The Earwolf Challenge Last Words: Beginnings

Inspired by the well-written last-hurrah statement from the Beginnings podcast, the recently eliminated Earwolf Challenge contestants, we’ll be sharing the final remarks from eliminated contestants each week. A closing comedic salvo, of sorts, from the talented podcast explorers starting this journey with us.

Mark Bisi and Andy Beckerman – the Wrestling Team duo behind the Beginnings podcast, had this to say about their Earwolf Challenge experience:

Well, that was embarrassing!

When we learned that Beginnings had been eliminated from The Earwolf Challenge – during a recording session almost a month ago – our immediate reaction was disappointment. However, after a few minutes as the judges’ decision percolated in our minds, being upset quickly became difficult. Matt, Jimmy and Jason’s comments were fair, well-reasoned and spot-on, and they poked at some things that were already nagging us as we were attempting to restructure our podcast. Immediately after the recording session, we were truly inspired, excitedly talking out ways to refine the concept of Beginnings and improve the show. It was only later, after we left to go to separate parties, that sorrow took over and crudités were our only consolation.

The criticism we received from Matt, Jimmy and Jason was really the first critical feedback we had gotten on the show. We would often hear from friends and acquaintances in comedy here in New York who enjoyed the podcast, but there was no critical engagement with the show. When you bomb on stage, the big question you ask yourself is, “How can I do this better next time?” Beginnings lacked that instant feedback, so we had to rely on our instincts in building the show. It turns out that the judges provided a much-needed outside perspective, which forced us to evaluate the show from an audience member’s point of view. We realized that Beginnings was capable of generating fun discussion, but the format – an open-ended conversation – seemed to undercut the original concept of exploring the beginnings of creative people. That lack of specificity made it difficult for an audience member to gain a foothold in the discussion and sometimes put undue responsibility on our guests to guide the interview. So ultimately, while it felt shitty to be eliminated, in the end it helped us make a show that’s 100% better, resulting in the new format that we debuted with episode 24.

We started the podcast to demystify showbiz origin stories and educate ourselves about the ways people become successful creators. Also, we wanted an outlet to counter our mannered, absurd stage personas and communicate more honestly. In this quest to be genuine, we didn’t impose any form on the show and aimed to just have a free-form conversation, and in the process did a disservice to the concept of “beginnings”, which the judges acknowledged was the real hook of the show.

This was really the crux of what we took away from The Earwolf Challenge. We realized that if we really committed to the core concept of the show, we would have something special on our hands. And committing to that idea means creating a format that allows us to really get at the idea of “beginnings.” Around episode 18, we wanted to stop talking about the mechanics of showbiz so much and just look at how people become creative, but we never defined specifically what that meant. The show became slightly amorphous and unfocused. We realize now that the key to that change is not only specificity – we have instituted scripted questions and regular segments to give a spine to the show – but also to make the discussion personal for our guests. We are now concentrating on the personal relationship our guests have with creativity and the defining moments in their lives that lead them to their chosen field, as opposed to the specific logistical steps they took toward a career.

So, we have The Earwolf Challenge to thank for helping us refine our vision of what we wanted the show to be. While we’re not happy about being eliminated, we think that we’ve incorporated the judges’ criticisms to build a show that we are truly proud of. If you’ve come to Beginnings through the challenge, we would really love for you to check out our interview with Pete Holmes to get a taste of our new direction.

-Mark and Andy

Hear Wrestling Team get eliminated. (If you listen closely, you can hear their bodies deflate.)