Podcast blossoms into a comedy showcase
What could be the method to the madness of Northern Liberties natives Garrett Smith and Mike Baurer? Since June 2012, Smith, 26, and his self-described "manchild" pal Baurer, 27, have held (some of) Philadelphia in thrall with their hilarious weekly Trailer Trash podcast, which at first was geared toward humorously reviewing movie trailers, then became an anything-goes chat showcase for themselves and their fellow-comedian pals.
What could be the method to the madness of Northern Liberties natives Garrett Smith and Mike Baurer?
Since June 2012, Smith, 26, and his self-described "manchild" pal Baurer, 27, have held (some of) Philadelphia in thrall with their hilarious weekly Trailer Trash podcast, which at first was geared toward humorously reviewing movie trailers, then became an anything-goes chat showcase for themselves and their fellow-comedian pals.
Sex, sports, sex while playing sports, and, of course, the potential disaster of a Hollywood blockbuster gone wrong - based on the looks of its trailer - are fodder for the Trash men.
"I've been told the sound of my voice could make a rabid mountain lion in heat purr. Mike's voice could put a tabby cat into heat and give it rabies," teases Smith, when asked why they decided to try podcasting after a night of drinking. "I would say audiences demanded this kind of entertainment, absolutely."
Trailer Trash's success - 3,000-plus downloads per episode, Baurer says - and their newfound popularity as comic tastemakers and stand-up performers led to an invitation from World Cafe Live to create and host their own showcase, "All Bets are Off," the third iteration of which takes place Saturday.
"We pull the comics we love the most from whom we've had on Trailer Trash - all really great, close friends - to give the best show possible," Baurer says.
That the showcase started by accident - a wedding booked for March at World Cafe Live canceled right before the date - makes Smith and Baurer's success story even sillier.
"I'll tell you what success is," says stand-up comic Chip Chantry, a frequent visitor to Trailer Trash who, like Pat House, Doogie Horner, Mary Radzinski, Dan Scully, Rick Juliani, and the night's house band, Chalk & the Beige Americans, is part of Saturday's live cavalcade. "They asked me to do a podcast episode a year ago in Mike's bedroom, where we literally sat around an ironing board with a mike set up on it, chatting like the gals down at the sewing circle. I did the show again months later. Same bedroom, but they had a desk this time. I don't know if you've ever heard of a little thing called 'progress,' but that's what it looks like. A desk instead of an ironing board."
Smith and Baurer offer similar takes on what makes Trailer Trash vibrant, and they particularly love the podcasts that either break down into chaos and nonsense ("Check out any episode with Aaron Nevins, especially our 'Season 1 Finale,' where Aaron murdered our sound man," Smith says) or establish an ongoing joke the pair can refer to and the audience will understand in future episodes.
"Those, and the ones with Rick Juliani, because as soon as we are done, he assumes he was bad at being a guest and will text me for weeks to apologize," Smith says.
Along with the running jokes, Smith and Baurer insist on not being friends off-mike - necessary for maintaining a conversational groove on air.
"We hit our stride when Mike tries reading something and it becomes clear to our guests that he's on a fourth-grade reading level," Smith says.
"A lot of the conversations stem from Garrett not knowing any facts about movies," counters Baurer. "We might be in the wrong line of work."
When it comes to arranging the live "All Bets are Off" showcases, the two - who have booking experience and stage time as comedians - deny there's a grand, overarching scheme to the process. Nevertheless, with its house band, retinue of daring, often dark comedians indulging in lengthy monologues, and Smith and Baurer sharing host duties, "All Bets" comes across like a hyper-local, hipster A Prairie Home Companion, the long-running public radio show hosted by basso-profundo Garrison Keillor. Only, instead of an imaginary Lake Wobegon, the Trailer Trash crew gripe and grouse about all things Philly.
"Could Mike and Garrett be the Fishtown Keillors?" Chantry exclaims when asked. "I need to digest that for a few days."
Smith is more definitive. "We haven't set up a fake world like Keillor that we're always in and referencing. There is certainly an insular nature to the live show, with inside jokes only listeners of every episode of Trailer Trash would get, but nothing on that kind of meta-storytelling and world-building level Keillor has. You don't need to listen to the podcast to enjoy 'All Bets Are Off.' "
Baurer makes it simpler still. "If it wasn't for the overwhelming support from all Philly comics, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing: giving back and promoting them to the best of my abilities, whether it's having them on our podcast or booking them for 'All Bets are Off,' " he says.
"We have such an incredible comedy scene in this city, and people need - nay must - be made aware of it. That's our theme."
All Bets Are Off
8 p.m. Saturday at World Cafe Live Upstairs, 3025 Walnut St.
Information: 215-222-1400 or www.worldcafelive.com