It is Podcast Month which means that we will be bringing you all the fun shows you should be carrying around in your back pocket on a phone. Today we speak to a character based improv podcast called Fact Up that is run by members of The Free Association. I caught up with the team to find out more.
Hello! Can you tell us a little bit about the team behind FactUp Podcast?
We’re all improvisers based out of The Free Association Theatre in London, performing weekly in house team The Wilsons, plus headline Saturday night show Jacuzii. Individually, we’re: Ian Thomas Day (Keith, a celebrated Canadian man), Chris Gau (co-creator of C5’s Borderline and Radio 4’s The Literary Adventures of Mr Brown) and Shaun Lowthian (DNAYS, The Homunculus).
What is the show all about?
We’re an improvised character comedy podcast that plays on popular knowledge podcasts like Radiolab and Stuff You Should Know. Each week we take a different topic and attempt to uncover everything worth knowing about it, with the help of guest comedians, actors and improvisers in character as ‘experts’. Predictably, nothing is learned whatsoever.
How did the podcast come about?
We all met through classes and shows at The Free Association. While The FA established itself a bit as a theatre and school for improv, Jonny Collis and Ryan Dench (Soap – Our Network) went out of their way to use some empty space at one of the FA’s theatres for a makeshift podcast studio, open for all performers and students to book. We saw this as a great opportunity to start up a podcast, it would’ve been stupid of us not to…as a ton of the setup work was done for us. We’re all avid listeners of comedy podcasts, and completely aware that pretty much every improviser, comedian and middle-class male has one. Basically, we had to or we would be kicked out of doing comedy.
How do you decide what each of the episodes are about?
It’s a mix of huge, broad topics that no-one should attempt to address in 30 mins, and vaguely topical issues. It’s fun to get into the super specific from time-to-time: We’ve covered Soup in two episodes already, I don’t think we’ll ever truly get to the bottom of it. It’s a big bowl.
What is the best thing about recording a podcast?
Selfishly, we get to perform with some of our favourite performers, from the improv world and beyond. We’ve been really lucky to have world-class improvisers and comedians share their time and talent with us. Our first love is always improv, but the podcast lets us makes something that exists and can be enjoyed beyond the moment it was created too, which is great.
What is the most challenging?
Keeping up a weekly release schedule is a big job – it means many hours of unglamorous labour in the edit suite and in front of computer screens emailing out press releases and social posts, etc. It’s can be bit full-on at times, juggling around live shows, writing and actually having a life. That’s ultimately why Ian lives in the studio.
What are some of your favourite episodes of the podcast so far and why?
The episodes on China (episode 51 with Jonathan Broke), Cricket (episode 92, with Will Hines of UCB, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Inside Amy Schumer) and Theatre (episode 15, with Breaking Bad’s Matt Jones) are all really fun ones. Some of the left-field characters spring to mind too: Alison Thea-Skot plays an egg in episode 60, while Lola-Rose Maxwell is fear itself in last year’s Halloween Special. They all share a totally silly mood.
Recently, our live 100th episode on anniversaries in front of a sell-out crowd at The FA in Camden was so much fun. Our guests Liz Kingsman (Massive Dad, TimeWasters), Clare Plested (The 838), Freya Slipper (The Cartel) and Matt Stevens (Thunderbards, DNAYS) all smashed it and it really captured the spirit of the previous 99.
Do you have to cut a lot out of your podcasts or do you tend to keep it raw and quite fluid?
We record as-live to keep up the spirit of improv that we all love. Chris adds some sound effects magic in post-production, and we shoot for about 30 mins per episode. We sometimes have to be pretty clinical, but it’s rare too much is cut out – it can become a continuity nightmare otherwise.
What advice would you give for people thinking about starting a podcast?
Be ready to put in the hard graft. Really take the time to think about what your show’s tone of voice is, and be ruthless with edits to get there – better 20 mins of gold, than one hour of unfocused ramblings.
What makes you different to other podcasts out there?
There’s not many totally improvised, or even character comedy podcasts, showcasing UK talent. We’re over 100 episodes in now, but a new listener can drop-in anywhere and pick things up. We also pull together so many improvisers at the top of their game, all being extremely silly, doing what they love – if you can’t make it down to London, it’s a good window into what’s happening in the improv scene here.
What other podcasts are you a fan of and why?
I think we pretty unanimously agree that Andy Daly’s Podcast Pilot Project might be the funniest thing in podcast history. Between us we dig Comedy Bang Bang, Hollywood Handbook, Mouth Time, and also non-comedy pods like This American Life, 99% Invisible and Griefcast. The Desert Island Discs archive is genuinely a national treasure.
If people want to find out more about you where can they find you on social media?
You can interact with the podcast on twitter and Instagram @factuppod (check out Ian’s bonkers visual interpretations of each episode), and we’re also on Facebook. We put out upcoming topics through all those, so you can ask questions or send us voice message questions – we answer our favourites on air.
The full back catalogue is here – on-soap.com/fact-up or https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/fact-up/id1056780413. Subscribe and leave us a lovely review!
“It’s a mix of huge, broad topics that no-one should attempt to address in 30 mins…”- FactUp Podcast
what are your aims for your podcast in 2018?
Stay tuned for more live shows, and we’ll be featuring new guests from across the UK and US comedy scenes, charging on to our next milestone of 150 episodes. It’s going to be a riot.
In three words why should people listen to your show?
Might as well.