Comedy Issue: Casting for laughs

Podcasts have become a popular medium with comics and fans alike.

For a metropolitan area with a burgeoning comedy scene, in a nation experiencing a new comedy explosion driven at least to some extent by the popularity of podcasts, Tampa Bay doesn’t really seem to have a whole hell of a lot of well-known or easily accessible comedy podcasts of its own.

“I was thinking about that today,” says Will Kuncz. “The running joke is that every comic has their own podcast, but I could only think of about four or five [local ones], and that’s about it.”

As host of both St. Pete watering hole Sly Bar’s every-other-Tuesday stand-up comedy open mic and his own podcast, The Homemade Broadcast, the 30-year-old Kuncz has one foot planted firmly in both worlds. He got into podcasting a few years back while looking for and not finding a job in radio. When his former roommate had to bail on the show’s original two-host format, Kuncz considered giving it up, but instead moved to an interview format.

“My life just isn’t exciting enough that I can talk about myself for 45 minutes,” he says. “Since the arts scene is blossoming, and I’ve been here for 10 years or so, I just started interviewing my buddies — comedians, painters, actors, people that were doing something creative in the area.”

Kuncz has been broadcasting his show on emerging online community station since July of 2014, as well. Like a lot of so-called comedy podcasts, his show isn’t specifically focused on stand-up or comedic performance. Its rising notoriety has seen him interview a wide variety of guests (disclosure: this editor is among them), including St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, which must’ve been something special, since Kuncz records his podcasts on a relatively simple laptop-and-microphones setup in his smallish Old Northeast apartment.

“That was really weird, he just came over himself,” says Kuncz. “Very humble dude, very funny guy.”

But The Homemade Broadcast is still associated closely with the local DIY comedy scene.

“Since I do the open mic, I do have a lot of comedians roll through here,” Kuncz says. “I like to give the guys and girls an outlet, share with whatever small audience I have.”

Which doesn’t mean he’s not serious about his work. Kuncz is in the process of building his own podcast network, HMB Radio, a locally originated group of programs based on the model created by popular national fan-favorite communities like Earwolf or Nerdist. He’s helping friend and local comic James Bailey with his own show, My Mom’s Favorite Podcast, and isn’t joking at all when he says he believes podcasting, in all its genres and niches, represents the future of radio.

“If you’re a fan of a particular person, you can just hear them, as opposed to radio, where you have to put up with all this stuff you have no interest in,” he says. “It’s on-demand service. Radio won’t die, it’ll just move to the internet, and that’s what podcasting is ... that’s why I’m trying to build my network. I kind of feel like I know what I’m doing. I mean, I don’t, but I’m getting better all the time.”

So if this is the future, and the future is now, why aren’t there more local comedy podcasts again?

“Because comics are inherently lazy, or troubled, or they hate themselves,” Kuncz says with a laugh. “They’re all crazy. That’s why they do what they do.”

Local podcasts: A primer

Some are all about comedy itself. Some feature comedians talking about anything from sports to comics. Some offer entertaining interviews that can be counted to to generate some laughs. All of them form a picture of the medium’s potential for variety, specialty and comic payoff. (Note: If you’re new to podcast listening, you can stream them to your computer through a website, but most prefer the freedom of mobile apps like iTunes for Apple or Pocket Casts, Doggcatcher or Podkicker for Android.)

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