By Brandon Wetherbee
Brandon Wetherbee hosts the talk show/podcast You, Me, Them, Everybody the first two Friday’s of the month at the Wonderland Ballroom and in Brooklyn and Chicago once a month. Listen to it online at youmethemeverybody.com. He’ll be at the Wonderland Ballroom on April 27 hosting YMTE Live with co-host Jenn Tisdale and guests Alexandra Petri, Matty Abrams and Parsely.
I never knew how odd it was to be a guest until I was a guest. Sure, this should come as common sense, but for some odd reason, I couldn’t wrap my head around the absurdity of participating in a show in which you have very little to no control.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajEYVlvcOUY
So I’m the host of a talk show. If the monologue fails, it’s my fault. If the desk piece bombs, my fault. If a guest is boring, I should have asked better questions. If the comic doesn’t get any laughs, I should’ve asked someone else. If the band sucks, well, no one ever cares if the band sucks. I’m not sure why. I care, but for reasons I can’t fathom, people that come to the show only care about the band if they already knew about the band. It’s like some sick joke where good is less important than mind numbing. God, I sound old and not hip. Whatever. I like music.
The point is this, if any part of the show eats shit and dies, oh well, it’s worth a shot. I care about the show and have gone through enough reps to make sure it won’t completely fail. I no longer get nervous during a monologue, the most nerve wracking segment of the night. People aren’t expecting everything to work. When it does, the rest of the show goes swimmingly. When it fails, I’ll acknowledge the weirdness and we’ll all be better for it. I’m in a system that allows me to determine the outcome of the show before the show. It’s like the Yankees or Patriots or another sports team that wins a lot and you probably don’t care about since you’re reading this.
Once the monologue is done, I’m pretty much on autopilot. I do enough guest research that the questions should flow. Notes help but aren’t needed. The comedian does their thing, usually really well. The band does their thing, usually pretty well and that’s it. No one should be worried about how they did because that falls on the host, right? Nope.
I was a guest on a recent “Shame That Tune!,” a wonderful game show at the Hideout in Chicago. The premise is wholly original and fantastic. Contestants spin a wheel determining what type of song they’ll have performed in their honor. Once the wheel is spun, they have three minutes to tell a shameful story. Following that story the host, Brian Costello, procedes to give a bullshit NPR-style interview that makes everyone happy. While he’s doing this, songwriter Abraham Levitan is penning lyrics based on your story to the tune you landed on. The interview wraps up, Abraham sings the songs, the crowd cheers and that’s it, you’re done.
I ‘performed’ for a whole three minutes yet was more nervous than I’ve been in years to go on stage. I had come off of doing four straight nights of shows. Didn’t sweat through my shirt, have sweaty palms or sweat much in general during the run. For this one-off on someone else’s stage, I was freaking out. My heart was racing. I consumed two alcoholic beverages in twenty minutes and didn’t feel a thing. I forgot everything I was going to say as I was being introduced. I was worried about bringing down the rest of the show. I finally understood what it was like to be a guest
Sorry if I lied to any of my guests. I didn’t realize how strange it is to be asked questions in front of a crowd. I really did think it was painless. I guess it’s not.
Thanks for reading and have a wonderful night.