This month is Halloween and what better way to celebrate then a podcast that features zombies and detectives. I caught up with the Dead Drunk Detectives creator, Brendan to find out what this series has in store.
Hello Brendan – a new series of your podcast Dead Drunk Detective in time for Halloween! Tell us about the story so far?
Johnny Stumbles (Arfie Mansfield) is a zombie private eye in a town full of literal monsters. He is aided and abetted by his secretary, Betty (Kate Oswald), who gives him cases (and scotch).
When he’s not solving mysteries – well, actually, even during them – he’s drinking at his nearest pub, The Cough Inn. Or en route to a suspect. Or at the office. In fact, he’s been drunk ever since he was turned into a zombie. God knows what would happen if he ever went sober…
What is the new series all about?
Series three is all about Johnny’s growing suspicions that someone is out to get him. Which is a risk that comes with his job, but it’s a fully justified fear given that, last year, the zombie that bit him came back to town.
It’s my first attempt at a more serialised narrative. Each previous series built up to a showdown, but that arc kicked in halfway through each run. I was writing a lot of standalone stories. It’s far easier to produce a set of episodes where each edition is part of the puzzle, hence the change.
You are releasing episodes weekly all over October – what made you decide this?
It’s the month when people are in the mood for something spooky! And as there’s five Wednesdays in October, we can space out episodes and end with a double bill finale on Halloween!
Out of all the episodes that you have done so far, what have been your favourite?
The final two episodes of series one will always be special to me because, with very little direction from me, the cast made them sound exactly like what I had in my head. Episode 1.6 also has a high energy shouting match between a demon and goblin (Mark Tindle and Catherine Haslam) that helped me decide what type of characters best play off Johnny Stumbles.
Is it hard to record a podcast?
I’m not sure about the practical side – my ace producer Katharine Kerr (of www.podcastpioneers.com) does all the editing and effects. That said, one script in this series does require her to create the noise of a skeleton walking away, so that’s probably going to be difficult.
What are some of the challenges you come up against?
Casting. I pick every cast member myself, but don’t run auditions. Most guest appearances are one-off scenes. So I’m always looking for someone who can immediately come in strong with a big character.
A lot of your previous episodes have been in front of a live audience – how come this season is not?
I’ve constantly been wrestling with whether to direct this like a radio drama, a live sitcom, or a cartoon. This is just the next step in discovering that answer. Perhaps it could be just as effective dramatically recorded in studio.
This also gives us the luxury of more time for retakes to get each episode just right. When we were booking a theatre for recordings, we had to get four episodes wrapped in two hours. We were also effectively selling the show twice. First: come to the live show! Second, listen to the podcast!
By doing it in studio, I’ve cut my amount of stress in half.
Who are your favourite characters in the podcast and why?
The recurring players are a blast to write for as they’re never burdened with exposition so they mainly drop in provide silliness. That’s jolly werewolf Hairy (Steff Prince), deadpan bartender Jo (Charlotte Kaye), and our existential Dracula (Charles Scherer).
It is a really interesting concept for a podcast with some great poster work – is there any plans to turn the narrative into graphic novels or animations?
Ah, credit for our excellent poster illustration goes to Aimee Sajjan-Servaes!
Well, there’s a great saying – “the pictures are always better on the radio”. You’ve essentially an unlimited budget when you’re encouraging people to imagine every location, character, and costume. You can take the action anywhere without worrying how to stage it.
That said, a Saturday morning cartoon would be awesome! And far better than a live action version which requires Arfie to spend a few hours a day putting on zombie makeup.
Will there be another season in the future?
I hope so! I’ll make the show as long as I’ve ideas and Kat, Kate, and Arfie are available.
For people who have not listened to your podcast, why should they jump on board the Dead Drunk Detective wagon now?
It’s our strongest season ever. With each series, I’ve grown more confident in the characters and the show’s tone, so I have a better understanding of how to make the show. That means the hit rate of jokes and episodes is higher. Plus, every cast member nails their role.
We’ve also a very low bar to entry to start listening to the show. You don’t really need to catch up on past series to get what’s happening. Regular characters essentially reintroduce themselves when they appear. All you really need to know is Johnny Stumbles is a drunk zombie detective.
And Finally sum up this season in 3 words.
Dramatic dumb fun.
If you want to start listening to Dead Drunk Detective you can by going to iTunes, podcastpioneers.com, and soundcloud.com/deaddrunkpod