“What are you guys? Are you a band?” The folks at Public Assembly were curious about Saturday night’s front room show, Uhh Yeah Dude, when fans started coming in the day before to make sure they could get into the free show.
“How do you explain free form jazz? How does Cunningham explain dance?” one half of the UYD duo, Seth Romatelli joked in explanation.
Uhh Yeah Dude is a free weekly comedy podcast in which Romatelli and his long-time friend Jonathan Larroquette, sit in Romatelli’s Hollywood, CA living room and discuss and digest the week’s current events. It’s hard to pinpoint just why, but even though UYD is just two guys hanging out and talking for an hour, listeners have embraced their quirky dynamic, down-to-earth personalities, and ability to react to news items, TV shows, commercials, tweets and craigslist ads in a way that resonates with the twenty and thirty-somethings trying to make sense of the world today. The show has a steadily increasing fan base, and the UYD podcast has been in the top comedy podcasts category on iTunes for over a year.
Over the weekend, the Larroquette and Romatelli, who have been doing the show since October 2006, came to Williamsburg for their 188th show— their second live show— and were received by eager fans that came from all over the country to see them.
“There are a million people here! Did you see this?” Romatelli asked. You know why you’re here, right? We just do a podcast. We’re not MGMT—you know that we’re talking, right? I’m completely beside myself. I can’t believe it. Walking in and it being eight o’ clock and people are already rolling in—it’s the best feeling in the world.”
The duo believes what’s made them successful is their ability to tap into the zeitgeist, and look at media and current events in a way that mainstream news outlets don’t.
“There’s a major void between how the mainstream media talks about things, and how you may react to them,” the shows new producer, Jordon Gilbert said. “What drew me to the show is the fact that this is a voice of young people that you simply do not hear in mainstream media. I think a lot of people really identify with that.”
“The theme of the show is basically us being like ‘What the f*** is going on?’ Oh my god, we’re all gonna die,” Romatelli joked. “It’s not a stand-up routine. It’s incredibly topical. It’s things that are specific to each week. Sometime it’s mundane or pedantic, but it’s relative to the minutia of our lives. We just try our best to be funny and current.”
“The world is complete pandemonium right now,” Larroquette added. “We still have to process reality and go to work. We have to learn how to cope with the kind of information and the kind of activity that’s going on on this planet, which is, for us at least, new for people our age. We talk about bullshit, but it’s the bullshit that everyone deals with in their lives. It’s almost like we have to talk about it just to figure out how to get through it.”
Though they talk about topics that affect a broad audience, it’s the intimacy of the show that draws listeners in and keeps them. Though they generally stick to current events, Larroquette often tells personal stories or recites embarrassing teenage poetry. He even gave out his telephone number a few years back as a joke after rapper Mike Jones did, and tons of fan calls later, he still hasn’t changed his number. Romatelli’s germaphobia is so well known by his listeners that many fans were asking how he handled the New York subways.
“We’ve made a specific point of trying to be as accessible as possible,” Romatelli said. “We are in the audience with everyone here, we’re hugging people. This is everyone’s show. We’re all here, somehow.”
“[The listeners] tolerate the natural ebb and flow of two people that are truly coming into this stuff at the same time that they are,” Larroquette explained. “We’re not building a routine, it’s not a script. Next week we’ll be back in Hollywood and we’ll do a completely different show, because another week will have gone by in the universe that we have to try to process.”
The two acknowledge how the current changes in new media and social networking have allowed for a show like theirs to thrive.
“It’s not been like this since the sixties as far as independent journalism and independent media goes,” Larroquette said. “There were so many underground journals and zines and newspapers and ways that people were trying to get information out to each other. Now it’s the same concept, just on a scale that’s astronomical.”
In the future, UYD are looking for ways to expand and connect with more people, whether that’s through more live shows, touring, or satellite radio.
So far, the low-production value for the show and free price sticker for fans has helped in their success. “We talk into a microphone for an hour in a living room,” Romatelli said. “It couldn’t get anymore bare bones DYI. It’s a free show. These are tough economic times, and we’ve made it a consistent point that we are aware of that, that we are living that, and this is hopefully free entertainment for people every single week. Like the post office, we’re very consistent in our work. Except we’re not bleeding money. We’re barely generating income.”
If the response Saturday was any indication of UYD’s ability to attract listeners, Romatelli and Larroquette have little to worry about. Audience members finally got to be in the living room with the two guys they’ve been listening to for 187 hours, and they treated them like long-lost friends, calling out during the show and relishing in the inside jokes and their presence.
“I haven’t been to New York since I was eighteen years old,” Larroquette said. “To have that kind of love in a place that you haven’t stepped foot in for that long feels amazing.”