It was only a matter of time before a reality competition between comedy podcasts would arrive. The proliferation of funny folks recording anywhere from their bed to a studio shooting the shit or talking about politics in a funny way has grown exponentially over the last few years– to a point where a unique approach like the Earwolf Challenge was naturally the next step.
And it makes perfect sense that robust comedy podcast network Earwolf is leading the charge.
Starting off as a secret project called, Project Tippy Toe, producers Frank Capello and Peter Moses received 120 submissions of podcasts which they had to sift through. While they had access to several top comedy podcasts of the moment including Earwolf’s very own Comedy Bang Bang, Capello and Moses were looking for shows that had their own merits as well as a potential to be a unique vehicle as a podcast.
“We see the Earwolf challenge as an opportunity to help understand an artform that is still really in its infancy stages,” says Moses
The format of the podcast pits 10 shows from around the world over 10 weeks including: Beginnings, Bob and Dan Cast, The Complete Guide To Everything, The F Plus, The Fort Podcast, Hamm Radio, Left Handed Radio, The Little Dum Dum Club, Television Zombies and The Totalkly Laime Podcast.
Each week, like most reality challenges, contestants will be put to different tasks such as interviewing, theme song and more. Contestants will be judged by Upright Citizens Brigade co-founder Matt Besser as well as guest judges — huge in the comedy podcast world– like comedians Paul F. Tompkins of the Pod F. Tompkast and comedian Jimmy Pardo of Never Not Funny.
An episode will be released in three parts each week. It’ll run like acts of a TV show between commercial breaks. Part one consists of the contestants being coached for their assignments; in part two contestants will get critiqued; in and part three, the “Bottom 3” is determined as one team is eliminated. At the end of it all, the winner gets a year-long contract with Earwolf. Not a bad prize considering that many new podcasts that start off at Earwolf gain instant attention like Professor Blastoff and the Apple Sisters.
Interestingly enough, the voting element present in some degree in nearly all reality competitions is absent here. Concerned with the quality of the show coupled with a high production value, atypical of podcasts in general, Capello and Moses wanted to rely on the taste of their high profile judges. Moses explained, “We decided we’d lean towards more of a Master Chef model, than that of American Idol. That being said, we hope that the fans become an integral part of the show.”
There is a slight element of irony about all of this as a fodder for discussion for many comedy podcasts is making fun of pop culture, especially when it comes to what new reality concoction Hollywood has pooped out. Still, with so many talented people involved (Besser, Tompkins, etc.) and the umbrella of Earwolf, the Earwolf Challenge will undoubtedly capture the attention of some of the most snarky comedy nerds as well as some people “on the fence” about podcasts.