Doug Benson ambles out onto the stage at Palace Station’s Louis Anderson Theater Jan. 8 in a cloud of smoke, naturally. (Don’t worry, parents of impressionable youth. it’s just a fog machine gag.) As the theme music to his Doug Loves Movies podcast rolls, an audience of around 120 claps in time.
At least a third of the people there came armed with custom nametags for when the show does its signature segment, The Leonard Maltin Game – a sort of Name That Tune for film. This crowd is primed for some heavy hitting, podcast taping action.
This is a crowd that shelled out $20 each to come see the shaggy, loose show – no act, no script and barely any format. So when Benson, in his typical first-gear speed, stumbled over a rundown of the show and a plug for the upcoming Weezer cruise, it had the opposite effect of derailing a polished stand-up set. It only endeared him more to the audience.
Benson brought out veteran comics Graham Elwood and Todd Glass, plus MMA fighter and podcaster in his own right, Jason “Mayhem” Miller to be his panel guests. Elwood and Glass, hosts of their own respective Comedy Film Nerd and The Todd Glass Show podcasts were immediately at ease with the rigors of comedy podcasting, but as Miller noted when he came out, he’s not a comedian. He’s just a fighter.
Even a fighter used to doing podcast kind of derailed the show at first, until being gently steered by Glass into the rhythm of the show. Over the next 90 minutes, the foursome went from solid banter to some truly sublime moments, all driven by Glass – both his show-stopping, two-minute fake announcement about the Palace Station Buffet; and his Leonard Maltin Game flop where he couldn’t come up with Unbreakable despite knowing Samuel L. Jackson was in a wheelchair, Bruce Willis starred opposite of him and Mayhem actually name-dropping the movie in a not-so-subtle clue.
It was during the latter when Elwood, Benson and Miller were convulsing so hard they ran off the stage. It’s a strictly video moment for a radio show. For a medium that, in theory, should fade those scenarios, it was one where you just had to be there.