestants vying to name a movie in the least number of names from the bottom of the cast list. Benson supplies them with the year the film was made and Maltin's often vague descriptions and critiques.
The real experts, who return for regular “Tournament of Champions” podcasts, can often name the movies in “negative” names. If contestants say they can name the film in “negative two names,” they must provide the title, and the top two billed stars, in order of billing. Benson's recent guests include Zach Galifianakis, Amy Poehler, Adam Scott and Jon Hamm of “Mad Men,” a frequent guest on comedy podcasts who earned a reputation for holding his own against professional comics.
“People love it when T.J. Miller is on, because he knows how to irritate me, and they think it's funny when I get mad,” Benson said. “Personally, I prefer a polite English gentleman, like director Edgar Wright, who is amazing at ‘The Leonard Maltin Game,' by the way. T.J. sucks at it. Ha ha.”
Thanks to social media and the podcasts, more people show up at Benson's stand-up gigs than ever before, and now the 46-year-old comedian is less reliant on the tried-and-true avenues for promotion such as morning drive radio shows. Benson should have no problem packing them in at his Oklahoma City stop. Last year, former Gov. Brad Henry declared June 28, 2010, “Doug Benson Day” to commemorate his performance, and he expects a large number of the attendees to be easily recognizable “Doug Loves Movies” listeners.
“Luckily for me, there are enough podcast fans in each town to fill my shows,” he said. “At tapings of the podcast, people wear name tags to possibly win prizes, but now people have taken to wearing name tags to my shows on the road, so now I pretty much have to play the ‘Len Maltin Game' at every performance. And I love doing it!”
• With: Graham Elwood, BradChad Porter and Cameron Buchholtz.
• When: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
• Where: City Arts Center, 3000 General Pershing Blvd., State Fair Park.
• Tickets: $22 in advance, $25 at the door.
• Information: Ticket