At least that is what the co-hosts, Andy Breckman and straight man becoming a stand-up comedian, Ken Friedman would have you believe. But don’t believe them. That is sort of the point to this show. While Andy “loses the will to live” frequently before the first five or ten minutes have elapsed, its this complete success or fall on its face failure quality that lends the show its charm, its fans and its completely deserved reputation of being one of the funniest things that you can listen to on the radio, online or as I do, via podcast.
Its an unheralded show that station manager Friedman and comedy writer, Breckman (of Saturday Night Live and ‘Monk’ fame) have been cultivating for years now. They may say so, but I doubt that they believe that every one of their shows are flops. They’ve had some very clever ideas that have been what comedy podcasts are sorely lacking nowadays- variety and spontaneity. It seems that the idea for the shows are rarely planned more than a week in advance, but they have come up with many that don’t have a “fatal flaw” in them. Among them were the “Zero Tolerance” show, a show in which Ken had the discretion to hang up on callers at his whim. It skyrocketed from call to call until Ken was hanging up on callers at random for the slightest transgressions. Some callers barely had said ‘hello’ before they were gone. It was zany, insane, didn’t make alot of sense, but was still hilarious.
The shows with kids are another example of their comedic brilliance, depending upon children to bring their inherent unpredictable qualities to the show. Listen to the recent “You Probably Won’t Win Squat” or the “Dreidl For Dollars” shows. Other shows like the “Joke Translation” show, the “PSAs From Beyond The Grave” and “Memorial Shows For The Nearly Dead” shows are exercises in caller participation that work and work well. The live on the street shows are another gem and specialty of Ken and Andy. Check out the “Stalking Episode,” the “Elevator Episode” and “Speed Chess In The Park” shows for the brilliance of two middle aged guys laughing at how much trouble they can get into in public without being obnoxious ‘shock jocks.’ The latest “Best Movies Of 2004” was another great riff of them making fun of themselves making fun of the fact that they have had frequent repeat shows. Spectacular, gentlemen!
Sadly, the UCB live shows are no more. Yes, Andy may have insulted his guests (frequently unintentionally?), but they represented a great selection of the best comedians, personalities, authors, columnists and street artists and commentators in the NYC area. Please bring them back! And please do this show for another twenty years!