Intro from Jay Allison: Okay, this work is IN PROCESS. The cuts here on Transom are excerpts. This is not a finished thing. That's all you need to know for now. When you listen, just pretend that you are hearing something like this on the radio. Then we can talk about how it might be framed, what could be added, how much or little introduction it needs, how the concept can be firmed up or if it needs to be. You can read more background here on this page about how things got this far. You can also hear what "The Next Big Thing" is doing with the idea. We hope that various participants/producers/talent will be along to talk about it all, even though they know that talking about comedy is a stupid thing to do.
These excerpts are pretty much uncut, samples of raw material that will be edited nicely and broadcast on WNYC’s “The Next Big Thing.” If you want more detail on the background of what’s happening here, scroll down. If you just want to hear these bits, unanalyzed (wise of you) then do that.
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From Jay Allison
This is the wrong way to do this. You shouldn’t be reading this first; it will ruin the effect. And we cut the audio excerpts wrong too. We left in some preamble between the improvisers which destroys the illusion and we sometimes left in Jonathan laughing, which is out of character. We’re doing all this to honor Transom’s purpose of exposing and discussing process.
So, here’s what you do. Stop reading now and turn on the radio. Then, quickly turn off the radio and click on one of the RealAudio links from this page. Somehow convince yourself that these little fragments (without the setups and laughing) are coming over the air, unheralded. “Hello…you’re on the air with Jonathan Katz.”
From Jonathan Katz
As a “child of the sixties,” I see things from a slightly skewed vantage point. But recently I realized that people fall into one of two camps: those people who believe that history repeats itself and those people who believe that it’s the people who say that, who repeat themselves.
I have always had a burning desire to have a radio show and on that show I will take this stance:
HONESTY MAY NOT BE THE BEST POLICY, BUT IT’S THE ONLY ONE WITH IT’S OWN PROVERB
Even MORE Background Notes from Jay Allison
Still reading before listening? Shame on you. Okay. You were warned. Here’s all the ruinous-to-comedy process talk.
This started when Valerie Velardi and Davia Nelson began bugging Jonathan to think about getting on public radio. Jonathan was a tape recorder geek as a kid and had lots of old reels lying around — preserved fragments of himself, his sister, his parents and relatives. We began to make a piece out of this for Lost & Found Sound, which was later finished up by This American Life.
That was fun, but we still wanted to find ways to feature Jonathan’s uncanny timing in a more freeform way. The telephone. That’s where his quipping and timing are best. So, we figured we’d try some kind of phone thing. These were some of the ideas:
– A guy who calls operators and other phone workers and pesters them. “Do you have a listing in Miami for a hospice under the name ‘Jokers’?” “Do you have a listing for Bob Wilson in Canterbury…that’s ‘C’ as in ‘Canterbury,’ ‘A’ as in ‘anterbury,’ ‘N’ as in “nterbury”, etc.” The only states which legally permit this kind of immaturity are New York and Nevada. Next idea.
– A guy who *thinks* he has a call-in show, who answers his home phone, “Is the caller there?”
– A call screener for a call-in show. Maybe a crazy or irritating one. Jonathan even called some call screeners to find out more about this job. He irritated them.
– The host of a call-in show of undetermined nature. Maybe on sports, lovelife, technology, home and garden care, or all of it. Its title might be “Anything Goes.” Or maybe it’s a show about unexplainable phenomenon, “Seeing is Believing.” Or “Food for Thought.” Wait, that’s taken. Okay, something else. Who knows?
So we sort of went with this last idea and Jonathan sent out an email to various of his improvisatory friends and we set up a time for Jonathan to sit in our Cape & Islands radio stations and make the calls, one after the other. That’s what you will hear. Sometimes the imaginary show had the title “Seeing is Believing.” Sometimes it had no title at all and Jonathan surrendered his host identity to giggling.
Now we think the show is called “You’re On The Air With Jonathan Katz.” Dean Olsher and Amanda Aronczyk are pulling it together to fit in their show, “The Next Big Thing.” We’re putting it here at Transom (where Jonathan had a short piece a year ago, made in his attic) to deconstruct and analyze, because that’s what we do.
On Monday, with your help, I'm recording a segment for a show on WNYC called "The Next Big Thing." The host of the show is Dean Olsher, pronounced Dean Olsher, will be helping us from his studio in NYC and Jay Allison, producer extraordinaire for public radio, will be helping from his studio in Woods Hole, Ma. We'll be pretending that you are the caller even though we will be generating the calls. These are some of the ideas I'd like to mess around with and because it will be edited, we can stop and start as much as you like.
The first segment is called “FOOD FOR THOUGHT”, in which I play a call screener for a radio show called “Food for Thought”. Today’s topic might be “What would you do if you got a collect call from the Pope? Would you accept the charges? If not, why? Before I can “put you on the air” I’ll have to ask you a few quick questions. Thank you for your patience.
Another subject might be: how do you feel about our government spending your tax dollars on a “National Middle Name Day?”
You’re on the air talking to the host of a radio show called: “SEEING IS BELIEVING” You’ve called in to describe something for which there is no scientific explanation.
In a third segment, I will be happy to answer any questions revolving around professional sports, up to, and including three cushion billiards.
Segment #4 is you calling me as the host of a show called: “YOUR GUESS IS AS GOOD AS MINE”. On this show, I’m an expert on any subject you want to talk about.
The final segment is advice to people who are unlucky in love but good at cards.
Other possible areas: parenting, parenting your parents, health and nutrition, spirituality (I pretty much know it all). Thank you all in advance for your help and your continuing support of my pet cause, “The Nervous Tick.”
Additional support for this work provided by
with funding from the
The National Endowment for the Arts