What to expect at the L.A. Podcast Fest, and how you can watch at home
The summer music festival season is over, but there’s still at least one can’t-miss festival on the horizon. This weekend marks the third annual Los Angeles Podcast Festival, which features live recordings of dozens of comedy podcasts, as well as panels, stand-up shows, and parties. The lineup of all-star microphone fiends features Marc Maron (WTF With Marc Maron), Aisha Tyler (Girl on Guy), Dana Gould (The Dana Gould Hour), Jimmy Pardo (Never Not Funny), Todd Glass (The Todd Glass Show), April Richardson (Go Bayside!), Larry Miller (This Week With Larry Miller), Janet Varney (The JV Club), and an eclectic bunch of others. Announced guests on various shows include Whitney Cummings, Horatio Sanz, and Hal Sparks, with plenty of others coming.
Tickets are still available for podcast lovers who live in and around Los Angeles, but this year you can watch most every event at the festival via a streaming subscription. For $25, you can watch everything, and in case you have to get up for food or something, everything will be archived for three weeks.
“We wanted to bring the festival to everybody,” says comedian Graham Elwood, one of the Podfest’s founders and organizers. “Anybody around the world—and we’ve already had people buy it in Japan and China and Australia—can see the festival all weekend. To me, that’s what podcasting is. Anyone in the world can listen to you, so I would want anybody in the world to be able to see how much fun the Podfest is.”
In addition to the live tapings, this year’s festival also features stand-up shows and five panels, many of which promise to be informative as well as hilarious. “One of the ones we’re having is how to monetize your podcast, because that’s such a thing people are always trying to figure out,” Elwood explains. “I like that we’re having people who now work in podcasting—that’s a thing now, there being jobs in podcasting, which didn’t exist five years ago. I’m so excited that we have that, and we have people from Earwolf and Sideshow and Nerdist who are working in podcasting and figuring out how to monetize it. Because the reality is there isn’t some hard fast rule. It’s however you can figure it out.”
Elwood began podcasting several years ago and still hosts Comedy Film Nerds, and his love of the medium has extended into a documentary he’s nearly finished with called Ear Buds: The Podcasting Documentary. “Ear Buds is really showing the connection between podcasters and fans,” Elwood says. “No other medium in the history of entertainment has done this. You can plug a microphone into a laptop and people around the world can hear you. Comedians who have been in the business a long time say for the first time they’re completely in control of their careers. That’s why podcasting is amazing.” Elwood expects the film to be ready for eyeballs next spring or summer.
For comedians like Maron and Chris Hardwick, podcasting has represented an incredible resurgence for them, but it’s been just as kind to upstarts who have parlayed their podcast work into more stand-up gigs, TV offers, and, most importantly, a wider sense of community. “That’s a word that has come up a lot,” says Elwood. “There’s always been a good stand-up scene in L.A., but now there’s a podcasting community. We’re all guests on each other’s shows, and we all want to promote each other’s shows. So much of it came out of the frustration we all were having with Hollywood. There are all these things that are completely out of our control, and all at the same time we said, ‘Hey, here’s this thing that’s ours, and we can do whatever we want!’ It is benefitting us. I did over 300 episodes of TV, and I never had a fan base until I started podcasting.”