Let's face it. When it comes to comedy, you really should leave it to the professionals. To illustrate this point, I urge you to take a quick spin around the Spokane radio dial. You know what I'm taking about, right? Yeah, when the best jokes are the unintentional ones, you know something is amiss in the ol' laughs department. And that's just FM. With a few exceptions, the venerable AM band is dominated by a talk format so bone dry that all those syndicated demigods and weasels actually provide something approaching blessed relief. It's sad, really. But wait a minute. What's this cowering down at the end of the AM dial? People cracking wise and telling jokes that actually stick? Hmmm... Sounds like something funny is going on here.
What you're hearing is Comedy World, an independent talk radio network now heard in Spokane on KEYF-AM 1050. Comedy World's live, all-talk comedy format runs 24/7 and features all original programming and a stellar line-up of actual, professional comedians -- folks who have devoted their lives to the propagation of merriment and mirth.
The company's foray into radioland is quite new and is an extension of their Web site (www.comedyworld.com) which was launched just six months ago. Spokane is one of three test markets thus far to receive the live comedy radio programming (along with stations in Syracuse, N.Y., and Atlantic City, N.J.).
"The radio thing is brand new. And Spokane is the first city to receive it," says Andrei Mylroie, an account executive with Desautel Hege Communications, a public relations group that is marketing Comedy World in the Spokane area. "But they're also in the midst of negotiating with other stations all over the country to syndicate their shows."
Mylroie elaborates on the program philosophy at Comedy World, something its creators describe as "talk radio with a comedic edge."
"It's really a different format than anyone's ever tried before. Rather than taking a bunch of DJs or radio show hosts and saying, 'Hey, now it's time to be funny' -- they got nationally recognized stand-up comedians and said, 'Hey, you can be a radio show host and do your thing every day on the air.' What they've been able to do is get comedians to host that people really relate to -- Kennedy, The Kids in the Hall, Sandra Bernhardt. They've got a number of these really well-known comedians and put them on the air and they're hosting radio shows."
And play host they do. Witness (for starters) "The Future with Ahmet and Kennedy" airing every weekday morning from 6-9 a.m. He's a Zappa (not Dweezil, not Moon, not Frank, but Ahmet, damn it). And she's a former MTV Veejay. Together they lay waste to the anemic morning radio landscape with pop culture minutiae, wit and brutal honesty.
"We are here to rain down fire on this crazy radio world," claims Zappa, recalling Kenneth Branagh in the film Henry V. Kennedy's reaction to her co-host's unbridled enthusiasm is characteristically deadpan, "First, I apologize for anything Ahmet has said or will say. He's just wrong and that's what makes him beautiful."
But the morning show is just the beginning of a weekday lineup that includes such intriguing titles as "The Manversation" (from 3-6 p.m.), "Monsters of the Night with Michael Orenstein" (from 8-10 p.m.) and "Radio Un-Cabaret" (from 10 p.m.-midnight). The weekends pack a brain-tingling wallop as well with the anarchistic, sacrilegious "Melichar"(from 9 a.m.-noon), the obviously man-oriented "Wrestling 101" (from 7-9 p.m.) and provocative comedian Sandra Bernhardt's SANDRAdio on Sundays from 5-7 pm.
"The shows are all really different," says Mylroie. "It's all live and any time you can call in, e-mail in whatever you want to do, you'll be on the line with one of the hosts, which has been very popular."
Comedy World is based in San Francisco and all the programming comes out of studios in L.A. But the fledgling radio network is doing everything they can to localize things as much as possible.
"They're doing really fun stuff around town. They've been doing these Gas Man promotions where they give out 1,050 gallons of free gas. They also have this group of girls called the Bomb Squad that do bar promotions and help to liven up events. Spokane is going to be a really important market. They're not using it as a test market. They're actually promoting the station here because if they can show that this thing is working in Spokane, it's going to make it more feasible for them to launch in other markets."
Obviously, the boys and girls at Comedy World are hoping that all this local exposure will translate into listeners. That people around town will lock 1050 into their radio scan and take advantage of the network's bounty of jokes. All day, all night, all free.
"One of the nice things about radio is that you have a lot of choice," adds Mylroie. "What we've done is identify a niche in the market that nobody's really filling. We want to do this right."
& & Soup's On & & & &
Soup of the Day has a distinctive style characterized by the member's shared love of what they refer to as "technical rock." But don't freeze up, now. Because even though each member is a highly proficient musician, the group never allows their technical prowess to overwhelm the songs.
Made up of mostly ex-Spokanites (turntableist Andrew Fuller is the only non-east sider), this sextet grooves with guitars (strummed and picked by Cameron Newell and Ben Jahn), and a rhythm section that includes not only a traditional bassist and drummer (Geoff Larson and Nick Vincent-Mahoney, respectively) but a wacky percussionist (Justin Sorensen) who beats on a variety of congas, djembes, cowbells, wood blocks and cymbals.
Though they vehemently deny the rumor that they are really just a bunch of hippies in disguise, Soup of the Day do manage to avoid many of prog and jam rock's pitfalls by making music that people actually like to dance to.
This Saturday night, they will squeeze into Mootsy's for a party to kick off the release of their first fully realized studio effort, Four Feet Tall. Bassist Larson comments:
"This is something that we did on our own; it's self-recorded. So, in a way, it is what it is. It's a representation of where we were at the time. But we're just starting to write a bunch of new tunes right now and we're kind of departing from that."
Well, for a mere $2 cover, you could squeeze into Mootsy's as well and catch these guys before they morph into...? Stay glued.
& & & lt;i & Soup of the Day plays Mootsy's on Saturday, Dec. 23, at 9 p.m. Cover: $2. Call: 838-1570. & lt;/i & & lt;/center &