Behind The Scenes: Who Charted? Live In Seattle
Coming in at number one. . .Who Charted? live in Seattle!
The breezy night air was crisp and a light rain fell from a multitude of directions as we stood on my birthday outside Chop Suey amongst a growing line of Seattle hipsters. Eager to just get in from the rain, my wife stood close to me draped in my coat for extra warmth and asked me to explain exactly what it was we were about to see. Daunting as the task may be, I tried to explain podcasts to her (a person who hasn’t ever listened to a podcast) and then attempted to translate that into what we would see live on stage. In all, I had to admit, it was a confusing way to experience a podcast for the first time. We were wet, cold, and she was frustrated but the line started to inch forward. Soon, we would be baring witness to comedy podcasting history. The first ever live presentation of Who Charted?! and I wouldn’t have wanted to spend my birthday any other way.
This was my first time being to Chop Suey and my initial impression was I had entered a truly swank, raw performance venue that had every bit as much charisma as it had various Chinese decorative items. The small, mostly black room had an entry way draped with Bruce Lee prints and a Dragon hanging from the ceiling that led all the way from the entrance way, between the stage and red lit bar, to the end of the room. I felt about a hundred times more hip than I really am just standing in Chop Suey. My wife’s first thought however after getting inside was something along the line of “where are supposed to sit?” OKAY. If I have to pick a bone with this show, I’ll do it up front. The maximum capacity for Chop Suey is 247. It seats about 10. If you are not at the front of the line, plan on standing. Similar venues often warn when you purchase tickets that it is standing room only or very limited seating. I wouldn’t normally have been bothered by standing in any way, but since my wife definitely was, I was bummed out vicariously through her.
The crowd was given the usual rundown on how not to behave during a show, but most importantly for that night as it was being recorded for a podcast to be enjoyed by countless fans. The Who Charted? intro pumped through the speakers as Howard Kremer and Kulap Vilaysack took the stage. The co-hosts looked just as anxious and excited to the see this crowd of fans who have shown up as we were to see them both in Seattle. Howard let us all know right at the top that during any given recording he is easily distracted, the live audience and ambiance of the venue then should prove to be a major source of deficit for his attention. Kulap on the other hand was clearly going to thrive off the energy of this group of fans. Her vibrant enthusiasm as “Keeper of the Charts” was palpable.
The third wheel on this tricycle of entertainment was special guest, Sir Mix-a-Lot. Mix was the saving grace of that night out with my wife because she was at least more than familiar with his work and needless to say – a fan. I never would have thought Sir Mix-a-Lot would be a guest on ANY of the podcasts I listen to, but the chart topping, Seattle native, rap star brought a completely different perspective to the show. His humor elicited laughs from the crowd as well as any other comedian I’ve seen and should I really be surprised coming from an artist who’s biggest hit has a music video featuring huge assed women dancing on top of enormous butt statues? A favorite Mix-a-Lot moment for me was hearing Kulap teach the rapper what a “spank bank” was and Howard then letting her know that he stopped including her in his own bank after their eighth week together.
Howard’s questions for Mix (as is the case with any guest) were seemingly drawn from thin air based solely off any minute detail pulled from the most random bit of trivia related to the chart clip that was played. Whether this interview style is derived from careful comedic crafting or a comedian with improv chops who is resting on his laurels, the effect on the crowd was fantastic. Howard’s questions are a perfect balance of honest curiosity and awkward fumbling that make me laugh every time I hear one. At one point Howard asked if Mix feels he received better treatment from fans in the U.K. on account of him being knighted. Comedy gold.
Not even Sir Mix-a-Lot beating a paper mache Justin Bieber in a round of Chart Pinata can top the public reveal of a time honored Who Charted? tradition. As we’ve been told many times before, during each Music Chart clip, Kulap totally gets her groove on. That night did not disappoint. She even threw in a special “baby bump” dance move for a Beyonce clip in honor of her pregnancy. I’m no dance expert, but that has to be the greatest thing to ever happen to dance right?
By the end of the night, my wife had forgotten all about the cold, wet line standing we did or the more standing during the show and genuinely had a great time. To me, there could be no greater measure of success for that show. In summation, nobody likes standing in lines, wives like to sit during podcasts, Sir Mix-a-Lot is hilarious, and seeing a live presentation of Who Charted? easily tops my chart of Best Things I’ve Ever Done on My Birthday.