The “Sklarbro Country” siblings talk comedy podcasting, their fans and using sports as metaphor

The Sklar Brothers

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There’s a reason that people use so many sports references in their daily lives: it’s a world full of analogies and metaphors which apply to countless situations having nothing to do with balls, bats, or nets. And it’s precisely that universality which Randy and Jason Sklar have capitalized upon in their weekly podcast, “Sklarbro Country,” in which they use current events in the world of sports to talk about any- and everything else. Meanwhile, they themselves seem eager to be similarly versatile, appearing on camera, on the radio, at clubs, and just about anywhere else you might possibly go to be entertained.

IFC recently caught up with Jason and Randy Sklar to discuss their experiences as podcasters. In additions to detailing the differences between the world of audio performance and, say, stand-up, they talk about how they originally envisioned Sklarbro Country, and where they hope it will take them.

(Explore “Sklarbro Country” and more in IFC’s new podcast section!)

IFC: Maybe just to get started, talk about how you got involved in doing podcasts to begin with and sort of what the learning curve was for you to get sort of acclimated to that as opposed to something like live performance.

RANDY: It wasn’t a hard transition because our desire to do podcasts was born out of us doing radio. Like we had previously hosted Jim Rome’s show several times a year, and that was national, like 220 markets, a really big deal. And we sort of finished up and we’d get a ton of feedback doing that, but kind of after the fact. And I feel like it really allowed just the natural rhythms of how we talked to sort of come through. And once Twitter started to kind of come up, and we could interact with our fans on a regular basis, things would happen like the Tiger Woods situation or Brett Favre, and it would be like, “I wish you guys were guest hosting Rome this week so we could hear your take on it.”

JASON: Right around that time, I remember talking to Chris Hardwick who had already started to do podcasts. And he was just saying podcasting is so personal. They were connecting with fans in such a great way.

RANDY: He said, “you guys have to do a podcast. You already have a following. People know you from Cheap Seats and filling in for Jim Rome on the radio show. People already sort of know what you guys are about. If you can figure out what type of podcast you’d like to do, it’s such a great way to connect with your fans. And you’ll see when you go do standups that those fans will start to come out to your shows.” And that seemed really attractive to us, and so Scott Aukerman and Jeff Ullrich approached us right in that same moment and offered us a chance to do it in their studio. We struck a deal with them where they would build the website and support the show. And it would be the first sister show to Comedy Death-Ray which later became Comedy Bang Bang. And that seemed really exciting to us, mainly because our idea was to do a comedy show, but we wanted to align ourselves with the kind of comedy that we do and we love, which is alternative comedy. And there was no bigger representation of that than Comedy Bang Bang/Comedy Death-Ray. So being affiliated with that was like a huge wonderful opportunity for us. So we couldn’t pass it up.

IFC: Did you have to make an adjustment to make sure that you guys were distinguishing yourselves from one another when you were performing on the radio? Or was that ever an issue at all?

RANDY: We never really made it an issue. And there are a lot of times when I will say on the air, like I’ll throw a question to Jay and I’ll say, “Jay.” And I think over time people can determine the differences in our voices — if you really listen to a podcast, you can. But we don’t really make a concerted effort to play such diverse characters. Maybe that’s a good thing and maybe that’s a bad thing, but we just want it to be organic. And so I don’t think our fans really care, to be honest with you. I think they—if they know who’s who then great. If they don’t, they’ll still a comedy.

IFC: How do you guys balance, or how much do you have to balance addressing things straightforwardly and seriously, and then balancing that with comedy? Do you find it pretty naturalistic just making those transitions back and forth?

JASON: I don’t think we try to be serious for one second on our podcast, unless we’re being truthful. And I think there’s a difference between being truthful and being serious. And I think there are times when we are sort of thinking about our philosophies about life. I have to say that’s a good distinction, being truthful versus being serious. Because I would say that a comedian like Louis C.K. is as truthful as can be and he is fucking hilarious. And everything he says is the truth and it’s all hilarious. So there is that distinction.

RANDY: Yeah, it’s our goal to be truthful as much as possible, and to try to be as funny as possible. Well the good news about that is if you do say something truthful that isn’t that funny, you’re still telling the truth. And so that’s kind of a good thing and that’s a guiding principal on our podcast. But it’s not our goal to be serious. Our goal is to have people laughing the entire time.

IFC: In the preview of your podcast, you talk about how you use sports to talk about all these other subjects. Was that a totally naturally foundation for your podcast? Or did the experiences you have you to use that as sort of a basis to be able to pontificate about whatever other subjects you were interested in?

JASON: You know, I think it was a combination. I mean, we have experience talking about sports because we filled in for Jim Rome for a long time. And there was something really wonderful about trying to convey that human element to non-sports fans, and to create that connection. And also, there are a lot of comedy podcasts out there that just talk about straight up comedy or just talk about the world, but don’t have necessarily a portal into the world. And a lot of them are wonderful and other ones are forgettable. But our goal is to go in using sports as an entry point, but then talk about the world and our philosophy on the world, and our attitudes towards life. And if we use sports as our entry point, then hopefully we’re being unique. Hopefully we’re being unlike any other sports podcast, and unlike any other comedy podcast in that we’re really using sports as a backdrop. But really the show is about life, people, decisions people make, and our philosophy on the world.

RANDY: And what we try and do is put ourselves in whatever story we’re talking about. So how does this affect [us], right now in our lives? We try to put ourselves in the situation of what would we do in this situation if faced with what this person was being faced with in that instance. And I think we put our guests in that spot too. And it gives you a wonderful jumping off point to [improvise] with people, and creates scenarios on the spot. And it becomes a very active podcast. The other thing about sports is that there are stories that come out every week. And what we realized after doing all of the 100 episodes of this show for two years is that there’s a tremendous motor — that the sports world can generate stories. And I think we turned a lot of people on to the world of sports, but through our way of explaining it that would have normally not even given it a second look. Because I think what we’ve figured out is that there is a nerd-dom in sports — it’s the same as if you love music, or comic books, or movies, or television, or whatever. And if you capture that, that’s universal.

IFC: How much interactivity are you able to have with your audience? Is there any sort of marked difference between that and, say, doing a live performance where you’re feeding the energy of who’s watching it?

JASON: I think that it’s definitely different than doing it live. I mean, we used to think that perfuming live was the purest version of us. And I think it is a very pure version because you are making all of the creative decisions. Your performance relies on audience reaction. And so you do make subtle changes on the fly if your goal is to have a successful standup comedy. So you do make adjustments and you want to entertain people and have the majority of the audience have a good time. With podcasting you don’t have that immediate response — but I will say this: our fans are not shy about telling us what they like and what they don’t like. And if we get multiple responses about a specific thing that we’re doing in our podcast, we’ll talk about it, and we’ll change it.

RANDY: And I think it’s great to get that feedback from our fans, because enough of those individual comments together saying the same thing points to something that we need to focus on and pay attention to. Positive or negative. And it’s pretty cool to get that feedback via our Twitter account. It’s great to have certain elements of the show that we really spend a lot of time working on quoted. If they respond to certain characters that we bring on and do stuff with, that to us is great. It’s almost like hearing the feedback from an audience, but it’s more measured. People can actually sit there and say, “I like this about this that you guys did.” It’s a wonderful form of doing standup for 50,000 people and then getting their feedback afterwards in a thoughtful way.

IFC: What are you guys working on now or and/or coming up in the near future?

JASON: We have a lot of stuff. We just added a second podcast release every week. It comes out on Tuesday called Sklarbro County, which is a shorter, sort of looser version of the Sklarbro Country – a chance for us to try new things, new characters, do format stuff. Dan Van Kirk who does the Wahlberg on our podcast, he helps us comb through the stories and he kind of leads the discussion. And it’s a chance for our fans to see our process and how we break down stories. And it’s fun. To me it’s a little different, and in addition to the regular episode that everyone gets on Friday, it’s a little snack to tie people over. And we’ve had a great response on it after the first two have aired. So we’re doing that. We’re doing a new show for MyDamnChannel.com for their YouTube channel called The Tweekly News, where we sort of take a look at the world topically through Twitter. And that’s like a 3-5 minute weekly show that we’re going to start airing this week. I think we’re set to do 10 or 12 of those; that way they could be an ongoing thing. We have our History Channel show, The United Stats of America which has three more episodes. And we hopefully get a chance to do more of those. We’re about to shoot some stuff for H2 which is The History Channel’s second channel, some interstitial programming, stuff that we’re hoping to kind of put together as like a potential pilot type of a deal where they can see our idea for a type of show that we want to do but it’s stuff that will air on History or H2. We’re doing a thing for Crackle.com, which is Sony’s website called The Smoking Crackle movie, where we pop up interstitially between the chapters of a movie that they’re showing like “Deuce Bigalow European Gigolo.” Sometimes the worse the movie, the better it is, because we pop up and poke fun at things that are happening throughout.

RANDY: Like continuity errors.

JASON: We make fun of just characters and stuff there. It’s actually a really fun thing. So we’re going to do three more of those. And we’re still doing our standup — we are going to have some live date stuff. We want to kind of be in L.A. as much as we can because we have families out here, and it’s hard to be on the road without them. So we’re trying to consolidate our work here in Los Angeles. And if we do get The History Channel show picked up a second time, it’s going to mean that we’re going to have a lot of traveling to do. So the rest of the time we want to try and stay close to home.

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Bro and Tell

BFFs And Night Court For Sports

Bromance and Comeuppance On Two New Comedy Crib Series

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“Silicon Valley meets Girls meets black male educators with lots of unrealized potential.”

That’s how Carl Foreman Jr. and Anthony Gaskins categorize their new series Frank and Lamar which joins Joe Schiappa’s Sport Court in the latest wave of new series available now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. To better acquaint you with the newbies, we went right to the creators for their candid POVs. And they did not disappoint. Here are snippets of their interviews:

Frank and Lamar


IFC: How would you describe Frank and Lamar to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Carl: Best bros from college live and work together teaching at a fancy Manhattan private school, valiantly trying to transition into a more mature phase of personal and professional life while clinging to their boyish ways.

IFC: And to a friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Carl: The same way, slightly less coherent.

Anthony: I’d probably speak about it with much louder volume, due to the bar which would probably be playing the new Kendrick Lamar album. I might also include additional jokes about Carl, or unrelated political tangents.

Carl: He really delights in randomly slandering me for no reason. I get him back though. Our rapport on the page, screen, and in real life, comes out of a lot of that back and forth.

IFC: In what way is Frank and Lamar a poignant series for this moment in time?
Carl: It tells a story I feel most people aren’t familiar with, having young black males teach in a very affluent white world, while never making it expressly about that either. Then in tackling their personal lives, we see these three-dimensional guys navigate a pivotal moment in time from a perspective I feel mainstream audiences tend not to see portrayed.

Anthony: I feel like Frank and Lamar continues to push the envelope within the genre by presenting interesting and non stereotypical content about people of color. The fact that this show brought together so many talented creative people, from the cast and crew to the producers, who believe in the project, makes the work that much more intentional and truthful. I also think it’s pretty incredible that we got to employ many of our friends!

Sport Court

Sport Court gavel

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?
Joe: SPORT COURT follows Judge David Linda, a circuit court judge assigned to handle an ad hoc courtroom put together to prosecute rowdy fan behavior in the basement of the Hartford Ultradome. Think an updated Night Court.

IFC: How would you describe Sport Court to drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?
Joe: Remember when you put those firecrackers down that guy’s pants at the baseball game? It’s about a judge who works in a court in the stadium that puts you in jail right then and there. I know, you actually did spend the night in jail, but imagine you went to court right that second and didn’t have to get your brother to take off work from GameStop to take you to your hearing.

IFC: Is there a method to your madness when coming up with sports fan faux pas?
Joe: I just think of the worst things that would ruin a sporting event for everyone. Peeing in the slushy machine in open view of a crowd seemed like a good one.

IFC: Honestly now, how many of the fan transgressions are things you’ve done or thought about doing?
Joe: I’ve thought about ripping out a whole row of chairs at a theater or stadium, so I would have my own private space. I like to think of that really whenever I have to sit crammed next to lots of people. Imagine the leg room!

Check out the full seasons of Frank and Lamar and Sport Court now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Millennial Wisdom

Charles Speaks For Us All

Get to know Charles, the social media whiz of Brockmire.

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He may be an unlikely radio producer Brockmire, but Charles is #1 when it comes to delivering quips that tie a nice little bow on the absurdity of any given situation.

Charles also perfectly captures the jaded outlook of Millennials. Or at least Millennials as mythologized by marketers and news idiots. You know who you are.

Played superbly by Tyrel Jackson Williams, Charles’s quippy nuggets target just about any subject matter, from entry-level jobs in social media (“I plan on getting some experience here, then moving to New York to finally start my life.”) to the ramifications of fictional celebrity hookups (“Drake and Taylor Swift are dating! Albums y’all!”). But where he really nails the whole Millennial POV thing is when he comments on America’s second favorite past-time after type II diabetes: baseball.

Here are a few pearls.

On Baseball’s Lasting Cultural Relevance

“Baseball’s one of those old-timey things you don’t need anymore. Like cursive. Or email.”

On The Dramatic Value Of Double-Headers

“The only thing dumber than playing two boring-ass baseball games in one day is putting a two-hour delay between the boring-ass games.”

On Sartorial Tradition

“Is dressing badly just a thing for baseball, because that would explain his jacket.”

On Baseball, In A Nutshell

“Baseball is a f-cked up sport, and I want you to know it.”

Learn more about Charles in the behind-the-scenes video below.

And if you were born before the late ’80s and want to know what the kids think about Baseball, watch Brockmire Wednesdays at 10P on IFC.

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Crown Jules

Amanda Peet FTW on Brockmire

Amanda Peet brings it on Brockmire Wednesday at 10P on IFC.

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GIFS via Giphy

On Brockmire, Jules is the unexpected yin to Jim Brockmire’s yang. Which is saying a lot, because Brockmire’s yang is way out there. Played by Amanda Peet, Jules is hard-drinking, truth-spewing, baseball-loving…everything Brockmire is, and perhaps what he never expected to encounter in another human.

“We’re the same level of functional alcoholic.”

But Jules takes that commonality and transforms it into something special: a new beginning. A new beginning for failing minor league baseball team “The Frackers”, who suddenly about-face into a winning streak; and a new beginning for Brockmire, whose life gets a jumpstart when Jules lures him back to baseball. As for herself, her unexpected connection with Brockmire gives her own life a surprising and much needed goose.

“You’re a Goddamn Disaster and you’re starting To look good to me.”

This palpable dynamic adds depth and complexity to the narrative and pushes the series far beyond expected comedy. See for yourself in this behind-the-scenes video (and brace yourself for a unforgettable description of Brockmire’s genitals)…

Want more about Amanda Peet? She’s all over the place, and has even penned a recent self-reflective piece in the New York Times.

And of course you can watch the Jim-Jules relationship hysterically unfold in new episodes of Brockmire, every Wednesday at 10PM on IFC.

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