How do you find the talent that you highlight on the show?
I find them charming and delightful! I used to program museums and run public programs, and so I know how that works; I think I have a good email voice. But most days, if it’s people that I’m intrigued by or I think they’re doing something that’s interesting, I try to have a good balance for an evening to make sure it flows or that we’ll get someplace interesting. I have a lot of art contacts and that kind of thing, but it’s reaching out to people that I admire, that I think are doing really great work, and bringing them into the fold to kind of play with Dale. To have some fun—and some people do more than others, and I think some people are kind of thrown by it. But others get it, and we have a great time.
Do you have a favorite past guest?
There have been shows that I felt like I’ve been more energized by. I script all the shows but leave room for improvisation, but I think there are some nights that I get off of that script and just go with whatever’s happening, and when those guests have allowed that to be the case, those tend to be my favorite shows. And that can be a bunch of different guests. It’s not any one guest that kind of pushes that over the top. There have been people that I’ve been like “I am so thrilled that I get to talk to you,” and one of them has been somebody who was on The Lawrence Welk Show. I did a show in LA and I reached out to her and she did it, which is like a miracle to me. But I love The Laurence Welk Show and to have Mary Lou Metzger on the program talking to me is really fantastic. But in this whole season, we’ve had great people, and sometimes it’s the people that you think are… they’re not performers. There are people who are pie-makers or they’re people who are alcohol enthusiasts that write for Liquor.com. It can be from very different worlds, but it just opens up whole new avenues of conversation, and I think that’s great. I get to let slip some other knowledge that I may have that’s hard to bring up within the context of comedian to comedian. But if we’re talking about some kind of obscure theater practice or art world or art school or making a go of it, you get into some stuff. It’s kind of interesting.
Why did you choose podcasts as a medium?
I can remember carrying around my little black radio, it was a cassette player. I used to do radio, little programs and things, little audio pieces sometimes. They weren’t even necessarily connected to the radio, it was just, “What happens with this? What can you record, and can you make a world out of that?” I’ve been drawn to NPR and that kind of thing, and experiment with audio. There’s something about that thing that everybody says about immediacy and that intimacy that’s afforded by that. Also, when I started, I’d just moved to New York; I didn’t have a lot of space. This is something that you can set up in your home, and put a cushion behind the microphone, and I can conjure this character through. So much of it is the voice, and the intonation and the kind of musicality of Dale. So, honing that by doing the recording was very helpful. Then the live show kind of came out of that.
What is the number one thing you hope people take from Dale Radio?
Well, I certainly hope they have a good time. It’s got a lot of joy to that character. He’s sometimes described as like your uncle. I feel like an older uncle who’s drinking whiskey. What I think is different about it is that it’s not creepy, it’s not mean-spirited; whatever dark side there is has to do with Dale’s own impatience with not only his own success, but, like, he wants to make a difference in some weird way. He wants to connect. If that doesn’t happen, he gets very impatient or dismissive. But, in general, I’m up there and you laugh. It’s a ridiculous situation. So, I’d hope that people learn something about the guests or are inspired to do something, but we’re really just having a good time in a basement with great people and it’s really that, it’s just to lift things up a little bit. Sometimes, I try to find things that I personally am not enthusiastic about and put it through the Dale lens, which is that he’s excited about it. So, if he gets to wait while somebody checks their phone at the top of the subway stairs, he’s going to talk about how great that is, because it gives you so much more room to make it funny. If you say, “That’s annoying” or “I don’t like it” and go negative with it, you don’t have as much room to play. I think that’s part of his character: “Let’s be enthusiastic and see where that leads us.”
That seems like a good life philosophy in general.
Yes. Dale’s a kind person, and I hope people come out and support the show and tune in and all that kind of stuff. We’re doing something that I think is unique. It’s really exciting.